Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Taking stress to the next level...

Chris is now officially unemployed. Again.
He was supposed to get with Mr. I. on Friday to collect his paycheck and "discuss" future jobs and brainstorm on how to keep Chris working. Chris had to call Mr. I. when 5:00 pm rolled around and he had not heard a peep from Mr. I.

Mr. I. profusely apologized to Chris about not being able to meet up with him and promised that they would get together over the weekend.

Well, it's Tuesday and not a peep. Now, I know eventually Mr. I. will need to talk to Chris because Chris has some of his power tools and the keys to the tool trailer. I just don't know how long Mr. I. is going to avoid paying Chris what he owes him. And it is substantial.

With all this going on, I haven't been sleeping well at all. I may have to find a good night cream to help with the wrinkles and bags that are forming. It's not been easy with me getting next to no sleep and being up at 6:30 every morning making sure that Katie is ready for school and going to clean for my clients. I come home exhausted everyday but when bedtime rolls around I just can't relax enough to fall asleep and stay that way.

Chris and I aren't arguing but their is a little tension there. It basically boils down that how he is handling the situation comes no where near close to how I would handle it. Other than that we try to go on as if everything is normal around the house. I do make money cleaning and so far we have been keeping our heads above the water, but it won't be like that all the time and if it weren't for our tax refund coming in, I really don't know what we would do.

I just hope that something happens quickly so that I can relieve some of this stress.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A More Beautiful You

It really makes my blood boil that my ten year old daughter, Katie, is being told she is too fat. No, it's not some mean spirited kids teasing her. It's the Sarasota school board.

I received a letter on Saturday, informing me that my daughter is overweight and needs to be put on a strict diet and get plenty of exercise. Now, I understand the importance of discouraging obesity. I understand encouraging kids to go out and play and be active. I encourage my kids to get the heck out of the house a lot. But what really infuriates me is that think they "know" my kids. They assume that Katie must not eat right and exercise enough because she is a little overweight. What they have no clue of is that she is like any other typical little kid with an abundance of energy. She loves the outdoors. She is an active kid. While she may not belong to any after school activities, because we can't afford it, she roller skates every day. Then why is she a little chunky?

1. Genetics. She follows very closely to my sister's body frame. While Katie may be slightly smaller and more muscular than my sister was at that age, I believe she follows my sister more than she follows me. I was a string bean growing up. My sister, Missi, was the chunky one at least until she hit puberty. She grew three inches one summer and since then she has been at a healthy weight. So I am not really worried about Katie right now.

2. When I attended elementary school we had physical fitness class or gym every day. Monday through Friday. Katie has gym once a week. How is that helping to keep our kids in the best possible shape they can be in? If the schools are going harp on children for being overweight, shouldn't they take steps into helping our kids get into better shape?

Now Katie has this attitude that there is something wrong with her. I am trying my best to at least let her know that right now at this point in her life, she is a very normal girl. I am hoping that I never have to find some kind of ephedra diet pills bottle hidden somewhere in her room because she feels the need to be like one of those stupid models who by they way are by no means perfect body wise. I do not want my daughter thinking that she has to be a fake girl in order to get anywhere in life. My daughter is beautiful on the inside and outside. I will not let Sarasota try to conform her into something that they think she needs to be.

While in the car yesterday a song on the JoyFM came on. One that has been my favorite since it first aired. It's called A More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz. I think it speaks volumes about how we are to look at ourselves and love ourselves in spite of what everyone else thinks. I am hoping that Katie makes it her own too.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Knee problems run in the family, so do heart attacks...

My father has been told repeatedly told that he will have to get his knees replaced. The last appointment that he had, the doctor told him he wants to try something else first. The real reason for the knee replacements is because my dad's knee caps and the cartilage surrounding them are bad. The surrounding tendons and muscles are actually in good shape. I am guessing all the years of being a mechanic is the culprit but who really knows. I have my dad's knees. Always had weak ones including weak ankles so I am hoping that I will not be inflicted with the same condition he is in. I have been taking supplements that are supposed to help with new cartilage growth but only time will tell if it will really work.

Anyway, the doctor spoke of this new procedure where they inject some kind of gel like substance into the knee and it acts like a stronger more viable cartilage. If this works and the pain subsides and my dad can actually walk without being in pain then no surgery will be needed. I am pretty sure my dad is relieved that as of right now there will be no surgery. He wasn't looking forward to having to stay up in Tampa at a recovery center because chances are they would have done both knees at the same time.

While my dad was at the doctors, they did a complete physical and went over the test results that he had to submit to a while back. His cholesterol has dropped by a large margin. I am not sure if the doctor had him on the best cholesterol treatment or if my dad's improved diet brought his numbers down. It could have been both, and that is a good thing. The men in his family have pretty much died of heart disease and or heart attacks before they turned 60. My dad is 62, so far he is outliving the family curse. My grandfather passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 58. He had several before this one. My dad has never had a heart attack and hopefully he never will. The cholesterol numbers were so good that he has been told to stop taking his medication and continue on his improved diet and see where he is in a few months. I think that is pretty awesome.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dealing with a family full of packrats

I have started to go through some boxes early today. I can't believe the crap that is held onto by certain family members. Chris alone has two very old (very ancient) laptops that were given to us when we couldn't afford a new computer. Yet Chris is hemming and hawing on whether or not to part with them. Really? I mean what could they possibly be of use to us now and why would you want to keep useless machines? I am not saying to throw them in the trash but recycling comes to mind.

Katie is exactly like her dad in this aspect. It is so bad that every six months or so I have to sneak into her room while she is not home and go through her toy box and bin to throw out all the toys that have lost most of their parts or that I know she hasn't played with in ages. One time I made the mistake of doing this while she was just coming home from school and I felt like I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar when she found me cleaning out the toy box. She went through everything that I had thrown into a garbage bag and pretty much insisted on keeping just about everything in that bag. I don't mind her keeping stuff animals and some dolls but I see no rhyme or reason to keeping things that are broken or missing the essential pieces to said toy.

Jeff is a little better but he also has detachment issues on some items. He threw a fit no to long ago when I told him that the Pokemon and Yugi Oh cards were something that he should consider letting go. They have no value. They never really did. Every once in a while I will look to see if any of his cards could make him money. NADA, ZIP, ZILCH, BIG FAT ZERO!!! Yet he insists that maybe by the time he has kids they will be worth something. I doubt it.

Don't even get me started on my husband. He got a drum set that he insisted he had to have for Christmas one year. He NEVER learned how to play them and they sat around collecting dust for several years. I finally made him sell them in a yard sale we had last year. He collects more crap and when I finally get him to unload a lot of it and throw away, sell, or recycle some of it within a few weeks he has acquired more useless crap. He just had to have this remote control hummer a few years ago. A freaking toy! He hasn't "played" with it in over three years! The funny thing is he is just like my own father. Which coincidentally, we are storing his 1980 Suzuki motorcycle that isn't running at the moment in my garage. Will my dad ever sell it? NO WAY JOSE! Because "all it needs is a good cleaning and a tune up and it will run as good as new." Really? Than clean it and tune it up already!

I do not hold on to stuff forever. If I haven't used it in a year, obviously I do not need it and I either give it to goodwill, salvation army or whatever, sell it or toss it. They only things I keep are memorabilia. Photo albums, birthday cards (which I put into the kids scrapbooks) my letter from President Ronald Reagan from 1980 (That letter is actually framed along with the envelope it came in). Things that hold sentimental value for me. I don't even have the huge shoebox full of letters from friends in high school, pen pals or ex boyfriends. I grew out of that phase a long time ago. Like say, when I first became a mother.

I don't know how to reason with packrats either. They become completely irrational and borderline insane if you even suggest to them that maybe, just maybe they need to start getting rid of some things. It's enough to make me want to pull my hair out!

Doing something about it.

Chris has talked to Mr. I twice this week and both times Mr. I has told Chris that he will make time for him to talk more in depth about Chris' employment with Mr. I. He couldn't really talk more on those two occasions because well.. there wasn't much time and he was working. Ok.. I get that, but Mr. I. really needs to make time for Chris asap!

Mr. I has confirmed that he will square up with Chris regarding hours and mileage owed on Friday. Mr. I. has gone over all the proposals that Chris worked on for him and will be submitting them tomorrow. I have a sinking feeling that he will ask Chris to file for unemployment but to also be "waiting" for things to turn around and possibly work for him under the table. Something that neither one of us is really comfortable with. Stability is a key factor with the both of us. I personally do not like not knowing if we will be able to pay the rent next month or not. Or.. how are we going to get the utilities paid for or where will the money come from to feed ourselves. Yes. I know there are programs out there for these things but if I can find a way to postpone having to rely on these programs, I will. My business is steady but I bring in no way near what we need to pay for everything. I would have to have at least three employees working for me full time to be able to do that. No where near that stage.

So.. I have started to reevaluate our possessions. We have a lot of things. Much of it we accumulated throughout the years and many things that other people have given us. We have so much stuff that our garage is used for storage and not what it was intended for. I think it is time that we downsized. We put Chris' Mazda on Craigslist on Sunday and yesterday he sold it. Not a bad turnaround. I have been going through our storage boxes that have been sitting in closets for months and I can't believe the crap that we have held on to. My, son, Jeff alone has three ipods because when a newer version came out he bought it. There are nothing wrong with these and I think that they would sell. Not like I would ask an arm and leg for them but at least something.

I am not wanting to do another yard sale. I absolutely hate yard sales with a passion. I am not very good with allowing other people (especially people I don't know) rummage through my things and try to walk off with things for free. The last time, I had put a bunch of clothes out and had them marked at 25 cents each. A woman tried to buy five outfits for 25 cents total. When I told her that they were 25 cents each, she scoffed, threw them on the ground and walked off. I am all for bargaining but to me that was such a stinking insult. So, yeah, no yard sale this time around.

I have also found a few websites that buy old cell phones. I am doing a little more research but this seems to be a good idea. Of course they won't pay a lot for them but at this point, every little bit helps. And what am I going to do with all these outdated phones anyway?

There are a lot of people coming up with different alternatives to make money to just stay afloat. Florida alone is saying that our unemployment rate is roughly 11%. That is not really true because those numbers only reflect the people who are receiving unemployment compensation. It doesn't take into account all the people that have used up their benefits. Chris dad estimates about 17%. That is staggering and scary!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting my house in order....

or in other words, reevaluating the situation.
Chris has been "laid off" for the last two weeks, although he has put in about 40 hours total on researching and putting proposals together in hopes that his boss or as I fondly refer to him as Mr. Incompetent, gets more work. Chris has also done a few minor jobs for Mr. I. with the promise that he will catch up with him later regarding payment. Mr. I. was supposed to call Chris over the weekend to discuss whether or not he could bring Chris back on to work.

Apparently the condition would lie on whether he got some work from a condominium complex. My mother happens to be the office manage for this Condo association and they elected new board members that want to put off some of the necessary work until they get a better idea where they stand financially. Also the President of the board mentioned to my mother that they are still waiting on some proposals. Not the one's that Chris slaved over. So... apparently Mr. I. has failed to communicate with his potential client. Mr. I. has also failed to communicate with Chris. Chris did try to call him yesterday evening only to be thrown right into voicemail. He didn't leave a message because Mr. I. NEVER checks his messages. How the hell can you run a company when you don't answer your damn phone or check your damn messages?

Chris found out on Friday that two out of the four men that were laid off - which means all of Mr. I's employees - were brought back on. All four of the employees did do some work for the two weeks that they technically were out of a job (with the understanding that Mr. I would catch up to them later as far as payment). I don't think that I have to tell you how that made Chris feel. Chris is/was the supervisor. Of all the employees you would think that Chris would be made aware of the situation with the company. Mr. I. is in deep over his head with his creditors, vendors and is cash strapped. At least that was the circumstanes two weeks ago. He "laid off" his guys in hopes that he could turn his financial mess around by getting the work done himself and getting payments in. But, the guys did work for him. They just didn't get paid.

Hopefully, today, Chris will be able to track Mr. I. down to at least get some idea what to expect. Chris will let Mr. I. know that if he can not bring him back on for a few more weeks that Chris will need to file unemployment. It is what it is.

Which brings me to the title of this post. I have been scrambling around my house looking for things to put on Craigslist. We have too much stuff and it is time to downsize. We also put Chris' Mazda 626 up for sale. Originally we wanted to give it to Jeff but we need the money... sigh... I am looking over other financials and there are a few things that I need to go over. One is looking for cheaper life insurance. I have been getting life insurance quotes but so far what we have is the cheapest.

Also it is more than likely that we will have to move once our lease is up. So far the landlords have been extremely kind and understanding. They renewed our lease last year with no rent increase but this coming October I have a feeling that they will not be able to afford that same kindness again to us. They still owe on this house. A lot more than what it is currently valued for and their taxes have increased since they no longer have a homestead tax credit. I am not looking forward to move again but if we can find something cheaper ( and believe me, I don't think we will have that problem) then it is the smart thing to do. The less money we have to shell out the more we can be better prepared for when things get rough. I don't make enough money with my business to be able to pay all the bills. I do contribute significantly but I don't make enough. Either I get more clients or I need to quit it all together and get a regular 9-5 job. My chances of finding more clients fair well above finding a job. I have looked. It's not a pretty site to see so few job listing in the newspapers or on Monster.com or even on the unemployment website.