1 – She consistently self identifies as the “middle child,” despite the fact that in reality, 90% of her time is spent as the oldest of three.

2 – She dotes on her baby sister, but seems firmly convinced that her little brother is out to get her.

3 – She really likes reading, but it’s not the love of reading that I hoped she’d inherit from me.  She’ll read and enjoy it, but it’s not her favorite activity.

4 – She’s very poised and confident with other adults.  Probably comes from being the oldest (despite what she thinks – she IS my oldest).  I can send her into the dry cleaners or the store to grab something without hesitation.

5 – She’s got major drama tendencies, and with very little provocation, can sink into an all encompassing sobbing fit.  It’s not depression, it’s like an overwhelming embrace of whatever feeling she happens to have.

6 – She’s incredibly thoughtful.  By that, I don’t mean that she’s incredibly considerate, although she certainly can be.  But she THINKS about stuff, very much an in her head kind of kid.  She’s got a lot of questions and theories on how the world works that I find fascinating.

7 – She still sleeps with her teddy and special blankie.  And honestly, she’s almost always rather sleep in my bed than not.

8 – She’s majorly afraid of heights.  Being picked up over Marc’s head freaks her out.  A lot.

9 – She’s really, really good at math.  Doesn’t like it – but is really good at it.

10 – She’s achingly polite.  If offered something, she’ll more than often, politely refuse, rather than have someone put the effort into getting it for her.  Especially if we’re at someone’s house and they offer her something to eat or drink.

11 – She’s got a definite style, a specific way of dressing that amuses me.  Because it’s so different from me – I wear whatever I can find and hope it’s clean, but she’s very distinct in her likes and dislikes.  Won’t wear jeans, hates sneakers, but will don a scarf and pair of oversized sunglasses and look like a movie star.

12 – She will resist taking a shower or a bath, but once in there, will often refuse to get out until she’s totally out of hot water.

13 – She really, really likes cosmetics, perfume, etc.  She carries a little purse filled with nail polish and lip gloss and sunglasses and is never happier than when she’s in front of a mirror, beautifying herself.

14 – She’s terrified of loose teeth.  Marc forcibly removed a loose tooth (actually two) when she was five, and she’s freaked out now about anyone touching her teeth when they’re loose.

15 – She’s amazingly sensitive, achingly sweet, and incredibly stubborn at times.  She’s my angel girl, my first little baby, and I’m always, always stunned and grateful that I got lucky enough to have a daughter like her.

We were technically homeless.  We weren’t living on the street, thank goodness, and have a strong safety net of friends and family who were all very helpful and loving and thank goodness for wonderful friends who housed us and made us feel welcome and loved.  But the facts are that, for a month, my husband, my three small children and I, were homeless.  That terrified me.  Still terrifies me.  Because even though we’re moving into our new place next week (YAY!), it was so easy to reach the point where holy moly, we have nowhere to go and oh my God, we’re actually homeless.

I didn’t use the word around my kids, but I couldn’t help shouting it to myself all the time.  It wasn’t our fault, really.  We had trusted the wrong people, entered into a lease that wasn’t enforced with a landlord who had a whole bunch of issues, plus we were just coming off of fourteen months of unemployment.   It was a combination of events that led to a perfect storm of me and my family homeless.

I’m still a little shell shocked, honestly.  I know it was a momentary blip, I know that Marc’s got a great new job and is doing well.  I know that the kids rode it out surprisingly well, they’re amazingly resilient, and of course, it helped that we were staying with such great friends who made us feel so welcome.  And it was less than a month, after all.  Our new place is lovely, really.  I already adore it and I’m not even moved in yet.

Things still feel a little fragile and scary.  I imagine that they will for a while, for me.  I hope not for the kids.  I wonder how they really felt, in their own heads, about it.   They seemed okay, mostly.  Jessie could talk about it, which helped to mitigate some of her fears and frustrations.  Sam had some other issues that manifested itself, but for the most part, he seemed to sail thru it without too many problems (it definitely helped that we were staying with his best friend).  Julianna was a little off, but adjusted quickly.  I worried the least about her, she’s still at an age where her security is still really based on my availability.  As long as she could snuggle up next to me, she was fine.

I’m feeling more like me these days.  The past month, two months, really, have been exceptionally difficult.  I was depressed and miserable and trying so hard not to be.  But I feel lighter, more cheerful and optimistic.   Signing an eighteen month lease will do that to a girl.

I have a hard time articulating my spiritual beliefs.  Actually, I don’t know that it’s a hard time articulating it, more it’s a hard time understanding them.   I’m Jewish – of that, I’m certain.  I believe in a divine presence, and I believe that it’s benevolent.  I believe in free will.  I also believe in destiny, and somehow manage to blend the two into a oddly reassuring theory that I chose my life before I was born.  That it was almost like writing a story that has to contain some things – but I was able to choose the awful things that happen knowing that it would balance out in the end.  That with some perspective, I would be able to know that this was exactly what needed to happen to get that.  This and that being variables that change depending on circumstances.  For example – Marc and I miscarried twins very early on in our relationship.  And as devastating as that was – and it was truly the worst thing that had ever happened to me, and there were days when I didn’t ever think I’d be able to smile again – I can look back now and say that, without that, I don’t know that things would be what they are today.  Without that trial by fire, without that early loss to bind us together – I might well have messed up the relationship with Marc.  We were looking for different things at that point, and I think that I might have been too scared and he might have not wanted that level of commitment so soon after the divorce – but when we lost our twins, it brought us so much closer together.  So I have Marc, and Lilli and Sarah, and Jessica and Sam and Julianna and this whole life together – and I’m not certain if that would have happened without my twins.   Ten years ago, I was not so sure.  I was devastated and lost and terrified – because I WANTED those babies so badly, and I had prayed so hard for them, and when they died, I didn’t just lose my babies, I lost my faith.  I’ve gotten it back mostly – or thought that I had, but find myself feeling a lot of those emotions these days.

So I try to find some perspective here.  Because January will be great, and we’ve got a good chance at getting a lovely place to live, and if I can get thru the next three weeks or so, I think we’ll be okay.  But I’m struggling financially in a way that nobody likes to be struggling in December – and I’m bitter and angry about it.  And when people say to me (as they do ALL the time) – “You’ll get thru this – you just have to see it happening.”  I want to scream in frustration.  Because positive thinking can make it easier, but doesn’t make the bad stuff go away.  And being positive is no guarantee against the really, really hard stuff.  Like being homeless, and worrying about where the Hanukkah gifts are coming from – I don’t KNOW that this will be fine.  I knew that we’d be okay before our landlord summarily moved his stuff back in when we had nowhere to go.  I knew for sure that we’d be in our own place and we’d be fine.  And we’re not.  I’m angry and enraged when people assure me that positive thinking is what I need most to make this better.

We are so lucky – I know that.  And my kids are doing great – because we have wonderful friends who are happy to have us around and family who loves us and we’ll be okay.  Of that, I’m pretty sure.  But I can’t blithely assume that just because I want it all to work out, it will.  That puts too much pressure on my ability to think my way to success.  I believe things will be okay – because Marc has a good job, because we’ve built a stable life together and we’ll get back to that place soon.  But I know now that there are no guarantees, and that simply wanting something to work out perfectly doesn’t make it so.  I just wish I didn’t have to learn this lesson every ten years or so…

But I’m realizing that I blog when I’m happy – and when I’m really struggling emotionally, I’m not much in the mood to write about it.

So after having our feet kicked out from underneath us, and being basically evicted on three weeks notice, we were unable to find an apartment quickly enough.  We met with a couple of landlords, and there was one or two that would have rented to us, but they weren’t in great neighborhoods and the places we liked were reluctant to rent to us because Marc was still unemployed.  So we ended up putting our stuff into storage, and are staying with our friends Sara and Arlen.

The good news (no, great news – because this really is great news, it’s just that things seem so hard right now it’s hard to focus on it), is that Marc started a fabulous new job on Monday, and apparently has an uber high credit score, so we can probably qualify for a no money down home loan and buy.  We don’t have any debt and have been living exceptionally frugally, and paying our bills on time pays off 🙂  But after talking to the loan officer, it looks like if we wait another six months, and then apply for a loan, we’d be in a much better position to qualify.  So she recommended a tenant at will place for six months and then go for a house.

So that’s our plan.  And it’s a good one, and I’m really trying to stay optimistic about it – but right now, I hate the fact that we aren’t in our own place.  This is really, really hard for me.  Thank goodness for wonderful friends like Sara and Arlen, and my lovely new realtor, Annamarie, because she’s talked me down off the ledge several times so far.

The kids are adjusting beautifully.  Sam is doing great – really.  I mean, I’d say, of the three of them, he’s really doing the best so far.  Jordyn is one of his best friends anyway – and this way, he’s in a familiar setting, gets to sleep right next to me every night, and so far, I don’t see any problems with him.  Jessie is having a harder time – because there’s no alone time for her, and no space for her to arrange her stuff.  Jessie loves her stuff, and arranging her journal and stuffed animals is challenging because there’s not a lot of space here.  Julianna is doing… okay.  She’s adjusting fine to being here, it’s missing her daddy that’s hard for her.  She’s so not used to having him gone, and I feel so bad for her sometimes.  She talks about “Yaya” all day long, and wakes up at night talking about him.

It’ll be okay – I try to keep telling myself that.  But this has shaken me on a level that’s usually not shakable, if that makes sense.  It’s very, very difficult.  I find myself really hating my former landlord for putting us into this position, and feel very powerless and unable to make it better.  This isn’t a normal feeling for me – I generally try to go with that peace and goodwill towards all philosophy – and I’m angry and bitter.  I’m also enough of a control freak that being in this position is making me nuts.  I just have to wait and see what Annamarie can find for us, and hope for the best.  I know that we’re all healthy, and thank God for that.  I’m not blind to the fact that this could be SO much worse.  We had our choice of people to go stay with – we are blessed with wonderful friends and family, and everyone is so kind and generous – but I’m the one that people stay with – not the one who goes to stay with others.

But we are all healthy and the kids are adjusting as well as they can.  And Marc has a wonderful new job and the van is still running great.  We’re on the cusp of great and wonderful things – but I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I’ll be to be in my own place again.