Cry Me A River

March 4th, 2009

As clear as our current financial fiasco has become, people still aren’t willing or able to connect the dots on what leads to these types of catastrophes. I’ve read a few articles in recent history about credit card companies lowering credit lines without any warning or cause. Supposedly it’s unfair and an outrage to take someone’s $15,000 credit limit down to $7,000 when they haven’t missed a payment. Of course, there was no outrage when the individual’s line of credit swelled beyond their means without warning and for no justifiable reason. No, we are only to be upset when the reverse happens. In my nearly 20 years as a credit card holder, I’ve consistently had credit available to me at amounts well beyond my repayment capabilities. As a poor college student I managed to ‘earn’ up to $8,000. Right after graduation, when I was struggling to make ends meet in the real world, my credit limit was around $11,000. Fast forward to now, as a stay-at-home mom with no reportable income, my credit line is $20,000! If I didn’t have the good sense not to spend what I don’t have, I’d probably have to consider selling a kidney or something.

Get with it people! Credit card debt is the next bubble waiting to burst and rain its debris all over our already soggy economy. Credit card companies have surely witnessed the demise of mortgage companies that extended credit beyond realistic means. Not acting and reducing their risk before more credit that can’t be repaid is gobbled up makes sense.

The average credit card debt of American citizens is already staggering and capable of being problematic. With so many Americans struggling right now, it stands to reason many will be tempted to use their credit cards as a social assistance program. Available credit will be used and if it needs to be written off in bankruptcy, so be it. I’ve actually lost sleep over the past few days processing this inevitability in my mind.

There isn’t much I can say about credit card companies that is positive. I despise them. I am relieved to see them taking some action to reduce the pending disaster.

Limbaugh & Coulter

February 28th, 2009

If Limbaugh and Coulter remain the speaking heads for the Republican Party I think it is safe to say any effort by Conservatives to regain political strength is essentially a lost cause.

What FDR Didn’t Know

February 11th, 2009

When FDR uttered those famous inaugural words “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” he clearly had not experienced a house with two tots and an unaccounted for Crayola crayon.

You Know Those Commercials

February 8th, 2009

You know those commercials for exotic vacation islands where beautiful couples are frolicking in sand and water?  Yeah, makes me not want to go.  Seriously.  How many women do you know who want to spend buckets of money to relax on a beach with women who could double as models for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition?  Not me.  I’m smart enough to realize I’m not magically going to transform into a bathing goddess when I don a swimsuit on one of these beaches.  To the contrary.  The bright natural light will likely wash me out, expose cellulite I’ve been in denial over and negate whatever slimming effect my suit has on my post baby belly.  Based on the commercials, it is fair for the real person to assume they’d stick out like a sore thumb.  Not exactly my idea of blending into the scenery while on vacation.

More advertisements than ever are parading uber flawless people in front of the general consumer.  Many have been bronzed, airbrushed and tweaked beyond any possible reality.  Those of us who are, how should I say it, normal, are left feeling like shabby disgraces to humanity.  Lord help us that we need publications like the Enquirer, a tabloid known for fabrication, in order to see real photos of people’s dimpled buns, mashed potato upper arms and dark circled eyes.  There has been some push back to get advertisers to promote realistic images.  A few are bending.  Not enough though.  Maybe to get more on board those of us who don’t look like the people in the ads should sit on our wallets and wait.  Advertisers may not like how we look at the moment, but I know they like the look of our cash.

It’s NOT Mean

February 6th, 2009

It’s not mean to offer sincere constructive feedback.  To the contrary, blowing smoke up the orifices of others is probably more cruel than giving an honest take on what they could and should have done differently.  How kind is it to contribute to someone’s impression they are on top of things or doing a good job when the opposite is true?  Are we to smile, say great job and then avoid the person down the line because it’s just easier that way?  Would a person rather go through life with people secretly biting their lips and rolling their eyes over them than hear they may have come up short in some way?

In no way do I support people with the habit of delivering criticism full of acid and absent any objectivity.  When someone takes the time to tell you you’ve missed the mark in a nice way and with supportive commentary mixed in, that person should be thanked.  They are more your friend than most people walking this planet.

But I Don’t Want A Cherry On Top!

February 5th, 2009

My 2 1/2 year old daughter is painfully literal and it frequently gives us a giggle.  Olivia is going through a phase of barking out orders.  “I want my milk” she announced not long ago.  Her father and I are both working on curbing her habit to demand.  “You don’t ask your mother for milk that way,” my darling husband corrects.  “You need to say may I have some milk mom…pretty please with a cherry on top.”  Instantly Olivia was in hysterics. “But I don’t want a CHERRY on top,” she wailed.  Her literal mind was sure her father was suggesting she request a cherry on top of her milk.

Our communication missteps remind me of a kindergarten teacher I once knew who remarked how often adults fail to say what they really mean.  They think they’ve been clear and that their point has been received as intended, and yet they’ve botched the message severely.  It’s funny when we do it with kids because we are willing to laugh when we’ve been misunderstood.  We don’t really blame it on ourselves, but on the fact our kids’ sense of language is still developing.  We think it’s cute.  When it happens with other adults we are less gracious.

It’s not rare to see ‘situations’ develop as a result of poor word choices or expressions.  When called on it, adults will often argue “well, that’s just semantics!”  As if using the more accurate word(s) isn’t necessary because “well, you know what I meant.”  The thing is though, people often really don’t know what the person meant.  I know I get the eye roll often for clarifying what someone is attempting to say.  This is especially true during intense exchanges.  It’s not to be annoying.  I’ve just ridden the drama train enough times in life to realize the wisdom in verifying the need to be pissed off before handing my ticket to the conductor.

Oh Come On!

February 2nd, 2009

Yet another Obama nominee is haunted by a substantial tax error.  Good grief.  Now it’s Daschle.  He made several errors that led to him underpaying by over $100K.  That’s some mistake.  Granted, the United States has a complicated tax code.  Legislators are largely to blame for that.  Still, when you have assets and reportable transactions that are significant enough where you managed to underpay 6 figures in taxes, you should have an expert working on your return.  And what about that “gee, turns out I owe much less than I expected” moment?  Come on!

Obama is standing by his nominees and saying the errors were not intentional.  Fine.  Don’t send them to jail for tax evasion.  It should affect their nominations though.  We need people with an eye for detail, a sense when something doesn’t look right and the smarts to call in more knowledgable people to handle things that may be over their heads.

Comfortable Mattresses

January 28th, 2009

I’ve found the solution to an uncomfortable mattress.  If yours is giving you troubles and you are finding it difficult to sleep, I suggest you hire young children to wake up at an early hour.  There’s something to this.  My mattress has never felt as good as it does when I hear my daughter’s first “mommy” of the day.

This Can’t Be Good

January 24th, 2009

“Just don’t put me in the cage, mommy.”  That’s my 2 1/2 year old’s newest thing to throw out when I’m disciplining her.  Lovely.  It joins her other favorites of “don’t be mean to me, mommy” and “don’t hit me, mommy.”  For the record, my daughter has never been in a cage and, with the exception of one diaper padded fanny tap, has never been hit.  Where she gets this stuff from is beyond me.  Part of me wants to giggle at her inventive responses to distract me from calling out her bad behavior.  Another part is scared poo-less she’s going to unload one of these babies at the worst possible time.  My memory is still fresh when it comes to our recent visit to the ER for a split lip.  That was before any of these juicy little nuggets were part of her conversation.  It wasn’t hard to conclude the staff there was asking questions to determine if they were dealing with a childhood accident or abuse.  I can’t imagine what would have happened had Olivia remarked about a cage or me hitting her back then.

Knowing whatever she says casually around the house is destined to make a public appearance, I’m torn over how to handle all of this.  Choice ‘A’ is to ignore it and hope it passes without any fallout.  The problem with choice ‘A’ is my luck doesn’t seem to go that way.  Choice ‘B’ is to tell her why it is important not to say things like that.  The problem with choice ‘B’ is it might actually sound worse if her conversation piece morphs into “my mommy told me I shouldn’t tell you I don’t want her to put me in the cage.”  Never mind having the discussion to begin with just brings the fact she’s got me by the toes to her attention.

Sigh.  Why is it I have to put so much cranial effort into figuring out how to counter my daughter’s clever moves when her strategy comes together effortlessly?

And She Wanted Cans?

January 11th, 2009

My kids’ Great Grandmother gave them each $5 for Christmas.  My son is too young to know about money and buying things, but my 2 1/2 year old sure was excited at the thought of cash.  Grandma made it clear she wanted Olivia to go to the store and buy a treat with the money.  Olivia and Grandma both have a sweet tooth the size of Mount Rainier and can often be found tucked away in Grandma’s room indulging in naughty num-nums.  I fully expected Olivia to jump at the opportunity to buy junk food.  I was imagining donuts, ice cream, cookies and chocolate as top contenders on her list of possible purchases.

The day before I planned to take her to the store, we went over a list of things she could afford with $5.  Junk food was on the list, as it was in line with Grandma’s plan to spoil her, but my husband and I also worked in practical things like Dora panties, a tooth brush, a coloring book and lotion.  She loves all of the above.  After hearing the list Olivia shocked us both by picking something all on her own, something that hadn’t been on the list of possibilities at all.   Olivia wanted to buy cans.  Cans?  I clarified to be sure I was understanding what she meant.  Yes indeed, she wanted to buy cans and she wanted to be the one to put them in the cart.  “Cans with things for eating, mommy…MMMMMM!”  Oooooooookay.

When we arrived at the store, Olivia was ready with her money.  I had other shopping to do and fully expected her to waffle on what she might want to buy as we worked our way up and down the aisles.  We passed candy, donuts, yogurt smooties…all sorts of yummy stuff.  When we got to the aisle with all of the cans Olivia’s eyes lit up.  She was ready to make her selection.  She was ready to pick out her Christmas present.

Canned vegetables really aren’t our thing, so I steered her towards the fruit.  She looked at the labels and proclaimed peaches the winner.  She was thrilled to realize $5 would buy her more than one.  As I handed her cans to her and she set them beside her in the cart she had an enormous smile on her face.  I did too, for that matter.  My daughter’s maiden voyage on the roller coaster of making good choices with one’s money was a success.  She used her $5 to buy something she needed, something that was good for her and something she liked a lot.

By the time dinner rolled around that evening, Olivia was brimming with anticipation.  “Let’s have a can, mommy.”  Peaches are normally lunch food in our house.  I try to keep sugar at a minimum at night so I don’t have to battle kids bouncing off of the walls at bedtime.  We made an exception, however.  Olivia ate 1/2 a can all by herself and then offered to share with her brother.  He thinks peaches are a gift from the heavens.  Such a good sister.  Such a wonderful present.

I’m proud of my daughter.  Can you tell?