Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thoughts on a Thursday



With each year that comes and goes, I become more and more aware of how sad our society is becoming. It's true whether you want to believe it or not. With educational and financial decay, ass-backward government priorities and failed leadership, how can we even begin to claim that we are “The greatest nation” with regards to anything anymore?

We can't because we aren’t.

We do have a lot of talented, caring and kind people left in this nation but overall, it's pretty bad with regards to the human condition. As a whole, we are a collected body of laziness, apathy, hatred, ignorance, bigotry and selfishness. The overwhelming majority of people have an "every man for themselves" mentality. And while I'm a proponent of self-reliance, there comes a time in everyone's life when we all need a helping hand and really - what is so wrong with that?  Whether it is mental, physical, financial, or emotional help, we've all needed a helping hand at some point or time in our lives. If you say otherwise, you're either

A. Flat out lying or
B. EXTREMELY lucky

Think back to a time in your life when you needed help. And I'm not talking about the time you had a hard time putting your kid’s bike together so you had to call on someone for help. I'm talking about the times where you may have been seconds away from swallowing a bottle of pills because the pain of living was too great to bear and you had no one to turn to for comfort or no way to access mental health care. I'm talking about the time the bread-winner of your family lost their job and you were left to wonder how you would make ends meet while keeping a roof over your head and food on the table for your family. I'm talking about the time you were in a serious car wreck and your physical injuries were so bad that you couldn't work and earn a living. If I had to venture a guess, I'm sure most of us would have to admit that we were either

A.   Forced to reach out for help and assistance through government means
B.   Able to access limited savings or retirement accounts or
C.   Were fortunate enough to have either family or friends help us

You are the lucky ones. Most people are not as lucky.

The current soap-box of the Republican Party for this upcoming election is focused on government assistance programs such as SNAP or those who provide food stamps to help meet the needs of feeding families and individuals. Their battle cry is this - "It is not the government's responsibility to provide nutrition." Their aim is to strip this country of most assistance programs.

Let me repeat that: "It is not the government's responsibility to provide nutrition."

For those of you reading this, I want you to stop and really think about what this statement implies. Really think about it. Come back to reading when you've given it some thought. OK, go!

Aaaaaaand welcome back. So, let's recap. Basically, what I take away from the GOP's statement is this – “it's not our responsibility to take care of our own citizens. If individuals and families can't take care of themselves, then that's their problem. Work harder! Do more with less!” 

Are you freaking kidding me??? I could be wrong but I venture to guess that when the Great Depression hit (And in case you've been living under a rock for the past 4 or 5 years, we are in the worst economic crisis since the Depression) Roosevelt's response wasn't "Hey! You lazy slacker! Get off your ass and get a job!" 

NO.

It was more along the lines of, "WE AS YOUR GOVERNMENT are here to help you. WE AS YOUR GOVERNMENT will do what we can to get you back on your feet. And as a result, Roosevelt re-built a nation and did indeed put people back to work. But it wasn't just Roosevelt. You see, when the Depression hit, EVERYONE was affected including the rich. Unless you were a rare gagilionaire, you were homeless and living in a wood shack wondering if you were going to eat that day and in order to make it through those trying times, THE NATION CAME TOGETHER TO HELP AND ASSIST ONE ANOTHER. The little that people did have, they shared. The extra shirt they had, they put on someone else's back instead of keeping it for themselves. Those living through The Great Depression understood that in order for the nation to move forward, it was going to take the effort of everyone chipping in to help.

And it is my belief that that was probably the last time in the course of history that our nation's people were civilized in such uncivilized circumstances. 

I've asked this question time and time again and to this day, no one can give me an acceptable response that makes sense - What good is government if we aren't willing to take care of our citizens??? Think about that for a moment. Sure, we need laws and we can’t possibly be everything to everyone but really think about what you expect from your government: Prosperity. Leadership. Protection. 

What is so horribly wrong with helping our own people? And before any of you even try to give me that worn-out, broken record, song and dance of "People abuse the system!" I'm just going to have to tell you to save it. Really? That's the best you can come up with? 

Yes. Everywhere, every day and in every nation there is someone, somewhere who is getting over on something. It is bound to happen. You can't prevent it. We can do our best to weed out the ones who take advantage but people really need to start accepting the fact that it's going to happen - bottom line, end of story. What are we supposed to do as a nation? Not feed, house, and provide medical care (You know, basic human needs) to our own people because of abusers of the system? How ludicrous is that! 

Yes. There are abusers of the system but what most people fail to realize is that the overwhelmingly large majority of people on SNAP and food stamps are on these programs because of circumstances beyond their control meaning: Lost jobs, injuries preventing them from being able to work and a very large majority of handicapped individuals.  What infuriates me more than anything about this whole issue of assistance is how this majority of people are the forgotten ones in all of this. Most people just ASSUME that if you are on assistance, you must be some lazy, good-for-nothing freeloader when 9 times out of 10 that couldn't be further from the truth. And really, if I hear one more person say, "Just go get a job!" I'm going to punch them right in the mouth. It's that easy, huh? Because jobs are just so plentiful, right?

WRONG.

I'm going to share a little secret with all of you. When I was laid off last year and looking for a job, I tried to find employment with companies like Target, retailers, and mall jobs. I was applying for jobs within my career field but also applying for anything I could so that I could provide for our family. I even applied to a restaurant to be a server and guess what - EACH AND EVERY TIME I APPLIED, I WAS TOLD "NO THANKS.” 

Yep, that's right. This college-educated woman with an impressive resume couldn't even find a job so how do you think others are faring who haven't had the same opportunities in life that most of us do with college educations and advanced degrees? The reality is this - if jobs were so plentiful and available, our country wouldn't be in this mess resulting in the largest unemployment rate and fiscal downfall since The Great Depression. Stop telling people to find a job. It's insulting. It's demeaning and it's wrong. 

The average SNAP/food stamp allocation is $30 per week. $30 per week. So while most of you are enjoying your Starbucks or Panera while reading this, let that sink in for a moment. That breaks down to a little over $4 a day that these people have to live on to feed themselves and their families. Most of you waste $4 every day on things that don't even matter but you're going to pitch a fit if our government gives it to people who need it??? 

The bottom line is this - we should all be doing what we can within our means to help the cause for the greater good. If you claim to love America, then you have to take the good along with the bad. Step outside of yourselves long enough to realize that your life hasn't gotten to the point of where it is without the help of someone or something along the way. We have all needed a helping hand to make it through the rough patches of life.

Keep this in mind when you go to the polls on Tuesday. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hump Day Mommy Confessions



{1} Let’s dish on Halloween.

Allow me to get straight to the point – I’m not a fan, and for many reasons. Yes, I participated in the “holiday” when I was young but as I transitioned into my adult years, I found the whole thing to be completely ridiculous. I’ve also found that…

·         Kids are just downright rude these days. Gone are the days of saying, “Trick or Treat!” or even please and thank you for their treats. Most don’t even bother wearing a costume anymore. They just mope their rude asses up to my front door, hold out their bag for me to dump the candy into, and then have the audacity to make comments like, “Aw man! This candy is lame!!” or “Where’s the good candy?” Are you shitting me, dude? I just spent my hard earned money on candy that I don’t even want or need for kids that aren’t even mine and you’re going to say that to me? Nah, dude.

·         The traffic, safety, and crowds just aren’t worth it for having a 3 year old. Sorry, it just isn’t. Because of the decline of Halloween over the years, most neighborhoods don’t even give out candy anymore which means mom and dad have to find other outlets for trick or treating (Malls, event venues, etc.). So by the time I get off work at 5 p.m., rush to get Chickie from school, rush home, rush to get dinner on the table, rush to get the costume on (that she’s usually fighting me on), rush to get to wherever we’re going, fight traffic, fight the crowds…NO THANKS. I mean, my kid is 3. She has no clue what’s going on. So totally not worth it!

·         Adults ruin it. Yep, you read that right. We ruin it. Here’s a prime example. The last year that I handed out candy (Circa 2008 I think?) I had an adult come to my door trick or treating. And y’all, he was serious. It wasn’t as if he was trick or treating with his kid. Nope. He was doing it all by himself and damn near wanted to punch me in the face when I told him that I wouldn’t give him any candy. How freaking crazy is that?! 

I dunno. I’m certainly not a curmudgeon and I like to have a good time but it’s so not worth it to me at this point in Maddy’s life to do this. When she gets older and is able to decide for herself what she wants to do then I’m sure it will be a different story but for now, we’ll celebrate Halloween the same way we have since she was born: dinner at home, a movie curled up on the sofa, bath, and bed. 


{2} I’m officially at the age where I use Clearasil and wrinkle cream at the same time. Go home, face! You’re drunk.


{3} The weather around these parts has left me feeling a bit yuck lately. I hate to say it {OK not really otherwise I wouldn’t be saying it here} but I’m totally one of those people whose mental and emotional well-being, in part, is based on the weather and I’m not AT ALL a hot weather person.

I’ve always lived in places where it’s spring when it’s supposed to be spring, fall when it’s supposed to be fall, and winter when it’s supposed to be winter. Not this 89 degree crap at the end of October. It’s seriously starting to piss me off. I know, I know – first world problems and all but really. 89?? 

The weather app on my phone keeps telling me that next day or next week it’s supposed to dip down into the 60’s and stay there but it lies. Case in point – today’s high is 84 when yesterday it told me it was supposed to be 70. Believing my weather app is like being in a really bad relationship where I’m constantly being lied to but I stay because I want to believe that it will get better but in the end, it’s all just disappointment. Le sigh.


{4} Sometimes, I throw out the entire Tupperware container to avoid dealing with the funk on the inside.


{5} I flush the toilet with my shoe when using public restrooms. 


{6} I feel like I’m the only woman on the planet who has ZERO interest in the 50 Shades of Grey series. More so, I lose my faith in humanity just a little bit every time I hear people refer to it as “good reading” or “good literature.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald may have something to say about that. 

It’s such trash! Someone, please explain to me what I’m missing…


{7} I hardly if ever wash my bras. There I said it! #andthetruthshallsetyoufree


{8} I always get amused by the people on Facebook who bitch 99.9% of the year but when November 1st rolls around, there they are counting down their blessings each day for the month. And if I’m being super, super honest? Their confessions of blessings come across as totally fake and less than genuine. C’mon now. Please, let’s all just keep it real. 


What do you have to confess for the week?


Monday, October 27, 2014

Obligatory Blogger Pumpkin Patch Pictures

This weekend, we decided to high-tale it out of Statesboro and head up to the ATL to see grandma, poppy, Aunt Ashley, Aunt Jordan, and TuTu. Last Saturday was my my sister Ashley's birthday and since she already had plans to celebrate with friends, we decided that we would do a family thing this weekend.

If I'm being honest, our time at the pumpkin patch on Saturday was...eh. It was hot. It was crowded. And to top it off, Chickie was in less than a stellar mood. It just didn't make for a good time. We had some moments of fun but overall, it was a little stressful. 

And hot. Like, in the 80's hot. But I digress...

Having said all of this, I did manage to get a few good pics of our trip to the pumpkin patch and far be it from me to not share them all with you! {Considering that by now, you've probably seen 1,000,000 pics of everyone's trip to the farm}. 

Well, here's a million and one more!




 













How was your weekend?




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Organizing the Everyday Crazy




Hi, my name is Courtney and my life is crazy. Oh, and yes, I DO like to watch the occasional bad reality show. So much so, that I'll schedule the season premiere on my calendar as seen above.

Don’t judge.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is how, as a working mom, I keep our life organized. How do we get out of the door in the morning in one piece, sane, and on time? How do you juggle work time and family time? How do you keep it all balanced? 

Well friends, allow me to be honest. I don’t really have a concrete answer to those questions because on any given day, life happens. The day care calls un-expectantly to ask you to pick up a sick kiddo. You get a flat tire. Starbucks is out of pumpkin spiced lattes (the freaking horror!). You get the drift – life happens.

Whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom, we all have the same amount of hours in the day to work with. Having said that, I think the key for me in helping our lives run smoothly has been establishing and keeping to routines and keeping a well-organized, day-to-day plan aside from looking at the big picture (Months down the road planning) types of things.

Maybe you’re one of those people who have this organization thing down to a science. Your pantry is all neat and organized with Ikea storage containers and you have pretty little Pinterest chalkboard labels for everything. Your clothes are neatly folded and arranged in your closet and everything is sorted and placed according to color and season. 

Great. But what about your everyday organization? How do you go about your day with an organized schedule and to-do list? Here are my tips on helping to organize the everyday crazy.

Prep the Night Before
Nothing helps me to get my new day going more than going to bed at night knowing that the details for the following day are handled. I wake up feeling far more refreshed and not so much in a panic.

·         Put together and organize kid stuff – handle all of those pesky forms and paperwork and pull together day care and school bags for the next day. Establish a “command center” where all of these items are placed. For me, that’s the end of our dining room table. My purse, Chickie’s school bag and any other items for the next day are placed there so that in the morning, it’s an easy grab and go.

·         Do a quick pick-up around the house – bath time for Chickie is at 7:50. Around 7:30, we do a quick clean up around the house. Toys are put away, the kitchen is cleaned up with the dishwasher going, and all stray items are put away. We get Chickie involved by doing the “clean up song” (which is a perfect opportunity to teach helpfulness and responsibility) and I’ve even started letting her pick out her outfit the night before to try and minimize morning meltdowns and tantrums.

·         Make a to-do list for the next day – This habit does wonders for my productivity. Instead of waking up in a panic wondering what I have to get done for the day, I simply refer to my list to see what’s on the agenda for the day. I usually break my list down to “Need to do”, “Want to do”, and then list any appointments, events, or special reminders like birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

When I’m done with my list, I place it on the bar in our kitchen because that’s where I go first thing in the morning for coffee. While I’m waiting for the Keurig to do its magic, I can look over my list and get mentally prepared for the day ahead.

Get the Most Out of Daily Activities
Let’s be honest – no matter how much we plan ahead and organize, there’s no way to predict the perfect day. I do believe however, that we can do our best to try and stay on track to keep things running smoothly. Here are some of my tips:

·         When you rise, put that cell phone away! I know that since most of us use our cell phones for our alarm clocks, it’s only natural to want to get on our phones and see what’s going on but DON’T. Get a cup of coffee. Have some quiet time. Read over that amazing to-do list you planned the night before ;-) If you’re a religious person, use those first few minutes of the morning for devotional time. Point being – put the phone down. Allow yourself some time to wake up and shake off the morning fuzzies. Don’t get sucked into the bright screen and allow emails for the day to run over and dictate your life from the get-go.

For me, I usually sip on my coffee, go over my to do list for the day, and read blogs. This usually takes around 15 – 20 minutes. THEN I get my phone. Trust me, you’ll feel far more refreshed and ready to tackle the day if you don’t get sucked into your phone first.

·         Keep a good routine that works for you and your family – No one in our family is a morning person, but I’ve come to learn that having a good routine in place helps to minimize the cray-cray. We all wake up knowing what to expect and how the morning will play out so there are no surprises. Now, do we have meltdowns and tantrums? Yes. Do we have set-backs? Absolutely – but, having the bones and structure to the start of our day is half the battle.

This is especially true for small ones. Most toddlers and preschoolers crave routine. For us it’s goes as follows:

1.    Chickie wakes up and immediately goes potty
2.    I will get her Cheerios and then she lays in our bed eating and watching a movie. This allows me time to get ready.
3.    Next up, it’s time to get Chickie ready. Clothes, hair, and teeth are all done.
4.    Get shoes on and out the door!

Now don’t get me wrong. We have our struggles all through that little scenario but that’s pretty much the foundation of our mornings Monday thru Friday.

·         Take a break – I’m the type of person who can get very bored very quickly working on one thing. It’s hard for me to sit down and work on one project for a long length of time. I try to break up my day into manageable chunks with little breaks in-between. For instance, if I’m working on a project for work, I’ll go hard for about an hour or so and then take a break and call and make appointments for Chickie, schedule things for myself, or follow up on house and life items that need to be taken care of. I’m getting my work done but I’m also able to handle personal things as well. 

One Last Suggestion…
Find a planner system that works for you. Finding your perfect fit will be worth its weight in gold. I personally LOVE paper calendars and organizing systems. I’m a writer and love putting pen to paper and being able to write things out and see in a planner what my month, day, etc. looks like. It’s what works for me. 

Some people enjoy keeping electronic task lists and that’s great, too. Whatever works for you is what’s important. There was a time when I did try to go electronic and used Wunderlist and Evernote. Both are great products, each with their pros and cons. It’s simply just a process of finding what suits you but do it. It will be worth it.

What tips do you have for keeping the day to day crazies at bay?