Archive for the ‘Working Parent Conundrums’ Category

We unplugged the cable box at about this time last night.  We have made it through our first day with no real problems.  How did we do it?  One Word:  Hulu.  Well, and the dvd player, but I wanna talk about Hulu.

I read a lot of personal finance blogs, and I’ve read quite a few lately about Hulu.com.  Hulu.com is a  website that allows you to watch all of your favorite shows (like Heroes and Fringe, in our house) for free, on the internet.  It also has Spongbob Squarepants, iCarly, and most of the other shows that the kids like.

Now, you may be whining, “But I don’t wanna watch tv on my computer!”  We solved that too!  With a handy S-Video to S-Video cord, we just plug the computer into the tv, and use the tv as a second monitor!  Easy Peasy!  The biggest issue I have is that because of the length of the cord, we had to rearrange the living room, and it now looks a little, well, random, but that’s fine too.  I feel like I’m cheating the system, and I love it!

Now, obviously, this is not as convenient as cable, but it’s free, it works, and I don’t have to deal with Time Warner Cable anymore!  When I made that phone call this morning to tell them to turn off my cable and internet (we got a new, much cheaper, internet provider), it felt so liberating!  One day, when we are not so tight on cash, maybe we’ll get cable or a satellite dish again, but for now, I’m happy.


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Photo by ManonManon

Remember when you were little and your parents made you go to church? I grew up in a Lutheran family and attended a Lutheran school, from kindergarten through 12th grade. I was probably an oddball, because I actually enjoyed going to church, and can’t honestly remember ever putting up a fight about it. But, then I went to college at a state school, and put church on the back burner….actually, it was in the fridge…nowhere near any kind of burner at all.

Then I met Brian, and we both transferred to a different school. We got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. Actually, Brian was WAY more involved than I was. I did not particularly care for the people in the group. But, I did start going to the Lutheran church on campus every so often. At the time, Brian attended a local church called “Young Church”. I didn’t really care for that either because they were very non-traditional (no communion, rock bands, you get the picture).

Then we got married and our church-going waxed and waned. We finally found a church that we both liked, which was a perfect mix of tradition (communion, hymns that I knew growing up, litanies) and non-traditional (rock band, drama club). We joined that church, and were members for about 2 years or so.

Then we moved to LA. We tried the local Lutheran church, but it just didn’t do it for us. Then Brian was working weekends, so we didn’t go to church at all for a while. Then I met a girl at work, who told me about the church that she attends. We talked about it a few times, but it was only after I became her boss that I finally got around to going. I thought at first that it would be weird for her to have her boss at church, but really, we don’t really see that much of each other when we are there, so it’s not a big deal.

That being said, I really like this church. It’s very non-traditional. I mean, REALLY non-traditional. There is no communion. There are no litanies. There is an actual rock band, and dancers, and professional stage lighting. The first time we went, the kids did not like the noise, so I told them that it’s like a concert for God. And that is exactly what is like. But, it’s so much more genuine than the church Brian went to back in college. These are real people, many of them who came to LA to be performers, performing for God. It’s fantastic. And the pastor’s message always hits home, and he makes the Bible so relevant for today’s times. It’s really great.

And the kids really like it too. The Boy loves to go to Kids Church (that’s what they call Sunday School) because there is a slide, and playdoh, and he learns about God. The Girl pretends to be shy, but when we pick her up from Kids Church, she always tells us what a great time she had and what she learned.

There are also a lot of ways to volunteer or otherwise get involved at this church. I am not ready for that level of commitment yet. It will take me a while to get there, if I ever do. But, I am happy to know that the opportunity is there if and when I am ready.

So, thanks to Teresa for introducing us to this church. There is really no way to thank someone for bringing faith back into your life, but I want you to know that we truly do appreciate it.

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The dog is hiding...wish I could too sometimes.


I’m stressed out today.  I don’t know why.  Well, that’s not true…I do know why.  I think that the upcoming election, along with the country’s economic issues, on top of Brian not being able to find a full-time job are just starting to really really wear on my nerves.  I know that I’m doing everything in my power to help fix the situation, but things like the election and the economy are just out of my hands.  I mean, I mailed in my vote for the election yesterday.  I’m trying to help Brian by sending him job leads that I come across.  And we are being careful with the money that we do have coming in (for example, we are getting new, cheaper internet service next week and cutting our cable all together…gasp!). 

But then, life happens, and despite our best efforts, we can’t control it.  For example, I’ve been having trouble with my knees, and now I have to go to physical therapy every week for the next 4 weeks, for a grand total of $75 out of my pocket.  Not a huge amount to be sure, but not what I want to spend it on, either.  And then there is my car.  The check engine light is on, so we aren’t driving it much for now, until we can afford to find out what’s wrong with it.  It’s just frustrating.  Oh yeah, and the dog had a boil on his butt earlier this week.  Didn’t cost any money, but it was stressful.

So why am I throwing all of this on the internet so that everyone can see it?  It’s an effort to purge the stress.  I just feel like if I get all of this out, I’ll feel better.  And you know what?  I think it may have worked.  So, thanks.

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Photo by Mr Geoff

I was coerced into going to a PTA meeting last night. I have not gone to one since last September, and I had a very bad experience back then. This was when we lived in Michigan. I attended the first PTA meeting of the school year, and my first meeting ever, as my oldest was just in Kindergarten at the time. At the meeting what I found was a bunch of complainers. No one was nice. No one welcomed us. The speakers were complaining about not having enough money, the parents were complaining about too many fundraisers, and everyone complaining about the weather. The only ones who were not complaining were my family and the screaming children that were allowed to run rampant through the meeting. I was aggitated, and I never went back.

Cut to Tuesday. The Girl brings home a note stating that her class was to sing at the PTA meeting, which was scheduled for Wednesday. Nothing like giving last minute notice. Oh yeah, and they are supposed to wear red. The Girl doesn’t own anything red, so I had to go buy her a new shirt. Thank goodness for the clearance rack.

So, on Wednesday, I grudgingly took her to the meeting, and sat with her friend’s mom. The meeting was boring, which was better than what I experienced in Michigan. There was food and coffee, which made me happy. The kids sang two songs, which were in memory of a teacher who recently passed away, so that was touching. People were actually nice. The kids that were there, were actually well behaved. It was…….weird…….

So, all in all, I’m glad I went to the meeting. I don’t know that I’ll ever go to another one, but I don’t regret having to go to this one. Plus, the apple turnovers were pretty tasty.

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Yes.  This spider is 'playing dead' on my kitchen floor inside a clear glass cup... odd behavior?  Me thinks it so.

Mood lighting:
My reflection stares back at me in the now nearly opaque sliding glass door overlooking one of many carports and in the distance the slightly distinguishable silhouette of the mountains. Our movies are done. Our trip onto entertainment island at an end. I set out on the perilous late night dog walk to avoid another unfortunate wake up call of Shawna screaming, “The dog P!$$&) in the bed!” As I approach that inevitable area where carpet meets linoleum I see something. In my peripheral vision, just above and beyond clear sight I see a motion of blackness.

Quick stepping:

Realizing I was not asleep so this moving blackness could not possibly be the shadows I dream of in nightmares, I gather in a better look. It was a spider. Nay… not just a spider, THEspider.  That spider from stories.  From news stories long forgotten or urban legends still maintaining a feeble existence on some college campuses, since being relocated from real universities but not yet desperate enough for community colleges.  Yes, THE SPIDER.  The big one.  The BLACK WIDOW.  I’ll be honest.  I harbor a bit of arachnophobia.  I have managed to suppress it to a point through my sheer zoological curiosity.  I am a virtual cat in that area.  But, I was immediately aware that this particular spider demanded too much respect for my feeble attempts at calmness.  I may have slightly freaked, although mostly on the inside to save face in front of Shawna.  As we thought it through and decided it may be a large black widow, I decided the Internet can shed light on the subject.  Did we have to move?  Does she now own our home through some strange black widow common law of real estate?  Did you get the cat reference from above yet?  I hope you did.  We found that most exterminators ask that it not be squished, but rather kept safely for the exterminator to address.  I put it in a glass cup and then transferred both spider and cup into a large ziplock bag.  I would have used a small one, and just the spider, but let’s face it, we don’t need PETA knocking on our door in the morning, am I right?  A small clear house with a view, protected from would be predators with the miracle of plastic, I can’t imagine upsetting even the most avid animal lover.

Aftermath and research and development:

Now, in our research we found that these spiders are said to be either and inch, or 2cm… Europeans… odd lot.  But, I am here to tell you, she doesn’t live by the standards of others.  She marches to the beat of her own eight-legged drummer boy.  Her abdomen is easily as big around as a standard-sized marble.  Front to back, at least and inch, and two sets of back legs an inch long each.  I don’t exaggerate these measurements, I have no need to.  I am inquisitive.  I examined and scrutinized her.  When I moved the glass, she played dead.  You read me.  (re-read that in the past tense of to read… there.  That’s better.)  You read correctly.  She flipped on her back both revealing her hourglass frame, and trying to lure me into her web of destruction.  When I moved the glass away, she miraculously regained consciousness and was VERY alert.  I have looked into it and it turns out, so far at least, I have found nothing on this behavior in black widow spiders… what IS she?

Sentence fragments are cool.  That wasn’t one:

Well, there you have it.  This “spider” issue has now become more “real” to me than even the earthquake we narrowly avoided sever dizziness from on the 29th of July in southern California.  After that, I had a talk with the kids, and we collectively made our plans of action, etc.  After Ms. Widow however, I took my German spelunking flashlight and searched in every crevice in our kitchen and bedroom.  I almost went through the kids room as well, but settled for shutting windows to avoid the obvious reunion that was hastily planned in our neighborhood.  I then stripped our bed and re-made it searching for the… well, the other super spiders laying in wait to ambush us for the disappearance of what may be the largest black widow on the planet.  I swear when I caught her, she looked straight at me, flipped that hourglass and pointed in my face followed by the motion of slitting a throat.  I doubt she could get out, but I have hired a body guard.  At any rate, I continued searching:  beneath dressers, end tables, the bed, inside various boxes and in general all around the house.  nearly 2 full hours after the ordeal we drifted off to slightly interrupted sleep. 

She still sits, alive, outside our door in the hall for neighbors to peer at in curiosity.  Until Monday… until Monday… until… Mon… day.

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photo by fringehog

Brian took The Girl to the orthopedic doctor this morning. She’s fine. Her elbow is not fractured. Whew! We just have to do some exercises with her to help her strengthen it. And the really good news is that it’s still impossible for her to lick her own elbow.

On a different note, I’ve been thinking lately about the health of my kids, and myself. I realized that we eat a lot of crap. I mean, The Girl eats bologna for lunch almost every day! I give them fruit snacks, hot dogs, mac-n-cheese out of the box, anything quick and easy. Is that so bad? I get to thinking about this stuff every now and then, and I start feeling guilty. I mean, on that show Jon and Kate Plus 8, they eat all organic foods! And they have 8 kids! And I wonder why I don’t do that. And then I remember…it’s because I hate to cook. And, I grew up on koolaid, pepsi, and fluffernutter sandwiches, and I turned out ok. My kids are healthy, they usually will choose grapes over junk food, neither of them like pop (that’s Michigan for soda), and they have never been big candy eaters . In fact, I just threw out a bunch of Easter candy that we all forgot about! So, do I wish we ate healthier? Of course I do. Am I going to feel guilty for giving my kids mac-n-cheese? Nope.

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Well, Brian took The Girl back to the doctor today to see why her elbow is still bothering her.  This doctor (our regular doctor) seems to think that it might have been fractured!  So, tomorrow Brian has to take her to an orthopedic speciallist.  Awesome.  I’m so ticked off about it right now…I mean, how could the first doctor not have known that it was fractured???  Now this poor little 6 year old has to be banned from recess for the next 2 or 3 weeks, and I am so worried that her elbow will now be messed up for life.  I feel so bad!

Other than that, it’s been a long boring day.  I had a training at work today, and I have to sit through the other half tomorrow.  The highlight of my day was that I got free breakfast and free lunch.  🙂  My motto, when it comes to work related meetings is:  “If you feed them, they will come.”  Works every time!  🙂

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Photo by Julie™..{ Princess of Far Far AWAY}

Man, was it a rough one today. I got up early in the hopes of getting to work early, which I did, but Brian was feeling under the weather, so it ended up being a pretty rough morning. I worried about him all morning. Then, around 10am, I finally decided he was too sick to take care of The Boy, so I came home, packed The Boy up, and took him back to the office with me. Thank goodness I work someplace that allows that.

The Boy was so good all day, and I was so proud of him, so I bought him and The Girl a milkshake on our way home. Both of them drank it too fast, complained of a stomach-ache, and ended up with diarrhea. Lactose intolerance, anyone? Anyway, by the time The Boy and I got home form work, Brian was feeling better (turns out it was one helluva migraine). He started getting ready for work, and the maintenance guy showed up to fix our backed up sink (I love renting!). So, Brian went to work, and now I’m trying to figure out what’s for dinner. Oh yeah, and while yesterday’s dishes (that we couldn’t do yesterday because of the sink) are able to get washed, tonight’s dishes will not because we are out of dishwasher soap. I was supposed to go to the store, but because of the diarrhea, that’s not happenin’, yo. That’s all I need. And, yes, I know I could hand wash the dishes, and I might, but I can’t even think about it right now.

The good news is that I’m so fed up that I’m just done for the day…which left me with enough time to play a great game of hide-n-seek with the kids….with only one diarrhea interruption.

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photo by ErinsWorld

Since moving to CA, I have gained weight. Not a lot of weight, but enough that my clothes don’t fit right, and I just don’t feel well because of it. I went to the doctor recently, and he seems to think that it is stress related, or lack of sleep. I’m not disagreeing with him, necessarily, but I also don’t think that is the whole problem. I think the biggest reason is that I’m not exercising as much as I had been last year. I went for about 14 or 15 months where I did pilates or some other exercise at least 3 or 4 times a week. Thanks to our cable company in MI, I had tons of On Demand options. We don’t have that here, so that is one issue. The other issue is that I am just not motivated.

That’s where this post comes in. I have decided that I need to lose some weight, or at least firm up what is here. For the last month, I have been walking The Girl to school as much as possible, which is about a mile and a half walk, the last stretch of which is straight up hill. That’s a good start, but I need to get back to the pilates. So, I have set a goal for myself that I will do pilates at least 3 times a week, I will continue to walk to the school. I also have a 7 minute abs workout that I like to do, but I am making that optional for myself…mainly because I might be too sore from the pilates at first. I will post my progress weekly on this blog, starting today.

I am also trying to eat better, but I will not bore you with the specifics of that. That being said, if you have any healthy recipes to pass along, I’ll be glad to try them…if they do not involve too much actual real cooking, because that is not really my strength.

So, without further ado, Here is my update for the week of September 28 – October 4:

I walked The Girl to school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday
I did Pilates on Friday

Not a terrible week…but I hope that next week will be better.  Wish me luck!

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Photo by It’sGreg

Here it is, Thursday again. Ever since The Girl was born, I have hated Thursdays. I don’t know what it is about this day, but it always seems to be the worst day of the week for us. Even before The Girl started school, Thursdyas have been the day when she is just exhausted. Prior to moving to CA and prior to Brian being a stay-at-home dad (by day), the kids went to Grandma’s house while we went to work. So, by Thursday, it was harder to wake them up in the morning, and harder to to get them to come home after work.

Now that The Girl is in school, Thursday is even worse. She is still impossible to wake up on Thursday mornings. She dawdles all morning until we have to practically run to school to get her there on time (good thing it’s downhill!), and she’s a whiny little whiner by the time she gets home. Then, when I get home, I get to deal with the homework fight, and Thursdays are the worst homework days for her! She has to do a practice spelling test, do something creative to practice the spelling words, and practice for her timed math test. Ther eis usually other stuff she has to do too. Dinner is usually pizza or some other “fast” food, and bedtime is just as much of a nightmare.

And that’s just the kids! I am also quite tired by Thursday, and I usually have a meeting or two while at work, or I have to drive to one of the farther offices, which is not fun in LA traffic. A lot of times, I have to go to some store or another because we have run out of something, and I’m never in the mood to go. And if it’s getting close to the next payday, there is the “end of the paycheck” woes as well.

So, all in all, I’m not a fan of Thursdays. I’m also not a fan of February, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it!

On a positive note, family and friends in Michigan have written and called me to tell me how cold it is there. Here, it’s in the upper 90’s today. I’m so glad we moved to California!

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