Posted by: Nancy | November 21, 2007

If you like Lost, You’ll LOVE Jericho

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If you’re a Lost fan like me, waiting for February is driving you nuts.    Part of me feels irritated that they would do this (again) and wants to stop watching it to punish them.   But to be honest, I’d be the only one getting hurt because I can’t stand the idea of not knowing what’s going to happen on that dang show.   So I’m waiting. 

But while I’ve been waiting, I’ve discovered the CBS show Jericho.  I read about it first on FiddleDeeDee’s blog, It Could’a Been Worse.  You can read her entry by clicking HERE

I really couldn’t say it much better than she did, except to say that you HAVE to see this show.  It’s easily just as good as Lost.  Maybe even better. (Oh yes.  I said it.) 

If you go to Jericho’s website, you can watch the entire season on CBS.com’s handy-dandy full episode player.  

Jericho.  It works for me!  

For more Works for Me Wednesday Tips, visit Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | October 31, 2007

WFMW – Make a little money writing

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A writer friend told me about a site called Associated Content a few weeks ago. 

Associated Content is a great place for anyone who likes to write (like bloggers!).   It’s better than PayPerPost because you don’t need to bid or write about what the advertisers want you to write about.  You get to decide what your subject is, how long your article is going to be and when you want to write it. 

This is the way it works – write an article about just about anything and then submit it.   If your article is accepted, they pay you a small amount of money and put it up on the Associated Content site. 

So far, I’ve submitted three articles.  I got $12 for the first one, $4 for the second and $3 for the third. 

It’s not much money, but we’re pinching pennies pretty hard around here, so $19 makes a difference.  And I’ve got to say that it’s a great feeling to make some money doing something I love to do. 

I hope to see some of my favorite bloggers on Associated Content soon! 

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | October 29, 2007

Keeping Memories

I feel so lucky to be writing to make money.  But after a big project this month, that I finished three days early, I’m tired. 

For this month I wrote 50 articles on home organization and time management.   Which, if you know me at all, is hilarious.  Apparently, I know everything there is to know about home organization and time management – enough that someone paid me to write over 25,000 words on the subject.  

But, as my house falls in around my ears, I’m wondering what exactly my problem is. 

I think that it comes down to a couple of things. I’m the type of person who lives in my brain.  I love to research, write and read.   I’m an occasional do-er, but I have to be in the mood.   I’m also very sentimental.  I still have the outfit I wore when I met my husband, and the t-shirt I was wearing when I went into labor with my daughter.   Add on top of that the fact that both of my sentimental parents have already passed away AND I’m an only child.   So now I’ve got all of their stuff. 

I really never had a chance to be anything other than a packrat. 

As I’ve grown through my adulthood, and my kids are now 3 and 5, I came to realize that a lot of the stuff my mom had kept for me and her future grandchildren were really things she kept for herself.  The things in her boxes are her memories, not mine.  I have no memory of why some of the things she had were put in a box.  Others I remember vividly, either by being there myself, or by listening to her stories.  For many years, I kept all the things she loved simply because she loved them.   In the 14 years that have passed since she died, however, I’ve let go of a lot of things.  What used to be over a dozen boxes have slowly been whittled down to four or five.  If I tried to do that right after she passed away, it would have torn me apart.  But as the years went by, it was a natural and comfortable thing to do. 

I also kept a lot of stuff from my childhood.  A lot.  I thought that when I had kids that it would be cool to play with them with the same exact toys I played with, reading the same exact books my mom read to me.   But when I sat and read a book from my childhood that hadn’t been opened since the last time my mom read it to me, the pictures and the words combined to completely overwhelm me.  All of a sudden I missed my mom so bad I could hardly take it.   The echo in my memory of my mom’s voice combining with mine as I read to my daughter was so hard to hear.  I realized then that I kept those things because of my memories and because I loved them.  So I pulled aside one box of my favorite memories from my childhood and gave the rest to charity.  These are the books and toys that have memories behind them.  Memories that I can share with my kids so they might know something more about me than just being their mom. 

Now that the sentimental things from my kids are being added to all of that family history, it makes me wonder what I should keep of their’s.  Now, I know for sure I’m keeping way too many of my kids clothes that they’ve grown out of.  It’s ridiculous really.  But they were just so darn sweet.  Taking their favorite shirt or dress out of the dryer for the last time, knowing that they will never wear it again just makes my heart ache.   So rather than put it in a bag for Goodwill, I fold it and put it in a storage box. 

Another of my issues with keeping things is that I’m very tactile.  Museums are never really satisfying for me because if I were to have my wish, I’d be able to touch the fine ridges of the brushstrokes that dried there after the artist lifted his brush, considering his work to be done.   Just being able to see a painting or a sculpture in person is really no more exciting to me than seeing a photograph of it.   To be truly happy, I have to touch it or hold it in my hands. 

When I hear about different tricks on how to cut down on your sentimental clutter, such as taking a picture of something and then giving the actual item away, I  just can’t do it.  I can’t.   Without being able to hold it and turn it around in my hands, I might as well not have it because I would feel as if I had lost it.  

I need to get rid of some things though.  I don’t want to have things that are just miscellaneous stuff to crowd out my kids’ space or make the things that are truly special seem like just another box of stuff.  

I’m taking my own advice and starting on my own organization and consolidation project this week.   My goal, now that my kids are old enough not to completely destroy things, is to begin to display the things that are truly special to me, and start to let the things that don’t really matter so much go.   I want the things that are important to me to become part of the surroundings of their childhoods.   Even if they don’t have the same memories as I do about them, they will remember them in their own ways. 

Posted by: Nancy | September 12, 2007

Life can take some interesting turns…

We’ve been having really bad money problems this year.   It’s gotten to the point where I need to go back to work or we truly aren’t going to make it.   

I used to be a medical transcriptionist, and could easily go back to that at any time.  But as I started moving forward with doing that, something was pulling at me.  It just didn’t feel right.  I thought at first that I was just dragging my feet because I just didn’t want to do it.   So I kept praying and slowly moving forward with it. 

I decided to see what was out there as far as making money with my blog.  I looked into doing Payperpost, advertising, etc.  I know it is controversial to make money with your blog, but the truth is even a couple hundred dollars a month for us will make the difference between being able to scrape through another month or getting our house foreclosed on.  So it’s gotten about as real as it can get around here.  Controversy or not, we need the money. 

I was all ready to do it.  But I hit a roadblock – wordpress.com (unlike wordpress.org) does not allow any money-making on the blogs they host.   I could easily move it to wordpress.org IF I find somewhere else to host it, such as a hosting service or put it on one of the servers my husband has at the house. 

I really didn’t want to make even more work for my husband – he’s an IT guy and he’s already up to his eyeballs in work as it is.  I also didn’t want to spend the money to pay for a hosting service and still have my husband possibly have to do more work to keep my site up and running.   I planned to talk to him about it to see if it was something he was willing to help me on, and then there were layoffs at his work.  He made it through, but it was really stressful for him.  So I kept needing to put it off. 

It was at that point that someone who belongs to a message board I go to put up a note saying that she was up against a deadline on some small informational articles she needed to write.  She asked if anyone would be willing to give it a shot and do some ghostwriting for her.   She was able to pay a small amount of money to anyone who wanted to help.  She pays via Paypal and would pay half the money as a deposit, and half when the article was complete.  I jumped at the chance. 

 So, I’m a writer now.  For actual money.  It’s not much money, but enough to make a difference.  I’ve made $40 so far, and have a project that I’m working on for her for another $60.  That’s $100 in two weeks.  At this rate, I will probably be able to make that $200 a month that will make such a big difference for us.   

She has also been great enough to let me know how she got started and given me some ideas on how I can get clients of my own.  I’m really enjoying the work.  It turns out I’m pretty good at it too.  As I learn more about how this all works, I’ll post about it. 

Even if I only ever make this $100 and nothing more for the rest of my life, I can always say that I am a writer.  That means so much to me.  If it weren’t for our financial situation, it would mean more to me than the money. 

 Sometimes you know God is there with you and you lean on Him all the time and feel His strength holding you up, but He just has been quiet for a while.  Then all of a sudden – Boom!   It’s like He waves His hand and your life is suddenly completely different. 

 Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 30, 2007

Kindergarten pressure

My 5yo daughter has been in Kindergarten for two and a half weeks.  It has not been easy.   I am stunned at how much pressure is put on these kids from the minute they start the first day.  Writing has to be in the right form.  My daughter knew how to write her name, but she wasn’t using the D’Nalian (sp?) alphabet, so it wasn’t right and they made her do it over.  It got to the point where she was refusing to even try.  And this was the third day of kindergarten.   When I had her practice before school on the fourth day, she burst into tears.   She was just so frustrated. 

Now we’re hearing that she’s “inattentive”.   I don’t buy it.  I think they are putting too much pressure on her and now she’s withdrawing from it. 

I was thinking that maybe it was just her.  Maybe she’s just not ready.  I had no idea kindergarten was going to be this academic.  I thought it started out easy and worked up to academic.  But not this.  This is how I remember first grade being. 

 So I started to do some looking online to see if any other parents were feeling like there was too much pressure on their child.  I was about ready to go toe-to-toe with those teachers. 

 Apparently, it’s not the teachers.  It’s a nationwide situation, and has been for a while.   Here is some interesting reading. 

  Kindergarten or Kindergrind?  – 2005 – CBSNews

 Pressure on Youngsters Starts in Kindergarten; Child Readiness an Issue - 2005 – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

 Preserving Kindergarten in a High Stakes Environment - 1999 – Harvard Education Letter

 The Misguided Trend of Delaying Kindergarten - 2004 – The Seattle Times 

 So in many kindergarten classrooms, you’ve got kids who are 5, kids who are 6 and kids who are still only 4 because they make the cutoff date, which is usually in December. 

  In my daughter’s class, there is one girl who can write and spell as well as I did in second grade.  She writes whole papers worth of stuff.   I saw two whole pages.  I thought that she was just smart.   As tall as she is though, I wonder if she might be closer to 6 than 5. 

 When we bought this house one of the reasons we bought it was that the local public elementary school was one of the highest rated in the state. 

 Highest rated.   As in ratings.  As in tests.  So this kindergarten really is exactly the type of kindergarten that these articles are about. 

 I don’t know about this…

 Of course I want my daughter to do well in school, get a good education and go to college.  But not if this is the price. 

 I spent a lot of years thinking that I was going to homeschool.  I wanted my kids to be able to get ahead academically.  Most of the public schools where we grew up were mediocre at best.   The salutatorian of our high school class wasn’t able to handle college.  None of us got a good education, and very few went on to get a degree, although a few did.  There was a lot of “social advancement” and a lot of kids slipped through the cracks. 

 I wanted my kids to be able to come the end of their high school years with the choices that a good education brings you.   Whether they wanted to go straight into the job market or go to college, I wanted it to be their choice. 

 We’ve been lucky that in the places we’ve lived since we’ve been married, that the schools have had good reputations and good ratings.  So the idea of homeschool fell by the wayside.  According to all that we read, the schools were highly interested in academics.  Which was exactly what we wanted to hear. 

 I had no idea. 

 Now I’m wondering if I should start looking into homeschooling just so my daughter can get out of the pressure cooker. 

 I don’t know what I should do though.  Because if I do homeschooling, there’s no turning back.  If this is what kindergarten is now, I have no idea what first grade will be like.  I’m sure whatever homeschooling program I do would end up with her being “behind” as far as this school is concerned. 

 Part of me wonders if I should get some homeschool-type programs to do in addition to what they’re doing in kindergarten.  To get her up to speed with what they’re expecting of the kids. 

 But with all they’re expecting of them in a three hour day, my mommy instincts just want her to have fun and play.  I don’t want her to do more school. 

 I’m on the fence with a lot of stuff right now.  Do I go back to work and not be able to be available to my kids, especially my daughter right now?  Do I tighten up our budget even more and focus on getting her up to speed? 

 My husband had to repeat kindergarten.  His cousin’s son also had a hard time in Kindergarten and we just heard tonight that he isn’t doing well adjusting to a full day of first grade this year. 

 My husband says that maybe she’ll end up being held back too.  But if she’s really not ready, I’d rather pull her out sooner rather than later.  I don’t want to see her struggle and fail, struggle and fail, struggle and fail all year only to see her be told that she still didn’t do it well enough. 

 I never thought I’d be worried about all of this.  It’s not even September yet. 

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 29, 2007

Meme – Eight things about me

I was tagged by Gluten A Go Go for a meme.  I just need to tell eight things about myself. 

 1.  My husband and I dated off and on in high school, then went our seperate ways.  We met again at our 10-year high school reunion.  We’ve been together ever since. 

 2.  I wanted to be a mom of many.  I wanted four or five kids.  Then I got sick.  Once we figured out what was wrong with me and I started feeling better, I decided the two we have are enough.  Sometimes I still want more.  

 3.  I’ve been a Christian for almost three years.   I finally jumped, He caught me, and I’ve never looked back. 

4.   I worked crew on a movie.  Starring the guy from Airplane and the brunette woman from thirty-something.  The back of my head even got some screen time. 

5.  If there’s ever a cure for celiac, I’m diving headfirst into a bucket of KFC.  Then I’m not cooking for a month.  At least. 

6.  I have a 120-pound “labrador retriever”.   The vet says there is no way he’s just a lab. and he must be part something else.  We’re thinking horse. 

7.  I don’t have a permanent favorite color.  When we got married my favorite color was purple.   I’m coming out of an orange phase.  Not sure what I’d say my favorite color is now. 

8.  I love to sing.  I’m pretty good at it.  Not American Idol good.  Just not embarassing myself on karaoke night good.  I have absolutely NO stage presence whatsoever.  When I go to sing I look like someone forced me to do it.  Even though I’m enjoying myself immensely. 

Now I have to tag a couple blogs. 

 Christian Moms Alliance

Mrs. B

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 29, 2007

Middle Name Meme

I was tagged by Shannon at Christian Moms Alliance for a meme weeks ago.  I’ve got a couple other tags in line now too.   I got stumped on this one, but I’ve been pondering, so here goes. 

 Here are the rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
4. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog. 

My middle name is Renee: 

 R – Reasonably responsible.  I’ve just started being frugal after SO NOT being frugal.  At all.  So I couldn’t make myself just say Responsible.  But I’ve been doing really well with it, so I’ll claim to be reasonably responsible for now. 

 E – Entertaining.  In real life, I’m somewhat shy, but most people think I’m funny.  So I break the ice that way.   If I’m in a social situation and I can get a laugh, I feel much more comfortable.  My husband doesn’t think I’m funny at all.  Which I find hilarious.  

N – Nice.  Just being nice is so important.  If at the end of my life people remember me as being nice, I’d be happy.  Btw, nice does not equal being overly agreeable, apushover or wishy-washy.  It’s being respectful of another person’s opinions and feelings, whether you agree with them or not.

E –  Education.   I’m not much for book learnin’.  But I’m a big time information junkie. 

E – Essayist.  This E is sponsored by thesaurus.reference.com .   Blog entries are kind of like essays right? 

Now I have to tag one person for each letter of my middle name – DeeDee ,  SarahK, Mrs. Pear, SheltieGirl and Sandy

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 25, 2007

Going back to work!

I used to be a medical transcriptionist.  I did it for about five years.  I stopped in 2000 because I got married and my husband made enough for us to live on.  

 Now, his industry has taken a down-turn and things are getting cut back.   It will probably pick back up again in six months or a year, but it’s going to be nearly impossible to live on his income during that time. 

 My daughter is in Kindergarten now, and my son should be in preschool, but we can’t afford it.  If I can get some work, I’d be able to not only take up the slack in our budget, but we’d be able to afford to put our son in preschool too.   So that would be a few uninterupted hours of work that I could do. 

 I already checked with our city and it would be about $85 for me to get a business license. 

 I literally JUST gave away my transcribers (the tape player/footpedal machines) like six months ago.  Most places are using digital, but I’m almost positive that one of my old clients is still using tapes.  He was extremely resistant to change.  Still used Wordstar.  None of that new-fangled Wordperfect or Word for him.  Wordstar worked just fine.  Which was one of the reasons I worked for him.  I was willing to do the work how he wanted it done.  Most other MT’s would try to push him into using the newer stuff.   He may have updated, but I kinda doubt it.   Once I get my business license, that’s the first place I’m going to call.   If they need me and they’re still using tapes, I’ll get a tape transcriber first.  If not I’ll get a digital system first.  I can’t afford both right now. 

 Since I’m wanting to just do this to get us through the next year or so, I really just want to subcontract.  Which is helping MTs who have overflow work, or on sick days or during vacations.  If I had my own clients, I’d be stuck.  When I had my own clients, it was almost impossible for me to find enough reliable subcontractors for me to even take a single day off.   Even on the weekends.  I was always slammed with work.  

 So that’s what I’ve been researching and thinking about. 

 And f there’s anyone out there who does MT (or knows an overworked one) and needs a subcontractor, let me know.  

 Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 24, 2007

A case in point

As if I haven’t talked enough about this subject, I came across something this week that really underlines my advice that you have to read all labels and verify absolutely everything

Act II Movie Theater Butter Popcorn. 

 What types of food allergens would you think would be in popcorn? 

 Milk?  Of course.  Butter is in the dairy group.  It says butter right on the label.  That’s an easy one. 

 Eggs?  Hmmm…  Well, okay…  I guess maybe to make the flavor stick?  It’s probably something like that. 

How about fish?   Oh yes.  I said fish.   F-i-s-h.  Fish.  In popcorn.  Fish. 

I figured that this must have been a misprint, which I thought was hilarious.   I mean, what could be worse than fish listed as an allergen in popcorn? 

I decided to contact the manufacturer, ConAgra, to find out what the deal was – misprint?  Or just plain gross?  I received this nice reply from Rose -

 August 23, 2007Dear Nancy,

Your communication concerning our ACT II® Movie Theater Butter
Microwave Popcorn was most welcome.  We appreciate comments and questions from
our consumers.

The reason fish would be listed as an allergen would be that some of
the flavors we use contain fish gelatin

The only sure way to know whether or not a product contains a certain
ingredient is to check the carton ingredient list on the package.  From
time to time, products are reformulated and ingredients may change.

We appreciate your patronage and value our customers.  We hope you will
continue to enjoy our line of quality food.

Sincerely,
Rose
ConAgra Foods Consumer Affairs

So yea, there ya go…  As for what could be worse than fish being in popcorn?  Fish gelatin being in popcorn.  

I’m speechless.

Nancy

Posted by: Nancy | August 20, 2007

More on verifying gluten-free products

I totally forgot about the Delphi List.  I feel more than a little embarassed about that. 

The folks at the Celiac Disease Online Support Group put a lot of work into maintaining a very thorough and up-to-date gluten-free product list. 

Find it here.

I never got involved in the forum there, so I hadn’t really used the list much.  I did fine sticking to the Kraft/ConAgra/FritoLay/McCormick products and only rarely needed to verify anything else. 

So anyway… 

Go take a look.   I’ll be doing the same. 

 Nancy

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