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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

To My Gaming Son ...

This morning, my son shared a YouTube video with me about "10 Things Gamers' Parents Need To Know".

Here's my response ...

Mom speaking here ... I'm pretty good with most of this, but I wish there were some things that gamers knew... My biggest is, dinner is served every night at roughly the same time,please don't start a new game or something that you can't walk away with before dinner.  No one likes cold dinner.  I haven't sat down since I got home from work, the least you can do is come to the table.  Periodically, I will let you eat at your desk, but that is not an everyday thing. Bedtime is bedtime, yes, I realize you can't pause.  No, I don't care if you get kicked from the game for a period of time.  I want to go to sleep also and 11 PM on a school night is too late, especially when I've said something every half hour for the past 2 hours.  So, if need be, I will happily sing a bedtime song right next to your mike.  I am not beyond making a fool of myself if it means you get the sleep you don't think you need. Please don't make me disconnect the modem.  My only time of relaxation is at night and I enjoy my Netflix. Love,  Mom

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Young Man With What It Takes To Succeed

Yesterday, I wrote about some of my thoughts when applying for a new position.  It was maybe a bit too blunt for some people.  I really want to apologize for offending anyone, but this is one of those times I am not going to.  I'm not going to because it was meant as something helpful, especially for a lot of younger people out there that just don't seem to have a clue.

This morning when I woke up, I perused the normal social media sites to see if there was anything interesting today that really spoke to me. I found it in an article on CNN entitled "Teen Goes to Target Looking For A Tie, And Gets That And More".

This is what I'm talking about!

It's right on the nose.  Here is this young man going to what is probably his very first interview ever.  He takes it seriously.  He makes sure he's dressed professionally, he listens to advice of others on how to handle himself.

But, that's not what really spoke to me the most.

He was interviewing at Chik-fil-A.  Yes, you read that correctly.  He was getting dressed professionally for a job interview for fast food.  I can't even put into words how impressed I am.  With too many of the people I've seen come and go for interviews, this young man is the exception, and I work in a professional office!

This young man is going to go somewhere in life.  He is going to make it and I don't doubt he is going to make it big.  He has that drive to do the job and take pride in it, even if it's considered to be one of the lower jobs in the country.

Best of luck to you young man whoever you are!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

So You Want A Job?

It's crazy busy at work.  We have so much to do that the day finally came that we need some help.  I must say that I was excited... yeah! 

My boss put an ad on Craigslist.  It was a pretty standard ad.  We just need a part-time receptionist to begin with.  Ideally, this is someone that we can train to do more and really help with our clients in the future.

We received around 400 responses to our ad.  So, how does someone make themselves stand out to get that call. 

1.   This is a professional office, please do not use hot pink lettering on your resume.  Yes, it will make you stand out, but not in the way you were hoping.

2.   If the ad asks for a cover letter, and you do not include one, the chances of you being considered are pretty nil.

3.  Check your grammar!  I received literally dozens of resumes and cover letters that had horrific grammar.  These were not instances of spell check or grammar check going wrong.  I even saw some that did not include any capitalization or punctuation.  

4.  Keep the cover letter short and sweet.  A couple paragraphs should do the trick.  I really have a lot of them to go over so if you cover letter is a full page and single spaced, I probably won't read the whole thing.

5.  Different font sizes may be okay in some situations, but please don't use multiple fonts and font sizes in the same paragraph.  All that this shows me is that you are not detailed and don't care about how something looks.

Okay, now you made it past the resume stage.  You have received that call to possibly set up an interview.  What should you or should you not do?

1.  Do not talk with your mouth full.

2.  I understand that I may be calling you at home or out and about.  I understand that there may be kids hollering in the background.  I'm a mom, I get it.  If this happens, ask if you can call me back, and then call back as soon as you can.  If you wait a day or two, I will probably have moved on and scheduled someone else already for that interview.

3.  Be friendly.  I am not saying act as if you are my best friend, but be pleasant.  This is for a receptionist position.  If your phone mannerisms are not good, then you won't be coming in for that in-person interview.  

Yeah!  The interview is scheduled, it's time to meet your potential employer or supervisor.  Here are a few tips for you.

1.  Do not drown yourself in perfume.  I already know that you were sitting in your car for a half hour chain smoking, I would rather you take a moment and go to the ladies room to freshen up first then douse yourself in cologne right before you walk in.  I'd rather know you are a smoker from the get go then you try to hide it.  

2.  This is an interview, do not come dressed to go out to the mall or a night out.  Corduroys are not fine.  Skin-tight latex pants are not fine.  I do not expect that you will be coming dressed in a three piece suit, but please take some time to think about how you should dress for the type of work environment you are applying for.

3.  Do some homework.  It may be for only a receptionist position, but find out what type of business you are interviewing at.  You have our name, our address and I told you a little about us during the telephone interview, Google us.  I want to see some initiative, I especially want to see if you will take that extra step before you come in.  If you do, then you are more likely to take the extra step with our clients.

4.  Take off your outside jacket.  I know that it's chilly outside, but I want to know that you can make yourself comfortable.  If you look like you are ready to run for the door, you probably don't belong sitting in that chair across from me.

5.  Absolutely follow-up.  Write a short e-mail saying thank you would be great.  I want the feedback as much as you do.  I want to know that you are really interested in this position.

*    *    * 

Now, good luck in that job hunt.  I know it's not easy out there right now, so it is more important than ever to put your best foot forward. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Becoming Self-Reliant

Recently I was visiting a new church and self reliance came up.

Such an interesting topic if you really think about it.  When most people think of self reliance they think solely of what it means to simply take care of themselves and their own needs without assistance of anything outside of their own bubble.

When I think of self reliance the same thing comes to mind, but it really goes so much further.

You see, I've been there, done that.  I've experienced too many things that really shot down my own confidence in being self reliant.  Still, I kept kicking.  If it wasn't for my children, I don't know if I could have accomplished all I have been able to.

I became dependent upon my children.  Not dependent upon them providing for me, they are too young for that.  But, they became my inspiration.  I could have laid back and taken the pity road, allowed myself to join the circle of poverty that is so prevelant.  I simply couldn't accept that.  I am greedy.  I wanted more.  I especially wanted more for my children.

I know that I'm not fully on my feet again.  I know that I will be.  I've had to take a helping hand through the "System".  That didn't mean that I did so lightly.

One of the first parts of becoming self reliant meant swallowing my ego and asking for help.  I had to look at myself, my situation, my surroundings.  I had to evaluate them.  Was I truly doing the best I could do?

My children became my inspiration.  I wanted better for them.  I wanted to be able to spoil them with kisses and love, but also I wanted to provide everything that they needed plus some.   I became dependent upon my children.  If I thought I could do no more, I'd take a look at them.  I'd listen to their stories, their dreams, their everything.

The more I depended upon those little inspirations, those smiles and kisses, the more I was able to to do.

When I was at this new church the other day, someone said (to paraphrase) that the more they came to depend on God to help them through the more self reliant they became.   As I think about that discussion, especially in retrospect, I have to smile and nod.  I can see that, and I can understand that.  You see, I think that God has been acting through my children to give me the inspiration I needed.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mom Doesn't Know Best

Yet again, some parents are being investigated by CPS for ... allowing their children to walk go to the park alone.

This time the children are 6 and 10.

Six to me is young to being going to the park.  At the same time, this is something similar to what I've done.

A couple years ago, I would let my oldest son walk my younger son to his friend's house a few blocks away.  The deal was simple, he had to call as soon as he arrived and he had to call before he left so someone could come get him.  Fred was 10 and Thom was 8.

He wasn't allowed to cross the street alone.  My biggest concern wasn't someone snatching the boys.  It was a safe neighborhood.  Kids were always running and riding bikes around.  My biggest concern that because of Thom's height, a car may not see him.

When we were kids, in 1st and 2nd grade, we were allowed to go the park, and roam the neighborhood.  Our parents deemed it safe.  If we had lived in a different neighborhood that wasn't so safe, I don't doubt my parents would have said no.

Today, my mother watches the kids after school.  They are not allowed to play outside without supervision.  Emma has friends in the neighborhood, but still, she isn't allowed.  Emma is 8.  The reason is that she is afraid it isn't safe.

The world has changed.  Or rather, attitudes have changed.

Twenty years ago, you rarely heard about the things that happened two towns over, much less in another state.   Now, we constantly hear it.  We are inundated with it.

My aunt was a social worker in small town Pennsylvania.  I don't remember much about what she did, but I do remember from time to time having to go on a late night run to check on a report or neglect or abuse.  This type of thing happened then also.  Our world isn't safer or less safe.  We are more informed.  And, sometimes that knowledge does not add to better our lives, but instead hinders us and makes us fearful.

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Daughter Has An IPad

The economy today is horrific.  There is no denying it.  Families all over the country are finding themselves with little or no savings.  Most are only a paycheck or two away from homelessness themselves.

It seems that everyday I read another article online about another family online who is willing to be the brunt of an article.  They are willing to open themselves up to the criticism that they know will follow.  

Today's article (A Day in the Life of a Family of 6 Trying to Survive on Fast Food Wages)  featured in the New York Magazine is about a family in Texas.  Four of the family members work in fast food.  Dad is ill, Mom works two jobs, and two of the high school daughters also work.  They live in a small apartment.  

When I read these articles, I always take the time to look at the comments that people have left.  Inevitably there is the comments about having too many children.  What got me today was the other comments that are so common.  They have an iPod.  

Oh no!  How dare they have something for entertainment!

Take a step back now please... when was the last time you saw an iPod?  There aren't that many being used anymore.  Most of the iPods out there are old, many scratched up, and still many more sitting in a drawer doing nothing.  I know that a lot of people think that this family should take that little iPod and pawn it or sell it some other way.  For all of you out there, is the $10 or $15 worth it?  Is it worth to sell this trinket, a bit of normality and entertainment, for what wouldn't even amount to a family meal?

You see, my daughter has an iPad.  Not an iPod like this family, but an actual iPad.  It's a first generation one without any camera and most of the newer apps won't work on it because it can't be upgraded anymore.  Her iPad was a gift for her 8th birthday last September.  It's not the greatest and it dosen't always charge correctly, but she loves it.  

Last weekend I took her to the pawn shop with me.  She was going to trade in her iPad and with a few dollars savings that she had saved up wanted to get one with a camera.  They offered us $15 for her little iPad.  The next step up would be almost $200.  Needless to say, that was a lot more than this little girl of 8 had saved up and a lot more than Momma could afford to add to her savings.  She choose to keep her beloved iPad.  

I know that people question how I could possibly justify her having an iPad when I make barely over minimum wage myself.  I justify it simply as it gives her enjoyment.  They don't need to know that it was a gift or that selling it would only merit $15.  

My daughter sacrifices a lot already.  The five of us live in a two bedroom apartment.  The boys have a room and us girls share a room.  Only last month was I able to find a cot I could afford so that all three of us girls aren't sharing one bed.  Emma has her own bed again, it's a camping cot with some old couch cushions on it to make it a little more comfy.  She will lounge on it as if she's queen of the world with her precious iPad watching videos on YouTube or playing a game of MineCraft.  

Judge me if you will as you judge these families, but a $15 dollar dinner isn't worth it to me to take away a small luxury from my daughter.  

She's keeping her iPad, so go ahead and judge me like you do these other families.  It's okay.  I'm a Momma Bear, I can handle it.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Jesus and the Muslim

Oh my, am I about to open a can of worms.

There was an article today on a young Muslim man who is staring in a National Geographic special on Jesus.  Many Christians are up in arms.  I say, "STOP!"

Are you a Christian?  Doesn't that mean loving our neighbors?  Didn't Christ gather followers of all faiths and backgrounds?  He taught us through his words and actions.

As a Christian, I have no problem with this young man's role in this film special.

This young man has taken to heart the role he was asked to play in this film.  He has looked closely at his own religion and at the role of Jesus in it.

Perhaps it has brought him closer to Jesus and his teachings.

Perhaps one day he might accept Jesus as his Savior.  Perhaps not.

Even if he does not, he has opened his mind and done a lot of introspect.  The minimum of which is that he has learned from Jesus' teachings of love and being non-judgmental.  This is a lesson more Christians should learn.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Recycle Your Old Food

Ah, the question of the day, is recycling worth the extra effort.

Recently, Seattle, Washington enacted a new law when it comes to those nasty leftovers.

It is no longer acceptable to simply scrape that plate into the trash.  Now, residents are being required to recycle that old food or face fines.  It seems a lot of people are up in arms in one of the most progressive areas in the country.  For awhile now food businesses have been required to sort those waste edibles for recycling and composting.  Now, all sorts of businesses and individuals are going to be required to do the same.

I remember when no one recycled.  There was no yellow or blue bins at the side of the road on trash day.  Everyone put everything in the trash.  Some people would save and wash their tuna cans for gardening or projects, but for the most part, when you were done with it, straight to the trash it went.  Now, everyone is familiar with recycling and most people in this country recycle to some extent.  Yet, when plastic and paper recycling began, many people were upset.  They didn't want the smell sitting in their yard, it was disgusting, it was going to take too much precious time. ... ah, the reasons that people had back then.  Ironically, they are the same as today with the objections to recycling food waste.

After all, how much difference would it really make?

Recycling does make a difference.  If you question that, I invite you to my apartment complex.  For the first time in more years than I can count, I live somewhere that there is no recycling.  Every week, the huge ugly trash dumpsters fill up with everyone's garbage.  The reek is near unbearable during the summer months.  My apartment complex has around 10 dumpsters, two of which are those huge open monstrosities that you need a tractor trailer to haul off.

Across the street from us is another apartment complex.  They have only 6 smaller dumpsters and a recycling dumpster.  Their dumpsters are never full, and I've the smell is not overwhelming even on the hottest day.  That little bit of recycling that each neighbor does adds up.  Their complex is neat and the dumpsters are never overflowing.  They take recycling and reusing seriously there.  On just about any given day, you can find a decent piece of furniture, or a bag of clothing, or even a set of dishes sitting on the utility box next to one of the dumpsters.

I must admit that I've been tempted to sort out my recyclables and drop them off across the street in that other complex.  Until then, I do the little I can.... I keep a bag on my back door for aluminum cans.  Even a few of the neighbors know that they can drop their cans off at my apartment.  I then crush them and take them to my step-dad who turns them in for a little bit of extra cash.  Those few cans may not make much of a difference to some, but to me, that's one less thing in those big ugly dumpsters.

Seattle, here's what I have to say.  Please take the time and before you know it, you will wonder why the rest of the country isn't following suit.  Then again, if you don't want to have to recycle your old leftovers, maybe it's time to take a look at how much you waste.  Maybe you'll be surprised and start eating those leftovers instead of dropping them in the trash.  It certainly won't hurt your budget, unless you decide the fines are more up your alley.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When Your Car Is No Longer Worth Fixing

"We have to stop meeting like this."

Those were the words out of my favorite mechanic's mouth.  Once again, my little Sebring was in at the autoshop for repairs.  This time, the engine light was on steady and it was making a horrifying sound.

It turns out that a gasket on the oil pan had gone bad.  That nice new oil change I had a month ago was worthless.  My car had no oil left in it.  

This marked the $3500 mark in repairs since I bought the car in March and my little Sebring was not worth that much.  Actually, I doubt it was even worth the $2000 I paid for it in  only 9 months ago.  At this rate, I could have been making a car payment for something a little newer and sturdier.  But, my little precious Anika loved her purple Sebring.  And, quite frankly I figured there was no way I could possibly afford anything better.  

Still, I paid the $400 for yet another repair with the promise to myself that I wouldn't be meeting my mechanic with another problem for months.  

Driving the next few days, I realized.  I can baby the car all I want, but it wasn't going to last through the year.  Even if it did, my precious Sebring had become a money pit.

Enter ... Greeway Dodge.  I brought my little car in there and they took care of me.  The first night I went, I really nice salesman by the name of Cody helped me.  I told him I didn't want to test drive, just look around.  He took his time showing me my options, listening to my concerns and especially my needs.  The next day, I came back.  Another salesman helped me this time, but we went straight for the car that Cody recommended to me.  A beautifully kept 2005 Buick Terraza.

Even so, it was hard saying goodbye to my little Sebring.  Now, though I have my new car.  It fits all the kids and there is no more "She's touching me" going on.