Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jacob Chants

Jacob has been following the protests in Wisconsin closely. He really does not like Governor Walker stating "he's being mean." Gov. Walker was speaking on tv during dinner last night when I heard Jacob begin chanting:

"Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Governor Walker YOU have got to go!"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why Is Wisconsin So Mad?

Wow! What a week! Not only did I get a new job but most of my co-workers and my supervisor are gone for good parts of the day. Where is everyone? Down at the Captial protesting one of the most hated governors in Wisconsin history. He's only been in office for about 45 days but has caused more protests and harm than we have seen in decades.

So why are we so mad? Well lets start with the first reason he likes to say. Money. It's NOT about the money. The state union (which I am not a part of) agreed to concessions last fall. Governor Walker asked the legislature not to accept the contract and concessions because he wanted to negotiate deeper cuts. Okay. No problem. The problem is he then never followed through and asked the unions for more. Actually, he refused to talk to them stating he wouldn't negotiate.

The biggest issue is that he is attempting to take collective bargaining away. He states he has to because unions never give up anything. Actually even without considering that the state union offered concessions last fall and has since stated they will give him what he's asked for in this bill, we can loook at other unions. Take a look at the public union I just left. They took a 5 percent pay cut two years ago. Last year they took a 3 percent pay cut. Then we can look at the public union I am in now. They also took a 5 percent pay cut two years ago and a 3 percent cut last year. This year they agreed to a contract with no pay raise and more contributions to their health care. That's what the county asked for and that's what we gave them. So between the concessions the unions have been taking and the promise that we will give more, I'm not sure why the Governor is after us so hard. We aren't the enemies. He is.

There are other troubling cuts that with only a week to look at the bill and no time for public input everyone is just suppose to accept. There are cuts to education, cuts to medical care for the state's most vulnerable children and decreases in other service areas. Now, maybe these cuts are necessary. I don't know. I would know but Gov. Walker won't tell us about them. He hasn't given anyone enough time to look at them.

So why are 40,000 people at the capital protesting and many more writing letters, signing petitions and calling the captial? Because our governor only cares about the rich and is willing to watch the poor and middle class suffer. He's says it's about helping unemployment but that's also not true. Unemployment has been going down for the past year without his help/harm and it shows signs of continuing to decline. More people are hiring and jobs are easier to find.

I am proud of my senators hanging out in Illinois. I hope they stay there until this governor realizes the people of Wisconsin aren't afraid of him and won't be bullied. We won't stop protesting until the governor is willing to not only listen but also show he cares more about us than the multimillionaires who put him in office. Right now his staff can't walk the halls of the capital. There are too many people. Schools are shut down not because teachers are worried about themselves but because they are worried about the education system's future. Social workers are spending vacation time and lunch breaks at the captial because they are worried about how this bill affects their clients. Law enforcement and fire fighters (two groups who endorsed him during the election but won't be next time and are currently exempted from this bill) have joined the fight because they are also worried about the state's future. I even watched a State Trooper handing out paper and pens asking people to continue to write.

Governor Walker, Polls show 58 percent of the people of Wisconsin do not like you after only 40 days. 66 percent do not approve of this bill. You say you want to represent the majority. Well, that's the majority. Wake up and act like a governor. Not a dictator.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And Our Lives Change Forever

Today is it. After over 13 years of working in private security or law enforcement, I am hanging up my handcuffs. I am done. My children will no longer be able to tell their friends, "My mom's a police officer." I will no longer have that identity. It feels like I am losing a part of me. Yet I also know that this time had to come and has been coming for a long time.

I have posted on here in the past when I have had problems at work or frustrations. I always try to be careful what I post as I don't believe in airing an employer's dirty laundry or complaining publicly about every slight I see. Yet there are problems in every job and every field. I just won't make this blog about all my perceived injustices.

Monday I start my new position. I will be a social worker in child protective services. It is going to be a change. There are parts of the job that are similar but many parts that are very different. I am looking forward to the change. I'm burned out at my current job. The passion is gone. I am excited to be facing a new job with new challenges. One I hope and believe I will really like.

My children now say their mom used to be a police officer. She used to take people to jail. She used to watch bad guys. They also now say their mom takes care of children who are hurt. She helps keep kids safe. Or at least that is what I will be trying to do. Helping children who have suffered maltreatment be safe. It won't be an easy job but it will be a rewarding job.

On Monday my children will no longer have to tell playmates they can't go to a party or come over to play because Mom is working. They won't have to miss soccer or baseball games because Mom can't get off work. They won't miss church performances because Mom had to work. I will be off on weekends to enjoy those things. I get to be mom every weekend and most evenings. I get to have a Monday through Friday job. It will be better for my kids. It will be better for me. It's just hard to say goodbye to an identity I have had for the past 13 years.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Lot Less Stress

Sometimes I am quiet because I am just so busy and overwhelmed that I really don't have time to write. It's not that I don't have a ton of things to say and nothing exciting to report. It's just that there isn't time.

That hasn't been the case over the past month. I really don't have anything to say (yes, I know those of you closer to me are amazed). I made a New Year's Resolution to slow down and work harder on reducing the amount of stress in my life. I found that most of the stress came from just being overwhelmed by trying to do too much and not actually in individual task. So I'm not pushing myself as hard to get everything done right away or to do as much. Mostly, I am just making sure I have more time to relax and allow our lives to have more of a routine feel.

About 4 weeks ago, I received the phone call I have been working towards for about five years for. I have heard that changing jobs and careers is a major event that many people find very stressful. I also know that worrying about it and stressing about it doesn't change anything and is actually counterproductive for me. It makes me cranky. So I decided not to worry about what bad things might happen and just allow myself to concentrate on the good changes I know will be coming.

The first thing I did after receiving the tentative job offer was to fill out time off request slips for my current job. I know that I will be able to transfer my vacation time but I also know that I won't want to take vacation for the first several months and I have to be there at least 3 days a week or it will extend my probationary period. So I requested all weekends except this coming Saturday off work. It's amazing how having weekends off has reduced my stress level. Two days a week with no day care, school or work. I have time to work on laundry, do fun things with the kids and just spend time relaxing.

The job offer itself has been a source of major stress reduction. To have a job offer, a starting date and know that at least this goal has materialized has been great. I am no longer going to work wondering how much longer I will work there or if I will ever get a job offer. I have one. Now I can work on getting my new outfits ready for a job that doesn't require a uniform.

Less stress is making me a better mom too. I have noticed that I am much less tolerant or patient with the kids when I am feeling overwhelmed. Having less stress means I am able to be more patient with them and we all have noticed the difference. M reacted by acting out slightly at the changes in our schedules and just general life. Jacob doesn't really show it much except that he keeps telling his teachers about mommy's new job so I know he is aware of the changes as well.

I am just happy to finally have a job that will have a better schedule for my family. Limited evening hours, no weekends and no holidays. And I was really surprised to learn no pay cut. I was expecting to lose about 25 percent of my pay but found out that under the social workers contract I can transfer over at my current pay level. Another huge burden gone.

Life is good. We are blessed. We are happy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

American Mom

Jacob and I have been talking about what he wants me to put in his post-placement report. This is a report that I write once a year to the Ethiopian government updating them on how Jacob is doing. It is also a report that his Ethiopian family can see and includes pictures. I like to have Jacob help me write the report and make sure I include anything he wants his Ethiopian family to know about him.

I always have trouble writing this report. It asks questions like how is his development and what challenges have we faced in the past year. The truth is that I haven't really faced any challenges with him. He is just always a great kid. He doesn't get in trouble often and when he does it is age appropriate and doesn't last past one time out.

I asked Jacob what he wants his birth family and the Ethiopian government to know. He stated he wants them to know that he is playing basketball and will be playing soccer and t-ball this year. I told him I would tell them that and that he is a wonderful kid.

Last night I tucked Jacob into bed as normal and told him how much I love him. He turned to me and stated, "I'm really lucky I got to come to America and have a mom." I always think I am the lucky one but I am glad to know he feels the same way. He still remembers living in the care center/ orphanage and waiting for his mom. When people ask if he is a "momma's boy" I always think of course he is. He knows what it's like to not have a mom and he is grateful we are together.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Got Really Lucky Again

I work in law enforcement. Or at least I will until February 12 when I turn in my badge and ID to get ready for my new job on February 14. That means that I don't get snow days. Ever. Someone has to patrol the streets, feed the inmates and keep the community safe. It also means that I have to find someone to watch my children and try to get myself to work even though the streets aren't plowed and the rest of the world is in their homes sleeping.

Work is the reason I really dread these huge snowfalls. We received about 18 inches of snow over the past three days with 12 inches falling last night. Now, I realize some areas south of us got even more but really 12 inches is too much. So how did we get lucky? This storm fell on my regularly scheduled day off. As a general rule, my employer will leave us alone if we are scheduled off and my phone never rang last night.

I am also grateful that my new job is considered non-essential when we get large storms so I won't have to worry about trying to get to work after these huge storms again. I can handle 6 inches, maybe even 8 but anything more than that is too much. If the government closes, I get to stay home with the kids. Definitely a blessing even if they will be stir crazy by tonight.

Other ways that I am feeling very blessed and lucky today:

-We are all healthy. While Jacob has a spot on his gum that I want looked at (I am hoping it's just his 6 year old molar coming through), we don't have any urgent medical needs that can't be postponed for a few days or even a couple weeks.

-We have food. We were able to plan ahead and had the financial resources to buy groceries ahead of the storm so that we don't have to worry about finding food. I know not everyone in our community is that lucky so I am grateful.

-We have electricity. That means we have tv, movies, cartoons, computers, lights and most importantly heat.

-The snow is pretty much done now and the winds should begin to die down this afternoon. That will make shoveling out the dryer vent (there is a snow drift about 4 feet high in front of it), shoveling the steps and finding a way to get a path to the back yard for the dogs much easier. I may have to find that path for the dogs sooner than this afternoon though.

-I have a great friend who will be over later today with a plow on the front of his truck. He will work his magic and clear my driveway later today leaving just the smaller tasks for me.

-We are together and no one is travelling. My children are home with me. My parents and brother are in their homes (actually my brother didn't get that much snow so he is probably working). No one is trying to travel and find their way home so I don't have to worry about anyone.

I try to be positive. Yes, I could grumble about how I'm stuck at home with 2 young boys with way too much energy. But I prefer to look at the positives. It makes life much better. I am now going to concentrate on the positive as I brave the winds and cold to clear the path for the dogs. It's that or get the carpet shampooer ready. I think I'll find that path now.