Monday, November 11, 2013

Best Friends Forever?

Throughout the years I've written many blogs and articles about friendships. It's something that I've learned a lot about over the years. Recently I read an article that the average friendship last for about seven years. 

While we think people are our friends because of the things we have in common the truth is most friends exist because of convenience and opportunity. We are friends because we go to the same school or church, work at the same job, or live in the same neighborhood. When you take away whatever it was that brought us together the friendship tends to fade and be replaced with new friends. 

Today, things like facebook help us know what's up with all of our friends, but it doesn't help us stay close. My family will always be my family. My husband and I are legally bound together. Friends, however, having nothing holding them to me. The truth is making a close friendship last is the hardest relationship to keep alive. 

After reading this article it made me look back at all my friends. Some of the greatest friends anyone could ever ask for I made at Camp Victory. I still talk to a couple of them somewhat regularly, but for the most part we've all gone different directions in our lives, and over the years have drifted apart. We all knew we didn't have much in common other than camp. It was pretty amazing how close we became.

In college I like to think I did a lot of real growing up with some amazing people. I can honestly say I had next to nothing in common with these people, and yet the memories we made together will last for the rest of my life. We still try and visit each other. Even if those visits are very few and far between they are still something I do and always will look the most forward to.

Then there are those that defy all odds. Those that no matter what happens in life, no matter how many years pass or how many miles come between us. We really will be best friends forever.

This blog was so much fun for me to research as I scoured facebook for long lost old photos of me and my friends. It brought back some great and fun memories, but it also showed me that I don't have enough pictures of these people and these memories... Lesson learned... Take more pictures! There will be a time in life when pictures are all you have.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Who really took your food stamps

 I once met someone who asked their employer to pay them under the table so that her family could still qualify for food stamps. Since then I've actually heard of others who have done the same or similar things in order to qualify for food stamps. I asked someone "Why is it you need to get paid cash again?" She said "So I can make sure I still qualify for food stamps!" The truth of the matter on that is if you don't qualify then obviously you don't qualify and are stealing from those who do! Shame on you, from taking from poorer people in order to benefit yourself! At one point in time we needed it and we received it. A few years later we thought we needed it again, but the government didn't agree, so I learned to budget and use coupons and it turns out the government was right! We didn't need it!

47.6 million (15% of the population) people get food stamps. In 2007 it was only 26.3 million (8.7%).

Why is this number growing? Well you can blame the economy and that certainly is a big part of it, but other part of it are the people that aren't trying to get off of them. My husband used to have an employee who complained if he was scheduled more than 15-20 hours. Hours were there (40+ some weeks with overtime pay) and they paid him well, but the man said "If I work more than part time then I'll lose part of my food stamps, I'll have to pay more in my subsidized rent or have to pay for my child care and I can't afford that". Did no one teach this nut that if he worked double the hours then he'd have MORE money meaning he CAN afford to take care of himself??

A really good friend of mine has three children and works harder than anyone else I know to provide from them. She's needed her fair share of help from the government and has taken it, but unlike the last guy I mentioned her goal in life is to provide for them the best life she can by earning it. I asked her once "What do you want to be when you grow up?" her answer was "I don't care what I do I just want to make sure I work hard so my kids can live comfortably"

If more people had that mindset I bet you'd see less people qualifying for food stamps.

With the most recent cut to the food stamp program the average family of four rieciving food stamps will be losing about $30 a month. That sounds like a lot to some I'm sure. Esspecially to a girl I use to work with who used her food stamps each day to buy a $10 sub from the deli at the grocery store. I pointed out to her that for the same cost as her lunch I could feed my entire family of 4 for an entire day. She told me "yes, but I have enough to do this every day, so it's ok!".

 I once had a budget that gave me around $2.50 a day per person in my family. According to our government that was enough for us and we did not qualify for any kind of help. I made that work so well that now we still eat that way and are great at saving my money.

My dad created a budget for himself where he lived on $1 a day. It wasn't always the easiest, but he proved that it can be done.

Imagine if more people had that mindset and paid closer attention to how much they spent to live each day, I bet you'd see less people qualifying for food stamps.

I'm not saying there aren't people that need food stamps. Like I said I use to get help myself, and it's ok to get help when you need it. The thing is.. When are these 47.6 million people going to stop needing it? Does our government have a plan to teach those who are capable, to budget, to cook, or to find better paying jobs?

I bet if they did we'd see less people qualifying for food stamps.

Friday, October 18, 2013

When Bad Things Happen

It's been almost two weeks since my last blog and I know that I made a goal of writing a new blog every week, but recently something happened that kind of put my blogging on hold for a minute as I put my thoughts together.

Recently a friend of mine learned some really hard news. Unexplainable bad events took place in her life for no apparent reason at all. My friend is a good person and it seems like she can't really catch a break, and it's not fiar!

When I was little, every year after halloween was over we had to hide our candy so my older brother would steal all the good ones, but it never failed. Every year he'd find it and take everything good and eat it all before we knew what hit us. If I told on him my mom would simply say something like "Sorry you should have hid it better" I would say "That's not fair!" My mom would then say "Life's not fair."

A couple years ago my Aunt Patsy found out she had cancer. She shared the news with our family and began writing a blog about her journey. I'm glad she did because it was really the only way I could keep up with her progress. My Aunt lives hundreds of miles away from me and always has. It made me sad to think that my aunt was going through such a rough journey and here I was almost 30 years old and I hardly knew her. Here I have two children and she hardly knows them.

It's things like this that can make a person really question what kind of a God we have if there is one at all to allow things such as this to happen in this world. When hurricans destory cities, or people die for seemingly no reason. Big or small bad things seem to happen to all of us and it's just not fair! It's a lesson in life we all have to learn one day.

Bad things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people too. Bad things happen and it just simply sucks. I don't believe that when a child dies it's because God needed another Angel in heaven, or when someone gets cancer God allowed it to teach them a lesson. I don't think he uses nature to destroy bad cities. I think bad things happen because life's not fair and it sucks sometimes, and dwelling on how or why things happen isn't the issue. Instead you take what happened and decide "Now what?" Instead you take the bad situation and try and make good things happen from it.

I know that when my aunt found out she had cancer I decided I needed to visit my family more. I use to only visit my family in Orlando when my parents did, but now I try to go once a year. Sometimes it's short notice and I don't get to see as much of my family as I like, but I still go. My family between my mom and my dad is HUGE and probably the most loving family in this entire world and I want my kids to know all of them!

I know serveral of my friends right now are going through some really rough stuff, and I want you all to know that I'm sorry and it really sucks. I have no more words of wisdom other than that, but regardless I'm here to be a listening ear to anyone who needs one.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Finishing First Grade

My little Angel is one special little girl. I don't just say that because she's mine and is incredibly adorable (although that plays a big part!). Angel is so sensitive and fragile. Because of this, I had planned for her to ride the bus to school on her first day. I know that sounds crazy having your first child ride the bus on their very first day of school, but I knew it'd be easier for her to tell me bye from home than from her classroom.

After waiting for two hours for a bus that never showed I ended up driving her. I remember telling her teacher at the time that Angel was a little sensitive. Poor Mrs. Meyer... I should have given a better warning! Angel had a little trouble with me leaving that day, but Mrs. Meyer calmed her down and helped her make it through that first day.

Angel spent much of kindergarten walking up and down the halls with one of the aides, trying to calm down, rather than learning with the other kids. Mrs. Meyer spent many days holding Angel in her arms, calming her down, assuring her that it's ok. Life will go on even though she can't pronounce the word "ask" as well as the other kids. Angel loved Mrs. Meyer so much, and Mrs. Meyer helped make school not so scary for Angel. We couldn't have asked for a better kindergarten teacher. We considered keeping Angel in kindergarten another year, but seeing how her problem was her immaturity and lack of confidence in herself rather than academics we decided to move her forward just in case she grew out of it.

On her first day of first grade I decided she should ride the bus. I thought it would be easier to say goodbye from home than from school, but again the bus never showed, so I drove her. Luckily her first grade class was right next to her old kindergarten class, so walking to her new first grade teacher wasn't too much out of her routine. Despite that, Angel was still terrified, and she made sure I knew it! This teacher, Mrs. Matlock, already knew about Angel's melt downs over silly things.

The first spelling test Angel ever brought home was a zero. Her teacher told me a horrific story about how Angel had a melt down and this caused all the kids to start crying. Her second spelling test wasn't much different (She almost got one right). We used to spend countless hours and many tears working on her homework every night. Angel was constantly saying things like, "Mommy, I think I need to go back to kindergarten!" or "I just can't do this!" Her first report card wasn't all that great, but Mrs. Matlock assured me Angel was doing her absolute best. Angel spent many days inside during recess having one on one time with her teachers, but still each report card was worse and worse. She just wasn't there. For each step forward all the other kids took, Angel only took about a half a step. By the end of the year she was making 50s on her spelling tests.

When the end of the year came we all decided it would be best for Angel to remain in first grade another year. I asked Angel one day "Are you ready for second grade?" She said "No! I want to stay with Mrs. Matlock!" so I said to her "If you don't feel like you are ready for second grade then I think we can arrange for you to stay with Mrs. Matlock another year. What do you think of that?"

Angel was so excited. She actually announced it to her whole class that she was staying for another year. The other kids were jealous! They all said how unfair it was that Angel got to stay with Mrs. Matlock next year while the rest of them all had to get new teachers! 

I spent all summer trying to come up with a good blog to write about our decision. I went online and did all kinds of research. I kept finding things like "The pros and cons of repeating a grade" or "The affects of failing a grade" or message boards and debates about what kind of harm you are doing to a child by holding them back a grade. Although there were times I found positive remarks they were always accompanied by something negative.

Those that I spoke to about it in person tended to say things like "Well, maybe she will catch up one day." or "Why are you letting her have the same teacher?? She clearly didn't do her job right the first time!"

I stopped my research, and I stopped talking to people about it. I didn't want anything about this to be negative. Angel didn't "fail" first grade! Angel is not "repeating" first grade, and she definitely isn't being "held back" from anything! She simply didn't finish! She DID make progress, just not as quickly as everyone else. Of course she will have the same teacher. Mrs. Matlock did an AMAZING job the first time, so of course she'll be in the same class again!

Angel's first day back to finish first grade this year was amazing. I didn't even bother waiting for the bus and simply drove her. Angel walked in smiling and excited to be there. She knew right where to put her things and right where to sit. She gave me a hug and a kiss bye with ease. She's the oldest and the smallest in her class this year.

All of her spelling tests so far have been As. She finishes her homework in about 10-15 minutes.

My once sensitive and fragile little Angel is now bold and confident in herself.

Personally I think allowing my daughter to spend one more year properly finishing first grade was the best decision I ever made. Now while the other kids are taking one step forward Angel is taking one and a half. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

No longer in my 20s, so what Now?

It's been so long since I've been able to write anything. So much has happened since my last blog...

My husband and I both quit our jobs to enter into the not so corporate world.

Abigail started preschool.

Angel is continuing in another year of first grade.

I celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary.

Most importantly I've completed yet another year of my life.

Typically around my brirthday I write a blog refecting on all the things I learned in my past year. This time I think I'm going to do things a little different. As I think I should. Afterall, I'm no longer in my 20s.

Instead of relecting on my experiences this past year I'm going to relect on my goals for the year coming forward.

This year I plan to be more involved with Angel at school. This year I plan to write more blogs, once a week instead of once a month. This year I plan to take Abigail out in public more. This year I plan to see my husband more, and I'm going to stay in touch with people better.

So what happens after that? Well, I've learned that it's best to take each year as it comes, one year at a time. Setting goals are great, but each year never turns out the way I expect them to. When I turned 20, I was living at crossroads youth ranch in Louisiana. They surprised me with a chocolate cake. If you'd told me then that in ten years I'd be living in a tiny town in Florida, managing at a donut shop on the beach, with two little girls and married to a guy I'd knows since I was 13, I wouldn't think you were crazy, but I would be very curious as to how it all would unfold.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

My not so baby-proofed house.

When Angel was a baby it was very easy for me to not need to baby-proof my house. She was so mellow and calm all the time and the few things she did try to get into weren't things that concerned me. My method of parenting a baby is simple. I never let them play outside a playpen unsupervised. While supervised I teach them what they can and can not do. I still had people who would ask me "How do you go to the bathroom? Or take a shower? Without the fear that she'll get into something?". Simple, I had a playpen or even better I let their daddy take a turn with them.

Then when I was pregnant with Abigail many people were quick to tell me that I probably wouldn't be so lucky and she might be the one I need to baby-proof for. I, however, don't like to not be able to get into my own cabnets, or lift my toilet lid, or whatever else is locked. Once Abigail became mobile if I was unable to be litterally by her side teaching her what was ok and not ok to touch, I'd simply put her in her playpen with a few toys and go to the bathroom or cook dinner or whatever else I needed to do.

I say teach like that because I believe it's never too early to start teaching your children how to behave. Yes, I said NEVER. They are never too young to start learning. I hear all the time "Well it's ok. They don't know any better". Just because child doesn't know any better does not make their actions ok! "It's ok that my two year old throws her plate of food on the floor every night. She doesn't know any better...." Really? Yes, I heard someone say that to me. You're child will always "not know any better" unless you teach them to know better.

Angel is one of the most well behaved children out there. I still get compliments about that. While Angel is outside playing in the front yard she will come in and ask my permission to play in the back yard. I believe this is because I started teaching her how to behave from the moment she was born.

I will admit that Abigail was a little tougher to teach right and wrong to, but she still follows her sisters lead and will ask my permission before doing things she's unsure of. She's also pretty smart and gets away with a lot more when she's being watched by others. She knows when people don't realize that she DOES know better at the young age of two. She is very stubborn and has a short temper, however, desipite her attitude problem I still have never had to baby proof my house, and I never will. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Stop Complaining!

Now that I'm back in the working world full force I'm reminded of how many people seem to have given up on life without even realizing it. I recently worked with someone who constantly complained. Everyday there was something new to complain about. A few promotions were given and she didn't get one. She felt that there most be some kind of conspiricy going on with the bigger bosses against her and eventually quit the job.

It seems lately our world is filled with people that bounce from job to job and instead of sticking to something and learning to be the best. They simply complain about it and then quit. Quiting when things aren't perfect has become way too easy. I'm going to assume that's why the unemployment rate is so high while there are so many jobs out there.

Persistant complainers hold grudges like I hold babies. They also aren't good with time or money management. I know this because I use to be one. If there is too much work to do or they don't make enough money, it's obviously the boss's fault. If they are late for work, it's traffic's fault, or their spouse's fault. No matter what their life circumstances become someone's fault besides their own. Complaining then becomes their way of control. They'll complain to any listening ear, and when someone is willing to listening the complaining becomes just in their eyes. (so stop listening to the complaints and they will stop complaining to you!)

A successful person still complains, but the difference is they don't just complain. They see the problem and do something about it. They fix it so they no longer have to complain. They don't quit just because they feel it's not all it's cracked up to be. If you want to succeed, quiting is NOT the first step! If you'd don't want to succeed, please, by all means, QUIT! Complainers give in when things get hard and then look to others to drop what they are doing and come to their rescue after they've been defeated.

Complainers don't know how to love themselves. They have no sense of selfworth. They tend to cling to others who are also complainers or turn them into complainers. Ranting can feel good and it's easy to hear someone doing it and think of reasons why your life might also not be all that great. This creats a downward spiral of "my life sucks worse" competetion. Since these guys have no selfworth they expect the rest of us to show it to them.

Well, here is some news that might surprise you. If you are a complainer than you really aren't anyone I want to be around. When I come around you, I will listen to your complaints for a minute. I won't try and tell you how to fix these complains. I'll simply tell you to smile a little and tell you to be worth it.

 Where I work it's easy to complain. It can get VERY stressfull. Those that are successful and know they are worth it complain for a minute, but then move on. The complainers who feel they aren't worth it don't tend to last and they simply go home. My work day goes by so much easier without the complainers. Complainers don't have my sympathy or compassion. As I've said in many blogs passed if you don't like where your life is you are the only one who can change it. No one else wants to hear about it.