Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Remember I said in my last blog post that it seems like everything something goes right for me; something else goes wrong right afterwards?
I was right.

Over the past two weeks, my Bethany developed patches of peeling, sore, bleeding skin on her right hand. I thought it was probably just her eczema flaring up, so we had trying to keep it moisturized, and putting hydrocortisone cream on it. It seemed to be getting worse over the past few days, and I was worried it was infected, so I took her to the pediatrician yesterday.

Yep, it’s infected. And worse, her doctor thinks Bethany has an MRSA staph infection (antibiotic-resistant). The thought had crossed my mind, and I was praying it wouldn’t be one. The MRSA is some scary stuff. Apparently it’s pretty bad too. I feel like the worst mom of the year for not realizing sooner how serious it is and not getting her to the doctor sooner. The doctor thinks it started out as eczema, and then got infected from Bethany scratching it. He said it’s been kept quiet, but there’s been an outbreak of community MRSA cases in the Cleveland area lately. Just my luck for my daughter to get it.

On top of that, her eczema went haywire, and now she has white blotches on her face and arms. She had some as a toddler, but they went away, and I don’t know what made them come back. We ended up with four prescriptions – two oral antibiotics, an oral anti-itch medication, an ointment, and a body shampoo. I’m going to have a make a chart to keep track of what she has to take when, because she’s already on three daily medications just for her asthma and allergies. Arrrggghh! I have to take her back to the doctor after Labor Day to make sure the infection is clearing up, because if it doesn’t, she might end up having to be hospitalized. I’m hoping and praying that won’t happen.

I’m also hoping and praying neither me nor my husband or son ends up contracting the staph either. I’ve been without medical insurance since April – my husband and kids are on his medical insurance through his job, but we couldn’t afford a full family plan – so the last thing I need is to end up needing to go to the doctor or need any prescription medications.

I’m still looking for another job, without much luck. Bezzie and Christina, it’s funny that you mentioned trying to find a law firm that would hire me without any legal experience, because when I was looking at the job ads in my Sunday newspaper, I saw a listing for a paralegal at a bankruptcy firm downtown, that said no experience necessary. I’ve been trying since Sunday to get my #$%@! printer to work so I can print out a cover letter and resume to fax to them before the job gets filled.

Financially, I desperately need to go back to work, but I’m also feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of going back to work full-time. Bethany’s learning disabilities made for a really difficult school year last year. She requires an inordinate amount of help with homework, and between not getting home from work until 6-6:30PM, and having to cram homework, baths, dinner, etc. into the 2 ½ hours before bedtime was so hard. And with Bethany’s learning disabilities, it seemed like there was always some kind of meeting or conference I had to take time off from work to attend, or a doctor’s appointment to take her to.

Now that Dominic is also in school, and having homework (although only two nights a week) the prospect of going back to work full-time again really overwhelms me. I worry not just about the lack of time, but also if I end up working somewhere where I have no flexibility with my schedule, and I can’t take time off for school conferences, etc. Before my husband started working nights, we both did a pretty much equal share of housework, but once he started on nights (he ends up sleeping most of the time when he’s at home), I ended up with most of the housework too, and top of all the other “child care” duties. I would love to be able to just work part-time, but financially it’s not an option for us, and that’s frustrating.

Anyway, I do have a finished crochet project to show. I was looking through some old crochet books this weekend, and came across a pattern for a purse crocheted with Moda Dea Ticker Tape and Cotton-Ease. I’ve had some Ticker Tape in my stash for over a year, that I bought on EBay, but ended up not using, and I couldn’t think of a project to make with it. When I saw the pattern for the purse, I realized it was just the thing. I crocheted one for my best friend for Christmas. I changed the colors, added a flower (can you tell how much I like crocheted flowers?!), and used pink plastic handles instead of bamboo ones.
The pattern was labeled “Intermediate” and I’ve so far only attempted “beginner” and “easy” patterns so I’m pretty proud of myself for managing to make it, especially since the pattern called for front post double crochets – those post stitches used to scare me, LOL! The top came out a little wonky though. I think I messed up the stitch county and didn’t decrease enough at the top. But, my friend doesn’t crochet, so I don’t think she’ll even notice. She loves pink, so I think she’ll be really happy with the purse. It’s nice to have a Christmas present finished months ahead of time. It was a quick project too – I started it on Saturday and finished it on Sunday.

Here are the stats for the bag:

Pattern: “Tropical Colors Purse” from Big Hook Crochet
Yarn: 2 skeins Moda Dea Ticker Tape in “Pink Passion” and 1 skein Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in “Bubblegum”
Hooks: Size K for the bag and size H for the flower

I have some pictures of the kids from their first day of school too (last Thursday). The first day of school is a “drop-in day” where the kids come to school with a parent, visit their classroom, meet their teacher, put away their supplies, pick up books, etc, and then go home. It’s a Catholic school, but the kids get to dress down the first day. Kindergarteners don’t wear uniforms at all, but the older kids wear uniforms after the 1st day. Bethany isn't too fond of the uniforms, but I like them. It’s nice not to have to coordinate outfits every day, plus there's no arguments about clothes, or competion among the kids at the about how they're dressed.

Well, I have to finish this up so I can go pick the kids up from school.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rock Bottom

No, I’m not referring to the SpongeBob Rock Bottom episode (you can see I watch too many cartoons!). I feel like I’ve just hit rock bottom this month in every possible way. My job search. Financially. Stress-wise. Everything.

September 9th will make 5 months that I’ve been out of work. I can’t believe it. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs – nonprofit jobs, corporate jobs, government jobs, jobs requiring a college degree, jobs only requiring a high school diploma, but nothing. Other than the fingerprinting/processing session I went to for the IRS on the 6th, nothing.

Remember I said I’d even take a job at Wal-Mart just to have some income coming in? Well, I applied at Wal-Mart about a month ago. And K-Mart, and Sears, and J.C. Penney, and CVS, and Walgreens. and a bunch of local chain stores. And again, nothing. I don’t understand it. Is it because I appear overqualified to work in a store? Is it because I’m limited to the hours I can work with my kids, and my husband’s work schedule? I don’t know what more to do.

I got totally discouraged after going to the IRS processing sessions and finding out that they have 300 people being considered for 50 jobs. There were about 100 people just at the session I went to, and I sat there for 4 hours while they fingerprinted everyone, went over a mountain of forms we had to complete, and they checked everyone’s forms to make sure they were filled out correctly. They have to do federal, state, and local background checks on all 300 people, run the fingerprints through, and audit everyone’s past 3 years tax returns. They said it’ll take two to three weeks, and after that they’ll contact anyone who passes to take a telephone assessment test (mock customer service phone call). After that, based on the results of the test and scores from the online assessment everyone had to take when they first applied for the job, they’ll make hiring decisions.

I’m just getting discouraged now because it’s been a little over two weeks and I haven’t heard anything back yet. I don’t have any reason not to pass the background check. I’ve never committed any crimes, or cheated on my taxes, but I still can’t help but be anxious. I’m so unbelievably depressed over my job situation.

It’s been a horrible, horrible, month financially. My husband has been working 6 days a week and we still are barely managing financially. After he pays the rent, we have $500-$600 left to cover groceries, utility bills, auto insurance, auto loan, gas for my husband to get to work, and prescriptions. It just doesn’t work. We had to pay our rent out of my husband’s first check of the month in August, and it took his entire check. Every penny of it. We couldn’t even go grocery shopping. I ended up having to swallow my pride and go to hunger center to get food for the kids. We’re fortunate to have in the suburb where we live. As a parent, it was the absolute worst feeling in the world to have my kids hungry and worried about what they were going to eat, and not being able to go to the store just to buy some food. I’m praying we don’t ever have to go through that again.

I told my husband if I didn’t have any education or work experience, I wouldn’t feel so bad, because at least I could go back to school and get some skills to get a job, but what’s wrong with me that I have a college degree, that I have years of work experience, and I can’t even get a job as a secretary or a cashier, so I can feed my kids? The past few weeks were terrible trying to scrape together money to feed the kids. My family tried to help me out when they could, but everyone in my family is struggling financially with different things to, so they couldn’t do much. My husband’s best friend lent him some money, which helped a little. My husband used to DJ parties on the side, so he has some musical equipment. He ended up taking a $500 mixer to the pawn shop to get some money for groceries. They gave him $40. I felt so bad that he had to do that. My husband's birthday was on August 15th, and I couldn't afford to do anything for his birthday. No special dinner at home. No dinner out. No presents. I couldn't even afford a few bucks to buy a cake mix and frosting. I felt so bad about it.

On top of all that, I had no home phone or Internet service for 3 weeks. We just couldn’t afford to keep up with all of our bills, and so the phone and Internet had to go temporarily. We have cell phones (a necessity with my husband working nights – there’s no other way to contact him at work except by cell phone) so at least we had some phone service, but it was awful having no Internet service. I felt so cut off from the world. It’s next to impossible to look for work anymore or apply for jobs without Internet service. Even stores want you to apply online. I listed my cell phone along with my home phone on my resume, cover letters, and any applications I filled out prior to my home phone being off, but now I’m worried if anyone employers tried to call me, found my home phone off, and didn’t bother to call my cell phone.

My husband finally got his second paycheck for August this week, I got some a small refund of excess grant/loan funds from my graduate school program (I’m working on an MPA through an online program with the University of Texas at Arlington – their state university system), and some friends of my niece who are getting married gave my husband $350 to DJ their wedding. It was a huge relief to finally be able to go grocery shopping, and buy the kids their school supplies and uniforms and get their asthma and allergy prescriptions refilled. The kids started back to school on Thursday. My daughter started 5th grade, and my son started kindergarten. I was afraid we wouldn’t have any money in time to get the stuff they needed to school, but fortunately we did.

I was able to pay our home phone and Internet bill on Monday, but it took the phone company (I have Internet service through them) until Wednesday to turn the Internet back on, since they had to put it through as a new order. It seems like one thing goes right for us and two other things go wrong. I swear, not more than 5 minutes after my Internet service came back on, our TV in the living room broke. The circuit board blew, and the whole thing reeked like smoke. Granted it was a cheap TV - a small 19 inch that we paid about $120 for, but still, it was barely a year and half old! Our TV before that, a 32 inch GE, lasted for 12 years before the picture tube died. Our remaining TV (and it's going to be our remaining one until I get another job) is a tiny twenty-year old 14 inch TV in our bedr4oom that my husband found a few years ago. But hey, at least it still works.

I'm convinced, just absolutely convinced that everything is made cheaply anymore, and made with functional obsolescence built right in, so the consumer is forced to replace everything frequently - appliances, cars, houses, everything. As luck would have it, not only did our TV go, but our washing machine is nearly gone too. It's a 6 year old Kenmore up and down washer/dryer set (the kind that are made for apartments and condos). The set wasn't cheap - we paid $975 for it, and it's a pretty basic set, but it was all we could find that would fit in the condo we lived in when we bought it. We've had nothing but problems with it since we bought it. We've gone through multiple belts, a new washtub, on and on, and spent at least $500 in repairs on it over the years. Now it barely agitates, and won't spin at all, so I have to run clothes through 2-3 drying cycles to get them to dry, since they come out of the washer sopping wet. My husband took the washer apart, and found out that the ball bearings are shot. It would cost as much as a new set to get them replaced. So much for that. My youngest sister offered to give me her old washer from her apartment where she lived before getting married (her husband owns a house and already had all the appliances he needed). Thank God for that, or we'd be heading to the laundromat every day (a huge hassle with laundry for a family of 4), not to mention expensive. But, am I right? Is everything made cheaply anymore?

Now that the kids are in school, and I don’t need to pay for daycare for them if I find a job, I feel even more pressure to find a job. I don’t even know where to apply anymore. It feels like I’m either overqualified or underqualified for everything. There are tons of lower-paying secretarial/administrative jobs, but when I apply for those, I don’t even get so much as an interview.

I applied for a job requiring a degree with a local nonprofit organization a few weeks ago. It’s a job requiring a degree, and one very similar to what I was doing at my last job. I saw this particular job open months ago, applied, and never heard back from them. When it came open again, I reapplied, and they called my cell phone over a week ago for a phone interview. The asked me how much I was making at my last job, I told them, they said this job wouldn’t be paying as much (about a $5,000-$8,000 a year pay cut), and asked me if I would still be interested in it. I told them yes (at this point I can’t afford to be choosy about how much a job pays), they sounded surprised, and said they would call people for in-person interviews in a few days. Well, that was over a week ago, and I haven’t heard anything more from them.

I desperately need a job. Sure I’d love to have a job paying at least what I made at my old one, but I’ll take pretty much anything at this point, but it seems like all employers see is “overqualified” and won’t consider me. It seems like the only job growth here in the Cleveland area is lower-paying jobs no one will consider me for, or jobs in the legal or medical fields, that I won’t be considered for (I’ve tried) because I don’t have experience in those fields. It’s a great time to be a legal secretary or paralegal (I see tons of law offices hiring for paralegals with experience in debt collection or foreclosures – no surprise with Cleveland being one of the poorest cities in the country, and having among the highest foreclosure rate in the country), and a great time to have any skills in the medical field (because if we have nothing else, at least we have two major hospital systems here in Cleveland).

I spent 10 years (off and on) working on my bachelor’s degree (between working full-time, having kids, dealing with family health problems, etc) and sometimes I feel like I wasted my time, like I’d have been better off just going through some kind of technical training in the medical field or legal field or something. At least I’d be employed right now. It’s frustrating and depressing. Honestly if I didn’t have kids (because of not wanting to move them away from my family) I’d leave the state tomorrow. It seems like there’s nothing around here for college graduates.

About the only good thing that’s happened lately is my husband finished his welding class. It was a long 6 weeks. Between his work and school schedule, and lack of money, we’ve done nothing fun all summer. I’m not upset about not being able to take a vacation – even when we both were working, we could rarely afford vacations. But, I’m sad that summer is pretty much over and we haven’t been able to even do so much as take the kids to the zoo, or a drive-in movie or an amusement park. We couldn’t even do much of any free stuff, like go to the library, because I couldn’t even afford to scrape together a few dollars for bus fare to get there. My daughter was actually excited to go back to school this week, because she was so bored at home, and that made me feel terrible. I love my kids, but I got burned out being home with them everything single day too, with my husband not around to help, between his work and school schedules, and no time to myself at all.

Pretty much all the kids have done all summer is play with other kids on the street. Most of the bratty kids stopped coming around my house after I told them they’re not welcome here if they’re going to be rude to my kids and start fights with them, but that little brat “M” has really gotten on my nerves. Last weekend she rode her bike down to my house, and started harassing Bethany right in our backyard. When Bethany came in to tell me, she left before I could say anything to her. Bethany left to walk down to her a different friend’s house down the street. She has to pass M’s house on the way, and M and a bunch of other girls stood on the sidewalk, blocked Bethany’s way, and started threatening her, saying they were going to beat her up. Bethany came home crying and told me, and I walked back down there with her. Some of the kids had gone home, but a few, including M were standing in front of her house, and had the nerve to tell me and Bethany we couldn’t’ walk past. The hell with that. I told them it’s a public sidewalk, and we most certainly are allowed to walk past. I walked with Bethany to her friend’s house, and was talking to her friend’s mom for a while.

When we went home, M’s mom and dad were outside, and the mom told me I’m not allowed to speak to her daughter! Excuse me?! I told her your daughter has no right to tell me where I can and can’t walk. The mom had a nasty attitude and told I still can’t talk to her daughter, and to come to her if my daughter has a problem with hers! No, it’s not Bethany causing the problems; it’s her little brat of a kid who won’t leave Bethany alone. Maybe if the mother actually kept an eye on her daughter, she’d see how she actually acts. I told my husband if that kid comes back in our yard again harassing Bethany, I sure will have something to say to her, and if she or any of the other girls lays a hand on Bethany, I’m calling the police. I’ve had enough of these kids thinking they own the neighborhood and have to listen to any adults. My husband said M is lucky this isn’t the 1970’s, because back then, some old lady down the street would take her aside and spank her, and drag her back home to her mom. I think he’s right. When I was growing up back in the 70’s, adults didn’t hesitate to call kids out if they were doing something wrong.

Well, I guess that’s about it. I don’t really have any crochet projects to show. Between worrying about finding a job, being broke, and dealing with the food situation, I couldn’t concentrate on crocheting anything. I might have something to post soon though.