Unplugged

So we’ve been doing the “unplugged” thing in our household.  Partially, anyway.  And not voluntarily.  But that’s a story for another day.

We have no cable TV service, Internet service, or phone service.  I figured – no big deal – we can make do for a few days.

Day One.  “It’s gonna be a long couple of days, but we can deal with it.”  My child watches a lot of Nick Jr.  A lot.  But she also has DVD’s to watch.  I can check email and Facebook on my phone, I can check news on my phone, I can text.  And I can get things done around the house in the time that I usually waste online!  And I did.  I cleaned both upstairs bathrooms, dusted upstairs and vacuumed upstairs.  Great!  The kiddo watched Yo Gabba Gabba, Blues Clues and Diego on DVD.  My mom finished The Hunger Games and started Catching Fire.  Hubby found some kid-friendly games on the computer and started playing them with the little one.  He showed me how to play Spider Solitaire.

Day Two.  Pretty much a repeat of Day One without all the cleaning.  I really like Spider Solitaire.  I got all the pictures off of my camera and all of the videos off of the video camera.  I edited a few videos.  We’re spending a lot of time outside riding bikes, playing ball and catching lightning bugs!  My mom asks if she can watch something other than the kid’s shows.  We remind her that the service is off.  We watch a couple of movies.

Day Three.  Hubby took the kiddo outside to play at her water table for a couple of hours.  I cleaned the downstairs bathroom, dusted, ran the vacuum and mopped the floors downstairs.  I’m kind of liking the partially unplugged thing.  I really waste a lot of time online and watching TV.  We’re spending more quality family time!  Yay!  A friend stops over for a little while.  My mom asks if she can watch something other than the kid’s shows.  We remind her that the service is off.  We watch a couple of movies.

Day Four.  Not much to do.  The house is clean.  Sorted through a bunch of paperwork.  That took a couple of hours.  I’m getting pretty tired of seeing the same couple episodes of Blues Clues, Yo Gabba Gabba and Diego over and over and over again.  Checking email on my stupid phone is a pain in the ass.  Forget about Facebook.  It takes eons to even load.  I play Spider Solitaire.  A lot.  My mom asks if she can watch something other than the kid’s shows.  We remind her that the service is off.  We watch a couple of movies.

Day Five.  I think we can get our services turned back on today, but turns out we can’t.  Hrmph.  Spider Solitaire is starting to get old and so are the 3 “new” kid-friendly games that the kid wants to play over and over.  I can’t take much more Gabba so I force the kid to watch an old Veggie Tales VHS.  She likes it, though.  I do laundry.  I do Sudoku.  I try to check email on my phone.  I want to bash my phone against a wall. My mom asks if she can watch something other than the kid’s shows.  I remind her that the service is off.  I put on a movie for her.

Day Six.  The kid is on my last nerve.  By 9:00 AM, I have made the bed, dressed her, given her juice and breakfast, put a “show” on for her (damned Yo Gabba Gabba), done the dishes, and made coffee.  I don’t go near the computer all day for the Spider Solitaire, although I play it on my phone a little bit.  By 11:00 AM I have showered and dressed, cleaned up the kid’s messy room, put away some clean laundry and have some more going.  I spread white paper out on the dining room table and drag out all of my old rubber stamps and inks, along with colored pencils.  I do like that we are doing “arts & crafts” together and she really loves it.  We color for quite a while.  My mom asks if she can watch something other than the kid’s shows.  I remind her that the service is off.  I put on a movie for her.  Outside.  Kiddo rides her bike a little, plays with neighbor kids.  Back in for lunch.  More stamping.  Back outside.  Back in.  We make Jell-O.  Dear God, is it only 2:00?  The laundry is done and there is nothing to clean.  By the way, we also don’t have the car because I didn’t feel like getting up at 3:00 AM to drop hubby off.  More rounds of outside, inside.  She won’t listen to me and it’s driving me batty.  I have too much of my mother in me.  When the child ignores me, I start to go ballistic.  Spider Solitaire isn’t helping.   My mom asks if she can watch something other than the kid’s shows.  I remind her that the service is off.   Hubby gets home around 5:30, I cook, we eat, I do the dishes and make his coffee for the morning.  He goes to bed.  More bike riding.  Finally in for the night and kiddo wants to watch some “home videos” on the computer.  She watches for a while.  PJ’s, books, brush teeth, time to snuggle up.  I decide to put in a movie for myself.  Screen says “loading” for an awfully long time … DVD is not loading.  I try to open it.  It won’t open.  It is stuck.  NOOOOOOOOO!  Dear GOD, NO!!!  The DVD player is my only salvation at this point!!!!   OK.  I will play Wii.  We never play Wii, might as well get some use out of it.  Load a game.  Remote has dead batteries.  We have no more batteries.

Try for 10 minutes to pry DVD tray open with a nail file.  It won’t budge.  I hear the little motor inside trying to make it open.  I’m certain it will burn out before morning.

Text best friend.  “Please take pity on me. Let’s do something tomorrow.”  Have not heard back from her.

Wine.  Cigarettes.  (Yes, I know, I know – shut up.)

If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know I didn’t make it through Day Seven.  Or Eight.  God willing, there will not be a Day Nine.

Consignment Sales

I know I haven’t posted in forever, but I’ve been wanting to do a post about consignment sales, specifically kids’.  I’ve been participating in one for a while now as a consignor and volunteer (and shopper of course!) so wanted to share a little bit about it.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, someone (in my case 2 sisters; in some cases charitable organizations) runs the sale, organizes everything, rents a space, sets up racks, gets consignors, volunteers, advertisers, etc.  As a consignor, you enter your items into a program online, print tags, hang and tag your items, and drop them off at the sale.  At the sale I do, if you do one volunteer shift during the sale, you get back 70% of your sales.  If you don’t volunteer, you get 60%.  At the end of the sale, you can choose to pick up your items that didn’t sell, or donate them.

This sale (and most of them, I think) runs 3 days, and the 3rd day, if the tag says “Discount,” the item is 50% off.  (You choose whether or not to discount each of your items.)  The night before the sale opens to the public, (again, at the sale I do) volunteers get the first opportunity to shop (for 1 hour) and then consignors get to shop.

And I love the shopping!  My goal is to make more than I spend or at least break even!  I haven’t gotten my check yet from this most recent sale, but I only sold 27 items, so I think it will be about $47.  I didn’t break even.  LOL.  That’s ok, though.  It will still be nice to get the $47!

So here’s what I got this time:

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3 CD’s (actually 6 because 1 of these has 3 in it), a jump rope (new in package) and 2 Kindermusik resonator bells.Image

A giant Kai Lan floor puzzle, Bob the Builder Colorforms and this cool magnet toy.  (We’re taking a long road trip this summer, so I think the magnet toy, Colorforms and CD’s will all be great for the car!)

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2 really cute dresses.

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4 tops and 3 pairs of shorts.

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3 two-piece top & shorts outfits (1 new with tags.)

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3 bathing suits and a cover-up.

So how much do you think I paid for all this?  (All full price, by the way, because I went to the pre-sale for volunteers.)  I think I did pretty well getting all this for $65.  And, of course, I got rid of some stuff I didn’t need anymore and will still get $47-ish in that check that’s coming soon!

So if you haven’t been shopping at a consignment sale yet, I highly recommend it!  Go check one out.  I’m certain you’ll find some great bargains.  And if you like it, you might want to be a consignor, too!

“Duality in Caring”

I found this article via a Facebook page today.  “Yay” for articles like this that have helpful tips and make me feel like other people get what I am experiencing!

This is from Bright Horizons Family Solutions:

The Sandwich Generation – Duality in Caring

According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 25% of all Americans ages 40 – 60, are caught in the middle of caring for two generations, raising both a child and caring for a parent or other elderly family member.

Known as the “sandwich generation”, they are typically in their mid-forties, both male and female, married, employed, and constantly juggling the complex roles of parent, spouse, and caregiver. They feel enormous stressors, pushed to the limit on caring for family members, meeting work commitments, supporting friendships, and maintaining their own personal health and well being.

If you find yourself in this situation, you may feel over scheduled and under resourced. Those of us in the sandwich generation confront multiple stressors that can lead to burnout and depression which impact our sense of personal confidence and well being and may also affect our ability to enjoy our own families.

Squeezed from the duality of caring for both children and elders, members of this sandwich generation frequently confront dilemmas like:

  • Splitting time between our children/ family and our elder loved one
  • Balancing time for our partners or spouses and for ourselves
  • Dealing with feelings of guilt for not having enough time to accomplish it all

It may be overwhelming at times, but here are some proven strategies to ease the strain for those of us “sandwiched” between the competing demands of children, elder parents, and work:

Communicate

  • Tell your spouse and children about the responsibilities you are facing and how their understanding and support is key to success.
  • Encourage children and elders to communicate with one another, allowing everyone to share their views and how they can contribute to a harmonious family.
  • Talk with your family when plans need to be adjusted to fit changing situations.

Share Responsibilities

  • Hold family meetings to discuss and set mutual expectations about the many different care-giving tasks that need to be accomplished each day or week.
  • Draw up a roster allocating duties for each family member.
  • Involve elders in the daily activities at home, letting them know they are part of your world.

Reassure the ones you love

  • Let your family know that taking care of your elders will not affect the love you will keep giving to them. Welcome your parents into the household and let them know they are not a burden and how much they are appreciated.
  • Write little notes of love, appreciation, and encouragement to children, elders and spouse.

Take care of yourself

  • Reduce scheduled commitments and lighten up on enrichment- filled days when possible.
  • Find 30 minutes of personal time to exercise, read, meditate, listen to music , or call a friend.

Ask for assistance

  • Make a point of picking up the telephone and spending time calling resources such as an area agency on aging, a hospital social worker, physician or church.
  • Find a friend to walk and talk with you.

In coping with caring across generations, we model and teach our children about love, caring for parents, friendships, kindness and inclusion. There is no one right way to be a good parent or adult caregiver, so allow for mistakes, remembering the joy that comes in caring for those we love.


More on This Topic

Monday, Monday

So … my original intent with this blog was to document / discuss what it was like to be raising my young daughter and caring for my elderly mother at the same time. (Myself being the “sandwich generation.”)  I haven’t done a good job of that at all.  I’ve found it difficult mainly because I didn’t make the blog anonymous.  People read it and know me, know my mom … and I didn’t want to feel like I was “bashing” my mom in any way … or that people would read my stories and then see her in person the next week and be thinking about what I said about her.  Things she, of course, would not know.  It doesn’t seem fair.  I don’t trust myself to be eloquent enough to state things gently or diplomatically.  And I’m not sure I want to.  If someone else in the same situation is reading this, looking for someone to relate to, someone going through the same thing as they are … and I’m making things sound better or easier than they are … well, who is that helping? And if I can’t really vent … it’s not really therapeutic for me in any way either.

And I’m not clever enough to make it funny.  Although sometimes I need to laugh to cope!!!  I just said to my husband yesterday, when you’re not here (he travels for work a lot) I have nobody to laugh about it with!  ‘Cause there is a LOT of crazy and a lot of, “if I don’t laugh at that I, too, will be crazy.”

So today I have an excellent sandwich generation tale that is rather benign and that I am able to laugh about.  I’m working on potty training the little one.  I put panties on her today.  In the span of 4 hours, she wet 5 pairs of panties AND managed to pee all over the bathroom floor.  In the middle of all that, my mom started vomiting!  Very unusual … she hasn’t thrown up in literally years.  So here I am, sandwiched between pee and vomit today.  The little one in the bathroom, on the potty, trying to be a Big Kid.  The grandma on the couch throwing up in the trash can.  Running back and forth.  Wiping up pee.  Rinsing out the trash can.

Yep, it’s been a fun Monday.  But I will take it over the “crazy” … the forgetfulness … the confusion … the nastiness … that some days bring.

Getting Organized in the New Year

I’m a fairly organized person.  I used to be really, super-organized … not sure what happened, exactly … but I’d like to be really organized again.  I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, per se, but I do usually take a look at things at the start of a new year, think about what I’d like to change, think about what I’d like to accomplish, etc.

What I do love to make are lists!  Yep, I’m a list-maker for sure.  Sometimes I think if I spent time doing the tasks I need to do instead of making lists, the tasks would be done!  But then I couldn’t check them off of my list.  LOL.

I found this great website this past year called Families with Purpose.  It’s right up my alley because they have lots of templates for lists, schedules, menus, family plans, etc.  Here are the ones I printed off today with a view toward getting more organized!

Daily Routine Template:  I made up my own daily routine chart this past fall.  I wasn’t very good at sticking to it, and I’d like to try again.  I know that it will be a good way to achieve some goals if I can just get myself into these routines.  For example, one of my goals is to keep the house more clean and organized.  So I will put cleaning time into my daily routine / schedule, with a different room each day.  Not only will this help me to achieve my goal, but if I do it faithfully, I won’t need to spend time cleaning on the weekends when we could be doing a family activity, for example.  This Household Cleaning Schedule will help, too!

I printed this Family Schedule template, too.  Just a look at the whole week as opposed to just one day.

I also printed this Screen Time Tracking Chart.  I doubt I will actually track it, because I already know that Hope watches way too much TV and I spend way too much time on the computer!  Again, implementing the daily routine / schedule will set limits for these activities and have times set aside for things like playing together, crafts, reading, and outdoor play.

Here’s the link to the Families With Purpose page that lists all of their free printables.  I hope you find something there that can help you to get more organized, too!

Christmas Meme

My friend over at Ellemental has resumed blogging after quite a hiatus.  I think she is inspiring me to get back to it as well.  Taking the Christmas Meme from her.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?  Mostly paper.  I just like people to have things to unwrap … not just take out of a bag.

2. Real tree or Artificial?  I much prefer real, but have had artificial many a year.  Always had artificial growing up – we got a real tree ONCE.  We planted it in the yard after Christmas and it grew into a really nice, big tree!  Owners after us cut it down.  😦   Anyway, this year – real!

3. When do you put up the tree?  Soon after Thanksgiving … This year we didn’t get the tree until December 9th, though.

4. When do you take the tree down?  Around the 2nd week of January.

5. Do you like eggnog?  Yes but I do half eggnog and half milk – it’s too thick and sweet for me.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?  Hm.  I guess my “baby” doll … the Madame Alexander Victoria doll.  I still have her.

7. Hardest person to buy for?  My Dad.  What does an 88-year-old man need or want?

8. Easiest person to buy for?  My daughter.  I could have bought her 3 times more stuff than I actually did!

9. Do you have a nativity scene?  Yes – a very small one that sits on a shelf.  It’s kind of a big shelf – thick and long – and the nativity scene definitely looks too small on it.  But I don’t really have anywhere else to put it.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Oh definitely mail.  I wish more people still did.  I sent out almost 80 cards this year. We’ve received 10.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?  LOL.  Not so bad, just funny.  My godmother gave me this odd little tote bag one year that was the very preppy pink and bright green colors.  Another year I wanted a Yale sweatshirt.  My mom misunderstood and got me a (bright) yellow sweatshirt.  The same year I think, I had mentioned that someone I knew liked / collected penguins.  Again misunderstanding, my mom got me a bunch of penguin stuff.  She must have been distracted!  LOL.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?  The more of this meme I answer, the more sure I am that I’ve done it before.  Anywho … I really do like “It’s a Wonderful Life,”  I’ve just never really understood why it’s a Christmas movie.  I realize it takes place at Christmas time … and has an angel.  Other than that, I really wouldn’t classify it as a Christmas movie!  I like “A Christmas Story” a lot.  My favorite kid Christmas special is “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”  Love me some Heat Miser and Snow Miser!!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?  If I see something perfect in September or October I’ll pick it up.  I pick up a few more things in November and start shopping in earnest on Black Friday.  Yes, I “do” Black Friday.  I must say it was mostly unsuccessful this year, though — WAY more crazy than I have EVER seen it, and I do it every year.  I may be moving more and more to online shopping!!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?  Not that I recall.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?  Cookies, of course!

16. Lights on the tree? I can’t stand multi-colored lights.  I like white; or red; or red and white.  This year I did red, white and green and I like it a lot.  But I really don’t need orange, pink, blue and yellow.  And never blinking!

17. Favorite Christmas song?  I love most of them … favorite hymn / carol is probably “Away in a Manger.”  Favorite secular is probably “Silver Bells.”  Josh Groban singing any Christmas song is my favorite at that moment! 

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?  Now that we have a child, we definitely stay home for Christmas morning.  This year we’ll go to my sister’s for dinner, which is a little over an hour away.  Sometimes they come here.  So far we have not traveled to the in-laws’ for Christmas.  I wouldn’t want to leave my mom for Christmas.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?  Of course.  🙂

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?  Angel.  Although I used to do themes (see #23) … and I do have a star for the Southwest theme.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?  Morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?  Traffic, crowds.

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color?  I have enough ornaments to do 3 or 4 trees.  I hope someday to be able to put up several each year.  Since we’ve had Hope, I just do the traditional stuff because it seems more fitting.  I also have all Southwestern; all blue and white / silver / snow theme; all angels; and all musical stuff.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?  I don’t really have a favorite.  We do turkey for Thanksgiving, so I like something different for Christmas, although turkey again would be ok too!  I’m not a huge fan of ham, but I did one last year with lots and lots of brown sugar and honey and it came out really good.  My sister sometimes does London Broil … honestly not a huge fan of that either!  (Sorry if you’re reading this!  LOL!)  She is doing ham this year and what I really like are the sides – that pineapple stuffing stuff, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, baked mac & cheese.  Mmmmm.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?  I would really really love a Kindle Fire but I know we can’t afford one.  😦  (I mean, I would REALLY REALLY love an iPad, but we REALLY can’t afford that, and a Kindle Fire would be just fine for me!)  Maybe the price will go down after Christmas and I can get one for my birthday!!!

A Trucker’s Life

Unless you have a close friend or family member who is a truck driver, you probably don’t give much thought to truckers or know too much about what they do.  You probably get annoyed when they are going too slowly on the highway and holding you up.  Or going too fast and tailgating you.  Or, you may be one of the many drivers who are afraid of the big trucks on the highway.  Maybe you think drivers are dirty and greasy.  Maybe you think their job is easy – they just get in and drive and go where they’re told to go, and make a lot of money to do it.

More likely, though, you probably just don’t give it much thought at all.  I guess I didn’t.  My husband drives a truck, though, and I know a lot of things I didn’t know before.

My hubby posted the following article on Facebook today.  It’s a good read and says much of what I was going to say in this post (I actually started this post in April!!)

other views

That truck driver you flipped off? Let me tell you his story.

  • Article by: DAN HANSON

Let me tell you a little about the truck driver you just flipped off because he was passing another truck, and you had to cancel the cruise control and slow down until he completed the pass and moved back over.

His truck is governed to 68 miles an hour, because the company he leases it from believes it keeps him and the public and the equipment safer.

The truck he passed was probably running under 65 mph to conserve fuel. You see, the best these trucks do for fuel economy is about 8 miles per gallon. With fuel at almost $4 per gallon — well, you do the math. And, yes, that driver pays for his own fuel.

He needs to be 1,014 miles from where he loaded in two days. And he can’t fudge his federally mandated driver log, because he no longer does it on paper; he is logged electronically.

He can drive 11 hours in a 14-hour period; then he must take a 10-hour break. And considering that the shipper where he loaded held him up for five hours because it is understaffed, he now needs to run without stopping for lunch and dinner breaks.

If he misses his delivery appointment, he will be rescheduled for the next day, because the receiver has booked its docks solid (and has cut staff to a minimum). That means the driver sits, losing 500-plus miles for the week.

Which means his profit will be cut, and he will take less money home to his family. Most of these guys are gone 10 days, and home for a day and a half, and take home an average of $500 a week if everything goes well.

You can’t tell by looking at him, but two hours ago he took a call informing him that his only sister was involved in a car accident, and though everything possible was done to save her, she died. They had flown her to a trauma hospital in Detroit, but it was too late.

He hadn’t seen her since last Christmas, but they talked on the phone every week. The load he is pulling is going to Atlanta, and he will probably not be able to get to the funeral.

His dispatcher will do everything possible to get him there, but the chances are slim. So he has hardly noticed your displeasure at having to slow down for him. It’s not that he doesn’t care; he’s just numb.

Everything you buy at the store and everything you order online moves by truck. Planes and trains can’t get it to your house or grocery store. We are dependent on trucks to move product from the airport and the rail yards to the stores and our homes.

Every day, experienced and qualified drivers give it up because the government, the traffic and the greedy companies involved in trucking have drained their enthusiasm for this life.

They take a job at a factory if they can find it, and are replaced by an inexperienced youngster dreaming of the open road. This inexperience leads to late deliveries, causing shortages and higher prices at the store, and crashes that lead to unnecessary deaths.

It is even possible that is what led to the death of this driver’s sister.

This is a true story; it happened last week. The driver’s name is Harold, and I am his dispatcher.

Dan Hanson, of Belle Plaine, Minn., is a fleet manager.

Well said, Dan.

We tried the Owner / Operator route for several months, but right now my husband is back to being a company driver.  That means we’re not paying for our own fuel, repairs, health insurance, hotels, maintenance, tolls, payment to lease the truck etc. etc. etc. anymore.  Other than that, though, the things in this article are accurate for him.

His truck is governed to 65 MPH.  That’s mostly done to save fuel, but for safety reasons, too.  So, no, he can’t go any faster.

Electronic Log tracking his every movement?  Yep.  Actually I think they’re good – also for safety reasons and to keep everyone honest.  But it also means that if he’s 90 minutes from home and he only has 60 minutes of legal drive time left today, he’s not coming home.  He’s staying in a hotel.  Now, like I said, in our case the company is paying for that hotel room.  But we are paying for his dinner tonight, his breakfast tomorrow, and his lunch tomorrow — even though we just bought food for all of that at the grocery store.  You should also keep in mind that the majority of truck drivers are Owner / Operators.  And the majority of those have sleepers.  So they’re sleeping in a tiny bunk in that truck cab and showering at a truck stop.  At least my hubby gets a hotel room.  A crappy motel room usually … but at least a bed, toilet and shower!

Yes, he can work 14 hours until he has to have a break, and almost always does.  That’s a 70-hour work week most weeks.  Think he’s getting 30 hours of that in overtime?  Nope.  Truckers that are paid hourly (very few) don’t get overtime until over 55 hours a week.  But, because sometimes he gets paid by the hour and sometimes by the mile / load … he never gets over 55 hours a week in “hourly” pay.  Yep, that sucks.

I’d also like to address a couple of things that Dan didn’t.  My husband drives a tanker, which means there is a tank of 7,300 gallons of liquid behind his truck.  That weighs about 50,000 pounds, making the whole rig weigh about 80,000.  That is 40 tons, my friend.  You think he can stop on a dime when you decide to merge in front of him without yielding (please see my former post re: yielding while driving!  LOL) just because you think he’s going to be slow and you don’t want to get stuck behind him?  He can’t.  Not only can’t he stop super quickly, but if he manages to stop fast by literally standing on the brake pedal, that liquid in his trailer is going to surge forward and push him forward anyway.

A couple of years ago, a guy my husband works with was driving down a road – not like the turnpike, more like a small highway in a town with businesses along the road.  So he wasn’t going 65 or anything.  Maybe 40.  He was going down a hill.  An older couple pulled right out in front of him at the bottom of the hill.  He didn’t even have time to think about stopping.  They were killed instantly.  The driver couldn’t bear to get back in a truck for at least a year.

Also, think about the height and shape of a truck cab and his visibility.  When you pull up alongside him (on his right) – guess what?  HE CAN’T SEE YOU.  They put a little window in the bottom of the passenger door to help with this problem, so if you’re lucky he will see you.  Still.  Don’t be surprised when he hits you.  And certainly don’t act like it’s his fault.

The hours suck.  My husband is a regional driver.  So, unlike most, he’s not that over-the-road guy who is out for 10-14 days and then home for 2.  Technically, he’s supposed to get home every night.  As I’ve mentioned, he doesn’t.  He’s out 2-3 nights a week.  But remember, he only gets a 10 hour break.  So if he’s done work at 6PM, he is available to work again at 4AM.  Here’s what that looks like for us:  He’s done at 6, drives home, gets home around 6:45 with traffic.  He may or may not change his clothes; we eat dinner;  he goes to bed.  In order to get 8 hours of sleep, he should have gone to bed at 6:30 because he has to get up at 2:30 and leave the house at 3:30 to start at 4:00 AM.  So either he’s not home at all or we see him for less than an hour.  It’s quite possible he gets stuck out on Friday night, so if that happens he gets home sometime Saturday morning.  He then has to have a 38-hour break (after 70.)  That makes him available again Sunday night.  Now his company won’t send him out again until Monday morning … but he very well may have to be someplace by 6 or 7 AM … so … he has to go to bed very early again on Sunday.  Nice weekend, huh?

Drivers are more than just drivers, too.  My husband has to do a full safety inspection of his truck at the beginning and end of every day.  He takes about 15 minutes to check 59 things on the tractor and trailer.  Before the electronic logs, he had a mountain of paperwork to complete daily.  Even with them he has a lot.  He has to figure out when to leave and what route to take to get him to his loading appointment on time.  If he is more than 15 minutes early, he is docked pay.  If he is late, they probably won’t load him.  Oh, and his employer doesn’t want him to take toll roads because it’s expensive.  But, you know, he’s not allowed on a lot of roads because of his weight or what he’s hauling.  When he is loading, he has to make sure the truck isn’t over DOT weight limits – both gross weight and axle weight / distribution of weight.  If he gets a ticket for being over weight, he has to pay it himself.  He also has to know what kind of trailer the product he has can go into and to make sure that trailer has been washed thoroughly and by the correct method.

Then he has to do all the planning again to get that load delivered on time.  A lot of the time he’s delivering oil, so he has to drag hoses around (and hopefully he has been provided with the right hoses, the right fittings, and enough hoses), hook up to the pump, pump out the oil, and not spill a drop without a major hazmat incident.  He will get some on his clothes and boots, though, from those hoses, so that’s why he looks dirty and greasy sometimes.

There is more he has to do other than drive, but you get the idea.

Even with all of this stuff … obstacles … inconveniences … crappy hours and schedules … idiotic drivers … truckers are largely polite drivers.  My mom and I drove a U-Haul with a trailer behind it (with our car on it) from New Mexico to Pennsylvania several years back.  Almost every single time I passed a truck, the driver would flash his lights for me when it was OK for me to get over in front of him.  (I was kinda nervous with that car trailer back there!)  Once when I was younger, my mom and I were traveling on the turnpike when our car broke down.  It was a trucker that picked us up and took us to the next rest area.

And all that stuff Dan said about how trucks bring everything to our stores and our houses:  Yeah!  What he said!  Could my husband do another job?  Yeah.  But you need him to do this one.

I’m not looking for sympathy for my husband or our family.  Driving is his job and it is what it is.  But I really think most people don’t know this stuff (why would you?) so, consider it a public service announcement – LOL.

So next time you’re annoyed or aggravated because a truck is slow in front of you, be glad he’s being safe and remember he probably can’t go any faster.  He wishes he could, too.

Truck tailgating you in that middle lane on 95?  Get the hell out of his way.  He has to be someplace by a certain time, and you should be in the slow lane anyway.  Go faster or get over.  And, for God’s sake, don’t get scared and put on your brakes.  And, by the way, he’s not allowed to get over into the fast lane to pass you!  Don’t make him pass you on the right.

Plus, he’s probably tired and hungry and has to pee.

Next time you think about pulling out in front of a truck?  Don’t.  Wait.  Think about that older couple that lost their lives.

Maybe you’ll just scoot in front of him at that merge at the toll booths or in town at a red light?  Don’t.  He can’t see you there.

So, now you know.  Have some empathy for the guy.  Be considerate.  Be respectful.  Be safe.  And enable him to be safe, too.  We need him around here.

Catch Up #2 Part 2

How is it that I can only blog once every 3 months or so … and then twice in one day?  I have no idea.  It’s the Gemini in me, I suppose!

So I won a raffle for 4 free music classes for Hope (& me) and she really loved going!  I probably would have signed her up for the summer session, but the place the teacher was holding the class closed suddenly, so it was cancelled.  I’m hoping she has a new place right around here for the fall!

Here’s my sweetie girl on Memorial Day.

And at a local carnival:

We splurged on passes to Sesame Place this season.  I figured Hope was pretty much the right age to start going.  Actually we got a really good deal on the passes – $66 each!  Anyway, we were there twice in July – once in the evening for the nighttime parade and fireworks; and once in the daytime, just her and me.  We only went on the carousel and saw the parade and played in the water for a little bit … then it rained.  😦  But we will definitely be going back more this season!

July 14th was my mom’s 80th birthday!  On the 22nd we had a party for her on the New Hope / Ivyland Railroad.  Other than being ridiculously hot, it went really well!!  Our camera is broken and I had to use other people’s cameras at the party.  😦  Hopefully I will have some digital pics to share soon.

That’s pretty much all the news that’s fit to print!  Or that I can think of at this late hour.  Ciao.

Catch Up #2

So Hope’s Yo Gabba Gabba 2nd birthday party was so much fun!  Eric’s parents came in from IL and spent a long weekend with us.

She got a “bike!”

And we went to the Please Touch Museum for the first time!

We also got family portraits taken courtesy of Gramma and Grampa!  (And Sears!)

Easter came and went …

And then we moved!!  It was a huge pain in the ass, as moving always is.  LOL.  We’ve been in the new place for 3 months now, which I can’t believe!  It is STILL not completely unpacked, set up and the way I want it … but it’s close!  Here’s Hope’s room:


And this post is getting super long, so I guess I’ll need a Catch Up #2 Part 2!

Catch Up

It’s been mostly the same old, same old around here.  Mom is feeling about the same — weak and very tired.  Everything tastes bad so she’s been having trouble eating.  She has chemo coming up on Tuesday, and then hopefully she’ll be done with it, at least for a while.

Miss Hope turns 2 on the 29th and her party will be next Saturday!  We’re just doing a small, mostly kid party at home.  Hope is wild about “Yo Gabba Gabba,” so it will be a Gabba-rific day!  We have great party supplies and decorations, activities off of NickJr.com, and lots of fun plans!!  I can’t wait!

We’ve been going to My Gym for the past 3 weeks.  They offered a Groupon several months ago that I snatched up, and finally just signed her up.  She really likes it!  As with everything, it took her a time or 2 to get used to some of the things there, but she gets more comfortable and better at the activities each time!  Yesterday, out of the blue, she did a somersault right on the living room floor!  LOL!  We only have 1 more week of the classes I already paid for, so we’ll see after that.  It’s $75 for 4 weeks which I think is pretty steep.  If you only go to the scheduled class, that’s almost $20 an hour!  You can, however, also go to Free Play sessions during the week.  If you go to a couple of those, I guess the price is better …

I’m also going to sign her up for swimming at the Y again.  We did it last spring and summer, and I don’t want her to completely forget everything!  Much more economical, too, at $37 for 8 weeks!

The weather has been turning nicer and it feels so good to get to be outside more!  We had a great day Friday – went shopping with a friend in the early afternoon, and spent much of the late afternoon outside playing.  It is so much fun to see Hope grow and learn, hear the funny and smart things she says, watch and hear her giggle when I bounce her big blue ball as high as I can.  What a joy!

So … cleaning this weekend, Hope’s party next … then packing and preparing in April, because we’re moving April 30th!  We all went up to the office and signed the new lease yesterday.  We’re getting a completely renovated 3 bedroom townhouse here in our same complex.  I am SO looking forward to the extra bedroom, extra bath and larger living room!  We will definitely sacrifice some space to get that extra bedroom — we’ll lose the great laundry room we have now; we’ll gain a small foyer and coat closet, but lose an upstairs hall closet.  The linen closet is half the size.  Our bedroom closet will be smaller and so will Hope’s.  But … Hope and my mom will have their own rooms; Eric and I will have a master bath; the living room is huge; and EVERYTHING will be NEW!!  Can’t wait.

I hope everyone has a great Sunday!  Happy Spring!!!  And don’t forget to go get your free Rita’s today!