Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 2009- Autumn's dawn

What a month this has been....
I am ready to move on and leave this month behind me.
I have rather been anticipating unlike most friends my age, the anniversary of my fourth decade on this earth.

This past Sunday Sept 26th, I turned the wonderful age of 40. I think forty is a good point in life. My children are all but grown. I have finally finished up my night school after eight years tiring and long nights. My health is good. Let's not count the common cold which always hits this time of year not the few extra pounds I tend to gain over the winter months each year.

I was not prepared for the events leading up to that day however... I have had better days.

The month began when my transmission in my only car began to act up. The car, which is a 2001 model looks great, and is still on loan. However it has just turned over 166,000 miles and well, we take a lot of road trips. After having it looked at by a friend of a friend who made some adjustments in order to buy me some time. The car ran well again.

Until the 9th of this month a day I will never forget. That was the day my car began to really act up, that was the day which caused me to spend weeks getting my affairs back in order, and that was the day I lost my sense of security.
Following the burglary,many days were spent cleaning up the mess, getting my money back, and getting back to a point I could attempt to come up with a game plan to fix not only the car but some other much needed house repairs.
The car was making the same noises but still driving well. At the advice of friends, driving on borrowed time. My son being in Iraq in its own way is a lucky break in such that we had on extra car available. I let my daughter drive the 'limping' car to work and I drove my sons. Until I received a call that it had stalled on her.

We are now, sharing a car and I wake an hour or two early in order to get her to work and for now, she gets a ride home. Closer to my birthday I figured nothing else could go wrong and began to get excited again. My best friend and I were planning a great party with many people I have not seen in a long time.
Two days before the party - the actual date of my birthday- I came down with a horrible head cold. Everyone it seemed at work was sick, my daughter was sick... I really needed this party, I really needed this time with friends in order to keep my spirits up.
I managed to sway the cold away just hours before the party. Things were looking up again. Many guests RSVP'd that they would not be able to make the party for varying reasons. Sickness, other plans, out of town, among other reasons. But with a list 77 people long, I couldnt wait.

My best friend (the host) and I arrived right on time. We had a great celebration although... as MY luck would have it, only a handful, 7 people were in attendance.
Of course I dont need a big crowd to have a great time, and I know that the lack of attendance had no bearing on how close the friendships of those guests are. But the way that my month had been so far, made it a bit of a bummer.
But I love my friends, and I love my life, and although over the past 14 or so years, life has been much harder than it has been easy. I would not trade my life.
I am just hoping.... that the broken down car in my yard gets fixed soon without putting me in the poor house. that the rotting roof of my house gets replaced before it begins to leak and turns into a bigger problem. I hope that this month. This September 2009. This autumn of the median of my life, begins to change, that the colors turn that things begin to come my way.
Just this once.
(As I sit here to type this, I am home sick from work- it is back)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Food - Chicken Marsala

Lets lighten things up a bit shall we?
Ever wanted to make a real elegant and great tasting meal in two pans and less than an hour?
What single parent- what parent- what busy person at all wouldnt want a simple, delicious, and impressive meal?

Chicken Marsala-( and roasted vegetables)
( I followed a recipe however, I added a lot of my own changes- so we can call this mine)

For the chicken, I started out with the following: Shown here:

4 chicken half breasts, 1/4c flour, 4Tbsp Olive Oil, 4 Tbsp Butter, 1c Mushrooms (any kind you like) and 1/2c Marsala wine.

Start by placing the chicken breast between two pieces of  plastic wrap or waxed paper.
 Hit it with a meat mallet, or as I did, a heavy marble rolling pin until approx. 1/4" thick.

Cut each breast into smaller pieces. I find it is easier to cut after it is tenderized.
Also trim any excess fat off each breast.
In a shallow bowl, stir your favorite spices into flour. I love Emeril's Essense

But any Italian spice will work,Oregano, parsley, and garlic.

Dredge the chicken through the flour covering both sides thoroughly.

Over med heat, melt butter and heat oil. Add chicken one piece at a time.

Cook chicken for 2 min each side. until lightly brown.

Add the mushrooms around the chicken. I added some chopped green onions for color and taste.

Pour wine onto chicken and mushrooms.
Cover and simmer until cooked through about 10 min.

Transfer to a serving plate.

Pour 1/4c chicken stock into the pan and stir to 'clean' the pan of the bits. Simmer a little longer then pour sauce over chicken. Serve.

Great served with roasted vegetables -recipe to coming soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I don't need to worry about identity theft because no one wants to be me.- Jay London

Want to know something really scary?! Really sad?
I used to say that very thing, jokingly of course often. I have been on quite a roller coaster during my 12 years as a full-time single mother. Finance's can be a real challenge. My credit is not the best score. It is not because I have many credit cards run to the maximum limit. It is not because I buy myself nor my kids everything that we desire and have run our debt to absurd proportions.

It is simply that it is really expensive to raise three kids, keep up a house and property and transportation in good working order. All of this on a single salary, woman's salary.
I do not live beyond my means. We take road trips instead of vacations, we buy less expensive clothes and more often, we live in an old house with many repairs. I drive an eight year old car, with over 168,000 miles on it. A majority of those things end up costing me more money in the long run.
I do my best to save money making my own repairs. I cut expenses everyday. I say no to my kids often, for the very reason that I just plain cant afford it.
I do not own any credit cards. When you are broke, credit can really get you into trouble. I learned that the hard way. When some big unexpected expense comes up, I usually have to borrow from Peter to pay Paul.
In my case this means I put off a bill or two and we go without for a while. Eat what we have in the house rather than run to the store, drive less to use less gas, things like that.
And so I used to joke-

If a thief wanted to break into a house, mine would be the last one they would choose. I have nothing of value compared to my neighbors.
If a thief was to steal my car, god help him if he chose my run down piece of crap of all the other cars in the lot.
If a thief wants to take my purse, wont do him much good as I don't have any money anyway.

I don't say any of those things anymore.
Not since this past Tuesday afternoon:
Here is how my day played out-
I went to work as usual a little concerned about how to pay for a pending and rather expensive repair for my main vehicle. (I only have one car but while my son is away in Iraq my daughters and I have his as an alternate). During my lunch break I took a short drive in order to get clear my head. I stopped for some stomach medicine at a drug store, then grabbed a quick bite of food to take back to the office.
Just a short while down the road toward the office my car began to make a ticking noise in the engine. Feeling rather upset, and recalling my oil change just a little over a week prior, I pulled into a nearby parking lot and opened the hood. I had a quart of oil behind the seat and began to add it to the engine. The stick showed it to be low but not in a dangerous zone.
As I was pouring the oil in a man pulled up. Stated he was a mechanic and asked if I could use any help? I said I was not sure that he could help but he could look. He asked me to let him know when the oil cap was replaced fully so he may start it up and here the 'ticking sound'.
I did.
He started it up, jumped out to have a look, tapped a few areas, listened, then asked me to shut it off. He checked the oil level and said it needed a bit more and asked if that was the only quart I had?! I said yes.
He then walked to his car, removed a quart and added it to my engine. I started it once again, the ticking ensued.
He said he was sorry, told me a couple things it could be but I would need to get it to a mechanic in order to diagnose. Then he drove off and I dorve back to work.
When I returned to work I asked a few of my coworkers if they knew what might be causing it.similar diagnoses to the earlier help.
When I returned home after shift, a bit worried about the 30 mile drive. I pulled straight into my mechanics shop. He did a quick listen and analyzed what he thought to be a bad rod bearing which would require a full engine rebuild. And a cost of about $4000. As mentioned above $4000 is not something I have sitting in a savings account readily available.
I returned home and logged into my accounts in order to do some juggling of funds. Instantly I noticed charges I had not made. Charges within the past 3-4 hours. I went to my purse to get my debit card in order to report charges on my number that I had not authorized. NO wallet in my purse.
I had been robbed! I cannot describe the feeling of insecurity. I cannot describe the feeling of exposure, or the feeling of fear that goes through you when this happens. This guy was in my car!!! This guy made a fool of me. He was no more than a couple feet from me. Offering help.
I do not live in a high crime area. I have been living in a bit of denial that this kind of thing doesnt happen.
I had a bit of a breakdown. With the repairs my home has required, and the car, and a bit of stress over my sons safety added to my stress and work load at work, it was the last I could take. The straw as it were, that broke this camels back.
I could barely speak for the tears and sobs as I called to cancel my card. I called and made a police report witht he city where the crime took place. Then I called my parents and cried more.
The next morning early early I received a call from another cities dispatch. They had a man attempting to use my debit card and asked if I authorized the transaction? oh no(insert explative)! I hadnt. I explained how I had reported it stolen the night before. They recovered my card. But nothing else.
The worst part, the part in which I played my stupid card, I had copies of not only my social security card but also my girls. We had recently purchased passports for an upcoming cruise and I had inadvertently failed to remove them and file in our security file at home. I dont own any credit cards or this could have been so much worse.
I did however keep a copy of my sons debit card. In order to access his account if needed. I was afraid to cancel his card as he is at this time serving in Kuwait and on his way to Iraq. He needs access to his own funds and getting a new card to him after canceling would be such a hassle.
That, in a nutshell is what this has turned into! One big hassle.
I will be recieving a copy of the police report soon. I understand this Bastard had many victims.
I have filed with the credit beureus,  the Federal Trade Commission, the banks, the social security admin. Endless paperwork and fees. I have had to apply for a copy of my drivers lisence, new SS cards....and it goes on.
All I can say is this, you dont have to have credit or a lot of money in order to get ripped off. I was paid over labor day weekend and about three fourths of my bi-monthly paycheck was gone in less than four hours. Thanks to VISA I will be able to recover it all in about 2 weeks....

Be safe! Be cautious!  Trust not!
Sad that I have to say that now but it never really was a joke, was it?

Here are a few great resources, and something I may look into.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sorry to be away so long

I hope that I am not losing the few followers I have.
This has been a trying month for me in so many ways...
I have stories to tell and no time or energy to tell them.

Hang in with me I will be back in no time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A wonderful Post by a fellow blogger

Although my blog does not have a large following, There are many I follow nearly daily.
Often I can really relate to the posts as they are struggling single parents or just struggling parents.
Sometimes it is happiness they post about.

Every once in a while you will read a post the just speaks to you. Whether it is how you feel and just dont know how to put it into words. Whether it is a new view or insight into something you thought you already knew.

or sometimes it is just the feeling of yes! yes exactly what I want to say.

Well Christina - Over at did just that!

I love this piece. It is what I want to say.