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.



{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 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!



{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.

stadium

(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 @ http://www.dallascowboys.com/



{September 18, 2009}   The Lead Story That Means So Little

–by Carla

This week I heard the wonderful news that the recession was over.

newsweek-recession-over-cvr

You’d think this former news girl would at least post a link or have the mindset to have remembered where she heard such a thing, so here’s a picture instead. I’ve got two gorgeous baby boys under age 2.5 and they both had yucky nose issues this week (their 2nd summer cold in 2 months…ugh) so I’ve been up to my thick Lebanese eyebrows in tissues, hand sanitizer (or as Toddler Boy calls it “hanitizer”), baby Vick’s and gunk stuck in my hair (that last one is pretty normal, actually). So you’ll pardon me for not accurately detailing for you what should have otherwise been the top story on every station across the country: “The Recession Is Over!”.

Um, K.

This news had about as much impact on me as did the news that we WERE in a recession when it broke at the end of last year. Hello, I’d just been laid off. Not a real shocker. But even before then, while I was still anchoring the news, about a year and a half, maybe 2 years ago, we did story after story about this expert or that analyst saying we WERE already in a recession, or explaining why were weren’t ..and so on. I was so tired of those stories. Then when Lehman Brothers failed a year ago and the cards came crumbling down, it was clear to everyone on earth and possibly even some passing aliens just outside our stratosphere that we were in deep doodoo. But the “official” news that we were “actually” “in” a recession came months later. (Once again, if I were a journalist worth my salt, I’d look up that information, copy the link, paste it here and let you know, but I haven’t showered in 2 days, my hair is clumped up in 2 clips and I’m wearing the same thing I had on yesterday. Having 2 sick kids is a total beat down.)

So you can see that a recession “officially” having come to an end will likely mean little or nothing to most of us. It may do a little something something to Wall Street and Wall Street types, but there’s Wall Street and then there’s Main Street…and there are a bunch of houses for sale on Main Street. In fact, the story on the TV news the other night that followed the news that the recession was over was (no shiz) “150 Blockbuster Video employees are losing their jobs as the company closes several stores…” bla bla bla.

The financial experts and analysts and the smart people who do numbers and money for a living may have a sense of what’s going as far as “official” data, but it doesn’t change a thing for me or my family. I’m still a (very happy) full-time stay-at-home-mom now and we’re still living on a cop’s salary…and having a great time adjusting to this little curve ball.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to see what happens in this new period of economic recovery, but I also think we need to be realistic about it and not think that life (those of us for whom life changed, that is) is automatically going to snap back to the way it was..with us gobbling up everything we could possibly cram into our ginormous houses that we could barely afford on 2 incomes and charging every last purchase we made, paying the minimum each month on our credit cards, putting debt out of our minds, leasing new cars every 2 or 3 years and not putting money away for the future.

Wait, come to think of it, I don’t want that life back.



{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.

school

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?



et cetera