Friday, December 17, 2010

How to Ruin a Kids' Recital & Lose Customers

Some places of business really need to think about the image their employees convey to the public. My 4.5 yo son had his first holiday school recital today at a local bank. I was so ridiculously excited, and I filmed and took pictures like 'that' parent. I think his whole class and all the parents were excited to see their kids perform, and the kids were just excited to go on a bus to this event. Then trouble struck before the concert even started.

First, let me say that I understand having about 15 four year olds & 15 third grade 'buddies' makes for a large group of kids in a place of business. Add about 20-25 parents to that mix and it's a lot of people standing around in a bank lobby. The question is: if there was a morning group that came, and it's not the first year they've hosted this, why was it a problem for the parents trying to capture the moment to stand in front of, I'm assuming, the loan officers' desks? And why were the employees whose desks they were so rude about it? Now, I stood between two desks, out of the way, and I was still told to move...to a spot in front of a desk! There were no customers banging down the door to get a loan there. In this economy, they'd probably get denied anyway. So why were the employees so rude to the parents?

Because of this incident, I would never bank at this institution and if my parents, who live in town, banked here I would ask them to change banks. More than one parent voiced this as well. So if it is a problem to host cute children singing at your place of business because you don't want their parents there, don't host anymore. It almost ruined the experience for quite a few of us parents.

And yes, I am emailing the bank manager, the principal, and my son's teacher about hosting it elsewhere next year to a place that appreciates it. A place that has more holiday cheer, and doesn't have grinch employees.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bronchitis & Christmas Carols!

Are you kidding me?!  Now we have a round of viral bronchitis going through our house right after the strep pain.  So now my throat is killing me because of the hacking cough.  I'm dead on my feet trying to keep up with everything and my home....  Oh, my poor apartment is a wreck.  Just getting my son fed and in his winter gear for school makes me want to take a nap. Except if I nap while he's in school, I might sleep through the alarm to go get him!  That would be really, really bad.

In other news, my son has his first public caroling experience on Friday!  I'm so super excited and I cannot WAIT to video tape his first one.  I'm totally "that mom", but without all the ginormous recording equipment that one might see.  Hooray for my Flip Mino Video Camera!  I won it like a million years ago, so it's not the HD model or anything but who cares.  My baby is gonna sing. In public!  Whee.   My mom and I were total choir nerds (now called glee, I guess) and this is going to be terrible singing, but awesome all at once.  Now if only I can get him to unclench his teeth when he sings...or at least not to cough in the middle of a song.




Friday, December 10, 2010

My Holiday Wishlist (meme)

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?

I wish that next year be less stressful and more prosperous, and that my extended family (mom & stepmom) find the year to be less filled with health issues.  Since I'm stuck with our current government, I'm thinking peace and goodwill towards men isn't gonna happen on a national or worldwide level. Oh well.

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?

We usually have our Christmas on Christmas Eve as we travel to see family, and my son goes to his dad's house on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve morning my son still sleeps in and I lay in bed wide awake, more excited for him to open presents than he is.  When he finally comes to my room, we go out to the Christmas tree and he grabs presents all willy-nilly and rips them open while I take way too many pictures to share with family on Facebook.  After that's done, I make breakfast, he plays with his new games and toys, and we both spend the day playing video games together before packing overnight bags for our trip out of town Christmas Day.  Christmas morning is spent on the road traveling!

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?

Does a million dollars count?  Then again, I know I wouldn't just use it for myself after paying my debts and making sure we were financially secure.  I'd start helping my friends and family too.  So I guess that's not really for myself!

Ok, single mom decadent wish...I would wish for a full spa day, somewhere warm, with zero talking! Just my iPod and me being pampered in complete non-conversational silence. Bliss.

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?

We don't really have a ton of money so I'm an expert at this one!  The holidays are filled with snow so we are able to go sledding, and snowmobiling, and our community has a lot of family events that are free so we go to those too.   The local park has a big holiday display set up and we visited that this year too.  The best thing this year that we've done together is make colored paper snowflakes and chains to decorate our apartment. It's very festive here!

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?

Whatever new games we got as Christmas gifts were played with together.  Some Atari games, some board games like Monopoly or Scrabble or chess, and when I got older the family let me play penny poker with them.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?

Well, I don't let my 4-year-old play poker but we do play go fish and War card games together.  Honestly, we're making our own traditions because we have to travel on Christmas Day, but hopefully they'll become his traditions with his own family.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?

I would take Noah and go on a cruise to the Bahamas or go West to AZ to see my friends there.  Both are nice and warm and have zero snow!

8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?

Ok, I might be the only one not asking for a Kinnect right now (even though I really want one)!  What I really, really want for is:

PSP 3000 Core Pack

Boxshot: PSP 3000 Core Pack by Sony Computer Entertainment

 

A new Nintendo DSi XL red Mario version for my son because he's using the old, old school silver one:

Boxshot: Nintendo DSi XL Red Bundle by Nintendo of America

And I know this seems like a weird wish list item but we really, really want to download some games & stuff from our Xbox 360 and so I'd put a Live Marketplace 4,000 Points on our list:

Boxshot: Xbox 360 Live Marketplace Points 4,000 by Microsoft

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NaBlaPoMo No Mo'

Aw, Crap. Oh well.  So much for 30 straight days of posts. Damn.  I just fell asleep early and was busy all day yesterday.  Since I write my posts around midnight for that previous day, I just missed out when I fell asleep before 11pm.  A normal day is sleeping at 2-3:00am unless I'm pulling an all-nighter for work.  That happens more than I like because it's so quiet I get a lot done quickly.  Until he wakes up at 3:00am and I get annoyed he won't go back to bed.

But, on the upside, this motivated me to make time to post and to start writing for real.  Even if it is just for the content mills without my name on it right now, I'm getting paid for it.  If that is what I got from NaBloPoMo, then it was worth it to miss a day.  So I don't qualify for the cute prizes and whatnot, but that's okay.

So here's my post for today.  Now I can fall asleep any time I want tonight!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Social Mom

Even though I wanted to write about my love of the Beatles today, I won't because that's just too expected.  So instead I'll talk about being social as an introverted mom.  So much more interesting, I know.

Because I'm new to this area and my son just started 4-K so I'm having to really make an effort to put myself out there and get to know other moms.  In Chicago, I started a single mom's group and it was a major metro area so meeting people was easier.  This is a much smaller town, even through the major city is just as far away from me now as it was in Chicago!  It's just not suburban all the way out from Milwaukee to where I am.  It's more like farms and towns intermittently scattered up to my location and then a few bigger cities up north.  So getting to know people has been interesting.  And I thought the parents would chat more and whatever while we stood out with our kids on the playground.  Not so much.  I don't get it at all.  I'd love to say it's me, or my single parenthood status, but I don't really see them talking to anyone or each other either.  Thankfully I did bond to another mom who I really like and have been able to support through a major life issue.  I'm telling you, I'm somehow in the right place at the right time when people's lives fall out from under them.  Maybe I'm in the wrong line of work???

Anyway, today I ran into another mom from my son's class while I was at the store.  I always kind of watched other women who ran into people they knew in the store with a tinge of jealously.  I wondered if I would become that person and stop feeling like a stranger who just wanders around alone all time.  It honestly didn't help that we didn't really get any kind of list of parent's names that go with the other children in class.  Honestly, who wants to be so & so's mom when we have our own names?  So the mom and I start talking and she's obviously really involved in the school and it's events.  While we small talked, which I suck at knowing when to end and walk away, we decided to exchange phone numbers.  This is so weird for me and it's because I'm so private and terrible with social protocol.  I mean, I barely know her and we were invited to come play, and to come help at a school event next month.

Have I mentioned how freaked out I get in a big group of people I don't know and how I will blurt out crazy stuff?  Other parents/moms I don't know who all practically grew up here and their parents grew up here...oh boy.  So what I"m going to do is go and force myself to talk to other moms so I can make friends here.  Even though I would feel more comfortable with meeting other single moms, it looks like I'll have to start another group here too if I want that to happen.  I don't know how well it will be received or if it will be like my group in the Chicago area, but I have to do something.  I'm going to have to fake it until I feel it.

I don't regret moving here but I'm just not feeling like I fit in yet either.  All I know is that I better figure it out because my son is a social butterfly and I know I'm going to have to figure this all out real quick.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Writing

This NaBloPoMo thing has been really good for me so far.  Even my wordless weekends keep me motivated without stressing me out.  What a nice change.  Normally when I've done NaBloPoMo, I get stressed out.  Missing random days just made me feel like a huge failure.  This year, something different happened.  I found my desire to write again.

Not that I'm about to go join NaNoWriMo or anything, but stranger things have happened.  I mean, after my son was born, I just lost my passion to write.  I still randomly blogged about my son's growth and development, some venting through my problems, but nothing meaty and full of substance.  Every time I tried to write anything, including my college papers, I would blank.  It's been like having a 5 year writer's block.

Sadly, most my previous writing was lost on an old hard drive and I'll never get it back.  I'd really like to go back and edit some of those pieces and submit them or post them.  The only thing I've got now is about child support drama in IL.  I've been passing the time writing other people's words through transcription.  And I love doing that but it's not writing.  It's like my placeholder until my writing came back to me.

The point being is that I feel like I have my voice back and I want to write about the things I think and feel.  I also want to get paid for my writing and that means I've been hired into the world of content mills until I get my feet wet and can move onto private clients.  I know, I know, it's horrible and taboo to admit that.  In fact, if it was a transcriptionist saying they took a job for only $15-20 an audio hour, I'd freak out on them and give the speech about driving the prices we're paid down into the ground.  I've seen the same argument from the writing camp as well.  It's a stepping stone.

So I'm welcoming my self back to the world of writing.  I'm a content mill whore right now, and blogger as always.  I don't know that my blog will become something more than what it is now, but who knows.  I do know that I do not want it to become what I've seen some really good blogs morph into after getting some recognition.  I also think this will likely stay separate from my paid writing since my single motherhood is personal to me.  I need this place to let go of the stress of parenting my child alone.  This is a place where I can make grammatical and punctuation errors without fear and horror.

So I'm feeling excited and motivated to move into what I see is a natural progression of my current career.  Or at least a move back into doing what I really enjoy.  Writing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Not About Sleep

This is going to be positive and full of light.  Ok, maybe not the whole thing because that would be annoying.

I rescinded all punishments and we're going to try something else.  Mostly because I am sick and if I have to entertain my son all weekend without any screen time breaks I might die.  See, so much for positive and happiness already.  Anyway, I think not having a small child on lockdown for not going to bed might have been a tad extreme.  As a woman, I'm blaming the age-old PMS and also the cold that about tried to kill me this morning when I tried to wake up.  It tried to pull me back into bed while I got my son ready for school.  Thank God for school today.  I seriously needed 2.5 hours to myself to rest!

I also tried a neti pot for the first time today ever.  I also tried using a spoonful of honey (shut up!) and it really did help with the congestion.  The neti pot was disgusting and horrible.  NOW I know why my son throws up whenever I use the saline spray on him when he's snotty.  But it worked for a while and I did feel kind of good while I ran errands.  But still disgusting as all get out.

I have so much work this weekend that I feel blessed it's available but man do I feel like laying in bed all weekend.  But the holidays are coming and I'm already going to miss out on my Black Friday shopping.  I'm SO upset about this!!!!  I'm a little worried work will slow down during the holidays and I'm going to be struggling until January.  I could really pass on that too.  I think as a freelancer it's normal to worry about work slow down, and I had to chase down my first client for a payment.  That was not fun.

I miss going to school.  I'm really ready to go back after the past 6 months off.  I can't believe it's been 6 months already!  I'm ready to fill out my FAFSA and all that fun stuff.  The taxes...well, we'll see how I feel about that in January too.  I made some changes in my freelance clients and I'm hoping to see an increase rather than a decrease, but I think the change caused a dip in my income for a while while it all sorted out.

Lastly, in my random babble for the evening, I'm shocked that it's almost Thanksgiving!  I'm excited and I can't wait to try some new desserts, but holy cow seriously???!!!  That means Christmas and snow is right around the corner.  Totally freaking out about snow.  Seriously.  I hate snow.  And I moved up North rather than back down South.  I'm insane obviously.  I'm praying the snowflakes I see in the forecast disappear to just rain. Yuck.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Really Need a Husband...

...to give me a break when my son will just not wind down and go to bed.  Seriously.  It's been 2. 5 hours and I've taken away everything that can be taken away.  He's going to come home from school tomorrow with all his toys in my closet and nothing to do but read books.  I'm at my wits end now and no amount of routine is getting this kid to sleep.  You would think I gave him a shot of caffeine right before bed.  I'm seriously not kidding.  I would cry but that isn't going to get him to sleep either!

Here's where the need for a husband comes in.  I could walk away from this situation and take a mommy mental health moment.  Those parenting articles about how when you feel too angry to be pleasant with your child...they don't come from a single parent.  I've locked myself in my bathroom when he acts like this and he bangs on the door until I come out.  It is NOT calming to have your child yelling and banging on a bathroom door while you try to get your head back on straight.

Ignore it... ahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!  Phew that was really hilarious right there.  Ignore that he's not in bed and is now back in the living room trying to watch TV?  Ignore that he's still awake at 11:00 at night and I'm getting zero work done and will be up all night trying to finish it when it's finally quiet?  Or that he's yelling from his room for me because he's SO thirsty or SO bored or SO hungry and I should ignore that?  Obviously more advice from people who don't live in a multi-unit dwelling with rules that request reasonable quiet after 9:00 pm.

Again, this where the husband could be getting up (even if I had to nag at nudge him) to deal with this nonsense.  I could be happily working in another room in peace.  With a door shut.  No interruptions.  Quietly.  Alone.

It's just the constant almost every single day of battling this small being to go to sleep already.  I need a freakin' break from it sometimes.  This is either why god made kids cute or He let someone discover the creation of Xanax.  I'm exhausted and it's just never ending.  The only mental break I'm getting is when he's in school and I don't get work done like I planned.  I sit and veg out so I can recharge in anticipation for bedtime.  I'm serious.  Dead serious.  I dread it.  I know that after dinner begins the battle to bed.  Every step is an argument.  I just would like a break from the bedtime battle for a little while.  Then the husband can go away again before they get sick and I have to take care of them too!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bedtime Showdown

I'm done with nice at bedtime.  I've gotten tired of the arguing, the cajoling, the pleading, and the yelling.  Now I'm just taking things away.  I'm done fooling around and now I'm just going to be 'mean' and he's not going to like it.  And I really don't care.  Just letting him know before he laid down what the punishment was if he DID get up was enough for the past two days to keep him in bed.  Today, not so much.  Today is the day of testing.  He's so far gotten his before-school morning shows taken away for the next two days, and any game oriented screen time for the rest of the week.  He's heading into the weekend.

It's not the taking away of the fun stuff that is hard.  It's going to be the days where I have to enforce it.  The whining and the crying and the angry boy attitude that I hate so much is the hard part of the equation.  It's easy to say, "Ok, no more (whatever) show before school."  But when he wants to watch his show, per our normal routine, and I say, "No, you didn't go to bed and stay there like you were told last night.  Go get a book or color."  That's going to be when the parenting skills come out and I have to deal with ignore the reaction to his consequences.  The reason I chose those things is because those are the things that motivate him and it's the reason he wants to stay up.

He can earn days back if he goes to bed without fussing and causing problems...

...and we just added Saturday to the days without screen time.  It's likely going to be a loooong weekend at this rate...

As I was saying, he can earn a day back for a day he goes to bed and doesn't get up or fights going to bed.  Depending on how he behaves during the day and if he has good behaviors during the day, I may let him earn things like his DS back.  I do want to reward his good behaviors.  And if something things I'm a crappy parent for letting my kid even play video games or watch TV at 4 years old, well suck it.  My son will the the one teaching yours how to use current technology.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Aftermath

I haven't emailed his teacher about the stoplight method she uses.  Yet.  I did ask my son where the stoplight was and if he or the teacher moved his name on it.  I asked if anyone made fun or laughed at him when he got yellow yesterday.  I also asked how he felt about getting a yellow.  He didn't seem to be embarrassed or care.

I asked the opinion of a teacher I know and my sister who has had three kids go through various school districts.  The Internet produced some interesting opinions as well.  My best friend said just don't stress it since it's ridiculous anyway the way schools do a lot of things they do.  My sister said suck it up because most classrooms use this method so he better get used to it.  She also said communication with the teacher is key to ensure he thrives.  The Internet forums of teachers seem to either love this method as wonderful or despise it as lazy.  I lean to the latter, but I'm new to this so I'm still watching and learning.  The parenting forums basically said, yes it sucks but just tell your kid that sometimes we have to do things in life we don't like.  Or they said just tell your kid it doesn't matter what they get unless it's really, really bad.

So my stance is that I'm going to wait and see.  Plus, I'm thinking the $3,500 tuition for private school, or becoming a Lutheran for free private school, isn't going to really work for us.  Not only that, I don't want to be seen as reacting just because my child had yellow yesterday.  The second my child comes home and says he doesn't want to go to school because he was embarrassed he got in trouble is the day I go all momma bear.

Also, the little girl that got a red yesterday...I heard her having to apologize to the teacher and was embarrassed for her.  I'm going to have to come up with a plan as asap and decide how I'm going to play this out based on the needs of my son.  It's going to be a long road this education thing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Classroom Discipline

Today we were told my child's classroom was going to institute the discipline method known as the stoplight method.  It's pretty common from what I'm reading and I know some other parents whose kids lived through it and survived.  Basically it's a method where everyone starts on green with their name marker.  If they get warnings throughout the day for discipline issues, they move their name down to yellow, and red is a note home to the parents.  This is usually hung in a public or prominent location in the classroom.   I was concerned about it before he started school because it's not really a method I think is appropriate.  Public shame to get my child to toe the line?  Group-think to ensure the other kids shame him into behaving correctly next time?  If you don't think the other kids know who is the 'bad kid' who got yellow or red, you're wrong.  My child knew exactly who got red today when I found out he was on yellow.  So I know the other kids knew he was a yellow today.  There are rewards for not getting moved down and a class reward when they all do the right thing.  I just don't know exactly how thrilled I am with this way of motivating kids to act right.  I know my son is sensitive to public embarrassment.  It may not have sunk in yet, and I'm sure not going to tell him, but it will sink in if someone makes fun of him for getting yellow or red one day.  So do I allow public embarrassment be the consequence of his poor choice and hope that teaches him to correct his problem, which is not my preferred method.  Or do I talk to the teacher and see if it can be made less public so the child knows they did the wrong thing without the kids and other parents judging them for poor choices, or just a bad day?   I just don't know how my son is going to react to this and/or if he's going to be the kid who is always on yellow or red.  I'd really like to have her make a change now before it's really set in stone with the kids that it's done a certain way and they're used to it.  they'll really notice the change if she moves it later.  I may just have to suck it up and get over it.  I just really don't want this to squash my kid's happiness in going to school everyday.

It's either going to be a really, really long year or we're going to be in private school next year.  Unless I hope and pray we always get teachers who don't use that method.  Bwhahahahaha!!!!!  So funny.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Invisible

I've never really be a very social person.  I like having people to do stuff with, but I'm not good at keeping up friendships.  I'm not a phone person and somehow I got all the friends who aren't email or texters!  Either that or I must keep up a stream of stupidity that normal people get tired of hearing.  I honestly don't know.

So when I joined an online forum that had a professional focus for my type of work, I thought it would be great that I could have a place like a virtual water cooler.  I am pretty quiet when I join a new forum so I can get the lay of the land and watch the dynamics of those who are most active.  Now, I had some misgivings about a few people on this board, but I'm not very political or outspoken about personal issues anyway.  I lay low and play Switzerland most the time especially if it's work oriented.  Somehow I think that's working against me.  I'm not even sure I can explain it.

When I joined I stayed out of all the in-fighting.  I threw a few opinions out there but nothing so as to someone would side with or against me.  There are quite a few that are very outspoken and rub me the wrong way.  Yes, there is the typical clique that will even gang up on another person for random reasons.  They are new, or tried to defend themselves and didn't cow to the overloards of the board.  It's a shame when I see this but I suppose in my line of work you have to have a thick skin anyway.  I've often been afraid to post anything in fear I'd get reamed for something someone took wrong.

What's really sad is that this forum is a huge wealth of knowledge for my industry.  It's a great networking resource and for keeping up on shady contracts or companies that are hiring.  Now I don't even know if I want to be a part of it.  Not because I got what I needed from it and now it's of no use to me, but because I don't feel included.  Even though I've posted something almost every day for the past four months, I'm invisible.  I will reply to someone and include information that someone asked about and it's not acknowleged.  Then not two posts down someone else will say the same thing and everyone is quoting it and commenting on it like I never said anything!  I do not understand it.  I'm afraid to even mention it lest I be seen as a complainer.  It's a professional board so I'm not trying to have the companies that hire from it see me get blasted for whining about getting left out.  I thought maybe people are so self-absorbed they were just typing replies and not reading the previous responses, until I saw replies to other participants right after me.

I seriously feel like everyone has put me on ignore there, but it would show me on my stats if everyone had me on ignore! I don't know what I did, or if I'm being too sensitive about it.  I am probably being too sensitive.  I could easily just stop trying to post and only use it for my own research and get over it.  I don't know.  It feels like when you're in the office and everyone is at a cubicle talking and when you walk up they shut up.  When you walk away you hear snippets of conversation you were trying to interject.  I know I'm socially awkward but dang.  I can't even get included on the Internet.

Now I feel like a weirdo for writing about how the Internet is ignoring me!  Boo hoo, poor me that self-important people don't talk to me on the Internet.  This is why I'm a dork.  Really.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaBloPoMo

I'm writing for NaBloPoMo elsewhere. So this will be a VERY quiet place...much like it already is.  *tumbleweeds*

Feel free to ask where I'm writing if you're interested in my random ramblings.

All Nighter

I need ideas if I'm going to do this all month!  I wore myself out working all night and my brain is on non-function mode right now.  The naps I'm taking isn't helping recharge at all.  I have another hour of audio waiting for me to complete which  means I'm looking at another late, late night since it's like 11pm right now.  I'm a night person anyway, but being this tired makes me snappish.  My kid only went to school for 45 minutes.  I know the teacher thinks I'm insane but I needed that time to shower in peace.  Seriously, you'd think at 4 my son could entertain himself while I shower.  It was so much easier when he was an infant and could sit in the bouncy seat or pack n play.  I never understood new moms of one who say showering is low on the list of abilities.  Now, my son jumps on the bed, pulls things out of the refrigerator to eat, and yells like he's been stabbed while I shower.  I'm constantly like, "What was that?  Are you ok?"  Or he just walks in and asks a million questions that couldn't wait until I'm done.  It was bliss today having a quiet shower.  I know this is all over the place.  I just need sleep so I can get back to functional.  My son...he's still up and jumping on my bed.  I'm trying so hard to not yell.

I'm so tired.  I'm very cranky.  Sometimes I hate being self employed.  I wouldn't trade it in for a desk job ever.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Facebook the Homewrecker

So I'm going out on a ledge here that it's not really news to anyone that people are cheating on their spouses with past school flames on Facebook.  Shocker!  I know.   Rekindling that old flame with a past love by catching up on the good times and sharing the problems with your current relationship.  It's easier than picking up a drunk slut in a bar, and even that would be more work than what Facebook offers.

Now, I know that a cheater is going to cheat with or without Facebook, but I'm focused on people who are breaking up a marriage for someone they reconnected with on Facebook.  The problem is that finding a past love before Facebook meant putting in some effort.  You were looking them up, finding a current name or location assuming neither had changed, or having to wait until a school reunion came up.  These days you just type in the name in Facebook and send a friend request.  Now, you have the ability to chat quietly without detection even if your spouse or children are in the same room.  For someone having a rough patch in their relationship, it's like having opportunity served on a silver platter without even getting off the couch.

Here's what's so irritating to me about this.  You would think, as a single mom, this issue doesn't affect me at all since I have no spouse to lose anymore.  But it does.  I've seen first hand a marriage crumbling from this very thing, and another hookup that brought a baby into world while the husband and wife split up.   I'm saddened by it if this is what marriage has to offer me.  I don't want to worry about or police my partner's Internet use.  It breaks my heart to know the my friends aren't the only ones this is happening to.  I do not understand it.

Granted, I do not have many high school friends on my Facebook page.  So maybe there's that disconnect for me in not being someone who just adds everyone to Facebook (or Twitter).   I do have ex-boyfriends and/or partners that I added, and I don't hit on the married ones.   Which is not to say that I have never, ever been the 'other woman' when I was young, childless, and single.  We all make choices, good and bad, sometimes.  I just can't see doing that now, especially after being divorced myself.  As a single mom, what example would that set for my son if I became a homewrecker because I wanted someone else's husband?

I only have a few people I really knew well and one ex-high school flame that got deleted for sending too many event notices.  Even when talking to him I kept thinking, "I don't know you at all.  I know the past you and it's a huge divide from the you I'm chatting with right now."  It was this strange warp of reality and past mixed together, but I had no desire to pursue him.  Interestingly, his wife and he had an arrangement that they could have 'Facebook affairs' as long as they weren't brought to real life and stayed online.  Is that a solution?

The point is when I hear about my friend's husband leaving her for a single mom on Facebook because they're 'soul mates', I get really sick inside.   Does he think he can save this woman or things will just magically be better for him?  Or was that just his way out and it makes it easier for him to leave?  When I hear about a friend's brother getting a married woman pregnant because they reconnected on Facebook, I feel discouraged.   Is marriage so easily discarded that Facebook becomes the catalyst in its breakup?  There is a huge divide between the person you knew back then and who they are now!  Can someone please explain how you leave a marriage, even a rocky one, for someone you used to love back then?  Is it a thing of grass is greener?  It's a shame, and it really sucks for the spouse left behind for a lover found on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Frustration at Bedtime

Bedtime.  I hate it.  I hate the whole process.  I hate how my son argues and negotiates and refuses to just wind down.  He's constantly moving and thinking and just stubborn.  Once I get him in bed, the getting up for multiple reasons begins.  I hear, "I'm hungry.  I'm thirsty.  There are monsters.  I'm having bad dreams."  I'm pretty sure bad dreams only happen after you are asleep, but let my kid tell it you can be awake too.  I get angrier and angrier the more he gets up.  My work gets put off later and later with each interruption.  No matter what time we start the process, he just does not go to sleep at a reasonable hour.  Sometimes I just have him lay down in the living room in hopes he just falls asleep while I work, just to keep the aggravation of his getting out of bed to a minimum.

I thought school would wear him out and make him go to sleep earlier.  Nope.  He's just as wound up after school, through dinner, and beyond bedtime.  What's worse is he gets MORE hyper as he gets more and more tired.  Like now.  He was just bouncing off the walls and getting up and wanting to watch the election results with me.  I'm glad he's interested in the elections, in that he watches for the checkmarks for blue candidates.  I just don't want that at 10:30 pm.  I'm starting to think X@nax was made for mothers who have to put stubborn children to bed.  Heaven knows I could use one at bed time to keep me sane most days.

So here I am, my son is finally falling asleep, FINALLY!  All I feel is guilt and shame that I can't even get a 4 year old in bed.  Why?  How can I not control a 4 year old child's bed time?  I'm definitely feeling like a crappy mom tonight, and wondering how come other moms seem to be able to manage multiple children without freaking out.  I have one and I feel like it's chaos here at night.  I try to roll with the punches.  I try.  My patience has limits and I am not letting this child run things here.  Oh well.  I seriously hope this gets better when he goes to kindergarten all day or we're going to have a super stressed out mom here.

Now that he's sleeping, I can finally get my work done.  Another all-nighter in store.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaBloPoMo and More

So I've been blogging elsewhere and I realized I have a space here I can be more free and open with my opinions.  Funny how that works.  So I'm going to do NaBloPoMo this month to get things going.

If you really, really want to catch up where the previous post ends, you can go to A Beautiful Baby and get the most recent updates.

I've already written down ideas for the next few posts so hopefully I can stay on top of this all month.  I really just struggle sometimes to find the time to actually just write it all out.  I feel so rushed and like I should be doing something else more productive than 'just blogging'.  But then I wonder why my brain is on high-speed and when I blogged all my thoughts and ideas it wasn't so jumbled up in there.  It's not like I'm in school this year.  I'm working a lot to make up for the financial aspects of that choice, but I have time.  What I need to do is delete blogs from my RSS feed so I can get stuff done.  Honestly, that's my time suck and the ironic part is I can still read those and waste time even when my Internet lock add-on has me blocked from everything else.  Well, so much for that!

So tomorrow begins my single mom posts of substance and today is my, "Hi, I'm here and participating" post.  I really hope to get back into the groove of blogging regularly by doing this.  I sure do miss it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Changes. Good Ones.

For a while now one of the major stresses in my life has been work.  Since I work from home, it seems like work shouldn't be that stressful.  I get to stay home with my kid, I get to make my own schedule, and I work in my jammies when I wake up.  Except the company that I'm an independent contractor for requires a schedule two weeks in advance.  A schedule I have to follow even if there's no work assigned to me.  It ties me to my computer for hours at a time.  It means that being home with my son while I'm working is insanity because of interruptions and not enough flexiblity.  It was perfect when he was almost 2, harder when he was 3, and now almost impossible at 4 years old.  I've stuck with it because it was one of the first companies I found that was legit and was excited to get on with them.  I didn't know much about rates of pay or anything else in this industry.  I didn't even know if I'd stick with it for as long as I have.  But I've been with them for the past few years since it payed the bills and I didn't know anything else.  I mean, I knew of other companies but didn't research them since I was comfortable.  I finally reached a point, after I moved, where something had to give.  I either had to find a job outside the home or I find a new company and contract with them.

That's when I stumbled upon a industry-oriented forum that changed my whole life for the better.  I feel everything happens for a reason.  I think having found this resource when I did was perfect timing in my life.  The information I've gleaned from the people in that forum gave me the confidence to apply for other contracts which gave me more flexibility and better pay.  I take on as much work as I can get done before it's due, and I get it done in my own time.  If all hell breaks loose while I work, I can stop and deal with it and not get angry that it's going to get me in trouble for late work.  My child is getting more of my attention during the day which is wonderful, even if it means I'm working late into the night/morning.  The increase in pay that corresponds with my experience is a bonus.  I've also chosen this as my profession, not just a temporary hold until I figure things out or until the economy picks up. I enjoy what I do.  It's always interesting and I feel like it makes a difference and helps people.

I've also gotten enough information that I'm comfortable marketing my own company.  The company I've had for years, which has been languishing in the background while I killed myself working for my previous contract.  I'm excited about the changes that are going on with building my own business in my chosen industry.  It's not a get-rich-quick kind of job, but it's easy enough to build and market it to the point where I could hire on employees at some point.  The best part is that I'm happy doing it, and I'm thankful for the information I found when it was much needed.

So here's to making changes for the better and enjoying what I do!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear August...You Suck.

So I wrote there on my twitter that if August keeps acting the fool that we're skipping right to September next year.  Seriously. 

Apparently, August wants to give everyone I know a big fat kick in the fucking head this year.  It sucks and it's time for it to chill out. 

September is right around the corner and hopefully brings good things.  I know my birthday (& my siblings') will be good.  I'll be less stressed out about work next month.  AND!  My son starts 4K in September!  Hooray! 

We'll see how the rest goes. 

So August, you've got 12 days to shape up or we're going to mutiny.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chicagoland

I'm in the Chicago area to bring the kid to see his dad.  The ex and I mostly keep our co-parenting civil and get along pretty well for the most part.  We have our moments, like any divorced couple, but probably less than most.  So the kid and I visited with my mom and brother and their respective spouses today.  We have a long drive tomorrow so of course I can't sleep, as usual.  Oh well, such is life.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Crappy Day in the Life of this Single Mom

Today was a messed up day.  Like a perfect storm of crap.  My kid did everything possible to push my buttons.  He saw the corner quite a bit today too.  He also threw some whopper tantrums.  I bet my upstairs neighbors are thinking about a house with no neighbors.

I seriously considered throwing out our television sets, as that was the basis of the tantrums.  Then, since he was complaining about not rewinding of his cartoons while in the corner, I again considered turning the DVR in to the cable company.  Somehow my kid thinks while he's being punished, the TV should be paused so he doesn't miss his show!  I'd laugh at this, but pausing and rewinding his 'shows' is a HUGE problem with him.  It causes quite a few of his tantrums.  I see less TV in our future.  If I ever needed more reason to cut off the cable, this drama is a big one. 

It did not help that I was working and trying to get a job done in time to earn some bonus cash, or that it was already looking like it might be late getting turned in.  The boy was on a tantrum roll, screaming right next to me and pausing only to stop when he found something interesting to explore, then coming back full force crying later.  Yes, I missed the bonus by less than five minutes, and then the job was late getting back.  My head exploded at that point and I just put my neck stump down on my desk.  Prayer comes in handy at that point.

He was really pissed about my not giving in to him, and I'm sure we'll repeat this lesson again and again and again, but that's parenting I guess.  I did notice he used some self control during his tantrum, which is an improvement from previous blowups.  I must be doing something sort of right, but boy did I want to give in just to make him hush up.  At least my brain and body didn't give up today even though my mouth said I wanted to. What a day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Family on the 4th - Photos

This was the best 4th of July weekend I've had in a really long time!  We drove up north to the larger town to go see the fireworks with my two younger stepbrothers and their kids and one's girlfriend.  I got some interesting pictures and it was really loud where we sat. The 'best' picture I can't share is where the carnival ride operator is smoking while the kids are riding the rides.  We skipped the bounce house since the guy had a lit cigarette in his mouth while he picked little kids up to put them in the bouncy.  I think I was the only parent staring with my mouth open in shock.  It's just a little different up here in WI.

The 4th was just laid back and family oriented with BBQ, simple fireworks which made the kids clap, and relaxing from the previous late night.  I think the kids had the most fun and that's what made me happy. 

Today I'm trying to recuperate and gear up for work later.  I want to tie up some loose ends before I get busy this week.  We're relaxing at home and staying in our jammies all day.  Enjoy the photos.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quiet Time

Poor neglected blog. 

My child is with his dad for two weeks.  I'm enjoying the quiet.  I should be cleaning and digging in the last of the boxes with random stuff to put away.  But I'm not.  I still have to work of course.

I'm also working on some things behind the scenes to make some changes to my income sources.  Some have come through already, some are in progress.  I love transcription and working from home, but I love writing just as much.  We'll see where this all goes.  I have a week and a half left without my son here to get it all figured out.

I can't believe we're halfway to August!  My son will be in school in just a month and a half! Oh my...so much to do before then.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Great Outdoors

This afternoon, my son and I played with water guns together...outside.  Earlier we went to the park...outside.  Yesterday, the boy ran around in the grass...outside!  This weekend, he played ball with the upstairs neighbor boy...again, outside.  Last week, we walked to the Piggly Wiggly (ugh), but it was outside!  Technically, we walk outside to get the mail every single day, but I won't count that.

I've never been more sure that this move was right for us. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Country Living

Other than the silence, and needing a GPS once leaving the city limits, this country living has other hilarious effects on our daily life.  My child had his own commentary on our new location, giving his suburban 'roots' a kick in the pants:

While driving through an open, grassy area back to my dad's house we hear my son say, "Mom, I smell something stinky."  Now I don't have the best nose but my dad and I didn't smell anything odd or 'stinky'.  No farmland smells of manure or whatever, I mean, it's not like we're that rural...at least not where we were driving at the time.  So I'm really trying to figure out what he's referring to while I ask him 20 questions.  I can only smell fresh air, trees, and new spring grass when I breath in deeply!  It smelled wonderful. 

It then dawned on me that my child was calling the clean-smelling spring day...stinky!  Oh my.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Move: Complete

Life will always take you in directions you may never expect.  Four years ago, my dad was driving my newborn and I to stay with him and my stepmom.  My circumstances then were drastically different than what they are now, and it makes me thankful for how far I've come.  I never thought I'd move back up here since I prefer warmer climates and divorce often makes it difficult to move out of state, but life is funny that way.  I'm obviously meant to be here.

So we made it safe and sound to WI on May 2nd with all our stuff.  I've been trying to unpack and get us settled in without losing my mind in the process.  I have so much stuff to get to make this place ours.  For the first time ever, I feel like we're going to stay put for a while.  I've only been updating Facebook to keep my family up to date so poor Blogger & Twitter got lost in the transition.  The move seriously tested me to the point of breaking, and my mom totally saw me melt down when the movers were on the way to pick everything up.  Note to movers out there: do NOT tell your client who is moving out of state, when you are almost there, that a 10' moving truck will not hold everything and barely fits any boxes in it!  I was positive my stuff would fit until the driver said that.  I had even marked my floor and walls with tape in the dimensions of the truck so I would not go overboard with stuff.  I also did not have my couch or any large items, except my bed, going into the truck so I knew it would fit.  I freaked out, to put it mildly.  But they got everything necessary in the truck and were done in about an hour.  My stuff was on the way to our new home and they did a great job!  Hooray.

I would absolutely recommend using emove.com to find moving helpers.  I've used the service twice to find load/unload help while booking my Uhaul.  I would NOT recommend Uhaul, as their customer service and "calling with a pick up location the day before" is horrible.  I also thought it was ridiculous that the Uhaul check-in location in town made me leave and go get less than a 1/16 of a tank of gas just so it would match exactly the mark on the checkout paper.  They were going to charge me over $30 if I refused!  It took me that much gas just to get to the gas station and back.  Uhaul FAIL.  But did I mention how proud of myself I was for driving a big ass truck all by myself to pick up and drop off?  Feel free to laugh because everyone else has laughed at me for this.

Anyway, it's been an adjustment for us the past two weeks.  Not in finding our way around, but everything else.  It is SO QUIET!  Seriously, it freaked me out the first week and I had trouble sleeping.  The lack of traffic makes my heart sing, but it doesn't make their driving skills any better that's for sure.  It's still hard for me to feel safe when it gets dark and that will take a while to shake.  Everything is so close to us, but there's not a whole lot to be close to either.  Monday we go visit the 4-K Noah will attend in fall and we're both excited about that.  I'm thrilled to feel like I'm settling in and making a home for us.  We've also been checking out rummage sales to find things I need to decorate because there is so much space here. 

Oh the space.  The glorious space.  We both LOVE it.  It's so wonderful for my child to run and jump and just be an active boy child without getting in trouble all the time.  He stomps and runs through the house and tells me he can "because there's no one living under us"!  Not completely true but hilarious at the same time.  The washer/dryer is my favorite thing right now.  Noah has had some potty issues since moving and it's so much easier to get the laundry done.  No quarters, no stairs, no sharing with crazy neighbors who leave condoms behind.  Our stress level is so much lower here and it's immediately obvious to anyone who tried talking to me on the phone prior to the move.  Which is not to say it's perfect, but I'm not as overwhelmed and feel better equipped to handle Noah testing his boundaries and rules.  I think if my two big concerns are the people upstairs clomping around (which I can't say anything ever on this) and racist flyers being left on cars across town, then I'm beyond happy here.  Did I mention the garage?  Love it.  Having my own room? LOVE it!  Not having toys in my living room?  Bliss.  Now if only these boxes would unpack themselves!

I'll take some pictures later to share my excitement with you all!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby!!

My baby boy turns 4 today.  He's with his dad to celebrate his big day and he & I will be celebrating together after the move.  All his gifts are headed to the new house as I write this.

Happy Birthday my funny, silly, determined little boy.  I love you.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moving Day Sunday

I've made more phone calls in one week than I have in 2 years, seriously.  I have a project chart for the next 4 days to keep me on track.  The ex pitched in and took the kid so I can motivate and power through everything before Sunday.  I won't have phone, internet, or cable until Tuesday after we get there.  It might be nice to be unplugged for a change!  I'll definitely get everything unpacked in that time without any distractions, other than my child to focus on, and I LOVE that idea! 

We won't have a couch for a little bit because this one I have is going to Salvation Army, along with quite a few other household items.  I'm excited to shop for our new apartment!  I've been waiting so long to finally settle in somewhere and stop thinking of it as temporary.  I can hang pictures and decorate and bargain shop.  My favorite things ever.  Estate sales, craigslist, freecycle, and internet bargain shopping here I come! 

I just have so much to do and the movers come Sunday!  I'll have to finish the cleaning of this apartment on Saturday and I'm taking pictures before we leave.  I do NOT trust them to do the walk-through accurately and have a copy of my move-in checklist with ALL previous problems listed exactly.  I expect most of my deposit back. 

Between the slew of spiders lately and the neighbor below me, I'm antsy to get out now!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nine Days of Drama

Thank GOD it's only 9 more days until I move!! 

The 'nosy neighbor' is at it again with trying to make me go all postal.  I see why my next door neighbor punched him in the head recently.  Seriously. 

I'm so glad I have less than two weeks left in my current apartment.  That man is the most horrible neighbor and has caused trouble with every single person in this building, but not enough trouble to get tossed out. 

Yesterday I turned into one of the same people I'm trying to get away from!  I was the one that was all ghetto/white trash and yelling at the nosy neighbor outside in the parking lot in front of all the buildings.  That's how mad I was!  This ignorant asshole had the nerve to comment again, to his buddy but so I could hear, on how I'm finally taking my son out of the house; how I keep him locked up in the house all day and he needs to get out and play.  WTF?  Did he not notice that winter just ended recently?  That man doesn't know me or what I need to do to keep a roof over our head.  But he sure made me snap by saying all that to his buddy.  I know that's what set me off that he didn't say it to my face and he was all passive aggressive about it.  He sure got an earful though, which was probably his goal anyway.  I think he gets a kick out of pissing everyone off.  I try not to react to stuff like that but that man rubs me the WRONG way!  Everything about him grates on me. 


Nine more days...how am I going to make it that long?  Also, my son is allowed to officially jump and run as much as he wants all over our apartment, since you know, I keep him locked up like a prisoner all day.  I hope it sounds like the ceiling is going to crash in on the nosy neighbor.  I hope whomever moves into this apartment gives back the drama ten fold.  Karma is a bitch.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I got it! Woo hoo!

I'm about to become a cheese head!

I got the apartment I wrote about below.  There were some questions I had to answer about my past credit but it's all good and I'm moving on May 1.  Hooray!

My dad is SUPER excited that we'll be there, and I'm super excited that our quality of living is about to improve 100%. 

Ok, I'm off to make my lists and start packing more stuff.  Hooray!

The WI Apartment Hunt

I was commanded to update by Amy, and if she can update everyday with a set of little baby twins and two preschoolers, you'd think I could with just one kid here!  So here goes....

I went to WI this past weekend to apartment hunt.  I had a general plan.  I made phone calls, appointments, and was going to check out the various sides of town.  It's not that big really.  I was informed by my dad that downtown and just west of downtown were not so good.  That ruled out the houses and duplexes I found.  Plus, I wasn't sure if I could handle all the utilities AND yard work (snow/grass) AND it being little bit pricier than the apartments out there.  The point of moving there was to have more room but also to have more time for my son.  I want time to get out and play or just be together and have fun.  If I had higher expenses, or yard maintenance, then I'd be missing the point of moving to that area.  So I nixed the home/duplex idea and put 'lower level' as my first requirement, with needing a grassy area or park nearby as second.  Washer/dryer being at least on the same floor if not IN the apartment as a runner up.  My thought was that if I'm still paying less than I do in my current location then I'm getting the maximum benefit for my money!  I had to make a quick stop at the college before leaving and then off to WI we were headed early Friday morning.  You know I was excited because I was on the road by 9:00a and normally we are barely awake at 8:30 here.

My dad called me even before I left the college (still in IL) to tell me about apartments he called for information. Heehee!  I totally knew he would!  I just let him know when we'd be there and to be ready so he could come with us to look around and rule places out.  It's so funny to me to see how parents can have a totally different idea of who you are based on what they pick out for you or worries they have.  My dad picked a lot of places that were upper level and not quite as nice as I am able to afford up there, but it was sweet because I knew he was trying to help and being financially cautious for me.  And yes, I was being REALLY picky and wanted the place that met all my listed wants that I couldn't afford in IL.  My want list has a hierarchy though.  Gas stove is a low-level want and can be modified, but laundry location & lower level are non-negotiables.

We had a nice time driving around on Friday looking at places from the outside and seeing how far they were from my ideal location.  I really narrowed my list down that way.  Some were really, really far out when on the map they didn't look so far away, and others were not as nice as the pictures on the internet.  I did go back and tour one on Saturday that was promising but they didn't have anything lower level, and I found out the laundry was in the basement which ruled it out completely.  That's almost as bad as what I have here!  There weren't many lower levels open by May 1, which I hadn't anticipated.  So I made a bunch more calls in the parking lot after the tour to set up last minute appointments at the 'maybes' to compare.  There was another place that looked promising, but it wouldn't be available until the end of May so I put it off for now. Then I realized I had overlooked one spot on my 'go see' list!  Woohoo!  I got lucky that they had someone on location showing it to other people that day and so we stopped for food and then went to go look. 

I really, really liked this place that I saw!  It had everything on my want list, except a gas stove, which is so minor it almost doesn't count. It has a garage, eat-in kitchen with full-sized laundry, tons of storage, 2 bed/2bath, and it was in a residential area with a nice little grassy area to play.  Walking distance to my college, stores, and on the bus line if my car craps out!  Seriously, I rushed back to do the application for it right then, but had to wait for Monday morning to turn it in with my financial documents.  I even wrote a check to put a deposit on it to hold it.  I was told 48 hours for an answer.... 

But we all know I'm jinxed when it comes to paperwork and efficiency when it's really important, right?  I was supposed to hear back by Wednesday morning at the latest.  It's Thursday.  I called, of course, and the lady said she didn't see my application but she remembered looking at it!!!  I was told they'd call me back in the afternoon when the other employee came in who should know where it was located.  I called back at 3:45p and got the machine.  I called back at 4:20p and got the machine and left a message.  I'll be calling again at 11:00a when I get a break from work and to give them time to call.  I'm not happy, as you can imagine, but there's nothing I can do.

Then my dad is calling me today to see what they said, everyone is waiting to hear something, my facebook status messages are increasingly frustrated updates, and still nothing.  I really need to know something either way.  I need to know if I need to make another trip up there this weekend/Monday to apply at the standby locations.  Then my mom says, "I hope they didn't lose it and give the apartment to someone else!" O M G are you SERIOUS?!  I about hyperventilated right then.  I hadn't even though of that possibility.  I was just thinking they put it somewhere and they of course stopped showing it when I put my check in their hands.  Now my brain is going a million miles a minute trying to think of WHY they haven't called, and what could be wrong that they haven't called.  Is there something on my credit from my past because it's not perfect; something my previous rental referrals said even though I am never late; is it something with my income sources; or is it just put in a desk somewhere forgotten or waiting for information?  When I'm being positive & ridiculous, I think maybe they filed it as approved and didn't get back to me because my deposit is holding it. Hahahahahaha!  I can hope right?   I am feeling negative and discouraged about this because if it was really approved I feel like they would have called right away.  I mean if it's not, they have to contact me to give me the check back but it's not urgent anymore.  It doesn't bode well if this is what they do when there's an issue either, but I got my hopes up on this place.  Now all I can do is stress out and I can't sleep at all worrying about this.  I'm running out of time in this apartment and I don't have a new address yet. 

Oh good god, I have 2 weeks left and I do NOT have a place to move.  I just looked at the calendar to see how long, and I am freaking OUT!!!  I need to go lay down before my brain explodes.  Please let these people give me good news tomorrow because I can't handle trying to find another place in less than 2 weeks & waiting for the application process.  I did that with this place and look what I got.  I'll have to take time off work and go up there until I find something, when what I really need is to be packing everything.  *sighs*  I need some good vibes people.  I'm seriously freaking out now as to how I'm going to do this all in time.  I'm never getting to sleep now.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quality of Life

I started this two weeks ago.  It's really long.  I should probably write more often so these aren't so long.  Oh well.

It's no surprise, if you've been reading a while, that I hate my current apartment.  It's unsafe inside and out.  I'm thankful we didn't blow up from the gas heater, or become a crime victim while outside.  It's also way too small for an almost 4 year old boy who has an abundance of energy.  Daily I have to tell my boy to slow down, stop jumping, or quiet down so that we don't disturb the neighbors.  When we moved in he wasn't quite as active, nor did he seem to take up as much space in the world as he does now.  I was also in a bind and this seemed like everything I was looking for, and this suburb was supposed to be really, really good.  Sadly, as time went on, being cramped up in this apartment on a third floor sucked more and more.  We couldn't even use the balcony (smoker below us).  But I was able to afford the rent even when my child support 'got lost' in the system.  Thankfully it started again just recently! 

I wanted to move last year but I was still in my lease until July.  By the time my lease came up, it seemed all the affordable apartments I liked were gone.  I was never sent a renewal lease to sign and have been on a month-to-month lease and I only need to give 30-day notice before I move.  I've been stalking craigslist, local papers, and various rental sites for the past year.  I just kept hoping the perfect place would pop up and I could just move.  Didn't happen.  I had my child support drama in the fall, and moving over the winter is a no.  I just wanted out.  My kid needs us to get out!  I finally saw that my previous apartment opened up and I called the management company, who also runs this apartment.  Financially it would've be an easy move.  I figured if it was easy, and we'd have two bedrooms, that for sure I would just move there.  But when I called, the manager tried to pull a fast one and tell me that I had signed a lease for another year until July, and they were shady about it!  That was the end of that idea.  Knowing how shady they were about repairing the heater, I shouldn't have even bothered but I really liked that suburb a lot and the school district was so good.  I chalked it up to something else being meant for us and kept looking and feeling discouraged.  Affordability and safety (and first floor) became the only things I kept on my wish list.

One of the main difficulties is that I really do not make much working from home as a transcriptionist, but as a single mom the benefits outweigh trying to find a job and commuting in this economy, especially since I'm a student right now.  With over 11% unemployment in IL right now, and having been out of an office for 6 years, I'm pretty sure the offers wouldn't be that great either.  Honestly, I would probably shrivel up and die in an office setting and I have a hard time with office politics.  What that means for moving is my rent limit isn't in any 'luxury' range, or even extra amenities range for that matter.  It makes the apartment search that much more difficult to not end up in a ratty area for what I can afford.  It's frustrating to say the least and I just kept praying really hard we'd find something, anything!   

Then my dad called with his "I had a feeling I needed to call" parental intuition.  For once I thought he was mistaken because we were fine for a change.  So I'm thinking no drama outside the norm that you've heard before child support, moving, school, etc.  Of course the conversation about moving turned to the cost of living near him in WI.  Now I lived up there, with him and my stepmom, right after I had Noah.  So I had looked at places to stay up there, but I didn't have a job back then and couldn't find one.  The timing just wasn't right so back to IL I came, and everything just went downhill from there.  Here I am today, stable (mostly) in my job and school so I felt like even considering a move to WI was CRAZY talk!  I hate cold and snow.  I have my college acceptance letter and financial aid package ready to go.  I have my ex's relationship with our son going so well.  I didn't want to upset the apple cart and moving out of IL was a huge upset.  Of course I pooh-pooh'ed his moving to WI talk out of habit.  But you know, somehow that man gets to say "I told you so" a lot.  Ha!

I had to look.  Just a peek.  I wasn't really going to seriously consider a smaller town in WI.  Nope.  Not me.  No way.

O M G!  The cost of living is ½ what it is in the Chicago area!  I mean, my dad told me that, and I knew it from looking at the ad papers in 2006, but I was actually absorbing the info this time.  Currently, I'm in a barely 675 sq. foot apartment with 4 rooms (total), 2 closets, and a balcony we can't use.  I pay $675 for this hell hole.  The listings in WI near my dad are $675 for a smaller 3-bedroom house w/washer and dryer and a yard!  A YARD!!!  Where my kid can play safely & I can work and watch him at the same time!  I can rent a very large 2-bedroom but basic apartment - laundry in building, a/c, etc for $500-$550.  I don't even have to consider a 1 bedroom at all, which is what it was looking like in IL after running the finances through my head again.  I mean, childcare/preschool expenses, commuting expenses, and losing hours at work all while I go to school.  It was going to be a stretch even for a nicer 1 bedroom after reconsidering all that.  I have a hard time wrapping my mind around having so much space for so little money.  I think once I see them for real and see they aren't in a bad area, like here, that I will feel much better.

I just cannot deny that my child's quality of life would improve in WI while I work from home, and if anything like the child support thing were to happen again it's not devastating like it was for me here.  He would go to pre-K, which is free, and the schools are not bad at all.  It's just small, and not culturally diverse which is a concern.  But we will be in IL a lot & he has his dad here to balance it out.  The major thing is that he will have his own room.  Thank God.  We still have family nearby to visit, and I bet I see my stepsiblings more often when they visit my dad and their mom.  I love this big park with awesome stuff for kids to do & has a petting zoo.  I don't love the spiders that fall from trees though.  The colleges have been applied to and I should hear back soon about those.  I really think WI be good for us for now.  Good to be less stressed out and not have to work 50+ hours just to scrape by.  I'd have a better life balance up there & time to play with my child.  Now, I don't expect it to be perfect and it's a small town.  I'd just rather have a more relaxed life than have to struggle or try to find a job I know I will hate just so we can get a bigger place we're never in. 

I had planned a visit in April to see my dad and now it's a recon mission to find an apartment/duplex/house!  I am freaked out a little lot about giving my notice to vacate here before I actually have a new address anywhere.  I don't want to be homeless ever again.  I worry about the credit process since mine isn't perfect but I have fixed a lot of it since my divorce.  Thank goodness my job is portable because I can just up and move out of IL, sort of.  I had to run it past the ex, who gave his enthusiastic okay, and it's not that far up that visitation will be difficult.  Plus, I found out today that Amtrak runs through the town on the way to Milwaukee and then Union Station, Chicago.  It's even cheaper than driving down!  So I just need to secure a new address, set up the moving truck or movers, and pack throughout the month of April and we'll be out of here by May 3!  I can't wait to see what this adventure brings.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Child Support Success!!

Guess who finally put her foot down and forced the State of IL to do their job? ME! 

In case you need to catch up on the drama that the State of IL has caused me in trying to get my child support from my ex's job go here:  Child Support Saga

So we see how I've been telling the child support office that they need to send it electronically?  Every month I tell them this when I call.  See how they kept telling me that they mail the orders, and they don't know what my ex's federal gov't employer is talking about?  Ok, good.

Today has been six months since the State of IL got involved in collecting my child support from my ex's federal employer.  Today I was done waiting for them and sick of their excuses on why my support order wasn't being received by the ex's job. 

I called the state enforcement office, as usual, and the first person told me the same thing: They've sent it and now it's on a supervisor's desk to begin a case for non-compliance since a request for response was mailed without an answer.  Phone calls made on Wednesdays (when gov't withholding is out) weren't answered or returned.  Was also told she could only send a referral for someone in another department to call the fed gov't again since it wasn't in her dept anymore!  Not a good enough answer for me.  I was done waiting and indicated I wanted a supervisor in the other dept on the phone to call the fed gov't office & fix this today, now, while I was on the phone.

The next person for IL child support told me if they call the fed gov't office that legal action for noncompliance won't be started.  This is because his employer might only make one payment, and if they don't make another one I'd be at square one.  I'm pretty sure if the federal gov't actually got the order they would make more than one payment while the ex is employed there.  Again, not a good enough answer & I indicated someone was going to call the fed gov't office in charge of withholding income and get this fixed immediately!  I didn't care what else happened but SOMEONE was taking responsibility for this snafu and finding out WHY my order isn't being received!!!  Six months of them telling me they sent it out, and more waiting while they let it sit on someone's desk was over.  Transferred again.

The last person I spoke to listened to me again say that the fed gov't wanted this order sent electronically and they aren't getting it.   That IL keeps telling me they're sending it and fed gov't doesn't get it.  FINALLY she puts me on hold and calls the fed gov't office to see how she can get the withholding order to them.  Remembering that it's taken six months for someone to do this while I wait. 


This is the best part.  She comes back and tells me...

"The fed gov't doesn't take mailed orders anymore and no one told their state office this, so they've been mailing it."  Take a moment while that sinks in, it took me a minute  She said they're sending it electronically & gave me her direct number.  Instead of going off on her, I cried in relief that it's over (I hope).   Six months of my telling IL the problem/solution, them insisting they were right, and all they had to do was pick up the phone to ask why it wasn't received.  I trusted them to do their job and do it correctly, if not efficiently.  Even when having to admit fault, they still tried to blame it on his employer by saying IL wasn't informed of the change.

I wish I could sue someone for this.  Seriously.  I never say that , but no one should ever have to go through this kind of fiasco.   Anyone know a good lawyer?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Waiting for Morning

Tomorrow I find out about an apartment that we could move into at the end of March.  It's my old neighborhood.  My old apartment actually.  Not what I was anticipating, and surely not perfect, but for two bedrooms in my measly price range I'll take it!  I know what I'm getting into at least.  I know what sucks about the place, and I know what I loved about it.  Considering my budget was only going to get us into a one bedroom, like we're in now, its awesome the price was cut on this unit just as I'm looking to move.

I just really need a bigger place with a room for each of us.  My kid needs room to run around without me freaking out that he's disturbing the floor below us.  He also needs room for his toys to be scattered in his own room so my house isn't as cluttered.  It does not have things I thought I really wanted, such as central air, a patio to go right outside & play, or a gas stove.  In fact, I may have to get my own window unit AC to have my uncle install...again!  Thank God for family in the service industries.  I know that the soundproofing SUCKS in this building.  I know I will hear my neighbors upstairs doing EVERYTHING *ahem* and everyone walking into the building.  What I care about is that the school district is good, and I can walk to two parks, the library, the school, stores, the train, and it's a quiet residential area.  Plus, I know it was bug free when I was living there, let's hope that's still true!

Unfortunately, it's not as convenient for his dad to get there, but I need to do what works for us at this point.  That may mean he cuts his visitation down from two days a month to nothing or random visits, but that's his choice and his loss.  I'll do what I can to facilitate the visitation, but it's his choice to see him or not, regardless of the hurdles he may encounter.  I tried to find a place that was convenient to us both, but I couldn't find anything I could afford.  I know it's important for our child to see his dad and he loves his dad a ton.  I just can't feel guilty for his dad not going out of his way to see him.  I'm not moving out of state.  It's 15 extra minutes, maybe.

Besides, I really want to stay put for a while.  Two years is about my average, and I'd like to see how this goes long term if it works out well.  I want to settle in, put up pictures, make a stable home for my child.  If I hate it, if it sucks so bad I can't stand it, I can always move.  Not like I'm buying the place.   Maybe by then my budget will have increased to where we can afford something more luxurious.  Something with a yard.  For now, I just want a place where people aren't having sex in the laundry room leaving the condom behind, shooting up the neighborhood, breaking into cars, or whatever else I've vented here about this area.

I just hope they call me with good news.  Financially it would be an easy move leaving me with extra money for the AC, movers, and whatever else I need to get to settle in.  Also, it's the same property management company as here (sucks but oh well) so when I called they saw I was on an expired month to month lease.  I'm not sure how that's going to play out as far as transferring properties.  I'm not signing a new lease for this apartment, period.  I will pay for March here, as I expected to do, and then we'll be out.  Wherever that may be.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Neglect

*brushing away cobwebs*  Helllloooooooo????  Anyone still here???

School started and I'm working a WAH, customer service temp job at night, on top of my full time school & work and my child.  Next week I'll be napping where I can, when I can in spurts.  We're getting ready to move and I really need to be financially ready for this.  I live in a third floor walk-up and my family isn't exactly able to move large items.  So the cost of movers is being factored into this move.  Fun times here!  So I'm lurking in the background trying to keep caught up on reading blogs even if I don't write in my own.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Solidarity in Blue Eyeshadow & Crazy Hair

I couldn't let the fabulous Sassafrass aka Jessica "dangle out here alone online with the people who publish photos of their stretchmarks and bunions..." as she so eloquently put it.  So I'm sharing some mortifying pictures of my childhood in the 80's.

This is the only copy of these pictures from a photo album that got lost when I moved to AZ, or in my sister's basement flood, not sure which.

Also, like Jess, I have moved the bright colors from my eyelids to my nails.  Yes, that's light blue shadow & liner in the big blond hair picture.  And if I could tell my 8th grade self anything, it would be to look in a mirror after gym before going to get pictures taken! Good lord girl...find a COMB! (and don't kiss that Chris boy either)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thinking Warm

When I start hating Chicago for dreary, gray days and half-melted gray snow, I dig up my pictures of Tucson so I can be warm inside my heart.  I long for sun drenched skin, sizzling hot pavement, and beautiful sunrises almost every single day over the mountains.  My soul sees these pictures and wants to just run away with my son to a place with almost year round sunshine. I miss sitting on my patio with the hummingbirds flying around, a cup of tea, and the sun rising up to shine and warm me.  In my current life or rushing and chaos, I miss the quiet of that time. 






Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snips and Snails and Puppydog Tails

My son is going through a typical phase wherein everything has the words butt, fart, poops, etc.  I hope he grows out of this eventually, or at least out of my earshot, because it's gross even if it's normal.  I'm just not big on body-function humor.  Honestly, if he purposely puts his butt on his future wife and farts on her, like he does to me right now, I'm really sorry future wife!  Where he got this from I don't know because I'm pretty sure Disney doesn't have their characters farting on anyone...or at all.  Last time I checked Sesame Street characters didn't poop, and even Scooby Doo isn't that disgusting!  So I'll just be glad when this phase is less visible at home and left to impressing his friends.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

State Gov't vs. Federal Gov't

*DING DING DING*

Let the battle begin!  My state government is taking the federal government on in a battle to the death to get my child support paid.  We'll see whose excuses win the battle in court, but my child and I are still the losers while my money is being held hostage.  I did all the footwork for them, and they still can't solve it without court.  Meaning, who knows how long it's going to take now.  I get to wait for the State's Attorney to contact me. Seriously, I wish I could sue them both for being completely incompetent.

A perfect example of the ineptitude of the child support system:
  • State office finally calls federal office on Wednesday, Dec. 23 after the two orders were sent & ignored.
  • Federal has recording of hours they're in office: M, Ts, Th, F from 9a-12 & 1-3p. NOT Wednesdays!
  • State leaves message thinking they'll get a call back.
  • State doesn't call again until Wednesday, Jan 6 - two weeks later and on WEDNESDAY!
  • State tells me today they can't reach anyone in federal's office.  Seriously.
So not only did they not try during the hours indicated on the federal office recording, they waited two weeks for someone to call them back.  Not calling back themselves the next Monday after Christmas, or even a Monday after New Years, but on Wednesdays, when it says clearly that no one is there!

Today the ex and I decided to work it out on our own while they delay paying me even longer.  It's obvious it's going to be a very long while until I see any money.  In all of this, I'm thankful my ex and I are pleasant to each other and can work this out while the government offices waste our time.  I can't imagine having to deal with the courts alone to handle this!  I really feel for the parents who are out there chasing an ex and dealing w/the courts to get their money, if they ever get it at all.

How the Government is Holding my Child Support Hostage

I know this is very long, but it's five long months of inefficiency and blame by two government offices. Offices put in place to make getting child support to custodial parents easier. 

Starting before my divorce finalized in 2007, an order to withhold income (child support) was officially filed with the courts and payments were taken from my almost ex-husband's paychecks.  He worked for a private employer, and I never had a problem receiving it.  His ex-girlfriend also had a previous support case that was set up through the state years ago.

Fast forward to August 2009.  My ex starts a new job with the federal government and I assume the change in information to continue my child support will be no problem.  I mean, this is pretty standard.  Mail the income withholding papers and it's done, just like with his previous job.

At first, I was optimistic about the process.  My divorce lawyer mailed the order of support to the ex's new job thinking it would get processed.  After a month, and two pay periods, went by I didn't get a payment.  I didn't receive any information regarding the child support paperwork or see anything online that would indicate a problem.  This began my long, horrible journey to try to get my child support.

First, I started with the federal department in charge of withdrawing the payments from my ex's checks.  They should have received the withholding notice from my lawyer and implemented it.   That's when I was told that they don't accept mailed orders anymore, such as the one my lawyer sent, and it had to be sent electronically from my state.  I was informed I had to fill out my state's paperwork just to get an appointment to begin the process & that could take over a month.  Basically a legal order could be ignored by the federal government just because they make their own rules!  A letter informing someone of the change would have been a standard courtesy.  I contacted my divorce lawyer to let him know of the glitch and he gave me some basic information about what to expect.

In September, I filled out and mailed the application and attached the current order, as indicated in the instructions.  I waited patiently and with optimism in my trusting little heart.  I thought, "I'll go in, they'll review & enter my order, and I'll get my money right after they send it electronically to the ex's job."  How hard can it be now that we have computers to send information?  It's not as if we were starting a new case or modifying anything.  It was a standard order being transferred to a new job.  Really basic! 

In October, I got my appointment with the state child support office.  I saw it online before I got the letter in the mail.  I should have known when I didn't get the letter for two weeks after seeing it online!  I had all my paperwork ready, and was prepared to wait in a lobby with a bunch of people trying to get money from deadbeats who didn't want to pay.  I assumed I'd be in and out pretty quickly though.  Note my continued optimism.  At this point, it was only 3 missing payments, 1.5 months unpaid.  I had my savings & school financial aid to supplement my monthly income.

So there wasn't a wait, but they were a mess!  The receptionist couldn't find my paperwork I mailed in, and the guy in the state office did not inspire confidence at all either.  He barely let me speak, said my appointment could have been over the phone, and got my information confused with my ex's first order for his ex.  I left feeling less optimistic but still hopeful that it would only be a month max, giving time for whatever research they had to do and the electronic sending of withholding notice.

I stalked the state child support website to see when it would update with my information.  I saw his ex get her payments.  I saw when her increase went through around the same time mine was being filed.  I waited through October since they get almost a month before anyone will do anything.  Nothing happened.

November still nothing.  December more nothing.

I made phone calls to everyone office possible.  I got hung up on after sitting on hold for 30+ minutes.  I've sat on hold for two hours at a time trying to get answers.  I've been given conflicting information.  The federal government said they never got the order, even though I have a copy that was sent.  The state government says they sent it but the back support takes months to review and post.  I don't even CARE about that and I just wanted a freaking payment!  My savings and financial aid dwindled, and I had to start working ridiculous hours every week.  I'm told the state will resend the order and I have to wait 10 business days to call back during the holidays where ten days is over two weeks.  I'm talked to like I am a moron who hasn't been calling for months to get money for her child.  The most annoying thing is that his job assumed I was his ex-gf and told me I'm getting my payments.  So obviously if one of us is getting child support, the system works in some kind of way.  Just not for me.  Yelling and crying don't work either.

Now it's January and I still have not seen a payment from his employer!  I'm so beaten down I didn't even want to call his employer to see if they got the second order and letter about noncompliance.  They again claim they didn't get it, but magically they got the order for providing medical...which he doesn't even have!!! WTF?!  My state offices indicated they're working on it and tried to contact his job, but I had to leave a message to get more information.

Supposedly there are daily fines for an employer disregarding an order of support, but apparently they don't apply to the federal government because they make their own rules.  Also, they just keep claiming that they didn't get it.  Somewhere, somehow there's a breakdown and no one wants to talk to anyone else to fix this.  I'm doing all the work to follow up and no one is telling me anything.  All I can do is pray that tomorrow I'm able to have the state office CALL the federal office and figure out what happened.

It boggles the mind that a legal order, already set in place and not changed one single bit, can take so long to get through the system!  This isn't them trying to find someone trying to hide from paying.  This isn't an order being modified in any way at all.  This isn't a new order that has never had a payment made on it.  This is a legal, binding document that is being ignored by the federal government because they claim they're not getting an 'electronic' order that supposedly goes in automatically.

Why didn't my lawyer or I get a letter stating they weren't accepting mailed orders when they got mine?  Why do I have to call and call and call to find this all out myself?  Why can't someone give me a straight answer?  How, in this day and age of computers or even old-school fax machines, can this not get figured out?  Why do I have to wait 10 to 15 business days before I can call anyone when the federal government hasn't paid me?  Why does it take 30 days from an order being sent out before my state can send a noncompliance letter?

If it's this bad for me because of a simple job change from private employer to government employer, how broken must it be for others?  Sadly, if I had not been married to the ex and had the state do my order originally rather than a divorce lawyer, this would all be a non-issue.  I don't understand why the state support offices don't process child support orders to begin with when a divorce is finalized.  His ex-girlfriend didn't have any of these problems with the job change because she had to go through the state in the first place.  This whole situation has been completely overwhelming trying to navigate a system they make so difficult.

Finally, the big question is why doesn't he give me the child support payments directly or send them to the disbursement office rather than building up back support all these months & watching me struggle?  It's valid and seems to make sense if we thought a payment wouldn't mess up things even more.  Seriously, they can't even figure out why my order isn't going through, God forbid I put a payment through the completely separate disbursement office and I might break the system completely.  The ex and I are on civil terms and we've discussed this at length.  I was also told later that until my account showed any type of balance, his payment would be returned to him or go to his ex-girlfriend's account!  Also, he has helped out but we both thought that with each check the support would be taken out.  We're both at a loss now.  If I don't get answers tomorrow, he and I will have to discuss how to fix this problem.  My hands are tied and I am physically exhausted from this endeavor to get my son's money from the federal government. 

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