Monday, August 29, 2011

Earn a Million $ a Year Staying Home: The Value of Motherhood

On another soapbox today; however, I promise not to be so judgemental...a friend who reads my blog (may be just about the only one, besides my family!) pointed out gently that there are better ways to create change than yelling at people.  She's right.  In my own defense, sometimes the unfairness of the world gets to me and makes me want to scream, and what is a blog except a place where one can scream in public and not get arrested?!

BS (Beloved Spouse, and there's a story behind that which I'll tell you someday) and I had a dust up last night about the money - just about the only thing we ever fight about - and this morning I was grumping around, getting his breakfast, ironing his shirt, and making his lunch...okay, before someone yells at me for being a 50's housewife, I'll just add that he is handicapped, and long ago I made the choice that I would do these things because I wanted to....and fuming and entertaining a long, involved fantasy where I ran away for a month and let him find out firsthand how valuable I am.  Kind of an adult version of a kid running away so her parents will find out how much they miss her! 

So, I'm happily planning this as I'm slapping peanut butter on bread, and ran headfirst, metaphorically, into The Issue - money.  As in, what would I use for money when I ran away.  I don't work outside the home and don't have a money tree growing in secret in the closet, so how would I fund this little getaway?  And that led into some thinking about the monetary value of BEING a stay at home mom. 

When the girls went to college last year, he told me that I should not see it as the end of being a mom, but as a well earned retirement and do what I wanted, which was pretty darn nice and made me feel much better for a while, but then as our college fund continued to dribble away, the money worrying came back.  I can't work at a regular full time job due to medical issues, and most part time jobs are in retail, which mean being on your feet for hours at a time, which I just can't do.

But then it came to me...maybe on peanut butter fumes....I worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year from the time the girls were born.  It was all on me, as he can't do a lot of the things an able bodied dad could do to help out.  So I did some figuring, and this is what I came up with...and trust me - this will BLOW your mind!

24/7 times 365 is 61,320 hours.  Multiply that times $22 an hour, which was roughly what I was making as a teacher, and you get (hold onto your jaw) $1,349,040!!!!  That's over a million dollars a year! And that's just ONE year!  Multiply that times 18 and you get $24,282.720.  WOW.

Now, I'm sure it could be argued that I didn't actually WORK all those hours, and that's true.  However, I was "on call" all of that time, which meant that at any moment, awake or sleeping, I could be needed.  Think about it - all of those middle of the night wake up calls of "MOMMY!"  The call from the school that a child has a fever and needs to come home.  All those hours of volunteering - Girl Scouts, dance, Latin Club, book fair, tutoring, etc.  Think about it!  It really adds up to 18 years of always being there.

I certainly don't expect anyone to write me a check for 24 million dollars, and that theoretical value of what I did will absolutely not help send the girls to college.  But the next time someone says to me or any stay at home mom, "Do you work?" we can say, "Why, yes, I do work - right here at home - and it's a VERY valuable job."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Reminder of Reality

A Rajasthani woman cooking- © Photo Kisa Lala 2011

This picture is of a woman in India cooking.  The next time you're in Wal-Mart, thinking you need to replace your perfectly good but slightly old pots with brand new ones that match, think about this picture and imagine yourself cooking in that room...and then go donate that money to a charity.  My good GOD!  We have SO much.  People like this have so little.  Moral:  don't whine.  Be grateful.  No matter how bad off you are, if you're on your own computer looking at this, you are better off than most of the rest of the world.  That's definitely something to be grateful for.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I read a number of blogs, which often crack me up and even more often provide me with something really profound to think about.  I believe that's what blogs are best at.  Voices out in the internet wilderness, telling us things we really need to know.

However, there also seem to be a lot of blogs out there with their owners endlessly inspecting their own navels and whining about why their lives aren't what they though they'd be.  I don't mean the occasional whine that we all do.  I mean the non-stop picking at life like it's a scab.  It's a very destructive habit - picking at scabs leaves scars - remember?  Our moms always told us that.
These people, I think they've missed the point.  The life we get is the life we've got.  Sometimes it's up to us to change it for the better, and sometimes it's for that life to change US for the better.  The goal here is BETTER.  Not richer.  Not cooler.  Not more exciting.  BETTER.  Better for ourselves and others.  The way to do that is NEVER whining about what we don't HAVE.

Take a minute...when you're feeling whiny...and do a gratitude list.  Start with "A" and find something in your life that you're grateful for that starts with "A".  Then do "B".  And keep on until the end.  I guarantee you will feel much happier when you are done.  Because you've looked at your own life and found things to be grateful for.  Gratitude is the ultimate anti-whining tool!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Class Wars

While watching London and other parts of the world burn over the last few months, I'm sure there are a lot of complacent people who insist that "that could never happen here!" as if somehow we are morally superior to the rest of humanity.  Make no mistake - it WILL happen here.  All it will take is an incident to provide the flash point, and our cities will ignite faster than they did during the race riots of the Sixties.  Why?  Because the government, like Nero of old, fiddles while the economy goes up in smoke. 

The ink on President Obama's inauguration speech wasn't even dry before opposition leaders were publically vowing to make his a one term presidency.  And amid the mud slinging and name calling and blame assigning, one thing is clear - a failed economy is a victory for the opposition.  Because if the economy can't be fixed, everything can be blamed on the president (even though the seeds of this debacle were sowed during several opposition presidencies...) and that could lead to a change in the White House in 2012.  The big wigs claim they are working on the problems and that it's the debt that keeps all from being well, but that's just a front for what's really happening - they're waiting for this presidency to fail.  If they can just bluster and obstruct long enough, a fickle public will do the deed for them and they can sweep into the White House in a blaze of glory in 2012. 

But here's the rub - that won't fix the economy.  For one thing, the losing party in this farce will turn around and do the same thing, thus ensuring that the problems are never fixed.  And while all this happens, the unemployed and uninsured and disenfranchised population gets madder and madder.

We'll burn.  I have no doubt.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Heavenly Days

I often think about Heaven.  I have some definite ideas about it.  I believe that when our mortal bodies give out, it frees up our minds and we can access some of that huge mysterious part that scientists are always telling us we don't use.  With no physical restrictions, and the awesome brainpower that is now available, I believe that we can jump the constraints of time and space and go wherever and WHENever we want.  And I know exactly where I will go first.

Of course, before I go whizzing off, I'd like to think there's something of a welcome station where we start.  That the white light and the tunnel lead us to a celestial train which is pulling into the heavenly depot, where all of our family and friends are waiting to say hello.  Over there is Grama Nelle, with Grampa Loris puffing on his cigar...and there's my brother Steve, golf bag over his shoulder - he took time from his daily golf game to come and welcome me Home.  Oh, and there's my mother-in-law, Fran, saying, "Hello, hello, hello!" as she always did every time we arrived.  There are a lot of other faces, too, whom I don't recognize but I know instinctively are the ancestors who came before.  And frisking around getting under everyone's feet are the cats - Emily and Pooky and Charlie and Booger and Lady and Tigger and Tiger and little Jack.  

I've always thought that coming home, wherever home is, is one of the most wonderful feelings we experience on earth, and that makes me think it's God's way of showing us a little tiny taste of what we will find at the end of all things mortal.  You know what I mean?  The way your parents' house smells - even if it's not the same one you grew up in?  The way it feels to get out of the car, or off the train, or walk down the jetway towards those people you love best in the world.  It's His way of telling us that the best is yet to be.

And then...?  After we've caught up and eased those sore places in our hearts that have been there since these folks left us?  Then...we GO.  Wherever and whenever.  For me, it's a cottage just a little way out of a small town in Ohio, filled with love and laughter, and lots of children.  And I'm there - and I'm slender (a girl can dream, can't she?!) and there's my Scott and he can walk now and we can dance while the kids laugh and clap their hands.  And then the days just go by...the seasons turn... the world is never ugly and the kids never leave home and we just enjoy life as it ambles by.

The best thing of all?  That's MY heaven, but yours will be what satisfies your soul the most.  Only you, and God, know what that is.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Made in....Where?

Younger Progeny had to have minor shoulder surgery recently, and when I stopped by Walgreen's to pick up some supplies, I spotted bags of fall mallow candy - you know, candy corn and those fun and tasty shaped ones, pumpkins and moons and so on?  Anyway, both girls thrive on this stuff in the fall, so as a treat, I picked up two bags and as I was standing in line waiting to check out I happened to notice something on the label.  It said....Made in Mexico. 

What?  Okay, since when?  Has it always been made there and I just didn't know?  But Brach's is an old, old American company, right?  Since 1906, right?  (Okay, so I didn't know that 'til I looked it up on the website, but I knew it was old.)  Turns out they were purchased a few years back by a huge conglomerate called Farleys and Sathers, and they have five manufactories - three in the U.S. and two in Mexico.  I suppose it makes sense that we would get product made in Mexico because this little slice of boiling hot ick we live in is so close to it.

Look, I don't have anything against Mexico or Mexicans.  What I DO seriously hate is that practically nothing is manufactured HERE.  And, yeah, that means that we can go buy a lot of fun cheap crap, then give it away, then start over, on and on, ad nauseum.  But it seems to me that we, as a country, can't do that forever.  We're already way over our heads in debt, unemployment is still an ugly part of a lot of people's lives...and for WHAT?  CHEAPO CRAP? 

We need to bring our companies back.  Then pay decent living wages to people - not crazy wages, because that's how the unions shot themselves in the foot in the first place.  Honestly, people pushing brooms in auto plants making $30+ an hour?  Please...  And why did the unions feel they had to force the crazy wages?  Because we are all DAMN SPOILED.  We want our three t.v.'s, our two cars, cable, fast internet, cruises....  Insanity!

Look, people.  I remember my 95 year old father-in-law telling me once that he had just two books before he went away to college.  They went to the library to get books to read.  He had one good suit for Sunday and special events and he had a mishmash of hand me downs and second hand stuff for everyday.  Now, I'm not saying that we have got to start living like that again, but we could rein ourselves in a lot more than we do.  We need to be saving our money, bringing our factories back home, paying for things in FULL before we start playing with them, living in houses designed for one family, not eight families...EP's science teacher did an exercise one day where they had to tell what square footage their house was.  We live in an 1800 sq. ft. house.  Most of her class lived in 2500 sq. ft. or more.  According to this teacher, if every family on Earth lived in our sized house, it would take the equivalent of THREE additional Earth's worth of resources to build and sustain them.  For the bigger houses it was anywhere from four to fifteen Earth's worth of resources.  Incredible waste!

We in the U.S. live better than 95% of the world's people.   And here's the saddest and scariest fact of all.  Even if the rest of the people on Earth could come up with the money to live like we do, they still COULD NOT because we've used up way more than our fair share of the resources.  What's going to happen to us when the rest of the world starts figuring this out?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Seasons and Paths and a Diver Figurine*


When I graduated from Ohio State, with my newly minted teaching degree, some 5000 other people graduated with me.  Yet, I got a teaching position right out of college, and taught for ten years with a great deal of success.  I believe that it was the path God wanted me on at the time. 

Ten years later, I resigned and became - by way of a pair of twin girls - a full time mom.  Though insanely busy, I was often restless and wanted something besides mothering and housewifery, so I tried varying things.  I painted country wooden stuff and made wonderful cloth dolls, and sold them at craft fairs, but I was never very good at forcing myself to make a bunch of the same thing, so I wasn't all that successful, financially.  Then, when the girls were in kindergarten, I got a sub certificate and tried subbing...HATED that.  Nothing like being in a room with 25 or 30 kids you don't know, with at least 3/4ths of them trying to drive you nuts. To me, it didn't feel anything like being a real teacher (my apologies to subs - I know there are some really amazing ones out there and you ARE real teachers!)  Then a full time position opened up at a local crafts big box store.  I LOVED that job, but it was the wrong time - too many hours away from the children I had fought for almost seven years to conceive.  Finally, I became a Stampin' Up! demonstrator, and while I love teaching classes, the selling part just isn't my thing.  When our girls went to college, I kind of floundered, wondering what was next for me.

Well, what was next was selling on Ebay.  I have loved vintage stuff - 40's and 50's mostly - for quite some time, and the day came when I realized that I had too much stuff, but I kept running into fantastic deals!  The logical outcome?  Sell the stuff!  However, I was quite prepared to fail, since I haven't had any appreciable luck in selling in the last 20 years.

What a surprise I was in for!  I found a Gay Fad decanter and glasses at Goodwill for around six bucks - and they sold for over $50.  Ditto a set of canisters, a tray, and several other items.  All of a sudden, it seemed that God had opened the door for me.   I believe this is how I am going to be able to help the girls pay for college.  I'm sure there are challenges ahead - times when nothing sells - but for now, I enjoy the feeling of success.   To everything there is a season...

*The figurine?  I bought it for a quarter at a garage sale in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and sold it for over $63 dollars this week.  Thank you so much, Lord!