Just Heather
  • We still own our first house and the last tenants skipped out without paying the last months rent plus their dog trashed the carpets. All of the savings we had set aside to pay Brenia’s tuition has been spent on the house & mortgage over the last 3 months instead. We’re shooting for RTO this time in hopes of finally unloading it.
  • They ended up fully promoting Brenia to 1st grade even though they were going to “interim” her for a semester. By the time we got to graduation, they decided she would be ready after all.
  • I think her new glasses helped with that. At the end of the year, a basic school screening showed vision problems. Turns out she’s legally blind in 1 eye. They are slowly correcting it as her doc thought she would reject glasses at her full prescription. Her follow-up exam today went well and he doesn’t think we’ll have to patch it as previously feared.
  • In some of the best news of my life, Spencer’s mom moved to NC over the summer. I can’t begin to tell you how much that rocks for us both as a couple and a family.
  • In related, hilarious news, she is now engaged. Yes, again. I think that’s 8 rings thus far, but only 5 have actually resulted in divorce (I mean, marriage).
  • Stacia is at the intermediate school, which seems better than the elementary. I would still love to move her to Montessori, but we just can’t afford it right now.
  • Fox59 is still going well, I think. I haven’t seen anyone with authority in weeks. I just show up, with my segment prepped, the props ready and do the show with an anchor. I’m assuming that is a good thing as there is clearly a lot of trust on their part in that. Normally, guests have to be escorted around the studio, but I can never even find anyone available to ask. They just let me in and I do my thing.
  • We got a Wii Fit a few weeks ago. I am loving being back into Yoga, but frustrated that after 30 minutes per day of mostly aerobic activities I have actually gained 2 pounds instead.
  • I got involved with a domestic violence shelter in the spring. Mostly, I just decluttered my house (must read: It’s All Too Much) and helped the owner transport everything she needed or priced things for the charity yard sale. Then, I organized a school supply drive because the yard sale didn’t net enough for the 35 kids she has now (5 times more than last year). I bought backpacks for each kid, collected supplies all over town and obtained Mom sponsors so each child could have a new outfit & shoes. I am so pleased to say we met with great success-each child had absolutely everything they need.
  • It tugged on my heartstrings a lot, though, and now I’m not sure we’re done with little ones. There is a Safe Families program that places at risk children with volunteer families. It is a way for the families to house children while they get their lives together instead of remaining at risk and possibly losing custody or parental rights.  It’s on my list.
  • I signed Brenia up for dance class this year. She is so excited. The studio was planning an adult ballet class and I had decided to take it. I have wanted to get back into something like that forever. The very same day they announced that it wasn’t happening, I went to my church’s new auditorium kickoff where the dance ministry performed. I signed up on the way out and we start on Wednesday.

Things we might normally have considered a problem a few weeks ago, now seem so petty. Here we sit, trying to adjust our budget to the fluctuating gas prices, while so many others didn’t even have a vehicle to evacuate a dangerous area. I’m trying to find a way to buy a new vehicle—you know, so I can haul all my kids at the same time—while so many others just want food, water, and shelter.

I feel like I should be doing something more to help but, while we have a lot in comparison, we really don’t have much to give. It’s not like we live an extravagant lifestyle. I finally found a local network that is taking tangible donations for transportation to evacuees. I have a lot of needed items I am boxing up. I may not be able to write a check, but I can certainly give of my abundance. While I wish I could do more, I feel better knowing I can do something.

At the very least, it has changed my thinking on a lot of things.

  • Prenatal Acne = inconvenience
  • Dysentery = problem
  • Stains on the carpet, including the new addition caused by my hubby—wise soul that he is—spilling Coke while skateboarding = inconvenience
  • No longer having a home = problem
  • losing your pediatrician—who you love and trust with your children’s lives—because she is moving = inconvenience
  • losing everything you ever knew in a flood = problem

It feels sort of surreal to be writing about little tragedies in my own mundane life when so many are dealing with catastrophe. I’m not sure what more I can do, though, short of donating more money I don’t have. I did send a little bit to a fund some girlfriends started for someone we know who was personally affected.

Her entire first floor flooded this spring in a storm. She just got it cleaned up, everything replaced, and moved back in a couple months ago. It now sits under 11 feet of water. At least she and her family are safe, but they now own nothing more than they grabbed on the way to her sister’s house. She’s one of the lucky ones. They have insurance, and though it will take time, everything will be replaced and rebuilt eventually. Still, I can’t imagine losing every, single thing you ever owned.

My problems will just have to wait.

I’m talking about real, honest-to-goodness support. My Brownie troop organized a care package drive at school. We managed to put together 10 care packages for soldiers overseas through the Any Soldier program. I am preparing them to mail this week, and in doing so discovered several other great programs.

I ran out of packing peanuts. Not surprising since I’ve never bought any in my life, but I still had 5 packages to complete. So I did what any good coupon queen would do and put a request on Freecycle. Not only did I receive 5 offers for packing peanuts, but I received an amazing offer from Beanies for Baghdad to ship all 10 packages for free, courtesy of Gary Sinise through Operation Iraqi Children and A Million Thanks.

I think all 4 of these efforts are wonderful opportunities to truly support our troops, and I plan to participate in some way with all 3 who have preserved my girls’ troop funds for next year’s activities.

I was contacted by a reporter again this week, this time for my work with Stacia’s Brownie Troop. She wants to do a feature article in next week’s paper about the service project we are doing. I think it’s really neat that they are getting some recognition this early in their Girl Scouting “careers.”

In January, when we were planning something to do with our cookie money the girls had a bunch of suggestions for using it to help people. I was going to suggest something anyway, but it was quite impressive to hear 7 year olds say we should give our money to the Tsunami vicitms. We elected to send half of our cookie booth profits to the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund.

I wanted them to take part in something more than watching me write a check though, so a few weeks ago I suggested a few hand-on projects: Any Soldier care packages, Ronald McDonald House toiletry collection, or one girl’s suggestion Toys for Tots. I really wanted to do an Any Soldier drive at the school, but I just knew they would vote for buying toys. We took a vote, as is the only way to make decisions with 24 1st graders. Any Soldier won by a mile. They loved the idea of helping our soldiers who were in another country.

So we have a big box setup at the school with a list of supplies the soldiers are requesting—energy bars, personal hygeine, stationary, and entertainment items—and plan to put together as many care packages as possible at our next meeting. The cookie funds come in when it is time to ship them overseas. Our principal was kind enough to not only allow us to setup a collection bin, but add our request to the school newsletter. That is, apparently, how the reporter heard about our efforts.

I’m meeting her at the school this afternoon for a short interview, and then she wants to ask a the girls some questions and take pictures. She asked for 3-5 girls. I felt bad that the whole troop doesn’t get to be involved in such an exciting aspect of it, but I just called my assistants to borrow their kids. I’m going to suggest that she do a followup at our next meeting for some shots of the girls sorting donations for our care packages. Even if she doesn’t run a second article, at least the whole troop will feel a part of the excitement.

Last week was triple coupon week. If you came to my house today, you would know that. My kitchen table is still filled with bags of groceries I can’t seem to fit in my pantry. I donate loads to the food pantry, but sometimes I just feel strange carting in 37 tubes of toothpaste.

I sent 6 bags of groceries home with my sister, for the grand total of $15. What is left are things I use regularly, but I have more than I’ll use in 2 months. This made sense—at the time—because they were free (or close to it) and I likely wouldn’t have seen that great of a deal again before I need it. Still, where am I going to put 6 bottles of vegetable oil?