Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Justin Works for $-17 per month

Justin has been working part time for a few months.  When he started, our rent was tripled.  We thought that was the end of the fall-out and decided that it was still worth it for him to work.

Welfare decided to re-assess us because of this.  He's averaging $190 per week (IF he doesn't get downsized for the week, which often happens).  It's true that he has the potential to earn almost $800/month... however that NEVER happens.  We can usually count on $600 in an average month (where he may be downsized 3-4 days).  It's true that he can sometimes earn more, but those times are RARE and it always goes towards back-due loans/bills.

Now, if you remember from previous posts on this, Justin has to live 50+ miles away from home for 3-4 days each week (staying with family) just to have this temp job.

When they raised our rent, we had to have a serious family pow-wow about whether the very little income was worth the time away and the risk of driving to and home in the winter.  We want out of public housing, so we figured it was best for him to work.  

The Dept. of Public Welfare re-assessed our finances a week before Thanksgiving.  Justin's $600 per month means that we make too much money.

We lost our insurance and half of our SNAP benefits.  

So, let's tally:

Justin usually brings in $600 per month.

We lost: $278 in rent subsidy, $339 in food stamps, and insurance for 3 people.

600 - 278 - 339 = $-17

He's working so that we can lose money and insurance. 

I just want to cancel Christmas.  I have no idea how we're going to buy presents or cook dinner.  Screw the holiday, I have no idea how we're going to wipe our butts. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Being Property of Public Housing

June 10th of this year, my family signed a lease with a larger public housing complex.  We were ecstatic.  We have almost double the square footage of our old apartment.  There is a laundry room.  Our daughter has her own bedroom.  We proudly scrub the toilet in our second (partial) bathroom. There is a privacy partition between our half of the back patio and our neighbors.  There are downsides (we lost central air), but overall we love it!

After signing an afternoon's worth of paperwork, we were handed keys.  We went to the apartment and walked around it's empty halls.  We put a potted plant in the window and left the weekend to pack and round up moving help. 

It was a dastardly chore, but we moved in in 2 days flat.  Justin returned to work and I was left with a special needs child and an infant to care for while unpacking.  I managed to fully put away 2-3 boxes each day.  Justin came home on the weekend and we put a dent in the unpacking, but it was hard to tell.  We have A LOT of stuff.

One day we got a notice in the mail that let us know that in 3 days they would be conducting our yearly inspection (If you didn't know, apartments in public housing systems are carefully inspected for functionality and cleanliness once each year.  If you don't pass, you get kicked out.)    Having JUST moved in, we laughed it off.  Surely they'd understand that we had just moved in and that there would still be boxes in some rooms.  We'd only been in the place for 10 days!


We were given 14 days to completely unpack otherwise we would be served with an eviction warning.  I explained that we had vacation plans (my mother was paying our way to visit the historical sites of Gettysburgh for a week) and would not be gone for 10 of those 14 days.  They encouraged us to get as much done as we could.

We worked around the clock flattening boxes, installing shelving, assembling furniture... but still failed the inspection.  There were still some boxes sitting unpacked in our closets and our back door didn't have a curtain.  Complete bullshit! 

They returned in July and we finally passed.  However, it didn't end there.

Sixteen days later, we received a notice that the state department would be making the rounds in September and that they didn't know which apartments would be picked, but that one apartment in each building would be toured and scrutinized by this state team.  

To this day I believe that they ABSOLUTELY knew our apartment was on the chopping block.  While our neighbors were made to wash their windows and clean up their gardens, the ceiling of my storage unit was repainted.  While our neighbors were told to make sure their porch lights had working bulbs, maintenance was checking the tightness of the seal on my refrigerator.  Our apartment was getting grass seed and practice inspections while our neighbors watched to see what the fuss was about.

The day before inspection three of the smoke alarms begin beeping their low battery chirp at 3am.  The baby woke up and I ripped all of them off the ceiling.  It took me an hour to get her back to sleep.  Not only did I have no ride to the store (Justin had our car for work), but I had no money to buy 9volt batteries.  I texted Justin my predicament and he said that he'll come home early Thursday morning and I can run out and get the batteries before the state inspectors came through.

We had a plan.

Wednesday, just to be sure we passed because of all the trouble we'd had in the past, I tore apart two closets to re-organize them.  I was soaking the drip-pans from the stovetop and had a stack of items ready to be put into storage that evening after the baby was asleep so that I didn't have to worry about her crying when I left the room or wandering underfoot while I moved heavy things.  I had all sorts of deep cleaning projects in motion when there was a knock on the door. 

A maintenance man stood there,  "The state is here to inspect your apartment."

I had flaked!  I was a day off (problems of a SAHM).  I told him that and pleaded that if there was any way to choose a different apartment, that would be best.  He went back to the brood of inspectors and I shut the door.  I went into a flurry of activity trying to think of which of my projects needed the most attention first.

Suddenly, my front door opened and five people stepped into my home.  Five people that I had asked not to come in.  Five people that looked around at the baby toys on the floor and the decorations on my walls and LAUGHED.

They spent the next 15 minutes opening cabinets, stepping on my things, making derogatory comments about my "animal-like" children, pulling my son's pillows off of his bed, ripping my daughters decorations off of her door, touching things on my desk, and generally invading my home.

They broke my spoon rest.

They lectured me about the dead batteries in the smoke detectors, even telling me that no money and no car were no excuse.

They didn't like the way my dryer was attached so they opened my dryer door to stop the machine (instead of pressing the stop button!).  Clean laundry spilled out and was stepped on.  They left it that way.

I was lectured for not having had my closet doors open and ready for the inspection.

I was yelled at for my fiance not being home to watch my daughter so that I could accompany them through the apartment.

They made me lift and move (by myself!) a 300lb piece of furniture so that they could look behind it. 

The property manager scolded me like a child in front of everyone for not managing my time well.  

They said nothing before stepping outside.  I sat on my couch holding my daughter,  uncertain if they were done.  As I sat there, my breathing grew rougher.  I started to hyperventilate, my fingertips and ears tingling and numb.  I put my head between my legs and started to bawl.  My hands were shaking as I tried to text Justin and tell him what was going on.  I heard a noise outside and jumped.  The idea of them coming back in terrified me.  And I had no idea if they were done.  

I phoned a friend to come sit with me at the house.  There was little she could do.  I was hysterical.  It felt like I'd been raped.  My home had been invaded by people who broke my things, laughed at me, judged me and left.  Justin called off work for the night and drove up to stay the night with me.  I was a wreck all night.  I kept waking up to check the doors and make sure they were locked.

Since that day, maintenance as "accidentally" walked into my home on three separate occasions.  This last time, I told the man that it was not a good time and that it was unneeded for him to come into my home.  He returned with his supervisor and they insisted on coming in.  They came back three more times that week... always for something ridiculous and never for anything I've reported.

A month went by before I heard anything about the outcome of the state inspection.  We got a letter telling us that by not having batteries in three smoke detectors we had put the lives of everyone in the building at risk.  We were given a second warning for eviction.

I called and told the property manager, the same woman who had scolded and judged me, that I was unwilling to report other maintenance issues in the apartment because I felt unsafe and didn't want those men back in my apartment.  She told me that we'd receive a third and final eviction warning if I failed to report something wrong with the apartment.  Lots of love from this lady, I tell you.

I guess I tell you this story to emphasize that public housing is really just a place to shelve families in poverty.  It is not "yours".  You can't plant a flower.  You can't hang pictures without permission.  You can't have a pet without orders from your doctor.  And you can't tell employees not to enter your apartment.

These are not homes.  I do not feel safe here.

{ Stacey }

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sweet Tea on a Budget

I love sweet tea.  I used to be hooked on the stuff from Starbucks.  When that got too expensive, I started buying gallons at the store (you can get a gallon for what a Grande costs!).  One day, our food budget was gone and so was my tea.  I did what any reasonable poor person does... and hacked it.  We make about a gallon a week now and, aside from water, it's the cheapest thing we have in the house.

I know some people may be Kool-Aid pushers because it's cheap (≈ 43¢ per 1/2 gallon), but the amount of artificial flavoring and food coloring in that stuff makes me want to shake the parents of every child that I see walking around with a glass. 

Making the same amount of sweet tea at home is not only cheaper (≈ 28¢ per 1/2 gallon), but it has less sugar, ditches all the artificial stuff, and offers up all the benefits of drinking black tea

We use Great Value brand products, the generics from Walmart.  I'm not proud that we shop at that soul-crushing giant, but our budget wouldn't make it if we didn't.


1.  Measure 10 cups of water in a pot.  Heat to a boiling, then turn off the burner.  Add 10 bags of black tea and leave alone for 15 minutes.  Don't poke them too much. 

2.  After 15 minutes, fish the tea bags out (do NOT squeeze, this will release tannins that make the tea bitter).  Stir in 1 1/2 cups of sugar, while the tea is still warm, until it is dissolved.  

3.  Put a lid on the pot and allow to cool.  Pouring hot tea into plastic will cause the plastic to expand and release toxins into your tea... so really, wait until it is cold.   If you're in a hurry, add a cup or two of ice.

4.  Once cool, use a funnel to help you pour into the gallon container*.  Add 6 cups of cold water.  Shake and stash in the fridge until you're craving the wonder that is 'sweet tea'.

Done.  A gallon of Sweet Tea for less than a KitKat.

If black tea is too bitter for your children, or you'd like to trim the caffeine, you can use GV Green Tea (raising the price slightly to .43¢ per 1/2 gallon).  And, of course, green tea comes with its own load of health benefits.

If you want that slightly crisp citrus tinge of Starbucks' Shaken Black Tea, add frozen lemonade concentrate.  (1tsp to your glass or half of a can to a gallon)

Also, a neighbor of mine cuts the sugar by 1/2 a cup and still loves it.  
* It makes my skin crawl when I go to a friend's house and they pull out a plastic orange juice jug from 1998 with blue Koolaid in it and offer me a glass.  So, we buy a real jug of Arizona Sweet Tea every few months so that we maintain "the look".  It is thoroughly washed and dried between each filling.  The plastic on these guys is very thick and durable.  If reusing a disposable container isn't your thing, use whichever gallon container you have.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Bitch Fuse Flipped

Today, I yelled at my neighbor.  Why?  Because she asked me to stop by for a moment. 

This woman has been a friend for a long time.  We both lived in a previous housing complex together.  She's babysat my son.  She's celebrated holidays with us.  We've gone camping together, we go shopping together, we are good friends.  Yesterday, she gave me $20 just because I need it and she had it.  

Today, she needed a friend and I told her I was too busy.  I was an asshole to my sweet, 50-something year old friend.

In my defense, I was having one of those mornings where I wanted to be doing something for myself and everyone in the world needed me to be doing something for them. 

The Girl was crying for me, not to nurse or be changed, she just wanted up.  The elementary school had called to say that The Boy was throwing up while I was on the phone scheduling his therapies for this week.  Justin needed me to schedule some doctor appointments and finish a discussion with him about returning to temp. work.  My mother was texting me (a sore spot for me right now) and someone was Facebooking me.  I'd just opened up the mail to find that our insurance check bounced and that our car is in danger of being taken away

And, of course breakfast needed to be made, but the dishes needed to be done first and the garbage needed to be taken to the dumpster....  All on a morning that I really just needed some time to myself.

My friend slammed her door and I had myself a little tantrum in the middle of our snowy parking lot.  I growled something about not being a free psychologist for everyone in our apartment complex.  Then, I took a breath and knocked on her door.

What did my friend need? 

She had accidentally locked the touch panel on her stove and couldn't read the small print in the manual to figure out how to unlock it so she could make some tea. 


Poverty is this disease that causes you to stress about EVERYTHING.  It occupies all the bandwidth in my brain, assaulting me 24/7.  Trying to sort budgets and meal planning and who won't get paid this month and which shutoff I can get help for and which one I need to put on the credit card... all in my head.  To stay sane, I need a lot of alone time throughout the day and needy children and clingy friends don't allow for that. 

The phone constantly rings or there is someone at the door.  Student loan debt, electric bill past due, people selling things I could never afford, a preacher and his family wanting to share the word of the Lord with me.  Even at night, either The Girl wants to nurse and climb all over me or Justin wants to have grown-up time.  I have taken to retreating to the bathroom, but they find me anyway.

So, instead of making myself some breakfast and relaxing this morning, I was pulling my boots on and doing a bunch of stuff for other people.  My neighbor's door opened, she shouted to me across the parking lot about needing some attention...

And I snapped.  Thank goodness she's forgiving.

BTW, if you ever accidentally lock the control panel on a Whirlpool Electric Range, just hold the lock button down until it beeps.  {Stacey}

Friday, February 28, 2014

Southwest Corn Chowder

We were given a jar of generic picante sauce and a can of great northern beans from a food bank recently.  We don’t normally eat these things, but I searched through our cookbooks until I found something to make.  

**Note that Stacey’s household is Vegetarian and uses mock-meats when cooking.  If you’d rather use corpse in your cooking, you may have to adjust the cooking times of some of her recipes to be certain the meat is cooked to the proper internal temperature.**

This recipe fed 5 people and left a bowl for lunch the following day.  If your family is smaller, halve the ingredients.

Forgot to put it in the picture ;)


  • 14oz Faux Chicken Breast (we used a 13.8oz bag of Gardein’s Meatless Chick’n Strips), or 1lb of breasts from murdered chickens 
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, diced (You can play with colors here.  We did ½ of a red and ½ of a green)
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp Cumin
  • 1 can Corn (15ish oz)
  • 1 can Great Northern Beans (15ish oz)
  • 28oz Vegetable Broth, or 28oz cruelty-infused chicken broth
  • 12oz Picante Sauce (you can totally sub salsa for this)
  • ¼ cup Cornstarch
  • ¼ cup Water
  • Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded (you can sub just about any kind of shredded cheese)
1.  Chop the Faux Chicken Breast into bite size pieces (roughly ¾” cubes).  Saute in the Vegetable Oil until browned a bit.  Add in the diced Onion and Bell Pepper.  Cook until the veggies are sweated a bit.  

2.  Stir in the Cumin, Vegetable Broth, Corn, Great Northern Beans, and the Picante Sauce.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.

3.  Whisk the Cornstarch and Water together in a separate bowl.  Stir into soup.  Simmer 10 minutes.

4.  Serve warm with a tasty clump of shredded cheese and maybe some crackers.  

Pardon my sloppy, chipped bowl.

{Stacey}  #FoodBankGrub

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Honesty Post : Our Finances

In our home, the main source of income is our son's SSI (Supplemental Security Income).  We are a family that knows the shame of living off of an 11 year old.  

It's not a thing that you boast about.  It's not something that makes you look forward to the stereotypical "first of the month" payday.  While it's a moment to gasp for air, it's a reminder every 30 days that we are, essentially, failures. 

Our second source of income is the occasional temp-work that Justin can find.  He had a relatively steady gig through the fall last year.  It was an hour away from home though, so he scheduled in 4 day blocks and would stay with his grandmother who lives near the factory.  He slept all day and would work the nightshift folding boxes and pushing buttons for $8.50/hr.  He sent all his money home and drove up to see us on the weekends. 

Then, the transmission went in his car.  And I don't say "his car" like it's a bragging right.  One of the only perks our little family has had until recently is that Justin's parents had gifted him with a $3,000 SUV.  When the transmission went, so did the car and we were left with only my little Hyundai.  My old girl is in her last days as well.  She is 13 years old, rusted and beaten.  She has over 230,000 miles on her and squeals and pings so much that it's like driving an arcade.  

Being a one car household, Justin could no longer work so far from home.   He has been looking for a local job since December 23rd of last year.  We got one nibble last week.  We spent $15 worth of gas driving to the interview.  When he got there, their computer system crashed and they couldn't finish.  They never called back and we were out all that gas.

So, our household has been living on our son's $744/month for a while now.  That, and food stamps (thank goodness!).  Too bad our bills are more than double our income.

Now, I'm not sharing this with you to gain pity or solicit anything.  I'm sharing this to show the world what poverty in America looks like.  And we're one of the lucky ones!  We have a car.  Most of my neighbors don't.  We have food.  Many of our elderly neighbors don't.  We were lucky enough to get into subsidized housing.  Some people have no housing help and pay $700 or more a month for a home. 

I show you this for transparency.  To show you that we're not "lazy", we're immobilized. 

It's SSI payday tomorrow, but it really doesn't matter.  The $744 that will be deposited by 6am tomorrow is already gone.  It will be sliced thinly and automatically withdrawn until one of them bounces.  Then the fees will be applied and the bill collectors will wait until April's payday to fight over our pennies once more. 

THIS is poverty.  We have no savings account.  We have nothing set aside for emergencies.  Our last credit card has less than $400 available.   There are no churches nor charitable organizations paying our bills.  We have family as a last ditch effort when things go REALLY wrong, but they have their burdens too and can't always help.  We bargain with companies.  We defer loans for 90 day blocks, knowing that the interest is still building.  We pretend our son doesn't want to join the basketball team or go to the public pool on hot days.  I tell my guy that I don't need a diamond ring on my finger to show the world I'm his. 

We cry a lot. 

We may not be starving (due to SNAP, outlet grocers, and elaborate menu planning on my part), but we are still drowning. 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

How The Hell Did I Get This Poor? [aka: Stacey's Story]

I remember when the internet was new and shiny to my older relatives.  They were trying out group emails to family members.  They didn't know that replies are sent to everyone in the group.  Because of this, I learned what one of my relatives really thought about me...

My mother was turning 50 and a few of them asked if I was planning anything special.  I sent out an email inviting them to join us for dinner, cake and gifts in the banquet hall of a local family restaurant.  Shamefully, I had to add that I could not afford to pay for their meals, but that cake and ice cream was on me.

Aunt C. emailed me asking why my plans for her sister's big birthday were so lame (but in nicer words, she's a Christian).  I privately emailed her that that all I could afford were decorations for the banquet room at a local restaurant (the room was FREE with the purchase of dinner) and to get her a cake.  I also said that if any relatives wanted to pitch in for their sister's 50th birthday, I wouldn't mind at all.

Seconds later, Aunt C. sent out an email to Aunt T. stating that there was nothing special going on for my mother's birthday because I was too poor.  She also added "They're always poor."

While it may have been aimed at Aunt T., it was sent to the whole group.  I felt like the bitch had stabbed me.

I didn't lose my cool.  I just let her know that in a group email, everyone can view her posts and left it at that.  She came to the party.  I ignored her.

Familial snub aside, this was nothing new.  People have always expected big things from me, even if I lacked the ability.  When I fail, they're shocked.  I'm very good at that 'put a smile on your face and keep moving' shit.  If I have bad day, my guy is probably the only one who knows.

I grew up an hour north of Chicago until 1993.  Times were tough and my mother had had enough.  She quit her 70hr/wk job, sold our grungy little house and moved us to a quaint town near an Amish steak in Pennsylvania.  It was a huge culture shock.

I never realized I had an accent until then.  Twenty years later, I watch movies set in Chicago and cringe at how strong my '"youz guys" dialect must have been.

I was in highschool and the level of bigotry and general "hilly-billyness" blew me away.  They hated blacks and gays.  They loved guns and Jesus (the clean, white one).  They hunted.  Not only did they hunt, they got two days off of school each season to go hunting and then they would hang the deer from their front porches to bleed them and gut them.  Everything was camouflage clothing and country music.  Their speech was horrid and I honestly felt like I needed to speak slower every time I had a conversation.  The big thing to do was to sit in a bunch of mudded-up trucks in a field and drink Yuengling.

Just, so incredibly not my thing.

The high school was a joke.  I graduated with guys who couldn't read, but could throw a ball.  I made perhaps 3 friends my entire stay and wouldn't you know that nowadays, one is gay, one is a vegan and the other is an occultist.  I guess Pennsylvania never really took a cultural hold on me.

Anyway, I graduated high school in 1997, just like a zillion other kids in America.  I worked at a photography shop that summer and reorganized his filing system and wrote him a training manual for the next girl he'd hire when I left.  I moved to Pittsburgh that fall to attend a technical college.  It didn't work out.  I moved home within a year.

I worked at a gas station full time.

I traveled.

I dated.

I worked part time at a gift shop.

I hung with friends.

I paid off my loans and never really gave school anymore thought.

I got a cat.

I was a bit scattered.

Suddenly, it was 3 years later and I was engaged to a guy that was the exact opposite of anything I'd ever really wanted for myself.  He was dumb but sexy and did anything I told him too without question.  I had a moment of clarity in early 2002 and called off the engagement, but a week later found out that we were pregnant.  My mother freaked out, so I married the guy.  Long story short, big mistake.  We've been separated for 11 years and he never saw the kid.

In those 11 years, I have been a single mom (to what turned out to be a special needs child), worked full time at minimum wage while going to school part-time.  I have struggled with boredom.  Nothing stimulated me.  I dated locals and dumped them when things got stale.  I delved into non-profit work for a bit.  I traveled some more.  I started a home business and tried to go to school full time.  I blew through credit cards.  Aimless.  Wasted.  Stagnant.  These are good words to describe my life in the 2000's.

One day at work, the higher-ups were struggling with something a client needed.  The scientific aspects were beyond them.  I waited as long as I could before mentioning the answer to them as I walked past, with vacuum cleaner in hand.

Later that day, a co-worker came at me red-faced and demanded, "Stacey, why are you here?  You're way too smart to be here!"  I didn't have an answer.

I still don't.  

I turned 30 and it was a miserable year.  My son was diagnosed with autism and found to be mentally retarded.  I couldn't afford my next semester of school and my roommate moved out without notice.  I was working part time as a hotel maid, drowning in debt, borrowing money from my family to pay utility bills and trying to get out of a lease I couldn't afford.  My son changed schools and started up all kinds of therapies and confusing services.  (It was during this hellacious time in my life that I met Mr. Right... like something out of a romantic comedy!)

Mr. Right and I found a crumbling ghetto apartment that we could afford (seriously, the windows didn't open, the previous tenant had used a hole in the drywall as a garbage can, and there were paintball pellets lodged in the closet doors).    Knowing how financially fucked we were, I had an IUD put in so that there was no chance that we would have a kid.  We were trying to be responsible while figuring out my son's needs, going to college and finding temp work.  The hormones in the IUD made me sick.  Not fluish... suicidal.  I had a complete mental breakdown.  I slept all the time.  I had fantasies of cutting my arms open and playing in the blood.  I had impulses to swerve my car in front of oncoming semi-trucks (with my son in the car!).  I cried all the time.

I lived like that for two years.  It. Was. Hell.

I finally had the IUD removed.  Within 12 hours, I felt like a giant weight had been lifted from me.  It was like someone turned on the lights.  My depression and all suicidal thoughts vanished.

The only drawback (financially)?  Is that we were pregnant 3 months later.  I love my daughter, but I have to admit that my family and friends have bought us everything for her (cradle, clothing, carseat, blankets, toys, etc.).  The only thing we can afford is her diapers.

I'll be 35 this year.  I haven't worked in 3 years.  I am 13 credits away from a Bachelors degree that I fear I'll never get.

I am a Stay-At-Home-Mom not out of desire, but out of necessity. My 11yo son is mentally disabled, for which I collect Supplemental Security Income to care for him.  The state of Pennsylvania gives my family medical insurance, food stamps and energy assistance (help with our heating bill).  US Rural Development gives us money towards rent.  If I go to work, we lose tons of these supports.

I tried to take a part-time job last year.  I would have earned $11.80/hr.  Fantastic, right?  After taxes, I would have brought home around $600/month after taxes.  I was ecstatic.  I even thought it would help a friend out because I could pay her to babysit.  She was happy because it was going to put Christmas money in her pocket.  So, I called around to the various agencies you have to report these things to and had an abrupt reality check.

We were going to lose $180 in rental subsidy, $218 in foodstamps, and $376 in SSI.  I would have also had to pay for work clothes, gas to and from work, and the $20/week I was going to give my friend to baby sit.  

We would have gained $600 and lost just shy of $1,000.  And my son would have had to walk home alone from the bus stop. 
I actually added it up and I need to earn around $16/hr AFTER TAXES to even equal what I make staying at home right now.  

I’m not saying that our assistance should be less, because we aren’t even making it as it is… but something is broken in America’s economic system when this is the reality.  

I am an able-bodied, 34 year old woman with skills and a desire to work, but I MUST remain unemployed for the sake of my family.  

As a side note, to those who might be wondering where my guy is in all of this financial mess: Sweetheart is looking for work, but is an inexperienced, unskilled 24 year old without a driver’s license (he has a phobia). He spent all of 2013 trying to conquer that fear and has already taken his first road test (he failed, but is set to try again next week). When he can find work, it is as a 3rd shift temp in a shitty assembly line for low wages in poor conditions. It frustrates the piss out of me that instead of going to college to finish his Psychology degree, he has to job-hop so that our family can survive.

Well, that's most of my story.  See more from our other Admins soon.  Stacey