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

Photo from

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)



{September 22, 2009}   Cowboys Crazy

By Heather

Cowboys Star

I was fortunate enough to witness sports history this weekend. Well sports stadium history anyway. The Dallas Cowboys had their first home game in the new stadium. Yes, the stadium is BIG. And yes it is really amazing. But after looking at the old stadium anything looks good. Unfortunately, the Cowboys didn’t dazzle like the stadium. They lost to the Giants. (can anyone scream turnovers!)

Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, is a proud papa of this new stadium. So proud that video aired before the start of the game compared the stadium to the Taj Mahal, Parthenon and other historical monuments. That might be taking it a bit too far. But I’m going to give Mr. Jones the benefit of the doubt and take it as a joke. I was giggling anyway.

The jumbo tron is well…. JUMBO! It’s so big I was distracted during the game. At 159 x 72 ft. it’s large and in charge. You can’t take your eyes off of the thing. I darn near got motion sickness while watching the Cowboys Cheerleaders do their high kicks.

Photo by Star-Telegram





Photo by Star-Telegram


Bye the way… this Jumbo tron doesn’t do anyone any favors. You can see fuzz, nose hairs, zits, any little defect on someone. I saw Jerry Jones scratching (picking) his nose, and a player tugging on his jock strap. I even saw a hint of cellulite on one of the cheerleaders and she burns thousands of calories a day dancing and kicking. Couple a too big screen with HD TV and you have some “reality” television. I shudder to think what I would look like on that thing. Stay away fan cam! Stay far, far away.

So was the whole thing worth the cost of admission ($340 a ticket for our seats), knocking down an entire neighborhood, and paying ungodly sums of money for refreshments and t-shirts and other merchandise? NO! But I was happy to be there anyway. I was happy to be in a stadium that was all shiny and new. I actually felt a little proud.

Just for the record the $10 truffle mac-n-cheese wasn’t any better than microwavable Kraft. My nearly $20 margarita (that’s for 1 not a pitcher) made me break into a sweat and left red splotches on my neck and chest. But it did help lessen the sting of a humiliating Cowboys loss. Sort of.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t included pictures of me at the stadium. That’s easy to answer. I forgot my camera. Ooops. I tried to take a pic with my phone, but frankly it looks horrible.

Cowboys - Copy

 Here’s a better picture of the outside.


(It really does glow like this at night. It’s like walking into a space ship or “Heaven” as I heard someone describe it.)

 Hey Jerry… if  you’re reading this blog, feel free to reimburse me for the refreshments. Better yet… how ’bout you cover next year’s season tickets. Just send the loot to my house.

Until then, make sure you’re not caught on the jumbo tron scratching body parts and tell quarterback Tony Romo to stop throwing interceptions.

See ya at the Thanksgiving game!

Check out the Cowboys and their new stadium @

{September 15, 2009}   Fundraising in a Recession

By Heather

If I told you how much we had to pay in property tax last year you would probably gasp. I know I did. I also nearly cried when I wrote the check. I am grateful we could cover it. But still…. it hurt.

Much of that check went to the public school district where my son now attends kindergarten. “Well at least we don’t have to cover private school tuition,” we thought. School was covered by the property tax.


But not really. We soon discovered that because of the “Robin Hood Act” in our state , 70 percent of the district’s tax dollars actually end up in other schools.  That leaves parents to cover the rest. And thus the fundraising has begun.

Every school does this. You probably did it too. As a kid, I hocked candy, books, popcorn, ornaments and other crap to my neighbors and relatives. My next door neighbor, Mr. Hamburger, never failed to contribute. He even forgave me the time I collected his money and forgot to turn in his order. I got into BIG trouble with my parents.  (I had to work for the money to pay him back)

I can now add wrapping paper saleswoman to my list of items. Our first fundraiser is to sell wrapping paper. There’s also something call “Scot Bucks.” But I haven’t figured out what those are yet. It sounds like Monopoly money to me.

I’ve also purchased fundraising goods such as bumper stickers, yard signs and t-shirts. In November, the parents will hold fundraising auction. They’re asking for donations from $500 to $10,000 or more. GULP!  

Yes, we live in a highly ranked, highly desirable school district, but our school will not get many of the basic teaching tools  unless parents pay for them. The same parents who’ve already paid a fortune in property tax.

The fundraising efforts of mom’s and dad’s help pay for supplemental teacher salaries, all technology needs, sports equipment, school supplies, art and music programs, and facility upkeep.  

pencil erasers

The elementary school is in an old charming building in the middle of the neighborhood. But the community has outgrown it. So many of the classes are held in portable buildings. Our tax money will not be used to add much needed extra space. Parents are raising money for that too.

We feel grateful and fortunate to live in such a great community so I don’t want to complain, but I do see a potential problem. We’re in a recession. So many parents will not be able to pitch in financially this year or next. I don’t think this will send our wonderful school into ruin. But it could affect what new teaching tools could be purchased for our kids in the future.

But it is what it is. And whining won’t solve the problem. So I guess I better dust off my sales skills and get selling.

Wrapping paper anyone?

{September 8, 2009}   Marriage and Massages

By Heather


My husband and I were recently talking about our 10 year wedding anniversary which is coming up this Friday, September 11th. I asked him to name his favorite moment of the wedding. He quickly answered “The shot table and the reception…”

(insert eyebrow lift from me)

“And of course saying I do,” he added.  

(insert smile from me)

We’ve been together for 13 years. Most of the time it feels like we just met… other times it feels like a hundred years. Occasionally, we want to whack each other on the head with a frying pan. Thankfully, we’ve never actually done this.

We had a “frying pan” moment over the weekend thanks to a massage. It was just 50 minutes, but it felt like an excruciating 24 hours and a HUGE waste of our money. Money that I want to demand back, but I’m afraid it might get someone fired. So I probably won’t.

We were out-of-town and decided to treat ourselves with massages. The plan was simple.  We would take turns at the spa while the other one watched the kids. I would go to the first appointment which was at 8 am. He would go at 9. They were 50 minutes each. I asked to leave a few minutes early, so he could make it to his treatment on time.

Best laid plans. Right?


I rolled out of bed and got to my appointment 15 to 20 minutes before my session. I told the therapist I needed to leave early. He said “fine.” Then he kept talking.

I’d like to point out that I LOVE massages. I’ll let almost anyone give me a massage as long as they knead me like a loaf of honey wheat bread. Nothing can deter me from getting a massage. (not even a life threatening MRSA staph infection which I got from a spa in Vegas)

I’ve paid a lot of money over the years for spa treatments and I’ve had my fair share of “AWESOME” and “FRIGHTENING.” But this is the first  a massage has caused me to point my finger and yell at my husband in a hotel hallway. (Not my finest moment)

Consider some of my more disturbing massage moments. There was the massage student who rubbed my abs and asked me to call him sometime. Ewww. The nice Italian woman who rubbed my boobs with olive oil. Ickkk. A man in Greece who grabbed my ankles, pulled them over my head to my ears while straddling me. Wowza! Thank goodness I was wearing underwear. Or how about the therapist who ran out of the room only to return and announce that she had diarrhea. Ughh. None of this has EVER made me scream at one of the people I love most on earth.

I can handle too much oil, horrible music, chanting and a little weirdness. But I CANNOT handle a chatty Kathy who talks and talks and talks when I’m trying to relax.

This was unfortunately the case. The therapist told me about his daughter’s surgery, his life as a single parent, the three months he spent trying to pass a kidney stone and Amber, the therapist, who had a crush on the hotel’s personal trainer. Then he delved into my parent’s divorce, my arthritis, how often I pick up my kids, etc. He talked so much he forgot to massage half of my body. He got my back and left arm. The rest was left high and dry. Then the wind-bag ran past our time. That made my husband late for his massage.

He was mad, I yelled it wasn’t my fault in a crazy person way. Then we spent the three hour drive home in silence. (or as much as you can with two kids) Relaxation ruined.

Later when we got home he walked by, gave me a little pat and said I love you. The frying pan moment was over. 10 years of wedded bliss restored!

 This takes me back to our conversation about our wedding day. I told him that although I did enjoy the “shot bar” at the reception my favorite moment was feeling so calm and certain about marrying him.

“I never had a doubt.”

Then without blinking he actually asked if I would book massages when we celebrate our anniversary later this week.


Now that’s love.


{August 25, 2009}   Back To Square One

By Heather

Since I have no talent for drawing, let me start by creating a picture with words. I’m sitting in a classroom full of people (most of whom are half my age) trying to draw squares. Not just any kind of squares, but two-point perspectives from observed reality. (kinda like a 3-D square)

drafting table

We’re all perched on our stools, hovering over drafting tables and paper. Our T-squared rulers and triangles are lining up with our vanishing points, as we make light marks with our “HB” pencils. I manage to get the line on the drafting paper and I feel like shouting Ta-Dum! (but I don’t) Instead I silently congratulate myself on following the teacher’s instructions correctly.

I line up more angles and draw lines, but pretty soon my square looks  like a Rubik’s Cube. I feel like shouting &*%&! (but I don’t) Instead I comment to the girl on my left that my square looks like an iconic 80’s toy.

“You’re probably too young to remember Rubik’s Cubes.” I tell her.

“No I know about them. They’re  retro,” she says.

(Retro is a nice way of saying something is old, but still cool.)

Rubik’s Cube girl tries to help me as does the artist sitting to my right. But I’m like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory. I can’t keep up with everyone else, so I just want to spew obscenities, scream and eat my drafting paper.

2 min 57 sec – Aug 4, 2006 –


Rated 4.9 out of 5.0

Last week, I was so energized about starting another degree, feeling good about expanding my resume, possibly contributing to the family funds one day and reaching a goal. But now I feel deflated, because I LITERALLY CAN’T GET PAST SQUARE ONE.

I finally raise my hand and confess that I’m clueless and can’t  make this friggin’ square look right. The teacher is so nice a patient with me. I try again. But soon I’m frustrated… and distracted by a conversation between two classmates.

“Dude. He is so hot. Beautiful hot. Dude it’s weird how pretty he is.”

“I know. Where are we going to party Friday dude.”

“Dude. I don’t know.”

I’m trying to concentrate, but I seriously can’t stop wondering when 18-year-old girls started calling each other “dude.”

Back to the squares. Or rather me, the square.

I’ve always had a problem with following instructions. I listen, but I usually interpret them the wrong way. I’m just not wired right I suppose.

Case in point, my 5th grade book report. We were told to make shadow boxes using a scene from our book. I read the “Palomino Pony.” I put dirt in a boot box, put in real grass, tin foil for water and sawed a horse off of a trophy. I also made little bails of hay and spelled out “Palomino Pony” in yarn. I dragged my creation to school the next day feeling really proud. I just knew Mr. McCall would love it and give me an excellent grade! (Keep in mind this is the teacher who gave me licks in third grade over a book report.)

But praise and accolades were not to be had. Mr. McCall took one look at my shadow box and said “You’ll have to do this over. You didn’t do it right.”

Back to present day. My drafting paper has become such a mess that my instructor finally tells me to start over. But then she, plus Rubik’s cube girl and artist guy, guide me through it. I manage to get three squares done correctly. Just SIX more to go! grrrr..

“Dude. Where ARE we going to party Friday.”

“I don’t know dude, but your line is all screwed up.”

“I know dude. (laughing) #$%!”

Hmmm.. she took the words right out of my mouth.

architect tools

By the way… when class was over (four hours later)…about six or eight people were still working on the squares. The instructor told us that “creative people always have a hard time with drafting at first.” I hope this means I’m creative… and not just hopeless.


{August 23, 2009}   Mother of reInvention

From Heather

George Eliot once said  “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Just think about that for a moment. It is never too late to be what you might have been. Most of us spend a lot of time talking about the “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” moments of our lives. But why not turn that into “I did, I can, I showed ’em.”

Today’s guest blogger, Tammy Jo, embodies that very philosophy. She’s re-invented herself many, many times. I’m sure she’ll never stop. When life throws her a curve ball, she just changes her approach and knocks it out of the ballpark. I think we all can learn something from her. So pay attention mamas and papas!




   By Tammy Jo

    In the last year, around 5.9 million Americans have lost their jobs.  Have you?  Or do you still work but just have no job satisfaction?  If you answered “yes” to either question, have I got an idea for you!  No, this is not an advertisement for a “make millions by stuffing envelopes at home” scheme.  This is a chance to reinvent yourself. You may ask, “How? Why?” 

     The “how” is easy.  There is no better time since the GI Bill after World War II to get government money for education. The government has a stash of cash in financial aid for students.  Even if you do not think you qualify, apply. Whether you have quit, been laid off, down-sized, suffered a redundancy, or just plain fired from a job, learn how to recession-proof yourself or at least make yourself more marketable. It is not just reinvention, it is reinvesting. 

Whatever money you use to learn a new skill, trade or career, the money is well spent.  Instead of spending $500 on a handbag, take some classes.  Whatever it takes to make yourself more marketable — do it. 

The “why” may not be as easy as the “how.” Maybe you are in a dying industry. Maybe you need to learn something new or improve a skill to stay current. Maybe you have been dreaming of doing (fill in the blank) and never had the time.  Or maybe you just think you are too old to do anything different.  Get over yourself! Even a very old dog can  learn a new trick! 


 Walk with me down memory lane.  For about 10 years, I had been working in marketing and promotions in the entertainment industry.  Ah, the stories I could tell you!  But I digress.   Eventually, I inched my way up the pay scale until I was earning high 5 figures but I realized that as a corporate marketing employee, my department would always be one of the first on the chopping block, and I would never be the master of my own destiny.  Then about 8 years ago, my husband was transferred to a new city and I did not have a job.  That’s when I decided to go to law school.  It would be a career for a lifetime, not just a job. With one license, I could practice anywhere in Texas and I could always work — even if it was for myself.   And so, at 33, I went to law school.  It was a sacrifice to live on one income for 3 years but it was worth it. I have been practicing law now for several years. But the story does not end there. 

            After having 2 children, I realized that working in a law firm and being a slave to billable hours did not give me the flexibility I needed to participate in my children’s school activities.  I wanted to be “there” for my kids, wherever “there” was. I decided to become an elementary school teacher at a private school.  The pay would be less but I would get a tuition discount which would make up the difference.  The best part was that I would be on the same schedule as my kids. Plus, there is something very rewarding about shaping young minds.  So, at the ripe old age of 40, I enrolled in an alternative teacher certification program and after 6 weeks of learning classroom management, obtaining state-mandated observations hours and passing the EC-4 content exam, I became “Highly Qualified” (according to the federal “No Child Left Behind Act”) to teach Pre-K through 4th grade.  I now have two recession-proof careers – theoretically speaking. 

            But I’m not the only one who has reinvented themselves.  Lots of people are doing it everyday.  My best friend decided to become a licensed Interior Designer after countless years in broadcast journalism.  Rather than become a casualty in a dying industry, she goes to school with people half her age but is doing something that is fulfilling a dream.  Another friend left a lucrative job in sales to pursue a dream of being a writer.  She completely downsized her life and barely made ends meet, but she eventually co-authored a published book, edited a magazine, and has opened her own public relations agency. 

            If you have some down time on your hands these days, how will you use it? Will you embrace it as a learning experience and a chance to fulfill a dream or interest? Or will you continue down your path of complaints and complacency?  There is no better time than the present to reassess, reinvent and reinvest in yourself. Go ahead you deserve it!

-Tammy Jo




{August 18, 2009}   When Life Hands You Lemons…

By Heather

 I know, I know. You’ve heard this  a million times. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”


I’ve always thought it was a little too cutesy and slightly corny. But I re-evaluated it this weekend when my kids put up their first lemonade stand. (Every child has to have a lemonade stand in the summer. It’s just a rite of passage.)

 We made the lemonade, created signs and set up the stand in front of our house. Then we waited… and waited… and waited for customers. Finally a few strangers stopped their cars and bought some of our brew. We shut down about 45 minutes later after making enough money to buy a new toy.

“Mommy. We need to pick a better spot next time.” My son decided.

“We’re going to do it at “MoMo’s”  (restaurant) because people like to eat there.”

Five-years-old and already an entrepenuer. But really he was turning lemons into lemonade.

 I’ve heard this lemon phrase a lot since the economy turned sour. President Obama says the recession is slowing down. Maybe so. But I still think people will be waiting a long time for the sweet life to return.

This recession has also made many Americans re-evaluated their careers. As you’ve read on “Recession Mama” we’ve seen far too many of our journalist friends end up on the chopping block. Those still standing are worried they’ll be laid off next.

So what’s a true “Recession Mama” to do when facing this situation? MAKE LEMONADE. The sticky part, however, is actually making it.

Last week, I FINALLY enrolled in a program for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design. I’ve been flirting with the idea for two years. But I’ve been waiting for the right time.

I was feeling pretty great until my college transcript arrived. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (long time ago), so I thought many of my credits would carry over. No need to worry. Right?

I handed the transcript over to my admissions advisor. There before her were all of my academic successes and failures. One semester included four “A’s” and a “D.”

“Hmmm… You’ll have to take a math entrance exam.” The advisor told me.


“You made a “D” in it the first time around. You’ll have to take it again.”


A little history here. Math and I don’t get along. I’ve always struggled with it and at some point I just tuned out. That includes college when I showed up for class and discovered we were taking a test. Much of it centered around the number of cards in a deck. I’m not proud to admit it, but I didn’t know there were 52. LEMONS!

The past has bit me in the “you-know-what.” So over the past few days I’ve been cramming years and years of math into my out-of-shape brain. I haven’t studied or taken a test in 13 years. I haven’t seen Algebra in nearly 20.  To me…  xy= “I have a headache.”

I took the test on Tuesday after two intense study sessions with a tutor and a few days of skimming the book by former “Wonder Years” actress Danica McKellar. Her New York Bestseller is titled  “Math Doesn’t Suck.” (Who knew that “Winnie” Cooper could explain math so well. But she does.) Check her out @

I do not look this good doing math



I do not look this good doing math

















Big drum roll here… I missed passing  the test by 2 points. LEMONS!!

I felt like a complete loser. My enemy, math, the victor again. But my attitude changed after eating a large, warm chocolate chip cookie and nearly slipping into sugar coma.

I thought… that’s not too bad for an old math-a-phobe. Two days of intense study on a subject that you’ve avoided your whole life. Not too shabby.

So I was short just a few points. Big deal. It is what it is. All I can do now is study.

I get one more try to take the test and I have to do it by Friday. If I pass, I will only have to take one math class, instead of three.

Obviously, I want to pass. But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I’ll just get a tutor, study, work hard and finally face my math demons.

Either way… I’ll end up with lemonade. (I just might add a splash of vodka every now and then)


{August 11, 2009}   Veteran Journalist Loses Job

From Heather

Mamas and Papas,

It’s been a rough year for journalist everywhere. I have personally seen 10 of them get sacked since December. They’re friends, wonderful humans and extremely talented. So it seems so unfair to see them go. Losing your job often feels like someone ripping away part of your identity. So many Americans feel this way now. It’s just another testament of the recession.

Longtime KRLD (1080 AM) Meteorologist Brad Barton and KRLD afternoon anchor Mark Watkins were the latest friends to go. Their departure last week caused sadness and outrage in the community.

Here’s Mark’s recollection of the day he was laid off. It really applies to anyone who has ever been let go, fired or downsized. It’s honest, true and heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing Mark.

on the air

Happy Trails

By: Mark Watkins

This week I joined the millions of other Americans who have lost their jobs thanks to the folly and greed that led to the recession. Far brighter people and better writers have addressed that elsewhere, so I will not do so here. Bitching gets tiresome after a while, regardless of its merits.

Here I will speak of the man who terminated me — a sort-of Everyman in the Corner Office. He is a good man and it pained him to pull the trigger on employees he had known for years and liked.

 Most of his day was spent in such closed-door, one-on-one meetings, all unhappy and woeful. He is paid well for the position he holds, but on this day it didn’t feel worth the anguish he inflicted on talented, skilled and valued employees. He said all the right things befitting his position: he professed his care and vowed to do anything he could. He listened attentively to every plea, curse word and rage, as if he were a preacher consoling a confessor.

Virtually no one else knew in advance of the coming tragedy. His second- and third-in-commands had not been briefed, the decision was so quick. It was evident to those he terminated that the order had come from On High: “Cut, cut deep and cut now.”

It’s brutal out there, said the sacker to the sackees. And on this day, Brutality slung its scythe with deadly aim.

Card keys and other such company property were collected then and there and forms were signed and witnessed by the only other being in the death-house meetings: the HR person, charged with detailing how the condemned would be executed and how long it would take to exhaust the last, pathetic breath of life in the now-former employees.

The slain carried themselves from the gallows to their lockers and desks to perform the sad ritual of removing all possible evidence of their existence. Some of them appeared to colleagues to be visibly wounded; others were just unusually quiet. All left the premises quietly as their co-workers watched, speechless, at dead men walking.

The executioner went home at the end of the day with a knot in his stomach and a foul taste in his mouth. The business that he once loved so passionately had become — much more so in recent years — a spiteful and foul thing, virtually unrecognizable now.

What lies before him in the days ahead is a company of edgy and frightened employees. Today was a repeat of previous restructurings. His employees, already spread thin, must take on even more. Hell, he’s laden with additional responsibilities and no additional compensation.

But he must carry on, leading and encouraging, remolding and pushing. He is the face of the company. To all his shaken flock who so earnestly seek reassurance and hope, he must appear steadfast and confident in the future. He must make omelets. And chicken salad. And lipsticked pigs.

At least he has a job. I don’t.  





Please check out Mark Watkins’ blog at

You won’t be disappointed.


By: Heather

I must now face the task of removing three dead crickets and the dried-up orange gummy food from their home. The remaining crickets don’t seem to mind the carnage. They’re happily chirping and singing (whatever you call it). Maybe they’re screaming for help I’m not sure. But they’re making a LOT of noise. Too much noise! But they’ve called my attention to a major issue.

Say hello to my little friend


Say hello to my little friend

The cricket “clean-up” falls on my to-do list just three days after they arrived at our home.

“If I had some crickets then I could sleep better.” My son declared over the weekend.

“But I’m not even sure you can have them as pets.” I told him.

“Yes you can! I saw them at the pet store.” He ethusiastically informed us.

So off to the store we went.

 He was right. The pet store DOES have crickets. But they’re sold as food NOT pets. But I could not convince the children otherwise. Especially since they make special food and “cricket” carriers for them. So we left the store with the crickets in hand feeling good about saving them from becoming a lizard’s dinner.


 And this brings me to my point. WE GIVE OUR CHILDREN TOO MUCH STUFF and therefore WE HAVE TOO MUCH CLUTTER. (yes I consider the crickets clutter… besides… “cricket clutter” makes a nice alliteration.)

I’m not sure when we took a wrong turn as parents and began indulging our sweet little ones too often. But we’ve landed on this treacherous road and now we need to get off. The crickets have literally sounded the alarm on this one.

This reality began to sit in shortly after we brought the noisy  insects home. I heard a thump, followed by screaming, accompanied by yelps of “Get “em, get ’em.”

Someone knocked over the crickets and well you know the rest… a few escaped and mayhem ensued. Cue the Benny Hill theme song.

I’m not sure how many got away, but I managed to catch one alive. I found another one the next day limping along in the kitchen. He finally bit the dust. (poor little guy) He was swept up and thrown in the trash. (RIP)

My son soon declared his love for the crickets and decided that they must go on our trip to California next week.

“They won’t let them on the plane.” I told him.

“But why.”

“Because the crickets can’t go that high in the sky.” I maintained.

“Well.. I will tell the pilot to fly low then.” He said.

“Even so. The hotel won’t let them stay.”

“We don’t have to tell them mommy.” He whispered.

 Let’s just say I FINALLY convinced him that the crickets would be happier at home. They can keep the fish company. (see “Not So Free Fish” for more on that.)

This will be our last purchase for awhile. We’re going back to the “you have to earn it” rule. I’m also planning to enforce a new rule- Something old has gotta go, whenever something new comes in.

It’s going to be hard, but we’ve got to try! And we’re starting now.

 While we’re gone next week, the nanny will clear-out and give away  toys the kids have outgrown or no longer use. They shouldn’t sit and gather dust. A deserving child should enjoy them.

 We hope to return to an organized and clutter free home. (oh please… oh please… )

Unfortunately… those crickets will probably give us a noisy “welcome back.”



{July 25, 2009}   Recession Workout

Today’s guest post is from my pal and personal trainer Kevin Kelley. Last month, Kevin gave us tips on how to work out for less. But this time he’s put together a special FREE workout for Recession Mama. (So don’t say we’ve never done anything for ya.)   Now print this out and tape it to your refrigerator, your mirror, your forehead whatever it takes to get your attention. No more excuses. It’s time to start feeling better!

Love, Heather

( I hate cardio but I do it anyway so I can get rid of that layer of  chub covering my body like an ugly winter parka. 🙂 Kidding! It actually feels good.)

By: Kevin Kelley 

I want to thank Recession Mama for inviting me to post again.  This time I’m going to give some tips/principles regarding your workout that you can do in-home or at your gym.

#1 Push It!!  The vast majority of people I train start off with the mentality that lifting weights is more recreational than intense exercise.  Developing an attractive physique requires hard work, so when you exercise PUSH IT!

#2 Consistency:  Set specific days/times for your workouts and stick to it.  It’s not what you do today or this week that get you to your goal(s), it’s long term adherence and consistency.

#3 Prioritize:  The people that I see who make the most drastic lifestyle changes are the ones who make their workouts a top priority.  Exercise leads to good health – and good health allows you to do everything else better…  work, parenting, school, etc. 

Now for the WORKOUT tips:

** Always start with a warm-up of at least 5 min.  This can be done on a treadmill, an indoor bike, a jog outside, jumping rope…  you get the idea.  If you’re not breathing hard by the end of the 5 min, then you need to bump up the intensity.  The whole point of a warm-up is to warm-up (thus the name warm-up!)…  ideally your body temperature should be elevated – maybe even a light (or heavy) sweat going.


Example:  One warm-up I do with my clients is to get them on a treadmill set @ 3.5 – 4.0 mph.  I set the incline at 5% to start and bump it up 1% every 15-30 seconds (depending on their conditioning) until we run out of time or can’t bump the incline up any higher.  Most home treadmills will top out at 10-15% incline.

** Compound Move #1:  Squat Press –   Start with a pair of dumbbells up at the shoulders.  Squat down into a deep deep deep deep deep squat (thighs should be parallel with the floor or lower) then as you stand, press the dumbbells straight up over the head.  As you drop down to squat let the dumbbells come down to the shoulders at the same time.Do 3 sets:  1st set 20 reps, 2nd set 15 reps, 3rd set 10 reps

squat press

**  Compound Move #2:  Chest Press / Sit Up – Start with your back on the floor or on a bench & your feet flat on the floor.  Hold the dumbbells down by the chest – elbows out wide.  As you press the dumbbells up into a chest press – you are also going to do a partial sit-up – just to the point where your lower back begins to come off the floor/bench.  As you lower the dumbbells you’ll be lying back down on the bench to the start position.Do 3 sets:  1st 20 reps, 2nd 15 reps, 3rd 10 reps

chest press

**  Compound Move #3:  Fixed Lung / Hammer Curls – Start in a split stance (one leg forward & one back – as if you were frozen in a walking stride), arms will be down by your sides with the dumbbells in each hand.  Drop down into the lunge with as much weight as possible on the front leg – leaning slightly forward.  As you stand perform a Hammer Curl up to the shoulders – dropping the hands down to the fully extended position as you dip down into the lunge again.  You will be doing the curl as you stand up – not as you dip down into the lunge.Do 3 sets: 20/15/10 reps for each leg

lunge hammer curl

**  Ab Emphasis:  Perform 10-20 reps of each of the following with no break in between – simply transition from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible.

1. Standard Sit-up.  Feet flat on the floor (not held by anything) cup your ears with your hands (so you’re not pulling on your head/neck) drop all the way down to the floor/mat and then return to the full sit-up position  10-20 reps


2. Invisible Chair.  Lying flat on your back elevate your thighs so your legs look like you are sitting in a chair (the back of the chair is on the horizontal plane).  Cross your arms on your chest/shoulders.  Keeping the legs in the fixed position, crunch up so that your elbows touch as far up your thighs as possible – as if you were trying to touch your elbows to your knee caps. 10-20 reps


3. Hands 2 Toes.  Still flat on your back, bring your legs up so that they are pointed straight up towards the ceiling.  Keeping the legs fixed, reach your hands from in front of your face up to your toes.  The goal is to get as much of your back off the mat/floor as possible.  10-20 reps

hand to toes

4. Plank w/Crunch:  Roll over into a plank position (forearms & toes on the floor) you’re going to drop your hips down so that your thighs & pelvis/navel touch the mat – then elevate your butt by performing a crunch (sternum to navel), drop and repeat.  10-20 reps.

** Arm Emphasis:  10-20 reps with no break in between.  All exercise should be done on a Swiss ball or bench.

1. Dumbbell Pullover:  Lying on the ball take the dumbbells back behind your head with bent elbows as if you were trying to touch them to the floor behind you head.  As you lift the dumbbells point them straight up towards the ceiling locking the elbows to fully engage the triceps.  Repeat for 10-20 reps.

Pullover 2

2.  Chest Press:  Turn the elbows out to the sides and perform a standard chest press – big stretch at the bottom as the dumbbells get to the shoulders & press the dumbbells up through the roof at the top.  Repeat for 10-20 reps.

3.  Seated TricepExtension:  Now sitting on the ball/bench, take the dumbbells back behind the head as if you were trying to touch the dumbbells between your shoulder blades.  Now straighten the arms and point the dumbbells straight up towards the ceiling.  Repeat for 10-20 reps.

tricep extension

4.  Lateral Raises:  Arms down by your sides – no bend in the elbows – take the dumbbells and raise them up (palms down) just below horizontal.  Perform short reps for 10-20.

lateral raise

5. Front Raises:  Standing now, you will have the arms straight and the hands/palms on the front of the thighs.  Without bending the elbows take one arm up straight up over the top of the head – now as that arm is descending  the other arm will be raised up.  Alternate for 10-20 reps.

Finishing Move:  Let’s finish with the same exercise we started with – Squat Press:  We will use the same weight and reps that we started with…  3 sets 20/15/10 reps.When you are done take 5 min to stretch.  Focus mostly on the hamstrings and lower back.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me:

 -Kevin M. Kelley
Certified Personal Trainer

et cetera