Here I Am!

But I'm leaving for a couple days. We're off to visit the family - I'll post later this weekend.

Volunteer...For Your Family

The community I live in apparently picks a volunteer of the year.

I am certainly not of the opinion that I am the volunteer of the year, esp in my community. I only dedicate about 6 hrs a year directly within the suburb where I live, the greater amount of hrs is in the greater Portland area or nationwide, or now lately, worldwide (yay for helping Africa!).

For some reason, I am irked by the volunteer of the year this year. I'm sure she's a REALLY nice lady. She received the award for the amount of time she has volunteered at her child's school. She's a mom who doesn't work and spends time helping out in her child's classroom. Which I believe is a GREAT thing to do. When my beloved offspring was young and I was in college (self-supported, working two jobs mind you), I volunteered in his Montessori and then in his Kindergarten and 1st grade classes. It was great.

HOWEVER.....I was volunteering in my sons class/school. I LOVED volunteering there and felt great about it, however, it did somewhat serve my needs as well. I was a very active figure in his classroom. I was able to know all the kids, know his teachers, as well as others in the school, I got to spend time with him while he was in school. It was good to be a part of his world at school. It wasn't just volunteering to volunteer and do some good in the world. I wanted to do some good in my son's world. Volunteering-yes. For a good cause-absolutely! Completely altruistic-not was because of MY son that I was there. I wouldn't have helped out at that school if I didn't have a child in it somewhere. And I have to wonder if this woman will continue to volunteer at the elementary school when her son moves on to middle school. I would venture to guess that she will then be spending many volunteer hours in the middle school.

And so when I heard that the Volunteer of the Year was a mother who volunteers in her child's school, I was a bit disheartened. Not because I felt that she was not worthy of an award or because I am a volunteer snob.....but because I KNOW there are some REALLY great things going on in my community that are powered by the many, many hours put in by volunteers who have no family ties to the organization they are helping.

There's a woman who donated food to the local food bank during a holiday season and she heard about how people who come there are sometimes in great need of other very basic commodities that we take for granted, such as soap and shampoo and womanly things that are necessities and can be costly. So this wonderful woman convinced her family members to each donate a few dollars (her husband, kids and a few relatives) each week and now they purchase such things (on sale to get the best deals) and make care baskets for people who visit the food bank. It's hard to find a job when you're destitute, hungry, (most likely) depressed AND your hair hasn't been washed lately. It's the little things in life that can really help out. Providing just a small bottle of shampoo to 30 families a week (or however many she provides) is a huge contribution to our community.

My library - which I obviously have strong feelings about - has countless volunteers. There is a 90-year old woman who has volunteered there weekly for the last X-amount of years. She's 90 - and she still manages to volunteer her time to help keep our library running so that people can read?? I love her.
I'm sure there are a ton of volunteer firefighters or people who help out at the local gov't agencies.

I'm really REALLY glad that we have some great parents who are fortunate enough to have the time to volunteer in our local schools. I have to actually take vacation leave from work to get the chance to do something with my sons school. I don't have a flexible schedule and I'm not a stay-at-home mom. I'm slightly, but just slightly, envious of the stay-at-home moms who have the luxury of their freedom. (and NO, I am not saying that stay-at-home moms do not work--just that they have a bit more freedom than those of us who have to clock in somewhere in order to provide food and housing for our family).

I'm not devaluing the idea of volunteering in your child's elementary school. I just don't think that the people who volunteer only for their child's' school are solely doing it for the good of the school and without some fulfillment of their own desire to be as active as possible in their child's life. And maybe I'm just a volunteer snob.
A friend of mine took care of his elderly mother for a year before she passed away. He took her places every other weekend and spent a lot of time visiting he in the nursing home. He considered that volunteering. He was driving her and her elderly friends to the beach, to the zoo, to the drive-through safari park...and not getting paid. It was a form of work that he was not getting paid for and, as such, he felt he was volunteering. I think that this is somewhat up there with helping in your child's classroom. It's a familial obligation.
And I might be a snob.

Tips for Everyone

This whole tipping thing has gotten out of hand.

I was pressured to tip the lady who gave me a massage the other day. I paid the business for the massage fee. They give her the amount she gets paid per massage. I'm supposed to tip above and beyond their fee? Lame. They had signs at the front counter (on both sides), in the waiting room on both tables of the couch, in the actual massage room and then the lady asked me when I was paying. I tipped the minimum amount possible, but I wasn't happy about it.

Valet parking is another one---I understand for some places the valet guys actually RUN, like a full-on, a dingo-ate-my-baby RUN, five blocks to go get your car...they somewhat deserve a tip, but really---is it OUR fault that the restaurant has no parking and we're forced to allow someone else to park it? The places I'm talking about have a valet only parking lot.

The other night I went to dinner and the valet drove the car two spots from where we pulled up at. Then when we came out, he wouldn't let us just go get in it, he claimed that it was a bit tight and he would have to pull it out. Right...cause we've never parked a car between two vehicles before? It's a normal parking lot - they use the regular lines of the parking lot that all the lunch guests use (with no valet parking). Ridiculous.
So to go to a nice dinner, you have to tip the valet to park your car, the bartender if you have to wait for a table at the bar (where else do you wait?), the waitress, then the valet again.

My friends boyfriend is a valet. He makes about $10/hr from the hotel, which is a fairly nice one. He makes up to $800 a week in tips.

Yeah, $800.

A week.

To park someones car at a hotel that doesn't give you the option to park your own car in the lot less than 3 blocks away.

Nice. For $800 a week you should also have to vacuum it and talk lovingly about it when I pick it up.

I think it should be optional---sometimes I might REALLY appreciate stopping at the front door of the hotel and not worrying about the car. Sometimes though, I might really resent the fact that I don't have an option.

I tip the guys who rush around my car and do a good job of hand toweling it dry at the car wash---cause they stand in the spray of the car wash to ready my car, then they meet me at the end of the car wash to dry it off---wet soggy socks all day for probably not much more than minimum wage? And they RUSH around getting my car drive. They deserve a couple bucks.

A good waitress - yes.
A valet service - no.
My car wash buddies - yes.
The hair stylist who gives my son a trim with so little hair leaving his head that you can't tell it was cut - no.
The bartender - first drink, yes. Second drink--only if I see him make me a GOOD drink.
The dry cleaners guy - no.

Tipping is out of control.

Where do we stop with this? When will I have to start tipping the guy at Taco Bell for fast service, or my doctor for diagnosing my virus, the check out lady at Macys, or the airline ticket counter lady, or -heaven forbid- the airport screening guy!

Yeah---airport on my mind---I'm on my way there to get my offspring back.

Busy Busy

A Busy Month for Volunteering!!

5 hours for the Special Olympics B-ball tournament
4.5 hours for the local festival
3 hours for Love Letters
3 hours for the ABC Project (making posters for an African school)

I am totally going to heaven!!!

Blame the Authors

I don't get enough sleep these days. I absolutely blame Dean Koontz, Jodi Piccoult and Khaled Hosseini.

Happy Crawfish Day!

I don't eat crawfish.
I don't like the smell of crawfish.
I don't like to see people suck the juices of a crawfish from their little head.
I don't like that you have to pay $7.00 for five crawfish.

But....for three years now I have volunteered at the local Crawfish Fesitval. I guess it makes me feel like I have a connection with the city I live in..I guess. If people like me don't volunteer though, there would be no festival. And a LOT of people have a LOT of fun at this. I don't know that I do, other than I like to volunteer and feel helpful, but other people do.

There's a cute little dog contest every year and that's fun to watch, and there is some shopping to be done at the booths, but otherwise I have never really spent much time there beyond my volunteering.
So I've dedicated 4.5 hrs of my day today to helping the city with their festival. It's a good chance to meet people in the area anyway. I have been working with the same two people each year, but they were very discreetly replaced this year. The city actually replaced the entire office staff with new people. It wasn't a public thing-I had to ask around to find out where Hope and Carol went to...very weird. Secret scandal in the city maybe? I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time.

More later...

Just Me and My Furry Friends

So it's just me and the cats.

What do people without kids DO all night??
My baby left on Sunday morning. Early, but not as early as we planned. We got to the airport a bit late, though I thought we could waltz in whenever we wanted and the airline would accomodate us. Apparently, United Airlines disagrees with that philosophy.

Last time I flew, for the trip to my Filemaker training, I hit major traffic on the way to the airport. I got to the airport with about 20 minutes to spare before my flight was due to leave. Somehow---I made the flight. I think they might have snuck me underground in their secret employee-only tunnel and whisked me into the aircraft through the belly of the plane. I was on that flight and had my book out and shoes off before the plane was fully boarded. After arriving at the airport with only TWENTY minutes to spare.

That, however, was NOT with United Airlines. That was the wonderfully accomodating Northwest Airlines. They care about their passengers and just want you to get to your destination.

United told us - sorry, we can't access any check-in information within 45 minutes of the flight. it was 40 minutes when we got there. Seriously, are we going to let 5 minutes come between us, United? After all we've been through? Apparently.
Luckily, there was plenty of room on the next flight. Which is odd, since two weeks prior when I made my reservations, that flight was not available.

Whatever. United Airlines is obviously not passenger friendly. I'll keep that in mind for next time. The boy's flight home is on Northwest, so I feel pretty secure in him making it back on time.

So now it's just me and the kitties.


We had an interview candidate come through my work on Tuesday and I spent about 30 min talking about the company and the city with him. Our candidates meet with about 5 people, both so they can get a good feel for the atmosphere in our department and so we can get a well-rounded look at whether or not that person would be a good match for us.

He mentioned he had a new baby so i said "aw, your first? Are you still in shock" and he said "yeah, the other day my wife and I were with friends and she looked from our fussy baby to our friends and then said "I don't know why more people don't throw these in the dumpster."

Wait, what?
Yeah...."I don't know why more people don't throw these in the dumpster."
Seriously. In a suit and tie, at a JOB INTERVIEW, relating that story to someone he JUST MET.

He then shared his theories about how some people must just be born to be parents, but unfortunately, neither he nor his wife feel that way about themselves.
Which is fine....but um, I just met you? Should you be sharing that personal info with me?

And really-who says things like that?? Even if i was feeling that way as a new mom--i wouldn't share it with A) my circle of friends or B) a stranger in a job interview.

I told my young one about this that night over dinner and even he couldn't believe it. I made sure to let him know that it's not too late---and there are dumpsters everywhere. He better watch his step.

I imagine if you shared this with your much-younger-than-mine young one, they might come to develop a rational fear of dumpsters. Maybe there are already people out there that have this fear and don't know why. I have now solved the mystery for them.

Speaking of my little darling, he is headed out of town on Sunday for TWELVE days.

Twelve glorious days of having the house clean.
Twelve days of not having to rush straight home after work.
Twelve glorious days of not having to question why there is one sock on the left side of the room and one on the right.
Twelve days of not having to listen to Scrubs (which is on about 7 times a day).
Twelve days of not having to stress out about what he has been doing/not doing all day.
Twelve days of worrying about what he has been doing all day in another state.
Twelve days of wondering if he's ready to come home yet.
Twelve days of wondering if he's doing things he shouldn't be doing.
Twelve days of questioning why I let him go.
Twelve days of being alone.
Twelve days of feeling like something is missing....

He's going to visit my ex-in-laws. His father has been MIA for the last 19 months now-loser-but his parents have always stayed in touch. It could be an awkward situation really, but it has been going okay for the most part. That side of my sons family lives a VERY different lifestyle than my side. It's like visiting another world. So my son is off to outer space on Sunday for twelve days. Just twelve days.


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