Thursday, August 27, 2015

What do my creepy neighbors and my grocery budget have in common?

Interesting question, right? So I have creepy neighbors on two sides. The ones across the street are entertaining and I'll catch you up later. The ones next door are kind of boring and share a waist high, chain link fence with us. Apparently it's been that way for 50 years. And they love to sit in their back yard and watch the birds, chat, and sometimes watch my kids play. This is creepy, but not creepy because they're both in their eighties and perfectly harmless. Crotchety, but harmless. The creepy creepy part is their grandson, who's been spending more and more time with them. He's not in his eighties. He also drinks, a lot. And I often catch him talking to someone that no one else can see. He gives me the heebie-jeebies. More technically, he sets off my mur-dar (and I consider my mur-dar to be fairly well honed).

A few weeks ago the kids wanted to camp out in the backyard like good, suburban kids do. I reluctantly bundled up and got comfy for a night under the stars with my kids. After the kids were asleep I was lying on the grass browsing my phone and looked over to see grandson on the back porch smoking a cigarette, looking right at us. *shudder*

So now I need a fence. Like, right this second. I have a lovely, handy husband who could build one. However, that same lovely handy husband is a perfectionist so it would probably be done by the time Avery started high school. So I have to pay for a fence and I'm not in the mood to scrimp and save for it. In true impulsive fashion, I've dedicated a third of our budget for next month to building a fence. It's going to be glorious and solid and seven feet tall and I cannot wait. I was practically giddy as I spray painted the lines in preparation for the utilities to be marked.

BUT, that means that my grocery budget is getting cut pretty much in half. And all the other budgets are getting cut even more. It's going to be a tight, very boring month. Which is why I come to you, internets. I've lived on much less (grad school anyone?) but I had much lower standards and was only feeding two already-grown adults. What are your tips for feeding an actual family on a super-tight budget? I'm pretty sure feeding them ramen for a month straight is a bad idea...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to School, Back to School...

Name that tune :)

This last week both Eli AND Sydney went back to school. And in a surprising twist of fate, our new(ish) school district does full-time Kindergarten. When Eli went it was half-day and so that's what we were expecting for Syd. I was totally fine with her making this transition until I realized that she'd be in school all day. Like a legit kid. Thinking about her eating lunch and then going back to class got me a little choked up.

I took the day off so that I could do drop off and pick-up. Syd's class had a parent participation scavenger hunt (OMG. All the snowflakes!), so I was actually able to participate in something. Maybe now her teacher will recognize me six months from now. Syd was great and didn't hesitate at all. She'd made new friends and was ruling the carpet by the time I left. That one. She's a force.

Eli jumped right back in. He loves his teacher and is making friends. He's also taken on his role as big brother with a passion. He very seriously walked Syd to her classroom and kept giving her tips and tricks. Then he introduced himself to her teacher. Love that kid so much.
Syd's backpack kills me. I love it in all it's enormous glory.

Eli was more excited than he looks, but he's become too cool for all my mamarazzi ways. Syd was as excited as she looks. Avery wanted in on the fun so grabbed a toy lunch box and her backpack to photobomb the Bigs.


I have an awesome back to school post, but I can't figure out how to get my pictures right on the new computer and I already erased them off my phone because I decided that when I blog on my phone my writing suffers (see, improvements already right?)

In the meantime, there was some professional excitement last week. On Wednesday I was coming back from a planning meeting in the warden's office, which is "outside the fence." That means that to get back to my office I had to re-enter the prison proper, through several gates and security check-points. Just as I got to my office, one of co-workers came by to tell me that there was an all staff response code one yard over (about 3/4 mile.) These are fairly rare, but they do happen. I'm never quite sure what our job is, since we're not "real doctors" but we respond all the same. We generally are tasked with taking notes. So I grabbed a pen and my stab vest and started race walking. There is no running in prison, ever, so you get very good at walking fast. As we left our yard, I looked to my left to see the officer from my treatment area sprinting pass us. This is maybe the first or second time I have ever seen an officer run fast on grounds. No running in prison is a serious rule. I looked to my friend and said, "That's not good." At that point I got even faster and my heart started to race. Then we heard the sirens blaring from ambulances from the local town. She looked at me and said, "That's really not good." After that we looked over and all the gates were open. That is very, very not good. So we hauled ass. We ended up blasting into the yard at the front of the line of mental health staff, right behind a man carrying a 5 gallon drum of pepper spray. All hell had broken loose. We were escorted through the security gate just as they were escorting the first inmate out. He was walking, but he was covered from the chest down in blood. My guess is that it wasn't all his. As we made our way to the staging area we were surrounded by inmates on gurneys, inmates being escorted by officers, and staff waiting to be dispatched. Right after we had gotten through, they had closed off the gate, so most of my co-workers were being staged outside of the secure area. Turns out they sat for over an hour, watching ambulances get loaded and waiting to be needed.

On the inside, we milled around trying simultaneously to be safe and helpful. I couldn't see much, but I saw a huge mass of officers out on the yard and they would occasionally walk or wheel an inmate into the medical area where I was. It was awful, but the organization of it all was amazing. People snapped into their duties and became these commanding forces. We were tasked with collecting medical equipment from other areas of the prison, so my friend and I grabbed three of our staff and ran (that part is still surreal) back out to the outer perimeter. Fortuitously, the maintenance crew was waiting right outside with heavy duty carts. We split in two and had the crew drive us to the other medical areas where we were able to grab vitals machines and load them back on the carts. I jumped in the back to keep them from flying out and rode redneck style back to the incident. We ran them inside, then got busy finding other necessary pieces. (Side note, Aerosoles and Payless SafTSteps are both great shoes for both running and navigating mysterious puddles. Now you know.) The biggest challenge was figuring out what the pieces actually were. Now I know what an oxygen tree looks like. We also had a front row seat for the carnage, including nearly getting run over by the casualty.

After a while we were dismissed because we were more in the way than useful. Walking out, the adrenalin quickly drained out of me so that by the time I got back to my office, the only useful thing I could do was call C so he knew I was okay before his phone blew up with breaking news.

It turns out that the incident was a riot with nearly 100 inmates, 1 death, and multiple admits to the hospital. In other words, it was big. And it was scary. But it was awesome to be a part of. The unity and the cohesiveness was amazing. People literally fell into step with each other. Everyone jumped in, and the people who weren't put to work anxiously waited for a way to help. Prison is a weird place and I often joke that we're not normal people. On one hand it's a joke, but on the other hand there is truth to it. It's what makes me love this job, despite days like today that were shitastic.

I also love my Payless work shoes. They're not cute, but I hosed them off in the front yard before I came into my house and the next morning they're good as new.

Monday, August 10, 2015

WWE and other updates

WWE. And then his head exploded. All in all awesome, but next time I'm going to suggest it as a boys night. Between Syd melting down after accidentally sipping a stranger's drink (hilarious, btw) and my impatience with the commercial breaks, I'm afraid 50% of our tickets were wasted. But E made eye contact with Roman Reigns and hasn't stopped talking about it since.

Syd had an art sale. 
Eli bought me jewelry. He was a little worried because, "They're pretty big and you're kind of little"
Syd grew this flower! She's been diligent about watering it and checking in it regularly. Pretty exciting, especially since with the drought it may be all the greenery she gets.
I ❤️ school supplies. Both kids are all packed up and ready. Syd's going to be in Kindergarten, full day. It just struck me and I had a mini-meltdown in the target lot. But she's excited. So's C, who'll be home with one single, solitary kid who still takes two + hour naps.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


We had one last thing on our summer bucket list, so yesterday I took the day off so we could drive three hours to an amazing aquarium. Such a fun day!

We decided to cut loose and spoil the kids a bit. They don't usually get to go to gift shops so that was a BFD.
Then we are drive-thru dinner in an awesome playground and let them play until the sunset. 
We've got the WWE show this week too (Eli's late birthday present). These kids are going to be spoiled rotten from all this super-special family fun!