Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm Back!

Yep, I realize it's been 5 months since I've updated my blog. Wow! I actually didn't realize it had been that long until I went on here. Just want to let everyone know I'm still alive, and post an update on what's been going on with me (warning - this is a LONG post!).

 The past few months have been really busy (and interesting). I (finally!) started a new job at the beginning of September. A real, permanent full time job with better pay and benefits! I'm working as an administrative assistant for a nonprofit organization that oversees and provides food and services to over 100 hunger centers and hot meal sites in the Cleveland area. It includes one hunger center in my suburb, which had been a great help to my husband and I during our employment struggles of the past year and a half.

So, it's not the best paying job, or the most exciting, but I am making a lot more than at the BOE (no more phone calls from irate voters either, ha, ha!), have a nice boss and coworkers, and a lot more flexibility with my schedule (no more last-minute, mandatory overtime!). It's also in a great location downtown - 5 minute walk to the bus stop (no more taking two busses every day either!), and close to restaurants and shopping (well, what little shopping we have downtown anyway). Mostly I'm just thankful to finally have a permanent job, and to be done with all the stress and frustration of job hunting. I was especially thankful after my first week there, when my boss had me send our rejection letters (!) to all of the applicants (over 50) who I beat out for the job!

On the down side, my husband is still laid off, and hasn't even gotten many interviews. He's been out of work for 7 months now, and is feeling pretty depressed about it. Fortunately Ohio has had a lot of unemployment pay extensions, so when his unemployment ran out in September, he was able to get an extension, and keep receiving benefits.

In other news, my daughter started 6th grade at a new school this fall. She was diagnosed with a math learning disability in 3rd grade, and we've been struggling with her previous Catholic school since then to get her the help she needed. She was being pulled out of class several times a week for tutoring, but was showing no progress in math, and too many of her regular teachers had little patience with her learning problems. Several of them completely disregarded her IEP, which allows her accomodations like extra time on tests. Her 4th grade teacher essentially told me that Bethany was lazy, and that she could do fine in school if she was more motivated. At the same meeting, the school gym teacher expressed her "concern" about Bethany's lack of interest in sports, and her difficulty in learning the rules of basketball. WTF??? I'm not athletic. I've never been athletic, and never will be. I admire people who are athletically talented, but I don't think the world is going to come to an end if a child can't play a sport! I think the emphasis on gym class should be the children getting exercise, and if they participate in class, that should be enough, and from what the gym teacher said, Bethany was participating, even if she didn't enjoy the class.

After 4th grade, things just really went downhill for Bethany. She had a terrible year in 5th grade, failing nearly all of her classes, despite her keeping up with her assignments and homework. Her teachers, unfortunately, did a lousy job keeping my husband and I informed about exactly how badly Bethany was doing in school. She hated going to school, and was getting increasingly anxious and frustrated. I also found out, belatedly, that Bethany had problems with a number of kids harrassing her and making fun of her (which her teacher never mentioned to us), and which she said her teacher did next to nothing to stop.

The school principal waited until several weeks after school ended to inform us that Bethany would have to repeat 5th grade unless we could get her private tutoring 4 days a week, several hours a day, and Bethany could "demonstrate competency in the 5th grade" material. Besides the fact that with my husband being laid off, and my working at the BOE for $10 an hour, that paying $200 or more a week for tutoring would have been impossible, I also felt it would do little to help Bethany, because I've felt for quite a while that she possibly has ADD and anxiety in addition to her learning problems.

After a lot of research and discussion, my husband and I decided to try to put Bethany in a small (110 kids from kindergarten to 8th grade) Catholic school here in the Cleveland area, for kids with learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and mild autism, about a 20 minute drive from our house. It's a beautiful school, in a converted mansion that a wealthy Cleveland area family left to the Catholic diocese in the 1950's, to be turned into a school for learning disabled kids. It's on 5 acres of land, all wooded, with a lot of deer and wildlife. The school is only one of two of its kind in the Cleveland area, and draws kids from the entire seven county region. Some of the kids have an hour to a hour and a half commute to school every day. It's also very racially and economically diverse, considerably more so than Bethany's last Catholic school.

The school has an excellent track record for its kids going on to be successful in high school, and go to college, and quite a few of their graduates have gone on to graduate from Ivy League colleges. I even found out that Bethany's LD tutor at her previous school is a graduate of this school as well. I had read about the school in our local newspaper a few years ago,  and it seemed like the right place for Bethany, but I figured we couldn't afford it, and I wanted to keep her in a school in our neighborhood. I contacted the principal of the new school, and she was absolutely wonderful from the time she first emailed me - so kind and understanding and helpful.

We went to visit the school, and I was really sold when I saw their beautiful art therapy room with clay, a pottery wheel, kiln, sewing machine, fabric, all kinds of drawing materials, and, the best part, knitting needles, crochet hooks, loom and yarn! Yarn! I asked the principal about it, and she said some of their autistic students like to knit in class, because it helps calm them down, and helps them pay attention. How awesome is that?! The principal and teachers truly made us feel welcome at the school, and thankfully, they were not only able to admit Bethany, but, even though we got Bethany enrolled late in the summer, enough financial aid to knock the tuition down from $10,500, to $3,500,  the same tuition we would have paid for Bethany at her previous Catholic school. It's still a struggle to pay with my husband being out of work, but I am so grateful Bethany is going there now.

Bethany is in a small class of only 15 kids (only three girls including Bethany!) with two teachers, and they have the ability to pull the kids out into even smaller groups, even to teach kids individually. The kids can take classes at higher or lower grade levels, depending on their needs. Bethany is in 6th grade, but is taking 5th grade math. She's getting weekly art therapy and occupational therapy, because she struggles with handwriting. The 6th, 7th, and 8th graders also have a bi-weekly social skills class. 

Bethany's only been there 3 months, but already it's been like a complete transformation. She wakes up every day eager to go to school. She does her homework without me reminding her, and without complaining. She's making a lot of friends, getting along well with all of the kids, participating in class, and keeping up with all of her assignments. She got her first quarter report card, and got A's and B's in every class. Her improvement in math has been nothing short of amazing. Her teachers are kind and caring, and I can tell they truly enjoy working with special needs kids. Everything about the school is very child centered, and much less strict than her previous Catholic school, yet they still hold the kids to high standards, and believe that all kids can be successful in school, despite their learning problems. I truly regret now that I didn't try to enroll Bethany there a few years ago.

My son Dominic, who started 1st grade this year, is still at Bethany's old Catholic school though. I don't care much for the school anymore, but the public schools in my suburb are for the most part lousy, and nearly all are in a voucher program through the state of Ohio (Ohio EdChoice), so I am able to receive a voucher to pay Dominic's full Catholic school tuition. I feel this is the best option for him right now. My husband and I are hoping eventually to move to another suburb close to Bethany's new school, that has very good public schools, and send Dominic to public school.

Hard for me to believe, but high school is only a few years off for Bethany, so I am already thinking about where I'll send her to high school. I don't know how well she would do in a large public high school, with her special needs, and having only been in small Catholic schools, and I don't want her to feel singled out and stupid being in a special education program within a regular school. It's going to be a tough decision when the time comes.

In addition to being busy with my new job and the kids being back in school, I've been busy with doctor's appointments for Bethany in regards to her school struggles. My husband and I took her to a developmental pediatrician at a local children's hospital here, and she after meeting with us individually, meeting with Bethany, and various testing and questionaires, the pediatrician diagnosed Bethany with an anxiety disorder and ADD. She gave us a referral to a psychologist at the same hospital, who specializes in anxiety in children, and also said she said she'd like to see how Bethany would do with a low dose of Prozac.

I personally would like to try counseling first, and see how Bethany does with that. She's already on several medications for asthma and allergies, and I'm reluctant to put her on something else too. I'm also concerned because there's been a lot of things in the news lately about how one of Bethany's asthma medications, Singulair, which she's been on since she was 5 1/2 or 6, Singulair, can cause psychological side effects in some people. The FDA just recently mandated a warning label for the medication, about side effects including depression, fear, and mood changes. I'm going to talk to the psychologist about whether I should stop giving it to Bethany. It has helped her asthma a great deal, but I won't keep giving it to her if it's at all responsible for her anxiety. My husband and I have an appointment for a parents-only consultation with the psychologist on November 21st. I just want to get Bethany the help she needs now while she's still young, so she won't have to struggle as an adult.

Well, I hope that wasn't too boring! I have been knitting (a lot!) over the past few months. I haven't bought any yarn in ages, and my only decent pair of knitting needles is a pair of size 8, circular bamboo needles (I've come to the conclusion that I hate metal needles, and that I'm not too fond of straight needles either), so the only things I've knitted are stash yarn projects, where I can use size 8 needles. I've been meaning to take pictures, and post on here, but my digital camera has been messing up lately. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post in the next week or so. Now that I've gotten the hang of knitting, I'm really enjoying it! I still like crocheting, but I'm glad to be able to do both crafts. Maybe one day I'll get around to learning how to sew too!

For anyone who's been patient enough to read through this whole long post, here's a picture of my kids in their Halloween costumes yesterday. Of course, as luck would have it, it was 60-70+ degrees for the past two weeks, windless, and sunny, through Friday, then Saturday ended up barely 50 degrees and cold (yes, I'm a wimp - 50 degrees is cold to me!), overcast, and windy. We took the kids trick or treating with my brother and sister in law, my sister, and the kids' cousins and had a great time. My daughter also had a sleepover with her best friend, her 11 year old cousin Rosie.

My brother and sister in law recently moved to an upper-class suburb, and wow, those folks out there sure were generous with the candy! A lot of people were giving out full-size candy bars, some 2 bars per kid! Sure beats when I was a kid, and was lucky to just get mini candy bars, and of course, there were always some folks who gave out stuff like apples, boxes of raisins, or (usually from the older people), bags of pennies, ha, ha!

So, here's my hippie girl and Harry Potter boy (who refused to wear his Harry Potter costume glasses for the picture) at my sister's house:

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Wow, I was just looking at my blog and realized I hadn't updated it in nearly two months. I didn't realize it had been that long.

Well, where to start...

I'm still working at the Board of Elections. When I went back in March, they brought back me and 4 other temps with the plan of eventually hiring us to fill 5 open permanent positions they had. The 5 positions ended up being cut to 2, and then brought back up to 4. 4 positions and 5 temps interested in them = 1 person not being hired. Several weeks ago the positions were opened for any current temps to apply. They interviewed 9 people (all temps from different departments), including me. Last Thursday they announced who was hired, and well, I was the one person from my department who wasn't.

What's so frustrating is that the lady who's head of the department told me how happy she's been with my work, how the quality of my work is excellent, etc., etc., but they didn't choose me because I can't work a lot of overtime during election seasons (because of my kids and if my husband goes back to work on nights). Of the other 4 temps they did hire permanently, three are young, single, and childless, and the fourth has a teenage daughter in her last year of high school, so none of them have child care issues to worry about. Stupid me assumed my not being able to work a lot of overtime wasn't too much of a problem, since they brought me back as a temp this time, even though they had dozens of other temps to choose from, who could work a lot of overtime.

I'm still employed at least, probably through the end of the fall, maybe through the end of the year, but having that permanent position would have meant more money. Health insurance (which I desperately need since my husband's and kids' insurance runs out June 30th, and I haven't had medical insurance in over a year). Sick time. Vacation time. Holiday pay. When I wasn't the only temp in my area, it wasn't so bad. We (the temps) liked to commisserate about the lousy job market and our need for permanent employment. Now, being the only temp, I feel like the unpopular kid who didn't get invited to the big party of the year. It was really, really hard dragging myself into work on Friday knowing my best chance at permanent employment had been dashed.

I hate having to start all over from scratch now - fruitlessly searching for jobs, applying and hoping for interviews, going through interviews, hoping to be hired, and being disappointed all over again when I'm not. I'm truly burned out on it. If my husband weren't still out of work, I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed, but his being out of work just compounds my stress.

About the only good news we've gotten lately is that our landlord, who has amassed quite a collection of rental properties, and who is looking to add more, asked my husband today (knowing our situation and given my husband's maintenance skills) if he would be interested in coming to work for him as a property manager, handling repairs on his properties, working with city inspectors and the Section 8 program (for his tenants that get assistance), etc. It wouldn't pay as much as my husband was making at his last job, but it would relieve a lot of stress financially, while my husband's waiting to when/if he'll get called back to work at his old job.

Last Friday, my 11 year old niece, Rosie, slept over on Friday and Saturday night. On Friday night, we ate at Cici's Pizza (if you've never been to one, it's a good, cheap alternative to fast-food restaurants). Saturday turned out to be rainy and chilly most of the day, but the kids talked my husband and I into taking them to the playground. There's a fantastic playground here next to a Jewish community center, all set up to look like a miniature town, with a pretend bank, fire station, school, houses, etc. It was built by volunteers and with donations, as a public playground for both disabled and non-disabled kids. The kids had a lot of fun, despite the rain. Here's some pictures:

After the playground, we went to the library and rented some DVD's. The girls and I watched "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl", about a 10 year old girl growing up during the Depression. I wasn't expecting much, but it turned out to be a pretty good movie. Christina, I think Piper would really like that movie.

In fiber-related news, after two and a half years of drooling over knitting patterns, admiring gorgeous projects on crafty blogs (ahem, Bezzie and Christina!), I decided to sit down, break out my knitting needles and some books, and learn how to knit. After struggling mightly with casting on (long-tail cast on), knit stitches, purl stitches, and binding off, I finally got the hang of it, and have now been knitting for 3 weeks! Yep, it's true! I even have a finished knitting project to show!

Ta da! It's a knitted kerchief with a crocheted edging, for Rosie, who asked me last weekend if I could knit or crochet her something (and she's such a sweet kid, how could I say no?).
I got the pattern from a library book, "Find Your Style and Knit it Too". I had several pairs of knitting needles I had collected over the past 2 years, during previous unsucessful attempts to learn how to knit, but my Dominic, having decided that knitting needles make good pretend pirate swords, lost or broke nearly all of them, except for a size 8, 16 inch bamboo circular needle, and a couple of aluminum straight needles (which I despise - I have the hardest time keeping the stitches on them). I wanted to knit something besides swatches, and having little extra money for new needles or yarn, I decided on this kerchief, which was perfect to make on the circular needles.

This is actually the second one I've made. The first was in some stash Cotton-Ease, and I ripped it out and restarted it literally at least 15 times. I kept messing up the yarn overs, purling when I was supposed to knit, and knitting when I was supposed to purl. I finally finished it after several days, but it had a lot of mistakes, and I just wasn't happy about giving something with a bunch of mistakes away. Yesterday afternoon, I started on this one, in some stash Sugar N' Cream (Pinky Stripes), and finished it this morning. I'm pretty happy with how it came out.

I have a stack of knitting books from the library sitting on my kitchen table now, tempting me with all their patterns. I've come to the conclusion that knitting is considerably slower than crocheting, that it's much more complicated, and it's way harder to fix mistakes, but so far, I really like it! For my next project, I'm hoping to knit this baby blanket (a big impetus for me finally learning how to knit!) for my husband's best friend and his wife, who are expecting their first child (a boy) in August).
In non-knitting related news, I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day. My husband and kids and I went to my oldest brother's house for a cookout. My brother's wife is Arabic (Palestinian) and a wonderful cook. Her aunt brought over a whole lamb for the cookout, and we had chicken kabobs, lamb kabobs, the most delicious hamburgers (from the Arabic meat shop - they had garlic, onions, and spices ground right in), and tons of side dishes and desserts. The kids had fun playing with all of their cousins, and of course, I was happy to see my little 16 month old niece, Jenna. Isn't she just the cutest little thing?!Of course, now that I know how to knit, Jenna is going to be totally spoiled with all kinds of cute, girly, hand-knitted gifts!

Well, off to bed. Holiday Mondays always go by too quick!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Feeling Better!

Well, after a lousy past week, I'm finally feeling better!

I started back to work at the BOE yesterday. I was glad to have a job to go back to, but still feeling kind of depressed, thinking that I couldn't do any better than a $10 an hour temp job, even with all my education and work experience. I felt a lot better when I found out that the BOE might be hiring me and the other 4 temps they called back, permanently! They transferred 3 employees to another department, another employee retired, and one either quit or got fired - I'm not sure with. The head of the department said they have 5 openings now, and that's why they hired back just 5 temps.

My self esteem had taken a big wallop after I lost my pre-BOE job. But, after hearing the head of the department and another supervisor say they chose us 5 temps to come back because of how well we did on the assessment test, our quality of work when we worked for the BOE last year, and because they felt we would do the best at the job, I felt pretty good.

We're getting our own desks (instead of the long tables we sat at as temps last year), phone extensions and email addresses, so that looks promising. Geez, I know that's pretty pitiful that I'm getting excited about having a desk, after having my own office at my pre-BOE job. Yes, I had my own office, but it was only because my department only had 4 employees, including our boss, and there were 4 offices, so we each got one. If there had been more employees, most of us would have been stuck in cubicles. Anyway, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I do get hired permanently, because I'm burned out on job hunting, and it would be a huge relief to finally have medical insurance and vacation time again, not to mention better pay.

I feel like maybe my luck is turning around, because a lot of good things have happened to me since Friday. I had been worried sick the past week over my gas and electric bills, which living here in freezing Cleveland, where it's cold 6-7 months of the year, had become really unmanageable. I was able to get help paying them from a local agency on Friday. They not only gave me money towards each bill, but put me on a percentage of income payment plan, which cut my monthly payments in half.

I was worried about having enough money for bus fare to get to work all week, but then I got my state income tax refund yesterday, which my husband and I had been waiting on for well over a month. The majority of it got taken by the Ohio Department of Transportation for this minor accident my husband had two years ago (and no, they still haven't fixed the fence he hit, which they are charging us for). I was waiting for the balance of the refund to be sent to me, and wasn't expecting it for another week, but luckily it came sooner.

Today after work on my way to the bus stop downtown, I ran into an old friend of mine, who I used to ride the bus with everyday, but lost touch with, and hadn't seen in a year. That really made my day!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that since Friday, I've had 4 sales in my Etsy shop! The extra money came right in time, because my husband needed some money for gas to get the kids to and from school. I'm hoping the rest of the week will continue to go as well!

I also have a few crochet projects to show (please ignore the odd photo placement and the messed up line spacing at the end of this post - Blogger wouldn't cooperate for me today). First is a sweater for my "dog niece", my sister Shauna's dog, Autumn. She had asked me to crochet a sweater for Autumn. We went to Walmart, and she bought some Simply Soft Eco yarn in green and off-white for the sweater. I'm using a pattern from Crochet Today. She's really happy with it so far. I'm nearly done, but ran out of green yarn, so I'll finish the sweater when I have a chance to go back to Walmart, and get another skein.

Next is a pillow for my mom for her birthday in February. She likes birds, and her favorite colors are blue and green, so when I saw this ”Bird on Branch” pattern, I knew it would be perfect for her. Next is a hat and a market bag that I made for my Etsy shop.

I used some leftover Red Heart Fiesta from my mom's pillow for the hat. The bag is one of the items that sold in my Etsy shop. It's made with Lily Sugar N' Cream in pink camo and olive green. The suburb I live in has a farmer's market on Friday evenings during the summer and early fall, and I'm debating making some more of that bag, and trying to sell them at the market. They're always looking for more vendors (some sell things other than produce), and the market attracts a pretty large crowd. I wonder if it would sell well?

That's about it. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that I get hired permanently at the BOE soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

When it Rains It Pours

Yes, I realize I haven't updated my blog in over a month. It's not that I haven't been crocheting anything - I have made a few things. It's just that I know most of the posts I've done over the past 6 months have been negative, and I didn't want my blog to only be about negative stuff that happens to me. I was waiting to post until I had something good to report. Well, unfortunately, the past few months have not been good at all, and March has been especially bad.

I've had a total of one, yes, one job interview since last November. It was for a secretarial position with my college alma mater. I asked one of the ladies I interviewed with when they plan on making a hiring decision, and she said they want to fill the position quickly, so the person they select will be starting within 2-4 weeks. Two to four week is "quickly"??? Why do colleges and government agencies have to move so incredibly slow with their hiring? I'm trying not to get my hopes up about that job though, because not much of anything has gone well for me lately.

After fighting with the unemployment bureau since the middle of December, I finally had my appeal hearing yesterday. It lasted all of 10 minutes. Basically the judge told me since my base period employment was with a church, and churches, under Ohio law, don't have to pay into the state unemployment fund, I am not eligible for unemployment. I asked why the unemployment bureau's website says that employment with a nonprofit or government agency is considered "covered" employment, even though they don't pay into the unemployment fund, the judge told me that does not include churches. Church employees simply can't get unemployment pay. I was so angry and upset over that. Just because an organization doesn't HAVE to pay into the unemployment fund, doesn't mean they SHOULDN'T. And in my opinion, a church of all places should care enough about their employees to want them to be able to collect unemployment if they are laid off. Oh well.

On top of feeling miserable and depressed all day yesterday because of that, my husband got laid off last night. Yep. This was my worst nightmare - both of us being unemployed at the same time. His company has had three rounds of layoffs since November, and made the remaining employees take several unpaid furloughs. They laid off 14 more people last night, and my husband, having the least amount of seniority of the employees in his department, was one of them. He'll get two weeks of severance pay, his week of vacation paid out and then unemployment.

I can't even begin to describe how frightening this is, to have bills piling up, being crunched just to afford basic living expenses like food and utilities, and then to have my husband lose his job on top of it. As soon as his severance pay runs out, I'm going to apply for food stamps. I feel ashamed having to do that, but it doesn't look like I have many other options. The other big problem is what we're going to do when his medical insurance runs out on June 30th. I can probably get Medicaid for the kids, but now my husband won't have medical insurance either (I haven't had insurance since I lost my church job almost a year ago), and with him being diabetic and on several medications, that really worries me.

I haven't even had a single sale in my Etsy shop, other than a hat that one of my husband's nieces bought. I recently joined a few Etsy groups - Etsy Hookers ( and the Etsy Cleveland Street Team ( - sorry, couldn't get the one-word links to work. I've been trying to promote my Etsy shop through both, but still haven't gotten any sales. I'm totally discouraged. I also created a website for my husband's DJ services about a month ago (through Microsoft Small Business - you can set up a website for free for the first year and only $14.95 for each year after that), and have been advertising on Craig's List, but he hasn't gotten any jobs yet, either.

About the only good that's happened lately is I got a letter from the Board of Elections saying they are hiring for temporary positions again, and are inviting temps who worked for them in 2008 to reapply. A lot of things about the BOE rubbed me the wrong way, and I'd prefer not to go back there, but I don't have much of a choice at this point. This year though, they're making everyone who applies take an assessment on their computer system, before being hired. I have no idea why, because when I was hired last year, not only did I not have to take any kind of assessment, I didn't even have an interview! I know how to use their computer system, but I don't have as much experience with it as many of the other temps, who had worked there off and on for several years, and that worries me.

If I don't get the BOE job, we'll really be in a mess, because I have no other job prospects lined up right now. I've been looking for jobs, but here in Cleveland, there's so few to choose from, and among the ones I've applied for, I haven't been getting interviews (the college job an exception). There was a job fair here recently, and 7,500 people showed up to apply for 1,500 mostly minimum wage to $10 an hour jobs. It was so crowded, the police had to turn more than half of the people away. I had wanted to go, but it was in a suburb I couldn't reach by bus from where I live. I don't feel so bad now, because I'd probably have been lucky to even get in the door.

Well, I have a few crochet projects photos to post - stash yarn projects. I'll post those later today, or tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Etsy Shop!

Well, after much hard work, I finally got my Etsy shop up and running! Please come by and take a look!

I owe many thanks to Naida of Crochet Mama's Blog, who made the too-cute banner for my shop. Thank you so much, Naida!

Other than that, not much has been going on here. My sister and brother in law invited me and my husband and kids over for dinner last weekend, for the kids' birthdays. We had stuffed shells (mmmm!), garlic bread, and an ice cream cake. My husband and brother in law also went on a date. No, not really, ha, ha! They both wanted to see this vampire/werewolf movie (I can't even remember the name of it), and neither my sister or I were interested in it, so my brother in law suggested the two of them go together before dinner. I didn't mind. I like horror movies, but I just can't get into the vampire and werewolf ones. My sister and the kids and I stayed at her house and made plans for a surprise for her husband for their one year wedding anniversary, which is coming up in May.

I'm also still looking for another job, without much luck. I have mixed feelings about going back to work though. Financially, I need to go back to work, but when I do, I'm going to miss being home with my kids in the afternoons after school. We have a lot more time for homework and school projects, and I don't feel so chronically crunched for time anymore. But, I don't have the luxury of staying home much longer, so hopefully another job will turn up for me soon, or I'll at least get approved for the unemployment pay. I'm expecting to hear something from the unemployment office next. God willing, it'll be good news.

About the only other good thing about being out of work right now is not having to trudge outside into the snow every morning. This has a been a particularly bad winter here in Cleveland. We had almost 41 inches of snow in January alone, and another 12 inches just in the past few days, and the kids have had two snow days from school in January alone. This is the second snowiest winter we've had since 1978. So, what happened to global warming??!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy (Belated) 11th Birthday Bethany!

January 29th was my daughter's 11th birthday. I meant to post something then, but I've been sick for the past week with a nasty cold. I'm finally starting to feel better now. If there's anything in my life that makes me feel old, knowing that I'm now officially the mom of a preteen (yes, Bethany likes to inform me that she's a preteen now) is it, ha, ha! Only two more years until she's officially a teenager - yikes! How can it be that dating, driving, and high school are only a few years away??? Gulp!

It really doesn't feel like it was that long ago that Bethany was this little:
Now I have this almost as tall as me, going through puberty, becoming concerned about clothes, and hairstyles, talking about what's cool and what isn't from a 5th graders' perspective (apparently the kids in her class spend a lot of time discussing that), wanting a cell phone, and looking forward to be old enough to babysit, preteen.
But I also have a smart, funny, creative, sweet, pretty girl, and I'm proud to be her mom. She made me especially proud the other day when she told me that even though her little brother (Dominic) annoys her sometimes, that she still loves him. Awww!

Although the 29th marked a happy occasion in my life, it also marked a sad one. My dad passed away 4 years ago this month. His funeral fell on Bethany's 7th birthday. I thought it would be fitting to post this:
This is me (a much thinner me - I actually weighed less 9 months pregnant with Bethany than I do now -sigh...) and my dad at my older sister Desiree's wedding in 1997. I was 5 months pregnant with Bethany in this photo. I still miss my dad a lot, but I'm thankful for the time I had with him, and I take comfort in knowing that he's no longer sick or in pain.

I also have something wonderful to remember my dad by - my black and white kitty, Stormy (AKA "Mitten" because of her little white mitten paws). I was going through a really rough period in my life in the winter of 2001, personally, financially, and health wise. My colon became infected and ruptured unexpectedly, requring me to have emergency surgery to remove a foot and a half of my colon. I spent a week in an ICU, and came home with a colostomy. My other black and white kitty at the time, Sasha, who I had for 6 years, got lost right before I went to the hospital. The local animal shelter found him a few weeks later, but he died at the shelter the next morning, before I had a chance to come pick him up. I was heartbroken, and it was a lot to deal with so soon after my surgery.

A few days later, my dad and brother went to the drugstore, and my dad saw a tiny black and white cat wandering around in the parking lot, freezing, and trying to get into the store - my Stormy. My brother grabbed her, and they brought her home for me, and it did a lot to cheer me up. I still have her now, 7 years later, and she holds special meaning to me, since my dad found her. Happy belated birthday, Bethany! And rest in peace, Dad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday Dominic!

Yep, today is my son's 6th birthday!

Lesa, I copied the "cake" you had on your blog! : )

It's hard to believe my little boy is 6 already. It went by so fast! It doesn't seem like that long ago that he was this little:
But now he's this big:

He even lost his first tooth last week! One minute he wants to do every thing by himself - getting mad if I try to help him zip his coat, or put on a DVD for him to watch (he's better at operating the DVD player than I am, ha, ha!), and then the next minute he'll run up to me, throw his arms around me, and tell me "I haven't had any hugs today!" or "I haven't had any kisses today!". I'm not looking forward to the age when he'll get embarrassed if I hug or kiss him. Happy birthday to my sweet little boy!

I realize I haven't been updating my blog much lately. I've been so preoccupied with my job situation lately that it's been hard concentrating on anything else. As you probably already surmised, I was laid off from the BOE again. They laid off all of the temps on Christmas Eve, but never bothered to notify anyone. Yep. I didn't work on Christmas Eve because of the weather, and most of the temps left early that day. From what I heard from another temp, one of the supervisors said late in the day (after most everyone had gone home) that Christmas Eve "might" be our last day.

We weren't scheduled to go back to work until the 29th. I came down with a horrific case of the flu two days before that. I hadn't been that sick with the flu in years. I barely made it out of bed to go to work on the 29th, but dragged myself into work anyway (as did most of the temps), only to find that all the temps were indeed laid off on Christmas Eve. No one got a call saying they were laid off, and the supervisors were shocked that so many people showed up to work. What did they expect?! The supervisors were trying to find work for the day for people who showed up, but I felt so sick and apparently looked so bad that the head of the department took one look at me and sent me home.

I had applied for unemployment pay after my first layoff in mid-December, and got the determination on Christmas Eve. I was turned down, because according to the unemployment office, I didn't have at least 20 weeks of "covered" employment or earned at least $206 a week before taxes during my employment. I earned more than $206 a week with the BOE, but was only there about 15 or 16 weeks.Upon looking into the unemployment law though, I realized that they were looking at any employment I had during what they consider my "base period", which is from 7/1/07-6/30/08. I was employed at my pre-BOE job during that time period. That employer was a nonprofit (church), which don't pay into the state unemployment fund, so the unemployment office told me that employment would most likely not count.

However, I found this on the unemployment bureau's website:

What is covered employment? Under Ohio law, most employers are required to pay contributions for unemployment insurance. Work for such an employer is "covered" employment. Work for a nonprofit or government agency is "covered" employment, even though the employer does not pay regular contributions, but instead reimburses the cost of unemployment benefits paid to its former workers. In that case, my employment with the church qualifies as "covered employment" for the purposes of receiving unemployment pay. I filed an appeal that day (stating that I did indeed have at least 20 weeks of covered employment, with all of the necessary information), and just received a new determination today.

So, in that case, my employment with the church IS covered employment! I filed an appeal on Christmas Eve, and was told it would take 21 days for a decision. I recieved the decision today, and well, I was still refused unemployment benefits, for the same reason as before! I'm so angry I could scream! I've been out of work nearly a month with no pay. Prior to that, I hadn't had a full paycheck in over a month, between my first layoff, and the BOE cutting the temps' hours after the November 4th election.

I filed a second appeal today, which will go to the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Review Commission, who will grant me a hearing on my appeal. In the meantime though, I can't afford to wait another three weeks to a month to see what will happen with my second appeal. I feel just sick over this. I've been applying and applying for jobs and haven't had a single interview in months. A friend of mine - a temp from the BOE, who recently found a permanent job, and who has HR experience, revamped my resume for me. Maybe that will help, but I'm not very hopeful, given all the bad luck and disappointments I've had over the past year with job hunting.

In other news, my husband's company just laid off 1,300 people across Ohio and I think Pennsylvania. This is the second round of layoffs they've had in a month. Fortunately they haven't laid off anyone from my husband's department (maintenance) yet, but he's worried that it might still be coming, and with him having the least seniority of anyone in the department, that wouldn't bode well for him. I'm praying they don't lay him off, because we'd be just absolutely screwed financially.

I have finished some crochet projects lately, and I'll post them in the next day or so. I've been working on some things for my Etsy shop. I set one up, but haven't put anything up for sale yet. I need to get a foam mannequin head to display hats, and some kind of banner for my Etsy shop (I don't have the software to make one). Those will have to wait a while too.