Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Working mama

I started working outside the house last July, I love my family and spending time with them is one of my favorite things to do. But it was time for me to get out and work again. I needed to do something out side the house, both for me to get a break from the daily grind at home, but also so I could feel like I was contributing financially.

I started out working at this really great banquet hall as server. I got to work some amazing parties,weddings, corporate gatherings,etc. I loved the job, most of the people I worked with were pretty awesome, the money was good, and best of all the hours were perfect. My boss was great about working with my schedule, and still getting me decent hours. Sadly right after Thanksgiving something stupid happened and I had to go on my way.

Maybe 2 weeks later I landed a new job at this great restaurant again as a server, and occasionally a bartender. After I was there about a month in a half I was given the position of floor manager.On top of serving, and the occasional day behind the bar, I was now responsible for the scheduling of the floor staff, deal with staff issues from petty arguments to discipline,interviewing and hiring servers, and scheduling and running banquet parties. I loved it, and for awhile I was making good money,then decent, then not so much worth leaving the house.

But while I was still working at the restaurant I finally got a call for the school district I applied to last year. After an amazing interview a background check and finger printing I was hired as a Substitute Teachers Aide (ParaPro). I've been working for about a month now,a different school everytime and only about once or twice a week. I have to say I love it though, the kids I'm working with are amazing and sweet and so so smart. I'm almost always in a POHI class or one on one Aide to a special needs student. The hours work great with the kids, and I'll get the summer off with them too.

I ended up leaving the restaurant early this week~ you can read more about that here ,I intend to find another serving job asap. But for right now I have to wait until some issues with the hubs employment are worked out.I look forward to being able to work full time again.

As much as I loved my years as a SAHM I really enjoy having something outside that's mine. I'll always be his wife, and his/her mom, but now I get to be Becky too. I also love that after years of feeling like The hubs was the bread winner, I've been able to add to that,and feel like it was ok to do something or buy something (within reason) without asking. For my own sanity not to mention what's best for the family I am now and will continue to be a working mama.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When to discuss what topics with your youngins

When is the right time to talk to your kids about drugs, sex, violence, bullying, political issues, etc? At what age are each of these topics appropriate? There's no manual that pops out with that beautiful little bundle to address these issues, and of course different people have different views on how to handle them.

My approach so far has been to handle each topic as it arises. When one of my kids have questions I figure out the best way to answer them for whatever age they are to give them the information they are inquiring about without giving them more than they can handle at the stage their at. Sometimes it's a question that brings about the conversation, but something that comes across the tv before I can get the channel changed or the radio station. However the conversation comes about my main goal is to be honest and informative without overloading my kids with the craziness of the world to early.

It's getting harder with the princess though. She recently turned 11 and I noticed were having more and more conversations that I thought I had more time to get ready for. The sex talk well it's been had and continues to be had, since it's been turned into a series of talks, not just about sex but about her body and the changes she is going through and what she will continue to go through over the coming years. As well as what is appropriate and inappropriate touching, attention, etc.

I was working in the little princes class one day when another mom I'm friendly with stopped in, we started talking and she mentioned her other son (who is the same age as the princess) recently started questioning her about weed. She was at a loss and didn't know how to handle it or what to say. She thought she had more time. Not anymore. Kids learn earlier and earlier about things our generation didn't know about till at least our teens. She asked me what I thought. I told her she obviously didn't have a choice now if he's asking she needed to sit down and discuss it with him. Explain the differences of the different types of drugs, and how some are far worse than others,that even medication and alcohol are drugs, and that no matter what none of them are ok for kids. Regardless of if it made her uncomfortable he's asking and she needs to be honest with him and address it, before he goes else where for answers. Because that's really the worst thing we can do to our kids is make them think we don't care enough to talk to or listen to them when they have questions. Because they are resourceful little buggers and they'll get answers, answers we may not like, answers we or they may not be able to live with.

The princess and I have talked about drugs, not a lot of choice in my life. We've had a few addicts in our lives (more me than her, I've managed to shelter her from seeing the ugliness I've witnessed) But it has affected some things in our lives and she realizes that. She's questioned things that the only way I could explain was by telling her the truth of those addictions. I hate that she has to know these things. But at the same time I hope that she listens and learns from the mistakes of those that came before her.

What is your personal approach to these talks? What was the hardest topic of conversation you've faced with your kid/s?

How not to run a restaurant

I'm not now, nor have I ever been a restaurant/bar owner. However I have worked in enough to know a thing or two, on top of being blessed with a fair amount of common sense. So when I see something that isn't going to work it's either from experience working in the field or just plain old common sense says that's just not cutting it.

Up until a few days ago I worked in a restaurant that I can with 97.9% positivity guarantee will not be open for more than another 6 months. It's to bad because the owners have put a ton of time and money into the place, unfortunately they don't have the experience or knowledge to keep it open. So here's a list of how not to run a restaurant if you want it to be successful and stay in business.

1. Don't~ wake up one morning and decide since you love food you should open a restaurant.
Do~ Do your research and when you think you know everything and you're ready to open a restaurant, stop and research more. Learn every little thing you can from successful establishments that have been open for several years.

2. Do~Know what you want from your establishment. Decide on a theme and work with that theme.
Don't~ Try to be everything to everyone. If you're a bar than be bar, of you want to be family friendly, then go with that,fine dining, etc. You can not be a fine dining restaurant the is also a sports bar/family place/party bar/banquet hall//.

3. Do~ Come up with an original menu with a decent selection and a signature item or two.
Don't~ Have a novel for a menu, to many items and so many things can go wrong. From the kitchen to the servers, a large menu is just asking for trouble.

4. Do~ Make sure the menu has a nice layout with easy to read script and prices, as well as a description of each item and what it comes with.
Don't~ Use crazy colors that make the menu hard to read.

5.Do~Have one person in charge of all ordering of supplies.
Don't~ Have several people ordering different things, this is when something gets ran out of at the worst possible moment.

6.Do~Make sure if it's on the menu that it's available.
Don't~Put anything that is not constantly in stock on the menu. Save those things for daily specials.

7.Do~Make sure when hiring staff that you check into their references and prior employment whenever possible.
Don't~ Hire people with absolutely no experience and throw them into their job after a day.

8. Do~ Make sure you know all the rules, regulations, and laws in regard to pay and treatment of staff.
Don't~ Break any of those rules, or laws.

9. Do~ Involve your family in the business, if they're able to contribute in anyway.
Don't~ Bring your family issues or unruly children to the job. Both of those things spill over to your customers and staff.

10. Do~ Treat your staff with respect, courtesy, and honesty.
Don't~ Take your stress out on employees, yell or demean them, or lie to them.

11. Do~ Make sure you pay your staff on the day that pay is due. They don't work for free, and yes bartenders and servers receive tips, but pay should be given on time every time regardless if they're a tipped employee or regular paid employee.
Don't~ Make employees ask for their pay, not pay them on the day you specified was payday when they were hired, or tell them about your money problems as an excuse for not paying them on time. If you can't afford to pay them, then let them go or close your doors.

12.Do~ Pay employees according to the job they do. Floor managers should be paid more than the bartender and other servers due to the amount of work they do.
Don't~ Pay all employees the same and think that you will keep quality people on staff. Not paying fairly is a sure fire way to make your best staff, someone elses best staff.

13.Do~ Have a employee hand book and complete training system in place for new hires.
Don't~ make the rules up as you go for either, or allow an improperly trained person on the floor.

14.Do~ Have open communication with staff and guests.
Don't~ Send mass texts to employees regarding issues you have with one or more of them, berate them, or to address a change in rules or a grievance.

15.Do~ Be as polite and accommodating as possible with guests, if an issue arises do everything in your power to make it right.
Don't~ Comp an entire tab for one or two complaints, when just taking the offending item off the bill will suffice.

16.Do~ Advertise, everything from coupons, yellowpages, news papers. Any where and everywhere to get the name out there.
Don't~ Stick to one area when advertising,or wait till the last minute to put the word out about a special event.

17.Do~Let the customers see you, and from time to time personally take a minute to greet them and thank them for their business.
Don't~ Get in the way of servers or bartenders trying to do their job, while you are making your rounds, and don't hang around the customers table/area of the bar conversing with them unless they clearly want to talk to you. Most people are not entering your establishment with the purpose of hanging out with you. They are not your friends they are your customers.

18.Do~ Listen when a complaint is being made about a member of your staff.
Don't~ Yell at or chastise said staff member in front of anyone else, staff or customer.

19.Do~ Listen when someone whose been in the profession for longer than you has something to say, or a suggestion on what may make things run more smoothly.
Don't~ Think you know everything and the person talking to you is beneath you because your the owner.

These are just some of the basics.If I sat here long enough or asked others I know who have worked in this business I could easily list another 20 or 30 dos and don'ts. But you get the general idea.

Have you worked in the food and liquor industry? If so what would you add to this list?

So here's a little update/add on. After talking to a really good friend whose also been in the business. Again there's probably several dozen more that could be listed. These are just the ones that come to mind from places we've worked, places we've patronized, and stories we've heard from others.

20. Do~ Hire enough staff to cover the amount of business you get, as it gets busier make sure you have enough people for those times.
Don't~ Have less than the necessary staff on your busiest nights.

21. Do~Make sure your building is up to code and well maintained. This includes being anal about hygiene, cleanliness and sterilization.
Don't~ Allow your kitchen to be a pit, allow tools such as coolers, dishwashers etc. to fall below regulated temps, or for the bar area to be anything less than pristine.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Truly appreciating my new car

When I was 17 I got my first car. It was a hand me down, as all or most teenagers have and should have. My very first car was a 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis, with cream paint and cream leather interior, in it's heyday it was a luxury car. By time I started driving it was just a smidge above ghetto. Don't get me wrong I loved that car and everything it represented, most importantly my freedom and independence to do what I wanted and needed to do when I wanted or needed to do it without having to ask for a ride. I loving named her my land yacht and she got me back and forth from work, and my boyfriends and where ever else my little heart desired to go so long as I continued to put gas in her very thirsty tank. Of course back then gas was like $1 a gallon so $20 would get me pretty far. After about a year or so of driving her around she started giving me some problems, mechanical issues I just didn't have the money to fix so with the help of my boyfriend I traded her in and leased my first new car.

From then on for the next 10 years or so I drove nothing but new cars. Every 2 years or so a shiny new car would grace my driveway. Sometimes there would be more than one at a time, as the boyfriend became the hubs and we became parents we both needed vehicles. So this continued for about a decade.

I loved everyone of those vehicles but I will be the first to admit I don't think I ever really appreciated them. I had learned to expect them, that was the way it was. A nice new car that I enjoyed driving but never truly appreciated.

Then things got rough for awhile and we just couldn't afford to get another new car with a shiny new car payment when are last one went back. So we found the nicest used mini van we could find and purchased it. For 3 years I was just like so many others, I drove around in a car I didn't love but I appreciated it because it was dependable, got me every where I needed to go and when we weren't in a place that we could take on a payment it was paid off.

I dreamed about the day I could have a new car again, but was also grateful for how lucky I was to have what I did. I knew so many others who didn't have anything, or had unreliable vehicles that would constantly break down. I knew it could be worse and that we were very lucky to have what we did.

Over the summer I started working and are income had improved, we found ourselves in a place that we could actually afford to take on a payment again. We waited a little while to research and decide if it was the best choice for us. We looked at a lot of different options, hemmed and hawwed over gas mileage, size, etc.

This past Monday I picked up my new 2013 Ford Escape. It's everything I need and want in a vehicle. It's beautiful, comfortable, roomy enough for my whole family and has amazing gas mileage. The monthly payments are super reasonable, and most importantly I've learned how important it is to not only love your car but to appreciate it.

I'll never regret my years with my used mini van because it was a great family car, but also because it taught me to appreciate everything I have. Be it a brand new shiny right off the showroom floor car, or one that has 100,000 miles on it and petrified goldfish forever stuck in the carpet under the seats.

I'll write another post about all the awesomeness that is the Ford Escape later with pictures, but for today I just wanted to write about how important it is to know what you have and not turn into that chick that was once me with the attitude of entitlement and expectation. I'll never expect to get what I want just because that's how it's always been again. Now I'll enjoy every minute of what I have, be grateful for the good and work my butt off to get those things I want.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our family vacation~ memories made and memories found

The family and I just returned from and almost 3 week vacation and honestly I'm glad to be home after all the traveling. We did have an absolutely amazing time.

10 days were spent in Florida with my mom, who I already miss. She moved almost 7 years ago and I only get to see her once a year, twice if I'm really lucky. It was a great 10 days though. We spent a few days at the beach near where my mom lives, took a trip to Orlando and spent the day at Universals Islands of Adventure (really cool place), spent a day at Daytona Beach which was a first for all of us (except for my mom) and spent some time with my grandfather and great-grandmother.

I think out of all the family time though my favorite day was the day I spent with just me and my mom. My amazing husband stayed at my moms with the kids and our dog and hers so we could have a mother~daughter day. Something we haven't done in many years. It was really awesome we didn't do anything super exciting just some shopping, including drooling of Coach bags at the Coach outlet,picked up some clothes for the princess at the Justice outlet, and the little prince at the Carter outlet, and a few things for myself a Rue 21, after shopping we went to Old Saint Augustine and wandered around and had a late lunch. What was so great about it was just being able to spend time with her and not have to share her attention with my kids or anyone else. Maybe that sounds selfish, but I don't care how old we get sometimes a girl just needs time with her mom.

When it came time to leave we had all had a great time, but it was so hard to say goodbye. My mom, the princess and I all cried, and the princess and I continued to cry for a good 100 miles after we got on the road. I know it was hard for mom too, but she swears she's coming up no matter what for Christmas. I sure hope nothing happens to stop that from happening, I may have to hurt someone.

After we left Florida we headed up to Tennessee to visit with my dads side of the family. Our trips there are a tradition that started the summer I was pregnant with the princess and have continued every year since. I have a huge extended family there and I love them to pieces. We say with my great-uncle (my grandmas baby brother) who I've always been fairly close to but really became a special an important part of my life when my grandmother passed away. He's absolutely amazing he's like the keeper of the families stories. While we were there I was able to spend time with some of my cousins and an aunt who has always been a favorite. There isn't a ton to do in the small town they live in but it doesn't matter much when you get to see family that is able to give you pieces of your past back. While I spent time with them I was told story after story about my grandparents when they were young, when they were older and I was already around, my dad both as a child and adult, even things about my childhood I only vaguely remember. It is always so amazing to hear these stories and have them brought back to life for me. I miss my dad and grandparents so much and they are able to make me feel a little closer to them. Of course it makes me sad that their not here, to see me and the life I've built with the hubs and the beautiful children we have, or for those children to get to know. But at least I have these wonderful people in my life that loved them too, and can help me teach my kids about their grandpa and great grandparents who would have loved them with every breath in their bodies.

I was pretty emotional during the time we were in Tennessee from already having had to say goodbye to my mom, and then from my walk down memory lane. So when it came time to say goodbye to my uncle I was a wreck. We both cried (we always do) but my heart felt like it was breaking to walk away and get in my car this time. I sobbed over having to leave him, over missing my mom, over the deep ache that will never go away from the loss of my daddy and grandparents and over the distance between so many of our family members (and I don't mean in miles).

I realized on this trip that not only does family mean everything to me, but I need to do more to try to fix a few relationships that I've allowed to become splintered and broken, while there are some I may never be able to do anything about, and some I need to let go. But for my heart and my babies sake I need to make things right or at least try and if I don't make the first step then chances are no one else will either.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

And another school year comes to an end

Tomorrow morning I will drop my munchkins off for their last day as a kindergartner and a fourth grader, and it's oh so bitter sweet. It's been a long crazy year with many changes and more to come, both at home and school.

On a personal level we moved from the only home the kids had ever known and out of the city to a completely different district, we were able to finish the school year but were unsure what next year would bring. After a lot of thought, tears, agonizing and talking it over as a family we decided to go ahead and apply for out of district school of choice and see if we could at least keep the kids in the school they knew and loved. The girl was especially heart broken at the prospect of leaving her friends and classmates all of whom she had been with since pre-school, next year is huge for her 5th grade graduation, the dance, along with a dozen other activities just for them and I can't say as I blame her for being upset at the thought of leaving. I was too, I love that school as much as she does, it truly has a sense of community I don't want to lose. So we applied and within a very short time were thankfully accepted. So my babies get to stay where I know they'll be happy.

On a school level we gained several classes and couple hundred students when another local school closed it's doors, we also went from having only a principle to also having a vice principle. Many of our teachers moved grades and a few retired. The biggest news though was finding out a few months back that our principle of 18 years was in the running for the superintendent of the districts position. She got that position with the backing and blessing of everyone of us, because if she can do for our entire district what she's done with our school amazing things are in store for everyone who attends that cities schools. That does leave us wondering who will fill her shoes, and those are very big shoes to fill, but I have faith that she will leave us in good hands.

The princess was blessed not one year but two years in a row with an amazing teacher that we both came to love and adore and I believe will both miss something awful next year. To the point I almost begged her to move up a grade just one more time so that the girl could stay with her throughout her 5th grade year as well. Sadly it was not to be. I have put in a request for a particular teacher for next year but I won't know till a few weeks before school starts if she will get her or not. Hopefully whomever she ends up with will be half as wonderful as the teacher she's had these last two years, because she's one that will leave a lasting impression for a lifetime.

The little prince was beyond blessed this year and after the amazing pre-school teacher he had she was a hard act to follow. But his teachers, yes plural were more than I could have ever asked for. The main teacher Mrs.G is actually retiring this year and I want to cry just typing this, because she so obviously cares and loves these kids. I just thank god she chose to wait one more year before leaving, so that my son and I got the chance to be apart of her class. And her co-teacher Ms.C is probably one of the sweetest people I've ever met. I have no idea how to thank these women for everything they've done to help prepare my baby for what comes next. Especially when I wasn't entirely sure at the start of this year if he was ready for any of this. But thanks to the hard work they put in everyday I know he is not only ready but will do well.

So tomorrow when I drop them off I will be happy for the break that comes and excited for the munchkins because they made it through yet another year and are now 1st and 5th graders. But a little sad because they are growing up so fast and because some amazing women that have graced our lives will be gone when we return next fall. I wish them the best in whatever comes next on their journeys and hope that maybe someday our paths might cross again, even if it's just for a quick hello.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The scare of my life

On Friday after school the princess went home with a friend and stayed the night. Saturday afternoon I picked her up, and off to my godsons birthday party her, her brother and I went. She was a little more clingy than normal but I didn't notice anything off about her and she played with the kids like she normally would.

But that night sitting down talking with her dad we noticed that the right side of her mouth wasn't moving when she talked. We thought she was purposely talking out of the side of her mouth, after a few minutes we noticed her right eye was a little droopy and wasn't blinking either. The longer we looked at her the more concerned we both became. In all honesty though I'd never heard of a 10 y/o having one she looked like she had, had a stroke. She said she felt fine but there was definitely something not right going on.

Not having any idea what could be wrong, we decided the best course of action would be to take her to the emergency room just to be safe. Because of the type of symptoms she was having they got her in very quickly, and though he doctor determined in the first few minutes that she most likely had Bell's Palsy they still had to run the full gamut of test for the stroke protocol.

After 4 of the longest hours of my life she was officially diagnosed with Bell's Palsy and prescribed steroids, has to wear and eye patch to bed and use eye drops to keep her eye moist since she is unable to blink on that side. They have no idea what may have caused this, especially since she has had no illness in the recent past. They do want her to follow up with a neurologist even though all the tests they ran at the time came back clean. The doctor at the hospital assured me that she would be ok and shouldn't have any long term complications from this. It will probably last a few weeks to a few months, and will gradually get better till it is gone.

But I have to admit I'm still scared. I know from everything I've read she's 99.9% likely to be absolutely fine, and it's something that just happens sometimes. But I also know it's not all that common in children and it usually happens after some kind of viral infection, head trauma, or other illness. She's had nothing wrong with her recently except for this. It's just super scary when you have a perfectly healthy child suddenly have something like this happen. I can only begin to imagine what parents with kids far worse off than mine go through, and my heart goes out to them even more if that's possible.