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3 posts from February 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Economic Meltdown

Seriously, this last 2-and-a-half years have been hell for our family.  How we've made it this far without losing our home is nothing short of God-intervention.  But, today, I felt I needed to share with all you dear readers and friends the reasons why my posts have been sparingly.  My state-of-mind.  That really is it.  My state-of-mind has been in a meltdown of sorts, and not just recently either.

Yes, Big Bear was laid off in September, 2008, and no, he hasn't found a job yet.  We didn't have all kinds of money lying around to live on either.  I mean, we had some savings and we had a retirement account, and we have equity in our home, but that's it.  No beach houses or lake condos or rental property.  No CDs or Stock or investments.  We've just been living on "cash" for the last 12 years.  Literally. No credit cards either.  Thank God.


When Bob and I married in 1993, Bob had a good job at GEIS and I was a full-time student at Georgetown University.  I was also working at a nail salon making some extra cash part time.  Five months into our marriage, I was pregnant with Sarah and we decided that I would stay home and raise our family and take care of our home and he would be our support. 


It's been 18 years since we walked down the isle together, and we've run into some hard times before in our marriage, but nothing like this.  He's been laid off a number of times, but we knew that this was typical for the industry that he was in - I.T.


Still, Bob moved up the ranks and the payscale.  Never, did we ever dream that the rug would be pulled out from under us like this.  Never, if for no other reason than Bob's education, experience, work history, and scores of references would put him in the running for the best of jobs with companies like GE, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, Cambridge Technology Partners, Bell Atlantic, Avaya, and others.  He has worked at all of these companies and led the path for new technology and millions of dollars of business for each of them, but here we are, with 9.09 in one checking account and .73 in the other and that's it folks.  We've reached the end of our proverbial pot and so far 2011 seems to have been the end of my proverbial rope.


We pray.  We pray some more.  I know this is all on God's time, but come on already!!  Have we not lived a good life?  Been worthy of carrying the burden?  Been heard?  Our church friends are wonderful.  They are praying that we find a steady income and security once again.  Thank you to everyone who has emailed me and is thinking of  and praying for us. 


What is so difficult about all of this is the number of opportunities that have turned their backs on Bob because they say he has too much experience, or too little experience in this narrow field.  Good golly, Home Depot turned him down for a job because they said he was over qualified.  Well, duh!!  But we need a job!!  We have a family to feed and children to get through college with decent clothes and books.  We need to buy shoes for growing children and school supplies.  We need to buy toothpaste and take them to the dentist!!  And NO!  We haven't been to the dentist in 2 years!!!  Why?  Because we don't have medical insurance and medicaid doesn't pay for the dentist.


I know this isn't just us.  God knows this isn't just us.  Last night, Bob went to our church for a weekly meeting of the "unemployed" in our community.  The place is packed.  Every Thursday night, they all get together and share their experiences, their hopes, their dreams for their future and the future of their family.  They all share their resumes and even recruiters are showing up at these meetings.  You know what is interesting about all of this?  It's that most of the people in the meetings are in their 50's.  Most have worked 10, 15, 20 years for one company and now are being told they don't have enough experience.  The others, like Bob, who have grown and worked for company after company are told you have too much experience, over-qualified. 


You know what I say to all of this - BULL !!!*&%(#)!!!  What they're really saying is "you" are too old.  Over 50?  Forget it.  We want someone in their 20's or 30's who we can shape into what we want them to be.  We don't want all of your experience.  You know why the Home Depots of the world won't hire Bob?  Because they know that once they hire him he'll find another job and leave.  Yeah, probably, but at least they could have him for a couple of months or a couple of years at this rate.  And this chart - you know what the government no longer looks at?  Us.  That's right.  They no longer figure in those of us who have been out of work for more than 2 years.  Therefore, this chart is about as accurate as .... uh .... me guessing the number of cells in my body that are screaming at me at this very moment.

It's not all "Bob" either.  You're probably asking, "so what have you done, Susan, all this time?"  Well, I've applied at Home Depot, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, 5 law firms, and a temp agency.  Most don't even bother to follow up on a job inquiry, and the ones who have have said basically the same thing - "you've been out of the workforce for too long" or "You don't meet the requirements for this position."  You're kidding, right? Exactly what requirements are needed to run a cash register, bag groceries, anything?  I could probably teach them a thing or two about how it should be done, but "nope" they won't even give me the time of day.  So...


I paint.  I work on commissioned paintings.  I craft and sell things that I make.  I build websites, and surprisingly, this hobby of mine for the past 15 years has turned into the income that has carried us through paying the utility bills and the necessaries for our family.  It does seem that God brings me a job just when we don't have anything left.


Still, I've had a rough week.  I took one look at our bank account the other day and had a meltdown.  Where is the next dollar coming from?  Well, Bob is putting out fliers this weekend in several surrounding communities to do yardwork.  He does a great job of landscaping - putting down lime, seed, fertilizer, aeration - that kind of thing.  He has all the equipment and has been using it.  Fortunately, spring is almost here and it is time to start the Spring season of yard work.  Pray we get a few yards.

I've noticed my readership dropping off and I can't really blame anyone for that but me.  I thought it was time to be completely honest.  Yes, I'm putting myself out there, but I think it is in the sharing that we heal.  I know I need to heal.  I'm hurting and I'm scared and I'm feeling pretty down about things.


But know this - I know we are not alone in this struggle.  I know there are so many of you out there hurting in the same way.  That, too, is why I thought I should write this post and share my feelings and experiences here, because no one in this distress, having lost a job or a home or both, should feel like they are alone in their struggles or their pain. 

I'm praying that our country bounces back quickly.  Our people can't wait any longer.  WE ALL need help to start building this economy again.  WE NEED to take our country back from China and Indonesia and India.  WE NEED our spirit and our life back - not next year, not next month - NOW.

I love you all.  Thank you for listening.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Seventeen - Seriously?


I cannot believe my baby girl is 17.  She is so grown up and responsible that I have to pinch myself just to think that I am her mother.


On February 12th, she had a gathering of friends over for a birthday party and then a sleepover of girlfriends.  It was a great time for the teenagers - and even for the adults in the house believe it or not. 


It was laughter and "Taboo" from the start, and then it was music.  Everyone had a good meal and then they all watched "Shawshank Redemption" as the movie of choice - no girly movies allowed.


Sarah's good friend Ryan complained a little about the fact that he had to sit through a girly movie last year at Sarah's 16th birthday.  Too funny.  Fortunately, everyone enjoyed the movie - even the guys.


She opened gifts.


And Walker sat beside her the whole time, enjoying just being beside her.


So he could make faces on occasion.


Or admire a gift as much as Sarah.


"Walker, isn't that neat?"


"Hey!  Give that back, that's my birthday gift!"


Yes, she and Walker are like 2 peas in a pod ...


2 cuddly bears ...


And, as is typical with most men, he was clueless when she frowned ...


But he tried to make up for it with funny faces ...


and hugs ...


and more funny faces ...


"How about one more hug" ...


because Walker likes to make Sarah laugh.  And, he loves to see her smile.  And, that was exactly what he wanted to do anyway, especially since we all knew that the only reason Sarah was frowning in the first place was because she wanted a birthday kiss from her sweetie.


And that was exactly what she got.  All of this solved the issue of turning Sarah's frown upside down.


But then the girls had a plan ...


And they called Walker over to sit with them on the sofa ...


"Aw no, do I hafta?"


Walker is so silly - I think that's part of the reason Sarah loves him so much.


But wait a minute - Walker isn't comfortable on the sofa with all these girls ...


Because he just wants to cuddle with one inparticular ...


Okay, enough silliness, even Hannah (our little puppy) wanted to get in on the action.


Of course, Walker took full advantage of being on a sofa with 8 females.


I mean full advantage.


"Hmmm, this must be what it's like to be on the Bachelor."


"Yes, I do believe that it would be fun to be on the Bachelor."


"I'm just kidding, Sarah.  I didn't mean it.  I was just having fun.  You forgive me, right?"


Everyone scattered, and some headed to the kitchen for goodies.


They hung out and talked.


And shared report card grades.


Ryan apparently had a tough semester.


"Are you kidding?  Ryan, I can't believe that!  Really? You made what on your Math test?"


"No way that's possible.  All you have to do is understand this ...



"But Sarah, my brain isn't wired for calculus functions, product formulas, and derivatives."


"Oh yes it is, Ryan.  Stop hiding behind your brother.  Even he knows you know this stuff."


Okay, enough of the functions already, girlfriends and boyfriends wanted to hang out and share chairs.


While Ryan just hung out - comfortably.


It was fun.  I enjoy observing all the fun and all the laughter.


Even Adolf enjoyed hanging out with the crowd until it was time for cake ...


The cake - oh the cake - I'm not sure anyone actually "ate" the cake.  They did, however, chase each other around the house and smeared cake and icing all over each other's face. 


They were laughing so hard their sides hurt.  It sure was fun.  How I managed to avoid having cake in my face is still questionable.


At one point, Blake was chasing Sarah around the house because Sarah had got him good with cake, right in the face.  Sarah and Blake ran up the back stairs and Sarah locked herself in her bedroom.  Matthew (our son) was unsuccessful at trying to get Sarah to come out of her bedroom because she knew that Blake was outside the door.

Then I came along.  "Sarah, what are you doing?" 

she said "I'm hiding from Blake." 

"Sarah, come out now."

"Is Blake out there?"

"Sarah, come out and join your party." (you see, I didn't actually lie, I just didn't answer her question)

"Cake is flying downstairs, and this is your party, you need to be a part of the cake fight."



So Sarah opened her bedroom door and Blake swirled around and got her right in the face with a big slab of cake and green icing.


"I'm going to get you!!!" she screamed as she chased Blake back down the stairs. 

Later she said to me "Mom, you're going to pay for that."  I just smile.


Walker got it good.  His entire face was covered in green icing at one point.


So was Ryan's. 


They both had to wash up in the kitchen sink.


And get the icing off their designer clothes.


And their handsome faces.


They were all covered in cake.


Sarah had to change clothes at one point.


but she was still smiling - the most adorable 17 y/o ever.

The sleepover was fun too.  Of course, it was only 7 of Sarah's girlfriends.  No boys allowed.  We pulled out the aerobeds and linens and got it all set up for the girls to sleep together in one big room - the boy's room which is the largest in our home with 2 queen beds.  Even I sat around and shared some girltalk with the girls after they had gotten ready for bed. 

Most of her friends went home early Sunday morning, but 2 of her friends, Sydney and Maria, joined us for church service and then Krispy Kreme donuts (we had coupons!). 

It was a great weekend all around and Sarah is all happy about her 17th birthday celebration.

She is growing up way too fast.  Even if she does chase her friends around the house for a cake fight.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Starting the Year with a Winning Streak


Okay - 2 for 2.  I just got notified that I won the Singer Home Essentials Steam Works Pro Iron in Burda Style's Singer/Martha Stewart video series contest!  Hey, you can't win if you don't enter, right?  I can't remember the last time I won anything - I mean, before the 50.00 from Krrb.com


This was my very brief winning entry


Maybe I'm on a winning streak.  Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket now.  Maybe I should just believe this is a sign that we are going to have a good year after all.  Maybe Big Bear will find a good job.  Yep, maybe - just maybe.


Anyway, I wanted to share with all of you my good fortune, especially considering how the last 2.5 years has been anything but good. 

So, do something exciting today - enter a contest or a sweepstakes.  You may just be a winner.


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