Sunday, September 26, 2010

Society Lacks Common Sense

There's not really a day I don't consider just sitting down and writing this post, or any hundred other posts. However, I have a toddler at home everyday, all day, and she requires a LOT of attention. Getting lost in a blog post for more than just a handful of minutes, while she's awake, can prove to be disastrous. By the time she goes to bed at night my mind is completely frazzled and I neglect to make the post.

Currently it's 'quiet time' and Disney's The Jungle Book has captivated her attention, hopefully for more than just five minutes.

Anyhow, onto the post of the day...


We are considered 'working poor'. Another term so graciously bestowed upon my family has been 'below poverty level'. Hey, I'm not bitching about it, just stating the facts. Facts based upon such models as this one...if you check out the portion between 81% and 100% we fall in there somewhere, BEFORE taxes are taken out.

This is the level that my family falls in because I am not currently employed and my husband works 40+ hours a week, at $2 MORE than minimum wage per hour.

Again, I'm not bitching. I'll get to why not.

Now, this number could more than double if I was to go back to work. I could earn at least minimum wage and work 40 hours a week, putting us into that 175% range. HUGE jump there, you say, so then why not?

For starters...we have two children. One in school, the other not. This would require child care. Of course we could work opposing shifts, you say. That would be WONDERFUL. Only real problem with that is my husband doesn't have a set shift, some days he's required to be at work at 7:30 in the morning, other days he's required to be there until 9:30pm. Leaving me a shift of having to work from 11pm until 7am, if I get out the door, right at 7am and can be home by 7:15am on the days that my husband has to be at work by 7:30am. It could work, if I didn't also have to sleep...see, on the days he has to be at work at 7:30am, he's often not home from work until after 6pm, leaving me roughly 4 hours to sleep, during the hours that dinner is being prepared, homework is being done, and bedtime routines are going on. I don't care who you are, sleep is a necessity.

So we're left with having to pay for child care. Average of $100 a week for the younger one, about $50 a week for the older one, but only if they're picked up by 5:30pm, it can be more than double that if they're not picked up by then. So goes $150 of my $290 paycheck, at minimum wage, before taxes are even taken out. So $140 a week is left, after child care. That would be awesome, granted the only expense to consider was child care, but it's not.

We then have to add in the cost of medical insurance, co-pays, etc. Currently both the kids are covered 100% by state (socialized) medical. This means that we don't pay a dime for co-pays and everything is covered - dental, vision, prescriptions, ALL included. If I go to work and make more than $50 a week, before taxes, we lose this 'luxury'. My husband has a lovely family plan at work, cost is $200 just for major medical, every two weeks. So $100 a week, for all four of us, that's if we go with the $5,000 deductible. This means, in order for the insurance to really start kicking in we have to spend $5000 in that year, cash out of our pocket. We're also responsible for roughly $30 per visit in co-pays, and no prescription coverage. So to meet this quota, based on our yearly averages, we would be spending, an average, of $250 a week just for 'general' medical expenses. This $250 a week would come out of my left over $140 a week, after child care expenses, of course. Now we owe $110 per week, just because I'm working.

I'm not done there. If I'm also working this means we HAVE to have two well running vehicles. We do currently have two vehicles, one is completely paid off, the other will be completely paid off in February or March. So you say no real expense there, right? Again, you would be wrong. If I was to be working I'll need to make a trip into town and home again on a daily basis, so instead of just two trips or so a week, I'm up to 5, but then I'd also have to do my shopping and other kid trips on my days off, so 6-7 round trips, a week. Right now I spend an average of $20 a week for gas, for my two trips, working puts me up to at least $50 a week just in gas. Because I make so few trips at this time, not working, I can get away with just two oil changes a year, and only because we use the 'better stuff' and my husband does the oil changing. This would increase to about 4 oil changes a year, at least. So $3 a week for the oil changes, over the course of the year. Then there's the wear and tear of the tires. As it stands, I only really have to change my tires every two years. Increasing my mileage would put me up to every year needing tires. If I go with 'cheaper' tires, this is an average of $7 a week for tires. So just basic maintenance I can add $60 a week to go back and forth to work, not adding in anything else that may go wrong. I'm now up to it COSTING us $170 a week, for me to go to work, full time, again, before any taxes are taken out of my check.

Speaking of taxes, lets get that out of the way real quick. The average person pays in about 35% of their paycheck before it's even handed to them. At minimum wage this is about $100. So add that $100 to the $170 I'm already in the hole for, I owe $270, per week, above my paycheck, just so I can work and put us out of the poverty range.

Being out of this poverty range also means we no longer qualify for the $250 a month in food assistance. We're now looking at us having to come up with another $60 a week for groceries out of my paycheck. So now we're owing $330, per week, just so I can work, above what my paycheck would be.

To put it in one clear picture, it costs my modest family of 4 $620 per week for me to go to work. In order for us to 'just break even' I would have to make $15 an hour, and not miss an hour of work, in a 40 hour week - $15 an hour being double minimum wage. This doesn't include much of anything else, at all, this only covers the bare basics of me working - child care, medical, transportation, gr0ceries.

I hate that the numbers crunch this way. Because I hate the way the numbers crunch I've gone back to school. I'm hoping by the time I go back to work, with my degree, that it actually works out to my family's advantage.

At the same time of being grateful that there are such programs as 'socialized' medicine, food stamps, WIC, etc I curse the fact that there are these programs and that the numbers do crunch this way. It makes me look like I'd rather be using the system than working or that some how my quality of life and the quality of my children's lives are so much better because we do get assistance.

It may serve one well to know that yes, we have internet and a phone. No cell phone, and the internet service is only dial-up. Okay, I say no cell phone, we do have A cell phone, its prepaid, only 200 minutes a month, no texting, no web, no bells and whistles. We do not have cable or satellite TV services. We bought a $40 digital antenna that goes to our HD enabled TV, so free TV. We don't go out to the movies more than 3 times a year, and that's only if we're lucky. We go out for food, maybe once a month. The kids get a Happy Meal type of lunch or dinner about once every other month.

We have no credit cards. Everything we buy is paid for with money we have saved for such or we have simply done with out. I can only think of two things we have financed in the last 5 years. One being my husband's very gas efficient car, that we bought about 6 months ago, it'll be paid off completely before we've had it a year. It's a 2004 Ford Taurus. He has to have a gas saving vehicle. The other item we've financed was a gas range. We went through four used/cheap/free ones in the span of about 5 months before we broke down and did a rent to own on it. We had to have a stove with a working oven and that didn't leak propane into the house. Outside of that we've financed nothing and nothing has been put on credit cards.

My kids get regular new shoes, clothes, etc, same for myself and my husband. At the same time I refuse to pay $100 for a piece of clothing that has the same function as an article of clothing that only costs $10. Now, shoes are a bit of a different story, at least where my husband is concerned. He works standing on his ski-size feet for 8-12 hours a day, I can stomach spending $100 on a pair of work shoes for him. Unfortunately we've found out that a $150 pair of Nike shoes doesn't last a third as long as a $20 pair of WalMart shoes. But since finding this out we've been able to pair the $20 Wal-Mart shoes with some $30 or $50 insoles and wouldn't ya know, he's worn the same pair of shoes for almost a year now, instead of just a month. Its doubly awesome that we live in an area now that has a Wal-Mart that carries shoes bigger than an 11 for my husband's size 14 feet.

But the bottom line is this. I don't bitch about being 'working poor' or below poverty level because I know when all the numbers are done being crunched that I don't have far to fall. If my husband was to lose his job there's nothing that says I can't go to work and make enough to keep a roof over our heads. If he was to lose his job there's nothing that says he can't find a new one that pays just as much and we maintain our current standard of living. If we were to lose the benefits we get now things would definitely be a bit tighter, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. We still have room to cut things out of our budget and save ourselves another $2-500 a month.

I don't worry about my rent not being paid or my utilities being cut off - those things are paid first. If we don't have the money for some sort of extra along the way we do without the extra. If the money isn't there or something comes up we find a way around it and are able to come up with the money.

My beef is with persons who make more in a single child support payment than my husband makes in a month, while their spouse brings home an additional paycheck that makes the child support payment look like pocket change, and then they bitch that they don't have the money for groceries or worry how they're going to pay their bills or some other bullshit. And not but a few hours later they're telling you all about that $75 pair of shoes they've been eying for a while, and go ahead and buy them because there's something coming up that they want to wear them to, and then not likely wear them again.

Yes, common sense has died in this society. Common sense says that you live within your means. Common sense says that if you don't have the money for necessities you sure as hell don't have the money for something you want. Society says keep up with the guy that makes twice as much because you can always put it in credit now and file bankruptcy later if the money stops being there.

And people really wonder why the economy has gone to shit!? Its not something that has to be evaluated by overpaid idiots with a piece of paper that says they're smarter than someone else. I'm only a backwoods educated high school graduate, from parents who were C average students and not college educated and I can figure this shit out.

In about 18 months I'll be finished with my associates degree, from there I plan on pursuing a Bachelor's, Master's, and then a Doctorate, as I'm working to help support my family, I pray that its not at the cost of my common sense.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Ever since making the [big surprise] official I've found myself feeling overwhelmed.

Not overwhelmed in the sense that I would back out of what I have agreed to do, just overwhelmed with information, new information, conflicting information, and of course judgmental information.

Those with judgments or who question my sanity in undertaking such a huge sacrifice...and sacrifice isn't the right word either, as I'm not losing anything at all, quite the opposite...need to understand this is not a decision either Brian or myself have taken lightly. This has been a decision that has been in the works for years. It is also a personal decision, ours to make, not yours to judge.

This process also isn't as 'easy' as it could sound - mentally, physically, emotionally, legally - its actually quite difficult. Its a long process and in the meantime we're going to 'relax', enjoy the journey, and I'm just going to freak out once in a while. Not because I am going to back out or recall my commitment, but because I'm a woman who has a tendency to cry...a lot...and freak out once in a while... ♥

Monday, September 13, 2010

Its been agreed upon...

Brian has agreed to allow me to [insert surprise that I'm not spilling at this time].

I'm over the moon happy and scared!

And no, it's not quite exactly what you're thinking...that was already discussed and decided upon a few months ago. But it is absolutely life changing and wonderful and stressful and just awesome.

But I can't go into details right now or really even share outside of a few 'chosen' ones, so you'll have to wait for the big reveal...eventually...

Arthritis Update

I blogged here about many of my struggles with just simple things.

Today I actually cried in the doctor's office, well, FNP that I'm seeing. I feel like I'm starting to teeter off this ledge I've been hanging on for years. The thought of falling off that ledge scares me almost as much as falling off a physical ledge does. It sucks.

I did convince him to give me a referral to a rheumatologist, but no one from his office got back with me by close of business this evening. He was also willing to try some different medications, however, the biggest obstacle with that is the 'standard' treatment is regular prednisone (cortizone steroid) shots. Minor issue with that is I don't like getting shots. The major issue with it is...I'm allergic to them. Yippee fun joy...piss rain on my parade.

I've known about this allergy for only about 2 years now, after a lovely teenager slammed the back of my van because I was stopped at, of all things, a red light. *gasp* I was being pushed through the intersection, just as the light turned green and I let my foot off the brake. I resulted in me getting a prednisone shot and my face breaking out in hives and subsequently swelling. It was loads of fun.

So for the time being he's dropped the ibprofen put me on some other stuff that he had some samples of and is going to check out other medication options that are covered by my insurance. Oh, and they're going to set me up with an arthritis specialist and hopefully I can get some answers or medications or something 'positive' from all of that...

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Oh how the time has flown! My children are bigger, learning all the time, and just amazing overall.

I was looking over my blog of the last year or two. Among other things I have realized that having a 2.5 year old is a WHOLE world different from having a 1.5 year old, mainly in the area that my blog has dwindled over this time. Mikaila is more into playing, there are no more naptimes, at least not often, and she can either reach or find a way to reach things she knows she isn't allowed to have, keeping me on my toes, literally.

Last year the kids were enjoying the mud puddles in our swampy yard and drive way...and now they play in the creek at the park.

Mikaila had her first nectarine...and now she's learned the aftermath of a huge box of peaches.

Last year both the kids were so awesome with each other...and now they fight.

Last year we were attending the circus...and now we don't even have to leave the house for the circus.

Last year bedtime stories were read in the chair with a bottle...and now, Mikeal reads a story, Brian or I read a story, all while she's laying in her big girl bed.

Last year Mikaila was cleaning my kitchen with butter...and now, it's flour, or sugar, depends on what she's able to access.

Last year we were living in Oklahoma, working on buying the house we were renting...and this year we're living in a house we would like to buy, but are only renting, in Tennessee.

But some things haven't changed.

Mikaila is still Houdini.

Mikeal is still excelling academically, seriously, just take that entry, add 3rd grade in place of any other grade and you have this year's report so far, except he's tested to be reading & comprehending at a 5th, almost 6th grade level!

Brian still works for a parts store.

I still blog rants about 'mightier than thou' people. I also still hold true to what I believe. I still post recipes. I still haven't gotten around to posting everything I said I was going to get around to posting about here, but I have gotten closer. I still use language that would put truck drivers and sailors to shame, when I'm in that frame of mind. I still am working on my history of life. I haven't typed up much new poetry, yet, but I'll work on that.

And of course the dead-beat has fallen off the wagon of paying child support - big surprise - not a dime since May and no county or court official knows where he may be, so yes, once again, there is another dead beat sperm donating child predator roaming the country. *sigh*

But that's some of it in a nutshell. Feel free to let me know what some of your favorite posts have been over the last few years.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Living with Arthritis


I am 28 years old. For the past 20 or so years I have dealt with pain in my joints and it's done nothing but get worse. Changing my diet hasn't helped. Losing weight hasn't helped. I've felt myself sink into deep depressions over just not being able to physically do what I want to do. It really SUCKS!

I LOVE to cook. Thankfully I recently acquired some cookbooks that line up a whole month of meals that one can cook in a day. So my family does end up with a home cooked meal on a daily basis, without a ton of work from me every day. But it still sucks that I don't have the actual ability to keep up with it on a regular basis.

I LOVE to sew. Thankfully I did recently acquire, for free, a sewing machine, I fixed a few things wrong with it, and can get much done. Trying to do the bits that I have to do by hand, though, can take weeks. I started a blanket for my nephew, Ryan, a few years ago, he'll be 4 in February. Because of the pain in my hands and shoulders I had to put it away before I even finished the embroidery work on it. Even now, on the new medications that allow me more movement in my hands & body, doesn't change the fact that it was a few weeks of working on it before I was able to actually complete the trim work. I did most of it with the sewing machine, but had to finish the back by hand. Its now a gift to my newest nephew, Vincent.

I LOVE to knit. In the last year I have been able to complete a few hat and scarf sets, one pair of socks, and half a pair of socks. When I am having a few good days I can complete a hat in just a couple of hours, a scarf in just a day or two. I can complete a pair of socks in three days. I have a pair of socks in the works...I started it about 5 weeks ago and haven't been able to finish it since.

I LOVE to write. I haven't been able to even fill out a medical form without feeling like I wanted to cut my hand off because it hurt so badly, much less a short story or poem. The last time I was able to actually write out something I was drunk out of my gourd I've been completely sober for the last 4 or 5 years, outside of the occasional glass of wine...I think I average a bottle of wine every 3 months. I didn't notice the pain so much when I was drunk or stoned. Being sober only sucks in that regard.

I LOVE to dance. It doesn't help the fact that my loving husband doesn't like to dance, but it doubly sucks that it physically hurts me to even try to dance.

I LOVE to wear high heels. I may be 6ft tall already but there's just something about wearing heels that makes me feel great, like a fairy tale princess or something. But again, it causes me so much pain that within no time I have to trade them off for something more supporting, and flat.

I LOVE to work with wood and work on cars. Between operating a screwdriver or using some sandpaper I just want to die.

I LOVE to be outside and play with my kids - running, dancing, swimming, all of it. Now I know if I do so one day I won't be able to for a week. It sucks, BAD. I grin and bear it and try to fake my way through enjoying every minute I am playing with the kids by biting my lip or whatever I have to do to make sure I am very actively involved with them, but most of the time I just want to hide in a corner and cry until the pain goes away. Its quite unbearable most days, but I manage. I refuse to just give-in to it.

I recently had decent enough insurance to be able to see doctors and specialists and the like. I prayed for it to just be a pinched nerve or something else similar in nature that could be repaired or fixed with surgery even. Instead everything came back clean and clear. The allergies I've suffered with all my life - turns out I don't have allergies, I just have a super sensitive nose - was given two different nasal sprays and since I haven't had an instance where I felt like I was dying because my head was so congested. Its been great. I was also put on some medication for the pain and inflammation -neurontin and ibuprofen. It gives me some relief from the stiffness, but not the pain. The pain is often EXCRUCIATING. The sporadic numbness and tingling is often unbearable.

But I continue on. I have children who need me, a house that needs to be cleaned, laundry to be done, food to be cooked, a yard to keep maintained, a husband that counts on me to take care of such things, as his partner in all of this. I'm going to school to attempt to improve my financial gain for when I go back to work. If I can't find a way to get around this pain I fear I will screw up my opportunities.