Sunday, February 21, 2010

Household Notebook: Status - meh.

I've only gotten one section done. And it's not even properly done yet. I'm just finding it difficult to sit down and put this thing together. I know that it would do a world of good for keeping things straightened out and organized around here. It doesn't change, however, that when I look at this project I simply see a huge amount of effort to be expended in one shot.

My motivation is lacking. My apathy is showing.


It's been bothering me for a little while now, this whole business with the stack of bills being bigger then the amount of money we have coming in. I think that I need to do something to bring some form of money into the house but I don't know what to do. I am debating hopping back on to Keen and giving all of that another try. I'm also considering looking into something like medical billing or something else similar. It's hard because I'm petrified of the idea that I'm going to do something wrong and make a difficult situation even worse.

We can't pay our bills on Beloved's income. There's no way around it. We've been doing everything we can, but there's no way we can keep this up. Something is going to have to be sacrificed and I don't know what we can sacrifice. I don't know how we're going to pay for my counseling but I have to admit that I need it now. I've been trying to get by with out it but it's just hit that point where I need to work with somebody. I need to figure out what we're going to do for a babysitter when I have my sessions. I know that I can't go to any of my side of the family because the people in any other family that wasn't as fucked up as mine... well, I've got my Aunt and my brother's soon to be ex-wife for support there and that's it.

Sure, the rest of them can pay lip service to how they care and stuff but they haven't been around and it's just not going to happen with my parents. My grandparents, as much as they'd like to, simply are not going to be able to do so. My grandfather has his hands full just caring for my grandmother as the Alzheimer's robs her of her sanity. I can't ask him to mind two little boys on top of that. Alzheimer's does funny things to the brain and everybody recognizes that it's safest for everyone involved to have my grandmother supervised when around small children. Not because she's a dangerous person but because she's been forgetful to the point of nearly burning herself in the middle of cooking dinner.

Beloved's family is a lot like mine in that respect also. Theoretically, we could call on his sister or his brother, but life is getting in the way there. Schedules are crazy and rarely do they match up enough for us to get together for something planned. We've called on his parents quite a bit for help. But life has been throwing them curve balls too, so I don't know what we're going to do. I'm considering talking to the neighbor next door to see if they can watch the boys for a little bit.

Beloved kinda snarls at the prospect of the teenagers over there watching them and says that they're not responsible enough. I don't think he realizes that we're pretty much out of other options here. It's that or nothing.

I'm worried. We don't have enough money and we've got a pile of bills that need paid. Rent is going to be due for next month soon and there's no way we can pay it along with everything else. We've got the power bill that hasn't been paid for two months, the car payment that is in the same position, and I don't even know what's going on with the health insurance. He has been declared in default on his student loans and I'm in danger of the same with mine. We simply can't pay them. We'd love to but we just don't have the money.

Unlike other people, we don't have a pile of credit card bills as the source of our problems. It's instead the everyday bills like the cost of doing laundry, groceries, and various other things. I'm terrified that we're going to actually owe money on our taxes this year. I can't shake the terrible feeling that he's going to be laid off again in the near future. While his boss gets to sit on his ass and bitch and moan about things while he fucks around with stupid shit and pet projects, we're going to be scrambling to find where we can cut more out of our budget to pay for groceries and diapers. And the god damn state will still tell us that we don't qualify for financial assistance because he's a few hundred dollars over the line for anything.

But, I look around and I see other people who aren't doing their damnedest to try and keep going basically getting rewarded for not doing shit. I've got neighbors who spend almost as much on beer and hard liquor for a weekend as we do for a car payment. They sit there and moan about how expensive everything is, while their heating bills are paid by somebody else, their groceries are paid for by WIC or food stamps, and their rent is subsidized. I don't have a problem with welfare but the system is broken. When you're told to get fired from your job to get more assistance, that's a sign that something is seriously wrong.

But what can I do about it? My vote doesn't change things. My efforts to remain independent and make things work without assistance (because I'm told that I don't qualify due to a technicality) get me nowhere. We have no savings because each major crisis that came along has eaten everything we've tried to save. We tried to put all the money that people had given us as gifts for the boys aside, but that has been eaten as well. We're down to 40 dollars in our emergency fund.

I don't know if we should pull the money out of the 401K or not. It would only be a temporary solution anyways because we've got enough debt hanging over our heads that it'd be gone in a few weeks if we started doing what we could to make the bills go away. We're coming up fast on a crisis point and I don't know what we can do about it. That terrifies me. I remember not having enough money to buy food and Mom foraging for stuff we can eat from the woods. I remember not having enough money to get new clothes for school.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I love my children...

I love my children but they are just driving me crazy at the moment. Anyone who tells you that toddlers are easy to deal with is lying to you. Seriously, they are. How can I say this? Because my 2 1/2 year old son is a sweet child that is out to make me pull my hair out. He has thrown the largest temper tantrums recently and I'm not sure if it's because he's teething, suffering from cabin fever (because the weather hasn't been exactly kind to us going outside recently), or if he's just been in a perverse mood. Either way, I find myself wondering what on earth I was thinking when I so desperately wished for children because I had no clue what so ever how difficult this was going to be.

And my friends and family members with older children tell me it only gets better. Is this a good type of better or the sarcastic kind, because I'm kind of dreading this. Ah well, at least the baby is napping and Cuddle-Bear has stopped screaming to play with his hair brush. Granted, it's a bit annoying that he's decided to brush the baby gate with it, but you know what, he's not doing any harm so I'm not going to reprimand him for it. Annoying is better then ear-splitting shrieks any day of the week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wait! What...?

I'm sitting here feeding Snuggle-Bug his morning bottle when I read this article and I'm taken aback by the hubris. While I recognize there is some pro-Iran and anti-US bias here, there would be no story if the two Senators actually hadn't said or done anything along these lines. Pushing for passage of a bill that calls for official US support of the undermining of another sovereign nation is tantamount to a soft declaration of war against that nation. I say a soft declaration of war because these two bloated cowards that play at being leaders of this nation lack the intestinal fortitude to put forth an actual declaration.

If you are going to demand a regime change and you are throwing official support behind the people opposing the sitting government, how does that make you any different from Osama Bin Laden? Furthermore, how does it make this country any different from the nations that are currently labeled as our enemies in the 'War on Terror"? Honestly, you hypocrites, do you really expect me to believe that you are some how morally superior to the others out there who call for the same things regarding our nation? While you sit there comfortably ensconced in the halls of power over there in Washington, DC, the rest of the nation is expecting you to do your damn job, not dick around with this bullshit.

How is it your job to make soft declarations of war against another nation that has not taken any aggressive action against our own? How is it your job to make a soft declaration of war when we're currently engaged in two right now? If you wanted to be technical about it, it is two different theaters of the same war. Either way, you're not there to be doing this shit. You want to be an asshole, do it on your own time. The people of this nation are not served by your encouraging hostility and tensions in the Middle East along with anti-US sentiment around the world. Your doing idiotic shit like this justifies the logic of people like Osama Bin Laden for why they're engaged in asymmetrical warfare against us. If I recall correctly that is the current term used to describe the changes in modern warfare that have come with the rise of terrorism, right?

Each day that the current war extends out longer is going to be on your head. Each additional attack against US interests and citizens around the world is going to be on your head. Each death that comes from these things is going to be blood on your hands. You are just as culpable as the guy who pulled the trigger because you placed US citizens in this position with your chest pounding rhetoric. If my youngest brother dies in combat, you are his murderer along with the person who pulled the trigger.

Why? Because that person may as well have been the gun in your hand, for you sent my brother there along with many others of my countrymen. There is no justice in this war. There hasn't been from day one. It was started out of a desire to blindly attack and get revenge. It continues out of political machinations. I suppose Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia or what ever the enemy de juor.

As an aside: Ironically, my misspelling 'de juor' was 'de jure'. It could be equally apt in this situation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Well, Hello Nursezilla.

I read this blog entry on the New York Times website and thought to myself, 'Hey, I recognize what they're talking about.' I didn't come away with warm fuzzies because it really is something that I've experienced and still feel significant anger on that matter. Nurses acting in an unprofessional manner is just as horrible as a doctor doing so. I'm not picking on just nurses here.

No, the beef that I have is with the medical community at large taking the attitude that they are untouchable. If you go to have medical treatment at a hospital (and at some doctor's offices this attitude is present as well), you need to have the Oliver Twist-esque stance of your hat in your hand and begging for aid. I've lost count the number of times I've been told that health care is not a right. This hasn't just been from people out in the community, but also from medical professionals. At times in the midst of my health crisis, as some type of justification of poor service.

A fine example was when I was sent to the hospital by my doctor for a nebulizer treatment and the triage nurse decided that it wasn't necessary to expedite it because while my lung function was at half of it's usual capacity my blood oxygen still looked 'ok'. I was told to wait a few minutes and that I'd start feeling better. This was after a mildly harrowing half hour drive from out here in the country to the city hospital, going directly from my doctor's office to there and with the doctor's office calling a head that I was on my way. Another nurse told me that I needed to relax and that I was just over-reacting.

Look, I can appreciate the fact that asthma can be aggravated by emotional stress. But to tell a person who was sent to you by their primary care physician that it's not really a problem is bullshit. It disgusts me because if you don't want to be treated like crap, you're either going to continue to suffer with your ailment or be told to suck it up, because you don't have a choice. There's a lot of good doctors and nurses out there. I'm not saying there isn't. There is a cultural attitude, however, that the medical profession is exempt from being required to treat patients with respect. When you're told that your health problems are not a result of a chronic condition that you can not have possibly induced in yourself, as per the evidence of your chart and medical history, but rather a result of your laziness or some other quality assigned to you by the 'professional' speaking to you (who doesn't know you from any other random person on the street), and you are expected to tolerate if not agree with this verbal abuse... Well, I've got a problem with that.

I've got a problem with the idea that parents are forced to subject their children to emotional abuse of this caliber and if they refuse, it is possible that they are going to be punished by the law for it. Not the people emotionally abusing the children but the parents who are attempting to protect them. Why do I say this? Because there are cases on record around the USA where parents are charged with child abuse because they did not bring their children to the doctor. How many of those cases are a situation where the parents were attempting to keep their children from being bullied by the medical staff who are supposed to be caring for them? I've a suspicion that this would make up a percentage of those cases that's going to show it's not an unexpected outlier.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grief given voice...

Grief given voice by music takes the wings and flies to the ear of god from the lips of the sorrowful in a poignant prayer for mercy, grace, and aid.

As words fail me, I turn to the music of others and the performances of others to voice my own sorrow.

Verdi's 'Willow Song' from Otello, final act, second scene (if I recall correctly), as performed by Renee Fleming.

Dido's 'My Lover's Gone' from her album No Angel.

Enya's 'Exile' from her album Watermark.

Howard Shore's 'Evenstar' from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Tower's Soundtrack

Howard Shore's 'Helm's Deep' from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Tower's Soundtrack (specifically the section that starts at 3:22)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Feeding my coffee addiction..

I'm slapping this link up here because if I'm going to be feeding my coffee habit, I may as well satisfy my chocolate craving at the same time.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Excellent book on Spinning!

I just have to say it because I looked over and was reminded of this:

Spin To Knit is an AWESOME book!
It has some excellent advice for new spinners and some truly fantastic patterns! If you're interested in spinning or knitting, it's a great book. Not only is it a wonderful source of ideas and projects, it is absolutely a fantastic read. I really loved the beautiful photographs used to illustrate and the really pleasant little sidebars that talk about the designers and the yarns used for the samples. If you have the opportunity to pick it up and read it, do so. If you can put it in your handcraft library, you absolutely, positively MUST do it!

Shawls & other fun with yarn!

I kinda have a passion for shawls. I love the way they look and how it feels to wear them. I have a wonderful gray fleece one that is so incredibly soft that it is an absolute favorite of mine. I miss the absolutely lovely bright pink wool one that I had. It was the first shawl I owned and it was so amazingly warm because it was wool. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in the same fire that destroyed Rose and Nathan's home almost two years ago.

I've made a triangular crochet shawl of approximately the same shade of pink. While lovely and warm, it isn't quite big enough for what I wanted. It's a really nice wrap, however, and excellent if a little something is needed for a warm late spring/early summer afternoon to shield you from the breeze. It's just a very large half granny-square made with a US size F hook and about two balls of bright pink hand spun yarn that I was given as a gift a little while before I found out I was pregnant with my second child.

I'm considering knitting a shawl for myself and I found a pattern that is simple enough that I think I'm going to do it. I love the versatility of the end result of this pattern. I really like the idea that I can use it for more then one outfit and for a proverbial laundry list of different looks. It'll be interesting to see if I have enough of that absolutely stunning deep burgundy yarn that my mother-in-law gave me.

My first objective before I start on this project, however, is to use up my yarn stash. I believe I may just start that scarf for Beloved for Yule this year. It may work to use up that yarn stash better then making clothes for Cuddle-Bear's baby doll toy. I finished the blanket I was knitting for my friend Kevin's new baby. It is made with an incredibly simple pattern and two yarns together.

The yarns are a commercially made sport weight acrylic and a hand spun woolen yarn of approximately the same weight and incredibly soft texture. The pattern to knit this yarn can be done on any kind of needles. I used US size 10 knitting needles. You cast on 3 stitches and then knit one, increase, knit one, increase, and knit. In the next row, you purl in all of your stitches. The following row, knit one, increase, and then knit thru all but the last stitch. Increase and then knit your final stitch in the row. Purl all of the next row and then repeat the knit process of the row before. You continue this until your blanket is of the length you want it from the needle down to the point at where you started. Then, purl a row, knit a row and purl a row. Next you knit together the first two stitches of your row before knitting all but the last two stitches of the row. Knit together those last two stitches. Purl the next row and then in the following row knit as you did for the row before. Decrease until you have two stitches left on your needle. Cast off and you're finished with your baby blanket.

I had the audacity not to cast off but whip out my US size H crochet hook. I proceeded to chain five and then do a half double crochet into the first decrease I encountered on the edge. I chained two and did another half double into the next decrease. I continued this way until I reached where the three stitches didn't decrease or increase. Here, I chained two from the last half double crochet I worked and then did a double crochet into the knit row in the middle of that section. I chained two and then did a half double crochet into the first increase I encountered. I proceeded as I did for the previous side.

When I reached the point of the first increase for the whole blanket, I worked around that corner as I did for the corner previous. I proceeded around the remaining edges of the blanket in this fashion until I came back to where I started my crochet edging. From the final half double crochet I worked, I chained one and slip stitched into my chain of 3. I then chained three more, did a half double crochet into the slip stitch, and chained one. I worked my way around the edging doing two half double crochet stitches into where I had my openings from my earlier row with a single chain between each cluster. At the corners, I worked three chains to turn. When I got to my starting point for the row, I slip stitched into the chain and then tied off.

All that is left to finish this blanket is to wash and block it. I will need to write down washing instructions for this thing, but it's going to be a good blanket for this baby. It is nice and warm and knit in a stockinette stitch it has a good texture. One side is nice and smooth while the other is pleasantly nubby. Knit in the two yarns, it is also going to be nice and warm. I'll post a picture of this up when it blocking process is dry.

In other news, I finished spinning up my singles of the fluffy white Corridale wool that my mother-in-law gave me last spring. Now I need to ply it and then I'll be ready to work it up into something nice. I still have to finish spinning up the indigo dyed roving that she gave me then. I'm debating what I should make with that when it is done. I'll figure something good out, though.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Brownies = OMFG! WIIIIIIN!!!!

I made that recipe last night and it came out absolutely beautifully. It was a nice, dense brownie with excellent flavor and texture. Not too chewy and just absolutely perfect. Anybody who is considering taking the risk to do it you absolutely MUST make these brownies!

The teething biscuits didn't come out quite right. I'm going to try again, but I'm pretty sure that they're missing something. I may need to put more flour in it next time.

Hmm.... Perhaps the Times will help me learn math.

There is a series of opinion articles that I'm going to be following on the New York Times. In it, the author (a respected mathematics professor over at Cornell University) is giving an explanation of the concepts of mathematics for the lay man. I've got to say, I feel a tremendous sense of hope upon reading the first article of the series. I've always felt overwhelmed and troubled by the concept of numbers.

When I was a kid, I made the mistake of asking questions about number theory of my teachers in elementary school. Their rough dismissals combined with my being told to just accept things because it's the way they are worked to make numbers a troubling concept. Add to this things like multiplication confusing me and no one managing to help me understand it (because I'm being told just to memorize it), it makes it really difficult to become comfortable or even indifferent towards mathematics.

Throw in that at the time this was going on, my family was suffering the effects of poverty and I could see what not having enough money and making mistakes with money lead to.... Well, it takes numbers from an uncomfortable place to a terrifying place when I'm being told to think of my math problems as dealing with money. Working past the emotional associations, there is still the bad job that was done by others to educate me when I was a child.

I look back and I can see only one teacher who helped me understand mathematics. Mrs. Lewis was (possibly still is, if she hasn't retired) a special education teacher who worked with me for a long while to get me to understand fractions. It is directly due to her efforts that I can do at least a passable job of division. It is also directly due to her efforts that I was able to learn how to do algerbra because she used some of the basic ideas of it to help me understand division. If this series of articles can help me to learn how to do basic multiplication, perhaps I'll be able to learn the aspects of higher mathematics that have been eluding me over the last several years and I will finally be able to write up my theory.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Our government is a pack of idiots...

So, who else has had the opportunity to read some of the news about this lovely budget getting unveiled? Now, before some one says that I'm ranting because it is Obama or something else like that, I am firmly of the opinion that this is a case of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss' like a lot of other things with the current administration. I'm ranting because this insanity of a multiple TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT is really irritating me.

If we citizens ran our finances the way that the federal government did, we'd be screwed. Same for the matter of state government, just look at California or New York state for examples of fiscal stupidity. The difference between the government and us citizens is really simple, they can strong arm more money out of us and we can't strong arm more money out of our employers. You know what this is closer to... It's more like we're dealing with some hack version of the Mob.

We're getting EXTORTED out of our money, people. Think about it, if the income tax didn't carry the penalty of fines and jail time (by the way, aren't the fines a little redundant?), do you think we'd be paying to the tune of almost a full third to nearly a half of our gross income in taxes? Don't believe me? Take a look at your next paycheck, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Oh, I know, you're going to say that things like Social Security and other such things are not taxes. Is the government taking your money? Is it a fine for breaking a law? Are you making a donation? No? Well, guess what, if it's not a fine and you're not making a charitable donation, it's a tax. Call it a fee or by any other name, it doesn't change what it is.

It's ok, however, because if we continue on the trend that we're going, the economy will collapse and we'll have Mad Max style anarchy, right?

Household Notebook (redux)

Last night, in my effort to avoid sleeping because I didn't want to deal with nightmares again, I did some work on that household notebook thing. I've got the different sections I want in it divided up. I'm going to be adding more separators later when I have things a bit more organized and such. At the moment I've got the following sections:
  • Planning
  • Phone
  • Family
  • Home Management
  • Meals & Menus
The Planning section currently has a month at a glance calendar in it for the year, a schedule for myself and one for each of the boys. I am finding the regimentation of a written schedule is not working very well for me but it is working fairly well for the boys. I'm most likely going to replace the written schedule for me with a list of routines until I have a more accurate estimate of how long items take. Then, I'll be including the schedule for myself again. I hope to get a week at a glance calendar for this section as well, this way I can get the week planned out a bit more detailed then a few notes per day.

The Phone section is going to be getting reorganized. I started out with a list of emergency contacts followed by a list of family contacts. I'm going to sit down and re-prioritize that list. Obviously, the list of emergency contacts is going to be there on the front page of this section. This, however, is then going to be followed by an alphabetized list of frequently called numbers, additionally divided by if they're businesses, friends, or family. Obviously, there are going to be some numbers listed that don't get as many calls as others. That, however, isn't going to make too big of a difference, because of how it is going to be organized. I plan on using tabs to divide this section up.

The Family section is going to be divided up for each person. On the first page for each of our sections is going to be our full name, allergy list, and medical condition list. This way, god forbid, there is an emergency all of the major information like blood type and my medication allergies is really easy to find. A list of doctor visits is then going to follow this with the date, reason for appointment set up, diagnosis, and treatment. A part of me says it is overkill to do this, but then I look back over the last year and I can't help but feel that it is going to be extremely helpful to have this 'condensed' version of our medical history on hand.

I'm also going to be putting in the Family section things like what people's favorite colors are, clothing sizes, and food preferences. It's going to be pretty mercurial for the boys, but somethings may remain consistent for a while, like Cuddle-Bear's preference for sweet potatoes or Beloved's distaste for the combination of onions and tomato in pasta sauce. I realize that this is again going to seem like over kill but if Beloved needed to take care of things because I got terribly ill again in the future, I know that this is going to help him out.

It may seem counter intuitive, but the list of household rules is going to go under Home Management. It is just something that helps with how the house runs, thus, in my mind, it falls under the category of household management. There is going to be a subsection for chores assigned for each child (obviously Snuggle-Bug isn't big enough for chores yet, but when he is...) and chores divided up by each room. I like the suggested list of ideas for other things to go in this section on that page about household notebooks.

I'm thinking about following their suggestions also on the Meals & Menus section. I'm pretty sure it would make Beloved's life a LOT easier if he could just look at a page and see what he needed to get at the grocery store on the occasions he is the one who goes out shopping. I know that it will make meal planning a lot easier. I am going to add one thing, however, to their list of things to put in that section. I'm going to put together a collection of recipes for the meals that we frequently have. This is going to be another thing for Beloved in case he needs to be in charge of things because I'm ill.

Of course, because I am planning around this possibility, I will never again be so horribly ill. It'll just be how it happens because when ever you plan for something like that it doesn't happen and you feel foolish until you start being lazy. THEN everything goes to hell and your back-up plan fails because you got lazy. :P Not that I have ever had anything like that happen to me before...