Thursday, October 24, 2013

Raising Kids

   There is a lot of judgement out there about how a person should raise kids. I say 'judgement' instead of 'opinion' because this is what I am talking about -- there are a lot of people out there who like to point fingers and tout their methods above other people's methods; basically claiming that their method is better and anyone who doesn't use this method is a sub-par parent.
   I want to be clear on one thing -- I have a lot of opinions, and I am vocal in this blog about the way I raise my daughter, but I hope I never come across as judgmental, because that has never been my intention. If you do something differently than me, I don't think you are doing things 'wrong'. I just think you are different. But God forbid that we all be different; aren't we supposed to be cookie-cutter images of each other? This can't be! We can't be different! (Cue the dramatic music here please.)
    Seems to be the prevalent opinion these days. I know that as parents, your methods have been attacked, your decisions have been second guessed, and all I am saying is that if you are anything like me, you are getting a little tired of having to defend yourself to people who are not an integral part of your life -- as if these people had business butting into your business.
    Some of the many things I have been attacked about: well as always there is the working mom bit. I have absolutely nothing against stay-at-home moms. Many of my best friends, whom I have had friendships with since childhood, are stay-at-home moms, and I have the deepest respect for them. But I can't do this. Besides the whole 'I'm the sole income' bit; I have suffered from very severe economic abuse from my ex-significant other. Try not working when at one time, you have had to beg and plead for even sanitary items. I have panic attacks when I have no income. I NEED to be able to buy my own things; I am never gonna be able to be a stay-at-home mom again; I don't think I would stay sane. But of course, other people have other reasons and other influences, other needs, and I don't look at these people with any kind of judgment; diversity is a beautiful thing. But no -- my child is NOT suffering because I work. She knows that I love and support her 100%; I volunteer at her school; I talk to her every day about her day and help with homework; we have quality time together.
   Another thing I often get attacked about is her education. Yes -- I send my daughter to a public school. A lot of people expect me to say this with shame, which I refuse to do. My daughter is doing very well in school; she in in advanced classes. Yes, there has been problems with bullying in schools; and my daughter is in self defense classes; I have taught her that she should stand up for herself and that I will always stand up for her. Last year, a girl was picking on her and she told me about the incidents. Outraged, I wanted to call the school; I wanted this to never happen again. My itchy trigger finger was on the call button of the phone, but my daughter stopped me and insisted I let her handle this. After a few days, she informed me that the girl and herself were now friends. Seems she handled bullying better than I would have.
    Furthermore, in no way am I what I would consider a good teacher. Yes, of morals and ethics and beliefs, no to text book math. I had to get help from my daughter's teacher so that I could help my daughter with her homework, an amusing experience, but one that firmly illustrated that I should not be trying to teach pre-algebra, much less the higher maths. Nor would I make a good science teacher. I take an integral role in my daughter's education, but they say it takes a village to raise a child. Public education is my way of using the village.  You may home school; I have never attacked a homeschooling mom. Again, I have friends who home school, and they often complain about they way they are attacked for their choices. Is it fair to attack me in turn, and claim that I am forcing my child to 'conform to society' and allowing her to be bullied and receive a substandard education? Not true in any case; learning to exist with people who are different than you is not conforming. I don't teach my child to change the ideals, morals, and beliefs that I have worked to instill in her; I teach her to accept that other people are different, and that she can exist with these differences and that these differences cannot change her beliefs unless she wants them to. She has proven that she can handle someone picking on her in a very mature way -- by talking it out and working through their differences -- and if she meets the person she can't handle, I will be right there. I work with her teachers as well, and know what my child is being taught, and she is not receiving anything substandard. I shouldn't have to defend my choices any more than a homeschooling or privately schooled parent should. Worry about your kid and let me worry about mine.
   And of course, the single parent. How dare I leave an abusive partner and work my ass off to make a better life for myself and my child. I am the wreck of the family, and things should be like they were back when women didn't even have the right to vote, were considered property, and there was no such thing as marital rape because women weren't allowed to say no.
  Of course that is a sweeping generalization of people who value the traditional family, and doesn't being forced into a generalization that has nothing to do with what you believe suck? I never wanted to be a single mom, but I'll be damned if I am going to raise my child in a harmful environment. I shouldn't have to defend that, and the fact that I am raising my child as a single parent should not affect your family in any way. If my being a single mom does threaten your family structure, than you have some pretty big problems, and you can stop misdirecting your anger, because regardless of what your problem is -- it's not caused by me or the choices I have made.
   So again I write another post defending my choices. But the message that I want to get across here is not really the defense of my choices, although I do feel better after that vent, but to say that we would do better as a society if we stopped being so judgmental. I have gotten along with my many diverse friends for years and years, and they have gotten along with me. So why can't we all? Why do we insist on bringing each other down, on belittling other's lives? We really have to stop judging each other. I really hope that nothing I have written comes across as anything other than defending my choices; I am not against home school or private school, nor am I against stay-at-home moms, and I am certainly not against marriage and having both parents involved in their child. But there are reasons for all of my choices, just as you have reasons for all of your choices, and I think that instead of sitting down and judging each other, we should accept that we are different and do things differently, and really, why is that so wrong? The answer is, there's nothing wrong. We make the best life choices we can, and do the best we can for our families. That is what we should focus on, not nitpicking another person's choices. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Packages And Holiday Shopping

   Packages; I am swamped with packages. How many of you do a lot of online shopping? I do quite  a lot. For one thing, shopping online is easier when you don't have a car, but that is really just a minor issue. I have so many offers of people who are willing to take me to this place and that, that all I need to do is pick up the phone. Online, for me, gives me more variety; if I can't find what I want on one website, all I need to do is press a few buttons and I am on another. And over time, I have found the stores that will do free shipping and handling, so I wait for those sales, or in the case of Amazon, pay the yearly fee, because I order so much from them, that I save by doing the fee and always ordering prime and getting free shipping. 
   But even that is not the real reason that I have packages coming out of my ears, which is a real pain with my mailbox still not being replaced, because I have to walk to the post office to pick them up. Even worse was the false hope I was fed a few days ago, when I saw a new box standing up there, which prompted a trip to the office to find out if we were getting our mail delivered again, only to be told that they need two more boxes and then they have to get everything registered and squared away with the post office. And it's the Christmas shopping season!
   So now you probably begin to guess why my home is overflowing with packages. I have been doing my Christmas shopping online. For me, online shopping is the best option. This way, I can shop without my daughter, and there is no possible way that she can see what is in my 'shopping cart'. Have you ever tried Christmas or birthday shopping while your kid is in the store with you? You might as well just let them pick out the gifts that they want, because if they are anywhere in the store, even if they are two isles down with your sister or mom, they are going to figure out what you put in that cart. There isn't even any use; you can try telling them not to look in your buggy, but c'mon, you were a kid once as well. Would that have worked with you? Wouldn't have worked with me. 
   This way I don't have to deal with any of that. Boxes come, I look in them to make sure that all is there and nothing is broke, then I tape that biatch back up and shove it in the closet until it's time to wrap. That is what I call stress-free Christmas shopping. I don't have to stand in mile long lines and fight over the last toy in stock that my kid has-to-have. Not that I often deal with that, because I tend to try to get all my Christmas shopping done by the time December rolls around. That way, I can sit back and laugh at all the frantic mommas and daddys running around trying to get every thing done last minute. Fistfights in Walmart are hilarious when you aren't the one involved in them.
   Anyway, on top of Christmas shopping, I recently ordered my daughter's Halloween costume online, as well as her winter coat, but those items came UPS. Of course, the UPS man always come when I am at work, so my package gets left at the apartment office, and I usually get to hear comments about how many packages I am ordering, while I look at them with crazy eyes because I don't think two packages is worth commenting over. I, on the other hand, could comment about how I haven't had a mailbox for a month now. I think that is worth some commentary. 
   But besides my mail issues, I really love this time of year. I love Halloween; I love Thanksgiving; I love Christmas. And here they are, all lined up in a sweet little row of holiday fun. BAM BAM BAM!!! Good times. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Counterfeit Money

   Any one who has spent any amount of time handling money should know that there is a huge problem with counterfeit money. If your time handling money is part of your job, part of the way that you support your family, then you take measures to make sure that you don't take in that counterfeit money; all cashiers know this unless they are newbies.
   This need to thoroughly check the bills that pass through our hands, however, has a tendency to piss people off. Frankly, I am not sure why. I have been on the other side of that counter as a consumer/customer, and my panties don't get in a bunch when the cashier passes that counterfeit pen over my bill and then holds the bill up to the light. I know that they are just doing their job; checking for fake bills is actually part of our job and there are specific things we are looking for. The most well known is the little strip inside the bill, that says 100 if it's a 100 or twenty if it's a 20 (it's actually spelled out on the strip for the 20 and in numerals for the 100.) We also check for a number of other thinks, like color changing ink, matching faces, red and blue threads in the paper, and so-on and so-forth. The pen is a useful tool, but all the pen does is let us know that the bill is on the right type of paper, and, oh those creative criminals, they have found ways around that. So I understand that even if I just got that bill straight from the bank, the person I am handing the bill to still needs to check for authenticity. So  I don't waste my time getting all huffy and puffy about them doing their job.
    Even with all those measures, sometimes we still manage to take in fake bills. I know that I have seen fake bills in every thing from fake 100's all the way down to fake 10's. And I mean, really, if you have the time and energy to fake a 10, I wouldn't think that getting a job would be less work. But who knows what goes on in people's heads? Not me.
   But to get back to my original point, there are some people that really get steamed when we check their money. I know that I have even been told that my checking money is not legal (pure bullshit, folks, so whatever you have read online about that, disregard it. Marking a bill with a counterfeit pen is NOT considered defacing money.) I know some people think that we check because we are implying something about their character, but that is not the case at all.  We don't even know most of you. For my store, and for many others that I know of, checking money is standard procedure. We are supposed to check every single bill. So our checking isn't a sign that we are judging you, we check every one's bills from little old  ladies with glasses and polka dot dresses to big scary-looking dudes with facial piercings and tattoos (and in my own experience, the old ladies can be the meanest customers and the pierced, tatted up dudes can be huge teddy bears.) This is our job, and taking in a counterfeit bill can and often is counted as a shortage in our cash drawer, and frankly, too many incidents like that would lead to termination. I speak for myself here, but I have a child to support, so frankly, I can afford your offense, even though checking a bill is not meant to be offensive, but I cannot afford to take in those counterfeit bills.
  This is something that I do try to explain to people when they seem upset, or even just curious as to what I am looking for. Some people, once I have explained and even showed them what I am looking for in a bill, settle down and leave with an understanding that I am just doing my job. But other people: they are determined to take offense no matter what I say. But, as I just explained, this isn't something that I can stop doing. One fake 100 dollar bill in my drawer puts me over the shortage amount that I am allowed; I can't afford that. My family can't afford that. So checking for counterfeit money is something that is going to happen.
   On that note, they have just come out with new 100 dollar bills that are supposed to be much harder to counterfeit, and I actually had some pass through my hands to other day. The first one I handled just befuddled me. This poor man handed me this purplish bill with a metallic 3D strip down the center of the bill and I was looking at the thing thinking this man had handed me some weird kind of play money. After the man told me the money was real, I called to verify, and the bill was real. I felt bad for needing to check, because he seemed embarrassed, but again, having never seen the actually design, part of my job would be to verify that this was a real bill. I did apologize to him for needing to check.
   Anyway, the real point that I want to get across here is that fake money is a big problem for us people in the retail field, and we aren't looking to accuse. Even when we find fake money, we fully understand that in all likely-hood, the person who handed that bill to us had no clue and is a victim. I never look to accuse anyone of anything; that is part of someone else's job description, and they are welcome to it -- I want no part of that. But we do have to check, so all I have to say is that just going with the flow is going to be less stressful and drama filled for both of us. Isn't that something we all want?

Crazy, huh? I was thinking, "What kind of monopoly money is this?"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

School Clothes And Halloween Costumes

   In previous years, my daughter was much more laid back about clothes shopping. Laid back as in she really didn't want to be there and would rather be doing something more fun. So I would drag her around to all these stores, and would have to pick out her clothes for her. Which meant that she vetoed all the black stuff that I naturally gravitated towards but gave the go-ahead on all the glitter-crusted brightly colored creations that I typically avoid like the plague, but I would pick these things for her because clothes shopping is not my true love either and I wanted to be done quickly. Then we would go to GameStop and drool over video games (and usually we left with something too.)
  So this year I was somewhat surprised when the time for school clothes shopping came, because the minute we got into the mall (which has really sucked since all the book stores were closed) my daughter was on a mission. She was going through those clothing racks with a determination that I had never seen before in her pertaining to clothing. I was gobsmacked, to say the least. And she was picking items of clothing that before, she would have never had the option of, because I would never have picked a neon yellow and pink shirt with leather sleeves. Uh-huh, no way, not happening. But she was dead set on having that shirt, and she didn't care that my eyes were bleeding. And that's one of her favorite shirts now; she gets many compliments from you strange, strange people. I am never going to understand fashion.
   Her little ass has suddenly become uber-picky about what she wears, and that became apparent in this year's search for her Halloween costume. She drove me nuts; she didn't like anything I showed her. NOTHING!!! I got so frustrated that I finally told her that if she didn't pick one, we just wouldn't go trick-or-treating this year. She is getting older anyway, and I surely don't mind not tromping around in the rain, knocking on strangers' doors. Skipping that was fine by me, not that I imagined she would ever agree to skip trick-or-treating, but I thought the threat would spur her into making a choice.
   Well, she wasn't going to skip, and gave me massive guilt trips for even suggesting this, but she didn't pick either. I was at my wits end; I know this child wasn't expecting me to make something? The last thing I tried to make was a skirt, waaaaaay back in my junior high days, and the damn thing fell apart while I was wearing it; nightmares DO come true. But she wasn't expecting me to make the costume, thankfully. Just turns out that she hadn't found what she wanted yet. She found that this morning. She is going to be a butterfly; all this trouble for a damn butterfly costume. Whatever, child.
   All I know is this little fashionista is wearing me out. I wasn't expecting this. I was all prepared for boy drama and smart mouths and teenage rebellion; no one warned me that she would turn into a manic clothing critic who had to have her wardrobe and costumes 'just right'. The one thing that hasn't changed about her clothing attitude is that she still refuses to wear white socks. Ones with colors and designs are much better -- who knew???

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why I Think The Arts Are Important In Education

   I am very lucky in my daughter's school system. She goes to a public school, and we all know that often the music and art and creative-type classes are often the first things cut from public educational programs. The focus now is on reading and math, which are very, very important subjects, don't get me wrong. You can all probably understand the way I feel about reading -- so, so important. But I don't feel that this should be at the exclusion of the creative arts. For me, I see these things as things that expand a child's creative process; their imagination. Being imaginative is important in all walks of life; just imagine if no scientist, no doctor, no teacher ever asked the question "What if?", daring to imagine that something could be different. I think without creativity we would become a stagnant culture, never growing, never changing.
   So to me, arts are an extremely important subject. But my daughter's school system has not cut the arts from the educational budget. From kindergarten to fifth grade, she was in a required music class. All the kids were, and they put on concerts as part of the grade, and parents were expected to participate by coming to see the kids sing. I never mind participating in my child's education, in fact, I try to be very involved, and this was a fun way to be involved.
   However, many children are part of a system that have cut music and art programs. The funding just isn't there in all the cases that I know about, and that is a terrible thing. You may not understand the importance of the programs, but in my own opinion they are vitally important. My daughter has had a music program from day one of her education. While she has not had regular art classes, the teachers incorporated art in the learning process, and the kids could earn an extra art class through good behavior, so at the least, the element of art was there. If another reason for art and music is needed besides the expansion and nurturing of creativity, then look at the enjoyment that children have in these activities. The activities can make a child want to actually be in school. If the kids want to be there, and are having fun, they are going to learn much better than a child who desperately wants to be somewhere else.
   I just know that after five years of a mandatory music class, my daughter chose to continue to sing in the choir as her elective. And if she had chosen not to continue in honor choir, there were other musical and art based choices for her. I am not saying that everyone has to be all artsy or musical -- I am neither myself -- but to me, taking that knowledge out of the public education system is a foolish move. Of course, schools are up against budget cuts while having to serve larger and larger groups of kids, so I understand that leaving in the 'nonessential' programs are difficult, but at the same time, they all manage to keep their multitudes of sports teams. Strange that -- not that I am against sports. I am just saying, keep it balanced. Our kids need a creative outlet in their education, just as much as they need physical activity, math, and reading.
One of my daughter's school art projects from elementary. It's still on the fridge too. I love it. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Monorails, Family Excursions, and Seattle

   When I first came to Washington, there was so much that I missed. I missed the heat of the South, I missed the beaches, and I even missed the way people talked. I love hearing a Southern accent; I feel homesick every time I do. However, Washington has become my home as well. There are many things about this area that I have come to love.
  One of the things that I love is going to concerts and ballets and shows in Seattle. I go with my mother and my daughter, and sometimes my sister and her two kids; it's a family thing. I also feel that for the kids, seeing things like a music concert or a play or ballet is something that is very important. I feel that this expands their creativity, but that's a post for another day.
   We go to these shows as a family, and last night, my mother, myself and my daughter went to the Josh Groban concert. We have been to see him three times, and we always enjoy the show. This time, I did not expect to get to go, because with the saving up for the recent Yellowstone trip, I had a tight budget. Unknown to me, my mother purchased my ticket as a birthday present (BEST PRESENT EVER!!!!) so I did get to go.
   My mom works in Seattle, so she is very familiar with the area, thus we rely on her for the navigation of Seattle's busy streets and many sidewalks. One thing that my mother is very firm on is that in Seattle, you drive as little as possible. So we park at a certain garage and we hoof it over to the monorail.
   My mom and daughter and sister and niece and nephew all love the monorail; the monorail scares the shit out of me. Heights, we've talked about how I don't like heights, and the monorail runs on a single track, high, high above the city. Not only this, but the monorail car tilts as it goes along it's demented, merry-ass way. To this side, to that side, and I am doing my best to lean the opposite way that the monorail is tilting. Ya'know, to balance things out. As was the case last night, when my mom and daughter were watching me with knowing smirks on their amused faces. As the monorail slowed, my daughter says in a mock-soothing voice, "Don't worry mom, it's stowing down because we are almost there."
The stage for the Nutcracker ballet. 
   You see, one time, on the way to a performance of the Nutcracker, I really freaked out. The Nutcracker is a ballet that we have been going to see every year, performed by the Pacific Northwest ballet. We LOVE that ballet, but I don't love the monorail. And that day, the monorail was jumping and banging more than usual. I mean, I usually don't hear the thing rattle so much. I guess because usually, the monorail is pretty full, as a major form of transportation in downtown Seattle, but on this day, we had a pretty empty car. So I heard all the little bangs and rattles all the better. And then we slowed to almost a stop, crawling along, slow as a snail.
   After listening to all those bangs, bams, and rattles, I was positive that somehow we have broken down in the middle of the friggin' air. I was freaked, I mean, how were we going to get down??!! And I asked, "Why are we stopping?!" in a panicked manner to my mom. Which of course meant that I was louder than I thought, so the few people that were on the monorail were looking over at me with amusement in their eyes.
   "We're slowing down because we are fixing to stop," my mom says to me, and she's really trying not to laugh. Credit to her, because I probably would have laughed. Which is why my daughter cracked her little quip last night on the way to the Josh Groban concert; my fear of the monorail is a joke between her and my mother, and they love to remind me about the night that I panicked because we were stopping.
   Not that I mind, and I laugh along with them, because as calm and collected as I try to be, there are times when all that just goes out the window, and when that happens -- it's pretty damn funny. Gotta see the humor in things. And the rewards for using the monorail are extensive, we use that to go the space needle, the Seattle Science Center, the ballet, concerts, and so-on. What's a little irrational fear compared to those rewards?

Friday, October 4, 2013


   Recently, as you all probably know, we have been getting my daughter used to her new schedule for middle school. One of the things that happens to be different about her day is that she now takes the bus to and from school. Last year, the elementary that she went to was so close to where we lived that I walked her to and from school every day, but her school now is too far for that. So she walks home every day from the bus stop, which is down the road a bit, at the other end of the complex.
   Now while this seems unrelated, I need to insert here that my daughter is not a big animal person. She doesn't hate them, and she likes to see them; when we went to Yellowstone the past summer she was in raptures over all the bison that wander all over the park, and she picked out two stuffed animal bison to bring home as souvenirs; currently she sleeps with them every night, which happens to be information that she probably doesn't want me to share, but there you have it. That being said, she doesn't like animals that jump all over her or want to be petted or whatever. Namely: dogs and cats. She likes to see them; she doesn't typically want to touch them. And she doesn't want them touching her either; when my sister got the cat that became so attached to my mother that she ended up keeping him, that cat tried to sleep with my daughter and she would have none of him. She even demanded that I start shutting the bedroom door for her so that he would not go in the room; she didn't like him because he would bat at her feet while she was trying to sleep.
   All this might seem irrelevant to the beginning paragraph, because I was talking about school and walking home from the bus stop, but I assure you that her dislike of animals wanting to be petted and jumping on her is very relevant, as you will see in a minute. You see, one of the neighbors often walks her little chihuahua at the same time that my daughter's bus drops off the school kid. This woman is a very nice woman, and her little dog is on a leash, and her little dog is very, very friendly. So friendly that one day, as my daughter was walking home from school, the little dog ran to her and started jumping up and down in front of her because he wanted to say hi.
   The woman said to my daughter, "He's very friendly; you can pet him if you'd like."
    My daughter ran across the road shrieking.
    Yup, you read that right. The woman, clearly not expecting this reaction (who would?), called after her, saying that she wouldn't let the dog jump on her and that she was so sorry and that my daughter could come back. After putting some distance between her and the little dog, apparently my daughter regained her composure and replied to the woman that she was okay and she was sorry and that she would just stay was for now but that she didn't mean to make the woman feel bad and she hoped that she didn't feel bad. The poor woman looked nonplussed, and my daughter looked stressed as well, and me; well I was just trying not to laugh my ass off, because I'm mature like that.
   After I asked my daughter why she did that, my daughter looked me dead in the eye and replied, "I don't like chihuahuas. They are freaky; they freak me out." And refused to talk about the incident further. But here I will state that I have never seen her react to any animal like that, nor anything else for that matter.
   Some people are afraid of rats and mice (me), some are afraid of heights (also me), and some are afraid of spiders (my sister). We all have our phobias. My daughter's biggest fear just happens to be chihuahuas.