Friday, October 14, 2011

According to Me, at 13, I'm Old!!

Wow. I had a difficult September. Not that I don't like September. There are moments filled with dread when I see the "back to school" ads (post-traumatic stress from my school days....), but September usually involves CAKE for me--it's my birthday month.

But this is the first time I had nightmares of the grim reaper--yes, all you older than me go ahead and laugh--I turned 30 (GASP!!!!)!!!!!

But it's like this--when I was 13 I had it all planned out. High school, College, Babies by 21 or 22 (apparently I wasn't very good at math!). And then there was this black void that I call "the 30s." It was when I would officially be old. Probably wrinkly, ugly, grey-haired. Was I right? Probably.... ;)

So September marked the month of depression.

Good thing I left the depressed mood behind! :)

It's October now, so which mood will it be? So far I'm all about baking. Maybe I should call October "Fatty Month?"

Anyway, I'd like to know from all of you: When you were a kid, which age was "old" and did you have a "life plan" like I did (hopefully yours spanned beyond 30)?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

But What Can We Do?

I have heard my friends ask this question over and over: What can I do to make some extra cash since I am a stay-at-home parent?
Simply Google this question, and you will find several thousand companies asking you for money for the answer. There are weekend retreats that may charge thousands to 'answer' this question for you. And of course there are books galore to give you new ideas.

But I'm going to give you some suggestions--yes, right here--for free. It's my good deed of the day. :)

1. Secret shopping. No joke. You can earn some decent money doing this. Plus, you get to bring your kids on many of the jobs! If you have never heard of secret shopping before, it is the way many retailers and restaurants check up on their employees. They hire everyday, average people to pose as a customer, and have a task to be performed (such as, purchase one item, then return it or dine during dinner hours and evaluate your server's performance). You can be reimbursed for your fees, plus are paid for your work.

The How: visit the Mystery Shopping Providers Association
click on your continent
click on the green 'available jobs' link.
This link will retrieve all of the open jobs for many companies. All of these companies are legitimate. This is where I find the names of the companies I want to work for. I search online for the company, register with them (usually requires some writing examples) and then they should send an e-mail with registration information.

Keep in mind that many companies only have a few open jobs each month, so you will need quite an arsenal of companies that you are registered with to keep busy.

Each company has their own particularities--one I work for requires I use cash for all purchases (bleh). And they take about a month and a half to reimburse and pay me (blarb) for the completed work.

Ooh! And it is also important to note that several major companies list their reimbursement at an extremely LOW price at the beginning of the month, but it will be increased toward the end of the month! Sometimes I don't even begin to look for work with these companies until the 20th or later.

2. Begin a dinner-4-hire business.
I used to babysit many children (okay, so I ran a daycare). Somehow amidst the chaos and feeding schedules I managed to cook a healthy dinner for my family. The parents would ooh and ahhh over the food as they picked up their little ones. So I worked out a deal. I would double or triple my recipe on the day I watched their children. They would reimburse me for ingredients and donate for labor. And they would get a home-cooked, made-with-love meal that was ready immediately. Win, win, right?

3. Direct Sales- I am and have been a consultant for Mary Kay for several years. And yes, there is potential for making some very good money! I should warn you though, that you may have to pimp out your friends and family for a short time in the beginning to round up friends for makeover parties and skincare classes...whom will then introduce you to their friends...whom will then introduce you to their friends. And then by that point they're really like strangers and it doesn't feel so dirty.

Pros of the business: Flexibility! You really can make your own hours. Place customer calls during naptimes, calculate sales after bedtime, drop off samples and orders after the park or with kids in the car. It really is do-able. The one thing is that, in the beginning, you will definitely need some sitters or you'll have to rely on spouse/family for childcare during parties, where you are assisting and demonstrating products. BUT that is also a 'pro' for the job--Alone time!

4. Eldercare. I would have not considered it, had it not been family. But if you could see the joy that having children around brings to my grandmothers.... It can be difficult say, if your children are the type that bounce off walls 24/7 or run toward any crevice in the walls or doors of any kind (doggie doors included) to break free in any given moment.

Awww, isn't she a cutie(My friend's girl, Little "B" as a baby escapee) ?!!

Eldercare involves bathroom help. So there are definitely moments in which I am not able to have my eyes on my youngest (thank you, oh thank you, super responsible eldest!!). And thank goodness for port-a-cribs and baby gates!

Some elderly persons are still able to leave the house, which makes park visits and trips out for errands a fun treat for anyone not having the luxury of sharing these moments with they younger type.

I am sugar-coating this a bit, but you can imagine the hairy moments (i.e. the other day when Grandma began disciplining my 5 year-old for jumping around the room or when Grandma couldn't take the noise that children produce during play). But overall, this has been a valuable addition to our family as well as our income.

All of these ideas fit certain criteria I require for income while raising children at-home:
A) There are no volume (noise) requirements, for the most part (God forbid I must be required to converse professionally on the phone while the wild beasts roam the house).
B) I can operate while sporting a drink-spilt (is that really a word?) or crumb-laden wardrobe. Rule #1 of parenting--that which is white shall not remain white for long.
C) Flexibility! Gosh, who can plan around little ones' naps (parents of young infants--I am not talking to you. Just wait 'til the 2s. ;) ?!

I am sure that there are so very many other jobs that we parents pick up here and there that help us on our way to financial survival! If you have ideas of your own, please e-mail them to me, and I may just create a feature post around your idea!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Fun (for next summer, of course!)

Apparently I had so much fun this summer that I never updated this blog! Here, to commemorate a summer gone very well, is an educational summery-breeze blog posting that is only about 4 months too late :)

With so many summer activities to accomplish--especially since we have a measley 3 months of summer here--I have found it difficult to keep up with the day-to-day tasks that typically take up most of the day anyway. But it's summer--time to relax, have fun, enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine! To maximize my time I have developed several methods for saving time while having fun in the summer:

1. Forget showering. It's overrated. You spend half your time in swimming pools anyway. So after swim lessons, as the kids are running through the sprinklers at home (because you can never get enough water fun), pop out some suds-less shampoo and get to work. Maybe make sure most of your neighbors are not watching you wash your hair in your yard first.

2. Food: Cooking in the summer is a pain. I love to EAT in the summer, but the thought of turning on my stove on a 90 degree day is just not my idea of fun. Instead, run errands to Costco during meal times :) BYOSC (Bring your own sippy cup!) Just make sure you add in fake "Oh yeah, which aisle can I find this on, again?"s every now and then so that the free sample people think you actually might purchase their products. I rarely leave hungry. And if you still are hungry, they do have the food court--berry smoothie, anyone?!

3. Dog-walking: Most dogs need exercise. My dogs need a LOT of exercise. So go to your fence, open the gate extra-wide, and when Sparky bolts for it, feign ignorance. "Oh, Sparky! Come home!!" Well, I guess it's best to let him run until he decides to return home.....oh well! Okay neighbors, really, I don't do this intentionally. My dogs do more of the "if we hurt her leg by running her over while she's at the gate, we'll get through!" technique.

4. Diaper-changing: If you are at the pool/lake/beach enough you won't have to do it as often! haha. Okay, this borderlines on child abuse. Let me insist that I NEVER use this technique myself.... My kid gets rashes easily, anyway. Well, but it's a nice thought....just slap on a water diaper, and either ignore the slightly yellow-tinted water and just hose the kid down every now and then.

Monday, June 13, 2011


One week ago I had the pleasure of attending a Medical Writers' symposium. I am not a medical writer. My work history and schooling is in emergency medicine/orthopedics. But I seemed to have left all hopes of attaining any type of "success" in my "career" when I had children. I went back to work for only one week after my oldest was 2 1/2 months old. And I knew that you couldn't pay me enough to work when my teeny baby was at home without me. It just did not feel right. So I have managed to stay home or work hours that allowed me to be home with the children during their waking hours ever since.

But now my kids are 5 and 1 3/4 and it gets me thinking about what I could do to get back into some type of professional career. I was researching a local university's site and stumbled upon a page dedicated to "which alternative career could I choose, coming from a medical background?" It was as if it was made for me! And the one career that stood out (that made sense with our family situation and our geographic location) was Medical Writing.

What is it, you ask? Well....let me allow the professionals to explain.

Yes, i'm making you click on a link!! I happen to be writing at 11pm, and I could use a break! ;)

So anyway, there are areas of medical writing that are out of the question for me. Without additional schooling and without moving to a different location, the working for pharmaceutical companies part just would not work. But I see potential in many other areas--even if only simply creating patient education documents, etc.

So I attended this symposium. What a great group of people! All were friendly and willing to answer my questions. I even met a few others whom were searching for more information, like myself. What I found was that the career is great for professional mothers (not limited to them, of course!) and that some have had success working as freelance writers, from home! Wow. But then would come the hard work of rounding up the work and managing my own business....been there. Not wild about it. ha. But I guess that's why I have a great accountant!

I feel like I left the symposium full of information, but more confused about what exactly I should pursue than before I had arrived. So that is it. It is a great career, and would take work to begin, but I believe I could do it. ....but should I???

On a lighter note, do you know what my one year-old did tonight? He flushed a large, round rock (his brother's FAVORITE rock, I might add) down the toilet! I rushed in to the bathroom right as he flushed the toilet. I caught a glimpse of it, and down, away it went....really not good for the septic system (especially considering I just spent over $300 having it pumped just a week ago!). But I am glad I recognized what went down the toilet. So now we (of course not me--but Blake! haha) get to take apart the toilet, retrieve the rock (I assured the older brother that we can always bleach the heck out of the rock), and put the toilet together again. Fun stuff. This is life.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oops, I did it again....

It happened again. The 12-Hour Cereal Sale. But this time my husband was with me, giving me dirty looks with every box of cereal I picked up. Yes, I know that we try not to eat cereals that are this sugary....but they would be great for special treats.... I eventually just ignored the looks and piled 15 boxes into the cart...and then a few more. Hey, a few of them had raisins.
Does anyone (besides me) actually say this to their dogs (yes, plural) when they let them out to the backyard one last time before bed? "Okay, be good. Go potty. And don't eat any poop. I will be watching." Seriously. I just said that. And they only listen if I throw in, "Go potty and come back for a treat!" They use me.
So this week marks the first week in which I have completed what I call "Grandmacare." My two boys and I "grandma-sat" two different grandmas. The first is my husband's pleasant grandmother. She has Alzheimer's and is continually amused by any minor daily detail that she notices. It takes the pressure off of being a good entertainer--it is as if the show restarts every 30 seconds (at times). I feel like a stand-up comedian with 30 different takes.
For instance,
Grandma: Why, this dog is looking at me like he's hungry! Here, I'll just give him this cracker
Me: He is just begging. He will be fed dinner when your daughter returns home.
Grandma: (throws disgusted look at me) I think you must have made that up. Why, he IS hungry! If he's hungry then by golly, I am going to feed him!!
Me: Oh no Grandma, he just has to wait for another few minutes....(Spoken while shielding my eyes from the continued dirty looks. Apparently I'm a dog abuser!).

not even 20 seconds later:

Grandma: Is this dog hungry? He looks as if he might be hungry. Can I feed him this cracker?
Me: Well, he is fed every day, but never seems to be full. He is very good at making us think he's hungry.
Grandma: Well then, I guess I will give him this cracker.

ugh. fail round 2

the time that worked (took about 13 tries):
Grandma: Look here at this dog. Oh, he's hungry! I've got this cracker here. Here, you good doggie...
Me: Oh, please, don't! His doctor told us he will get sick if we feed him "people food." We wouldn't want to hurt him!
Grandma: Well, I guess not.....(while still contemplating sneaking him that cracker)
Me: Thanks. You know, he has some great dog food and will be fed in 15 minutes. He is fed the same time every day so that he doesn't get too hungry.
Grandma: Well doggie, I guess you'll have to wait!

Ahhh....crisis averted (and I wasn't attacked with the "look").

I have to say, at this point Grandmacare is relatively simple. I was going to say it has been relatively not so gross, but I really would hate to curse myself. I have pulled up pants and have plucked a beard, but I would really hate for things to get much worse so early in the game.

Caring for a loved one is easier than caring for a stranger. Witnessing their humility or knowing how humbled they would be if they could see their condition makes me feel like what I am doing--the "being there" is important. It also makes me almost hope for a quick death for myself (preferably with all my friends and family so there would be limited pain for those left behind that knew us) at a not-so-old age. Silly, I know, but it's a hard life to be over 80.

The challenge with the other grandma is motivating her to do....well, anything, really. Wait a minute--it's not for lack of desire or for laziness. She is dizzy. Constantly. Like whoa, where am I, in space dizzy. So anything involving being mobile is out of the question. And even sitting still isn't pleasant with the dizziness. Any activity or craft involving fine motor control with the hands is out of the question due to horrible arthritis in her hands. And she's in a location with no wheelchair access to the outside world. Oh, and she is unable to walk down stairs due to orthopedic conditions. Fun stuff. Don't you wish you were her?

So when I come over to visit with my two children, both full of energy, I am sure we are a sight for sore eyes as well as the cause of more dizziness.... The children love caring for Grandma. They pull out toys, beg her for candy, and she tells them stories. There is depression (her second husband just passed away) and there are stories about all the friends and family whom have passed away. And sometimes I feel I should let her be sad. And sometimes I feel I need to remind her why I love that she's still here.

I really don't think I'm doing anything special or out of the ordinary in regards to these grandmas. If I had it my way I would keep what I am doing (just grandma-sitting, really) quiet. But I know that we all seem to be living longer. So are our parents. I am sure there are others out there already caring for others. And there are people wondering what it's really like, too. So....are you going to go for the "good" nursing home? Or are you going to be like our parents and keep your loved ones near as long as you can?

I tease my parents that they had better be nice (and give me back rubs) because I will be making the decision one of these days.....good nursing home? or ....? ha. It's good leverage, believe me! ;)

I just know that many funny stories are still to come. And perhaps some heart-breaking ones too.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hobby Farm

I want one of these:

Maybe with some of these:

And definitely two of these:

And one of these:

Really, I do.

It is frustrating to have a plan to begin a different lifestyle, but yet to be stuck on phase 1 (by the way, Phase 1 is the sale of our current home).

Walking down the aisle of adorable and fragile chicks, it is so difficult to resist grabbing a little box and loading it with those sweet little chicks!

But for now I will practice patience.

Rough Days

Today was rough for me.

Really, I should be singing the praises of my children and relishing in the semi-relaxing day that it was. But I was agitated all day. I have been under the weather for the past few days so perhaps my energy level is just not where it usually is. Or I might blame it on a puppy that I agreed to dog-sit. I have been worrying every second that it is going to sneak off and pee or worse in my house....The dog is not quite potty-trained. Oh, and one of our dogs almost fought this little pup. Really, I have a dysfunctional dog. So perhaps that put me on edge. Or maybe it was the gift I brought to someone that, instead of brightening up their day, led them to think about all the things that they could not do. Depressing. I know--not my fault when someone chooses to see things in a negative light. But it must have affected me.

So setbacks like these occur every day. And I suppose my continual goal should be to strive to be the person that is able to just pause, get over it all, and restart. Like when I would play my brother's old-school Sega video game. I know--I'm dating myself. But there were just times when the game was going all wrong and in an almost sneaky way I would sometimes "accidentally" hit the restart button....My hand just slipped, I guess! It was like the magic reset button--somehow the next game always was better after restarting.

So here it goes. Closing eyes. Deep breath. Another deep breath. Open eyes. "Time with my children is limited. They grow up quickly. Remember this in the few minutes left of the evening."

There. Problem solved. For now....