Sunday, March 30, 2008

Preparing for Change

There are just two more weeks of tax season, after which our hours at work will decrease from our current 50 to 28 per week. We will also return to our regular days off; mine is on Mondays. It's hard to believe that these three months have passed so quickly. Now the task is to start seeking additional employment for the lack of hours per week. Why?

Though we worked anywhere from 40 to 72 hours for the past 12 plus weeks, and the overtime was nice to see, it now has to be spread out over the remainder of the year. Unless each of us gets a second job; and some don't need to do so, finances will get extremely uncomfortable to nearly impossible. I know. I had to take a loan before Christmas in order to pay upcoming bills and purchase gifts.

It doesn't help any that the non-custodial parent is not living up to his end of the support issue. I have done all I can as he is listed with the state for collection. He appears to have found a way to stretch out his delinquency to the point of not getting slapped by either state. According to the state of NC, the parent who pays child support has 90 days to make a current payment without the risk of being more aggressively pursued. It doesn't seem to matter that he is now $9039 in arrears.

I recently received a copy of a lien the state has placed on his 1990 Ford F250 crew cab truck for $4395.00 and if he sells it, they will consider my child support. Some of the proceeds may be due the Commonwealth for any public assistance paid to me. I don't recall any such assistance. Besides, I cannot imagine him selling the only vehicle he owns. It would just give him another excuse for not being able to pay the support.

Still we have been very fortunate to have "angels" who watch over us; thank you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Natural Complexions

One of the things my family has been most fortunate to experience is a clear natural complexion. Like any teen, we have all had an unsightly blemish or two, but never to the degree it would require any type of acne treatment. In fact very few of us have ever worn cosmetic makeup on a regular basis, and those who have learned how to properly use and remove such products. It also helps to take good care of your skin with proper cleansing, hydrating, and moisturizing.

One thing we all agree on, none of us ever want to look like ... well, a raccoon!

Technology; Great Strides in a Lifetime

Some days it seems like just yesterday, and then some days if feels like a lifetime. Advances in technology have come so far so quickly it seems like there are no limits. My first experience with computers had me typing in words for programs or games on a dos command line. My favorite was one that lead to fun and adventure during the quiet part of the afternoon.

Nowadays you simply boot up your computer, click on the start menu or desktop icon and BAMM; you're there! I have to say in some ways I miss it, the dos commands that is, but I really do enjoy the way technology has progressed over the last 17 years. It has been great getting to work with all of the software upgrades as they are released; it's made a nice springboard into my computer classes.

Now if I can just keep up with the advancements being made, I'll be doing great!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Successful Performance Management

Having worked for both large corporations and smaller family owned businesses, I've noticed a difference in how they handle performance issues. What is it that makes some companies more successful than others in performance? Are large companies better equip to handle performance management than the smaller, more intimate companies?

In some larger companies settings it would appear that when the business conducts itself with less personal interaction, the performance of its employees seems more successful, thus creating more profit. However, there tends to be a greater loss of loyalty when such companies treat their employees as though they were simple machinery, thus resulting in a decrease in performance.

On the other side, in some smaller company settings where its employees are treated as though their opinion counts, that their efforts to enhance the companies profitability are recognized and rewarded, the level of performance seems to be far more effective in the long run.

What has your experience been when it come to working in either environment and which did you prefer?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Montage of Ben's Journey Home

Today my boss showed us all a montage that she had put together with the many photos of their newest addition to their family. His name is Benjamin, he is just over two years old, and he is the love of their lives! You can view the montage in a separate tab or window by clicking on the following image ...

Life surely has changed for this family, the transition is coming along, things are getting more routine, and Benjamin is so sweet! Welcome home Benjamin!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A way to stay in the game ...

When we first moved to eastern NC there were no youth leagues or schools who offered the sport of lacrosse. Then the following spring a coach who had moved into the area decided to help open the area up with a youth league. He organized a "Lacrosse Day" at an area park for youngsters to come out and see what the sport was all about.

Since Ryan had played for several years prior to our move here he was excited to say the least! We all were thrilled be able to be a part of the sport becoming a success in our area; "we" meaning all of the families involved in organizing, hosting, supporting, and encouraging our lacrosse athletes. Both Ryan and Jennifer would end up playing two seasons with the youth league on the boys teams. Yes, Jennifer played with the boys team of youngsters in the age group of U13 (under 13 years of age).

As Ryan aged out of the U15 team, he went on to take an officials class for lacrosse and has officiated for the past two seasons. This year will make his third year as an official. Jenn also aged out of the U13 team, and would have had to go on to play with the boys in U15 the following season, but she opted to do something different. She took a season off and then joined the color guard team. She has been having a blast!

During the last two years we stayed in contact with the coach who started it all here, Ryan gathered lists of names of those interested in playing the sport at the high school level, and he is so excited to finally have the opportunity to play with a 20 man team this spring! Yes, we have lacrosse club teams in several area towns this year, and two teams in our town as a result of a lot of hard work from coaches, players, supporters, and families.

Now, how does Jenn find a way to stay in the game? She is now the high school lacrosse club team's manager. She assists the coach in getting registration forms to prospective players, collecting the money for equipment, logging uniform sizes, taking attendance, and assisting the coach on the field with skill sets. After all folks, she did play for two years by the boys rules and regulations.

Coach says he really is thankful for her help, and why not, she is a smart young lady as well as a former lacrosse player!

Monday, March 17, 2008

How many lives does a CAT really have?

More than once in my childhood I had heard the statement that a cat has 9 lives. So how does one determine which life their cat is on? Is it based on the events in their lives or is it each lifetime adds to their journey in their levels of lives? If so, I wonder if "Lil Man" in on CAT1 or CAT6, after all his is quite the daredevil! He runs through the house with no regard to safety, wrestles with Ryan (my son) as if they were brothers in a championship match, and he chases "Baby Girl" around in attack mode without fear of retaliation. He is pictured here with a harness on to slow down his attack mode speeds!

I wonder if each life strengthens their disregard for safety?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Considering Extra Income?

Want to have fun and earn some extra income this spring? Over the weekend my son earned on the average $40 per game officiating youth lacrosse games. So, on a good day one could potentially earn $120 in a day's time. In addition to earning the extra cash, there are other benefits to learning this new trade. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in America, it's family friendly fun, and you can get in shape physically running up and down the entire length of a field comparable to that in football. If you ask my son, he will tell you that it's a great feeling to help train young athletes in the proper way to play a sport.

If you interested in becoming an official in your area of the country, check out the Officials Training Programs at and join the team!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Remembering old friends ...

While visiting over at "The Pond" I read a post titled "My Friend the Stuffed Animal" which reminded me of one of my favorite toys from my youth. As I mentioned to Karen, my great grandmother (affectionately known as "Big Mama") had a stuffed monkey that she kept at her home for all of us to tote around when we would visit. He wore a yellow shirt with red trim, with the name "ZIP" in large black letters, red overalls with green buttons, and white shoes (the ones that looked like toddler shoes). We all toted him around, but for some reason he was my favorite! I even gave him his own nickname; "Zeek" after a neighbor who lived right around the corner from my grandfather's house. Shortly after "Big Mama" died, we were all invited to her home to see if there were any items we'd like to have in memory of our time with her. I chose Zip, and for years afterwards, my children laughed and played with him. Last I saw him, it appeared that he'd lost his britches; darn that silly monkey! We'll need to go shopping and find him some new ones straight away!

So, what was your favorite toy from your youth?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Time with loved ones ...

The morning was cool, sunny, and filled with love. As I stood in the driveway I waved to my boyfriend who was headed home after a visit with the kids and me. Though the visit was short, it was both fun and healing. The remainder of the day would be spent visiting family. Because I live just 40 minutes from my parents and three of my brothers, we decided to make the journey down to see some of them for the day.

One of my younger brothers has recently married and purchased a new home, so we started our visits at his home. It was a two-fold visit; to see them and their new home, and to pay a debt. He had helped us out financially before Christmas and during this visit I would repay that debt. He had insisted that it wasn't a big deal, but I like to keep things in balance. We have been very fortunate to have so many help when things get really tough, it's not easy when the ex continues the inconsistencies with regard to his obligations of support.

Once we arrived at Uncle Neal's, he gave us the grand tour of the house. Our visit went really well, as he had the kids in stitches with laughter, telling them stories about his new wife's twin aunts (Reba and Rita) who are in their late eighties. After that we ventured outside to see the yard and to meet "Mr Bruno" (the cat that came along with the house). We would later find out from Sandra that Neal actually sings to the cat ... too funny!

As Sandra pulled up into the yard from her shopping trip, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful new hairdo she was sporting. When I mentioned it she laughed and asked if Neal had asked me to say that ... LOL! Evidently, they had visited her family and ours and no one had noticed, on the other hand I am very preceptive! We stuck around a bit longer to visit with them both. Sandra is such a welcomed addition to our family!

Next our visiting took us to my parents home where my older brother also lives. We haven't been able to visit them due to the cold and flu season, as either they had the flu or my kids had the flu. Since my Dad is in his seventies and has emphysema it is imperative that we don't bring in any viruses when we visit. So, since we were all healthy this weekend, it seemed like a good time to visit.

I enjoyed my time with Mom and Dad in the living room talking about work, the kids, "Mr.D" and his visit, and watching the UNC vs Maryland game together. The kids spent the evening watching TV in the computer room, popping in and out of the living room to talk to the grandparents, and back in the guest room talking with their Uncle Greg. I'm glad this was a weekend spent with those I love; it has proven to be both relaxing and healing.

By the way, UNC won!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Three Days Off!

Good morning! This weekend will be the first normal weekend for me since tax season began in January. We've been working 70 plus hours each week until mid February when we lessened the hours to 60 plus. We are now in the 50 plus mode and when asked to pick a day off each week, I jumped at the chance to have a Saturday and Monday off together in the same weekend.

So, how will I spend the weekend? Well, "Mr.D" was planning to come here this weekend, but work may prevent that from happening unless he gets the bulk of what he does done. In the meantime, we are getting things done around the house, catching up on things here on my blog, and doing some visiting with family later this weekend.

This is such a welcome break, so, I had best get busy in case I have a visitor. ;)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Update: Memory Foam Mattress Contest

It's finally completed! Here are all 10 winners of the Memory Foam Mattress and Foundation being awarded to the 10 best videos for the video commercial contest!

Though we didn't make the cut, we hope you enjoyed our attempt to entertain as well as inform you about a product well worth looking into for use by anyone. I'd be dishonest if I said I was not disappointed that we didn't win, but we had a great time putting this video together. At least we appear to be second in number of views at 446, not bad!

You are welcome to view our entire entry here: Remembering With Memory Foam Mattress

Or simply enjoy our video entry here:

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

To view a list of all of the winners check out my post on Adventures in a Lifetime

PS Thank you "Mr.D," for all of your tireless and diligent efforts in playwright, direction, and production in a collaborated effort to enlighten, inform, and entertain our reading public! ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Viva Las Vegas!

As I understand it, there are lots of fun things to do in Las Vegas, Nevada and not all of them are related to gambling, weddings, and old singers. Who wouldn't enjoy a romantic ride in a gondola, a visit to a wax museum, a tour of the Grand Canyon, exploring rock formations, watching a 200 foot dancing water fountain, and so much more?

In fact, a friend of mine lives not far from there and given the chance to do some traveling, I'd love to get one of the hotels in Vegas and then hop on over to see him and his family. We've known each other over seven years and have shared lots of conversations online both by email and over voice chat programs.

Of course, it would be fun to check out all of the different hot spots while in Vegas, just in case "Lady Luck" were to say hello!

Seeking some advice and ideas ...

My boss and her husband adopted a child from Mexico this year; well really it's been in the works for some time now, actually since his birth. Theirs was just one of those cases where if there was something that could go wrong, it did. Well, finally after two and one half years they are a family. He is a beautiful little boy, full of wonder and fear all at the same time.

All of this is still so new to him, and even though his adoptive parents made trips to see him as he grew, the transition is proving to be an experience. We all have been learning Spanish in order to be able to speak to him as well as some of our clients. Try as we might though, it's not fluent enough to help ease his fears and make him feel like he is a part of things yet.

If any of you have ever adopted a child from another country, if you know of any techniques, or places to get help in making the transition easier, please leave a comment. I promise to pass it along, for Benjamin's sake, thanks!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Life Insurance ... Term or Whole?

When I was younger, having life insurance meant that you were paying a set amount of money each month to ensure that if you were no longer alive, your family could bury you, and possibly have some money left over for living expenses if you had a large enough policy. I guess things in this department have not changed much at all, except that when I was younger, whole life was the only type of life insurance my family talked about they discussed their policies.

Then as a younger adult, I had heard about a company that offered term life insurance. From what I understood, term life insurance was for a set time frame of ones life, say until the age of 70. What good is that? If you lived a day past 70 did that mean you were out of luck when it came to getting your burial taken care of, or that your family was left out in the cold when it came to settling your financial affairs?

How do the two types really differ and how do they benefit the average individual? Which one is better?

High School Drama

Think back. It's 1955, or 1972 and you're around fifteen years of age, a freshman in high school. In the fifties, there were sock hops, drag racing, and teenagers in love, lust, and trouble from time to time. In the seventies, there dances at the teen club, less drag racing, and again teenagers in love, lust, and in trouble from time to time.

Step forward to today. There are dances, including 8th grade proms, fully decked out dress, even fewer drag races, and still teenagers in love, lust, and in trouble from time to time. So what is the difference? Drama!

Yes, I said drama. I don't remember there ever being this much drama, but then again, I was pretty independent, had friends from every walk of life, and was not one to judge someone for their abundance or lack of intelligence or anything else for that matter. However, with two teens in the house, I have become painfully aware of drama that seems totally unnecessary. From girls who will not let go when a boy says its over, to boys who cannot get the message that she is not interested, even when those messages are delivered in person.

The drama doesn't end there; there is also the seemingly endless bickering between girls over who is who's best friend. I had lots of best friends. It was not uncommon being raised military. We tended to bond and stay bonded as long as we were stationed at the same base. I was fortunate enough to have had eight years in one city and so I attended two elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high school in the area. Most of those years were on base and most of my best friends were those I spent the eighth grade through my sophomore years with at base schools.

I don't remember telling my parents about troubles with other teens, unless there was some type of imminent danger lurking around a corner. For now, I continue to listen, offer my advice if asked, and step in when and if necessary. It's all a parent can do, take one day at a time, and judge each situation on its own merits.

How dramatic were your high school years?

Saturday, March 1, 2008 & Mother Earth

About a month ago, I wrote about our efforts as a family to become Eco-friendly to dear "Mother Earth" by recycling tin cans, aluminum cans, plastic bags, bottles and containers, glass bottles, and cardboard. After all, it only makes sense to return to the earth those things that come from the earth. Since many of these items are often not biodegradable, we've been trying to think of ways to streamline our use of those items.

Unfortunately, we are as guilty as the next guy who frequently uses plastics in an effort to maximize time for other things we'd rather be doing on any given day. Though it might make sense, we realize we have to find a way to this into a positive thing, So how does one recycle those things that are disposable yet seemingly recyclable?

Thank goodness there are companies like who have devoted themselves to developing ways for us to contribute in our quest to becoming "green" in our ever growing world of disposable waste. They offer hundreds of Eco-friendly products, referred to as green products, many of which I find very intriguing and humorous to think about.

I live in the countryside and utilize a septic tank system for waste; still a flush toilet uses a lot of water to clear its contents. The article on "Farewell to Flush and Forget" was an eye opening read. The composting toilet system makes a lot of sense when it comes to conservation of water, and since we are currently in a part of the country that is suffering from the lack of rain, the need to conserve water becomes paramount.

The humorous part of such a system is that it is reminiscent of a facility of old; the outhouse. Fortunately, it's more luxurious, though a bit more expensive, yet obviously more comfortable in the dead of winter in Wisconsin. Could we persuade our government into issuing a similar residential energy, water conservation, or Eco-friendly credit for these types of improvements for the coming tax seasons? Good food for thought.

In addition to offering Eco-friendly products, practices what they preach by being "green" on site, by supporting charities that share their goals like Oceana and Healthy Child Healthy World, by hosting "GreenMusings" a community for sharing "going green" stories and photos. So, stop by, read the articles at the Learning Center or posts on GreenMusings; you'll be glad you did!