Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living in a beautiful world. . . . .

I have never been what you would call beautiful.  I have never even been what you would call pretty.  To be honest - I am ugly.  I am over weight and have a terrible body.  I have very British teeth (ie - very, very crooked and stained).  I have terrible skin (not fair to be dealing with wrinkles and acne).  I have hair that does nothing, no matter how long I work on it to try to make it look nice.  I am physically ugly.

Being ugly is hard for a woman.  I think most women want to feel pretty at some point in their life.  I have done things with pretty women - and it never ceases to amaze me how differently pretty women are treated.  It is true - people treat attractive, beautiful women differently then ugly ones.  I had a friend in college who looked just like Jessica Alba.  We both had our first children at the same time, and when we went places together people would hold the door open for us.  They would give up tables for us at restaurants, and let us cut in line at the check out.  Clerks in stores would come running up to us to see if they could help us.  I was AMAZED at the difference.

I live in a beautiful world.  I live in a community of Stepford people.  They have it all put together.  They have beautiful white, straight teeth.  They have beautiful bodies.  Their hair is always in place.  They wear beautiful clothing.  When they pull their kids out of the car their cars are spotless.  Their children are always beautiful with pressed clothing and hair in place, not a stain anywhere.  Everything about them exudes perfection.  And here I am.

I try to get a better body.  Really, I do.  I exercise 5 days a week.  I spend most of the day starving, and try very hard to limit what I eat at dinner time.  I drink nothing with calories in it.  I watch what I eat (for the most part).  Doesn't work.  The only way I lose weight is by totally stopping eating.  In the past, that was the ONLY time I lost weight - when I was so sick I couldn't eat or keep anything down for an extended period of time, or I just stopped eating because I couldn't stand being fat anymore.  I have seizures, I pass out, and in the end I am still not 90-110 pounds (my IBW).  I will never have a cute body, never.  I may be more in shape and eat healtier, but I will never be where society and charts say I should be.  And to make matters even worse - I am a dietitian.  I am a fat dietitian. 

My skin - horrible.  I have tried everything - nothing works.  When I wear makeup to cover it the make up only makes it worse.  Exercise makes it worse.  The only thing that helps it is if I don't exercise at all and don't go any place I will sweat.  We live in Florida - that isn't going to happen.  And I need to exercise or I would weigh twice what I weigh now.

My teeth - I brush and floss them every day.  I go to the dentist, but they stain.  They are crooked.  I have gotten estimates to have them fixed . . . $20,000.  Yep, $20,000.  We don't have $20,000 to fix my teeth.  We will never have $20,000 to fix my teeth.  And yes - I have had two different orhto's give me that quote. 

So I live in beautiful Florida with all these beautiful people and I am ugly.  I take my kids to functions and either get ignored or stared at.  People drive by me while I am walking and bark at me out the window.  I try to talk to people and the nicest I get is that "awww, this person is trying to talk to me," to just being rudely ignored and scoffed it. 

I am tired of it.  I am tired being treated like a nothing piece of shit.  I am not ignorant and air-headed.  I am so tired of being treated that way.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Polish Bacon casserole (Haluski)

This dish - Oh man.  I made this for my step father once and he loved it so much that he hid the left overs in the back of the fridge so he could eat them all the next day!

This dish has a story behind it.  I am a dietitian and I worked in a hospital for a couple of years.  I had to do Coumadin education for a lady - and when you are on coumadin you have to have very consistent Vitamin K consumption.  When I discussed this with her and which foods she would have to watch she got very upset.  She said, "Now I can't have my Haluski."  I asked her what that was and this is what she said.  "I am Polish, both my parents were born and raised in Poland.  This time of year we always have Haluski."  The she proceeded to tell me the recipe.  Basically, it is a casserole of bacon, cabbage, and noodles.  I know - sounds kind of nasty, right?  It isn't.  It is pure comfort food.

Ingredients:  (this makes a lot - we eat this for days - so you may want to 1/2 the recipe!)

2 pounds of bacon
1 onion (chopped)
1 head of cabbage
1 1/2 pounds of egg noodles (I like using no yolks)

Fry the bacon in a large pan.  I use the electric fry pan.  Fry until crispy but not black.  Set on paper towel to drain.

Start water for noodles.  Once boiling cook just until done (I cook for six minutes).  Then drain and set aside.

While bacon is cooking, chop cabbage into bite size pieces.  I make them a little bigger than the noodles since they cook down.  When bacon is done pour off half the oil from the bacon, add cabbage and onions to the remaining fat and fry, covered, at medium head until done (about 15 minutes).

While cabbage is cooking, chip bacon.  When cabbage is done add cabbage and bacon to the noodles.  Mix well and serve!

Pollo Loco - chicken recipe

I know I haven't posted any recipes in a long time, but I really do want to start posting them again!  Here is one of our favorite recipes.  Everyone in the house loves this, and we all eat it pretty much until we are sick.  So good!  I got this from blog site.  I change it a little, but that was where I got the basic idea!

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I cut them into 3 oz pieces.
1 bottle Lawry's Mesquite Marinade
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cup uncooked long grain rice.  I like to use Basmati rice
2 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp Taco Seasoning
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 container white Mexican Queso.  I get this from Sam's club.

Marinate the chicken in the marinade overnight.  I do this after I have cut the chicken up to the size we like.  When ready to cook - set broiler to high and broil two notches down to the top.  Turn every 7 minutes until done (juices run clear or internal temp is 165 degrees).

In the meantime, start the rice.  Heat the oil over medium heat, and dump the rice.  Cook until golden, stirring consistently.  Add the garlic and taco season

At this point add the broth, tomato sauce and onion flakes.  Cook to boil.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Fluff when done.

Heat the queso according to package.  Then, put rice on the plate, put a piece of chicken on top of the rice and pour cheese over top of all of it.  Then gobble it down.  So yummy!

What Americans need from our elected officials

Gotta love presidential election time!  Mud slinging.  Hate spewing.  "I will say anything to get you to vote for me," crap.  Facebook has helped this year.  All the political crap that is being tossed out there on Facebook - the, "This guys is not American, he spent us into debt and changed our flag, if you vote for him you are not American and you want to kill babies and spend your kids into debt, " or the, "If you vote for this guy all middle class Americans will pay higher taxes, he is a bully and will send all gays out to slaughter," sort of crap.  Personally, I am sick of both sides.

For me, I vote by the person.  Democrat/Republican - I am neither (I know, most people believe I am a die hard, left wing liberal, but I am not.)  There is no party that fits me.  I am pro-life, pro-gun, believe one parent should be home to raise children (either man or woman, don't care), believe family should be the number one thing in life once you have kids, and I am Christian.  At the same time I believe if a person falls in love with someone of the same sex and wants to commit together for a life time than they should be able to do so.  Their should be some form of legal union.  Homosexuality and God - that is between them and God - I need not be a part of that.  I believe that if a two year college education is needed for someone to get a job then we, as a country, should provide that to all.  Add an associates degree to what the United States provides for education for all American children (then if someone wants to go further with a Bachelors, Masters, or PHD have them pay for it).  I believe minimum wage should be increased, and welfare programs should be enacted to help those working poor be not so poor - if you work you should be able to provide a decent, non-starving life for yourself.  You can see here that I fit neither Democrat or Republican - and voting is always a difficult thing because I always have to give up on something.

Well, that is the thing.  America is hurting.  Cost of living has increased while pay has not.  Jobs were lost.  The economy stinks.  College educations are so expensive that those graduating are doing so with a mortgage payment of student loans, but jobs that pay only slightly more than minimum wage.  America is collapsing upon itself and everyone is screaming at each other.  Republicans have forgotten that Bush the second was the President when everything collapsed and Bush the second increased the national debt way more than Obama has - they are just screaming that we have to go back to a Republican president so times can "prosper" again (do your research, all American ressessions have begun during the end of a Republican presidency).  Democrats are screaming that the rich will just get richer and the middle class will sink into poverty while you lose your medicare if Republicans take the presidency. What is going to cause America to collapse - this crap!

When I vote - I have to give up on somethings.  Republicans/Democrats - give up on somethings.  What we are doing isn't working so obviously you are BOTH wrong.  We need to come together and find something that works - something that will increase pay for Americans and get them working again.  Something that will decrease the debt.  Something that will help bring back that American dream of "If I work hard and don't spend like crazy it will all work out and we will be OK" kind of life - because right now I see it as almost impossible for that to happen.

The Founding Fathers warned us of what would happen in a two party system.  George Washington's farewell address talked at length about it - yet we didn't learn and here we are.  We are ALL Americans - we are not Democrats or Republicans - we are AMERICANS!  Most of us have had a family member shed blood in some war or another.  Most of us love this country, I know I do, I may not be proud of it but I love it and I want to see it prosper.

So here is what I think needs to happen.  Stop with the mud slinging.   Our country is in crisis and we need help.  We are in debt and we need to bring that debt down. . . . cut things.  First try to cut the things that won't hurt people as much.  First try to cut things that won't end jobs.  Then cut things that hurt.  Make our politicians do things like people do.  When I travel I look for the best value for my dollar - make politicians do the same.  When I wanted to do or get something for work I had to submit reasons why I wanted it and find the cheapest cost - so should our politician.  If we are going to be cutting WIC and food to needy people I don't want to ear about the president or a congressmen spending $3000 a night at a hotel.  They can stay at a Holiday Inn just like I can.  Cut things and control this spending!

Second - raise taxes.  Yep.  Raise taxes.  Raise taxes on all of us.  The system we have right now isn't a bad one - but there are lots of loop holes and deductions - get rid of them.  Tax every dollar earned for Social Security so people can have something to retire on (we pay INTO THIS!  This is not an "entitlement" program - this is our money and we want it back at some point!)  Use that tax percentage - if your income is x or less then you pay 5%, if your income is between x and y, then you pay 10%, if your income is between y and z then you pay 15% . . . . . no deductions. . . . no loopholes. . . no "if you have 12 kids then you don't have to pay anything."  Get rid of all of that and just do it this way.  Would this hurt - yes - I now it would hurt us.  Having four kids brings our taxes down, but everyone needs to hurt here - not just the rich, middle class, or poor - everyone needs to hurt.

Third, stop policing the world.  We can't.  Other parts of the world have different values than we do - and we need to let them have those values.  A huge chunk of our budget goes to the military and these wars that are out there.

Fourth, cut politicians pay if they can't figure things out.  They cut teacher pay if their kids don't get a certain test score - so cut politicians pay if they can't get a budget balanced.

Fifth, look out for AMERICA and AMERICANS!  You are voted to represent us - not some party or political jargon!!!!  Stop democrat/republican garbage and do what we want you to do even if it isn't what you want to do!

Sixth (forgot to add this - so I had to come back and add it), get Americans working again - and make that pay be worth it!  We need jobs.  We need jobs that pay for us to live.  Someone who works 80 hours a week should not have to starve.  If a person has a job they should be offered some form of health insurance.  We need to work, we need to feel pride in our work, and we need to be able to support ourselves off our pay.

I know none of this will happen, and another election will come and go and nothing will change.  Nothing will get better.  Hate will still be spewed.  Angry posts will fly on F-book.  The country will sink deeper into debt, and the middle class family will still worry about how they are going to put their kids through college and pay for retirement, the poor will get poorer, and the rich will still rule the world.  I just find this whole election season to be sad and depressing.  Honestly, if I didn't have such strong beliefs that everyone should vote then I probably would just stay home let this election pass.  I see no good outcome here with either candidate. . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Parent fail. . . . .

I don't know if everyone has those "I have to be the worst parent in the world" moments, but I know I do and today I had several of those moments.

I have four very bright, independent kids.  They are who they are.  All four can be demanding at times.  Today was just one of those days where you put them to bed and think, "Dang, maybe I should just give them all up for adoption because they sure would be better off."

First, I made Gabe cry.  Man does that make me feel like crap.  He needed to answer one question, Describe why you want to go to Buffalo Wild Wings.  He was writing a report where he had to say how he could try to get his parents to do something he wanted them to do.  He wanted to go to BWW - so he had to write down why he wanted to.  He stared at this screen on the computer for an hour and never typed anything.  I told him to tell me what he wanted to say and I would type it.  We sat here for another 20 minutes and he still couldn't answer it.   I got angry.  Wasn't a hard question.  I yelled at him and he cried.  Felt like total crap.

Fast forward to the teacher conferences tonight.  It was for the twins, and it wasn't like a one on one conference, it was an entire class conference where the teacher discussed what was going on for the year and what was expected for the children.  Note after note came home stating "Please leave your kids at home" and also saying that if the kids come they "have to be quiet and color."  We really had no place to take them.  Initially we were going to pay Gabe to babysit them, but Gabe was in such a bad mood after the days homework that I knew that wasn't going to be a good thing so they had to come.  The conference started at 6pm and was to last to 7pm.  I don't know about anyone else but we normally eat at 6pm.  The kids rely on it.  We try to keep as close to our schedule as possible.  Evelyn had girl scouts so I knew I wasn't going to be able to make a real meal before hand, so I gave the twins each half a PBand J - figured that would tide them over.

We got to the school about 10 minutes early.  Nick took Ellie and I took Lucy.  Lucy was very excited and helped the teacher hand papers out.  She sat down and started coloring.  By the time the conference started Lucy was done coloring.  I knew that was a bad thing.  It was dinner time, she was bored, and she had an audience (something she loves!)  The teacher started talking and Lucy jumped up and immediatly gave her teacher a hug.  That I can deal with.  I whisper to Lucy, "You have to sit down and color, remember what your teacher said."  She nodded and then started yelling to a child on the other side of the room.  She then took a drink of water and let out a huge belch.  I whispered to her, "Lucy, you have to sit down and be quiet".  She looked around and saw her audience looking at her and turned to me and yelled, "NO!"  I then whispered in her ear that if she didn't stop being this way we would have to leave.  She turned her chair around and started trying to pull the chair into the center of the room.  I held on to the back of her chair so she could not.  At that point she jumps up and runs into the center of the room and starts making bunny ears with the projector light.  I picked her up and carried her out of the room, she is now in full opera scream.  I took her out to the hall and told her why I removed her from the room.  Somehow her ear piercing scream just got louder.  I then hauled her outside where she yelled and screamed for the next 45 minutes. 

I felt terrible.  Normally I don't care what people think of me, but the last few times I had spoken with her teacher I got the distinct impression that this teacher thought I was a terrible mom.  She honestly treats me like I am ignorant (and maybe I am when it comes to parenting.)  Add to that the fact that we live in Stepford, all the people you see have beautiful bodies, are perfect looking, and exude that they and their children are perfect.  These kids are all "yes sir" when their parents are around, and then tossing food and calling people terrible names when their parents aren't around.  So there I was, five minutes into the conference I pick up my daughter and haul her out of the room screaming.  I couldn't let her continue to misbehave like that and be disruptive.  I just feel like a horrible parent.  My child was the one who didn't listen and misbehaved.  The teacher scowled at me as I hauled her out.

Today is just one of those nights that I will go to bed and pray to God that I can somehow be a better parent.  Where did I fail as a parent?  I try to do what is right for my kids.  I give them rules that matter and let the things that don't matter go.  I tell them what is expected of them and I do my best to give them everything they need (mind you, they may not get what they want but they always have what they need.)  I just don't know.  I made my son cry.  I have a five year old that refuses to listen to me - ever - so I end up having to put her in the corner way more than I would like - or- like tonight - have to physically remove her from places because she is misbehaving. 

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and I can be a better parent. . . .

Friday, September 14, 2012

Menu shopping, why I live by it.

OK - I know what you are thinking, "You do menus?"  Yes, I do.  I spend a full day looking at old recipes that I have plus the new ones that I have found on pinterest then I plan a two to four week menu.  Then I make my grocery list and hit the store for that 2-4 weeks worth of groceries. 

Most people look at me like I am crazy when I say this, but really it is very practical.  My husband and I started making a simple menu when we first got together.  Believe it or not he was the one that was doing a very simple food menu before we moved in with each other.  Here are the benefits I have found to doing a menu.

1.  You save money.  OK, the thought of dropping that much $$$ at the grocery store at one single time is sickening, but when you really add up what you spend we found it is actually cheaper to go this way.  You do your menu you make your grocery list and you ONLY buy what is on that list.  We have found that the longer the period we plan and shop for, the more money we save.  Now about that saving money - here a couple of sub sets as to how this saves money!
          a.  A lot of people buy more than is on their list when they shop.  So if you go to the store more often you usually end up spending extra money on things that aren't needed.  Only going to the store once or twice a month means you spend less of that money on those "extra" last minute purchases.
          b.  Know the best prices.  OK - for me I buy all our frequently used meat at Sam's Club.  Down here that is the cheapest.  Boneless skinless chicken breast is $1.77 a pound, and 90/10 ground beef is $2.79 a pound.  We also get milk ($2.99 a gallon), orange Juice ($3.49 a gallon), butter ($7.19 for four pounds), chunk cheese ($5.28 for 2 pounds) and our paper products (TP and paper towels) at Sam's club.  I use the dollar store to buy toilet cleaner, toothpaste/toothbruhes, bathroom cleaner, and some food (like tortilla shells).  After Sam's and the Dollar store I hit Save-A-Lot.  Here is where I buy our frozen vegetables, any frozen potatoes if we have any planned, spaghetti sauces, and our cottage cheese/sour cream.  I end it with the trip to Wal-Mart for what is on the rest of my list.  If I were in Michigan I would do all my shopping in Cadillac (cheaper than TC), and instead of Wal-Mart I would go to Meijers.
         c.  Always check the meat shelves.  OK - for meat I plan to buy it is only ground beef and chicken, but sometimes you can get some great deals on the "we have to sell it today or toss it" meats.  I will post my menu for the next few weeks at the end of this - and on there you will see t-bone steaks.  OK - we would never buy them normally, but the last time I shopped I came across some T-bones that were on sale for $1.99 a pound.  I picked them up to be used on the next menu cycle!

2.  You safe time.  OK , I know the thought of spending 3-4 hours making a menu and compling recipies doesn't sound like it saves time, and neither does spending a full day in the grocery store, followed by several hours at home putting food away and orgainzing bulk food so it can be used, but trust me, it saves time.  First - you re only in a store twice a month (even when I do the full four weeks of menu I do have to do a milk/fruit run after two weeks).  Think of all the time you waste just going to the store.  And if you are like me then you have to haul kids into and out of the store with you.  Really, one or two longer days a month vs. that stop several times a week (and I know some people who go to the store every day!) it really does save that time.  On top of that, I know for me if I don't have dinner planned I do the, "Awww, what am I going to make for dinner tonight?" thing.  You rummage through your freezer and cupboards and try to figure out if you have enough to make one meal or the another.  By the time I figure it out the kids are screaming, yet it is still a full hour away from the meal being done.  In my house, that is just not a fun thing.

3.  One less thing to worry about.  This goes with the above statement.  You are buys, working, running the kids everywhere, dealing with the house work. . . .if the menu is already set then it is set.  All you have to do is know when you have to start it.  One day of menu planning leads to many days of not having to worry about it!

4.  Usually more nutritious.   Before I had kids this wasn't a big deal to me, but since having kids this has become a huge deal.  Toss in the fact that we had a child on a Gluten Free/Casein Free diet for 4 years and I can say my menus saved my sanity.  I could not have come up with unplanned last minute meals that would have fed him the way he needed to be fed.  If I hadn't planned those meals he would have eaten nothing but Hebrew National hotdogs and Lays potato ships. . . . that planning is what allowed us to still feed him a balanced and varied diet that fit into his GF/CF needs.  Getting past that, the one thing I do feel we do right as parents is that we have a balanced dinner every night at the kitchen table.  TV off, just us, the meal, and the kitchen table.  We all sit down, say grace and the eat and talk together.  I try very hard to provide and offer a variety of meals, some old and loved meals and some new and adventurous ones.  My family loves to try new things, and we really do like food.  Doing this has given us three girls who love to try new foods (Evelyn especially).  Doing menus really helps to make our diet more nutritious.  In doing this you see the big picture and can adjust accordingly. 

5.  Less processed foods.  This could have been in the above.  My family does eat some processed foods - you will see that in the menu I have made - but we try to limit it.  I personally think a lot of the health problems that are out there today are due to the crap that is put in our food.  Our bodies were meant to eat food right after it was killed or picked. . . that was how we were made. . .  I am not fond of processed foods.

6.  Less waste.  I have found a lot less waste when I use menus.  I mean , when we have a roasted chicken one day, the next day we can boil the bones from the chicken to make a broth and make a yummy chicken and dumpling soup from that broth and the left over chicken.  I always plan my menus that way!  I hate tossing food!  Plus - in our house lunch is always leftovers or a PBJ.  ALWAYS!

So - with the things I love about menus here are the few things I don't like about them. . .

1.  You get one week of fresh fruit and veggies and a week of canned or frozen.  That is just how it works.  Down here everything fresh molds so fast, so you have to make sure if you have meals that require fresh fruits or veggies that you plan them in the first week, and then the second week is more your frozen or canned stuff.  Even when I do the month menu I do run to the store after two weeks to get another batch of fresh stuff. 

2.  Sometimes you just don't feel like having what is on that menu.  For us - we just try to moves stuff around to something that we would like.  The meals are still there to be cooked and you don't HAVE to make them on the day that is planned.

3.  Lack of snacks or food that you crave.  Sometimes I crave Doritos.  I don't put them on the menu.  I don't buy them.  I miss Doritos.  My kids get me a bag of Doritos for Christmas and it is the best gift ever!  Also, the only snack food we buy is popcorn.  A bag of popcorn kernels, not even microwave stuff.  Sometimes you just want to snack on something and an apple isn't going to fill that craving.  I do make homemade cookies and such, but if they aren't made then we don't have them.

OK - so here is my menu for the next three weeks.  I do plan a few meals out.  We do have some processed foods.  Plus - I have a Dessert menu as well that I can just make when I have time.

Thursday (started yesterday) - Garlic Parmasean Chicken, Homemade Mashed Potatoes, Carrots
Friday - Pork chops (got on sale a month ago), Garlic pasta, Spinach
Saturday - Chicken Lachoy with rice (processed meal - Evie's loves LaChoy and requested it)
Sunday - Out - Columbia's restaurant (1905 day - all prices are rolled back to their 1905 price!)
Monday - Bacon, cabbage and noodles (a yummy polish dish that is just a mixture of these 3 ingreadients)
Tuesday - Hot Dogs (Hebrew National) and Mac n cheese (procesed food night).  Broccoli.
Wednesday - Chicken Tacos (tacos made with chicken instead of ground beef)
Thursday - Pot pies (another processed food night)
Friday - Pollo Loco (this is an amazing recipe of rice, and chicken covered in a queso!), green beans.
Saturday - White Chicken Enchalladas (new recipe), salad from leftover Taco veggies.
Sunday - Grilled t-bones, Mashed Potatoes, Corn on the cob (T-bones got on sale on last shopping trip!)
Monday - Chicken fried rice (homemade)
Tuesday - Chicken and creamy orzo pasta (a yummy recipe with broccoli and tomatoes in it!)
Wednesday - Tia's restaurant (kids eat free night)
Thursday - Manwich, French fries, corn (processed food!)
Friday - Grilled cheese sandwich and mushroom soup.
Saturday - Goulash, cauliflower.
Sunday - Braised chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, carrots
Monday - Grandpa Johnson's restaurant (kids eat free night)
Tuesday - Slower cooker Potato soup with homemade beer bread.
Wednesday - Homemade Mac N Cheese - using the Panera recipe.
Thursday - Sausage and rice casserole.
Friday - Moe's restaurant ($5 burrito, chips and drink day!)

Desserts - all homemade
Bites size apple pies
Pull apart Cinnamon sugar pumpkin bread
Caramel apple bars
Dump Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Apple cobbler
Chocolate Peanut butter cake.

So there it is, three weeks worth of menus for 6 people.  I do so love my menu planning!  Guess that is one of the reasons I became a dietitian :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Even more thoughts on my Grandma. . .

OK, I am not super parent.  I will never win a parent of the year award.  The reality of it is that I hope my parenting doesn't totally mess up my kids to the point where they are unable to function in adulthood - because I see that as a very real possibility.  I get overwhelmed easily, and when I get overwhelmed I yell.

This morning was one such morning.  Our cable/internet/phone provider increased our service cost.  They increased it by $20 a month.  I knew it was coming, I knew we only had that discount for a year and our year was up.  Well, the other big name provider in the area had a deal - cable, internet and phone for $50 a month less than our old provider.  $50 a month to us is a big deal.  I know, doesn't sound like a lot, but we live on a very strict budget and if we want do do things like go to Disney or go to Michigan next summer we have to find a way to save that money - so I live by that budget.  Well we switched yesterday and I am already regretting it.

The TV and the phone aren't a big deal to me.  We only watch TV in the evening and I don't make a lot of phone calls, it is the internet that we need.  Gabe is virtual schooled and we NEED reliable internet.  Since we switched to this new provider we no longer have reliable internet.  Trying to submit a test takes three attempts.  Trying listen to an assignment online and the internet drops us right in the middle.  We can't have that.  We NEED reliable internet for Gabe to do his schoolwork.

Well, this morning Nick "fixed" it.  Then he took off on a 10 mile bike ride.  I was trying to pay some bills online and the internet still kept dropping us.  Nick believes that part of the problem is they set up the network in our bedroom and the laptop is in the living room.  Well, I decided to move Gabe's desk into our bedroom - we have a space for it - just need to move a few things around. 

So here is were we are getting into the "more thoughts about Grandma" part.  I am trying to move things around, things are falling off, the modem falls and shatters.  This causes me to panic - Gabe NEEDS internet to go to school.  Doorbell is ringing, kids are fighting, by now I am crying and wishing I were anywhere but here as I try to untangle the cords and try to put the modem back together.  I was wishing at that point I had some form of help with some of this stuff.  Then my mind goes to Grandma.

Grandma was left a widow at a young age - with three young children.  She didn't have a drivers license and they lived in rural northern Michigan.  Grandma was a hard working woman - but she was a housewife.  She hadn't had a job outside of the house since WWII ended.  Grandpa did all the bills, earned and organized all the money, and brought home the game and fish for the meals.  Here I was sitting, crying about a broken modem and not knowing what we were going to do for Gabe's schooling, when Grandma found a way to support and raise three kids alone in a situation that was way worse than the one I am in.

I just don't know how she did it.  I wish I was more like her.  She was always so happy and loving all the time, not sitting on the floor crying and yelling out curse words.  I do so  miss her and do so wish I was more like her. . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why I believe we need some form of Welfare. . .

The other day I saw a “share” from a Facebook friend that got me thinking.  The share was a photo of Ronald Reagan and it said something like, “The best form of welfare is a job”.  Now, I agree with that.  I have a blog that I have been working on in my mind for a while about something like that – will be coming eventually.  I really do agree with the line “we need to give people a hand up and not a hand out.”  A job that has a decent pay, insurance benefits, and retirement benefits is what most people need.  That is what will pull America up.

OK – so back to the Facebook “share”, it wasn’t the photo of Ronald Reagan that hit me and irritated me, it was the comments below it.  So many comments of “Yah, we need to get rid of welfare, that would fix it”. . . . many, many comments that pretty much said this.  Now, I believe the welfare system is very broken.  I believe the welfare system needs to be changed.  When I worked at the health department I did come across people who could have worked, but just refused to do so.  It wasn’t worth their time or energy.  It was easier to stay home and get their welfare check.  I met those people – but like I have said MANY times before most of the people I met who got WIC, Medicaid for their kids, or food stamps were people who were working but just didn’t earn enough money to make ends meet.  The Medicaid for their kids is a huge thing, and they appreciate it because their job at the gas station, Meijer’s, or WalMart didn’t offer insurance for their kids. 

So I started thinking about what it would be like if there were no welfare.  No more foodstamps, WIC, FIP grant, or Medicaid.  What would happen all these programs ended, like help with daycare for low income families, free health clinics, low income family planning.  These are the programs so many want to stop.

OK, all of these programs will end tomorrow.  Here is what I see happening.  Those hard working people that I know will still be hard working, but they will be poorer.  Instead of two full time jobs they will have to jump up to three full time jobs to cover the extra day care cost for their children.  If they can’t get a third job they will have to find some very cheap place for their kids to stay at work.  This means they will have to find someone that probably isn’t fit to watch their kids, or their kids will be left home alone.

Those kids will get sick. . . . all kids get sick.  I know my kids sure do get sick.  They have no insurance or free health clinics to take these children to.  Now, I know I have had sick kids before that I have waited a little too long to take them to the doctor.  In doing that my son ended up with Scarlett Fever.  One of my twins had mild hearing loss because I didn’t catch an ear infection soon enough.  Now picture you don’t have insurance and your kids are sick, what are you going to do?  If you take them to the doctor a – you have to take time off work to take them and these low income jobs don’t offer sick time b – you have to pull the money to take them from food or rent.  Or, you just don’t take them to the doctor at all.  They could get better, or they could get really, really sick. 

But hey, it was their choice to have that kid anyway, right?  I mean you did it right.  Waited to have kids until you could afford it.  Waited to have kids until you had a job and a house.  It isn’t your problem or fault that they chose to have kids.  Heck, we cut out the welfare system then less people will have kid, right?  The only reason they have them is so they can get more welfare.    I have heard these lines so many times.

I want to go back to something I have said a 1000 times. . . . most people in this country who get some form of welfare are hard working people with jobs.  In fact, if you saw these people on the store, in the school, at a job you would have no idea they had Medicaid for their kids or got WIC.  Yes – there are abusers – but that is not the norm.

So I go back to thinking what it would be like with no form of welfare.  I am betting some kids wouldn’t be born , but welfare or not people are still going to have babies.  People will have sex, sperm will meet an egg and a baby will be formed.  You have two choices at this point – abort the baby or have the baby.  Heck, if we are getting rid of these welfare like programs then we would be getting rid of low cost planned parenthood as well – so I am betting there would be more babies created.  Abortion rates may go up – I mean $300 to have an abortion isn’t a whole lot of money.  Right now one out of every three pregnancies ends in abortion.  Lets make it now one out of every two babies babies aborted – right?  Sounds better than supporting them.  Oh, and since there is no more Medicaid then these women can’t get healthcare during these pregnancies.  Maybe that will mean more will die on delivery – that would be better than our tax dollars helping to pay for medical care during those pregnancies.  Those people shouldn’t have had sex in the first place if they didn’t want a baby.

So we have gotten rid of Medicaid.  That is good because that is huge on the budget.  Now lets get rid of cash payments to these people.  OK, the only people who get cash help are the poorest of the poor.  Right now our welfare workers are doing a good job of only giving money to people who have no income whatsoever.  It is rare for someone with any form of a job to get cash help from the welfare system.  These people have no job so they can live on the streets – that is fine with me.  The should have a job, right?

Finally, lets get rid of food stamps, WIC, and the free lunch program at school.  So, now my tax dollars aren’t paying to feed other people’s kids.  They are not my kids, so why do I care.  Heck, my husband and I had four college degrees before we had our first child.  I buy my kids food so they should buy their kids food.

Now I know – I am focusing on the kids here.  There is a reason for that. . . . . I have met very few people in my life who are between the ages of 20-60, aren’t disabled or a student who get welfare.  I know a lot of them use the free clinic when they are sick, or use family planning, but it has been the rare person in that age who gets foodstamps, Medicaid, or FIP Grant.  They can’t get WIC because you have to be pregnant or under the age of five years old.  I have known many people in that age group with no jobs, but the welfare system (in the state of Michigan anyway) doesn’t give money to these people.

So here we are. . . . the US with no welfare.  I pay less taxes – which  is awesome.  That is what matters right, I get to keep more of my money.  I work hard, way harder than  anyone with less money than I have (see my previous blog about “if you are poor than you must be lazy” for my stance on this one).  Historically there was no welfare in this country.  Poor could go to soup kitchens and stuff.  Elderly need to move in with their kids for care, or heck , they can just die.  They are old anyway.  This is just how it should be. . .

My Great Grandparents didn’t have welfare.  My Grandfather’s side did fine.  They were hard working people.  They had a huge farm in Northern Michigan, they farmed gladiolas.   Isn’t that a nice useful thing.  Every winter my Great Grandfather packed his wife and kids up and went to Arizona as a missionary.  Can’t farm in the winter.  He would come back to farm during the spring and plant his bulbs.  He didn’t have welfare and did fine, granted, he inherited this massive chunk of land from his in-laws when they passed away, but he was a hard working man (which he was) so that was why he and his children prospered. 

Now there is my Grandmother’s side.  Her parents worked very hard.  Her father always had two full time jobs at a time, sometimes three.  He did refuse to work on Sundays because he was Catholic, but he worked hard.  He was a truck drive and a mover.  They lived in Newark, New Jersey.  Her mother was also a very hard worker.  Women of that time couldn’t really have traditional jobs, so she cleaned homes of the wealthier people in the area.  She also did the laundry of those people.  She gave birth to 10 living children, I say living because she also had many miscarriages in there.  When her third child was 8 months old Josephine’s breastmilk supply went down because she was working so hard and trying to raise her children.  They had no money to buy milk – yah they were working but the work didn’t pay well.  Well, Dorthy Marie died of starvation at 9 months of age.  Hey , that was OK.  John and Josephine shouldn’t have had her if they didn’t have the money to buy the milk to feed her.  They had a set of twins a year later – one of which was very sick.  She almost starved to death but somehow she didn’t.  Luck I guess.  A few years later they had a child die of an ear infection.  There were no antibiotics then, so Lindy just died.  A few years after that my Grandmother’s father died – leaving her mother alone to feed the kids and put a roof over their heads.  They starved.  They were homeless.  The ate out of garbage cans.  That is OK though, that is what you get when you have kids – right?  I mean, John and Josephine knew they were poor so they just shouldn’t have had sex in the first place.

I am hoping at this point you are getting my point.  I once read that a nation is only as good as it treats its elderly and children. . . . if we got rid of all forms of welfare people would suffer.  All people, but those who would suffer the most would be our children and our elderly. . . . people my age would find a way to survive.  People my age are strong, takes more than an ear infection to kill us.  Our children and our elderly are who would suffer.  Yes, the welfare system needs to change, REALLY needs to change, but I ask you this. . . in America where we do have enough of everything to feed everyone, where we have one of the best medical system in the world, are we OK with letting our elderly and children die of starvation and things like ear infections?  I sure hope that answer is “No”.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The reason I stay home with my kids. . .

For a little over a year now I have had the privilege of staying home with my children.  I feel very lucky to be able to do so, because I know not everyone is able to do this.  I feel very lucky that my husband supports this decision and is willing to work hard to make sure I can stay home with my children. 

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were talking and he told me of a conversation he had with one of his fellow co-workers that went kind of like this.  

CW:  What does your wife do for a living?
DH:  She doesn't work, she stays home.
CW: Is she looking for a job?
DH:  No.
CW:  Well why not?
DH:  She doesn't want to.
CW:  Well that must be nice.  Maybe I could tell my husband I don't want to work anymore so I don't have to.

My husband said he really didn't respond to that, didn't see a need to.  I will say that at first I was hurt that my husband didn't defend me.  Granted, I wasn't there, and Nick said, "Oh, don't worry about it," but the way he described the situation really made me feel like this person honestly thought I didn't work because I just didn't want to work.  So here is my rant on the situation

I have had a job since I was 11 years old.  I started babysitting then and did that even into college.  After school, during the summer, I worked.  I didn't do extra curricular activities because I worked.  When I was 14 years old I lied about my age and started washing dishes at a restaurant in my home town.  I worked fast food during the summer after I gradated.  Around those jobs I still babysat every free moment I had. 

In college I had two jobs at the same time, the entire first three years of college.  I worked in the library (where I met DH) and I also worked at a gas station.  I liked working when I wasn't at school.  The last year of college at Central I had three jobs - I worked as a direct care worker in the area.

Between Central and Purdue I worked at a hospital as a dietary aide.  When we moved to Atlanta we had a hard time finding work so we did temp work, and when we moved up to Lafayette, Indiana I also did temp work until school started.  After school started I did office work on campus while going to school, until I had to do my internship.  At that point I couldn't work because of the internship.  When I graduated I worked at a small hospital in Crawfordsville, Indiana (a hospital I interned at who offered me a position when I graduated).

When Gabe was born it became apparent that he couldn't go to daycare.  Now, I know, ALL kids can do daycare - you just make them go.  Gabe was Gabe from birth and he couldn't do daycare, so from there I did jobs where he could be with me.  I compiled a database for Purdue university about herbal medications.  I babysat for family members children.  I was an assistant at a day care.  I always did something to bring in a little extra money.

When Evelyn was 8 weeks old I started my job at the health department.  I was a WIC and MIHP dietitian.  I LOVED my job.  LOVED IT!  I would have done it for free if I could have afforded to.  I loved helping people.  I loved working with pregnant ladies and young children.  LOVED IT!

Six years after I started that job I was offered a position at a local hospital with higher pay that I had to take, but I so loved my health department job that I didn't want to give it up.  With the increase cost of gas and food we hit a point where the WIC/MIHP just wasn't even paying for itself.  We had the twins so we now had four kids in daycare - and during the summer there were days I ended up paying to work.  Thus, I quit the WIC portion of my job but was allowed to keep the MIPH portion, and added the hospital portion.  Between those two jobs I was working full time.

So there I was, husband unhappy in his current job and thinking of going to graduate school, I was working full time, caring for four children (one that was special needs), while still trying to keep the house work up and trying to be there for my kids.  Things really started to fall apart.  For the first time ever we had enough money to start paying down our debt AND get a newish car AND take a vacation, but my family just was imploding.

I think about that time and wondered what was wrong with me.  So many women can do it.  They have the kids, they have the career, it all works out and is wonderful.  I worked with a lady who totally is my hero (love you Lisa) who has four kids, her and her husband work full time and her husband coaches in the evening, she finds a way to run marathons around it all and she always seems so happy and put together - yet for me it was all falling part!  Every morning the kids woke up screaming and yelling because they didn't want to get up and go to school/daycare.  I would pack them in the car at 6:30am and drag the older two to the daycare attached to the school.   I would then drive the twins the 35 miles through blizzards and two feet of snow to their daycare, wondering if I would be able to make it up the driveway or have to walk the 1/4 mile through knee deep snow while carrying two one year olds the entire way.  I would get to the job at the hospital at about 8am already exhausted (and I so HATED that job!!!)  Somewhere between 5pm and 7pm I would stumble out of that place, head pounding, not even able to think straight, then drive the 15 miles to the twins daycare to get them, and then the 35 miles back home - again in two feet of snow.  I would get home anywhere between 6:30pm to 8:30pm.  I would then have to make a dinner, try to do some housework done, lunches made for the next day, and get the kids to bed to start it all over again.  Weekends were spent trying to catch up, cleaning the house, planning menus and grocery shopping, trying to find a little time to visit my Grandma. . . .we had money for the first time ever but we weren't happy.  Live turned into totally functioning and not living.

Now, I know most women do this.  Like I have stated before I wonder what is wrong with me that I can't do this.  What is missing in me that makes this overwhelming, because most women I know do something like this everyday and at the end of the day they don't seem to want to either get drunk and pass out or be so agitated by everything that they yell, but I can't do it.  I can't. 

When my husband decided to go to graduate school (while continuing to work full time) I realized something was going to have to give.  Add in a breakdown by my oldest son that had him in the suicide room at the local hospital and it became very obvious that I wasn't the only one in our home that couldn't handle the way our live was going.  I quit the hospital.  I loved the MIHP - and that was so flexible to where I only had to work outside of the home one day a week.  I could work evenings and weekends when DH was home.  It as a pay per visit job, so I could get enough visits in my one day to equal 20-25 hours a week of working.  I could do paper work at home when the kids were sleeping.  And, again, I loved it!

Nick and I both decided that our family just doesn't function with two parents working full time.  Our children are wonderful children, but they are children who need to be able to come home at the end of the day and have things in order and in place.  Gabe doesn't do well with school and daycare, and although he may be 12 now he still can't be home alone for more than an hour.  He just can't.  I am not being overprotective here - he is him and he can't be alone that long.

Nick and I both decided that his goal was to get a job that would allow me to be home with the kids.  When Nick was offered this job in Tampa we knew we wouldn't be wealthy, but the pay is not something we can complain about.  Thus, I quit my job at the health department, a job that I really loved and really gave me a sense of purpose, and we moved down here and I stayed home with the kids.  The cost of living down here is much higher than we anticipated, so financially we are pretty much in the same place we were with me working at the health department, but I am home with the kids.

I do realize at some point I will have to go back to work, but right now our family isn't in a place where that can happen.  At this point in the lives of our children working just isn't really an option for me because - a -dietitian jobs down here won't pay enough to make it worth it (with daycare, extra taxes and gas) and b - our children are not at a point where they can handle that extra stress of daycare and two working parents.  Again - I know what people think - they have said it to my face - you just make your kids go to daycare.  You don't give them a choice and you just take them.  Thing is with that, Nick and I decided a long time ago that parenting children was more than just giving them the physical things that they needed and wanted, we needed to make sure they were able to become functioning adults who were confident in who they are and could become successful.  For our children this is not possible if we only have them two hours a day and in that two hours we are doing nothing but cooking, cleaning, and laundry.  Our children are not your children.  Our children are who they are, they are all very different and have very strong personalities that need to be tended and cultivated.  They need more than two working parents can give.  Maybe that is why God gave them to us.

I stay home with my kids because my kids need me to stay home with them.  I am so thankful we are able to do this and still feed them and pay the bills, and we are able to do this with my husband's income and no help from any government agency.  I miss my job at the health department.  I miss what I did.  I miss my clients.  I miss my co-workers.  Staying home for me isn't an easy thing, I have worked since I was 11 years old.  I do feel a lot of guilt about the fact that we aren't adding anything to college funds right now.  There are times I find it boring, it is hard to get excited about washing more laundry and cooking another meal or snack.  I feel very guilty that we can't take them to Disney, or even to the movies, but at the same time I know that me being here with them everyday is giving them an even bigger gift than those trips to Disney or the movies would give time.  I feel guilty that I can't be a super mom and work full time and still be the parent I need to be. 

I don't stay home because I don't want to work, I stay home because my children need me to put that time and energy that I would be putting into my job into them.