Thursday, February 28, 2013

Poor by Profession

As everyone has been talking about the sequester the last couple weeks I hear a lot of blame being thrown around.

Now, I'm not here to say that I know who to blame, I'm sure there is a lot to go around (especially in Washington).  But I would like to share my point of view when I hear the blame being put on everyone who's "draining" the government by using government assistance.

It seems to me that everyone likes to lay as much blame as possible at the feet of the lazy poor.  Those who are able to work, but don't.  Those who are working just barely and then taking as much government assistance as they can.

Let me try to share my story so maybe someone will see just how offensive this is.  Especially in light of the CEO's and high ranking company officials, especially at banks, who get millions in "bonuses" at the same time as their companies are taking massive government bailouts.

We are teachers.  

We chose this profession because we felt called to it.  We knew going in that it would NEVER make us rich.  We don't do it for the money.  And that right there seems to be the key to teachers.  If we did it for the money everyone would say we were awful and evil.  Yet, many many teachers consider changing professions and many of them work second jobs in the summer or weekends  I don't know any doctors or lawyers or any other highly trained professionals who have to take extra jobs just to get by while working in their main profession.  And would you like teachers to teach the next generation who are only there for the money and don't really care about the students?  (not to mention that we are required by law to have continuing education degrees on our own dime to even keep our job - I can't think of any other industry that requires that without paying for it, or at least subsidizing it)

I saw a political cartoon the other day that so perfectly makes my point.  Reporters and politicians storming into a classroom asking a teacher what she was doing wrong when on the front of every desk in the room were the situations of her students.  Teenage parent, abused child, had no breakfast, bullied, etc.  And we wonder why teachers have a hard time teaching students who are not fully present in the classroom?  We do it because we truly care about these students and we want them to succeed not just academically, but as a whole person.  It is a calling and no amount of money can make it different.  But it would be nice to have enough to live on.

Right now, I am a stay at home mother.  I have four small children, only one of whom is just this year school age.  Even with one child in daycare full time it would be half of a teacher's salary.  When we only had one child we could get by on only my husband's salary.  So I stayed home.  When we had two children it became a stretch.  Having four means that if I were to work full time I would be spending more on child care than I would take home every month.  How does that work in any economy?

So, I stay home for now, and we tighten our belts as much as we can.  It's funny because every time I see one of those articles about "10 Quick Ways to Save Each Month" I click because I wonder if there's something I'm missing.  But every single thing on those lists we already do.  We don't drink coffee, and maybe once a month get a "fancy" drink from a coffee stand.  We have one cell phone (and not a smart one) between the two of us.  We don't have cable, we have Netflix that costs us $8.50 a month and the kids watch it for an hour a day so I can get a shower.  We don't eat out.  Last week we went out for ice cream.  That's the extent of what we can afford.  We don't have date nights or go to movies because we can't afford that, let alone a babysitter (yes, Mom, we totally appreciate you watching the boys so we can have a break!)

We live out in a "poor" area in a small house because our parents' paid the down payment for us.  Now our mortgage is the same as the rent was on our 2 bedroom apartment.  If they hadn't done it we'd still have 4 kids in a teeny tiny 2 bedroom apartment.  But our house is enough and I'm not complaining about it.

All of these things are choices we have made. 

However, every time I hear someone talking about the way people on government assistance are lazy it makes my blood boil.

When is it enough?  When am I being frugal enough to qualify for government assistance?  If I let you come over and scrutinize my finances with a fine tooth comb would you still think there were things I wasn't doing well enough?  Where is the line that says even if you are poor you still deserve the dignity of being treated as a real human being instead of a leech on society?

Would you say that we are unworthy because we spend more on food than you deem necessary?  Never mind that we need to eat gluten free, which is very expensive.  Never mind that I don't buy highly processed chemical filled sugary substitutes for food that actually cost less than real whole food.  Never mind that I basically cook my family a healthy meal from scratch every night.  And yes, we do eat rice and beans too.

What about the body products that I use?  Are those too expensive because I refuse to put petroleum based chemicals that have proven to cause cancer in lab animals on my children?  Because I probably still spend less in a month than most people do on personal care products.

Where is the line?

Is it okay for you to make me feel like a worthless stupid mother because I get WIC checks?  To threaten me when I have a different opinion on how to care for my children?  Is it okay for you to treat me like I couldn't possibly know anything just because my children get some state medical insurance?  Does the fact that I am poor mean my college education was a waste and I couldn't possibly have learned anything since I am not a contributing member of society (and here contributing only seems to mean making money)?

I have faced each of these scenarios multiple times.  I am by nature, not a confrontational person so usually I say as little as necessary to get my point across (because I will NOT back down when it comes to my children) and walk away.  But just because I don't react doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt.

I am hurt.

I am hurt every time someone makes a blanket statement about how anyone on welfare is lazy.  How we are "gaming" the system by taking every advantage we possibly can - implying that it is at their expense.  Last time I checked we all benefit from some form of government services.

I am hurt when it is implied that you MUST take a second job before you dare take any form of assistance, never mind the hurt that it would cause to your family, effectively making you a one parent household at all times.  How does this improve the stability of the family and the future of our country?

We are poor by profession.  

There is very little we can do to change this (no merit based raises for teachers) except to simply change our profession.  Maybe some would say that's what you should do, but when is the almighty dollar the end goal of life?  Our life as we live it is not bad.  We have food, shelter, friends, and family.  We don't need much assistance to get by and have actually turned down some that we qualify for.  We love teaching and don't want to change professions and lose the chance to help our students.

Is it too much to ask you to respect our choices and refrain from being mean and judgmental without knowing the whole story?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

29 and holding...

So happy to celebrate my lovely sister-in-law's birthday on Saturday night.  Happy she is here and recovered so much to lay on the floor and let my children crawl all over her again!


To pick up Noah and tickle him (the kid weighs over 40 pounds!)

To let my boys decorate her cake... with all 29 candles!

Much flamage!

Of course no birthday cake is complete without a few trick candles...

 And to let my boys "help" her blow them out, spit germs and all!

Yay for birthdays and lovely sister-in-laws!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Glasses

My oldest son got glasses for the first time last week.  They make him look completely adorable!  And I'm so proud of him, no complaining or anything, just a few reminders to put them on since it's obviously not a habit yet.

Monday, February 18, 2013

11 Months Old!

Daddy was not enough of a distraction for the girls this time.  They were having none of this sitting still to take bunny pictures business!

Little popcorn girls, first one, then the other!

They girls have been sick, well, we all have, so they were kind of cranky when I tried to take their picture as it was just before nap time.  Oh the things we do to try and get good lighting... Ah well, must use the flash later!

The girls each have two more teeth this month. Hope got hers first, the two on the top. They are parallel to the front teeth which is kind of odd... set back a bit, but not in the curve that your mouth normally has. I see braces in our future... 
I was then waiting for Joy to get the top ones and one day I realized that now she has 2 more on the bottom.  Silly girls, taking turns!

They are eating more regular people food and woe to you if you are eating something near them and not sharing!  I don't know their measurements this month, but I've started pulling out the 12 month clothes and replacing some of the 9 month clothes.  Not all of them because these girls take after Cory and the 12 month pants, while necessary in length, will just fall off them at the waist!

Sisters were much more interested in anything except Mama taking the pictures this time.

What did you want me to do with this bunny?

He's not nearly as interesting as the people in my life!

Yes, we have very social girls. I often have to just stay in the other room if I want to accomplish anything because they will wail if they see me and are not being picked up or in any way able to touch me!

We tried sitting in the plant stand/bookcase, but of course with Mama in reach they wouldn't stay!

Hope has now started standing on her own for short periods of time. They are both getting much more confident and we'll see if they are walking by next month! They will take a step or two between things, especially if what they want is me!

I finally managed to get them to sit still by giving them some toys to play with...

Sisters really like these cups that we have and have discovered that they can put one inside the other.  They also work well as drums to be banged together!

Really, the best toys are not toys at all.  They don't play with the baby toys, but prefer to chew on brothers' Matchbox cars. They also like to look out the front window and watch the world go by. And bang.

They really enjoy books though, especially ones with real pictures of other babies in them!  They like to turn the pages themselves.

And now on to planning a first birthday party!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Seventies Baby!

My mom brought down this sweatshirt that I wore when I was a baby... it's already too small for the girls, but Joy had to model it anyway.  She's not so happy in this pic because I was staying away from her to get it and she just desperately wanted to come to me!  Walking very soon...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sisters: A Day in the Life

I have a friend with newborn twins.  They were born 5 weeks early and are 7 weeks old now so adjusted age only 2 weeks old.  It's hard to believe it's been almost a year from that time for us...

Story time!  I get to be my own librarian now...

They got some mixed veggies to chew on and Joy purposefully ate all of one kind of veggie before going on to the next.  After this picture she ate all the carrots before eating the corn last!

Sisters have been soooo cranky the last couple of days with colds and teething.  I promise we were feeding them dinner, but it wasn't happening fast enough or they just were miserable.  They make such pathetic faces when they cry, but you almost can't help laughing at some of them!

Hope has a serious lip pout that she does, but I couldn't quite catch it...

Joy cries more... and she really lets loose!  My girls are cute, but yes, they are LOUD!

Here you can see just the corn left...  She's watching Brian feed a bite to Hope and not so happy about it.  I'm afraid they are going to be a bit competitive since I take turns nursing them.  Hopefully they still end up friends!

And finally, some video proof of the cuteness for those who have yet to meet them.  They don't normally sleep in the same crib, but I forget what I was doing and put both of them in Hope's.  Then Brian started playing peek-a-boo with them around the doorway so I grabbed my camera and got this video.  Enjoy!

Giggling Sisters from Krista on Vimeo.

Friday, February 08, 2013


My children love to run around the house naked and they are just so darn cute when they do.  Little naked babies are amazingly adorable!  There's something about their fresh smooth skin and baby pudge that makes them lovely.

My oldest isn't quite so into this anymore.  He's still adorable to me, but he's losing some of that carefree "naked is fun" joy.  Somewhere along the way he's grown up and that means it's not quite okay to be bare all the time.

Obviously it's not okay to be bare when you get older, but I wonder about the spiritual/emotional nakedness that we learn to hide as we grow up too.

My two-almost-three year old still shows all his emotions as soon as they happen.  To be honest, so does the almost six year old for the most part, but sometimes there's a check.  Sometimes he hides just a little bit.

What happens to our souls when we think we have to hide?  To hide who we are, what we think, what we're made of. 

It's because we've learned that others judge who we are and what we think and what others think of us begins to matter.  We hide just a little more so that we can't be judged, so that we won't be found wanting.

What would it take to allow ourselves to be bare again?

This is a post prompt from The Gypsy Mama. Join in?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Super Bowl Style

Joy just chillin' with Daddy, eating Kix, and not feeling real great.

In other news, we will not be watching the Super Bowl for the foreseeable future unless it's later and we can fast forward through the commercials.  Didn't really want to have that conversation with my 5 year old on the way home.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Personalized Stationary - A Minted Giveaway

If you know me at all, chances are you've received some kind of snail mail from me over the years. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, baby announcements, and Just Because cards. I love to send and receive real mail. So I'm always on the lookout for fun stationary.

Enter Minted.  The brainchild of a mom seeing her friends with talent getting no exposure, she decided to start an online crowd sourced stationary company.  Anyone can enter a design and it's then voted on by the community (and all you have to do is create an account to vote).  The top vote getters are offered for sale and the designers get commission on their art.

Pretty sweet idea if you ask me!

Minted offers something for everyone.  From holiday cards to birth announcements, birthday party invites to any and all wedding stationary.  Everything can be completely personalized and is customizable.  You can even have your wedding invites matched to a specific Pantone color!

Of course right now I'm shopping for 1st birthday party invites and just plain cute personal stationary.  This is one of my favorites!

Who do you send cards to?

Minted is offering a very generous giveaway.  $100 credit to their site.  To enter please fill in the rafflecopter form below!

Giveaway ends at midnight on February 9th and is open to anyone in the world!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I have been compensated for my time to write this post.  As always, all opinions are mine!