Sunday, May 22, 2016

Don't Give Up, Zach

Zach keeps giving up on things. When it's no longer easy, he's not interested in continuing. My loving father keeps reminding me that I did that too. I know it's a weakness of mine. I have been trying to set the example not to give up. But, Zach is still giving up.

Zach grew out of his old bike before really learning how to ride it. There is a small hill in the driveway at my parent's house. He made it a goal to make it up that hill. He constantly would ride his bike down the driveway then park it.

His birthday is coming up. My parents got him a bike that fits him now. He'll ride it sometimes, but when he starts to struggle, he stops. He did make it up that little hill on his new bike though. I made it a point to congratulate him for reaching that goal. But he still shows little interest in riding.

We had received a tax refund. That happens when you don't make much money. This year, we put some aside to get him a Wii U for his birthday. An early gift. We also got him a few games. Early on, he played with it every day. Last Sunday, a friend came over to show him about playing a couple of games. He hasn't played with it since.

I know he enjoys it. We gave him "Mario World" this morning and he's playing it with Josh right now. We asked him what happened. Why did he stop playing with it? His answer was, "it was getting too hard when he reached a new level."

I told him to work through the challenges. It's okay to fail. Just try again. That makes it more fun when you do get it right. Lego Avengers, Pac Man, and Mario Kart are all hard for him. The are really for kids a little older then him anyway. He enjoys Mario Tennis, Lego Marvel, and now Mario World. It's new. He's getting a feel for the types of games he's drawn too.

To feel a sense of accomplishment you have to work through things that are hard to do. I tell Zach not to give up. It's okay to give up sometimes but it's important to not give up that often. I have been trying to set the example of not quitting. But, I have my sympathies.

I remember being the kid that wasn't as good as my peers at certain things. Those are the things easy to give up on. Because you feel like you'll never be as good as the other kids so it's not worth even trying. We weren't able to afford basics like the game system or tablet until recently. Like in the past month. But, his friends have been using them for years. Meaning, they had more practice and are at a higher level then he is. It's a casualty to being poor. He can get there too. He just needs to practice and troubleshoot the hard parts.

As a parent, I'm stuck. I keep trying to set the right example and tell Zach not to give up. I also tell him why he's better off working through the hard part. I encourage him to ride his bike and play his Wii U. He's in a rut. I don't know how to help him out of it.

Some parents would say "let him struggle. He needs to learn to work through challenges on his own." I agree with that. I'm not looking to tell him how to work through challenges. I'm looking to motivate him to try working through the challenges. He can figure out how to solve the problems on his own. Because it's an essential life skill.

Perhaps what has held him back was not having someone to play the games with. He loved playing with his friend last week. Maybe it's less fun to play alone. He's enjoying it now. Is that because he's playing with Josh? Or because he really likes this game? I think the answer is both. But, I think he'll enjoy this game when Josh goes to work later.

As for his bike, it's at the apartment now. In the garage. There are better places to practice here. Maybe that will help! If anything it means more opportunities to ride his bike now.

It's a basic skill, knowing how to work through the hard things to solve problems. I think the phase has more to do with the time of year. He's clinging to the easy and familiar for a few reasons.

1. Who knows what will happen with Fairway. The pizza place has full time hours for Josh. But, the uncertainty of Fairway's future is scary. I've done the math and know we'll be okay if it becomes pizza full time. At least for a while. But for Zach it just meaning uncertainty. He needs predictability and he's not getting that with Fairway's new changes.

2. He LOVES his teacher. Every year at this time he's scared of moving up a grade. He's scared of what the next grade will be like. His current teacher is amazing and has a fantastic classroom management plan. Zach responds well to that predictability and routine. It's going away in a few weeks and that is scary for him.

3. He's aware that he's growing out of old favorites. We introduced the Wii U early because the only thing he was playing with were the Legos. But, he's not ready for all the toys he's outgrown to go to the garage. As his tastes change, he's struggling to say goodbye to things he played with for years. I think  his hold up on the game system is what it symbolizes. It symbolizes his new stage of development. Just like the bigger bike.

As a parent it's hard to stop him from giving up. It's tricky. I don't want him to feel forced to do something. If it's an expectation, he won't enjoy it. However, I can't stand by and not say anything either.

Don't give up, Zach. Work through those challenges. Because those accomplishments will feel really good. You WILL be able to get to the next level. You WILL be able to ride your bike around the block. But, you have to use critical thinking skills to solve the problem. Don't be left behind because you didn't try. Don't give up, work through it!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The OCD Rabbit Hole

I've gone down an OCD rabbit hole. Organizing things into months and seasons are how I make sense of the world. Here is when the metaphorical rabbit holes get entered. Projects aren't about the end result. They are about the process.

Reminder, with OCD it's something you can't stop yourself from doing. It controls your life until complete. One example is my "hats and wraps" project. What started as a small "sun hats for summer months and winter hats for winter months" project has grown. Whenever I get close to completing the big project, I find myself adding to it.

***Note: this is just an example of how the projects grow. Some people might be interested. Psychology professors looking for a pure example of OCD come to mind. However, if you actually don't care about the hats and wraps project, skip to the black*****

Originally: Sun Hats for Spring, June, July, August, and Fall. Winter hats for Fall, December, January, February, and Spring.

Then: Added heavy hats to December, January, and February. Added visors to June, July, and August

Next: Added cowls to December, January, and February. Added Sarongs to June, July, and August

After that: Added a heavy hat, cowl, visor, and sarong to use for both Spring and Fall

Not done yet: Needed a brim for Winter sometimes so got a felt brimmed hat for Winter and made a Patriotic headband for Summer. Can't have uneven numbers.

Finally: I realized my heavy hat, cowl, visor and sarong that Spring and Fall share work a lot better for Spring then Fall. So I decided to start a new grouping for Fall and make the current stuff for Spring.

All of my obsessions work this way. In a search to not complete this big knitting and crochet project, I am adding to this collection. But I am very happy with it. Part of it comes from the yarn I have been using. When I originally was selecting the patterns to use, I developed favorites. With my latest modification, I am now using all of my favorites from both types of yarn. I smile more as the larger project unfolds.

I remember being obsessed with my garden plan. I worked so hard on those layouts! I printed so many pages out and modified them as I adjusted what I wanted to grow in the garden. In a way, I was ready for my new permanent layout. I wasn't following those layouts anymore. With the smaller budget I would have had to re-do them anyway. I took a lot of flowers out of the plan. Every time I thought that layout was done, I had more ideas. It wasn't about the plan itself. It was about creating the plan. The metaphorical OCD rabbit hole.

I'm a creator. I'm a creative person. I see the potential. The end is nice. The process is better. But, I fall down that metaphorical OCD rabbit hole every time. It's all I talk about and think about. Josh can tell you stories of our two year long decoration hunt. We use those decorations all of these years later. But, I knew the exact things I wanted so we would hunt them down. It also meant a lot of decoration talk. There are a lot of projects that make me fall down that OCD rabbit hole. It's why it's diagnosed as OCD.

It's not about the project. It's about the process. Many times I have forgotten to eat or sleep from being so deep into  my projects. Deep in those rabbit holes. So deep you'd never know I'm petrified of heights!!! There is one ironic things about those frequent trips down those metaphorical OCD rabbit holes.................rabbits are my favorite animals!!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Forgetting Kids In Cars

It's gone on long enough. I keep reading stories of parents who forget their kid in the car. Leaving them to die of hyperthermia. This should never happen. Yet the average number of kids to die each year in a hot car is 37.

Total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 2016:  6
  • Total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 2015:  24
  • Total number of U.S. heatstroke  deaths of children left in cars, 1998-present:  667
  • Average number of U.S. child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998: 37


    Seriously? 37 preventable deaths a year? Years ago I read a story in Parenting Magazine about one mother who did this to her adoptive son. The family was sick and busier then usual. She didn't normally take him to school but she was supposed to that day. Instead, he was quietly sleeping in the back seat and she drove to work.

    The article painted this as an innocent mistake. People get forgetful when overwhelmed and off routine. At the time, I was happy to hear she went unpunished in court. The article pointed out ways to not forget your kid is there. The only one I remember being to leave something like a stuffed animal on the front seat when the kid is back there.

    Zach was a baby then. My thought:

    I always check his seat when getting into and out of the car anyway. Why do you need a stuffed animal reminder? The habit should be to check the car seat.

    I'm tired of reading articles about kids dying in car seats. We are all busy and get forgetful sometimes. But that is involuntary manslaughter.

    involuntary manslaughter :  manslaughter resulting from the failure to perform a legal duty expressly required to safeguard human life, from the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or from the commission of a lawful act involving a risk of injury or death that is done in an unlawful, reckless, or grossly negligent manner — see also reckless homicide at homicide

    Editor's note: The exact formulation of the elements of involuntary manslaughter vary from state to state esp. with regard to the level of negligence required. In states that grade manslaughter by degrees, involuntary manslaughter is usu. graded as a second- or third-degree offense.

    Parents aren't doing it on purpose. It's time to stop saying "that will never happen to me" and start taking steps to actively prevent it from happening.

    1. Don't leave kids alone in the car

    2. Check the back seats when you enter or leaving the car even at times your kids aren't normally with you. Those are the times they are more likely to be forgotten and end up dead. If checking is a reflex, it could save their lives.

    I don't know if adults should be punished when nothing happens to their kid in a hot car. Some states have laws about that but not New Jersey. For me, it depends on the punishment. No, they should not have their kids taken away. But, yes, they should get a ticket. Some people would be more careful simply because it's no longer legal. I do think it should be treated as murder or involuntary manslaughter when a child dies. Their negligence has led to a fatality in that case. A preventable fatality. That can't be treated lightly.

    This isn't really about punishing the negligence. It's about awareness. This shouldn't be happening. Yes, there are some things you can try. New reflexes to develop that will help. But what we really need is awareness. Most people do learn things from events that happen repeatedly.

    That awareness leads to people saying:

    "I want to start ____________ because I don't want to end up like ______________".

    I hope this post as well as others on this topic get the busy parent racing out of their car in a hurry to say:

    "Oops, let me check the back! I love my kids too much to let them die in the car!!!"

    Thursday, May 05, 2016

    You're Gonna Laugh

    So yesterday I got my first tablet. It's a Mother's Day gift from my parents. A Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. Between that and Windows 10 I am discovering great things. All of which you probably discovered many years ago. So I thought I'd share my recent discoveries. I know they are old news to you. But they are brand new to me. And THAT'S why I know you are going to laugh. Because the thought that encompasses all is:

    "Ummmm, DUH! That's old news!!!"

    So here are some obvious observations you made long ago and will probably laugh at me for now:

    1. I finally understand the Candy Crush addiction and it literally took one minute to get me hooked. But that's not surprising. My favorite game on Nintendo in the '80s was Tetris

    2. I downloaded Tetris on my tablet and it's still awesome!!! It's perfect for my OCD!!!

    3. So you might remember me mentioning an interest in other languages. In a blog post from last year when Zach finished kindergarten I mentioned EZ Language for the computer. I recently discovered cool free apps for a bunch of languages and am addicted.

    4. I actually know what an app is now. I didn't get it before.

    5. Wi-Fi is hard to find. As badly as I need a GPS for my car, there isn't Wi-Fi in my 2006 Focus. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

    6. Loving that you can download apps from the computer google account to your tablet. It's a smart feature.

    7. If you save your credit card it can get expensive easily. Luckily, I didn't save my credit card!!!

    8. Checking email in a store ................ never done that before ............................ interesting!!!! Can't wait to not need to print out the Kohl's coupon in order to use it :)!!!!

    9. Wait..................I don't need printed coupons in stores anymore!!! YES!!!!

    10. Wait, I can download Shop Rite coupons in the store!!! That's going to be so much easier!!!

    11.  I'm glad some of the language apps don't require Wi-Fi

    12. Yes, I downloaded the flashlight

    13. Yes, I downloaded skype. Don't know who to call and we don't have a webcam at home. Somehow, I know I'll use it.

    14. I want to take a picture of Zach for the sign on screen. However, I'll have to be careful where I swipe my finger to get to the home screen. Don't want to electronically wipe his nose that often.

    15. Found an old picture of Zach. It's okay I'll just be electronically tickling his belly button when I swipe :)!!!


    16. There are a lot of apps for a large variety of needs!!!

    17. Finally!!! I can have my actual calendar with me!!! It makes scheduling stuff a lot easier!!!

    18. It's become a lot easier to know the weather at all times! Since that's a long-term obsession.......I'm enjoying that.

    19. A kids tablet home page looks very different from an adult's (My Mom got Zach a tablet a few weeks ago)

    20. Technology is addicting. We've never had this much technology. I get it now.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2016

    Exploring Windows 10

    For a long time now Microsoft has offered a free upgrade to Windows 10 for people with old versions. I had been holding off on doing the upgrade, which is available until July. I wasn't sure what the changes would be like. I waited until I received feedback to make the change last night.

    I'm doing this post because I might not be the only person waiting for feedback before making the upgrade. I've been exploring it since last night and can offer a reasonable opinion. If you're thinking about the upgrade but are waiting for opinions.............I hope this helps!

    1. I had Windows 7. It looks different but is a lot more like 7 then 8!!!

    2. Some layouts are different but the important parts are there and easy to figure out

    3. None of your files are lost

    4. An original concern was that it claimed you loose Windows Media Player. I still need to burn CDs so that was going to be a problem. You have to re-add your music to the media player. But, it's there. For those with Smartphones and tablets they have Microsoft Groove for easy downloads

    5. All games are sponsored by X-Box now. Meaning............Majong has in-app purchases. They don't all work like that but it's the same as tablet apps.

    6. I had to rearrange the favorites list in Explorer but most of the saved websites were still there. Before the upgrade take note of absolutely all passwords and usernames!!!

    I have found it generally to be easier to use. It's certainly faster! I'm still in an adjustment period so it's harder now re-establishing things then it will be later. I do recommend this upgrade. It's a lot of work to reestablish comfortable settings, but it's doable and overall better.

    Friday, April 29, 2016

    We've Seen This Before

    The grocery store Josh works for is Fairway. It's catch phrase is "like no other market". It's based in New York but they have a store in Connecticut and a few here in New Jersey. They feature specialty foods that are hard to get elsewhere. They also sell alcohol. The most common comment I hear when I tell people Josh works in their cheese department is "I love that store! It's just so expensive! I usually only get something nice there if we're having company".

    "Like no other market". That's the problem. In our area, we also have a Whole Foods. Most people here consider them the same type of store. Fairway doesn't think it's anything like Whole Foods. Few people do their primary grocery shopping at Fairway. If you are looking for organic, you do your primary shopping at Whole Foods. On average, most people go to Shop Rite or Stop N Shop for their primary grocery shopping.

    Last week they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The specialty foods are nice, but they don't carry enough of the every day foods to be that store where customers can do their primary shopping. Some stores are closing. As of now, Josh's store is being restructured but not closing.

    We've seen this before, almost 12 years ago. The teacher's chain of stores we worked for was struggling. Originally, they said they would only close the stores that had been open within the last five years. One of them was the store Josh was the general manager for. That started in July of 2004. By October of 2004 they announced ALL stores were closing. Yup, right before our October 2004 wedding we got this news. Now THAT'S an interesting way to start a marriage!

    I was the Assistant Manager at the nearby store. Ironically, the location of that store is now where the pizza place is where Josh works his second job. That retail space has been good to us. That second job has been a lifesaver as the grocery store goes through necessary changes. Hours are being cut. Pizza delivery makes up for those lost wages. But, we've see this before.

    Fairway might be saying they won't close all of their stores. It's a ticking time bomb for the stores out of New York. There is a cost to doing business in multiple states. Multiple state laws to follow. The Connecticut and New Jersey stores aren't going to survive this. The corporate office is trying to make it work for stores like Josh's. But what they are doing is the retail equivalent to putting bandaids on a leak in the Hoover Dam.

    Josh has been job searching but now he's treating it like Fairway has already closed. He's working very hard. We've seen this before. We've seen coworkers leaving in high numbers because the end is near. We've heard and said what retail associates or clerks say when their store is closing and the Corporate people aren't being honest about it. We've seen this before. We know what to do. We know what's coming.

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Forced Garden Makeover (edit: Zach's Garden Pictures)

    There are times I really hate living in a condo. The condo board has the right to decide what I can put in my garden. They can tell me what to do, but I can't do anything to defend myself against their bullying. The current board is full of selfish, unreasonable idiots who let the power go to their head. A neighbor they don't like has something, suddenly, rules change. In this case, no more pots in the garden.

    I used to use a lot of pots. There were logical reasons for that. But, you can't let logic get in the way of trying to force a neighbor from getting rid of something you pettily don't want to compromise on. Let me be clear. I don't live near any of the board members. I'm not their target, just one of many innocent victims.

    I use pots for the following reasons:

    1. They are moveable so the landscapers can do anything they want to do without trampling and damaging my flowers. This happens every year when my bulb sprouts are out

    2. More flowers fit in the space that way

    The reason I was given for the change is vague. "They want things more uniform". Nothing can be uniform just by the way the grounds are set up.  My Mom is the owner and she talked to the building manager. He explained that "the board wants it to look more like other garden condos".

    She had a nice comment on that "the gardens make it more homey. People who live there like that. I don't see why you want to change that." When she explained to him about how I felt targeted he replied with this:

    "Oh no! She's not being targeted. A lot of people will have to make this change. We have a lot of people who grow tomatoes in pots and things like that".

    I don't grow edibles. The bi-laws state that you can only plant things that improve the appearance of the property. I only plant flowering shrubs, perennial flowers, and annual flowers. I can understand wanting to specify that edibles don't improve the appearance of the property. But, then it would be more obvious that a board member is targeting their neighbor. Only about three people grow edibles in the entire place.

    It's the management company's responsibility to do basics like plant in empty spaces and grass seed. A few years ago they tried that. They planted dead shrubs in a drought and didn't water. They are in the process starting last year of removing those shrubs. There is a large percentage of the grass with holes in it. They put down seeds in the heat of summer, and don't water. That makes the problem worse. What they really need is sod then water.

    Their second goal is to get us gardeners to do their job for them. They want us to plant permanent plants. Filling the spaces so they don't have to. I played that game and like my new layout. I'll post an update in the fall when we plant daffodil bulbs.


                                            Stella D'Oro Daylily     Stella D'Oro Daylily

                           Stella D'Oro Daylily     Stella D'Oro Daylily     Stella D'Oro Daylily

    Marigold    Marigold    Marigold   Marigold    Marigold     Marigold      Marigold   Marigold

    The pots by the stairs will remain whether they like it or not. I have complied with everything else they asked but I will not be a hostage. They aren't doing their jobs. Those pots stay until we have almost completely hole-free green growing grass. By next year it most likely won't be a problem anyway.

    Zach is very upset about his pots having to go to Grandma and Pop's house. Plants are just now trickling into nurseries. His decorations will have to go to the garage. That's where mine had to go. He'll have the below layout

    Forsythia                                                                                                Azalea
                       Hosta        Hosta        Hosta        Hosta        Hosta             Annuals


    These are some perennials I have planted in the past. I'm planting a new daylily and have planted Daisies in there too.

    Hostas and more Stella D'Oro Daylilies planted a few years ago

    Tiger Daylily and Daisies

    Daisies, Stella D'Oro Daylilies and Angel Daylilies. The pot with the tree is from winter. It's going to my parent's house today

    More Daisies, an Angel Daylily and a Stella D'Oro Daylily

    In the front is my Walker's Low Catmint and the back is Autumn Joy Sedum. Their bloom times are great. I recommend the pairing.

    "Pardon Me" Daylily. In mid to late summer it will bloom red

    Yesterday I spent four hours battling with rocks and roots big enough to need my hand saw to get the Daylilies and Marigolds planted in my garden. I am bruised and sore. In all, planting took 7 hours and that's before we get the daffodil bulbs. To be fair, Zach added an hour but it was worth it.

    My frustration isn't really about the garden makeover. It's petty to nitpick over flowerpots. My anger and frustration is bigger than that. I know we will never have a house of our own. I try to make this condo nice so that won't be as painful as it used to be. God has his reasons for not wanting us to ever have a house. But, stuff like that makes it harder to be okay with never having a house of our own. How can God expect me to be okay with never getting something I've always wanted if I am not able to make my current home FEEL like my home?

    It appears when it comes to this garden makeover, God has a plan too. On Tuesday the presidents of the SCA in our school asked me to chair the committee for the school's sensory garden. I didn't volunteer for it this year so I'm still learning about it but I agreed.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2016

    Responsible Gun Owners

    One phrased used in the gun rights versus gun control fight is "responsible gun owners". But, no one seems to actually specify what that means. We all have our own definition.


    adjective re·spon·si·ble \ri-ˈspän(t)-sə-bəl\          

    Simple Definition of responsible

    • : having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone
    • : able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required
    • : involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to
    That's how Merriam-Webster defines responsible. So how does that translate into gun ownership? Sometimes I read an article about something that happened with a gun and the title will sarcastically refer to the owner as "responsible". My first thought is always "actually, there are probably even other gun owners that wouldn't consider that being a responsible gun owner".
    I always say I'm not against gun ownership if the owner is responsible. So recently I asked myself. "What do I actually consider responsible gun ownership?" I started by thinking about the people I'm comfortable with owning a enforcement and members of the military, current and former. Both are trained in how to properly use and store a gun. But, law enforcement is a great place to start because they are most likely to be in the same places the civilian gun owners go.
    Most people say they carry a gun for protection. Cops carry guns for protection too. Cops are highly unlikely to ever fire their weapon outside of the shooting range. Yet they sometimes face dangerous situations. What makes a cop responsible is that they only shoot when it is literally the only option left. Irresponsible gun owners are more likely to shoot first. Meaning, some people die unnecessarily.
    Want an example? I have read stories where a parent killed their own kid because they thought he or she was an intruder. If they had looked first, their child would still be alive. Looking first is the difference between being a responsible gun owner and an irresponsible one.
    I have seen in multiple places a police training program for civilians that advises us to "run, hide and fight." That sounds like good advice to me! Few people are actually targeted for outright murder. What most people mean when they say "for protection" refers to situations when someone starts shooting without targeting a specific person. That's where this advice is worth following. Run and hide. If the shooter isn't aiming, you are less likely to get hit. However, shoot back if they start aiming where you are hiding. That makes sense to me.
    having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone - Responsible gun owners who work in law enforcement or are in the military.
    able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required - Responsible gun owners try to resolve the situation without anyone getting hurt.
    involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to - Responsible gun owners don't "shoot first and ask questions later". Part of making a good decision is to think before you act. Review the situation first. Can it be handled without firing your weapon?
    So it turns out my definition of a responsible gun owner is actually pretty simple. 
    1. Storing the gun properly
    2. Reviews the situation and tries to handle it without using their gun whenever possible. 
    3. Only shoots when that is literally the only option.
    What kind of gun control do I want:
    1. Mandatory background checks. They really don't go that deep with background checks. 
    2. No guns for anyone with a history of violent crime including those left out in some states like domestic abusers and sex offenders.
    3. Mandatory permits including firearms use and safety training
    4. Conflict/Resolution training on the same level law enforcement receives

    5. Regular recertification

    Wednesday, April 06, 2016

    Breaking My Silence

    We are poor. Both of our parents help but we have been applying for government assistance in multiple places. Every time I read or hear a comment against "moochers" I want to punch that person.................HARD.................somewhere that won't be forgotten and might leave a scar.

    Our problems can be directly traced to Republican policies or Republicans obstructing bills that would improve our situation. I haven't talked about these experiences because I didn't want to deal with the ignorant people that think all of our problems magically go away if I "get a job". Uninformed stupidity from strangers, friends, and family that refuse to listen when I say it for the millionth time...............I CAN'T WORK BECAUSE OF MY SEVERE ANXIETY DISORDER.

    I don't owe anyone an explanation. I'm tired of the ignorant refusing to listen to me. I can't respect people who think like that. The only people who truly believe me are those that have seen my "bat crap crazy" days. Days that happen when I am under too much stress.

    So the comments started "why don't you apply for disability?" So I did. Last June. The ignorant yet judgmental think it's easy. In addition to a mountain of paperwork on our income, I had to include multiple doctor references, a written explanation including examples of why I can't work, and a specific date I couldn't work as of.

    It was easy to get my primary doctor and Psychologist to write their recommendations. They both strongly feel like there isn't a job that I can handle. The hard part was a date. I selected the date that Sylvan basically laid me off. It was when I was 12 weeks pregnant in Zach's high risk pregnancy. But, nothing magical happened on that date. So we were denied.

    In the meantime, last year and this year we do receive tax subsidy on our health care plan through the NJ exchange. But, that required jumping through a lot of hoops too. This year, we had to apply for Medicaid too. It was required because of our shaky household income from last year.

    I literally sent everything we had. They required a note from me specifically saying I don't earn an income. Taxes from 2014, W2s from last year, everything and it wasn't enough. After weeks of getting a generic message that they still haven't received everything needed, I emailed an angry note. It highlighted our financial information including the facts that Josh started at the pizza place in June and the grocery story in July. I ended it saying "I have nothing else to send call me with what you need and I'll give it to you". I included my number and got the call. When I clarified the months Josh started his jobs in, that's all they needed. You read that right, it was in the note I sent that had my number on it and they STILL needed to call. Two months later, they had what they needed to make a decision. Zach was uninsured for two months.

    We qualified for Medicaid but maintain the health exchange plan too. Few doctors take Medicaid. It's under the name "United Health Community". At least that's less embarrassing to say with strangers behind you.

    Someone says the word "Medicaid" and everyone looks up at the poor person. The same way you can't stop looking at a car wreck or a fire. If you don't like tax money going to help families like mine, pay enough so these services aren't needed!!! VOTE DEMOCRAT AND WE DON'T NEED TO LIVE OFF YOUR TAX MONEY!!!!!

    Our need for help reached a new low today. My parents agreed to pay for us to join the town pool this year. But, we have to apply for the assistance the town offers first. I expected they would require proof of income so I brought my tax document with me. It turns out in addition to that they need two things. One is the W2s. Okay, that's understandable. The other is a written referral from "the school nurse, a member of the clergy, a social worker, etc..........".

    For the town pool!!!!! I understand wanting the tax form and the W2. That's proof of income. But, I can't understand the required referral. Why am I being forced to tell yet another person of our income status? Why is it their business? Why is that necessary? To embarrass poor people? To make more unnecessary work for poor people? There is literally no good reason for this requirement. The tax form and W2 protect taxpayers from fraud. This step is pure and simple harassment.

    I have been against applying for SNAP benefits. My Mom volunteers at a charity and is certain we would qualify. But after all of these experiences I don't think I can do that again. We do have the budget to pay for groceries. But the help would make a difference. I have been against it because I get judged enough.

    It might just be a regular card these days. But, I have read too many stories from those who receive benefits. Always judged no matter what they are buying. Forced to hear the comments from strangers in line about how they are paying for that person's food. Healthy, unhealthy, it doesn't matter.

    I don't want to be judged for every non-essential purchase I make. I don't want to be judged because I wear necklaces and our clothes don't have holes in them. We can't afford smart phones and it has crossed over from something that "would be nice" to an actual necessity for us. I get one haircut a year and this year's is a Christmas present from Josh's parents. Our AAA membership is the most important annual Christmas present we could get and it's from Josh's sister. One computer. Circumstances most people couldn't understand or live under themselves. Yet we already get judged for every penny we spend. It's no one else's business. Yet others feel like it's okay for them to decide if they approve or not.

    Well, it's not your business. No one in NJ is raising the minimum wage to $15. Too many are not voting for the politicians that want to hold the rich accountable for the income gap and want to close that gap.

    So I made my Mom a deal. She has to do all the research into what it takes to apply for SNAP benefits. She also has to physically perform all of those steps in real time. I told her I am only willing to put a very small amount of effort into applying for SNAP. If they won't need much, I'll apply. If it requires what Medicaid required, I'M OUT!!!

    But, for the first time, she will experience that it's no where near as simple as people think it is. It's easy to say the steps. It's very different to do them. There is also all that unspoken judgment I talked about. Frankly, I can't take it anymore.

    But, it's easy to harass the poor in America today. Few fight for us. Few don't judge us. Few make life easier for us. Most harass us. Most judge us. Most make life harder for us. We are trapped in our circumstances. Trapped needing help we don't want to need. My silence it broken.

    I have a dare for everyone that judges the poor or thinks of us as "moochers". Don't just look up what the steps are to apply for all types of government assistance. Actually do all of them in real time. Too much work? Thought so. It won't stop you from burying your insecurities in judging those who actually do those things out of necessity.

    Sunday, April 03, 2016

    Stain Remover Battle

    So I have this dress.

    I got a few stains on it probably from cooking. It's most likely canola oil. The stains haven't been there that long. So I started with the stain remover we always use, Oxiclean Max Force. Usually, it works very well at getting stains out. After spraying it I find I have to scratch at the stain until the count of 25. But most of the time that works on the first try.

    When that didn't work I used what my Mom always uses. She likes the Carbona Stain Devils. They come in different formulas for different stains. If you know what made the stain, it works really well.

    But that didn't work either. We use Purex laundry detergent. So the next logical step for me was to try their stain remover called Fels-Naptha. It was weird using a bar. However, it wasn't that different then when I scratch at the stain anyway.

    When that didn't work, we went with the one that says on the bottle "1st time results on tough stains". It's Resolve Max. I did scratch at the stain like I do with Oxiclean. I didn't want to give Oxiclean an unfair advantage.

    It didn't work either. But, I tried it on a stained shirt and it didn't work on that stain either. The Oxiclean took care of that shirt. It's a case of exaggerated advertising. So we tried one last thing.

    Nope, Shout didn't work either. It even says "Set-In Stain Scrubber" on the bottle. Another case of exaggerated advertising.

    However, you can't see the stains unless you are up close and looking. I love this dress but only wear it around the house anyway. If I really wanted the stain out I probably would have to take it to the cleaners at this point.

    In the future I would probably stick with the Oxiclean Max Force. We've used it for year and I've seen it get out some pretty impressive stains. It worked through Zach's baby and toddler years. I liked the other cleaners and each one did work a little.

    I wouldn't get Shout and Resolve again because of the exaggerated advertising. I don't like encouraging companies to do that. They did work a little. But, they didn't follow through on their promise. I liked the Fels-Naptha bar and the Carbona. I would use them again if Oxiclean has trouble. But, I'll still start with Oxiclean.

    Note: I have not received anything from any of these companies to try their products. I am a customer looking for a product that works for something I need. They were all bought at the same grocery store. I am sharing the results because I know there are a lot of people like me that might be interested in the results. This isn't an advertisement.