Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's the PHONE, Mommy

What is it about picking up a receiver and putting it to your ear that signals "time for all hell to break loose?" Happens to kids...and now, I have proof that it happens to dogs, too! There must be some look in a parental eye that causes anxiety. A "lost in space" look that signifies that the parental figure is no longer paying the slightest attention to his/her surroundings. That inattention must STOP at once. You MUST pay attention to me. You must never NOT think of me.

Perhaps is the parental figure stops thinking about the child/dog, it means he/she will NEVER PAY ATTENTION AGAIN. This indubitably must be it.

Is there a solution that can provide peace and quiet for a phone conversation?

Step One: Make sure you have a cordless phone - either landline cordless or cell.

Step Two: Find a room you can go into and shut the door. (It really doesn't have to be the bathroom, ya know.)

Step Three: Find some noisemaking device you can turn on to drown out the sound of your voice while talking on the phone.

Step Four: Turn on said device (whether it is in the same room as you are or not) and adjust volume to cover voices, but not drown out your actual conversation.

Step Five: Enter room, shut door, and begin conversation.

It probably won't work for more than about ten minutes before either children start knocking or dogs start throwing themselves against the side of the door, but ten minutes is better than none! So, that's Step Six. Learn to condense all important talk to ten minute or less intervals.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sleep? Sleep? Where did you go???

Every night the fight starts at around 11:00 p.m. There's the "I'm going to go to bed early" speech, the "I need to change my schedule to something resembling everyone else's" speech, the "What am I going to take tonight to get to sleep?" question.

I've tried the valerian and melatonin pills, and I've tried the combo valerian/melatonin pills, and I've HEARD about the valerian/melatonin/l'tryptophan pills that cost six arms and two legs each. I found that wine actually makes me sleepy, but I am one of the unfortunate few (it seems like) who really doesn't like the taste of most alcohol, so I'm trying to find one that I can stomach a half glass of on a nightly basis. But, maybe I shouldn't because I'm not sure it combines with the medicines I routinely take. Half a glass doesn't sound like it would interfere with much, though.

The "unisom-like" pills that come in extra large boxes at Costco are good because they are supposed to be "non-addicting" and they do actually help me feel tired enough to shut my mind off. I don't want to get into a specific pattern, for fear of that syndrome where you take a medicine until the effect of taking it every day makes it not work anymore. So, sometimes I take a whole pill and sometimes just half. And sometimes I combine a half with an antihistamine, and sometimes I'll have half a pill and add a little Irish cream to a decaf coffee or even tea.

It's a dance every night (as I type this dancing at 12:19 a.m.), and it never, ever, ever, ever gets easy. Every day I try to forget that I even have an issue like this, and each night I have to remember over again.

When my sons were little, I was blessedly able to figure out how to nap during the day sometimes, and there was no option about getting up early. Once they figured out how to open their bedroom door, it was all over! Cheerios all over, to be exact. I have no idea how I did not hear them as they poured and crunched in every corner of the house except my bedroom....at 6:30 a.m. or so.

I had sort of heard about sleep becoming more of an issue as we age, but now that I'm in full swing with it, I don't know whether it will wane at some point, or get worse. I'm wondering if this is symptomatic of menopause, or if it's symptomatic AFTER menopause, as well. The hours after midnight aren't useful. I don't get anything done. I'm pretty much in a stupor in front of a tv, or computer monitor, or staring at a book, letting the words blur. So, they're not hours I can feel proud of, and since I'm not sleeping, either, I'm not doing much good for myself.

And let's not EVEN talk about how many nights, after I've finally found oblivion, I'm beginning to find my mind talking to me in the small hours, telling me to wake up at 5:00 a.m. or 6:15 a.m. after getting to sleep at 1:15 a.m. or 2:20 a.m. or 2:45 a.m. I'm starting to wonder if the next phase is that I'll need a glass of water at the ready and the pills all laid out for the next half of my night!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Teaching Your Kids About Money by FLIE.ORG

(Financial Literacy Is Essential (flie.org) is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the concept of personal financial literacy as a "right" rather than a privilege of "luck".)

Look, there are tons of different books to teach your kids about money from very early ages, like helping your five year old learn the difference between sizes of quarters and pennies, to articles about giving or not giving allowance, to books like mine: Money Sucks! Money Strategies for Real Life (www.moneysucksthebook.com), which deal with how to write a budget, balance a checkbook, and other basic personal finance tasks.

They each have unique characteristics for different ages and styles of understanding, but the main agreement is that we MUST teach our children these types of tasks. Our schools have not yet decided to universally prepare our children for the vital job of managing their finances so that they are successful and stay away from consequences horribly out of sync with how easy they are to bring on themselves.

Consequences can include losing a job, not being hired for a job - if your credit scores are low (even if the job has nothing to do with money), losing a place to live, losing the opportunity to get credit for even a junky car, all for doing simple things like forgetting to pay a bill or bouncing a few checks.

These consequences are WAY out of whack in proportion to the deed, if you will. There is no guarantee that our kids will be exposed to these concepts, in order to avoid them. This is more dangerous, in some ways, than getting pregnant, arguably because only Half the population can get pregnant and All the population can get into money trouble. (Yeah, that's maybe overstating it a bit, but not much.)

We're showing, in my opinion, exactly why these concepts are so crucial, because home buyers who didn't read contracts were vulnerable to being coerced by those who knew the home buyers were undereducated; because stock managers looked out only for themselves and the corporate bottom line, rather than the financial health of their industry and our country; myriad ways that an undereducated citizenry can be manipulated On Purpose for profit and greed.

If you are reading this post, then you are likely to be a parent that wants to teach her(his) children as many important concepts for life success as possible. So, maybe this is preaching to the choir. But while we're teaching our children how to eat in a healthy way, how to stay away from strangers, how to assert themselves, how to cherish their inner creativity, how to have good self-esteem, it's up to us, at this point, to teach them things our school districts are not guaranteed to even approach.

I have read articles from parents who are outraged at the idea that any school system should tell their children how to manage money, as if it's a personal area of family values. So many families don't talk about money in the home, don't share salary information, savings information, estate planning information. It's almost a worse topic than sex.

Paycheck cashing companies and rent-to-own stores conveniently says that they "only deal with adults" and adults can make the decision to pay 391% annual interest on a payday loan. Well, who taught those adults how to manage their money, in the first place?

Immigrants to this country, in the thousands and hundred thousands, come here not understanding the U.S. financial industry. They then depend on English-speaking resident "experts" who may actually be ready to fleece each and every new client who needs their advice, like people who fraudulently pose as immigration experts and green-card procurers, as one example. They get their understanding of how the system works by trial and error or finding an actual "good" person who helps rather than takes advantage of them. Again, luck.

Luck is not what I consider "good public policy." I believe our undereducated citizenry is now not prepared to succeed in the international boundary-less world we live in. I believe that our country is losing and has lost international power and prestige due to a planned, though not necessarily criminally-agreed-upon, set of circumstances in the financial services industry.

Let's change our "luck." Let's not make money an optionally-learned topic. Do you agree?