Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Eat Turkey In a Big Brown Shoe

The title of this post is inspired by my husband who loves the Turkey song by Adam Sandler because I couldn't think up a title for this post and yesterday him and his friend were going back and forth quoting the song. So gobble gobble goo, gobble gobble gickle honey. Thanks.

Today is the day of my obligatory Thanksgiving post because tomorrow I will be super busy impregnating myself with a massive food baby consisting of turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, and corn bread. I already did a "things I am grateful for" post last week, so instead, today I am just going to list all the people I want to thank on this Thanksgiving. Man, I hope I don't leave anyone out. And if I leave you out, please email me and let me know and I will add you. Here goes:

1. My husband, for his love and support, for putting up with my craziness, ups and downs and the fact that sometimes I don't match up his socks right

2. My kids, for teaching me patience every day and giving me more love than I have ever imagined I could ever know.

3. My mother, who has always been the best mother a girl could EVER have, has saved my ass countless times and never, ever judged me.

4. My father, who has never given up helping us with our house and has taught us so much about home building, being an incredible husbandand father, and patience.

5. My sisters, who are all so different and have all given me so much in so many different ways. Finally, after 30 years, they are all beautiful friends and cherished family.

6. My in-laws, who have given me a roof over my head and have taught me tolerance and patience in truckloads.

7. My friends, who show me love and support every day, are so incredibly fun and are always there for me when I need them.

8. My fellow bloggers, who have welcomed me into a community that has helped me grow as a writer, a person and a friend. I would not be who I am today without them.

9. My stepson's school, who is going to help us out this Christmas with gifts for the kids because they found out that I lost my job. It will never cease to amaze me when people actually step up and help others out of the kindness of their own hearts.

10. The federal government for having unemployment, because even though it was a pain in the everloving ass signing up for it, I am very, very lucky to have it.

11. My former employer, for giving me a severance, even though I wouldn't need the severance if they hadn't let me go, but I won't go there.

12. The Jonas Brothers, just for being them.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you take the time tomorrow to thank the people in your life that make it a little bit better.

And wear stretchy pants.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Children, Santa is Not Recession-Proof

I had the dreaded conversation with my 9-year-old yesterday about how this Christmas might be a little "different" than past years. Different meaning instead of a Christmas tree with gifts bursting with gifts from underneath it, he would probably be able to count his gifts on one hand. Now, of course, I didn't say that to him but that is the ultimate reality of the situation. Whereas every other year this child has spent HOURS on Christmas morning ripping open presents with wild abandon, this years it's going to be a reindeer of a different color. And I wanted him to be prepared. But how much (and how in the world without breaking his Christmas spirit) do you explain to a 9-year-old about unemployment, insufficient funds and the reality that there is an unfortunate lack of cute little elves in America to make gifts to place under the tree?

(Luckily my 3-year-old asked for a hula hoop for Christmas, then said she changed her mind and said she wanted a chair for her bedroom, and when I told her she could have both, she said "It's a Christmas miracle!!!!" so I am not worried about that one.)

So this is what I decided. He knows I lost my job. So I said to him that, since I lost my job, this Christmas was going to be a little on the "light side" since we needed our money for the important things like food and our house, etc., etc. Of course he would still get gifts, but he was probably not going to get the amount of gifts he has gotten in the past. I followed that up with Christmas isn't about the presents, it's about being with your family, and enjoying time together and loving each other, and we are so very lucky because we have each other and our health and somewhere to live and food to eat. His immediate reaction, which I knew would be the case, was "But there will still be lots of gifts from Santa."

So I said "But things are tough for Santa too this year honey."

Why not? Why the hell not? I mean, I know that Santa is magical and everything, but really, how much magic is there to go around? There has to be a shortage eventually and couldn't there be a magical recession? Maybe the elves aren't happy with their benefits or want better hours, and can't quite keep up with toy production. Looking at it logically, even Santa can't escape some ups and downs. So yes, I went there. I pulled that card--the very last one in the deck, and I am OK with it.

Because this is probably one of the last years that he is going to believe in Santa Claus. And God forbid there are only four gifts under that tree and he gives me that look that says "Now I know. You have been lying to me all these years. And you didn't even have the balls to tell me the truth. Pussy." I'm just not ready for that yet. He deserves to believe for a little while longer. So this year I will do my best to give him whatever we can, and we will say it is from Santa and that he did his best but times are tough up in the North Pole. And instead of hundreds of gifts, he will get the other stuff he always gets on Christmas in tenfold. His family. Lots of hugs and kisses. And magic. Lots and lots of magic. In the form of those cookies being eaten and the milk being drank and the reindeer prints on the fireplace hearth.

And I swear if any of his friends tell him that Santa is recession-proof I am going to their house and smashing their XBox into a million little pieces.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

1-2-3 Magic, Thank You For Being You

We have been having quite the crisis around my house lately. No, not the one where I lost my jobs. No, not the one where I have lost my mind with stress and depression over having lived with my in-laws for five years, the entire length of my marriage. No, the one I am talking about is the one in which my 3 1/2-year-old daughter, the former angel baby, glorious sleeper and perfectly behaved little model child decided that being well behaved was, like, totally 2008 and she was going to do what all the "cool toddlers" were doing and make everybody's life miserable.

What a little joiner.

I've talked about it before; how the week before she turned 3 it was like a switch flipped and she became a different child. Well, that was nothing folks. Because that child was Cindy fucking-Loo-Hoo compared to the Damian clone that has been running our household for the past month or so. She's bossy, she's obnoxious, she's whiny, she's demanding. Oh, and did I mention she was abusive? Yeah, mommy was getting punched, hit, kicked, scratched, bitten, and pinched on a daily basis, and was about ready to run away from home and join some welcoming group of gypsies if it didn't come to an end.

But all this began right about when my hours increased with work. And, working from home, as you can imagine, this meant that less attention was paid to her. Also, I was more stressed and had less patience. This created a vicious cycle of her feeling ignored, acting out, me overreacting and losing my patience, her getting out of control, then me giving her her way just to get some peace so I could work.

Not good. Not good at all.

Then I lost my jobs. Bad news, yes. More stress? Yes. Toddler's behavior? Ten times worse. We all know that kids are like dogs and bees. They can smell fear. And she could tell something was wrong with the family and acted out accordingly. So last week was probably the worst week we had ever had and an all time low in my parenting career. But I got smart, and remembered what we did when my stepson was completely unmanageable as a toddler. We called on people much smarter, more experienced and less messed up than we were. Out came the parenting books.

The one parenting book that we found to be extremely helpful with my stepson, who happens to be ADHD and had severe speech and developmental delays and learning disabilities as a toddler (now only struggles with the ADHD, has a come a LONG way and doing really well) was 1-2-3 Magic. It was easy and effective and we ended up using it for years with him. We even used a modified, watered down version of the technique of it up until now with our daughter, but had gotten away from being completely consistent, which is key with this program. So I made a command decision this week, that I was going to get the new edition of the book, read it cover to cover and devote myself to carrying it out and making a positive change in our household.

I forgot how hard the first few days were. I felt like a zookeeper in a crazy zoo full of psychotic animals who won't stay in their cages. One, two, three, time out. One, two, three, time out. One, two, three, time out. All. Day. Long.

Good thing I was out of a job.

Day 2 wasn't much better. We spent most of the day counting and putting her in time out. But she seemed to understand the system better and would anticipate the third count and know she was going to time out and wish she hadn't pushed her limits. This was promising. It gave me hope for Day 3. And at least I got 3 minutes of peace every time I put her in time out in my bedroom about 50 times a day which equals approximately 150 minutes of peace for mommy. That's not bad for a mom who has not been getting ANY peace for months. I savored it.

Day 3 (yesterday) yielded much better results. It started off on shaky ground, and she was in time out within 30 minutes of waking up, but then she went to preschool and came home a different child. She didn't get a time out ALL AFTERNOON. Yes, she got to 2 quite a few times, but never got to 3. And there were a few times she said out loud, "if I get to 3, I get a time out," almost like a little toddler mantra, reminding herself to behave, and not only was it adorable, but it was a perfect little internalizing tool for self monitoring. I almost cheered out loud when I heard her say it.

So I think we are going to be OK. I know it isn't the end of the road. I know we are still going to have a lot of tough days, and she may regress to her rotten behavior and we will have to start all over again, but at least I know I have a plan. I know what to do.

And as a wise man once said, knowing is half the battle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Help for Anissa Mayhew

This is taken from The Spohrs Are Multiplying, about Anissa Mayhew of Aiming Low, whom you may know from around the blogging community, Twitter, etc. She's hilariously funny, sweet and talented and tragically suffered a stroke yesterday:


What we know is she had a massive stroke.

She bled into the brainstem and pons areas of the brain. She is no longer sedated but still unconcious and unresponsive. Vitals are mostly stable except for a lowgrade fever most likely due to the damage to the pons. The pons control the bodies ability to regulate temperature. She is still on a vent and it is unclear if she is capable of breathing on her own. She has had an mri/mra/ct today. An eeg is pending. We’re in a waiting game now for survival first, and ultimately for her to wake up.


As you may have heard, Anissa, our beloved friend and leader at Aiming Low, suffered a stroke on Tuesday afternoon. She is in the hospital right now, in the ICU.

More than anything, Anissa needs your prayers and positive thoughts but to the many people in the Atlanta area who have offered help to the Mayhew family, we have set up a form for you to fill out so we can have everyone’s contact info in one place (please be assured your information will be kept private). If you are NOT in the Atlanta area but still want to help, you can also leave your information on that form.

Things that would be helpful right now are gift cards to restaurants and gift cards to the movies or to Blockbuster (to help keep the kids occupied) and gas/hotel gift cards for her extended family. We will be setting up a PO Box on Wednesday and posting the address here along with any updates. Please don’t send anything to the hospital or the Mayhew home. If you have questions, please email

We ask that you please respect the Mayhew family’s privacy by NOT calling the hospital and we thank you all SO MUCH for your outpouring of love and support for Anissa and her family.

With thanks and love,
The Aiming Low Team

UPDATE: An address has been set up to send cards and packages:
860 Johnson Ferry Road 140-184
Atlanta, GA 30342

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How Unemployment Got Me Out of a Ticket

Well, I have something else to be grateful for today. My unfortunate situation of finding myself without a job has gotten me out of a speeding ticket, however, you might say that I wouldn't have been in the situation of getting the ticket in the first place if it weren't for the unfortunate unemployment, but that's neither here not there. Here's what happened.

This morning I went to the unemployment office for the second time to apply for my benefits of which I have been paying into for years and have never taken advantage of. I have never actually even LOST a job, nevermind collected unemployment. I have never been fired, never laid off, have always left jobs of my own free will. Thus, I have never had the wonderful experience of applying for unemployment. Well, little did I know that they like to make it as difficult as possible. Like pull your hair out of your head, want to scream and kill someone difficult.

The first day I got there at 10:00 and there were NO appointments available so I was told to come back at 8:30 a.m. when they opened to snag a spot on another day and that it was first come, first served. So I lined up day care AGAIN today and got there at 8:39 a.m. (because I hit traffic) and was told the first spot that was available was 2:00. Unfortunately, I did not have day care at 2:00. So I turned on my heel and left. Again. Irritated and emotional, I got in my car and pulled out of the parking lot.

As I drove down the street, fuming and frustrated, those tell tale blue lights started blinking in my rearview mirror. I looked at my speedometer to find that, yes, indeed, I was doing about 40-something in a 30 mph zone. My theory about puppy drowning and Nazi supporting was starting to really make sense because yes, I was being PULLED OVER as I pulled out of the unemployment office. They must have been REALLY cute puppies. I felt like I was in a bad sitcom. I could already feel the tears welling up in my eyes.

By the time the police officer strode up to my driver's side window, tears were already streaming down my face and I handed him my registration and my debit card.

"Sorry, I don't take credit cards" he said with a smirk.

And I burst into hysterical tears.

I wish I had a camera to capture the look on this cop's face. I went on to blubber uncontrollably "I just left the unemployment office and they turned me away AGAIN and I have to go get my daughter and I don't have any more day care for her because I can't afford it anymore and I don't know what I am going to do and really officer I never speed ever my husband tells me I am such an old lady driver and I am really, really sorry. Really."

His face softened. He took my license and registration. And he said something I have never heard a police officer say ever in my life.

"It's going to be OK."

I wiped my tears away and tried to smile. He went on to tell me about how his son was out of work and he had a lot of friend who were unemployed and we chatted about how hard it was out there right now. He was actually really sweet. By the end of it, I thought he was going to reach through the window and give me a hug. He told me he was just going to give me a written warning and that he wished me the best of luck with everything. And with a big, warm smile, he was gone.

And that, my friends, is how unemployment got me out of a ticket. Although I have a sneaking suspicion it had more to do with my pathetic crying.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm So Bleepin' Thankful it Hurts, AKA The One Where I Lose My Job

Yup, so I lost my job. Wait, correction. I lost my JOBSSSSS. The last two. My full time editing job AND my column at Toy With Me are gone, gone, gone, gone daddy gone, as the Violent Femmes would say. I'm not sure what I did in a previous life to deserve losing both my jobs in the same week but I am only guessing that it's something akin to drowning adorable puppies while supporting Adolf Hitler. However, after taking a week to be a miserable, sobbing mess and feeling awful for myself, I have decided to crawl out from under the proverbial rock I have been under and throw myself back into life (and blogging) because hell, what else is there to do!

The first thing on my agenda is to take stock, during this time of intense sucktastic-ness of the things that I have to be grateful for. So here they are, in no particular order:

1. Now that I am unemployed, I have TONS of time to blog.

2. My kids have only gotten colds this winter season (knock on wood) and some families have really been hit hard with H1N1.

3. Since losing my job, my husband has been amazingly supportive and sweet and it seems to be bringing us closer together to be faced with the possibility of our impending failure at life.

4. I have no loved ones overseas or that have been injured or killed in the war.

5. Unemployment. Nuff said.

6. Now I have no excuse not to work out so I plan on getting into smokin' hot shape.

7. The Jonas Brothers.

8. Now I can concentrate on finishing my book and hopefully get a book deal.

9. My house is almost done, and as long as we can stay afloat for the next few months and not go into foreclosure, we will be moving in at the beginning of the year and out of my in-laws house.

10. The Jonas Brothers.

Yes, I know I listed the Jonas Brothers twice. But they are really helping me get through this tough time right now. Heh. Don't judge me. I am not drinking excessively or doing drugs. So what if I have a little obsession with some young, tight pants wearin' purity ring-sportin' teen idols?

Shut up.

OK, so here's the plan. On Saturday I am bringing my daughter to an open casting call for child modeling/acting since she is such a little ham and keeps telling me she wants to be famous. So I figure we get her to start bringing home the bacon, and I can live off her fame and fortune for a few years until my book takes off, then I'll tour the country and get famous myself and my family and friends will never have to worry about money again because I will HAVE THEIR BACKS.

What do you think? Good plan? I think so. I might be slightly delusional, but it's OK, it's my defense mechanism right now and it's keeping me from not showering and sitting around eating Ben and Jerry's all day in dirty sweat pants and holey tee shirts. I figure by the time I need a real plan, I will probably be lucid again.

At least we can hope so :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Little Piggy Went to Market, This Little Piggy Stayed Home...With Swine Flu

OK, I am officially freaked out.

I was remaining so calm and level headed about the whole swine flu epidemic, and wasn't giving into the mass panic that the media seemed hell bent on creating on the outbreak. I decided to give my kids the vaccine, and even when the doctor's office called me the day before their appointment and told me they were out and did not have any idea whether they would be getting anymore, I still didn't get nervous. But now, it has hit close to home, and it is now safe to say that I am worried.

My cousin's daughter, who we trick or treated with, hugged, kissed, and shared air with all night Friday and who hung out with my kids all day yesterday, has H1N1. She was diagnosed this morning and since it is contagious for up to 24 hours before symptoms begin, we may have been exposed and my kids were definitely exposed.


This is all I need right now. I am already up half the night unable to sleep because of all my anxieties about money, work and getting our house done. Now I get to have scary visions of my whole household coming down with swine flu, totally disrupting whatever semblance of balance we currently have. I know that most people only get a mild version, and that most people who get really sick or die have pre-existing conditions that make them at-risk, but I have to admit, I AM FREAKING OUT.

I thought maybe we would float through this pandemic like immunity rock stars, that maybe, just maybe, the universe had decided that we had enough shit on our plates and they might let this shit storm slide. My fingers are crossed. I am saying a novena and doing a Wiccan spell tonight. And I am going out to buy a CASE of Purell tomorrow. I will BATHE my children in it if I have to.

You better watch out Piggy Flu. You don't know who you're messing with. A mommy scorned is NOT one to mess with.