Thursday, September 10, 2009

What I'm doing

Hello to you if you found my blog through Facebook. I go back and forth about how public I want to be with my opinions and writing and right now "more public" is on an upswing, based a lot on the experiences I've had with comments re: President Obama's speech to the kids and before that the idea of basic healthcare being available to everyone, inexpensively.

I have been at home, collecting unemployment (which yes, the IRS defines as unearned, but taxable, income) since December 1, 2008. I've been diligently job searching: job boards, recruiters, networking activities, etc., but I have not yet been offered a position that comes anywhere close to my previous pay or even to the weekly unemployment check - I'm at the state maximum and that's about a third of what I was making before. So, since there is no incentive to go get a minimum wage job until some time in mid-October when the stimulus unemployment benefits run out (I am an example of that being useful - both the income and the significantly reduced COBRA prices), I have been working mostly at home on the aforementioned job search and other personal projects.

I've been doing some bookkeeping for a few small clients (note to GA DOL: I haven't been working for pay; I'll start getting paid when the unemployment runs out). I'm now taking the H&R Block tax course and its attendant homework. I'm closely monitoring the homework and grades of my children.

I've been working on the neverending process of getting my house to a more minimalist condition. (Hold on: I had to stop to laugh out loud. I have a pre-teen, a teen and a husband with extensive collections of media. It's a dream, but a persistent one.) I'm trying to manage my household, laundry and dishes never end, and my health, which has been a little turbulent this summer and fall. I've been writing, but not enough, although here you are witness to some more progress.

Lately, I've been reading, which is really the best part of this whole deal. I had been feeling so guilty about not getting a job that I didn't read much for the first six months or so after I got laid off. This summer, I finally got over that. I've got a ton of time in my day, way more than the conventional working eight hours, now that I don't commute anywhere or take a lunch break. Even after I do every possible thing in the above activities, there are still large expanses of free time in my week. I've started reading or re-reading the books in my collection to see if I want to keep them or sell or donate them. I've been reading suggested books out of the library, too, mainly that I find suggested on the several blogs I follow. I'm afraid I may not get a chance like this again and I'm trying to exploit it for all it's worth.

~Noelle

Friday, September 04, 2009

Letter to Editor re: Obama's speech on 9/8

I am MAD! Following is an email I sent to the Cobb County School Commissioner and the principal of my childrens' middle school, then on to the editorial page of the Atlanta Journal-Constition - my first letter to the editor EVER.

Dear Dr. Sanderson and Principal:

I am the parent of two children at a middle school in Cobb County.

I writing to express my extreme disappointment that my children will not get to participate in the live, national broadcast of President Obama's speech to school children next week. Their opportunity to hear the speech in school, with their peers and teachers available for discussion, seems to me an excellent chance for our children to participate in civil, public discourse as practice for one day becoming responsible citizens of our country.

Based on the rhetoric flying around the social media sites, I believe this decision was based on a few loud, panicked parents who somehow got the idea that this was going to be an "indoctrination" message from the White House. Unless you know of some new technology to make children behave (and if so, can I use it to get additional help around the house?) and/or influence their parents' behavior, this is clearly a lot of sound and fury about what should be a special event that brings all Americans together for discussion. Instead, it has become some sort of "mental safety" issue and completely without merit.

This level of irrational rhetoric did not surround any of the Inaugurations that my children watched in school in previous years, nor national addresses from Presidents Bush and Reagan in the past. When 9/11 happened, the children watched or discussed this issue in school as well - as appropriate to their ages - and there was no question about "opting out" about discussing this important event.

Will this be a new trend, that if a small, vocal group does not want their children to hear about a period of our national history, or some aspect of math or language arts, that the parents can "opt out" of it for their children? The answer is, yes, they can choose not to participate in the public schools by making other arrangements for schooling. For the rest of us, who participate in the schools by sending our children to the schools and participating as parents and citizens of Cobb County, this is a failure of leadership and thoughtful consideration for the education and welfare of all our children.

~Noelle Davis

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Giving the kids some space

I posted this as a comment over on Becoming Minimalist and, since it was a pretty long comment, I decided it could become my own blog post. Of course, I've edited it a little, because the writing is never finished. :~)

My kids are 13 and 11 and I've purged their rooms about once a year for their lives to date, including twice for moves where I've gotten rid of multiple Hefty bags of stuff. Amazingly, stuff keeps accumulating.

I recently read a quote somewhere about letting kids have some freedom of expression in how they live, including a messy space if they want it, so this year I've decided to let them live in their own space with these caveats:

1. No food in bedrooms. Also, no old food wrappers that were left in pockets. If bugs might like it, it cannot come upstairs.

2. I only do laundry that is in hampers (I will *not* pick things up off the floor or go searching for dirty clothes). So, if you want it for school, get it in a hamper or wash it yourself.

The fact that I still do their laundry is mighty nice, I know, although I didn't start doing most of my laundry until college (thanks, Mom). This niceness may end if I get back to work full time.

3. The floor must be *completely* clear once every two weeks for the cleaning lady so she can vacuum, dust and make beds. I don't care where it goes, but the stuff has to be hidden. :~)

I tried living without Patricia for a few months, but I find I just do not have the physical ability (ask me sometime about my early menopause and my lousy back) to do serious housework anymore. Serious planning went into making budget room for her. After Scott, she is the number one person I want to make happy.

4. I just remembered another: Homework is done downstairs in the common area so that I can monitor it being done and watch it go back into backpacks, which also live downstairs. This will probably work as both are in middle school now, plus they both prefer to have company while doing almost *everything*.

To implement the above, I went through and cleared all the floors in their rooms by putting everything in clear bins and stacking them up in the closet and around the edge of the rooms. I offered to help them sort any time they want, but I warned them that my style is to toss A LOT a la Peter Walsh, so no one has taken me up on this offer yet.

I don't know yet how this social experiment is going to work. It's been almost two weeks and I have to just close the doors to their rooms (especially the girl with clothes EVERYWHERE) to avoid looking at the mess. I didn’t come to a simplified life until my late 20’s and minimalism until my late 30’s, so it may take a while until they drink the kool aid with me.