Iowa or Bust!

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And she’s off! I dropped Amber and Bean off in Redlands last Sunday. It was 104°F. We thought we’d hang out, have an iced coffee, walk down the little downtown and check out Orange Street Alley but it was way way way too hot to be out and about!

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We tried though! We got our iced coffees, sat around in the air-conditioned coffee shop for as long as we could, and then quick-footed it down the alley with all the umbrellas and called it a day. Nice knowing you Niece-com-poops! Have a good life!

Just kidding. I wouldn’t give them a send-off like that in a million years. We might have kept our goodbye hugs short but we definitely made sure the daysbefore she left was really special. We had several “last chance” special outings. We went to the beach, we went to the pool, we went to Balboa Island and we went to the mall… we visited all of our special places (including Wahoos and the Shake Shack!) and tied up her visit with an extra nice bow. I’m so glad she was able to stay so long with me during such a tumultuous time and we were leaving on good terms. We didn’t even fight! It was really special to have this time to bond with her and Bean. I love them to pieces.

And yes, I miss them.

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I mean, how could you not? Look at that innocent cherub face!  All the memories of her interrupting my phone calls with high shrieks or throwing food from her highchair onto my white carpet have magically vanished away. What crazy psycho baby? I have no idea what you are talking about. She is a DREAM!

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It was good for me to be in the thick of toddlerhood again to remind me that I’m good. I don’t need to do it all over again. Having only one child who is now an amazing teenager is not a bad gig. I’m very happy with my motherhood journey. Yes, I did want more kids but I’m lucky to have the ones I have now. There will always be children in my life, they just won’t always be mine. Sigh…

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Amber took this photo of Bean sleeping on me. I’ll always have these memories and I can’t wait until they come back to visit, or maybe I fly out to Iowa and visit them! It’s possible.

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Fly little butterfly, fly! You have a great big world out there for you and it’s going to be great.

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In hair news: I decided to cut the “wolfie” into a regular “pixie.” I thought wrongly that the shorter I went the cooler it would be. Nope, I still sweat the same amount and I am sick to death of summer and all this sweating. I do like my super short hair though. It’s fun and super easy to take care of because no matter how I try to style it, it pretty much looks the same. So why try?!  Bed head is taking some getting used to. I don’t love the crazy old lady tennis player wave I get sometimes but at least it’s entertaining. I hate it so much I rush to the bathroom sink and madly smash it down. Why does my hair have to be so free? It just wants to be full and escape my head. Note to future Brenda: do not cut layers above your ears. When will I ever learn???

 

xo

Dream Catchers

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I love the words: dream catcher. Not “dreamcatcher” as in a hoop with a net that catches dreams and protects children in their beds, though I love those too, but just the words dream and catcher. I think of it as a person who catches dreams. We should all be dream catchers, no? I love nothing more than to dream up something big and then go and catch it! It rarely happens but when it does, it’s magical. I’ve been lucky to catch quite a few dreams in my life.  So when Amber (aka Rapunzel) started making them at my house to kill time and maybe start a little cottage business it felt a bit provident.

A little back story: Amber has been staying at my apartment for a few weeks. This is because she and her husband have been struggling to find a place to live. For years they’ve hopped between couch surfing to living in their car to finally living in a low-income hotel. It wasn’t the best. Life has been very hard for Amber. They left that hotel this last year because it became an unsafe place to raise a child. They planned to live with my mom (who needed help) until Casey, Amber’s husband, found work and they could afford a place of their own but it didn’t pan out. They got kicked out by my parent’s HOA and found themselves bouncing around from family member to family member. Finally, they just gave up on California. Everything is just too expensive here. It’s impossible to find a job that will pay for an apartment unless you have two incomes and a couple of side hustles. Believe me, I’m doing it too and it is killing me.

Casey decided to try Iowa where his mom lives. He could live with her while he looked for work, so he left his wife and baby behind and set off for Iowa by bus. His luggage got stolen but he made it and found a job working the night shift at a gas station. He saved every penny and hoped to soon find an affordable apartment for his family. Well, you can guess what happened next. Apartment after apartment got taken before he could even get on a waiting list. It’s been six months and nothing has worked out.

Times are tough for everyone but it was breaking my heart to listen to their phone calls every day. Casey was getting more and more depressed. I was desperately trying to think of ways for Amber to raise money while caring for her high-maintenance toddler. I pulled out my craft supplies and told her she could make anything she wanted. I’ve been wanting to downsize anyway.

I closed my door so I could work and when I came out four hours later I found Amber tying string together to create a beautiful macromé hanging on my window. What can I say, craftiness runs in the family! I was so impressed I asked what else she could make and when she mentioned dreamcatchers I decided to order the supplies and see what she could do.

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During naptimes and when Bean is swimming and playing with me, Amber has been steadily creating dreamcatchers. They are beautiful! I told her we could put them in my Etsy shop and sell them. I haven’t set up any shop listings yet but if you are interested, email me and I will get on that. I know dreamcatchers are not going to pay the rent but every little bit helps and Amber can’t really do much else these days with a very active toddler. Not to mention she suffers from Elos Danos, Fibro Myalgia, and Pots… I don’t know much about these diseases but I have seen firsthand that they cause a lot of pain and probably every fourth day or so she struggles to even get out of bed. But she does. You have to when you have a child.

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Both Amber and I were determined to keep our spirits up. Something had to give. Her husband was getting more and more depressed. Daily phone calls were ending in tears. What could we do? We lit candles and prayed. I talked to everyone I knew, hoping someone would know something or someone who could help.

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Then out of the blue, an anonymous doner gave them two thousand dollars. It came from a completely unexpected source that I can’t share. Somewhere I wouldn’t have thought of in a thousand years. But here we are. Two thousand dollars to put down on a place! In Iowa that goes a long way.

Casey wasn’t able to find them an apartment but he did one better. He found them a mobile home they can BUY. Can you believe it? They’ve been homeless for years and finally, they’d be back on the grid and living in their first real home! It was an answer to prayers. They put the 2K down and will make reasonable payments on the rest as well as rent for the ground it sits on.  It’s a real home with two rooms, a kitchen, a laundry room, and even a mud room. They are over the moon. After so many years of hardship, things are starting to look a little bit brighter.

I should say that going from homeless to living in your own place is not without its difficulties. In fact, every step of the way has been incredibly frustrating. I had the money sent to me and then I had to send it to Casey via money order and it got flagged as probable fraud. When you are down and out keeping a bank account open is a luxury. I spent hours on the phone trying to convince the security team that I was in fact a real person trying to send money to my nephew in law and he was not asking for me to do anything illegal. It’s really hard to get back on the grid.  Really hard.

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But they did! They’ve been living in my living room, and sleeping on my couch for weeks now but at the end of this week, they will begin their journey back east to live in their own home.

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It’s amazing. It’s a dream, caught! I didn’t think it could happen. I’ve wanted to help Amber for so long and I’ve struggled to find ways to make a real difference. Sometimes I just felt like I was throwing money in the water because nothing could really get them off the streets and living a better life. Every step they took was one step forward and two steps backward. Being poor is exponentially expensive.

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But here we are: They have keys and a real home.

 

Do you need a dream catcher too? Maybe it will work magic for you too.  Hit us up. Amber is selling them for twenty-five bucks and under. If you’d like a custom order she can do that!