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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.