Monday, November 29, 2010

No Place Like Home for the Holidays (in Pictures)

I'm sorry we didn't take more pictures, but I was having too much fun!  Hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Procrastination Post

As I type this, I'm supposed to be doing five million other things.  I'm supposed to be working on homework (including a rather lengthy paper) - this homework is due tomorrow at 5 p.m.  So really, I have to get it done tonight.  But I don't want to.  Why?  Because so much of the stuff I have to do for these classes has very little to do with the actual art of teaching.  They are filler - even the teachers say so.  And I'm so burned out and exhausted and discouraged right now that I just can't get motivated to do anything other than what I want to do, which is sit at the computer and look at new cars.

But part of what has me so discouraged is the fact that I'm looking at new cars and realizing that it may not be possible right now to get one, mechanical problems aside.  But, so much of what I'm looking at that has the features I want winds up being minivans, which then takes me down the road I've been contemplating for years... foster parenting.  I've been thinking about applying to foster for years, but then I look at how hard I struggle to keep all my balls in the air, and how exhausted I am all the time just trying to raise one child (not to mention all the mistakes I've made and regrets I have), and how hard I struggle to keep food on the table, and how the house is always so messy I'm ashamed to have anyone over to visit, and I realize there's no way in hell I would ever get approved to foster, so why go to the expense of it all?  Plus the thought of adding more children into my teeny tiny house (and my teeny tiny car) just makes me tired.  And then I look some more at the cars in my price range, and wonder what I should do, and get even more discouraged.  This is a very nasty cycle I'm in right now.

I'm also supposed to be cleaning house and rearranging things to make life with three dogs easier, and I'm not doing that right now, either.  I'm just too tired to move.  I think the fact that it gets dark so soon after I get off work now is definitely NOT a good thing for me.  I need sunshine like I used to need cigarettes.

I can't put it off any longer, so I guess I better do my homework.  At least when I get this done, I won't have any more homework until next Sunday.  Small things for which to be grateful, no?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Car Conundrum (UPDATED)

I'm in a bit of a quandry, transportation-wise.  I have a car, a teeny tiny car.  I kind of like my teeny tiny car, but it has some problems now, and it's just a bit too teeny tiny.  My car has developed brake problems, a mysterious short that causes the blower to not always blow, the daytime running lights have quit working (no matter how many times I've taken it to the shop - or how much I've had to pay there) and other issues that make me feel like I'm not quite as safe as I'd like to be when I'm on the road.  Of course, car problems aside, I don't think I'll ever feel safe in that teeny tiny car again ever since that semi almost squished me a while back.  Apparently, my car was too teeny tiny to be seen.

Anyway, my car has been to the shop, and fixing all the things wrong with it is going to be expensive.  More expensive than is worth sinking into this car (that was the mechanic's honest opinion).

Another problem with my teeny tiny car is that my son is friends with a bunch of giants.  Seriously.  Although Jamie is the oldest of his friends, he's the smallest.  His BFFs all tower over him.  Wm, Sp and B are all several inches taller than he is.  Sp is nearly a foot taller!  Also, most of his friends outweigh him by a huge amount - not hard to do when you are a toothpick, like my son.  So, getting all these guys together to do something is nearly impossible, unless their parents drop them off.  It is very uncomfortable for all the boys when it is my turn on after-school pick-up days.  Also, almost all his BFFs are in the same clubs he is in, and these clubs involve traveling with multiple kids in the car to different locations, some hours and hours away.  These clubs do not always have the funds to get buses for the trips, so parents step in and transport the kids.  I'm thinking specifically of upcoming trips to Austin and Houston that I know will require multiple kids and ROBOTS in my car at the same time.  We did that a month ago, where I had to transport three (or was it four?) boys and a robot only across town and I thought the car would burst at the seams. Not to mention if we had had an accident, the boys in the back would have had robot parts up their noses and in their nether regions. 

There's another option, but I'm torn about this.  I have found another car I like.  Heck, actually I love it.  It's  the modern version of a station wagon.  It's a 2010 Kia Rondo, only has 11K miles on it, is still covered under factory warranty, has seating for 7 plus cargo room, has much better safety features than my car, and is big enough that I won't feel like a bug about to be squished every time I drive down the road.  Plus, everything on it works!  No brake issues, no blower issues, imagine that!  This vehicle has been discontinued in the US (the 2010 is the last model year being sold in the US), but parts will still be available for a long time to come, according to Kia.  The big thing I'm torn about is the price.  It will increase my monthly car payment by about $80, and will (of course) be a little more expensive to fill up at the pump (it gets about 4 mpg less than my current car).  Also, my car insurance will go up by about $17 a month.  My financing has already been approved, I just need to make a down payment on it of $500, plus whatever negative equity I owe from my current car (I'm still making payments on it).  It won't be much, I think.  I won't know the actual number until the dealer does an inspection on it.

What are your opinions on this issue?  I'm really torn about this.  Your advice is welcome (and badly needed!).

UPDATE:  I called the dealer and cancelled the Kia.  Despite the fact that I have never quite seen myself as a minivan mom, I'm now looking at one - specifically, a 2006 Saturn Relay 2, with 41K miles, the same mpgs as the Kia, not as many safety features as the Kia (but better than what I currently have), a 100K mile bumper to bumper warranty w/a $200 deductible ($150 if I take it to the dealer's national chain of locations), seating for 7, lots of cubby holes and cargo space...oh, and a DVD player.... for $35/mo. more than my current payment.  I've called around, and supposedly parts are still available and not as expensive as Kia replacement parts.  As with the Kia, the down payment starts at $500, but the lender could require a larger down payment depending on how much negative equity there is from my current car.  I don't know where the down payment is coming from right now, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  I have to do something about my transportation issues.  So, please, tell me - more thoughts?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Justice for Single Parents in the State of Tennessee

Someone wasn't paying his child support in the State of Tennessee (SoT).  SoT took him to court because he was $1,400 behind. (That's 7 MONTHS of non-payment, people!)  SoT then said, "Oh, gee, we'll knock the amount you owe down to $346.32.  But you have to promise you'll pay your regular monthly amount each month by the 15th of the month starting on Oct. 15th."  He replied, with his fingers crossed behind his back, "Oh, yes, sir.  I sure will!"  He paid the $346.32 on October 4.  Hasn't paid what he was supposed to for either October or November.  So, my question is, is this really a surprise to anyone?  And how long will they let it go this time before they take him back to court, only to tell him he only has to pay about 1/4 of what he owes?  I don't know who disgusts me more - him or the so-called justice system.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Morgan's Wonderland

On Saturday, I took Jamie to Morgan's Wonderland.  It's a beautiful place with a beautiful message.  Rather than rambling on and on about how much fun we had, and how glorious it was to spend the day playing in such a wonderful, inclusive environment, I'll let the pictures speak for me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Help Shaun Groves Make a Record

You may have noticed the new widget on my blog.  See, there's this "Soft Rock Star" named Shaun Groves.  Maybe you've heard of him?  He wants to make a new record, but he doesn't have a label.  Actually, I believe that's a good thing, because he wouldn't have as much control over his record if he were part of a music machine.  His last new record was five years ago.  He's warm, funny, talented as all get out, oh, and he looks a lot like my brother (well, you can't really tell it from the picture shown in the widget, but in person and in several other photos, they could be twins!).  He's not just a Christian singer/songwriter.  He's a humanitarian, speaking and blogging on behalf of Compassion International - an awesome organization! His songs, if you haven't heard them, aren't those wishy-washy, isn't-my-life-wonderful-in-my-white-bread-perfect-world songs.  No, he sings about a lot of tough things, hard things, the things we encounter in real life.  I've met him and talked to him (briefly) in person, and he is warm, down to earth, funny, humble and just flat-out what a Christian is SUPPOSED to be (and so many are not).  He's battled his share of demons, struggled with issues of faith at times like us all.  If any artist needs to put out new music, if anyone's message needs to get to the masses, it's his.  So please, give what you can, if you can.  I've sent my $10, might even send more as it becomes available.  Will you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Etsy, You Let Me Down

Up to this point in his life, Jamie has been surrounded by people who already know (through my constant nagging....erm, "reminding") that he has some life-threatening health concerns - namely, his food allergy to peanuts and his asthma.  This has meant that, although I know it is important, I haven't gotten around to buying him a medical alert bracelet or anything else that identifies emergency personnel to the fact that he has health issues.

Quite frankly, this is extremely stupid of me, I know.  I also know that most USB medical bracelets are either too big, or too expensive.  (Except, today I found one for less than $20 on Walgreens (dot) com.  I'll be going there shortly to order it!)  But I don't think just the medic alert bracelet is enough.  I want something else to help alert emergency personnel that they should be looking for a medical bracelet and that they should look for his life-saving medications on him.  But something like that was non-existent, at least, specific to what I wanted and what I wanted it to say.  Until now.  Today, I found on Etsy some professional looking patches and buttons, for less than $5, that say "I have asthma, inhaler inside" and "Fatal allergy to peanuts, EpiPen inside".  These would be PERFECT to put on his little EpiPen bag/Inhaler holder he carries everywhere he goes.  They're big, bright, noticeable, and have the medical alert symbol on them.

Only one problem.  Every time I go to order the dang things, Etsy's server crashes and I can't get back on.  Finally, I get back on, and then it crashes again.  Oh, Etsy, the first time I've tried to use you, for something as important as this, and YOU. LET. ME. DOWN!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Bragging on My Kid

I'd like to take a moment here to brag on my kiddo.  I know I do this fairly often, but hey, I'm a momblogger, it's kind of what I do.

Last Friday, my boy got three - count 'em, THREE - awards for the first nine weeks of school.  The first was for making the A/B honor roll (six A's and two B's.  Not too shabby!).  The second and third awards blew me away, because I had no stinkin' idea just how well my kid was doing in some of his classes!

The second award was for having the highest average in his history class - OUT OF AT LEAST 120 STUDENTS! (Six class periods with approximately 20 kids in each class period = roughly 120 students.)  Out of all the classes and all the students, Jamie had the highest average grade.  Rock on, Jamie!

The third award should not have been a surprise to me, considering Jamie's gene pool (and heck, even his family name).  He got the Outstanding Technology Award for his computer graphics class.  Apparently, Jamie figured out how to do an effect on the computer in a certain graphics/animation program that even the teacher didn't know could be done.  I feel like Spike in the old Tom and Jerry cartoons talking about his pup - "That's my boy!" (in Spike's raspy voice, of course).

To celebrate, Jamie, his friends W and B, and I went and saw Megamind in 3D.  I hadn't taken him and his friends out to the movies in a while, and I really wanted Jamie to get a big reward for all his hard work this nine weeks.  We had a lot of fun, and the movie was great.  If you haven't seen it yet, you should go.  Now.  See. It.