Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sober Reality

I've recently stumbled on a wonderful blog, Momastery and loved every post I've read of Glennon's thus far.  I'm not a crier, but she's made tears well up in my eyes more than once. (Which is a good thing.)

Her blog post that was published in the Huffington Post recently dealt with the issue of mommy guilt and the mommy wars - working vs. staying at home.  Interestingly, I've been thinking of it more lately and realizing that even if I wanted to (and I don't), I can't feasibly stay at home with my kids after my unemployment runs out.  We don't make enough money for that to happen.  It's a SOBER REALITY

It's not because we have a luxurious lifestyle to maintain either.  Quite the opposite.  Here are some sobering facts:
  • My husband makes a decent salary.
  • We both have masters degrees.
  • We do not have substantial credit card debt or student loans, etc.
  • Our mortgage loan is less than 250k (in South Orange County) - it's not a mansion.
  • We have a small HOA fee.
  • My car is paid for and doesn't guzzle gas.
  • Our family car has a payment of less than $200 a month with a loan balance of less than 5000.
  • We do not outsource house cleaners or spa maintenance or landscapers.
  • We rarely get babysitters.
  • We live very frugally.
  • The oldest chickadee goes to public school and the youngest chickadee goes to an affordable preschool twice a week - the cheapest we could get.
  • We don't sign the chickadees up for expensive sports or activities - just the cheapest classes we can find.
  • I haven't bought any formula or baby wipes for the l'il chicken hawk for his entire life.
  • I've only bought a few boxes of disposable diapers; mainly I cloth diaper and cloth wipe with my own solution.
  • I don't have a Starbucks habit (anymore).
  • I don't go to Costco anymore except for gas.
  • Target trips have been cut down.
  • We go to the public library for books and entertainment.
  • We rarely get a babysitter or go out on dates.
  • We have a very affordable family gym membership that I'm not willing to give up.
Even with all my efforts to keep our living expenses down, The Hubs says we're still not making enough to get by.  That every month he has to dip into his savings to pay the bills.  HUH? That aggravates me.  I don't like feeling like we're not in a secure position.  For the past few years, I've worked my ass off to be responsible and in a position to really need only one income. 

We do go out to eat on occasion, but we really enjoy not having to cook some days.  Mostly me.  So I guess the utilities, groceries and day-to-day expenses are just too expensive here in Southern California.  It's amazing that some families can make it on one salary. 

Also, we both have family out of state, so visiting them requires paying big money.  But NOT visiting them isn't an option in my opinion.  I get homesick and miss my family.  Our double-income friends ask us to do things occasionally that we have to pass on and that sucks - dinners, trips, sports...

I have a second interview tomorrow and if I get this job, it will really help with our household income, and hopefully help with my increasing depression, anxiety and agoraphobia.  I think I found a way to only give away half of my income to childcare.  Sending up my prayers for this opportunity!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Huffington Post Article: Don't Carpe Diem

The is an excellent article from the Huffington Post Don't Carpe Diem written by Glennon Melton of Momastery.

I laughed, I cried, I nodded my head in agreement and shouted, "AMEN!"  Glennon captures the mixed emotions of mothering so perfectly.  I wish I could articulate the mess of thoughts that run through my under-functioning brain as well as she does.
Stock Photos - People on the mountain

© Photographer: Roman Pavlik | Agency:
Here is a paragraph from her post that really paints a picture of the exhilarating struggle of tackling 'Mount Mommy':
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
I hope you have a chance to read her article and find a nugget of truth in it for you as well.  

By the way, you know how everyone always talks about 'mommy brain'?  I never really bought into it.  But now, guess what? I've got it big time!  I can't finish my sentences, I forget words and the names of things, I forget what I'm doing so I can't ever finish a task.  It's embarrassing and frustrating.  How will anyone hire me when I'm incapable of having a complete thought or sentence??

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Joys of Weaning

Weaning is bittersweet.  The l'il chicken hawk is now 13 months and I've gone from nursing him 100% up to his first birthday, and then to just mornings and nights to now just mornings.  When he nurses now he makes funny faces at me and pretends he's going to bite my nipple and waits for me to scold him.  He knows I'll flick him hard if he dared to bite me.  So it's definitely time to make the switch.  I've been giving him my stored breast milk or whole cow's milk in a sippy cup at lunch and dinner.
Stock Photography - Monkey infant suckling
© Photographer: Steffen Foerster | Agency:
Now I'm experiencing the deflated boob syndrome, which is always fun.  I have to say I prefer the deflated over the engorged, but it's unfortunate that I can't keep the pleasantly plump shape forever.  Then again, sometimes I prefer the tiny boob phase because I fit in my clothes better and makes me look more athletic I think.  Or maybe that's the lie I tell myself.

My doctor wants me to have a mammogram three months after I'm done nursing (because of my family history).  So I'm kind of stalling.  I don't want to go through that and I don't want any bad news.  How long can I keep nursing just mornings?  A few years? I think the milk is starting to curdle in there since there is hardly any demand on it.  Cottage cheese anyone?

So I'm back in my regular bras - no more nursing bras ever again.  I'm definitely not sad about that.  I remember when I first tried to figure those damn things out.  I scoffed at the ridiculous of it all.  I thought nursing was lame - BEFORE I mastered it.  Now I know better - bottle feeding is now lame.  So many extra steps... and the washing...

So raise your glass and we'll cheers to the ending of this season in my life!  Bring on the booze!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Conversation Starter: Going on a Trip

I pulled a conversation card from the bucket today so we can have a little fireside chat, dear reader.

Without further ado, here it is:
You are going on a trip.  Would you rather fly on a plane, cruise on a boat, ride on a train or drive in a car?  Where would you go and why?
First of all, YIPEE!  A TRIP!  If money wasn't an issue, I would prefer to fly on an airplane to Australia and New Zealand and go on a 'walk about' (whatever that is.)  John Locke from Lost put it in my head how cool that would be.

Okay, that's really not on my list right now.  I would actually want to go to Scandinavia, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but not until spring or summer.  Unless I have a cute, warm winter parka and gear.  I love Nordic countries and cold weather people.  Don't get me wrong though - I do love tropical places on occasion too.

Stock Images - Colorful Row Houses
© Photographer: Deborah Hewitt | Agency:

 Stock Images - The two towers of the castle
© Photographer: Geoffrey Allerton | Agency:

Free Stock Photo - Killaray fjord
© Photographer: Thierry Maffeis | Agency:

I would take my family with me IF I had a hands-on nanny and plenty of me time.  I would like to stay in B&Bs or quaint hotels.  It would be fun to take bike tours and other little adventures along the way.  I would like to stay up late dining, drinking and dancing or playing darts (the 4 D's) and sleep in late.  I would also like to have a luggage handler and driver with us at all times to lug all the gear around and be a DD.

It's not so far-fetched a dream, but it's probably not going to happen this year.    Perhaps an incentive to save money for when I get that job?

Now it's your turn! Where would you go and how would you get there?  What would you do? I'm guessing you're not going to say you'd like to take a cruise in Italy. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Miss My Little Sister

Free Stock Photos - Sisters
© Photographer: Grygoriev Vitalii |
The last few years I've been bothered by my relationship with my little sister.  Actually, the lack of a relationship with her.  I was so upset that she would never return my phone calls, emails or letters. She also kept changing phone numbers and turning off her home phone, I never could keep up with the latest contact information.

I sent her this message on Facebook two years ago:

I am coming to town this weekend with my girls. It would be great to see you if you are around. I can sense from your lack of response to my phone calls, texts and emails that you don't want to talk to me. If you're mad at me for some reason, I hope you could talk to me about it so we could get past it. I would also hope that the girls could know their aunt. I think about you often and I miss you. If I've done something that has hurt you, I'm truly sorry. I love you and I want you in my life.

Your sister
Once, I had a friend stop in to where she works to tell her I said hi and to call me back.  My friend said she just smirked and said "hi".  In that moment, I felt so angry and slighted I vowed never to pursue her again.  I told myself that if she wanted to isolate herself and live a dysfunctional life with a loser boyfriend and a daughter that was headed dangerously toward delinquency, then fine.  I was tired of caring, tired of trying to 'fix her', and very tired of worrying about her.

I tend to want my 'troubled' family members to be more like me.  If only they would...fill in the blank...get an education, exercise, eat healthy, get some self-respect, hold a job, have a stable home, make better choices, stop smoking/drinking/gambling, have better hygiene, take care of their warrants, pay their bills, save money, grow up.  At some point I came to a realization that these family members aren't worried or bothered by their lives, so why should I be?  They were obviously content with who they were and I should just accept them for who they are with all their imperfections.

My mom told me once, "You've always been a snob."  I took offense to that because I think I know what snobs look and act like and for Orange County standards, I'm very down-to-earth and Plain Jane.  But to my family, they're not good enough for me.  I'm embarrassed by them.  I have to separate myself from them because I don't like their toxic waste in my life.  From a young age, I have just never felt happy with chaos and dysfunction.  I've worked hard to try to retrain myself to some semblance of normalcy and function.

My sister joined Facebook a year or so ago and friended me.  I accepted but didn't communicate with her because I was still holding a grudge.  I scoffed at her constant posts about games she was playing and no substance to her posts, not to mention some questionable photos.  But then one day recently after watching my daughters playing together sweetly, I got to thinking about my little sister and let my mind dwell on how we were as small girls and our friendship.  I wished I had been sweeter to her.  I felt guilty for my judgement and treatment of her.  I wondered how it might be different if I had been a better, more supportive older sister.

I cried a little and sent up a prayer to God for her and said over and over again, "I miss my little sister."  I had no clue how to bridge the gap between us.  It just felt like we would never know each other again and maybe never even see each other again.  My children didn't even really know she existed.

Then when working on my Christmas cards this year I tried finding out her address again with no luck.  So I sent her a quick message on Facebook that said:
"For the love of God, give me your damn address and phone number. It's getting ridiculous the way you shut me out. Tell me what I did to offend you. ?? I am sorry for anything I've done."
She wrote back with the basics I requested and nothing more.  I didn't send a Christmas card or call her.  But she messaged me back again asking if she could come visit.  Huh? Visit?  It sort of scared me because I immediately thought that she lost her job or got kicked out of her latest home and wanted to live with me.  But upon further investigation she let me know that she had vacation time accrued and her current boyfriend was driving down to visit his mom and she wanted to visit me simultaneously.

So fast forward a few weeks...SHE IS HERE!  My sister arrived this week and we've been hanging out more than we have since we were kids!  It is so surreal and awesome.  It's just nice to have her around and see how she's evolved into a woman.  She's not perfect, but hey - she has been helping me clean the house and that is HUGE for her.  She used to be a slob.  She is cleaning the details that I would never ever get to like the sliding glass door and its sliders, the garden window, the stove.

I have trouble understanding her idiosyncrasies and choices, but I'm just trying to enjoy the time we do have together.  I have to stop myself from making her my little project, wanting to change her.  (She needs a hair cut, glasses fixed, a little makeup, braces and teeth whitening or veneers, to stop smoking and get a little daily exercise. 

I guess what's most important though is that she is happy, healthy and taking care of herself.  I find myself asking her a lot of questions that she doesn't want to answer.  I guess she's ashamed and embarrassed.  Her last boyfriend apparently abused her; but she wouldn't say much more than that. 

Now she has a new boyfriend.  I met him and he seems nice.  Old, but nice.  But I guess all jackasses can be nice when you first meet them.  My sister likes men to be like a dad to her and tell her what to do.  Kind of weird to have family get-togethers with your little sister dating a guy that is the same age as your mom.  I have nothing against dating senior citizens, but you should probably make sure they have a good retirement fund or other assets to offset the age and attractiveness gap.  Okay, okay, there's that snob in me again...

I'm just so ecstatic that my little sister is actually here and in my life again - that is the bottom line.  I have missed her.  I am not perfect either and I'm struggling with my own issues and I'm happy she's here to talk to.  I'm also so glad that my chickadees and the l'il chicken hawk have some quality time with their aunt.  What a blessing from heaven above - a true miracle from my perspective.  I've realized lately that God is the only one who can heal our family relationships; it's nothing I can do solely.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This Chick has an Interview!

Wonderful news ya'll! I have a job interview scheduled this week! I'm getting myself psyched up, I've arranged childcare and logistics.  Now I need to print up my resume on high quality paper, update my portfolio, tidy up my appearance and review my interview questions.

As if just on cue, today Glassdoor emailed me the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions of 2011.  

Here are some of my personal faves: 
  • “Just entertain me for five minutes, I’m not going to talk.” – view answersAsked at Acosta

    -- Um, yeah, this one time, at band camp...
  • Name 5 uses of a stapler without staple pins.” – view answersAsked at EvaluServe.

    --Ooh staplers! Love them! Reminds me of that gorgeous red Swingline from Office Space. What was the question again?
  • “How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?” – view answersAsked at Horizon Group Properties.

    -- Very carefully.  First I would get out my chainsaw and cut her into tiny pieces, make a few crockpot meals out of her, then I would take out all the unnecessary items from the fridge, then load her in the biggest Ziplock bags I could find. 
  • “You have a bouquet of flowers. All but two are roses, all but two are daisies, and all but two are tulips. How many flowers do you have?” – view answersAsked at Epic Systems

    --You just stumped me.  Is this for an accounting job because I think I'm in the wrong place?
  • “If you could be a superhero, what power would you possess?” – view answersAsked at Rain and Hail Insurance

    --X-ray vision of course so I could see what color underwear you're wearing!
  • “If you were a Microsoft Office program, which one would you be?” –view answersAsked at Summit Racing Equipment

    --Excel because I'm super fast and can be complicated.
  • “Pepsi or Coke?” – view answersAsked at United Health Group

    -- Neither.  They are terrible for your health.  I prefer Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha - which is so much better for you. 
Now that I've mastered all of the tough questions, I'm ready to nail this interview!

Actually, I do recall an interview I had about ten years ago where some pompous dude asked me which character from Gilligan's Island would I be.  I was not prepared for his odd question and couldn't think of an appropriate response - there aren't many quality girl characters on that show if I recall.  I asked if I could choose from Sex in the City insteadHe looked dismayed but allowed me to talk about how I would be Carrie Bradshaw because I liked to write, but without the shoe addiction.  Needless to say, I didn't get the job.  But of course I was relieved.  Who wants to work for such a whack-job anyway? Gilligan's Island - pah-lease! (In hindsight, I'd say I would be Marianne, but without the daisy dukes.)

I am very anxious, nervous, sad, conflicted, excited, hopeful and praying that all will go smoothly.  If I don't get the job, it won't be the end of the world, but from the sounds of it, it is pretty much everything I want in a job and company.  They promise flexibility and family friendly, so that's a big plus for me!