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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food Stamps, No Really

So on my way to class this morning, traffic was really backed up and I couldn't figure out why. By the time I got to the place that was holding up traffic, I realized it was the St. Mary's Food Bank and people were lined up to get their food for Thanksgiving. It made me appreciate the fact that we don't have to go stand in line for food, but at the same time I know how close we are to having to stand in that line every week just to feed our kids. I never thought I would have to rely on state assistance to help me take care of my family. I never realized how easy it would be to get to the point that it was necessary. I know that at this point I have chosen to go to school and not work, but even if that was not the case I would have to make upwards of $30,000/year in order to cover everything that we get for assistance. Unfortunately the jobs that pay that much are looking for grossly overqualified people to hire and I do not always fall into that category.

This is so much bigger than what we're going through though. I can only imagine how many people are living on the verge of not being able to feed their families. It's kind of scary. What if they decided that food stamps needed to be cut like they did the health insurance last year? Can you imagine how many families that could affect? Last year when they cut the KidsCare Insurance for Parents, my husband and I lost out coverage that we were actually paying a premium to receive. Around that time I had a little bit of a health scare and my doctor thought I had several symptoms of MS. I had to hurry up and get the tests I needed in order to get a diagnosis. Fortunately, they determined that, as of right then, I did not have MS but imagine if I did. I was losing my health coverage and could have possibly been denied coverage when we would have been able to get it again because of a pre-existing condition.

If my husband and I lost our food stamps right now, I would have to work just to have food to eat and then we would lose all other assistance (medical coverage, child care). On top of that we would have to pay for child care. This may seem repetitive to those who have been reading my blog, but so many people downplay the importance of the assistance the state provides and why it would be devastating for those programs to be cut. A lot of people feel like it could never happen to them when the reality of the situation is that in our current economy, it is extremely possible and it is happening everyday. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would have to get any assistance once my husband and I got married. I thought that all we needed was our 2 incomes and we would be OK. When I lost my job we were still pretty comfortable, but when my husband lost his job as well, we were SOL. Getting that assistance was all that we had.

All I can say now is I get it. By no means am I condoning the people who live on welfare and section 8 and food stamps and child care and medical assistance for years and years and have no intention to work or find a job. That I do not believe is right, BUT the programs are there for a reason and we pay taxes to provide these programs to people who truly need them, who are down on their luck and need to get back on their feet and can't do it by themselves. For people who are trying to get to a better place in their lives and give back to their communities. I get that and my family is living that reality. I understand. I hope you understand a little more now too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Totally Random Thoughts and Coffee

I have a take home test for microbiology that I am supposed to be doing right now and I just can't seem to find the focus to do it right now. The rough draft is due Wednesday and the final draft is due Saturday, the day before my birthday. Blah! I am ready for this semester to be over already. I feel like I need to regroup right now before this next semester because it's going to be tough. I will be taking anatomy & physiology, chemistry 151, trigonometry, and statistics. It's really just a precursor for what I will be doing when I get to ASU and beyond that.

I want to reread a book that I read over the summer. It's called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. Its one of the best books I have ever read. It really helps you find ways to stay motivated and inspire yourself. That seems to be what I struggle with the most, staying motivated day after day. I know I will get there but the road seems so long. I guess what it really comes down to is taking a little at a time and not overwhelming myself with the big picture because that seems to be what discourages me. That and continually reminding myself why I am doing what I am doing. It comes back to what I wrote about my motivation previously, I have to see what it is I don't want so that I can find what it is I do want.

I have found that writing this blog is a very cathartic experience. It makes me examine myself in a way that can be uncomfortable to talk about with other people. Writing allows you to get your complete thought out and edit if you need to before sharing it with anyone else. Sometimes that is a good thing. It actually allows me to get more of my idea out than I normally would. I speak and act very purposefully so sometimes things are left unsaid for me. Anywho, this is super random today. It must be the SUPERCHARGED Circle K coffee!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Black Freakin Friday

I never got the whole Black Friday thing when I worked in retail. I would just watch all the crazy people wake up early, fight over stuff and pile their carts with s#$t they didn't really need. Its been a while since I worked in retail (like 5 years) and I am totally about to be one of the crazy people. I am going to Kmart on Thanksgiving day, because it totally opens at 6am, then we're staying up until midnight to go to Walmart, but really we have to be there at like 10pm and then we're gonna go to Target at 4am but probably have to be there at like 3am. We will be visiting Circle K for their SUPERCHARGED coffee, if you haven't had it before its like a caffeine IV. What craziness!

Really though, I'm excited that I get to spend time with my husband and we get to get stuff for our little people. For those of you who don't know, I call my kids my little people but their not little by any means, they're freaking huge! I bought my 6 year old pants a month ago that were supposed to be a little big so he could wear them for a while and before he had a chance to wear them he already barely fits them. I had to go return them. What the hell is that about!! My boys are gonna be monsters. He's gonna be taller than me before high school, I swear!

So we're strategizing (is that a word?) about who's gonna go where in the store first and I've been looking at my Black Friday ads since last month and they even have maps that tell you where stuff will be in the store, but those don't come out until Thursday. I feel as though I shouldn't know that. I see why people do it though, its like an espionage mission and you have to create the best plan for attack. Now I'm am not trying to fight anyone for anything, but let someone act crazy. LOL! Just kidding, I don't fight....unless they hit first. LMAO! I feel like the crazy Target lady in the commercials though. If you haven't seen them, Target has their own YouTube channel and she is freakin hilarious. I totally want to buy a red spandex outfit with some red heels to wear when we go shopping and start doing crunches on the big red balls in front of the store while I do bicep curls with the handbaskets. You will only get how funny that is if you have seen the commercials.

Now, back to the shopping plan. And maybe some homework. See? "Important" distractions.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Is My Motivation?

I think the biggest thing that I struggle with right now is myself. I know what I need to do to achieve the goals that I have but I have a hard time keeping myself motivated on a daily basis and not procrastinating. In my microbiology class we get take home tests that are in the form of case studies. We usually have a week to do them and we have to do a certain amount of research to answer the questions. I have had the test since Monday and even though I know that I should have been working on it everyday, I managed to find excuses or allow myself to get distracted. In the past I allowed my willingness to allow myself to get distracted and my lack of motivation to be reason enough to quit whatever it was that I was doing.

The hardest thing for me to do is to stay motivated to finish things. In the beginning I'm great about it and I do everything I'm supposed to do, but then at some point other things become more important. Sometimes its my kids, sometimes its sleep (who really needs that though right? LOL!), sometimes its the "important" things like watching Oprah or Grey's Anatomy. I guess there will always be something that can distract me from my goals.

One of my biggest distractions right now is worrying about finances. Since my husband is the only one working and I'm not getting unemployment anymore, finances are kind of tight. We pay all of our bills and have not been late, but no matter how hard you try not to, you want the things you can't have or can't afford especially with the holidays coming up. It doesn't help that my husband has a job he hates but the reality of the situation is that he has to stay there unless something better comes along. In reality, we have enough money to pay all our bills and have a small cushion, but the temptation is always there to say:
"Forget school. Go back to work and then you can afford to buy crap you really don't need. On top of that you will have to pay daycare which will take at least half of your check, you will no longer get any assistance from the state and if you did want to go to school part-time, you would have to probably pay for it all out of pocket because you would make too much money to get financial aid. Then you can work some place you really hate for the rest of your life and always wish you had finished school. And by the way, when you tell your sons that they should finish what they start, they will tell you why should they when you didn't."
  I may have to print that out and read it everyday. That is my motivation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1st Grade Homework

My 6-year old son gets to use scissors, glue sticks and crayons for his homework. Sometimes I wish I got to use that stuff. It's so fun sometimes. LOL! He whines and complains that his homework is so hard and I'm asking him to do so much, but then he does it and he understands what he learned from it and he's happy about it. I guess its not much different than what we do as adults in college. As much as I sometimes complain about how much homework I have and how stressed out I am and how much sleep I'm not getting, I really love the stuff I'm learning about. I see value in it and it makes me want to continue to learn. I wonder if my son feels that way as he's learning in school. I hope that he does and one of the reasons I want so badly to succeed is so that he can have someone in his life who loves what they do in life. That is my biggest wish for my boys, to find what they are passionate about and love, and do that for a lifetime. They're happiness is so important to me. I still wish I got to use crayons and glue sticks and scissors more often for my homework though. LMAO!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

27 Hours a Day

I've been feeling freakin tired lately. So tired that I haven't been working out like I want to. A few months ago I had signed up to do a half marathon. I had to raise money and in return they would pay for the entry fee and the hotel room (it was in Vegas). They also had coaches that helped you train properly and group training sessions to give you support. I started a few weeks early because I wanted to see if my knee could take it (I have old basketball knees) and to see if I liked it. I absolutely loved it! I did it for the a couple of months, but then the fundraising became an issue because I simply didn't have the time. My schoolwork and my sanity were more important. I decided not to do the half marathon in Vegas but I am still considering doing one locally in January. I am trying to continue running 3-4 times a week but lately I have had so much school work and my husband and I only have one car so I am picking him up at 1 a.m. from work every night, that catching up on my sleep and keeping my grades up has been my priority. I still run once or twice a week but its just not enough. I was feeling so good when I was running. It was something I did for me and only me to make myself feel good and now I feel like I'm neglecting myself. We have one car right now because it is all we can afford since I am in school and not working so I absolutely feel responsible for picking up my husband. It's like I have to choose between being tired because I missed some sleep to go run or not feeling like a zombie because I caught up on some sleep but feeling like I'm not making myself a priority.

Isn't that the Mommy Dilemma? Trying to put yourself on your priority list but feeling like everything else and everyone else is more important. And then you feel guilty because you want to take some time for yourself. Logically I know that I need that time for myself, but sometimes, especially lately, everything else seems so much more important. If I only had 3 more hours a day, everything would be spectacular.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sometimes, they drive me crazy.

I love my little monsters with all my heart, but some days they truly drive me up the wall. My 3 year old has this habit of asking the same question over and over and over again even when I answer him or saying Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, etc. like 20 times!! I answer, but at times I find myself tuning him out without even trying. I think we all do that as moms. You kind of have to do it to maintain your sanity. LOL! No really.

I think sometimes we all just get tired from life though and we need a day to just do nothing but rest or everything our kids do irritates us. I used to feel guilty for having those days, but I found that I get so stuck in the Super Mommy role where I feel like I have to do everything and clean everything and get my whole to do list done in one day and study for school and go running and make dinner, should I go on? No really, I would get stuck feeling like I had to do all those things and never get tired. And then I would all of a sudden be totally exhausted and not understand why I was yelling at my kids and talking crazy to my husband. I try to take one day off a week and sleep in and just do nothing but I had to kind of gave up on sleeping in. Every single day that I try to sleep it is the day my 3 year old wants to wake up at 6:30 a.m. Every single time! It goes with the job though. I've conceded to that fact so I live off naps when I can and lots and LOTS of coffee.

They may drive me crazy some days, but they are outnumbered by the days that they make me smile. They really are pretty cool little people, even when they do everything in their power to make me crazy, I still smile when they give me hugs and kisses and especially when my 6 year old tells me I'm a good mommy and my 3 year old tells me he misses me (that's his way of saying he loves me). Little people are awesome.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Own Greatness

Sometimes I'm afraid that I can't do it. I honestly and truly think about what I want to do with my life everyday, and I feel that I can do it but I doubt myself all the time, everyday. I always wonder if I'm the only one that does that. Do successful people think like that? Or is it the people that don't achieve their dreams that think like that? Is it a trait that will push me to go further or push me to stop? It scares me a little bit because I've never reached the pinnacle of anything that I've ever started. I finished to a certain point, but I never reached my "full potential," what ever that may have been.

I played four years of college basketball, which most women do not get to do, but I didn't go on to play professionally. I could have but I chose not to. I found reasons not to do it. Or maybe they were excuses.  I technically went to college for 4 years but I don't have a degree. I started school 2 other times, but some how I managed to get pregnant both times and couldn't handle the stress of school, pregnancy and work. (That is definitely not going to happen this time. We took all necessary precautions. ;-))

I think that I am scared of my own greatness. I feel very deeply that God wants me to do great things when it comes to helping others. I think that scares me a little bit. I worry that its going to be just too hard. But then, I have a day like today where I get a quiz back and I got a 100% on it and I think "I didn't even study that hard and I did pretty damn good. What could I do if I applied myself totally and completely? Is that what I need to do to be a doctor? Can I do it or will I give up?" I think I've realized that failing scares me, but achieving my own greatness scares me even more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

This is new to me!

I don't know if anyone will actually be interested in what I have to say but I thought I would give it a shot because people keep telling me that what I have to say might touch someone else. Just a little bit about myself, I am 31 (I'll be 32 in 20 days; you just get older after 30, right?), I am married to the most wonderful man who supports whatever it is that makes me happy and I have two boys who just celebrated birthdays and are 3 and 6. I played college basketball but didn't get my college degree because most coaches don't really care about that. I met a fellow ball player and eventually got married. I call it my "practice" marriage so that when I married my current husband I already knew how to cook, how to clean and how to be with someone without losing myself. Somewhere between the practice marriage and the perfect marriage, I got pregnant with my oldest son. It was just him and I until he was 2 1/2 years old and we met my current husband. Times were tough when we were by ourselves. I worked in some jobs I thought I really liked but when it really came down to it I was doing what I needed to do to pay the bills. We had our second son and got married all in the same year. I lost my job almost a year later and I feel like it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I hated my job and my performance showed it. I got to spend real quality time with my little monsters. It was the first time I had really been able to do that. I looked for a job for a while but then I realized how much I would have to make in order to be able to pay for daycare for my boys. Nearly half of my check was going to daycare and I made pretty good money and I had pretty cheap daycare. It just didn't seem worth it. I started praying and asking God to give me signs as to what I was supposed to do with my life, what path I was supposed to be on. I asked him to give me signs that I couldn't ignore, that were very obvious. I started hearing these commercials every time I got into the care without fail about being a physical therapist assistant. I finally got enought courage to look up the information and go to the school. I was told that there was a 2 year waiting list to get in the program and another 2 years to complete the program. It seemed crazy to me that it would take 4 years minimum and it was just to get a certificate. My thoughts then turned to just going all the way and becoming a physical therapist. It would only take 2 more years and would be more of a challenge, which I liked. I found the information I needed online about what I needed to do to get my doctorate in physical therapy, what bachelors' I needed to obtain and which schools were in-state that I could attend. I decided to get my bachelors in kinesiology at Arizona State University but start at a local community college to get myself ready after my 10 year layoff from school and to get some prerequisites out of the way. I started last spring (2010) and although I was intitially really nervous, I did really well and found some incredible instructors. I have found that the work that I did and the fact that I have reached a certain maturity level, make school a lot easier than I remember it the first time. I truly enjoy my classes and I can see the value that they have in what I plan on doing. I have found so much value in fact that I have found that although being a physical therapist could be really fulfilling, becoming a physician is where my heart is and really has been a lifelong dream that I let go of the first time I went to college.

I found that there are 2 osteopathic schools here in Arizona, which they did not have before, and getting in to one of them would allow me to not have to move my kids to another state and away from our family. If all else fails there is also UofA Medical School. I know it will be hard and I am a little bit scared but I can't go a day without thinking about the lives I could change being a doctor. The road will be long (probably 7 years between my bachelors, taking time to study for my MCAT and going to medical school) but I feel like it will be worth it not just for me, but for my kids as well. I want nothing more than for them to be "productive members of society" and become whatever their potential holds but I know it is almost impossible if they don't have role models to see doing the same thing. I guess I'll be talking about the ups and downs of being in school while trying to figure out how to be a good mommy, a good wife, a great student and still have time to be good to me. Maybe I've bitten off too much. We will have to wait and see.