Just another one girl revolution.

Pot’s on.

Right now, I’ve got black bean soup simmering. Almost everything is in and what isn’t in is measured out–I’m weird that way–so it’s just a sit and wait game at this point.

If anyone’s curious, I’m trying The Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I did notice that the instructions at the bottom (I tend to just skip all the pictures because, you know, I can read, haha) that she has garlic included in the ingredients, but she doesn’t tell in the directions when to put them in. I realized that about halfway through. Then I threw in some garlic with the onions, beans, and peppers and shrugged. Here’s hoping.

It does smell delicious. I must admit, I don’t think I’ve ever seen black bean soup with so many peppers in it, but neither Jim nor myself are complaining. Lately, we both have been craving veggies. Considering that neither of us are big veggie eaters, that tells me that we clearly aren’t getting enough in our diets.

Before anyone asks, I make muffins for Vincent in which I sneak in a lot of his veggies, heh. I tried smoothies once for him. Yeah, that didn’t go over well.

Anyway, Jim is napping, and I’m letting Vincent play an educational game on my phone. Yeah, I know, NO screen time is the recommendation for kids, but let’s be honest: Short of throwing out your TV and phones, how are you going to keep it from happening? For a long time, Jim and I tried to not let watch TV at all. It didn’t go over so well. Without TV at least in the background, I think we were both going mad.

Which, yeah, probably says nothing good about us.

Anyway, back to cooking…I have always been good at it because I’m good at following directions. I’m good about keeping an eye on things, which is why I rarely burn anything, and I’m good at keeping an eye on the time.

Lately, however, I have been tempted to mess around in the kitchen and come up with something of my own. I already alter some of the recipes I use, but I’m tempted to toss any and all recipes aside for a day, play some music on Pandora, and see what happens. There seems to be an art in that.

I guess I’m tired of following directions! ūüėõ

Note it!

We got Jim’s URL taken care of for a writing blog. He has been doing enough writing to justify it. He has some upcoming stuff where we were like, yeah, Jim needs a website.

Behold, jcstearnswriter.com. Nothing there–yet. But, knowing Jim, it won’t be blank for long.

The other shoe’s a-landing.

Since I last posted, things I feared have come into fruition. The other job Jim said he would apply for turned out to not be available in this area. Work finally did what they were threatening to do and eliminated overtime. And as they keep upping the production requirements–as well as adding more outsourcers to the written staff–more people are getting fired, including a friend of mine, as well as another lady who is a friend of a friend. Both have been with the company for years.

No, all my anxiety about firings and layoffs due to the changes at work is not unfounded. I am not crazy. Here is the proof.

On a positive note, Jim’s landed a writing gig. Like, a GOOD one. As in he could actually pay our mortgage with this one story, and it’s aligned with his interests, so to say that this is a big deal is putting it mildly. I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say about it, so I’ll stop here, but I’ll just say that I really hope assignments become a monthly thing and not a “once in a while” thing.

One of the things Jim will have going for him that I know a lot of writers don’t: He writes fast, he writes well, and he turns things in way before deadlines. I’m really pushing for Jim to get a website for his writing. It can only help.

In other good news that’s way different (heh), Vincent’s potty training is going great. Honestly, once Jim and I realized that we weren’t being very consistent with it and we needed to buckle down, it took off. I’ve read about all these problems other toddler parents have, like the toddler being afraid of the potty chair. Not the case. Vincent loves it.

One thing that helped was that we just let him run around naked. Surprisingly, there have only been a handful of accidents.

Now we’re working with him to go to the potty chair while wearing Pull-ups because, you know, he can’t go through life naked–at least, not in this part of the United States! But he reverts back to the “I’m a baby in a diaper” mentality and just goes in the Pull-up, so I’ve been setting a timer every 30 minutes and taking him to get him in the habit of learning he actually has to pull something down first.

If this doesn’t work, then I may just put him in underwear. Not nearly as comfortable if you shit in that, I imagine.

Other Vincent news: Vincent is doing this Birth to Three class thing at the elementary school. It’s a free program where I think someone comes to your house a couple of times of month to work with your toddler; they also have play groups together, as well as some field trips. Honestly, they had us at “play groups”! Poor Vincent only gets time with kids from the nursery at church, and we’ve missed the last couple of Sundays. (The first one because Jim was up way too late and was exhausted, and the day before yesterday because Vincent was sick.)

Which brings me to my birthday weekend…It was nice and relaxing. I still got up early with Vincent and let Jim sleep because I usually don’t mind getting up early on weekends. If I’m tired, it’s no big deal, as long as I’m not working. (Not a problem anymore, with lack of overtime.) Weekends, it’s no big deal, I just nap when he does.

Anyway, Jim finally got up. He surprised me with a white, plastic dress mannequin and a fondue pot. I was taken aback by the mannequin. “I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I just–I like it, it’s just–well, it has nipples!”

I wasn’t expecting nipples for my birthday, what can I say.

Anyway, Jim had arranged for his mom to take Vincent. We originally only intended for him to be gone for dinner, but she wanted him overnight. So during our child-free night, we did what I wanted to do: Go to Hobby Lobby (found wolf print fleece in the clearance section that made me think of my dad) and went to Lowe’s and debated various things we wanted to do with the house. Right now, we’re not on anything fun, though, although we looked at fun stuff (large freezers, trees, etc), but my birthday money is going towards “needs to be done stuff,” like moving the washer in the basement to drain in a different drain in hopes it will keep our basement from flooding so much.

Went home, ate Indian food–something that doesn’t fly with Vincent. OMG. Soooo good. If I’m ever on death row, Paneer Tikka Masala will be my last meal.

Went to bed. I was up, getting ready for church. The deal was that Lori (Jim’s mom) would take Vincent to the nursery, and Jim and I would pick him up from there. Jim and I went to get donuts first, after I checked to make sure we were still good, money-wise, as we don’t like to eat out much; dinner was out of Jim’s own personal cash. Then we started getting texts: Vincent threw up his milk, but he seems okay. Now he’s drinking water.

“Granny probably gave him too much milk,” Jim guessed. “You know how it goes.”

I nodded. We got home, ate our donuts, thinking that’s all it was. Vincent is almost never sick. Vincent will drink milk all day if you let him, and I’m sure his granny wanted to spoil him a little with more than his usual amount, but too much doesn’t agree with him.

Then we got another text: And he just threw up his water.

With that, we were out the door.


The above was written a couple of days ago. In a nutshell, Vincent turned out to be sick, but it was mild. We picked him up and he fell asleep in the car. We heard that he had not eaten much of anything since the night before. But after his nap, he acted completely normal. If anything, it was like he had more energy, even though he was running a slight fever.

Meanwhile, I started having my own stomach trouble and didn’t feel well. Monday, I punched in for work and ended up requesting same day PTO. I requested PTO for Tuesday, in case I wasn’t feeling better, and I got¬†approval for both¬†around 1 PM, so I took a little less than half a day for Monday afternoon¬†and just took a nap. When I got up, Jim took his temperature and discovered that he had a slight fever.

So I was glad I took Tuesday off, but we all seemed to be mostly better (I still had a bit of a stomach thing), so by the afternoon, we took Vincent to a public pool to go swimming. ūüėÄ

Anyway. It was a nice relaxing day…until about 8:30 PM, when another good friend of mine started texting me that her boss called her AT HOME to basically tell her that if she didn’t raise her stats within a month, she’s going to go on the first step of some kind of disciplinary action. She and I were on the phone for probably about two hours. She needed to vent. We both did, actually. Neither one of our husbands understand what work has become like. That’s the problem with working from home–you become very isolated, with nobody to vent to, and with everything being monitored, you only dare say so much via IM.

After I hung up with her, I became very anxious. Once, I saw myself retiring from this place. Not anymore. I don’t know how long this job is going to last. And it’s so sad, because I used to really love this job. Jim told me that he would work on a resume the next day.

So here it is, the next day, and guess what we get? A letter from the bank. Our insurance and taxes are all rolled up with our mortgage. Well, if I understand what Jim said correctly, the bank is stating that either because of increase in taxes or our insurance premiums, we owe them almost $600. We can either pay it all at once or have our mortgage increase by $50 a month.

“What do you want to do?” Jim said.

I sighed. “I guess there goes my birthday money and a big chunk out of savings,” I said. “I just want to get it done with and paid. Man, it’s not like we were even going to do anything fun with that money. Just house stuff that really needs to be done. Now it’s going to have to wait, again.”

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned that my student loan went up, have I?

Jim said, “Yeah, I think we’ve reached a point where my finding work is no longer an option,¬† it’s a¬† necessity.”

I agreed.¬† So now he’s working on a resume. I get anxious just¬†watching him go through the process. Man, life shouldn’t be this stressful. We’ve been working really hard to get ahead, getting rid of cable, stopping with eating out. Jim even had our gas disconnected until winter comes to save $20 a month.¬† So, wish Jim luck. I’ve actually checked before, and we may be eligible for WIC, but I’ve tried my damnedest to avoid it. It’s worked so far, I guess.

No segues.

Jim did not get that first job that he had been hoping for, the one he really wanted. It depended on the guy currently working there to get the job he wanted, and it didn’t work out, so his position won’t be opening up.

Jim is now saying he is going to apply for another place where (we’ve heard) they pay more than I make. Here’s hoping.

Work is still stressful. Weird how months ago, people were texting/IMing/calling me to complain about work and I was calm for the most part. Now I spend most of the time pacing.

I found out that my sister, the one that is only five years older than I am, has had a heart attack.  I am sure that I am next.

We are trying to potty train Vincent. Funny how months ago, he went a couple times on his own, without prompting. Now that Jim and I decided to buckle down and FOR REAL potty train him, we can’t get him to go out all.

Most mornings, we see turkeys crossing our yard. I think about them sometimes when I’m sitting down to punch in to work. I like to think that they’re signs of good luck, but most likely, they’re just shitting on our lawn.


I will have to make this short, as my laptop’s battery doesn’t have a lot of life to it, and my AC adapter to charge it has had some sort of mishap. Don’t ask. I don’t even know.

All I do know is that I am stressed, stressed beyond belief, stressed enough that I texted some co-workers (who know what our work is like these days) Work has me so stressed out that I just Googled “can you tell if your blood pressure is going up” and “how to prevent stress-barfing.

I wish that I were kidding.

I won’t even get into what’s going on at work, only that sometimes, I feel very conflicted about what’s going on. Just how they’re handling things. Then I’ve run across some people who seemed like they were going out of their way to be nasty or just make my job difficult. Let me tell you, for one of them, I had to bite my tongue in a million pieces to not go off on him, but that’s what I do: I have a great filter for those type¬†of things.

Since the layoffs in the last post, I haven’t heard anything else. They still have overtime for the next couple of weeks. The way things are going, I doubt there will be more. They did say it, finally: That they are nearing their goal to get rid of overtime permanently. I am still predicting more layoffs within the next year¬† or so.

I have hopes, though. Jim may have a job lined up. If he gets it, it would be in a place he really wants to work at, but the pay would probably be “meh” and¬†it would be evenings and six nights a week. That would at least help us avoid needing a sitter and the money would probably make up for the overtime I would be missing. Downside means that he and I would not see each other very much.

If he doesn’t get it, then he swears he’s going to try for another place we heard that is hiring that makes more money than I do. Man, wouldn’t that be a relief. Then if I lost my job, we’d be okay. Heck, I could stay home with Vincent, which is what I’ve wanted to do all this time anyway. I hate being a working mom. I want to raise my kid, be there to teach him things and witness all his firsts. I will not lie, I’m pretty bitter and jealous towards Jim that he gets to do this.

I ran that idea by Jim. “Wouldn’t it be nice for YOU to be the breadwinner for a change?” I said.

“Oh, yeah, definitely,” Jim said. He turned to me. “I promise, if I don’t get this job, I will try for the other one.”

I hope he will. I think the pressure of being the only one working is getting to me. My arms and my head all feel like they’re tightening; I haven’t eaten much all night because my stomach feels so sick. Maybe I’ll lose weight. Maybe I’ll lose so much weight, I’ll wither and float away, away from computer screens and emails about impossible REs, away from open mouths and empty promises.

But that’s a lot of weight to lose, and for now, it doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere.


Work news.

What a week.

Thursday, I punched in early, determined to get overtime done, only to take same day PTO by 11:15 because I started getting so sick. (Another one of those Wanna-be Migraines. I am seriously starting to think I need to get to the doctor about these things.)

I went to lie down for a nap. Vincent was down for his nap, so Jim curled up next to me.

Then the texts started. Three different people, asking if I heard the news. The news trickled in: An email had gone out about “strategic partners” and organizational changes. People were getting laid off.

I¬†was having a hard time getting to sleep anyway; it was one of those weird times where I felt so sick, I couldn’t sleep, but it was just as well: the texts were coming in fast, and I was too curious to ignore them. I wondered who was getting let go. It didn’t take long to hear that it was mostly salaried employees, i.e. supervisors. One of them was a guy who was in my class when I first started.

The most recent bit of news that I heard is that they’re not really letting these people go, that these people have a certain amount of time to find other jobs within our company. Which doesn’t really add up, considering the email was talking about severance packages.

Needless to say, while Jim and I have already tightened up our belts, I think we’re going to be doing some hardcore budgeting soon.

At least, for once, we actually have money in our savings account.

Almost July?

Seriously, this year has passed the half-way point. Really? REALLY? God, I hate getting old because even a year doesn’t feel that long anymore. It’s weird–I remember so many things from when I was going to SIU. Granted, I was an older student already then–“non-traditional,” they called it–but I was 30, and man, that seems so young now. What kills me is that I look back and I’m like,¬† wow, that was about 9 years ago. Almost a decade! Where does the time go?

And then I’m like, well, ten years doesn’t really seems like that long anymore. Hell, in ten years, I’ll be pushing 50! Almost halfway to 100! I may be dead! Very possible, we don’t seem to last long in my family. My dad was only 69.¬† Although I think my Uncle Bobby is 78 or something like that. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

Death doesn’t creep slowly towards you; it barrels like a freight train.

Someone remind me to get  back on exercising again.

Fuck yeah, love wins!




Four years, first day.

Four years since Josh passed away. I took a diversity day to spend the day with the family. Personally, I think that living is  the best way to honor the dead.

Originally, the plan was to go to the zoo. Between the heat and the flooding, St. Louis was off, so we ended up at Cedar Lake Beach–Vincent’s first time at the beach!

Vincent's first beach trip

Vincent’s first beach trip.

Don’t let that face fool you. Okay, sure, at first, he cried. That was the first time in. Then I took this picture, and he started looking back again toward the lake. Jim took him back in, and next thing I know, Vincent is splashing and laughing like crazy. When we left, he cried and kept pointing at the lake.

Best way to deal with bad memories is to have a good day.

RIP, Josh. I hope you were watching.


I am trying to think of updates, since I don’t post very regularly these days.

A¬†couple months ago, Vincent did see a speech therapist and a developmental specialist, just for evaluations. Verdict? He’s fine. In fact, they said he was either exactly where he should be, if not actually further ahead, in just about everything EXCEPT speech. (He apparently has quite a gift with puzzles and could work out several levels ahead of other kids his age.) Speech was the only thing he lagged in. They even said the delay was within the “acceptable level” of delay, so they were not recommending him for speech therapy or anything like that.

Fast forward to now, and he’s doing exactly what we figured he would be doing: Suddenly, saying new words left and right. It’s like he’s playing catch-up almost overnight. Before, it was a new word every month or couple of weeks. Now, it’s like a several within a day.

It’s pretty awesome.

What else? They haven’t cut the overtime at work yet. They keep getting approval to keep it up because our inventory is so high. That being said, I haven’t been working as much as even two months ago. Yet, money-wise, we’re doing okay because we have cut out so much eating out and reduced our grocery budget.

We’ve also been buying most things we want or need at yard sales. I’m pretty excited because we have almost Vincent’s entire fall/winter wardrobe done, and I don’t think we even spent a total of $15 on it. This includes a winter coat, a hat, and snow boots. I figure I can make him a knit or crochet cap. (He had one that I made when he was a baby, one that I made a couple sizes too big on purpose so that he could grow into it, but Jim lost it in Walmart.) While he has mittens, they’re knit, and I would like some good, waterproof ones for him. Oh, and some snow pants.

This past winter, he couldn’t play in the snow at all because we didn’t have stuff like that. We just had the bare essentials, but to be fair, we don’t usually get winters like the past winter in southern Illinois. Usually, we have snow for what seems to be like a day, then it’s gone.

This winter, damn it, if there’s snow, I want my kid to be able to play in it. We are keeping our eyes out for snow pants and waterproof mittens at yard sales. If we don’t find any–I think that snow pants may especially be a long shot–then we may end up having to buy them¬†at¬† a store, but we’re hoping that¬†it won’t come to that.


Jim recently has decided that he wants to do something as a family every weekend. I could go into detail of every damned thing that Jim claims or wants or intends to do, but I won’t. What I will say he is planning on doing a lot of things and making a lot of promises, that there’s no way he’s going to fit all of them in the week, and the only thing I will count on him doing is not missing games.

Whatever, I’m getting to where I don’t even care. At least it’s nice and quiet while he’s gone.

In other news, we’re getting storms here yet again, that reminds me of another thing: Last time I tried to post here, I got stopped halfway through because RAIN STARTED POURING IN FROM OUR CEILING. A small leak had developed before, Jim patched it, and we were thinking it was completely fixed until Monday, when quite a bit started coming in right by the TV. Thankfully, I hadn’t punched into work yet, so I could watch Vincent while Jim got into the attic and put¬† bowls to catch the water.

Jim patched it again earlier today and ran a hose on it to make sure the patch held. Good news: It held. Bad news: When Jim ran a hose up there, he found another leak he hadn’t known about, but it’s smaller and would have to rain REALLY heavy for it to even be an issue. Still, he’s going to have to track that down and fix that too.

All that being said, we do need to replace our shingles. He had mentioned that when the home inspector guy checked out our house, the guy mentioned that the shingles were at the very end of their life span.

Something else that I really need to budget for. Jim is actually even more concerned about the basement than the attic. We don’t do small problems around this house.

Eh, I should probably get to bed. I have to be up with Vincent in the morning. I was going to watch some My So-Called Life while I had the house to myself else, but eh. Fuck TV.


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