Thursday, July 30, 2009

Not playing lottery today

Bridgewater Township has announced a tax refund. Not sure if it is the homeowners who made collective mistakes over a number of years, or the Township but here it is. The once in a lifetime tax refund.

Click here to check if your address is on the list.

Our house is not. I see several of our friends are listed, so I better let them know before BW Township changes their mind.

I could have used a refund! C spent all day Monday trying on her friend's new clothes. It was HS's birthday, and she had already done her back-to-school shopping. C, who has a closet full of beautiful things, wants more, more, more. T's grandmother gave her a little money this spring so now she wants to spend it. It's her pocket money, so I guess it's OK. Even though C will be spending her own cash, there always seems to be extras that need Mom's wallet.

The boys will spend the day more constructively - at the science center.

With all the bad news about corruption in NJ, I have to admit I feel a little good that our Township announced this instead of pocketing the money and hoping no one would notice. A cynical side of me wonders if they have been audited. Either way, enjoy your cash if your a lucky one. Even if it's only $75 or so, treat yourself to dinner out!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tears in heaven......

Today we had planned to go for a hike until we saw the weather report. Chance of showers. We went for plan B, an indoor activity for the kids.

The kids are inside on a pretty sunny day.

There are plenty of showers right here. N is having a bad day. Every little thing is making him cry. We are at a place with lots of other kids - and "free" internet to keep parents entertained (free is relative since parents have to pay too) - and some of the kids are very annoying. One set of boys were following C & her friend around relentlessly. Another boy followed T (N's BFF) around bugging him, too. Although the other kids have been over several times to complain, only N was in tears.

What do I say to either C or N? C and the friends we brought with us came over to tell me that some boy pulled down N's pants while they were on the slide (a bouncy slide, the boy was fake "falling down" but that is part of the fun, I guess). C and the friends laughed. C admitted it was hard not to. The boy who fell was very amusing, and C said it was funny that they got N's pants. N was heartbroken that his sister and their friends would laugh at him.

How do you teach a sensitive kid to grow thicker skin????

I see too much of N in me. I am overly sensitive (family members tell me this often, friends politely keep their mouths shut!). I always see the worst motives in things and cry very easily when people are even slightly cold to me.

How can N deal with his emotions in a constructive way? I don't really have any fool-proof methods for myself. When someone makes a comment that can be a criticism, I take it to heart. Last week I had planned to see a friend. My in-laws said they would eat dinner without me. When I got a text that said "we're very hungry are you coming home soon?" I translated it as "hurry up!" In my head I thought "they don't even think I deserve even a couple of hours with a friend". Actually they were being nice because they wanted me to include me in their dinner. But it's hard to shake the irrational thought that they there's something wrong with me seeing a friend. Nearly 40 and my emotions still get me every time!

On the flip side, it can be good that N is like me. I have a lot of joy in my life and am not afraid to feel that too.

I scolded N a little while ago for crying too much. I'm sure I was making matters worse. At the same time, I know that the sooner he learns to keep his emotions in check, the easier his life will be. When I relayed this story to T, he said "N sounds just like you".

How do I help build N's self-esteem (again, low, like mine)? What's the answer?




Monday, July 27, 2009

Left a bad taste in my mouth

I have been away at a summer house without stable internet. When I did have a turn online, I felt like every second was being counted... since the connection was low, it took 5 minutes just to read an e-mail and respond. That meant I didn't respond much and no blogging.

I did respond to one e-mail.

My friend forwarded this e-mail (in red italics) regarding a rise in prices on payment for school lunches using meal pay plan, BRRSD's chosen provider. I didn't know about it it, because although I am registered to pay online, the company never sent me this e-mail, NOR is it mentioned when I log on - although there is a note that fees may be applicable for payment.

Dear Parents/Guardians:

We want to thank all of you for your participation in the MealpayPlus program. We would like to inform you of an important change that will be effective on August 1, 2009. Due to steadily increasing credit card processing and development costs, the program fee associated with deposits made through MealpayPlus will be 4.75% of the total transaction. Your School district does not earn income from these fees.

***Example: Paying $40.00 through MealPayPlus will now cost $1.90 for the transaction vs the $2.00 flat rate in the past.

We have maintained the same program fee since the inception of MealpayPlus in 2003, and have taken precautions to ensure that this switch is in line with current industry practices. Due to the addition of various credit card programs (including rewards programs), our Visa/MasterCard processing rates have steadily increased over the past several years. It is always our goal to help you better manage your student payments. The new program fee ensures that we can continue to develop state-of-the-art technology to do so.

Please keep in mind that viewing your account balance, checking purchase history, and setting up low balance e-mail reminders are still offered at absolutely no cost!

We thank you again for your participation in MealpayPlus, and remind you that the program fee change will become effective August 1, 2009. The current flat fee will continue to apply for all deposits made until August 1, 2009.

Sincerely –
Questions? Please visit “Need Help?” at

PLEASE CONTACT Dr. Schilder, Peter Starrs and the BOE. (Most of them have e-mail addresses if you click on BOE, but Mr. Lerner and Ms. Schnider still refuse to let the public contact them via e-mail for BOE affairs! Ms. Schneider is, of course, available on the BW Township Rec website, although it's a BOE matter, I guess we are forced to contact her at work!). Dr. Schilder is the Superintendent and Mr. Starrs is the Business Administrator, ie. the one in charge of external contracts/purchases. I believe they presented Meal Pay at a BOE meeting (or a PTO meeting?) a couple of years ago.

Cheap as I am, I refused to spend the $1.00 per transaction that Mealpayplus charged last year and sent my kids in with checks. While checks are fine, they cost the BRRSD more to deal with in administrative costs (manpower) than an online service would. In this case the parents are being unreasonably charged for the company's operative costs. I believe that a company who sells products online should absorb credit card fees. I would never purchase something from, say, Amazon, if they started charging me these types of fees.

Please contact the BOE as well as meal pay and let them know how you feel if you agree with me! In 2009 it is outrageous to charge families nearly 5% for an online purchase! The district doesn't receive any of these funds.

PLEASE ASK THE BOE/BRRSD to pick a new provider!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A writer writes, right?

This week has been slow in the world of my blog. A few weeks ago I applied to be a guest writer for another mothering blog, but was rejected as my writing isn't edgy enough. That was quite a disappointment, since it was unpaid blogs written by Moms.

I thought a little about my blog. This blog started in protest to moves by the BRRSD. It has developed into an open diary of my experiences as a parent.

This isn't a bad thing, but it was never the intent.

After the rejection, I have been thinking about how and what I write. If I am writing a "how to" blog (and some of the entries could best be described how NOT to), then I should write what I know. I started a blog out earlier this week about traveling with kids. After only a few minutes with information flying from my fingers, it was simply too long. I decided to cut it into several shorter blogs, but this requires editing which takes time. I haven't felt like spending time at the laptop doing this work.

It is summer. Life has slowed down slightly and my goal is to spend less time at the computer and more time in the sun. If you aren't getting regular updates, know they are coming and check back in a few days.

Have a good summer, dear readers. Now go outside and work on that tan or pull those weeds! Our mailbox had to be replaced yesterday, so I guess that means I have to weed the bed around it and I'll be outside doing that soon too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Techless road trip

I spent the weekend mostly without cellphone service and completely without internet. We took a long road trip - a return to days gone by when we dropped everything to drive 24 hours in the car to spend 12 hours enjoying a certain beach, a national forest or a natural hot spring. The was, of course, before kids and before we both had real jobs, when cheap was more important than clean. Long before we had dreamed of anything as revolutionary as personal GPS devises.

Usually when I visit a city where I have lots of old friends, I spend my time with them, and I visit all the typical tourist institutions - museums, attractions, well known eateries. This trip was the opposite. Save a quick hour at a park to break-up the trip home, I didn't call anyone to let them know we were coming.

The first night - in the city of my mother's birth - we found a country-western bar and listened to a live band, eating ribs with the kids until 11pm. The second day we went to only one "tourist activity" in a town completely inundated with ways to spend your day (and your money - it is also referred to as a tourist trap) and the "world's only talking mime" was a bigger hit than the fireworks - it was, after all 4th of July weekend). The third day we blew off every attraction and spent the day wandering through street fairs, Chinatown and in the evening we headed to a harbor-side music/cultural expo. With no actual tour plan, the trip was much more relaxing than I expected. We ate when we felt like it, and when we weren't meandering through town, we were swimming in hotel pools. We swam so much that the kids haven't missed swimming today.

It was relaxing to be tech-free. Since it's summer, I plan to blog less, e-mail less and check Facebook only 20 times instead of 145 per day. Last week, with no internet access I read more (I finished Commencement in 2 days, and I'm half way through People of the Book - like the first one, love the 2nd) and I knit more - finished a wedding gift and nearly finished a hat.

More travel, more knitting, more reading... despite how stressed out I have been feeling and all the rain, Summer 2009 ain't that bad!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

control issues?

Sometimes I feel as if I have no control in my life. No power, no say. Yesterday was one of those days - someone at the pool saw me and said "You look like I feel".

I want to please everyone else because I like making people happy, and sometimes I make myself completely miserable in the process. Yesterday I said something rude to my BFF, I yelled at my kids when I was actually upset with my husband and by the end of the evening my stomach was in a twist. I couldn't sleep, so I read until after 4am.

Today I started off the day with a quick shower and a stressful meeting. I just came home to a messy kitchen with several of my daughter's friends in it snacking, while my daughter tried to change her plans yet again. This is the third time she asked to have a separate friend over in 24 hours, forgetting we already had plans.

How accommodating is a Mom supposed to be to her daughter's changing fancy?

A better question: how can I find the gumption to prioritize my own wants as well as I do others'?

If only I could start with a good meal and a long nap...