My Year in Review – 2011 A Year in the Life of a Single Mother – July Through September

A tent in the woods

A tent - not ours though. Ours is much bigger and never stood this straight!

Our Personal Life

July – August – September

The Sale of our House & Moving

We were due to close on the sale of our house on or about July 28th. The boys and I had nowhere to go and I had tried everything. Their father ignored requests to help pack and find housing, I was alone.

Luckily, my mother came through by withdrawing much of her life savings and after much looking she purchased a small house in town. She had a small inheritance from her parents but has been a Catholic school teacher for the past 10 years or so and put her plans to retire on hold to help us.

Things just did not feel right with the sale of the old house and after repeated unanswered phone calls to our real estate agent and about 10 days before the scheduled closing, she finally admitted forgetting to tell me the buyer withdrew the offer. Our relationship deteriorated over the next months, but that is another story.

We had yet to close on the new house, but we had been given an offer that we couldn’t refuse and I knew waiting would just mean having difficulty finding housing later. At that point, our stuff had already been boxed and the old house was a mess. The house would show better without us living in it, and we moved. Besides, I could not stand the thought of another cold winter.

Finalizing the Divorce

At least I would have the divorce finalized at the beginning of August – or so I thought. Due to some sort of confusion, the trial was put off until The Fall meaning no government help collecting child support. I wondered where our values had gone so wrong and why there was so much apathy in the judicial system. I needed to know there was hope and, for reasons I cannot get into on SMS yet, we took a trip.

A Working Vacation

The summer my ex left, we were supposed to take a family vacation camping our way across the country, but because I was very pregnant and now alone with four little boys, this was impossible. I had promised the boys I would take them somewhere each year and we decided to visit Atlanta. I carefully looked up friends in case of emergencies along the way and we took off. We were on a tight budget so there was no eating out, no movies, or unscheduled side trips, but we camped our tent in state parks and met the most wonderful people.

 Credit Card Declined

About 30 minutes from the Georgia border, we stopped for gas. It was already getting later than I wanted and I knew we would be pushing it to make it to the campground before it closed. Then the unthinkable happened. My one and only credit card was denied. The credit card company had discovered my looming foreclosure and had dropped my credit limit from about $14,000 to $500. Although I almost never used my card, I had put the Braves tickets and had paid a bill for close to $100 just before we left. We had also stopped in a big sporting store the kids loved and I had treated them (on my card) to some rare treats – big mistake! I got what gas I could with cash and continued to Atlanta praying and cursing at the same time.

I had stowed away a little emergency money and the campgrounds were okay with cash. On Lake Lanier outside of Atlanta, we met the nicest people. The couple running the campground gave us a discounted rate and the park ranger, a sweet elderly gentleman, stopped by one night and handed me about $50. He said his son had abandoned his wife and new child too and 25 years or so later, this park ranger still could not understand his son. I had not told either of them that we were almost out of money until after this and I hugged them both. I knew God was watching over us again. I have never met nicer people than those in the Atlanta area and I am offering up a prayer and a smile for them again as I write this.

Atlanta Brave Game at Turner Field – A Fantastic Place for Family!

The day of the Atlanta Braves game was hot but gorgeous and Turner Field is one of the best stadiums for children of all ages. We went on Mother-Son Day and marched around the field. After the game the four older boys participated in Kids Run the Bases, and we all received a free t-shirts.

Lanier World – Woohoo!

We were thrilled to meet up with distant friends a few times, and in an incredible act of kindness (Thanks Tammi and Harris!), we were given tickets to Lanier World, an amazing water park that I cannot recommend enough. It was the perfect way to end the day after the heat of the Braves game, and I will definitely go again when I have money! Tammi and Harris have quite an inspiring story too and I thank them for sharing it with me.

In all we drove over 2,000 miles round trip and stayed in a tent all but our last two nights when we met up with friends willing and able to accommodate all six of us (Thanks Donna and Alan and Karen and Matt).

Campus Visits for My College Prep Business Have A Bonus I Hadn’t Anticipated

For my college prep business, I was able to tour and speak to admissions personnel at four top colleges. My older two children became excited about college and each picked one of the two schools. Of course it would be nice if they wanted to go to the same school or even in the same state but life cannot be simple! My oldest son, who started high school this year, overheard one of the admissions officers talking about how important  it is to take hard classes even if your grades are slightly lower. After a few weeks in his regular history class, he came to me and said he would like to try the honors level class since the college he wanted to apply to would prefer it. I was so proud of him and continue to be amazed at the fine and responsible young man he is becoming. I have to stop myself from thinking of him as that lost little fifth grader who would forget his head if it was not attached and realize he is growing up – and nicely too! He was given the Most Improved Award for his school soccer team. “It just means I started worse than everyone else mom,” he moped with a twinkle in his eye, and I could tell he was just a little proud of himself.

One Last Stop

Our last stop was the only one I had promised the boys at the beginning of the year. It was to a historical site about 8+ hours from home and they had wanted to see it for a long time. I knew I might not even have the money for gas to make it home, but did not have the heart to tell the boys, and we went to the site while I hoped for a miracle.

At the gate, my credit card was denied three times and the woman running the machine was about the kindest person you could ever hope to meet. I told her what the problem was and left to call the credit card company to try one last time to raise my credit limit. I had asked previously for $500 to get us to Atlanta and home. This time I lowered my request to $300 and prayed with all my might. I watched the kids in the gift shop happily pawing through things I could not afford and hoped to God they didn’t break anything as I smiled cheerfully in at them. How would I ever tell them we couldn’t go here again this year?

We had planned to camp another night, but with virtually no cash and not a penny on my credit card, I could not stop. This meant eating dry cereal out of the back of the car and going through fast food drive-thrus to buy the boys items off the dollar menus. For the past day and a half, I had eaten only a little pizza my friend bought and whatever the boys had not eaten. “Please God,” I thought, “Let this credit card be accepted”

After what seemed like forever, the answer came back. I was temporarily granted a raise in my credit limit to $800. That meant we had $300 to spend – well, more or less. I jubilantly bought the tickets and accepted the discount the woman offered. My boys and I walked through history and they saw and heard what happened in the people’s own words. I thanked God and bought a refrigerator magnet at the gift shop. When we left, I bought gas and we ate! And I again knew God was with us! And I knew I wanted control of my own life. I did not want to rely on my ex-husband or the government or some silly credit card to feed my children. I would find a way out of this mess by following God’s path and letting him control the plan.

And Hard Work Pays Off With Success!

September, I received my 7-12 grade teaching certification! In the past two years with everything else going on, I had completed 54 credits and received my teaching license in math, an area where teaching would definitely be my first love. It was not long before I received notification that I would need as many as 92 additional credits over the next five years to keep my license, but that will be next year’s posts!

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Links to All Posts in this Series:

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A Year in Review - A Recap of 2011 World Events - July, August, September 2011
My Year in Review - World Events - October Through December
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