Basketball Madness

January 19, 2014

My boys eat, sleep and breathe basketball, and I must say, from an observational standpoint, basketball is my favorite as well.  They both play on their school’s little league teams, and they are both quite talented, if I do say so myself.  This year has been bittersweet, as the youngest is on a fantastic team that has great chemistry together, and a fantastic coach.  They have defeated their opponents by margins in the double digits on most occasions and only suffered one loss.  That’s the sweet part.  The bitter part is the oldest has been on a team that is the polar opposite.  His team consists of one kid who never gives up the ball, my son, and 4 others that could care less if they are on the court or not.  They fight and argue constantly, their coach doesn’t want to coach, and their season ended yesterday with a record of 1-9, Sadly, their losses were never even close and yesterday’s final score was 52-12. 

Last week my youngest played a scrimmage game at a neighboring school in another district.  Upon entering their facility and paying $10 admission charges for the other 3 of us (Seriously, who changes admission for a 3rd grade scrimmage???) we found there was no seating.  Upon the request of several parents a set of disgusting bleachers was let out of a wall.  Obviously they weren’t cleaned after the previous use and there was clothing, water bottles, toys, and assorted trash consistent with an elementary school gym. (I realize that the last couple of sentences were very unnecessary, but I’m just setting the scene.  LOL)  We emerged victorious and once we were in the confines of our car my son said, “Mama, those boys were using the f-word, they were saying all the other bad words, and they called us the n-word”.  The last part strikes me as particularly ironic because our team is 8/9 causcasian-and although we do have one African-American player, he wasn’t there that night.  Their team on the other hand was 7/8 African-American.  Part of me is shocked and angered me that 3rd and 4th graders are allowed to use this language and no parent, coach, or referee bothers to correct their behavior.  The other part of me hopes that one day, one of them gets their own cooking show, and I can make some spending money by selling a tell all interview to People where I recount their use of racial slurs directed a team of innocent white boys decades before.  

My next basketball story is more sweet than disturbing/funny.  Yesterday my youngest’s team won the first game in our local tournament by a rather hefty margin, and played the second game later in the day.  The latter game was a better matchup, and was very physical with the score staying within a point or 2 for the majority of the time.  The crowd was full of nervous parents on the edge of their seats (as I mentioned before, our team is not accustomed to losing) and I daresay it was the most intense 3rd and 4th grade basketball game ever.   In the final 6 seconds our team was up by 1, with the other team having possession of the ball.  There was a scuffle, boys were on the floor, the opponent was calling for a time out and the referee closest was not hearing (or choosing not to hear).  The buzzer sounded and then one referee’s whistle blew.  The referees and coaches met in front of the scorers table.  The players on the court gathered near the coaches and officials, followed by the players on the bench.  Were they going to call a foul on one of our boys-which would allow the other team 2 shots and potentially victory or overtime?  Were they going to allow the time out our opponent was calling and put time back on the clock?  If so could the opponent set up and execute a play in which they score in less than 6 seconds and our tournament dreams are dashed?  All eyes were on the congregation at mid court, and we were all waiting anxiously for the outcome of the conversation.  Time stood still.  Eventually, my mothers eyes shifted elsewhere on the court, where an injured player for the opposing team lay hurt (remember when I said it was physical and there was scuffling in the last 6 seconds?).  He was out there all alone.  His injury unknown to his coach, team, and seemingly even to his parents, as they were all focused on what the officials determination would be.  My mom got my attention, and I was able to witness my son walk over to this young man, his “enemy” on the court, and talk to him and console him.  Eventually one of my son’s teammates noticed too, and together they helped the young man on to his feet, talking to him and patting him on the back.  Ignoring the discussion regarding the fate of the game, and their season, they went to the aid of another child in need while the rest of his own team and coaching staff was oblivious to the fact that he was laying on the court. Eventually the referees announced that no fouls occurred, there would be no time out, and the game was over with our team victorious by one point.  Hands were shook at mid court between both teams and coaches, and as we were walking out my son sought out the kids on the opposing team to tell them that they played a good game and try to lift their spirits.  At the end of the day, I was proud of my sons 6 points in that game, after all, without those points our season would be over, but I was even more proud of his sportsmanship.  In a world where trash talking permeates and profanities and racial slurs on the court are commonplace for 3rd graders, I am proud of my son for being a amazing example of how boys should act.  


Lunchtime Loser

September 13, 2012

One of my hobbies, okay, my only hobby, is couponing. Now, I know that people who don’t coupon really don’t care for people who do, but if you fall into the non-couponer category, please allow me to state my case. I do not get 7 cart loads of products for free, or for change, I just don’t pay near as much as you do. I do not clear shelves, I leave plenty for your shopping needs. I am not a hoarder. I do not have a 200 year supply of deodorant stored in my basement. I don’t even have a basement, but if I did it wouldn’t be filled with good stuff like that, it would be filled with useless crap, the way God intended. I use my couponing skill as a ministry to others. I have helped dozens of families over the last couple of years get back on their feet, a fact that I will very politely share with you if I catch you rolling your eyes at me when I’m checking out with my million coupons. If you are behind me in the checkout line and you only have a few items and I have a ton of coupons, I will let you in front of me. I’m nice like that. Don’t hate me because you pay for the stuff I get for free.
One of the million things I love about my new job is that I have an hour for lunch, which is perfect for grabbing a drive-thru bite and hitting a store for some couponing. I know that Wal Mart will price match competitors sales, and that I could save time and gas by just going there exclusively, but I don’t like to. My theory is, if a store if offering a special price on a product, the least I could do is purchase it from them. I try to follow this “rule” whenever I can. My thinking is if everyone goes to Wal Mart and does price matching, then those other stores that are offering the sale price are going to go out of business and then we will be at the mercy of Wal Mart’s pricing for everything. Not to mention that some stores double some of my coupons, and Wal Mart doesn’t double coupons. The few times I have tried to price match have not gone well, and they always find some loophole to avoid honoring their policy
Monday I went to one of the local grocery stores to pick up pop tarts that were on sale. I had found printable coupons for these that would make them 86 cents a box. I have kids, therefore I know this is a great price! This store also has a deli so I grabbed me some chicken strips for lunch, and was bummed to discover that they were out of every dipping sauce that I will eat, which is a rather large group. I got to the cash register and was informed that if my internet coupons don’t scan right away they won’t honor them. Anybody that knows internet coupons knows that they rarely scan at all. Of course, mine didn’t scan and I lost $2 on the transaction. The pop tarts were still a really good price, but it could have been better with my coupon. As I pulled out of the parking lot I couldn’t help but think that if I had price matched the pop tarts at Wal Mart they would have taken my internet coupon. As I bit into my, so cold they were inedible, chicken strips a few minutes later I wondered why I had even bothered patronizing that store at all. When I went into a convenience store for a drink and saw their deliciously hot chicken strips complete with dipping sauce for less than what I paid at the grocery store, I was kicking myself for my stupid store loyalty rule. To top off a craptastic lunch hour, my next stop was out of the high end ice cream that I had hoped to score for $1 before my coupon expired the next day.
Tuesday I spent all morning debating rather I should spend my lunch time picking up a few things and playing coupon fairy with some coupons that expired that day at Wal Mart, or use that time at one of my favorite drugstores doing my weekly couponing. Five minutes before leaving for lunch I opted for the later option, only to arrive at my destination and find that I had left my coupons at the office. Ugh! I left and went to the McDonalds drive thru for some chicken nuggets, a rare treat for me. I arrived back at my office with my lunch only to discover that the McDonalds employee that packaged my food couldn’t count and I was a few nuggets short of a meal. On the plus side, they remembered the dipping sauce!

I think, given my track record, I should eat my lunch in the office as often as possible!

The New Me!

September 13, 2012

The last time I posted, a “real” post, nearly a year ago; it was to inform the world of my impending unemployment. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I got to keep my job, which one would think would be a good thing. Not so much in my case. I could go into a lot of detail. Heck, I typed 3 pages of “detail” and was nowhere near done saying what I wanted to say. So I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version.
When I accepted “that” job nearly 5 years ago, I thought it was the answer to prayers. As it turns out it was the devil in disguise, with the disguise being a big fat dollar sign. Most weeks I worked 6 days. I always worked on Saturdays. I could never get off when I wanted or needed to and I missed a lot on the home front. Even when I was home, I wasn’t home. I was too tired to really be there. My house was a wreck, my family was a wreck, and I wasn’t really happy, even though I convinced myself that I was. I made a lot of money, but I paid a high price for it.
The last straw came when I was transferred to another office last March with 2 days notice. Transferring to this office would more than double my daily commute, costing me a lot more just to get to work, and it wasn’t a good work environment. I was told that they didn’t need me at my original office anymore, and I didn’t have a choice. Word to the wise, there is always another choice! I began searching frantically for another position, even before I started working at my new location, and my union steward began fighting for my job to stay where it was.
My first day at the new place was a Saturday, naturally. Friday night’s sleep was hard to find, as I was sick at the thought of having to work go to work at a new place. I awoke that morning and with sleep still in my eyes I caught the reflection of my wrist in the bathroom mirror. The thought that went through my head still scares me, although it served as a very effective wake up call. “You could get out of this whole thing by slitting your wrist right there”.
That thought scared me, it still does. I cried all day every time I would think about it going through my head. Not because I was scared that I would do it, but from the shame of letting something and someone have that much power over me. It took a while before I even shared that with anyone, and until now only my sister knew.
My unhappiness intensified over the next few weeks, as I was constantly harped on by my new management team for not being fast enough. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the fastest, not by a long shot, but I’m good at what I do. My speed had been good enough for 5 years at several other offices. I finally had to resort to skipping my breaks and taking an abbreviated lunch just to keep them off my back, and some days that wasn’t even enough.
To make matters worse, there was a lot of sickness at my old office, and I was only getting 2 days a week at my new one. Therefore, I had to help them 4 days a week. It wasn’t pleasant being miserable with your circumstances then having to go help the very people that put you in the situation to begin with. It was ironic that they “didn’t need me” but yet I worked there every single day I was available, and on the days I wasn’t available, the brought people in from other offices. Still yet, a bad day at my original office beat the heck out of a good day at the new one. Also, the amount of hours I worked there were evidence of the fact that they did indeed need me. Myself, as well as the people working to get me reinstated at that office kept meticulous records of every minute I spent on the clock there.
Most weeks I worked a 2 days at my new home office, and 4 at my original one. Some weeks I had to cover for vacations at my new office, and work there exclusively for a week or two. Naturally that was when I reached my lowest points. I spent my own vacation applying for other jobs. I had excellent connections at one place and applied for a clerical position there. I knew the pay would be less, but I had 10 years experience and a business degree that I might as well put to use. After a month of not hearing anything, I had all but given up, especially when my connection informed me that someone internal had applied for the position. I had a few other nibbles, all of which I didn’t even pursue once I found out the starting salaries. I was really discouraged with the whole situation, to say the least!
During all of this, my friend and union steward was going through the lengthy process of appeals to get me moved back to my original office. Given my track record I was incredibly shocked one morning to be told that following an upcoming 2 week stint at my new office, I would be moving back “home”! Permanently! Not only that, my moving was unfair, and they would have to pay me mileage for every day that I worked at the office I had been transferred to! The frown I had been wearing for the last 3 months turned into a smile that wouldn’t go away. I resisted the urge to shout, “Winning” a la Charlie Sheen.
Near the end of my final 2 week stint at the other office I received a phone call one afternoon around 2:30 from the place where I had the connections, asking me to come in for an interview at 5:15 that evening. I don’t feel comfortable saying where I was working, but I worked outside, all day, everyday, and it was July 5th, and it had been approximately 7,800 Farenheight that day. I was disgusting, to say the least, and I wouldn’t get off work until after 4:30 and I was about 30 minutes away from where the interview was. I tried to talk them into letting me reschedule, but they insisted that they wanted to see me, and they wanted to do it as early as possible. I warned them that I would stink, and they laughed and said they would sit across the room if need be!
So, a few hours after getting a call I went in for a job interview smelling like sweat and dirt, in a dingy uniform, with my hair thrown in a messy ponytail. Not ideal interviewing conditions for anyone, let along someone whose self esteem was in the gutter. I was very self conscious, but the interviewers put me at ease quickly, and made sure I had plenty of water to drink. Following the interview I had to complete a series of “tests” to check my computer skills and abilities. The interview and testing process took over an hour and I was ready to go home!
Once I got home, I told my husband about the interview. He asked if I thought I might have it, and I honestly had no idea. I had prayed and prayed for something new to come my way. I knew God was in control, but I couldn’t understand why he would let me suffer for so long. With my degree and experience I would be making a manageable salary. I would have paid health insurance, vacation, holidays, sick leave, and retirement. I never had all of those provided for me by my employer, and having been without those luxuries that most people take for granted; I definitely knew how valuable they were. Most importantly, the type of organization offers job security second to none. Out of everything I had applied for, this was the first position I could really see myself doing. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I had done the best that I could, and the rest would be up to fate.
I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. My interview ended at approximately 6:30 pm, and I knew there were other candidates in the office when I was there. By 7:30 they were calling me to offer me the position! They wanted me to start immediately, but I requested they let me give my present employer a 1 week notice. Looking back, I have no idea WHY I offered my previous employer that courtesy. It’s not like they had shown me any respect in the 4 plus years I had been working my tail off for them. That’s just how God made me, too nice sometimes, not nice enough at other times.
I spent the next week in complete shock and amazement at how a person’s life can completely change in a matter of hours. Suddenly, a world of opportunities was open to me, and to us, as a family. Things we couldn’t do before, due to time constraints and work schedules, were now options. It’s a great feeling to know that you will never miss another of your son’s ballgames, or karate belt ceremonies, or that you won’t have to plan his birthday parties on Sundays anymore! It’s nice to know that you will have 3 day weekends, for the first time in your life, and that every day you will get off work at a decent time. My first weekend off we went with our church group on a trip to Saint Louis, a luxury we had previously been denied.
It’s not all rainbows and sunshine though. 2 weeks after I started my new job, my son got terribly sick. After nearly 2 weeks in 2 hospitals (one 2 hours away), it was determined that he had HSP. It made me sick that I was taking so much time off from a job that I had just started, and at the time of year when they needed me the most. My supervisors were amazing about the whole thing, calling to check on us and praying for us regularly. My new co-workers picked up my slack in such a way that I knew I had made the right decision.
Another bummer, my new job only pays monthly, and because of the way the pay periods run I would have to wait 6 weeks before I got a check. Couple this with a week at an out of town hospital and it can get difficult. Unless of course God puts wonderful people in your life, some of them strangers, to meet your needs! As for the needs on the home front, they were provided by that payment for all my back mileage that I mentioned earlier!
Looking back I now know why I had to go through every trial and tribulation that I did. I wanted relief from my work environment, and I couldn’t understand why God would let me hurt so much. It all makes perfect sense to me now. With my old job I didn’t have sick leave. I would not have been able to get off work when my son was sick, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have gotten paid for the time off. At my present job your sick days for the year are given to you on day one. Although I hated to use a week’s worth of sick days on my first check, it was such a blessing that they were available to me. Being sent to the other office at my old job provided me the kick in the pants to start looking for better options, and it provided me with income (through the back pay for mileage) during a time that would have been financially difficult otherwise. Finding out that I would be transferred back to my previous office before I made the decision to change jobs, provided me with a clear conscious with no regrets. I was able to make an informed decision about my future. I can’t say, “If I would have known that maybe I wouldn’t have taken the new position”.
Most importantly, and as cliché as it might sound, the experience has made my family appreciate each other in a way that we didn’t before. Missing out on so much for so long has made me happy about getting to experience the little things. The things that others take for granted, such as taking in your sons football game, spending a lazy Saturday afternoon watching movies, or going on a church trip, now have new meaning for us. Things people may despise, such as spending a Saturday morning cleaning house, running errands for your grandparents, or having a yard sale, I find myself so incredibly happy to be doing. I’m not happy because I like cleaning (okay, maybe a little), I’m happy to have Saturdays free to do it, and to know that if I get it all done on Saturday that we can relax on Sunday. Before, I would work so hard on Sunday just to get things ready for the week, that I felt like I needed a vacation.
My boys and husband tell me every Saturday, and sometimes on the other days, that they are so happy to have me with them, and I couldn’t agree more. I’ll leave you with a smile on my face and one word:

Its like rain on your wedding day

or the free ride when you’ve already paid

or the good advice that you just didn’t take

or finding out your losing your job the day after you husband starts a permanent job for the first time in nearly a year.

Yep, that’s where we are folks.  It came as a huge surprise.  I have one week left at the job I thought I would retire from.  The job I poured my heart and soul into.  The one I went to while my child was hospitalized, the one I went to the day my grandma died, the one I went to one cold December morning when I was puking my guts out.  The one I missed countless ballgames, parent teacher conferences and various other child-related activities for. 

Being as I’m the only one losing my job (another story entirely), it feels like I’m going to my own week long wake.  The past 2 days have dragged on and on forever.  Even though I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, I’m SOOOO ready for next Friday to be over with.   And although I’m depressed about it, I think it will all work out for the best.  After the initial shock wore off, I started viewing this as an opportunity rather than a setback.  With approved unemployment benefits I can draw a check to stay home with my kids, and make up for all the time that I’ve lost.  And even though I know I’ll have to eventually take a job making far less than I was making, it’s also an opportunity for God to open another door for me.  Perhaps a door that offers weekends off, health insurance, and a retirement plan, which are all things I have never had. 

I’ll be quite honest, this new happy, glass half full, attitude is due in part to the fact that a mere 2 hours after submitting one resume online, I got a nibble!   Wish me luck!

Hello, I’m alyson, and I have a poorly neglected blog.  I think about updating this blog all the time, even write posts in my head, but I never manage to type them.  As I type this one, a doctor I met for 5 minutes last month is holding my husband’s life in my hands.  I’m trying really hard not to be afraid, I’ve been very receptive to all the signs God has sent my way.  There was Bon Jovi on the radio as we pulled out of the driveway, and another of my mothers favorite obscure songs on the sound system at last night’s restaurant.   This morning in the waiting room there is a former local newscaster from my hometown on the television, and a very friendly couple from a neighboring home county sitting next to me, having their own private conversation about the little hole in the wall restaurant where I worked for 2 years.  All of these things are making me more comfortable, but I’m still a little afraid.   So, I’m taking my nervous energy to the blogsphere.   

You may remember that my husband was out of work last year for 3 months.  He had a bulged disc, and our chiropractor (whom I trust with my life, btw) tried everything to avoid surgery.  In 3 months he was good as new and back at work.  3 months after going back to work he found himself back at square one.  This time she recommended surgery.  2 months later, we’re finally getting it.  From the best of the best.  Unfortunately, throughout this process J’s FMLA and sick leave was exhausted, and 6 weeks from now, when he is completely recovered, he will begin the process of searching for a new job.  I know I don’t have to tell you how bleak the job market is right now.  Especaially for a man nearing 50 years old.  Nor do I have to tell you how much it sucks paying for back surgery without insurance.    

We found out last week that we had to be checked into the hospital at 5:3o am.  There was much arguing last week about weather or not we would be getting a hotel room the night before.  I argued against, in the interest of saving money.  We found a wonderful compromise in our hospital literature called the “Hospitality House”.   We were referred there by our doctor, and it was decided that if we could get a $20 room, we would stay overnight.  The way it works is, you call at 1:00 on the day of your stay and see if they have any vacancy.  In the event they were full I had found several rooms on priceline under $40.  Of course, at that price, they weren’t anything nice, but I figured I could manage, after all, we would only be there  for 10 hours. 

We called at 1:00 and the hospitality house was full, but they offered to find us a discounted room in the area.  What the heck, I thought.  2 hours and a half dozen phone calls later they put us up here for $55!  The best available internet rate was $169.  This place was amazing!  I felt  like the country bumpkin that I am as I pointed and stood with my mouth agape, and grinned like a little kid as I rode up to the 18th floor on a glass elevator.  We explored the hotel, and I was amazed to see treadmills with built in televisions.   

As I stood at the window of our room, looking down 18 stories to the city lights below, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sadness for what could’ve been.  My dream, upon finishing college was to move here, to live among the hustle and bustle.  I was so ready to do it back then, but life happened.   I met J, and I could never ask him to be that far away from his kids.  So here we are, 10 years, 2 kids, and one fixer-upper in the country later.  Driving to the, “big city” only for special events and medical procedures that we don’t trust our fellow country bumpkins to perform.  And, with the exception of not bringing my camera to document the awesome room, there are no regrets.  NONE.  A statement that I’m sure will be echoed when we leave here this afternoon amid bumper to bumper traffic, and I ponder aloud, “Who in the hell would want to live HERE and fight this every day”!

My Absenteeism

March 29, 2008

There are a multitude of reasons/excuses for my sporadic posting as of late.  I feel I owe you, my readers, an explanation, you know, like when you missed school and you had to bring a note from your parents explaining why you were absent. 

Reason #1:  My grandma is dying.  Yeah, she’s been dying for a year now, but this time it’s for real (I think).  Every time the phone rings I am filled with both relief and dread, thinking it’s “the call”.  Honestly, it doesn’t hurt so much, because she’s been dying a slow death from Alzheimer’s for the last decade.  For the past couple of years she’s been a shell of a person, alive only in body.  Her mind and soul died years ago, but still, the inevitable is taking alot out of me.

Reason #2:  New job is killin’ me.  Laugh all you want, but I’ve worked 4 days straight, and chubbs here ain’t used to exerting that much physical labor.  After sitting behind a desk for the last 11 years, doing next to nothing, it’s taking a toll on me.  The last 2 days have been served in another office in a place I like to call, Hilltown, so nicknamed because of it’s mountainous terrain.  It’s been brutal.  When I get home I don’t feel like cooking, cleaning, or being a mommy, much less blogging. 

Reason #3:  My baby (the oldest) is registering for Kindergarten Monday.  Not much of a reason or an excuse, just something that’s been bothering me, as I am not going to be able to take him to registration due to work.   It really saddens me that I’m going to have to miss it, but I didn’t feel right about asking off this early in my tenure.

So, there you have it.  I’m just plain worn out from life.  Good thing I have this to look forward to soon.