Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What's So Great About the American Dream?

Due to my current job related anxieties (see my post here if you don't know what I'm talking about) I've been thinking a lot the past few days about paring down our lives.  I look around my house and I see so much stuff that I never use, never need, and never even think about.  And I spent my hard earned money on this junk.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars of our money over the course of our marriage.

Ok, so I'm probably the junk-buying culprit.  I know.  It's something I've been needing to work on.

At any rate, I need to stop spending money on stupid junk we don't need.  But it's the "American Dream," right?  To buy whatever we want that we don't need, whenever we want to.  I've totally bought into this way of thinking, and it's honestly brought nothing but problems.  I have bought stuff when we didn't have the extra money to buy it (I mean this is really going to be an ongoing battle.  I almost did it again this morning), I have bought stuff we didn't need just because I was feeling stressed out or depressed.  How much have I sabotaged our savings account?

Sometimes I think I don't want to know.

But with the very real possibility of a job change/pay cut coming down the pipes, I am re-evaluating.

The sad thing is that I have a really hard time deciding what is a luxury, and what is a necessity after years and years of just buying what I want, when I want it.  I look at our netflix bill and think "it's not even $10 a month, how much of a difference is that going to make?"  But we've been paying for Netflix for about 4 years now.  That's hundreds of dollars.  Netflix is not a necessity.  I mean, that's just one example, but really, I know there is so much more that we can cut out.  After all of these years though, it really is hard to decide what we really can't live without.

I just keep thinking to myself, why the heck have I bought into the lie that being able to buy whatever I want will make me happy?  I think this is the case a lot of time regardless of the cost to our savings account, our ability to pay bills, or stay out of debt.  What is wrong with me?

Now I'm sitting here in a house full of stuff, lots of it without a home or permanent place (re- a permanent mess), and I'm more anxious than I am happy.  Anxious that I have bills to pay, a baby to raise, and a house that is a complete mess.  And for what?  For STUFF?  

Oh man.  I just feel like there is so much that I need to change.  So much that I need to work on and so many priorities that I have got to switch around.  I need to be so much more grateful for what I have than I am, and I want to stop wishing for more and more in the way of material possessions.  I want to be done with the American dream.  I want what is real and intangible.

Smiles from my daughter

A relaxed day with my family

Home-cooked meals and no rushing around

Food in our bellies, a roof over our heads, and a healthy family.

Friends and a community of people around us that we can support, and will support us.

Faith that is real, vibrant, and alive

These are the things that matter, and this is what I want to focus on.

That's just my two cents worth.  =)

This -------> is what is important.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Battle for Family

Ok.  I've been silent for a while.  There's just been so much going on that this has had to take a back seat.  That's life, I suppose, right?  But I've got my knickers all up in a bunch, and I just have to let this out.

Our culture is messed up.  MESSED UP.  We have got our priorities so out of whack that it seems impossible that we can find our way back again.

So here's where I'm coming from.  I work for a big, huge, giant corporation.  They shall remain nameless.  If you know who I work for, please don't leave a comment with my company's name.  It could be bad for me.  Ok.  So the deal is that I went down to part time after Eisley was born.  There were lots of reasons for this.  I'd love to be able to be a stay at home mom.  That's where my heart is.  But like most families these days, this just isn't a possibility for us.  We need my income to survive.  That being said, I don't make enough to justify working full time and paying for day care.  It would eat up more than half of my income, take me away from my baby for much longer periods of time than I would like, and just not really make a whole lot of sense for our family.  Before going on my maternity leave I sat down with my managers and we agreed on a 4-day a week schedule.  It was great.  But I didn't get it in writing.

Everything was fine for a while.  The supervisor who was writing the schedules for the first three months that I was back is awesome, has kids of her own, and really cares about making sure people are able to work the shifts they need.  She was still always able to make sure there was good coverage.  Unfortunately we got a new assistant manager in my department about 2 months ago, and they had him start to write the schedule.  I know it's a lot to deal with, there are a lot of people's availabilities that you have to take into consideration.  But my issue became that they seemed to have decided that it didn't matter what people's availabilities were anymore.  They were just going to write the schedule however they wanted.  Every week became a battle to make sure that I wasn't scheduled at a time when I would have no child-care.  We don't have much family in town, and the family we do have isn't able to watch Eisley anymore, so our options are limited to friends from church for the most part.  It's really not do-able for me to have a schedule that is all over the place like I've had for the last 7 childless years at this company.

So now I've been told that "Childcare is not an availability issue" and that basically I'm just going to have to suck it up and find a daycare.  They want to schedule me whenever they darn well please.  They'll accommodate school schedules, other jobs that you had before you started at this company, and religious beliefs, but not a baby.


I can't even tell you how messed up I think that is.  I mean, really... my daughter is 8 months old.  She needs stability, and so do I.  I get it.  I work retail, and they need to run their business.  That's what they keep telling me.  Yup.  I know.  And I need to take care of my family.  You can hire more employees.  My daughter only has one mom.

Honestly, I feel like they are anti-family masquerading around as a company that is pro-family.  Maybe it's just the store I am currently at.  I don't know.  All I know is that it seems like this is just an opportunity for me to surrender my circumstances to the Lord and let Him move me where he wants me to be.  Because I'm thinking this job isn't it anymore.

The bummer (and real source of my anxiety) is that I get paid quite a lot where I work now, and our benefits are through me.  They are super affordable.  Finding a job that pays the same, and has similar perks will be impossible.  I'm sure we'll have to cut out the little luxuries that I've just come to accept as necessities (they're not).  Here's the crux of the matter, though.  I get one chance to be around as much as possible while Eisley is growing up.  ONE CHANCE.  There are no do-overs, no instant replays, no second chances.  So maybe we'll have to cancel Netflix, go down to one car, and sit in Starbucks drinking a short coffee when we need to get on the internet.  It will be inconvenient and sometimes frustrating I'm sure, but my daughter will grow up knowing that SHE is the priority in our lives, not convenience.  She will grow up feeling loved and protected, and she will know stability.

These are the things that I keep thinking about.  I don't know what God is trying to do in my life outside of asking me to put my faith and trust in him in a way that I really haven't had to do in quite some time.  It's hard, and painful, and it's certainly not coming easily to me right now.  I know that He has always worked things for good for us, and He has always provided for us what we need.  I know He always will.  I just need to have a little more faith in Him right now.

So I guess the hunt is on for a new job.  I want to use this as an opportunity to find something really rewarding, and something that is a step closer to the direction that I think my calling will one day take me.  Nick and I will sit down and look at our budget and see where we can cut a couple hundred dollars out here and there, and I'll look into ways to make some extra cash.

In the midst of all of this, however, I can't help but feel that this is just one tiny example of what is happening to our culture.  This slow but steady shift away from "family values" or even just "valuing family."  It's all work and play, and family suffers in it all.  I know there are pockets of people out there that are living proof that family can still come first, and I am lucky to live in a church community where that is a reality for so many... but the state of things at large is depressing.  I'm not sure when America's values shifted from "working to live" to "live to work," but the disconnect that it has caused is massive. The lack of empathy and humanity that has followed closely behind it does not bode well for us all, and it is especially worrisome for women and family.  When we place a higher value on the needs of those in college over the needs of those trying to provide for their children, while still being around enough to raise them... we have hit a dangerous shift in what we value and esteem.

I believe that family is vitally important.  Having parents that are not only around, but able to spend time together as a family unit regularly is so important to raising children that are well-adjusted, confident, and one day ready to run this country.  So I think it is time that we stand up and fight for what is important.

This is my battle right now.  I'm just praying I fight it the right way.  One thing I know is why I'm fighting it.

my little inspiration

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kiddy City'n Move Stroller Giveaway

A high quality, sturdy, and stylish stroller can be hard to come by. Today you don't have to look very far since we're giving one away! The German engineered Kiddy City 'N Move is everything a parent dreams of and now it is available to us in the U.S. 

The Kiddy City 'N Move is a full-feature stroller - not really an 'umbrella' stroller like you're used to. We are in love with the huge canopy that will shield your baby from sun-up to sun-down. An easy one-hand recline is great for infants and napping toddlers. The storage pocket and undercarriage basket have enough room for all the necessities and a little more. The umbrella fold is easy once you get the hang of it and it's compact. The harness, bumper bar, and adjustable footrest make the seat a very comfy place for baby. You can read the full review of the Kiddy City 'n Move Stroller over at Eco-Babyz and see a myriad of detailed photos as well as a 3 year old and 1 year old using it! 

Our Favorite Features: 
  • Modern, fun colors 
  • Huge, ridiculously generous canopy!
  • One hand recline
  • Self-locks when folding
  • Superior handling
  • Very sturdy, high quality construction
  • Comes with parent cup holder and car seat adapters
  • For kids up to 55 pounds
Purchase: The Kiddy City 'n Move retails for $219.99, but it is so new that it isn't even available to buy just yet! You will find it here on Amazon in the next couple of weeks. You may also check out the list of retailers (which will be updated soon) to see who carries one. 

Win One! Kiddy is blessing one of you with the Kiddy City 'n Move stroller in your choice of color: Phantom, Stone, Jaffa, Hawaii, Lavender, Cranberry, or Walnut (subject to availability).

Special thanks to Eco-Babyz and Our Kids Mom for hosting this giveaway. Huge thanks to the 76 participating bloggers as well! Giveaway ends November 13th at 12:01 am, open to US residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Thank you!

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this publication. I was sent a sample of the product for review purposes. Eco-Babyz, Our Kids Mom, and Kiddy City 'n Move Stroller Giveaway Event bloggers are not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.