Wednesday, July 30, 2008

No Respect

Is is just me, or has parents disciplining their kids and teaching them to respect adults fallen by the wayside anymore?

Maybe I'm blowing this out of proportion, but something has really been bothering me lately. Since my kids are home for summer, they've been spending a lot of time playing with other kids on our street, mostly all girls. A couple of times they have had problems with a few of the kids. There's one girl, about 9 (I'll call her "M") who I particularly don't like. She's been mean to Bethany multiple times, calling her names, criticizing her, and yelling at her.

A few weekends ago, M had the nerve to come down to my house, get rude with with my daughter, and then push my son (who's only 5) because he accidentally bumped into her on his tricycle. After I told I wasn't going to allow any pushing, she left.

A few days later, she came back over our house, rang the doorbell, and when Bethany answered the door, asked if Bethany could bring our wagon out (we have an old plastic wagon the kids like to pull each other around in). When Bethany told her (not rudely) that she wasn't going out right now, M, stuck her tongue out at Bethany, and slammed my door! She came back about 15 minutes later, and I answered the door, and told her Bethany wasn't coming out right now, and that I'd appreciate it if she wouldn't come by my house being rude to my kid, and slamming my door.

The kids and I left a little while later to walk to the corner store, and while we were gone, M came over with her mother, and asked my husband what was going on. My husband told her Bethany's had problems with M, and she just stood there, and looked at her mom like my husband was lying. He told M's mom she should go to talk to some of the other parents in the neighborhood, because other parents have told us M is also nasty to their kids.

Now, today my kids were playing outside in my backyard with some girls from the neighborhood, and Bethany asked if they could on our screened porch. I told them OK, but to keep the noise down, because the inside door to the porch is right across the hall from our bedroom, where my husband was sleeping after having worked all night and then gone to school. Bethany told the girls she was playing with (about 8 total) that they all couldn't be on the porch at the same time, because her dad was sleeping. Apparently some of them (including M) got mad at her, told her to shut up, and ganged up on her, yelling at her and Dominic, calling them names, and being outright nasty.

I heard Bethany sobbing, came to see what was going on, and found Dominic trying to defend her, and the girls still screaming at Bethany. I told them to go home, and that they're not allowed to come by my house, being mean and rude to my kids, and the kids started arguing with me, and one of the girls tried to tell me that Bethany was calling them "bitches".

Now, I'm not one of those parents who thinks my kids walk on water and never do any wrong, but my daughter does not swear. I have never heard her utter a single swear word, ever. The only swear word my kids have ever heard come out of my mouth in front of them is "damn", and whenever Bethany has heard me say it, she tells me I shouldn't use words like that. Now, I'm supposed to believe she called those girls bitches??? Oh, and then to make matters worse, Bethany told me when she told the girls not to all go on the porch at one time, and they started the fight with her, she said she was going to have me come out there, and a few of the girls told her so what, they don't have to listen to me!

Don't have to listen to me?! An adult? On MY property? Now mind you, these girls range in age from about 4 to 10 at the oldest, and are already that disrespectful of adults?! I'm sorry, I'm just really bothered by this. It makes me wonder what kind of mentality their parents have, if the kids are that ill-mannered. I don't care who Bethany and Dominic play with, as long as the kids are polite and behave themselves. But, I can't help but wonder if I did the right thing by intervening when those kids were picking on Bethany and Dominic, or if I should have let them work it out on their own?

What do you think?

In any case, I'm proud of my little Dominic for standing up for his sister. Even though they squabble a lot, I know they still love each other. Both of my kids take Singulair tablets daily for their allergies and asthma, both pediatric versions, but Bethany's pills are 6mg, for ages 6-12, and Dominic's are 5mg for ages 2-5. Well, when we were getting ready for bed, I was tired and distracted and accidentally gave Dominic one of Bethany's pills. I didn't realize it until I was throwing away Bethany's empty pill package, and she noticed (she remembered she had one pill left after taking her pill that evening). She was so worried about Dominic she couldn't fall asleep until I called the poison control hotline, and they said he would be fine. They said a kid would have to take a dozen of the pills at once before having any adverse effects. That make me feel pretty proud that Bethany was that concerned for her little brother.

Oh well. I've got to get going to bed. Enough griping for one night (er, early morning)!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Something Cool!

No, not a new job (I wish!), but still something cool...

I got an email from the other day inviting me to participate in their new "Vine" program. Here's what it said:

Greetings from!

As one of our most valued customer reviewers, we would like to offer you a special invitation to join an exciting new Amazon program called Amazon Vine. As a member of this exclusive community, you will have access to pre-release and new products across all Amazon categories, and the opportunity to be among the very first to review them. There is no cost to you to participate or to receive Vine products. We are simply asking for your time in writing reviews for the products you select from the program.

Basically I get an email newsletter every month, with new products I can review, I get to pick up to two products, they send them to me for free, I review them, and I get to keep them when I'm done! I got my first newsletter yesterday, and picked out two nonfiction books to review (I mostly read nonfiction). Hopefully one of the newsletters will include some crochet books too.

I'm pretty excited - I love to read, and what could be better than getting new books for free?!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jobless in Cleveland

Well, as this post title states, I’m still jobless. July 9th marked 3 months since I lost my job. I never expected to be out of work this long. I’m so frustrated right now I could scream.

In three months, I’ve had a total of two “real” interviews (I’m not counting the two temp agency interviews I had, which were essentially useless, since neither could find me a job). I had a brief phone interview on Friday for a temp job with a major company here in the Cleveland area, and the lady I spoke with said they would start calling people this week for in-person interviews, but I haven’t gotten a call. Of course. Sometimes I feel like I have a giant, blinking “Do not hire!” sign floating above my head. I know the economy is bad right now, and extremely bad in the Cleveland area, but still, I can’t help but take my not being able to find a job personally.

About the only potential prospect I have for a job right is a position I applied for with the IRS a few weeks ago. It’s a contact representative (customer service) job It’s not my ideal job – a friend of mine works in the same position, and said it’s very stressful – she’s basically confined to her desk 8 hours a day answering phone calls from taxpayers, and new employees are on probation for a year. The pay is also terrible for a job requiring a degree – only about $29,000 a year to start At the same time though, an IRS job is about as stable as it gets – it’s not like the Iris is going to go out of business. Plus, employees get two cost of living pay increases a year, free bus passes (a good deal with a monthly bus pass going up to $90 this fall) and help paying back any federal student loans the employee has.

I got an email from the IRS on Saturday saying that based on my application; they found me tentatively qualified for the position. They’re supposed to be sending me a packet of forms to fill out, and I’m scheduled for a “processing session” (whatever that is) and fingerprinting on August 6th. That of course, doesn’t mean I have the job. I have to go through a security clearance and background check. I’m convinced that I didn’t get the nonprofit job because of something my old boss probably said, so who knows what will happen with the IRS job.

Even if I do get the IRS job, there’s still a problem because the job doesn’t start until October – it’s a seasonal job – October through June. I can’t afford to be out of work until October. I can’t even afford to be out of work right now.

I feel like my husband and I have just been drowning financially since I’ve been out of work. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Our minivan, which so far has held up great for a 7 year old vehicle, decided not to start one day last week when my husband was getting ready to leave for his welding class. Not only was the battery completely dead, but he found out while getting the battery replaced that the alternator was nearly dead as well. We ended up with $400 in repairs which we could barely afford, and which put us behind on other bills. Right after that, the radio decided to stop working, and the air conditioner started acting up, even after being recharged. OK, so no radio and minimally functioning air conditioning isn’t’ the end of the world, but I’m afraid it means something else major is wrong with the van. We still have about a year left on the auto loan, and I’m hoping and praying that the van will hold up at least until the loan is paid off.

On top of that, I just spent $100 in the past week getting my kids’ asthma and allergy medications, and my husband’s diabetes medications refilled. I still don’t even have any medical insurance for myself. A family medical plan is just too expensive now with me not working, so only my husband and kids are on his medical insurance for now.

In the meantime, I have no idea what I’m going to do if I don’t find another job soon. My kids start back to school next month, and the way things are going, I have no idea how I’m even going to afford to buy their school supplies, and uniforms (my daughter) and school clothes (my son – kindergarteners at their school don’t wear uniforms).

I’d take anything right about now, even a job at Wal-Mart, but between my husband working nights, being at school all day, and basically sleeping nearly all the rest of the time he’s at home, leaving me entirely responsible for the kids, I’d be so limited as to the hours I could work. I can’t work early mornings. I can’t work evenings. I can’t work nights. I can’t even work weekends, because weekends are the only time my husband really has to catch up on his sleep. I can’t see any store being interested in hiring someone who is limited to working Monday-Friday between about 9AM and 4-5PM.

And to make matters worse, if I do go back to work now, I’ll have to put the kids in summer camp/daycare full time, which they wouldn’t mind, but which I can’t see being able to afford on what Wal-Mart or any store would pay. Full-time summer camp for my kids (at the daycare where my son went to preschool) is nearly $1,100 a month for two kids (with a sibling discount), and that’s actually on the low end for summer camps in the area. Even putting them in part time would barely be cheaper. I’m afraid even I took a job at Wal-Mart full-time, I’d only make enough to cover daycare, let alone any bills. And what’s even more frustrating is I don’t even have any family members who can help out with child care. My mother will watch my kids on occasion, but being nearly 70, and not in the best of help, she can’t handle watching them full-time.

I’m just feeling pretty overwhelmed right now.

Well, in other news, I finished a few crochet projects. The first is a top I crocheted from Cotton-Ease. I had two skeins of Strawberry Cream Cotton-Ease in my stash, and wanted to use them for something. I thought about crocheting a top for myself, and came up with this.

It ended up only taking a skein and a half of the Strawberry Cream, and a skein and a half of Snow (white). I used a J hook. For the top, I modified a free tunic pattern from Lion Brand (cropped it and added an increase row at the bottom) and for the bottom I used a stitch from a stitch dictionary. The top was crocheted as two seperate pieces, which I sewed together, then I crocheted the bottom in rounds. I also added a crocheted flower (can’t you tell I love crocheted flowers? I’m always sticking them on everything!). I don’t think it came out too bad for the first clothing item I’ve made for myself.

The second thing I made is an S&B Fat Bottom Bag for my second PIF gift. It was an easy pattern to follow, but I’m disappointed with how small it came out. I added extra rows, and used a J hook (instead of the recommended I), but it still came out a lot smaller than the one in the book. I used two skeins of Lily Sugar N’Cream. I got the felted flower from a local craft store chain, Pat Catan’s. I’ve had the materials for the bag for months, but just never got around to working on it until now. The ribbon is black & white polka dotted (it came out fuzzy in the photo).

I also crocheted something for Katrina, for her new baby, but I won’t post a photo until I have a chance to send it to her (don’t want to ruin the surprise). It seems like I’ve barely had 5 minutes to get anything done with my kids home for the summer.

I’ve been trying to find cheap things to do with them to keep them occupied. Last Friday we went to the beach/park with my mom, my sister-in-law, Gehan, and her kids. I didn’t plan on letting my kids go in the water, because they didn’t have their bathing suits with them, but I gave in, and they went in clothes and all. My sister in law had just gotten back from a trip to Florida to visit family, and said after she saw the ocean, it ruined the lake (Lake Erie) for her (because the lake looks so dirty in comparison). My thoughts exactly, ! Many years ago, before we had kids, my husband and I went on a cruise to the Bahamas and Key West, and I agree – the lake just isn’t the same after seeing the ocean. Here’s some pictures from the beach:Of course I had to include one of my baby niece, Jenna. I think she just gets cuter every time I see her! It’s funny, she was nearly bald last time I saw her, on Memorial Day, and now she has almost enough hair for some clips.

After we went to the beach, my niece Rosie asked her mom to let Bethany spend the night at their house, and she ended up staying over both Friday and Saturday night. Gehan didn’t mind, because she said it kept Rosie out of her hair, and stopped her from squabbling with her brothers (three older and one younger - oldest is stationed out of state in the Air Force). My husband and I went to pick up Bethany on Sunday, and meant to only stay for a few minutes, but ended up staying for a couple of hours talking to Gehan and my brother. I always enjoy going over their house, and our kids have so much fun together

My Dominic whined the whole time Bethany was gone that he missed her and wanted to come home, but I think he was more upset that he didn’t get to sleepover his cousin’s house. Gehan already ahs 5 kids to deal with, so I couldn’t expect her to have Dominic spend the night too, not to mention that he’s still little enough to need a lot of supervision. He gets so upset when he’s not old enough to do things that Bethany can. I know it’s frustrating for him.

He and Bethany have been driving each other crazy since they’re home everyday, so I took them to the park yesterday to get them out of the house. Today we went to the pool. We’re fortunate that the suburb we live in has a great public pool, but like everything in the suburbs, it’s not free, so we can’t go too often. Plus, it’s a hassle to get to from my house with my not being able to drive. The only options are to take two busses (a regular bus and a neighborhood “community circulator” bus) or to walk about a mile and hop on the circulator bus. We ended up doing the latter, to save money, and because the regular busses run so infrequently during the afternoons. The walk was OK for me and my daughter, but my son got tired and crabby.

I know I really need to learn how to drive, and with me being out of work right now, I’d actually have time for it, but the problem is having someone to teach me. My husband doesn’t have time, and I couldn’t practice with our minivan anyway – I’m listed on the insurance policy since we’re married, but because I don’t have driver’s license, if I drove the van, and had an accident, it wouldn’t be covered. I’d gladly pay for driving lessons through a company if I could afford it, but I just have too many other bills to worry about right now.

The kids had at lot of fun at the pool – my daughter got to see her best friend, who was there with her summer camp class (the kids go swimming every afternoon), and they got to play together for a while. My son loves the interactive splash area at the pool – there’s a shallow-water splash area for littler kids with slides, bridges, and built in water guns and sprinklers.

Between the beach on Friday and the pool today, I ended up with two nasty sunburns on my arms, neck, ears, shoulders, and face. I’m convinced that sunblocks are useless (at least for people with pale Irish skin), because no matter how much I glob on (and reapply), I’ve never made it through a visit to a park, beach, or pool without a sunburn. I think about that, all the horrible sunburns I got as a kid while spending hours at the pool every day during he summer – ones so bad that the top layer of skin on my nose would just peel right off, and one of my Irish grandmothers having had skin cancer, and the potential for skin cancer just scares the crap out of me. At least my kids are dark enough that they very rarely sunburn (although I do put sunblock on them anyway).

Well, thanks everyone for your encouragement about my job situation. I’m hoping and praying things get better soon. I hope everyone is having a good summer so far.