Recession Mama











{October 8, 2009}   I’m No Superhero

by Heather

If I had to be a female superhero for one day who would I pick?

I can tell you right off the bat that it wouldn’t be Wonder Woman. Sure she looks super cool deflecting bullets with her gold cuffs, lassoing creeps and  kicking bad guy booty while wearing a strapless body suit and boots. But her outfit is too revealing and the most likely to have a wardrobe malfunction. She must have some serious glue holding up that top and a killer bikini wax. And please… who can change clothes just by spinning around in circles?

Photo may be subject to copyright

Photo may be subject to copyright

At least Supergirl wears sleeves and a skirt. That’s doable. Sort of. I imagine it gets a little chilly flying around the city in that get up… not to mention the challenge of not looking windblown.

Image courtesy of Toon Zone

Image courtesy of Toon Zone

Then there’s Xena: Warrior Princess. This goddess wears leather, carries a sword, rides atop a beautiful horse and goes Medieval on unsavory types. She need only magic and muscle to topple the evil doers. Also, I’m pretty sure she can crack coconuts and skulls with those thighs.

Photo from fanpop.com

Photo from fanpop.com

I love these super ladies. But their outfits and supernatural skills are completely unattainable. So I must choose another type of super hero. That would have to be women who manage to balance work, school, family, relationships… whatever consumes their lives.

I’m no superhero mamas and papas. I don’t always manage the kids, their school, husband, college, the house, the renovation, the rental property with style and grace. In fact, most of the time I look like a dog chasing its tail. Round and round and round I go. I’m extremely sleep deprived and often over caffeinated.

No fooling. I’ve got a lot on my plate AND I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew. So something’s gotta go!

Obviously the kids and husband will stay put. Besides I love them more than anything in the world including chocolate. We can’t sell our additional properties, so I will continue to juggle them. And I just started another degree so I plan to stay the course.

That leaves book club, exercise, grooming routine, mom’s night out, eight hours of sleep and TV.

Reading feeds the brain and exercise keeps my brittle bones from turning to dust… so they stay. I’ll continue to slap on a little “war paint” and brush my hair. I’ll have  girl’s night out during school breaks. Sleep is necessary, eight hours is a luxuary. So I guess that leaves TV.

I have pretty much ditched it. I’m so far behind on my shows that I may never catch up. But I haven’t really missed it. In fact, I’ve discovered how much time I used to waste on watching “crap.”

Sure I’m going to keep tuning into my “favorites” like Mad Men and Dexter. (recorded and watched later) Don Draper is too yummy to give up!

Mad Men AMC

Mad Men AMC

But no more  live TV, new programs and getting involved in mindless reality shows (sorry Housewives of New York).

Starting a new degree, writing a blog, managing three homes and a family is hard work. But I feel fortunate and blessed to be so busy.  It’s forced me to give up foolish junk, get organized and manage my time better.

I’m not a superhero…. not even close. I’ll leave that to the professionals. Besides I don’t think my pony tail and yoga pants would make a very sexy superchic outfit. All I can do is try my best with the time I’m given.

However, I have to admit it would be nice to have a few “superpowers.”

“Wonder Twin Powers activate…. in the shape of dinner and paid bills!”

“Wonder Twin Powers activate.. in the form of happy-to-take-a-bath-and-go-to-bed children.”

Sigh…. Maybe in another life and comic book.

(check out the Wonder Twins cartoon below)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdZ4JgGm2p4

-H



–by Carla Marion

The dark clouds over Dallas/Fort Worth didn’t seem so threatening on Tuesday for those of us who heard that wonderfully reassuring voice on the radio again. Sure, it was a different frequency, but the voice hadn’t changed a bit. Here, meteorologist Brad Barton fills us in on what’s been going on…and shares the exciting news:

brad

Carla,
 
Here’s an update on what’s happened in the two months since I was dismissed from CBS.  It’s been an exciting time.   
 
First, Brenda and I are grateful for every act and expression of kindness from the management and staff at KRLD, many others of all stripes and our Bethel Methodist Church family in Southlake and throughout Texas.  The comments and best-wishes are again, just heartwarming. Carla, Don, Ed Spencer, Jason Sickles and Steve Blow of the Dallas Morning News, you have helped us more than I can ever express.  And I must thank God for his faithful and providential care. 
Case in point:  Although our prized Blue Bird Wanderlodge had been on the market for over a year, we really needed to sell it after I was laid off.  Just one month later, on Labor Day, a couple in California who thought the coach was already sold, found it again, called us, agreed on a price and wired the money within 24 hours.   
 
As for employment, I have begun a new business known as WeatherTrust to deliver syndicated weather forecasts and other content to various clients. 
 
My websites are coming on line now, including
http://www.brads-weather.com, bradsweather.com, weatheroncall.com and others.  The main point of my website is to alert you by phone of severe weather in your area, then give you a link to click to hear live streaming storm coverage as I’ve done on the radio.  Soon, your  internet-capable phone will be your emergency weather link wherever you are- in your car, at your kids’ soccer game or in your closet when the power goes out at the height of the storm.     

I’ve also had a couple meetings with corporations both in and out of media to discuss some very interesting ideas.   
 
But the crowning jewel of the past two months has been a plan quietly formulated by Tyler Cox to bring me on board as the new Chief Meteorologist of WBAP.  Since 1922, WBAP has been a perennial leader in all of its chosen formats.  And beyond the richness of its past, the WBAP of today still has principled leadership that appreciates talent and loves broadcasting, not just the profits that come from broadcasting. Just to be a part of one of the eight most powerful, influential and honored radio stations in America is a privilege few people will ever know.  To be entrusted with weather coverage where the legendary Harold Taft once held court, is an honor and solemn responsibility that I take very seriously.  I am humbled and extremely grateful.  And I already feel at home.  Since the deal was kept secret for some time, it was a surprise to most people at WBAP, and a shock to Hal Jay, whose look was just priceless.    

The next time the skies turn dark, just remember, I’m right here in Weather Center 820.  The weather leader in North Texas radio is WBAP.

Brad, this makes me just want to stand up and cheer!

On a personal note, I am filled with joy that you have a new radio home …and what an amazing home it is. (I am beyond thrilled to be a back-up, fill-in anchor at WBAP.)

What a small and crazy world.



–by Carlawbap

Some pretty strong storms blew through the Dallas/Fort Worth area a few hours ago, and it was so reassuring to hear a trusted voice back on the air, telling us where the storms were headed and what we should expect. Meteorologist Brad Barton, who had been on the air in Dallas for more than 30 years but was shockingly laid off two months ago from another news/talk station, made his return to the DFW airwaves today on WBAP News/Talk 820AM.

Having worked with Brad for more than a decade, I can tell you that he is once again where he belongs: behind a microphone, and in front of a weather radar. And the people of North Texas once again have a place to  turn when the skies darken.

We’ll be hearing from Brad, in his own words, very soon…so stay tuned!

A BIG “Congrats!” to Brad and Brenda and to WBAP for this wonderful news.



By Katy

happy-anniversary-balloon-bouquet

Six months ago, this week, Heather, Carla and I launched this site.  We had no idea what it would become.  We just wanted a place where we could talk about our experiences in this unusual economy.  We each had very different economic realities, as I am sure our readers do also.  In fact, I think each of us draw in the kinds of readers who are most like us…and sometimes, we also get readers who can’t understand what we’re going through and let us know it!  Money is a hard subject to talk about.  It’s also a hard subject to write about.  Money is so personal.  It’s definitely been hard for us, and we’re the Recession Mamas!  I’ve gotten criticized for how much I’m planning to spend on my wedding, and I haven’t even spent the money.  I was just writing about what various locations might cost us.  But that’s why it’s important to keep sharing each other’s stories.

I actually embrace the criticisms.  I address them, of course, in future posts.  But I love hearing the good and the bad.  This is what this site is for!  We should help each other through a period of time in our lives and in our country’s history that most of us have never lived through before.  We don’t always have to write about our money issues.  I think it makes for a better site if we actually don’t.  I think we are just here to document what this strange, new economic world is like…for us and for our guest writers.

I love when readers write to me and tell me how much they relate to what we’re writing about.  I love when I hear that someone has even used a tip or two from this site.  But what I love most is when someone says simply, thanks, for putting it out there!  We are going to try and keep putting it out there for all of you…and for ourselves.  Thank you so much for reading these last six months!  I hope you’ll continue to read and contribute.  Also stay tuned!  We’ll be rolling out a new look soon!!!



{October 4, 2009}   No Horsing Around #2

From Heather

Back in May we told you about a Texas woman who found a unique way to keep busy while searching for a new job. Cheryl and her horse, Remington, were going for the Guinness World Record for tallest living horse. Besides have a BIG personality, this Clydesdale also stands 80 inches without shoes from hoof to the top of his shoulder.

 

Remington

Remington

Big drum roll here….. Remington GOT the TITLE!

Since the title was captured, life has been a bowl full of carrots for “Remi”  and a whirlwind for his owner, Cheryl. Here’s an update from her.

By Cheryl

Since receiving the notification from Guinness that Remington captured the Guinness World Record for tallest living horse, his trainer and I have experienced excitement and a great sense of accomplishment for the big boy.  To put it simply, it has been surreal.The day I received the news, he enjoyed a lot of extra carrots for a job well done.  He doesn’t really know why he got the extra carrots and he really doesn’t care.  Remember, with Remington it’s all about the food!

Right now, there is a woman in Canada claiming that her Clydesdale Poe is 20.2 hands and she is waiting for Guinness to verify his height.  So, if he is proven to be taller than Remington, then his title will be relinquished and Remington might just have to go for a new world record category, of the shortest time a record was held.  We sincerely hope not.  And, I wonder if there is such a category.  I may just have to look into that.

What ever the outcome, Remington is the current world record holder and although we expected someone to challenge this title, we didn’t expect it to be this soon!

Overall, it’s been an amazing journey.  The outpouring of support from around the world, the rapid growth of his blog followers, and the experience of going for the record itself, will always be a wonderful memory.  And I will continue to share his adventures with everyone who has been enjoying his stories.

At a time, when there has been so much unhappiness going around, between the sagging economy, the enormous loss of jobs, including mine, a continuing war and so much more, there was a time for hope and a time to share that hope with others.  Remington’s stories helped to show the world, that despite troubled times, there is always a way for something good to shine through.

Most of all, Remington is such an amazing horse, that I wanted to share him with everyone and brings some smiles to their faces.  Well, he certainly has done that and will continue to do that for many years to come, for as long as people want to hear about him.

We don’t know what will happen next, but no matter what, my love for the big guy and the pride I have for him will continue to grow stronger.  He’s always been a winner in my heart and he always will be.

Warm Regards,
Cheryl & Remington

Thanks for the update Cheryl. We all hope that Remi gets to hang on to the title and dazzle people at  State Fairs and parties for years to come.  Remington not only holds a special place in your heart… but he has captured the affection of so many others. World record or not he’ll always hold the title of “World’s Most Loved Horse.”

Keep up to date on Remington’s antics by reading Cheryl’s blog. http://ofcourseimahorse.blogspot.com/2009/09/remi-wins-title.html



{October 2, 2009}   This Baby Is Growing Fast

—by Carla

 cristal

Get ready to break out the Cristal, we here at RM will proudly be celebrating our 6 month anniversary next week. Nevermind, forget the Cristal…it’s too damn expensive. Break out the store-brand equivalent or just hoist your Diet Coke can high into the air!

We’ve been sharing stories and helpful (hopefully) hints along the way, as we attempted to start a national conversation about money. Going back to our “roots”, (if something 6 months old can actually have roots), we said that we were “Three friends from three different economic realities helping each other get through this recession, mama!”

six

 

You might  wonder why in the world anyone would want to air this sort of dirty laundry…especially when it comes to money…but our thinking was, “why NOT?”.

Of course, our stories are in no way as shocking and horrifying as other tell-alls…not the least of which was the bombshell this week by Mackenzie Phillips, but I think our goals may actually be quite similar. She has said she came forward because she wanted to make sure that other victims like her would speak out and get help.

Very similar goal for me, personally. I felt passionately (and still do) that too many of us in this country care far too much about what other people think about our financial status and would rather live financial lies than own up to the fact that they cannot maintain the lifestyle they are living. I, for one, had no problem admitting that I/we spent money hand over fist, without ever thinking about how much was being put away for a rainy day or an emergency. Our situation was a bit different than the many horror stories we’ve heard over the past several months about people owing hundreds of thousands of dollars on various credit cards. We had (and still have) little credit card debt (but still enough for me to consider it a monkey on my back), instead paying most everything in cash. Earn it, spend it. Earn it, spend it. After all, I was making almost six figures and had a contract with my (now former) employer. I was recession-proof, right? Wrong. You CAN actually be laid off two weeks before Christmas, five weeks after giving birth, while still on maternity leave, and while you have another year left on your contract. Yup…they can do that. And they did.

Flash forward and here I am, thirty-something-years-old, learning to cook…and honey I mean LEARNING. “How long do I cook this chicken breast again? Why is there smoke in the kitchen again?”…and so on. But beyond everything else, I have learned (and continue to learn) an entirely different way of life, one that has refocused me. 

I love hearing stories from Katy and Heather because we all are at very different places, economically speaking, and we each represent a good chunk of America. Plus they crack me up! The three of us tell it like it is, even to each other.

So, a great big “Thank You” to everyone who has checked us out over the last six months. More than 36,000 page views and counting…whew! Keep coming back for more. Huge changes next week.

Happy (almost) SIX months, Recession Mamas!



{September 29, 2009}   Broke Girl Frame of Mind

By Heather

I was digging through some papers this week and found a poem that I wrote back in 1996. It’s on a torn piece of notebook paper. Just something I scribbled down one night following a frustrating day of looking for a job.  I’ve kept it tucked inside my green folder with some of my other “thoughts” and stories. I’m not sure why I still have it. I  just don’t throw that kinda stuff away. (not a pack rat, just sentimental)

The “thought” or poem really gives one a sense of my “broke girl” frame of mind. I was just moving along in slow motion, trying to keep a positive attitude. But it was hard. I was failing miserably at being a “success” and accomplishing simple tasks. Even brushing my teeth felt like a major chore.

I was just tired of searching for a job. Tired of having all of the wrong qualifications. Tired of being jerked around.

I’m pretty sure this was around the time I answered an ad for a “public relations” position. I was excited to get an interview. I went into the office and discovered over 50 other people in the room.

Great! A group interview. I hate these. But I’ve been through them before. Better shine!

No such luck. Turned out they wanted me to sell vitamins, water filters and other health crap that nobody wants.

Whoa! Pyramid scheme. I gotta get out of here.

I rushed to the door and was stopped by a very tall guy who refused to let me out. The conversation, to the best of my recollection, went down like this.

“You can’t leave in the middle of the presentation”

“I’m not doing a pyramid scheme. I thought this was a PR job.”

“No but it’s a great opportunity. Really you should sit back down. You’re really not allowed to leave.”

“Either you let me out of here or I’m calling the police and telling them that you are holding me hostage.”

He got out of my way and I went home and sobbed.

So why share this now? Especially when it was so long ago.  It just feels right. I GET IT! It’s not easy searching for a job or learning a new skill in a crap economy. Once you’ve been in this position, you can never forget.

I don’t have any great “Dear Abby” advice or pearls of wisdom here. All I know is that when you’re on the bottom there’s no place to go but up. That’s what always kept me going when the going got tough. You’ll be reminiscing about the “bad times” soon enough. Now I’m going to torture you with one of mine.

ad

 

*****************************************

Shoestring remedies and dime store anecdotes

A handful of full of change and a hole in your pocket.

 

Telephone rings and you wish you hadn’t answered

One more letter and it won’t ring at all.

 

Looking at the want ads cuddled up in a blanket

Turned on the heat, but it only blows cold.

 

One more day and you’re back where you started

Two more days and your start is long gone.

 

Deep dark thoughts, scratch it down on some paper

A whole idea once was great now it’s gone.

 

Brush in time with your voice a humming

Head down lights out you’re dreaming perfect songs.

 

-H



{September 28, 2009}   Helping My Local Economy

By Katy

Friday night, I came out of a restaurant, and I noticed that my car was gone.  I scanned the street, hoping that I just had a senile moment and had forgotten where I parked my car.  Then, I noticed the sign.

“After 9 p.m., you will be towed!” It said.

towTruck

I looked at my watch.  It was 9:27 p.m.  Aw, crap!  I didn’t even notice that sign when I parked the car.  Why was I so careless?  It’s not like I have a lot of money to burn right now.  Luckily, my fiance had driven his car to the restaurant before me, so he took me to the tow yard.  The lady behind the cage wasn’t too friendly.  I wasn’t angry, but maybe she’s seen a lot of angry people.  She asked for my driver’s license and then told me to go through a gated door to get my car.

“I’ll give you your driver’s license back after you get your car.”  Oooo K…It’s not like I’m going to drive through all of the gates!  So after getting my car down (the tow truck had just dropped it off), I went back to the super friendly lady behind the cage to face my financial fears.

“$207.50.”  What?!?!  Did I hear that correctly?  $207.50?!?!?!  Less than an hour at the pound, and it costs me $207.50 to get my car out?  Wow!!!!  I really did it this time.  Then, when I got back to my car, I noticed I had also gotten a $60 parking ticket!!!  How in the world can they double charge me like this?  $100 already goes to the City of Los Angeles for a “vehicle release fee.”  The $107.50 goes to the tow company.  No wonder they were so eager to tow me!  They’re making over $100 an hour.

Since the weekend is almost over, I am trying my best to look at the bright side.  Otherwise, I might as well slit my wrists and kill myself now.  I’m helping the local L.A. economy.  The city is broke, right?  I’ve now done my part (wayyyy beyond my part, in my opinion) to boost the city’s coffers.  Here’s $160 of my hard-earned money.  You are very welcome.  Now, please don’t come asking me for any more.



{September 27, 2009}   GUEST POST: Five weeks in Africa

By Stephanie Bowen (Stephanie wrote Thoughts from Uganda for Recession Mama awhile back.  By popular demand, she is back with an update and photos!)

congokidssteph&kenyakidsuganda

I have been back from Africa for over a month now and parts of my trip feel like a distant memory, where others I know will stay with me for a very long time. It was a trip for work but I grew so much personally that I would’ve gone as a volunteer (don’t tell my boss)!

A little background: I work for the humanitarian aid organization International Medical Corps. We focus on health care and training with the ultimate goal of helping communities become self-reliant. Our work literally saves lives and builds healthy futures. I’m not just saying this as their PR person – I’ve seen it first-hand. First in Indonesia about two years after the tsunami, now in Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This was my first trip to Africa and as you may remember from my blog reflecting on my wanderings through Kampala, I was immediately struck by the warmth of the people. That warmth continued on into Kenya and the Congo. Bright colors and big smiles were everywhere. Children were always running up to our vehicle, chasing us while laughing and waving. At one point I was in the middle of a refugee settlement in southwest Uganda surrounded by children who couldn’t stop laughing and screaming, so excited that I was taking their photograph and even more intrigued when I showed them the digital images. It was so much fun for me that I didn’t want to leave. To see that much joy in a situation that quite frankly can be very joyless was quite intoxicating.

kampalakidsMugangaIcampslums

The reality of life in the refugee settlements I visited in Uganda and the internally displaced persons camps I visited in the Congo were tough. Women who had been raped and left alone and pregnant (http://www.imcworldwide.org/Page.aspx?pid=665), and children who were so malnourished it was a miracle they were still alive (http://www.imcworldwide.org/Page.aspx?pid=687). But there were also many stories that left me feeling very good.

I haven’t formally written about it yet, but we have an amazing program in Kenya that has made great strides in fighting HIV and helping those who are infected. It’s our Home-Based Counseling and Testing program. We started it in Suba, which is along the shores of Lake Victoria and the HIV/AIDS rate is very high – some say up to 30% — because many women there frequently trade sex for fish so they can feed their families. We reached 100% coverage in Suba and now have expanded to a neighboring community, Migori.

marcy&jessica

Marcy and Jessica are just two of the women who are participating in this program. Having met with a volunteer community mobilizer, Marcy, and her sister-in-law, Jessica, decided to get tested for HIV – they wanted to know their status. Marcy has a five-month-old baby with her husband, Jessica’s brother, and being able to get tested in their shared home made it convenient and confidential. After preparing the women for all the possibilities and educating them about HIV and AIDS – the difference between them, transmission methods, risk reduction, etc. – they took their tests, which only needed about 10 minutes to process. They chose to get their results separately and were both happy to learn that they were negative. If they had been positive, International Medical Corps would’ve been there to make sure they knew how to access treatment and counsel them through the process. International Medical Corps has 44 counselors who go door to door, administering HIV tests in this one area alone. We test 3,000 people a month!

This is one of our community educators in the Kyaka II refugee settlement. The t-shirt she is wearing is one means of conveying information.

This is one of our community educators in the Kyaka II refugee settlement. The t-shirt she is wearing is one means of conveying information.

I don’t want to get too bogged down in the details of the program, but what I observed with the several families I witnessed getting tested is that this program is not only helping people who are infected it is changing people’s views on the disease. Stereotypes are being broken down, treatment is being sought and prevention measures are becoming more and more acceptable. Change is taking place around AIDS in Africa, one person and one family at a time.

hilaryclintonhilaryclinton2

I think the biggest highlight for me was when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a stop by one of our programs in the Congo (http://www.imcworldwide.org/Page.aspx?pid=686). We of course knew she was going through Congo on her Africa tour but were thrilled to learn that she was going to visit our nutrition program at the Mugunga I camp for those displaced inside their own country due to the ongoing war. I was supposed to come home right after Kenya, but got diverted to Congo to help document her visit. Even though I had spent six years in Washington, DC working for CNN, it was so thrilling for me to see our field staff – 96% of whom are local – being recognized in this very big way. People asked me if I met her or got my photo taken with her and to be honest, it never occurred to me because it was all about them. They are the people who are doing the hard work day in and day out and I was so glad she took the time to SHAKE EVERYONE’S HAND!

giraffezebrassteph&monkey

Okay – enough about International Medical Corps! Some of the other highlights of my trip were visiting the Nairobi National Park where I saw giraffes, ostriches, zebras, a hippo and countless other animals roaming around in their natural habitat (with the Nairobi skyline in the background!), and floating along the Nile River at the point where it starts its 3-4 month journey to the Mediterranean. I also loved that everywhere I went the Coca-Cola was served in bottles that had been used hundreds if not thousands of times before and the power outlets had switches so you could turn them on when you were using them so you weren’t wasting energy when you weren’t.

I have written way too much already, so I will stop here. But I will just say this: if you get the opportunity to go to Africa just do it. I’ve traveled to many countries and cultures – modern and developing – but there is nothing comparable. I can’t wait to go back!



{September 25, 2009}   Who Wants A Little Good News…?

–by Carla

I went digging around on the Internet the other day trying to find an upside to all this recession talk…which honestly gets to be a total downer from time to time…and I  found this article.  It gives a broad overview of how the recession is “taking its toll” on various aspects of American life. But I chose to dig deeper for you and find the happy stuff…not all the doom and gloom. For example, here’s a little somethin’ about the old ball and chain: 

 married

“Marital bliss also suffered. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans 15 and over, or 31.2 percent, reported they had never been married, the highest level in a decade. The share had previously hovered for years around 27 percent, before beginning to climb during the housing downturn in 2006. The never-married included three-quarters of men in their 20s and two-thirds of women in that age range. Sociologists say younger people are taking longer to reach economic independence and consider marriage because they are struggling to find work or focusing on an advanced education. The Northeast had the most people who were delaying marriage, led by states such as New York and Massachusetts. People in the South were more likely to give marriage a try, including those in Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas.”

The way I look at it, there are fewer people trapped in crappy marriages who are too broke to get out of ‘em. KIDDING. Just kidding there.

Ok, now for upside point #2 from the article:

“The share of people who carpooled to work rose to 10.7 percent, up from 10.4 percent in the previous year.”

Recession: terrible for most other things, good for the environment. See?

Next “plus”:

“Women’s average pay still lagged men’s, but the gap has been narrowing. Women with full-time jobs made 77.9 percent of men’s pay, up from 77.5 percent in 2007 and about 64 percent in 2000.”

Right on, ladies! Oh wait, the one time in history we’re THIS close to getting paid the same as the guys (um…and exactly why AREN’T we?)…and I got laid off!? WTH!?

Anyhoo, there ya go. Some happy news to report.

Have a great weekend everyone!



et cetera
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