Wednesday, February 03, 2016

February Versus Kid

By February it has been cold for a very long time. When it's nice, kids can play outside every day. By mid to late November, they can play outside sometimes. But not almost every day. They also are more bundled when they do play outside. This year was warm enough where December was like an average November. But it has still been a long time since Zach was able to play outside for a long time. It's been warm, but there is still a lot of melting snow. Its too wet to play.

missing outside: point February!

Zach is one of those kids that hates to bundle up. It's easy to get him ready for school when the most he needs is a short sleeves shirt, a flannel shirt and a jacket. But even with winters like this one he has to wear more cloths then he likes! Example, he hid all his long sleeve shirts so he could wear short sleeves! We found them and started keeping ALL of his shirts in our room after that! But I can't blame him. The weight of even a lightweight coat can be frustrating. It's also frustrating for him to need to wear a long sleeve shirt inside.

Too bundled for too long: point February!

Then there is the magic that suddenly happens with homework. For September through sometime in November or December Zach plays afterschool for a long time. On average he played for an hour. One Friday he played with a friend for TWO hours on the school playground! When he got home, homework took half an hour. But it's winter so that means even if I let him play for an hour after school in his room, homework takes an hour and a half.

I've been thinking about why. It's Mommy attention he's looking for. He's even doing it while I crochet and knit in the living room. In the fall he never did that. He has a nice desk in his room. It was just right back then!

When he's on the playground, he knows I am paying attention to him while socializing with at least one other adult. At home I give him more time to play by himself. But he doesn't have to elongate homework to get my attention.

Three years ago I did a blog post in March about what Zach has in common with my Pansies. The problem started in February. Every February it becomes a popular post. I think I know why. In it, I mentioned how Zach, then three, would bring me his transformers to transform for him a lot. He would also show me his toys.

In February kids seek more parental attention then other months. I think some parents can relate to what I was saying. His constant interruptions were getting annoying. Something had to change. That's when I realized he just wanted more of my attention. I always have paid attention to him. He just need more of it in February. So I started paying more attention to him.

Need for more then the usual attention: point February

Since Zach is an only child I think he feels the loneliness by February. But, even siblings tend to fight more in February. They are simply tired of each other! But play dates aren't easy to schedule. Even kids in aftercare are different in February. I used to work for an after school program so I know. They have been playing in the gym too long. Gyms are much louder then the outdoors. All that loud chaos for that long is frustrating. The indoors can be claustrophobic after too long.

Too much time inside and no end in sight: point February

I always say fresh air is the key to happiness. There is a reason that what we need most in February is the outdoors. Like I said, the indoors can become claustrophobic. By February it feels like a cage. It gets annoying bouncing between heated indoors and freezing outdoors. But it's too cold to be outdoors for long! Going outside on a warm and sunny day in February feels like you are being released from prison! Kids behavior changes in February because they are like inmates with 60 days left on their sentences. Almost over but still a long time left!

February 2010 8 months old

February 2013 3 years old

February 2014 4 years old

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Crochet and Knit Project Updates ( with PICTURES!!!)

Crocheting and Knitting are good for my OCD! A couple of posts ago I mentioned Josh letting me talk through my plan for winter and summer to mirror each other. That was the visor example. Now, the projects are underway or done. That means PICTURES!!!! I'll also post pictures of other projects I am working on or completed recently. What they are for will be under the pictures.


1. Blue, Green and Gold Ripple Afghan (in progress)
2. Purple Pattern and Yellow Ripple Lapghan (in progress but on hold)
3. Zach's Stripped Afghan (he sleeps with it every night) (Completed)
4. Josh's Granny Square Afghan (In Progress but on hold)
5. Black Shimmery Cowl (in Progress)
6. Cup Cozy and Coaster (Completed)

Completed: 2
In Progress: 2
In Progress but on Hold: 2

I've been planning this for a long time. I LOVE ripple Afghans and wanted to make one of my own. It's in progress, but will look beautiful when completed.

This is on hold. This was to practice making a ripple so the blanket above would look great!!! It will be much smaller when done but beautiful. I'll come back to this when the top blanket is complete. I might switch to this for the summer and put the other one on hold then. But, that's only if I'm still working on the other one come June.

Zach LOVES this blanket. He selected the colors when I had the yarn for the blue, green, and gold ripple blanket but hadn't started that blanket yet. I am definitely glad I made this for him first!

The square for Josh's blanket. There will be some squares in the dark green from this square. After the squares are made, I'll sew them together. This is on hold while I work on the black cowl. It's my travel crochet project . I can only crochet while waiting for Zach at school. The coat, steering wheel and door get in the way. But the heat is needed! It won't be long until I'm back to this blanket.

This Cowl will be 30" long when it's ready to sew the ends together and become a cowl. This is my spring/summer/fall cowl. I'm less likely to need a cowl then but it's good to have. Same goes for the sarong I mentioned in that other post. It's OCD at it's finest!

The Cup Cozy and Coaster for Zach's tutor. When the program is over in April we'll give this set to her. I needed something year-round friendly.


1. February Cowl (Completed)
2. January cowl (in progress)
3. December cowl (planned but not started)
4. February Heavy Hat (completed)
5. December Heavy Hat (planned but not started)
6. January Heavy Hat (in progress)
7. hat 18 - 24 months (completed)
8. Triangle wrap (in progress but on hold)
9. Checkerboard Afghan (in progress but on hold)
10. Cowl for my Mom (Completed)
11. Headband for Zach's teacher (Completed)

Completed: 5
In Progress: 2
In Progress but on Hold: 2
Planned but not Started: 2

February cowl. Completed just in time!!!

January Cowl. It's going to be a while until completed. I need 150 rows and just finished row 14 today! It's hard to find a heavy hat match for it. So gray it is!!! That means January! But I have been admiring this yarn for months and am enjoying working with it. I never thought I would reach that place, but I did!

December cowl. It's hard to tell but the colors are mostly light pink, light purple, and gray. It looks great next to the dark blue heavy hat. It has to be really really cold for me to need a cowl. That means they only have to match the heavy hats. Franky, it went best with the silver for the December heavy hat. But, I love the Denim blue heavy hat yarn and the teal mix (above) didn't match it. The pink and purple remind me of advent. The denim blue reminds me of Hanukkah.

February heavy hat. Now I have everything made for February!

The yarn for the December heavy hat. It's called denim. Just like the yarn for the December cowl, it's actually lighter in person. All of the hats are made with Red Heart Infinity and all of the cowls are made with red Heart Unforgettable. They are all the colors I have wanted to work with. Red Heart in my favorite brand. All but one of the projects pictured are made with some sort of Red Heart yarn. The Orange Cup Cozy and Coaster in the crochet section are made from Lion's Brand (Vanna's Choice). It's nice. But I don't like it as much. When the hats and cowls are completed, I'll do a post with pictures of each set.

The January Heavy Hat. I like the challenge these hats created. There is a pattern to the rim. I like the variety. The cowls take a while but are easy to make.

I felt like making a baby hat. My Mom volunteers at a charity for babies through 2 year olds. This hat is 18 - 24 months in head size.

The very beginning to a triangle blanket. This is the Spitzbubans of knit projects for me! Refresher, the Spitzbubans are the special cookie recipe from Josh's Dad's side of the family. I had to wait until we were married for 10 years to get it. This pattern is based off of a pattern that has been in Josh's Mom's family for at least two generations. I only modified it a little. That pattern includes decorative holes. I'm not going to add those to this pattern. I'm also using some yarn Josh's Mom gave me. It was left over from the baby sweater she made Zach. It's on hold until the hats and cowls are completed. I feel really connected to her as I work on this. But this project will wait until the cowls and hats are completed!

One square from the grape and navy checkerboard blanket. It's on hold until the hats and cowls are completed. This is my travel knitting project. But the cowls travel well too. They are my priorities right now.

The cowl I just completed for my Mom. She does a lot for me and it's one way I can thank her.

The headband I made Zach's teacher for Christmas

I know I have a lot going. I like the variety. I tend to be in the mood to work on certain projects. I try to do a little from each of my home projects each day. When one is close to a key point, I focus on that one. Example, if I am three rows away from finishing one of the colors in an afghan, I work on that until the new color is started. If a project is close to being completed, I finish it.

There are more knit projects because they are smaller then the crochet projects I am working on. In general, I try to plan ahead to what I'll make next. In knitting you can see the two I have planned next. When the December hat is done, I'll work on the January. When the January cowl is done, I'll work on the December. After that, I go back to the triangle wrap. That will take a while. I'm too far away to plan another crochet project.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Couples In The Company

Josh and I worked together when we were engaged. He even was above me most of the time. After the company we worked for closed all of their stores, customers started to find out. The most common reaction was shock. We always were able to keep our work relationship separate from our private relationship.

Oh............................................... one intsy winsy itty bitty teeny little detail. It was against company policy. Our Store Manager knew when I was hired. Josh already worked there. But, the District Manager didn't. Eventually, they found out. When Josh was a Manager of his own store and I was the Assistant Manager at the other store. They were VERY shocked by the news. But, by then, we were at different stores so it didn't matter.

Some couples can do what we did. Separate the professional from the romantic. For us, it just came natural. We work so well together. We understand each other so well. That actually meant things were better when we worked together. We got more done.

But, working together can be tricky. To make it work you:

1. Can't flirt
2. Can't use romantic nicknames
3. Can't take arguments (words, topics, and emotions) to work

In our case, I think that time working together has made things better for our marriage. When major projects have to be tackled, we work together now like we did then. It leads to better results quicker. We are not just partners. We are a team. We make each other better.

Zach and I sometimes visit Josh at work. Because of the environment, I just act like a customer while we talk. His co-workers and bosses know who I am. But, I don't get in the way of him doing his job. In fact, he's better at it when I'm there. I love watching him work. The grocery store environment is one he is thriving in.

I think about those "no romantic partners working together" rules sometimes. I understand where they come from. When you are at work, you have to be professional. Those rules are there to keep the employees professional.

But, I know from personal experience that sometimes romantic partners working together can be the most productive time for businesses. Ours was a small store. Josh and I would work from opening to closing every Saturday when I was in college. Date night was after that door locked. For both of us, that key turn was the physical symbol of our behavioral cross over. Only then did the flirting begin.

I miss working with Josh. He helped keep me calm. That helped me be the best employee I could be. Even after Josh left some customers would call to ask when I was working. So they could come when I was there. After everyone knew the truth, customers even benefitted from our relationship. With Josh in another store, we were able to transfer merchandise between stores. One of us brought the product home after documenting the transfer and the other brought it to work the next day. It was an unusual level of customer service.

Should there be a rule against romantic partners working together? That's a tough question. Not all couples are like us. But, we are far from the only couple that can separate professional and personal. A lot of factors need to be considered. One is the environment. It's easier to be professional in retail. However, an office boss married to his Administrative Assistant is unlikely to be a good idea. There are a lot of possibilities in between.

There can't be a black and white couple ban. What there needs to be are professional guidelines the employees have to follow. They can start off working together. A transfer or discipline can come later for inappropriate behavior.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Honest and Complete Communication

There is one key thing about our marriage that only makes it stronger. I always say honest and complete communication is the most important part to a healthy relationship of any sort. Here is an example of the level of honest and complete communication I am talking about.

I spent the last four days in an OCD planning bubble. I have brimmed beach hats for Spring, June, July, August, and Fall. I also made winter hats for Fall, December, January, February, and Spring. Recently, I have started making cowls and heavier hats for December, January and February. But the OCD kicked in. What would I use for June, July and August that are comparable to the heavy hats and cowls?

You're probably bored already. Poor Josh had to hear me spend four days getting to this:

I have a couple of sarongs. They are cheap. I also have visors in the garage. They are better for when it's hot enough to need a pony tail and still need the shade of a brim. For them, I have all I need in the garage. There you go for the summer months!

I think I averaged four to six hours a day talking only about this dilemma. It's the OBSESSION part of OCD. But, as we went along, I reminded him of the following:

I don't expect you to give me an opinion on anything. If you have one, share it. But, we both know what I'm really doing is sorting through these thoughts out loud. I appreciate that you are letting me do that. I won't expect you to remember much about what I am saying. I understand that this is the part you'll remember:

I have to help look for the visors in the garage.

I also know you are already scanning your brain for where you put them (Josh is in charge of organizing the garage). I love you for that.

You are probably thinking one or both of the following:

1. What's a sarong and/or cowl?

2. NONE of that is necessary. You just need one of each!

A sarong is a wrap usually used as a swim suit cover up. A cowl is basically a scarf with the ends sewn together. It works like a scarf without the "feeling strangled" part. I have been using some beautiful yarn to make them.

None of that might seem necessary to you. It's how my OCDed mind has always worked. I've always sorted things by months and seasons too. Even as a child. It's how my mind makes sense of the world.

Josh says he doesn't mind me sorting my thoughts out loud to him. As long as I don't expect him to remember it. But it only works if I tell him what I expect form him up front. I know he'll remember the visors. We both know he'll only remember what I have put out for the current month. That's because that is what he'll see whenever he enters our room.

I know most relationship communication doesn't go that much like the above interactions. That's because an OCD mind works differently. Sometimes one partner could be talking to the other partner expecting opinions and responses. If they are talking a lot, the other partner might just listen and assume they are being used as a "sounding board". In that scenario, the talking partner usually gets mad by the lack of participation from the listening partner.

It's important to be honest and complete when communicating your expectations. It's also important to do that before you start. It makes a big difference. No one is a mind reader. If they love you, they can do what you need. But, you have to tell them what you're looking for first.

 By expressing my expectations before sorting through my thoughts, Josh didn't get annoyed by all that "girly talk". He'll do the same with me sometimes. It only works when the communication is honest and complete. Expectations need to be clear from the beginning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Life On A Health Exchange Plan

A year ago, we got insurance through the Health Exchange in NJ. It's an Affordable Care Act plan. In 2013 I did this blog post when Ted Cruz shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act. When Josh got laid off in September of 2014, this became a lifesaver!

He was unemployed a year ago when he broke his hip. Our plan is through Health Republic of New Jersey. We saved thousands and thousands of dollars on these costs through this plan. The only part not covered was the doctor, who didn't take our insurance.

Suddenly, birth control went from $90 a month to free. $1,080 a year we no longer had to spend out of pocket. My birth control isn't just to control family size. I've talked about my PMDD. Severe mood swings at certain points in the cycle. This medication helps control them. It's the only option for me and a necessary expense.

Suddenly, Zach's asthma medication became cheaper too. A $50 emergency inhaler became $25. Instead of $60 a visit for my regular doctor, it became $10 a visit. Instead of $180 a visit for Zach's Pulmonologist, it became $50. We each have to see these doctors at least four times a year to monitor issues. Asthma for Zach and High Blood Pressure for me.

The premium for our plan, before the tax credit is the same as the monthly premium we paid at Josh's old job. That plan was grandfathered in. But I doubt it's much better for those who got it after the Affordable Care Act requirements!!! The coverage was getting worse each year, not better. See above expenses.

Yes, we have a high deductible that will never be met. I took that into account when choosing a plan. I took into account:

1. Deducting reachability
2. Premium
3. Medication costs to us (before and after insurance)
4. Doctor costs to us (before and after insurance)
5. Testing costs to us (before and after insurance)
6. Premium and other expenses to savings ratio

In the end, it just was a better deal. That was determined before we know what tax credit we would get. With our budget, that credit is necessary. It counts as income. The paperwork is printed and ready to go to our Accountant/Josh's sister. But because it was affordable, we have the coverage we need to manage our health issues the best we can.

Health Republic Active Access Spotlight Silver 94% AV Level Plan

That's what we have. The 94% AV Level part is new for 2016. The rest was from last year. I'm not sure what that means. It's not the cheapest plan offered. But, it becomes the cheapest for us when I take our full needs into account. It's important to consider all six of those things.

At first, only a couple of doctors took that insurance. As with all insurance changes not all of our doctors took it at first. Most of them take it now. Two of those doctors have been replaced. The last one, my Psychologist, is too important to change.

When we renewed the plan we had to send in some paperwork. Because Josh is hourly with two jobs, they needed pay stubs. They needed to get a feel for a strong estimated annual income. Zach is currently uninsured. Because of income we had to apply for him through New Jersey Family Care. They are reviewing his file now. At least that's what they told me when I called today. If he's not accepted, we can add him to our plan. But, we can't add him to our plan until they reject him. I blame "Gov." Christie for that situation!

Josh can buy coverage through Fairway. But, it's expensive and not as good. Today it was confirmed. It doesn't matter if he can be covered through work. We can still keep this coverage instead. Because it's more affordable and matches our needs better.

 In that blog post from above I said we won't really know if we like the Affordable Care Act until the country has lived with it for a few years. I said ask me in 2016 what I think. It's 2016 and I can write this review with experience:

The biggest negative is that we have to apply for Family Care for Zach. That part might not be a problem in other states. It's how our Governor decided to set up the federally run plan. He will be receiving all medical bills incurred while Zach is uninsured.

Everything else about it is wonderful. Without this option we would have had to file for bankruptcy because of a patch of ice. No coverage means things are worse off for us. It's easier because we didn't have to give up most of our doctors. More and more doctors are taking these plans.

How it was adopted was determined by state so the results will be different for everyone. A lot of states don't offer health coverage through an exchange. They are some of the red states. These are the states with the poorest Americans who need affordable care the most. They might hate the ACA but they are more likely to not realize they aren't helped by it when their Governor passed on enacting it. 

I love it. For significantly less money we are getting the care we need. I have a friend from Pennsylvania who doesn't like his health exchange plan. I suspect he just didn't do his research first. He didn't choose what's best for him. He didn't take into account all of the six key factors to consider.

I recommend this plan.

We have been saved by the Affordable Care Act. It's not about the number of Americans insured. It's about what better health means. The real issue is the cost of the care to begin with. Medications, doctor visits, and tests are significantly more expensive then they should be. That's not a new problem. What we needed was a universal plan. This is the compromise that was more likely to be accepted. Something had to be done to lower those medical costs. When you combine those six things to consider, costs get lowered. It certainly did for us! If you can't lower the prices from the greedy sources determining them in the first place, then this is the next best option. I think this has been a necessary step to take in solving a major long-term problem.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Bundy Militia Show

I wanted to start off by exploring what militias value. I couldn't find a clear definition of values that all militias share. Below is a Wikipedia link that is the closest to describing what makes a militia a militia.

I have learned the following from the Bundy Militia Show:

1. Apparently, all of them receive some form of government financial assistance. That includes one who has lost his foster children for participating in the Oregon disaster. They were his primary source of income.

2. Apparently, they forgot to pack food and spent most of their money on ammo.

3. Apparently, they claim it's over a fence. The people who own the fence disagree. The fence owners don't want the Bundy militia there.

4. It's federally protected land. The purpose is to let nature take it's course undisturbed. The Bundy militia apparently doesn't like it that they can't control what happens in this environment. Ironic since they are against the government controlling what happens in their environment.

5. I think I saw a pile of dog poop with more brain cells in it then the entire Bundy militia combined.

6. Birders have been standing up to the militia.

7. This is one giant temper tantrum. Years ago the government took illegal cows from the Bundy Dad. He threw a temper tantrum and Republicans caved. Since it worked last time, they are doing it again. Some Republicans support them. Some lawmakers have started making arrests.

8. Apparently then will be billed. $75,000 a day.

9. The only reason they are staying this long is because they are all over the media. It's the Bundy Militia Show. There will be talk show appearances when it's over. It'll be like the Chilean Mine Disaster without the bravery part.

10. More Irony on this one: They forgot food so they are asking for junk food donations. A militia signature is survivalist training. Meaning, knowing how to live off the land. There are natural sources of food all around them. A true survivalist would know how to get food with what's around them. Effectively serving the purpose of the land in the first place. To let nature take it's course. Living off the land alone falls under that category.

I don't know how much longer this is going to go on. All the attention they get bothers me. They look like idiots. They are acting like idiots. I can't understand why they are against nature being undisturbed when that's what most militias say they want. To live undisturbed by government.
Wouldn't an undisturbed area be a survivalists dream? My guess is there are members of other militias that don't consider the Bundy militia to be a real militia.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Always, My Dona

That's my blog post from August of 2014. Dona was my childhood babysitter. She died in August of 2014 of cancer. From when I was 6 months old thru High School graduation she was a major part of my life. Her lessons are part of who I have become. In some ways, a MAJOR part of who I am. I like to say Kindergarten through 12th grade are the most important years of your life. I explain in more detail in other posts, but this is basically why. It's when you figure out who you are. Adults struggling with this issue can find answers in memories of those 13 years.

Memories of Dona from that time follow me often. One example comes from just two minutes before I started this blog post. I am making a casserole of Pork Chops, Potatoes, and Peas for dinner. While cooking, I kept having flashes of memory. In this particular memory I am sitting at the kitchen table doing homework. Dona had just finished making me a snack. Usually, apple chunks, pear chunks, grapes, and cut up string cheese. While I eat and work I glance up and watch her making this meal. She didn't serve us dinner. But we had a lot of meals like this that she prepared early and my Mom or Dad cooked later.

The dinner might change, but that was a daily routine. It's well documented how much I rely on routines for stress reduction! Every time I make this, I relive those memories. It's such a mundane activity. I'm sure something similar happens in most homes. But, these are some of my favorite memories of Dona. After writing that I reread that original blog post. Yup, this memory is in that post too. I can't decide if I want to cry or smile.

Dona was like that. She understood me like no one else. I doubt she was surprised about the OCD and Anxiety diagnosis. I still miss her hugs. She almost always knew how to calm me down when my anxiety was at it's highest. From April of 2014 - the day before she died I may have given her comfort. During that time, the blog post below was very popular.

15,985 reads since it was written as of today. Before April of 2014 it was read maybe about 100 times since written. Since she died, it's been read a little, but probably another 100 times at most. I remember being so confused. There are articles all over the internet about cancer. This one didn't seem to be special. Why, all of a sudden, was this being read over a hundred times EVERY day? But after she died, it made sense. The blue is from that post.

The families of Cancer patients fight hard to do what they can to help. Sometimes the battle is won sometimes it's lost but it's always painful. Families who have lost a loved one to Cancer might find all these survivor stories hard to take. Why did they survive and not my loved one? So I want to take a moment of silence to think about those who didn't win their fight and their families. I share my condolences with them. Since prayer is part of my religion I will type the prayers below. If prayer is not part of your religion then please find your own way to respect those who lost their Cancer battle.

God, I wish to pray for those who have died and their families. I hope they are resting in peace. They are missed and never forgotten. I don't know the pain of losing a parent or child too soon but I do wish I could hug those that do. Please help us find a cure for these fatal diseases. Amen!

She knew she had cancer long before that April. Maybe that's when she got the news that the battle was lost. I don't actually know if it was her reading it. I only suspected when the popularity disappeared the day she died.

I know I will always miss her. I know I will always have moments like this. Cooking, cleaning, crocheting, and driving Zach to an activity. With ALL of them, I think of her. We all have someone like Dona was to me. Even if they are still alive, you know it will be very hard when they are gone. She will ALWAYS be my Dona. She will ALWAYS be with me. Because she is part of who I am.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Winning The Lottery

What would you do if you won the lottery?

One thing that a lot of people forget about is you pay taxes on those winnings. Meaning $6 Million isn't the actual amount you receive. 39.6% of it is for federal taxes.

Lump Sum :
  (approx) $3,720,000.00 / $2,246,880.00 (after 39.6% federal tax) 
Payments - Average (annuitized payments - check specific lottery rules) Per Year ( 26 yearly annuitized payouts (Mega Millions - Each payment is 5% larger than the previous one) ) :
  (approx) $230,769.00 / $139,384.00 (after 39.6% federal tax) $3,623,984.00 altogether.
I got that from:
I think how you choose the payout would depend on your personality. When you go for the big things like the mansion with the expensive cars, you are more likely to burn through all of it. For some, living large is what they want whether they realize it's temporary or not. I would do the math, like I did above, and choose the yearly payments.
Then I would divide it by 12 months and only allow that number to be added to the income budget each month:
$11,615.33 a month
NOW we would be able to afford that moderate sized house and a second kid. That would also include the cost of homeownership like taxes and repairs. It would also leave room for savings. We both have very old cars and it would be nice to be able to own a blue Ford Focus for me and an off white Ford Escape for Josh in the current model year.
Novel thought for us............CURRENT model year. Josh's Buick Regal is a 2001 model and my red Ford Focus is a 2005. I don't know how we would afford new cars. They would have to be at least five years old on purchase if our current cars went kaput! A current model year is like asking for a pet unicorn! Basically, our winnings would be for the things we both want that are common in our town.
Would Josh still work? Yes, But with less pressure on how much he makes and overtime hours. Josh loves working in the right environment. It's important he maintain that. In general I don't think it's a good idea to give up working if you win the lottery. However, it allows you to quit a dead end minimum wage job you hate as you look for something that you enjoy more. Something you're not trapped in with lack of options. Your family would be provided for so it would be a way to escape corporate abuse. Something too many people need desperately!

I talk about people in these circumstances all of the time. I'm not thinking about us. Josh makes more then the minimum wage. It's not a lot more, but it is more. Because of that, we have less worries then the people I am thinking of. We still have a lot of worries. We have cut expenses everywhere we can. One example is our cell phones. We don't have a landline to save money and we can't afford smart phones. THAT'S becoming harder and harder to live without! But, at least I know I'll be able to feed my family until we are all full. Not everyone has that luxury.

 I'm thinking of the retail sales associates, the fast food workers, waiters and waitresses, and everyone else not earning a living wage. A living wage means scraping by, but at least it's enough. I'm thinking of the many people not making enough.
I hear that most of the people who play the lottery are those who could least afford it. After all, you buy the ticket win or loose. If you desperately need that dollar or two for living expenses, it might seem foolish to play the lottery. Some people play because it's fun. For them, they are only spending winnings from a previous time. But, for others, they play because it feels like the only chance they have to escape their horrible financial situation. Money is just too crucial to a happy life in America.

You can't truly be happy if you are worried about having enough money to afford what you need. It's the part of the income gap that the rich will never understand. They refuse to listen when being told about it. Because they are privileged enough to never have that added worry. We might not worry about food, but we have PLENTY of other worries. They have no worries. Quality of life is better when you have less worries.
I don't play the lottery. I don't win things. So it's not worth wasting the money. Winning big would improve our quality of life. But, it's just too much of a long shot to make trying worth it. It means we have no hope for getting that house, second kid, or less then three year old cars.

What would you do if you won the lottery? First off, do the math on how much you ACTUALLY will receive. THEN decide. My goals might sound boring to you, but for me it would mean all my dreams coming true. That's what the lottery is about.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The Adventures of Parenting

I have never seen the allure of traveling. I know some people love to travel and have been to many places. Deep down, that comes from a desire to experience life. Life experiences are adventures. There is nothing that provides more adventures then parenting. Almost all of them are unplanned. Most of them are things we never thought we'd be doing!!!

It even starts with labor. As your child gets older, we share stories of things they did. Some people joke that they are "war stories". They really are parenting adventures. Zach's tree adventures were featured recently. A favorite is about potty training. If your kid is out of diapers, you have at least one really funny potty training story. I did mine is a potty training blog post.

Potty Training 101:

We let him stay up late for his last vacation night. He was supposed to be laying down watching TV. I just went to check on him. He had that "I did something naughty" smile and laugh going. If you know THAT look, you're a parent!!! So I asked what he did. He had cut out the center of his bangs and part of the hair on the back of his head. His bangs were long but we were too busy to cut them just yet. He lost patience.

So we went to see Josh's Dad for a fix-it hair cut. He did a great job!


Of course my first image was this one:

Zach thought his version was great. Until he saw himself in the mirror. Then he was worried about being teased. We told him some of our parenting adventure stories and showed him pictures of when he was younger, not just a baby. That calmed him down after a good long time.

He loves his bangs. He's had them almost literally his entire life. It won't be long before his hair grows back. I highly doubt he'll cut it himself again. After the haircut we were driving to the grocery story for scallions (I'm making Chicken Parmesan tonight and needed some). Josh and I joked about this adventure.

Between haircuts, it was just high stress parenting all around. After the haircut, it was later. So we laughed about it later. Zach likes the haircut and laughed too. The part that made it so hard to calm him down last night was fear over what his hair will look like this short. He relaxed once he saw the final result. He'll spend the month with a hat on outside. But at least he likes it.

It's another parenting adventure added to the list. The thing is, these adventures help make the child the person they become. Life experiences to learn from. I should be mad he did this. But I'm not. It's hard to get him to cooperate for regular hair cuts. Maybe now that he knows more about what's going on, it'll be easier for him to sit through. The picture I use for this blog was from Zach's first haircut at 13 months.
There are a lot of people like me. When we are trying to figure out who we are, we look at pictures from when we were growing up. Not the posed pictures. The pictures of the things we are doing. Because the truth is there all along. There are things that are clearly part of how we were created. THAT comes out in pictures.

I take these pictures so he can learn about himself. We have a collage on the wall in the hall of baby Zach playing with all of his favorite things. In each picture I show what his favorite thing on that play area was. There are seven pictures in all. I take pictures of him doing what he loves to do at each age. They help me figure him out and one day might help him figure himself out.

These parenting adventures are spontaneous. Kids are unpredictable. Parents are just along for the ride! How they are handled depend on child's age, what they did, parenting philosophy, and aftermath. The best way to handle the stresses of parenting is to think of them as adventures. Experiences that will make great stories.

Any experience helps people grow. When parents tell non-parents "you don't know what you're missing" this is what they mean. Non-parents hear these stories and think about the nightmare of dealing with them. Parents think about the adventure and personal growth for everyone involved. These adventures make parenting so wonderful...........and THAT'S the irony!!!

I'll end with my very favorite of all of my parenting adventures:

We have always taken family walks. In Spring of 2011 we decided to let Zach lead the way one night. He was about a month shy of his second birthday. I broke my foot soon after for reference. Anyway, Zach is leading the way. He kept heading to this busier street and we kept steering him around. He wasn't crossing the street. But he wanted too. After a lot of tries to re-direct him, Josh and I decided to let him lead. We were nervous since we didn't have the stroller with us. Not long after crossing the street I knew where he was going.............................Grandma and Pop's house. Not even two years old and he knew how to get to their house without help!!!

I've talked about how close we live to my parents before. But for such a small kid, it was a very long walk. Part of what makes this a favorite story is that it's an impressive distance for a kid that young to travel on foot! Luckily, Grandma and Pop were heading out to dinner and gave us a ride home! If we missed them, I would have stayed there with Zach while Josh walked home for the car.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Basic Party Recipes

Are we all ready to party into 2016? Well here are some BASIC and EASY recipes to help with that:

Party Punch, Spinach Dip, Cocktail Sauce, Guacamole, Cucumber Sandwiches, Deviled Eggs, and Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

Basic Party Punch

2 cups Water (for one giant ice cube made the day before)
1 64oz bottle of Ocean Spray Cranapple juice
1 2L bottle of Canada Dry Ginger Ale
1 8oz can frozen Pink Lemonade

optional: gin or vodka

Mix Juice, Ginger Ale, and Lemonade (and gin or vodka if planning to) in a bowl
Break up the lemonade
Add the giant ice cube

Basic Spinach Dip

1 box frozen spinach
1 16oz container reduced fat Sour Cream

Cook Spinach as directed on the box (steam)
Squeeze out as much water as possible
Mix with the Sour Cream
Store in the fridge

Basic Cocktail Sauce

1/2 C. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Horseradish (not hot so add more to taste)
14 tsp Lemon Juice

Add everything to a bowl and mix
taste until just right, adding a very small amount of horseradish as needed

Basic Guacamole

2 Avocados
1/2 a small onion finely chopped
1/2 1 ripe medium plum tomato chopped
1 tbsp. Lime Juice

Peal and mash Avocados in a medium bowl
add onion, tomato and lime juice
Stir and chill for at least 30 minutes

Basic Cucumber Sandwiches

1 8oz package of whipped Cream Cheese
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Dill Weed
1 1 pound loaf cocktail rye bread
1 cucumber thinly sliced

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, Oregano, Basil, Garlic, and Dill Weed
Spread equally onto the bread
Top with a cucumber

Basic Deviled Eggs

12 Large Hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 tsp wet mustard (horseradish mustard)

Slice eggs lengthwise
Remove yolks and puree them
Mix with mayonnaise (judge how much as you go needs to be the consistency of cream cheese)
Add mustard
Mix well and spoon mixture into eggs
Sprinkle with Paprika

Basic Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Wax Paper
2 C Semi Sweet chocolate morsels (preferably dark chocolate)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 pack strawberries with caps on

Clean the strawberries
put chocolate and oil into a microwavable bowl
Microwave for 30 seconds and stir until melted and smooth (I just put it in for 1 minute 30 seconds)
Dip each strawberry in the chocolate
Place onto baking sheet with the wax paper on it
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.