Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FALLING FOR FASHION

Went over to visit Schadenfruede Warehouse after noticing a number of  interesting comments she made on Derfwad Manor  (which really illustrates my need to make a resolution to wait until after I go to the gym to go online - it is now 11 a.m. and I put my gym clothes on at about 7:30...)

Anyhoo, Eunice over there posted this:


The question -  is this is fashion?  And, really, this is supposed to be cool?  My fashonista daughter might sleep in it, but wear it out?  I don't think so.  I went to the Target site and found the top and pants - they total up to $39.00.  Those boots don't appear to be sold at Target unless they are men's work boots. So it is, at least, an affordable "look."


Unlike this found in Teen Magazine:



This outfit runs about $4000.00, including the shoes, bag and $108.00 gloves!  I don't run with the crowd that can buy this back to school outfit.


I used to buy the fashion magazines and try to punch up my wardrobe with new things, so just for fun I  checked out what are meant to be the Fall trends - few of them will work for me.  The colors are mustard, rust and jade. The shapes include chunky sweaters with gauzy or long skirts and peplums on jackets.  The prints are camouflage, polka dots and big plaids.  Bright colored pants, choker necklaces and  "slit up to there" skirts for evening.  
 
Ally took my plaid scarf to college, but I do have a couple of polka dot blouses.  My body temperature never recovered from menopause - so no sweaters for me and my neck is too chubby for chokers.   Well, maybe the Spring fashion will be more my thing.

Following the trends?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AN EMPTIED NEST

In between cleaning out her bedroom and bathroom - monumental tasks each, I have been texting and talking with Ally from her new digs at school.  She has had some difficulties, lonely hours and now that classes started, hopefully some calming routines will settle in.

I have been enjoying the clean.  When I leave for work with a neat kitchen, I come home to a neat kitchen.  Which is not to say that my husband has suddenly started doing dishes - lol - but his plate or bowl left on the counter is nothing in comparison with the scattered cups, spoons, unwashed cutting board and other detritus Ally left in her wake.

I have not done laundry yet because I don't have enough to make a load - never a problem with a teen aged girl around.

The cash in my wallet stays in my wallet!

The thing that doesn't change?  That mom radar.  There is a part of my brain that is constantly sending out waves in search of my kids.  I have this undercurrent of awareness of where they are and what they might be doing at all times.  It is hard to express but I suspect most moms can relate.  No matter how far from home they are, there is a part of me seeking them out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  I just realized I passed my 400th post this week.  Wow.  I'd say I never knew I had so much to say but that would be a lie!

2.)  Ally's recovery from the tonsillectomy was as dramatic as I expected.  She was on the verge of dehydration for several days, had trouble with the pain medication and was miserable as hell.  She perked up a day before the move to school.  This made packing a nightmare, but so far it appears we got the stuff she needed moved into the dorm.  Her roommate seems to be a very low keyed, vegan,  fellow drama major.  Here's hoping for a good match.

3.)  I closed the doors to Ally's room and bathroom so I don't have to see the mess.  It will have to be tackled.  We have always teased her about being one step away from a hoarder - and now I get to deal with the stuff left behind...  We don't have any immediate plans for taking over her room for another purpose, but I think I may take over her bathroom so I can get ready for bed after work with a light on and without worrying that I might wake Tom. 

4.)  We had hoped that we would be moving from this little rental in the Fall, but the economic downturn has so hurt Tom's practice that we are signing another year lease.  I know this is very discouraging for him - the corporations know they have the upper hand with the government agency staff reductions and the long waits for court dates.  They have the money to drag things out and don't enter settlement discussions like they used to because they figure most employees (and their legal counsel) will run out of money or patience and give up.  Tom has clients he is still working for 2 and 3 years since they last paid him anything.

It is really sad that good people are getting screwed by both the former employer and the system.  The corporations are getting tax cuts and the subsequent staffing reductions usually effect the everyday citizens who need the protection of the government agencies.

5.)  If you enjoyed Laura Hillenbrand's book "Seabiscuit" - you will once again find the writing of her new book "Unbroken" as fantastic.  I am riveted just 70 pages in!  I won't have any trouble finishing this one in the 2 weeks allotted by the library.

6.)  This is my last weekend on the job.  As of next week I am a Monday-Friday worker once again.  So enjoy the weekend and I'll join you next week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

MORE JOB CONUMDRUMS

I am pretty sure that I related here that when the long awaited benefits package kicked in it eviscerated my paycheck.  It was such a shock to see what little remained that I actually felt dizzy when I saw the pay stub.  I got depressed but Tom got mad and insisted that I start looking for a better paying job.

Having just spent over a year to get this job with benefits - I was not thrilled with that challenge.  For those who may not follow the travails of job hunting, there are many.  A new trend is to only hire those who are already employed.  The thinking is that those who are unemployed, especially for any length of time, are defective and not the "top performers" companies want to add to their staff.  This approach also leaves more older workers hung out to dry as many companies laid-off the older, experienced, higher paid workers - not just under performers...

The businesses less picky about the employment status of those they hire make up the 76% of the new jobs generated in 2010.  Those jobs are of the low-paying variety, offering between $9 to $15 an hour. Some people can get by quite handily on $9 or so an hour -- especially if they're willing to live outdoors or on a friend's couch according to Barbara Ehrenreich in an article on CNN.

I can live in a nice little rental house (because of my husband's income) but when it comes to expenses beyond gas, groceries and utilities - there just isn't anything left.  So my employment is not contributing to the growth of our economy and neither will the other 76% of "new job" holders.

But I digress...

I did start applying for new jobs and it fairly quick order I got a call for an interview.  The job was for "Receptionist/Staffing Trainee/Business Development for a staffing agency.  The multiple interviews went well, they wanted to hire me as a temp to see if I would be a good fit for the job on a permanent basis.  They offered no benefits and $13.00 per hour. I was seriously thinking about taking it because of the improved opportunity for wage increases and now that I had benefits, I could use the COBRA coverage going forward.

I ended up telling them at the hotel about this new possibility - in part because someone gave notice and in part to see if they might improve my position to retain me.  Ultimately they did and I am staying put.  The other position seemed too iffy, even though I am sure I would have been able to handle the work,  after being let go from the vet job I was worried that there might be one of those "fit" issues and there I'd be without any job. 

I had a real heart to heart talk with the General Manager of the hotel and while she agreed that they don't pay a "living wage."  The people who own the hotel have refused to increase wages (for over 3 years) or to cover more of the insurance costs.  She said they don't like having employees.  So, they have a lovely hotel full of really hard working and loyal employees but because they would rather not have to deal with employees - these very wealthy people just refuse to acknowledge how much they contribute to their financial success. 

I am lucky to have a job with hours that gives me free time during the day. I am happy that they wanted to retain me and made the effort to increase my salary.  I work hard and thoughtfully and will until I move on to another job - one, I hope, that pays me what I am worth.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I HEART WARREN BUFFETT

Buffett, who is estimated to be worth more than $47 billion, called on Congress to commit to "shared sacrifice" and raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million. Buffett said the rich are "coddled" by Congress "as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species."


The billionaire said he paid about $7 million in payroll and income taxes last year. That is about 17.4 percent of his taxable income, a lower proportion than any of the other 20 people in his office whose tax burdens range from 33 percent to 41 percent, he said.


"My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice," Buffett wrote.

Read more of his comments here.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

COUNTDOWN TO THE EMPTY NEST

It is August 10th.  In one week I will be moving Ally into her dorm room and driving home to an "empty nest."  I have no illusions that it is permanently empty.  Summers will come, circumstances may cause one of the kids to move home again.  However, it will be the first time Tom and I are living alone since 1987.  Wow.

I don't think I'll feel that sense of loss that some women report.  When I took the older two to college I felt great excitement tempered by some anxiety over their safety and happiness.  I learned that the first semester is the time to remain positive and supportive and to hear their worries with the knowledge that they will ease in further in the next months.  I feel secure about that part of the equation.

I also know that immense stress and conflict entered my marriage along with the joys of parenthood.  Even with date nights and vacations away from the kids, the marriage ends up being far and away about the care, feeding, clothing, social lives, injuries, school activities, dating, grades, happiness, surliness, sports, illnesses, tattoos, fiances, driving, curfews, attitudes, teeth, weight, skin, hair, messiness, computer time, sexuality, coming and going of the kids.

Those topics will still be on the table, and new ones will arise, but they will never again be such a looming presence - once none of them are present day to day.

A small study by the American Psychological Association showed that a majority of parents scored higher on marital satisfaction after children had left home.
Researchers had hypothesized that the improvement in marital happiness came from couples’ spending more time together, but the women in the study reported spending just as much time with their partners whether the children were living at home or had moved out, but the quality of that time was better.

“There are fewer interruptions and less stress when kids are out of the house,” said Dr. Gorchoff. “It wasn’t that they spent more time with each other after the children moved out. It’s the quality of time they spent with each other that improved.”

I am sure that is true.  Without the daily care and negotiations it will be easier to enjoy the time together.  Just as a night out once the kids could take care of themselves was much more enjoyable than those when the babysitter was always on my mind.

We are still years away from being relieved of the financial responsibility of our children, but a week from now, I will be alone with my husband, again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SLUT SHAMING

My son attended a wedding last week.  When he arrived a young man gave him and his male friends each a key and told them to hold on to it, that it would be used later in the wedding.  Zac and his friend, the groom,  have not been close for the past few years, in part because the fiance and her family are very religious.  His friend changed when he started attending her church and was converted to their particular Christian  sect.
He attended the wedding out of respect and to see other old friends.  He actually had a good time and was glad he went - except for a few things, one of them I will share.

During the speeches, a member of the bride's family got up and said that the groom had not been her first boyfriend, but now that she managed to get married he thinks all the guys who have keys to her apartment should come up and hand them over.  And apparently, they all did.  They got up and dropped the key they had been given into a jar placed in front of the bride at the family table.

Zac was dumbfounded at what he called the "slut shaming" aspect of this "joke."  I won't go into any of the other antics at this wedding because that is not really the point of this post.

I was taken by his term "slut shaming" and did a bit of research to see how this term is used.  I know that it was, in part the theme of a great movie called Easy A starring my favorite young actress, Emma Stone,  but what else is being said out there about this subject?

One very insightful blog called Dating While Feminist had this to say:

Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior.” It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general an society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.

Policing women via what’s considered “normal” and “acceptable” boundaries for female sexuality is not limited to sex and sexual activity. For instance, women who wear “provocative clothing” (or just photographed while having breasts) are subjected to slut-shaming. As are women who are sexually aggressive and/or unabashedly lay claim to their own sexuality.

And when I look around me - there is so much of this going on.  I have mentioned the men who come into our bar always making remarks on the "cougars" going to the nightclub next door.  How dare those women dress up and go out looking to meet men - after all, they are not in their 20's any more which is pretty much the last time most men think women should be sexual.  Especially if they are mothers - moms are not supposed to be sexual. 

And while I am not one to ever think a woman is "asking for it" I admit that I am much more comfortable with my daughters dressing more conservatively - leaving more to the imagination, as I have said to them.  I have been uncomfortable in the presence of women dressed differently than I would.  I have considered their clothing "provocative" which is a certainly a judgement based on sexuality.  And really, so what?  If that is how she chooses to present herself, to celebrate her body why should she be judged for that?


In a Canadian court, a judge let a man off who raped a 25 year old woman because the victim and her rapist met "outside a bar under inviting circumstances."  The judge pointed out the victim and her friend were dressed in tube tops, no bras, and high heels and noted they were wearing plenty of makeup.  The judge called the man a "clumsy Don Juan" who may have misunderstood what the victim wanted.  (I am sure her struggles and crying out "no" while being raped off on the bushes was hard to decipher what with those high heels and all.)

The proliferation of gossip shows, fashion critiques, reality shows which pit women against women or set up competitions based on sex appeal have all contributed to a culture which is quick to judge others and very quick to persecute for sexuality.  This does not only apply to women.  Just think of what was done to Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton. They certainly didn't get off with an old fashioned "boys will be boys."

That these "good Christian" folks thought it was humorous and appropriate to suggest that the bride was a slut at her wedding goes so far beyond the boundaries of good taste it sounds like something thought up by writers of tacky bromance movies.  Too bad in this case that the men attending the wedding didn't refuse to participate once they knew what the mysterious key was for.  Perhaps if they, no, if we all, could stop and think of how we would feel if these things are being directed to the women in our lives, we could all put a halt to this shameful practice.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MOMS PACKING KILLER LUNCHES!

Just in time for back to school shopping, another study has been published to make mothers crazy.

Nine out of 10 school lunches sent from home reach potentially unsafe temperatures by the time kids eat them — even if an ice-pack was included. 

Ninety percent of the 705-preschooler sack lunches tested by University of Texas scientists had risen to temperatures considered too high to prevent the growth of bacteria, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Unsafe, as the researchers defined it, was anything that sat for more than two hours between 39 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. But that doesn't mean kids are actually getting sick.

So - the lunches, even with an ice pack, even with multiple ice packs, are rising to levels where bacteria could grow.  “This is a provocative study,” said Dr. Michael Green, a pediatrician with the division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a professor of pediatrics and surgery at the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “Their findings certainly raise concern. But there is a missing piece: it doesn’t tell you what this does to the relative risk of disease.”


Ya think?  How many generations of us have survived sack lunches? 

And of course one of the answers to this "problem" is to buy shelf-stable foods - expensive, preservative filled and not eco-friendly.  Or to buy school lunches, which we all know are nutritionally problematic in most places.

As usual, common sense has to be the rule.  Most food born illness is from improper handling or it has been exposed to bacteria at the growing or packing site.  If we are safe at home, washing produce and packing lunches with some care, our kids are not going to get sick from them.

And don't forget to pack the little love notes. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

FRIDAY FAST ONES

1.)  Had a review and got a nice raise at the hotel.  Very helpful at this time -well, any  time. That plus switching to Monday through Friday is going to be very nice. 

2.)  Got our check-in time for Ally's tonsillectomy - I'll manage about 4 hours of sleep before we have to leave to drive there, but I will have 6-8 hours to chill until we head home.  Hopefully I can find a spot to snooze a bit. (I promised her I would not leave the hospital.)

UPDATE:  Everything went well - Ally is recovering at home with Mango Sorbet, Jello and Vitamin Water.
3.)  I have been reading about the big stock market fall trying to understand why it happened after the agreement on the debt ceiling and assorted fiascoes.  One pundit said it had to do with investors suddenly looking at the problems in foreign markets, most said we were just due.  I have to admit that as someone who has no money to invest and no 401k taking a beating, I feel lucky to be broke!  I also read that interest rates will fall because of this - which is good for people in debt, who want to borrow money or get a better mortgage.  So, good news for a change!

4.)  Jen wrote a fun post about mascara yesterday, discussing products and technique.  Like her I don't leave the house without mascara.  But the extent of my completely made-up face includes not much else - eyebrow pencil, blush and sometimes some eye shadow.  Most of the eye shadows are from giveaways.

I just read  a British study claiming 57% of women would rather "leave their man" than give up make-up!  That's hard core make-up love (or is it insecurity?)  The study claims that the average woman has over $800.00 worth of make-up at home and another $100.00  in her purse.  I have a couple of Burt's Bees lip glosses in my purse... 

5.)  I am enjoying this summer with my TIVO.  I have So You Think You Can Dance winding down, but Project Runway just getting started.  Breaking Bad is back and so are Weeds and The Big C.  Just enough shows to watch here and there.