This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Geez, I Just Need A Job

I have to go back to work. 

I have to, but I really don't want to, and logistically, I am not sure how I am going to. 

See, my husband has a good job with full benefits.  In this economy, that is nothing to sneeze at.  But at a recent benefits meeting regarding open enrollment, the employees were informed that due mostly to pending federal legislation (also known as "Obamacare") our benefits costs are increasing to the tune of nearly $200 a month.  So we will be bringing home nearly $200 a month less after January. 

We do better than most, but we are not rolling in the dough or anything.  We live debt free.  We are frugal.  We have to be -- we have 4 kids on one income.  Our grocery costs have increased nearly 43% over the last 4 years and the cost of gasoline has increased by nearly 75%.  All of this combines to make me going back to work a necessity.  However, I cannot afford childcare for 4 kids so I need to work a job with flexible part time hours.

This makes my job prospects basically zero.

If I could work full-time at a typical secretarial job, I could easily bring home close to $20,000 a year after taxes.  Of course, I'd have to pay out about $16,000 in childcare costs and I would spend nearly $1,500 a year more in gas, and I would most likely spend about $2,000 more per year on take out and convenience foods.  My net profit would be approximately $500 per year or less than $50 per month for working 40 hours a week.

So I am not looking for a full time position.  I am looking for a part time position that pays enough an hour to make it worth it and is flexible enough that I won't have to pay for childcare.  So far, I am having NO LUCK.  Not to mention that my resume is all over the place with big gaps in it every time I had a kid. I have worked a lot of different jobs starting when I was about 14.  Just since college I have been a leasing agent, an office administrator, an loan auditor, a customer service representative, an assistant property manager, a real estate assistant, a medical billing specialist, an office manager, an outside sales rep, and a professional photographer.  And I guess technically a writer since I started this blog (even though I don't make any money at it).  I was good at all of those jobs, but I cannot find a part time job that pays more than minimum wage and has flexible hours. It is a bit depressing. 

I have a college degree.  I am intelligent.  I am easy to work with.  I am a fast learner and as demonstrated by my past work history, I am good at many, many different things.  If I could just talk to prospective employers, This is what I would say:
I have many skills that would prove useful in any office environment.  I can type, file, organize, sell, promote, and create.  I am a valuable asset because I can do pretty much anything that you need for me to do and I'm an expert multi-tasker.  I get along with almost everyone and if I don't like someone I am great at pretending.  You need me.  And I need a job with flexibility.  Hiring me for a flexible, part time position works out well for both of us.  You don't have to pay for my benefits, you don't have to pay a full time salary, and my myriad skills mean that I can do more than one job so you can hire JUST me instead of 2 or 3 people.  I am NOT "career oriented" at this point, I am "let's pay for groceries oriented" so I will not be begging to be promoted to a more prestigious position.  If I get to that point, I will give ample notice so that you will have the opportunity to offer me a position before I leave for a career driven opportunity. 
 Unfortunately, it is not that easy.  It should be, but it's not.  I am trying to update my resume to reflect these very things, but it is seemingly impossible.  So if you know of anyone in Huntsville or Madison Alabama who could benefit from all this and a daily dose of sarcastic humor, let me know.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The 10 Basic Types Of PTA Members

This morning I cleaned out my purse.  I do not remember the last time that I cleaned out my purse, but among the lollipop wrappers, receipts, and random crumbs, I found some notes that I had made at a PTA meeting.  Theses weren't notes about the meeting, but they were notes about the people (mostly women) at the meeting. 

When I was in Texas, my first experience with the PTA was anything but positive.  The PTA there was made up of manipulative, power hungry women who believed that their elected positions somehow made them better than everyone else (FYI -- they weren't).  The main reason that those women were in their oh-so-powerful positions to decide things like what kind of cookie dough third graders would sell was because everyone else at that school was apathetic.  The PTA had devolved into a small circle of women who paraded around thinking that they were better than every one else while the rest of us rolled our eyes and let them have it.  Understanding my mindset about the PTA is important because it is with these attitudes that I went to the first PTA meeting at my kids' new school.

These notes I found were from the very first PTA meeting I ever attended at the new school.  I was beyond cynical about the prospects at the new school PTA meeting and it was with this jaded attitude that I made these notes.  I would like to point out ahead of time that this post is in no way indicative of the women at my kids' PTA now that I've gotten to know them.  I say this because this is the kind of post that normally garners a visceral response from at least one reader who thinks that they are my moral compass.  I know this is a snarky post that makes me seem like a first class snot (to avoid using a more colorful word), so you do not need to email me to let me know that I am "wrong" to be so judgemental.  The PTA at my kids school is awesome and I am proud to be a part of it -- I am in these stereotypes too.  They accomplish so much and it takes all of these people to do it.

Okay -- back story and disclaimer handled.

As I sat in the lunchroom for the PTA meeting as my nostrils were assaulted by the stale odor of fish sticks and bleach, I looked around at the women of this new PTA and I sized them all up.  I admit that it was judgemental and petty, but as they were going on and on about the 'minutes' from the last meeting of the previous school year and the budget (which was easily 4 times more than at our previous school), it kept me entertained.  It also occurred to me that after reading numerous other mommy blogs about their respective PTA's that these gross generalizations are prevalent everywhere across America. 

So I present the 10 most common types of PTA members:

The Cheerleader:
This is the woman who takes every cause on with religious fervor.  She assures everyone that "we can do this" because "we have the absolute bestest teachers, parents, and students of any school out there."  Her optimism and excitement makes it possible to envision her with pom-poms in each hand and a quarterback on her arm.  She may not understand the mechanics of what needs to be done, but she can cheer you on to victory as you do all the heavy lifting.  Her veneered permagrin is perfectly white and can blind you if you stare directly into it.

The Nazi:
This woman has a clipboard surgically attached to her arm and can quote rule 15, article six of the PTA handbook verbatim without thinking.  She is quick to point out every violation in your classroom door decoration plan and has a stopwatch for making sure that the kids get enough free time at planned PTA sponsored events.  She can suck the fun right out of a room party by declaring that your planned party game is not on the school approved list of "fun things kids are allowed to do."  She and the Cheerleader are opposing forces and can cancel each other out if put on the same committee.

The PTA Barbie:
Usually a blonde size 2 in designer jeans, she really has no idea (nor does she care) what is going on.  She is here to show off her new Uggs and Coach purse and most likely will spend the entire meeting applying lip gloss.  She can't volunteer to help with anything because she has Pilate's and yoga class that take up most of her time.

The True Believer:
This is the mom that does a lot of work for the school with very little or no recognition.  She knows all of the teachers' names, where their classes are, and is the go-to-gal for....well, everything.  She is on every committee, takes pictures for the yearbook, organizes fundraisers, and makes copies (double sided and collated) for teachers that her kids have never even had.

Momma Warbucks:
This is the mom who thinks that everything can be solved with her checkbook and her available balance.  She doesn't understand why we, as parents, can't just all write a $200 check and avoid all of this time and energy spent fundraising. 

The Eye Roller:
This mom thinks all of this is stupid and unnecessary.  She is here because in her mind good moms join the PTA.  She is much more important than everyone else here since she is a doctor/lawyer/VP/etc.  She can't believe they are spending all of this time debating streamer colors and party themes.  She is looking up from her phone just long enough to roll her eyes at whatever mundane topic involving her kids is being discussed now.

Little Miss Connected:
This mom is the first one to raise her hand when anything is brought up about needing someone with connections to ANYTHING.  She loves to name drop and is certain to include how she knows everyone -- how they were in the same sorority, how their kids were on the same championship team, or how their husband's serve on the same board of directors, etc.

The Martha Stewart/Pinterest Mom:
God help you if you are on a committee with this woman.  She will have you at Michael's measuring the width of craft sticks and running to Hobby Lobby for metallic pom-poms to make "the cutest thing ever" that she pinned to her "Ideas For Kid's School Parties" board.  She can tell the difference between lime green and chartreuse at 50 paces and if you get the wrong one she'll send you back to the store to exchange it.  She'll have you at her house sharpening pool noodles into pencils to hang from the ceiling as you keep from complaining by popping her amazing petifores that she made from scratch like they were Tic-Tacs.

The Wrangler:
This mom has no idea what they are talking about. She brought her 4 kids to the meeting and has been trying to keep them wrangled to her general area while stopping them from arguing or licking the table or whatever whole time they've been talking. She sincerely wants to help with whatever the current event is and hopes that there is a handout so that she can email those in charge after her kids go to bed tonight and find out what is going on.  She will eventually get the info and do her part, but she could have skipped the meeting.  (This is probably MY stereotype, but when I wrote these notes, there was a woman with 5 kids who I was watching. With great sympathy.)

The Out Of Place Dad:
This poor man wants to be involved and is probably a single father since he's here without a wife and his daughter is quietly doing her homework beside him.  He sticks out like a sore thumb among all of these other women and he doesn't understand all of the female hierarchy in the room.  He looks around a little confused -- like he knows there is something going on that he doesn't get, but he has no idea what it is or if it involves him. 

As stereotypical as these classifications are, we need all of them. (Except maybe PTA Barbie...)  The well oiled mechanism that is my kid's PTA requires that each person, regardless of which stereotype they most fit, do their part.  The PTA president, who is not characterized here, has to deal with all of these different personalities and make things happen.  We shall call her "The Miracle Worker."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Random Post On A Sick Day

Yesterday, the youngest stayed home from preschool because he was coughing.  About halfway through the morning, he was laughing and running around and bouncing off the walls and there was not so much as a clearing of his throat.  It seems that years of watching his siblings fake sick to stay home for the day has taught him well.  He's at school today. 

However, his older brother is here.  Some sort of stomach bug (not quite as easily faked).  Bad news is I think I have a touch of it as well.  I must say that having the older boy here makes cleaning difficult in different ways than his little brother does -- the older boy doesn't want me to cuddle on the couch and watch Nick Jr. but he wants me to do stuff that I prefer to cleaning like watch Law & Order or Criminal Minds marathons because he has a similar taste in entertainment that I do. So we are slurping on ginger ale, and snacking on yogurt while we ignore the laundry that needs folding, the shelves that need dusting, the floor that needs sweeping, and the dishes that need washing and clear things off of the DVR together. 

As we were watching crime shows together this morning one of the detectives pointed out that the victim had obviously had company before they were killed because there were TWO glasses in the sink.  I reflected on the dishes in my own sink and it occurred to me that if we had a crime scene here the cops would walk in and say something like "Well quite obviously there were 26 killers.  Look at the glasses in the sink."

Fingerprints would also be very difficult to assess in our humble abode since nothing has been dusted in...well, awhile.  And trace evidence or DNA would be hard to sort out since its been about a week since I ran the vacuum or cleaned the bathrooms beyond a quick lick with a Clorox wipe and a spray of Lysol. 

I realize that cleaning would be a good idea, not just because it would make catching my potential murderer a lot easier for the CSI team but because a cleaner house is better for me and my family.  However, today, I really don't care.  I don't feel good and my kid doesn't feel good and we are going to pretend that the most important thing for us to do is to straighten up this DVR.

I don't know how things go downhill here so very fast.  As much as I try to stay on top of things like the laundry, the dishes, the dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathrooms, it never lasts more than a day or two before I look around and everything is chaos again. It's like the dirt demons are plotting against me and keeping me from ever accomplishing getting the entire house clean at the same time.  (We also watched Supernatural today).

I am being a *little* productive....I continue to wash and dry clothes.  This, of course just adds to the hampers or clothes that I need to fold.  Now I think it is time for a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a nap.  That's about all of the productivity that I can handle today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

No More Politics

I was going to write today about my reaction to the election.  I was going to point out why I voted how I did, what I am worried about now, and comment on the implications that this election has made. 

But then I decided not to. 

It's over.  Not that we should be complacent for the next 4 years until there is another election cycle or anything, but seriously -- what is the point in moaning about how sad we are, or rehashing the issues that have already been decided?  Even if I could change everyone's mind in the country, what good would it do?  I am disappointed in the choice that was made because of the financial implications that this outcome will have on me and my little family, but we've survived worse and I actually support several of the social issues.  I will choose to cling to what is good and work to implement changes for what I disagree with. 

So that is the last you will hear on it from me.  Instead, today I will share an excerpt from my latest book idea. 

As you know if you have read my blog before, I had written about 8,000 words or so in a fiction/fantasy novel but then NBC aired Revolution and my novel became trash.  I've been searching for something new to write.  While I haven't come up with a new idea for a novel, I have been working on a little something as an exercise to get my creative juices flowing again.  In case you didn't know, I have a degree in English Literature.  I love literature...especially poetry.  It evokes all sort of romantic thoughts, feelings, and ideas.  Tennyson, Frost, Dickenson,Whitman, Whittier, etc -- they were all magicians with words and I can get lost in their little idyllic worlds as I read them.

As much as I enjoy these little escapes from reality into literature, I find it increasingly difficult to relate to some of my favorites, so I am rewriting them to be more relevant to my life now as a mom to 4 little minions.

I have chosen to share my version of Robert Frost's "Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening" which I have changed to "Walking Through The House On A Monday Morning."  I have also rewritten "The Lady of Shallot" to "The Lady Of Quite A Lot" and I am working on rewriting "The Raven" as "The Toddler," (you can probably hear part of that one...."quoth the toddler 'evermore'..."

Anyway, I hope that this will provide a giggle and a welcomed distraction from your election hangover.  I don't know what I will do with these once I finish them, but perhaps a publisher would be willing to put out a little book of "Literary Classics Rewritten For Mothers."  Enjoy.
Walking Through The House On A Monday Morning
Who made this mess?  I think I know
They’re safely off at school now though
They thought that if they left this here
That I would put it where it goes.
My little dog must think it queer
To see me rushing far and near
Never stopping to take a break
Wiping every smudge and smear.
The laundry pile requires a rake
The bathroom floor looks like a lake
It makes me want to stop and weep
If not for the time that it would take
The hours rush by, they do not creep
I have to straighten, dust and sweep
And there’s laundry to fold before I sleep
And there’s laundry to fold before I sleep.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Please Grow Up Before You Vote

If you follow me on Facebook, (and you should, I post much more there and most of it is hilarious), then you know that I have been refraining from posting about the election or the candidates.  Quite frankly, this election is making me sick.  I know who I am voting for and I know why I am voting that way because I have researched the candidates outside of the mainstream media.  The blind acceptance of any political party or candidate based on what they say or what Fox news or MSNBC says about them is a foolish way to make a choice.  However, relying on what you friends or favorite pages post on Facebook is equally as irresponsible.  Yet many people are doing one or both of these things.

I know that many of you are very passionate about politics -- that is fine.  I also know that many of you are passionate about your chosen candidate -- also fine.  I have seen many "passionate" political posts in recent weeks that are full of misrepresentation, misinformation, and can best be described as inflammatory.  They are meant to anger people.  The people posting them are friends (some closer than others), and they post things without vetting them because they think that they are funny or because they have a knee-jerk reaction to hit "share" because the messages are so outrageous and they believe they will somehow hurt the opposition. I am not passionate about politics.  I actually loathe politics.  But I am passionate about America, and this election is ripping our country apart.

I have my own opinions about the candidates and their respective stands on the issues.  But the last thing that you need is another political opinion.  This post is not about my opinion on the candidates or on the issues. 

This post is more of a bipartisan reprimand.  If you see yourself in anything here, then yeah, I am talking to you.

I want you to quit relying on what you see on Facebook or mainstream media to sway your political opinion.  You are adults.  Don't let your friend's interpretation of whatever facts they think they know decide your vote.  Do your own research.  Use that research to find out which candidate best fits your ideas (or is least offensive) about what is best for this country. 

I want you to quit bashing the other side and acting like your candidate is some sort of Messiah.  These are both men who believe that their way is the best way.  They are human and therefore flawed regardless of what their campaigns may tell you.  Their supporters are as varied as America itself and there will be good and bad people among them.

I want you to quit talking about riots if Obama doesn't win or how you are moving to a different country if Romney doesn't win.  Frankly, both of those things are unlikely.   You will not find a better country to live in than America regardless of who the president is and what good would a riot do?  Do you think that it will make the winner say "Oh, my bad.  The other guy can be president."  All you will do is succeed in destroying property, harming others, and getting yourself arrested or worse.  I do not think that anyone truly believes that leaving the country is a viable option or that rioting would accomplish anything.  The people who say those types of things are showing their immaturity and/or their lack of understanding of how the world works.  (And frankly, it scares me that they are allowed to vote).

I want you to act like the adults that you must be in order to vote and not like a bunch of toddlers who are gonna stamp their feet and pout if they don't get their way.  Regardless of who wins this election, we will all have to deal with the results and we will have to live with each other.  Throwing a temper tantrum, belittling your friends (or in some cases family) that disagree with you, making threats about what you will do if your candidate loses -- they are all immature responses. 

In short, I want you to grow up and then vote.

There is so much information on both candidates out there -- not all of it accurate and a great deal of it purposefully inaccurate and meant to mislead. If you are a voter, then it is your responsibility to research candidates. You should start on their own websites and then seek independent sources to verify, explain, and comment on what they believe (or claim to believe) is the best plan for our country. Nikki, over at Mom's Who Drink And Swear wrote THIS BLOG this morning while I was writing mine. (Fair warning, Nikki's vocabulary is a "bit" more colorful than mine.) It is a very good commentary on Bronco and Mittens and what this election is doing to our country. People are trying to boil these 2 candidates down to a soundbite and that is just not possible. We live in a complicated world. There are so many issues at play in this election that it is impossible to compare the candidates as Nikki so aptly put it as "Romney wants to take money from poor kids and Obama wants to kill babies." But frankly, that is what the candidates and their supporters are trying to do.

There are a lot of people screaming for change in the way the election process is handled -- abolish the 2 party system, let the popular vote negate the electoral college, make elected officials accountable for their campaign promises, etc.  All excellent ideas.  However, the time to scream for changes like this is NOT in the 6 months before the election.  The way government works means that such changes will take years to bring about.  So if you really want these things changed, start working on them now before the next election in 2016.  Right now focus on what you can do with your vote in this election.

There is a page that I follow on Facebook called "I'm Just Heavily Medicated."  I do not know if her recent posts are supposed to pertain to this election or not, but I am going to close with a small sampling of her recent meme-quotes.  Take from them what you will, but I found campaign correlation with each and every one of them:

"We all see the world differently, based on our experiences in life.  Someone else may not see things the same way, and that's okay, because we don't have to agree."

"People won't always see things as you do; let it go.  You won't always see things as others do; let it go."

"Don't be pretentious.  Nobody is perfect and nothing is more annoying than someone who acts like they are."

"Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you."

"Friendship isn't only about saying the right thing, sometimes it's knowing when to say nothing."