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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Weight Watcher Welfare

So far, so good, on the Weight Watchers Plan. I am losing about a pound a week and the Mister two a week. We are eating what most people would call sensibly, and still get an occasional treat. Our energy level is high, with all that exercise.

Weight Watchers is based on a series of point values for different foods. I can choose to eat premium ice cream, but I am going to pay for it in points at 8 points a half-cup. Much more sensible to fill up on tomatoes, red peppers, or artichokes hearts, which without oil are 0 points. 

How many points a person receives per day is determined by his or her weight. Contrary to common logic, the larger a person is, the more points he or she receives. This is because real logic dictates it takes more energy to keep a larger body going than a smaller one. So the Mister gets a slew of points. This means he can eat big meals with extra accoutrements. I, being fat but not fat enough to get any big bonus, get the minimum number of daily points, 29. Throw the confetti and pass the unadorned cabbage.

There are two other alternatives to gain extra points. One is through activity. Every activity, from picking garden vegetables to running uphill in a marathon, has a point value for every ten minutes of exertion. I like these points. I know I've earned them. They make me feel as if I am actually doing something toward my own points. Call it an American Diet Philosophy. I'm willing to get out there and push uphill to down a Magnum Bar.

There is also point welfare, courtesy of Weight Watchers. Everybody is allocated 49 points a week. Those points are there to be used.

But I can't. It's a personal thing, my own mentality, but I can't. Call it old fashioned values, call it conservative thought. I can't. I didn't earn them.

The default on Weight Watchers Online is to use the welfare points first. Call me eccentric, I couldn't do it. In six weeks, out of 294 welfare points, I've used exactly 6. They don't feel as if they are mine to use.

The online package is user-friendly when it comes to the basics, but not-so-user-friendly when it comes to the tricky stuff. If a user doesn't have time to play with it, the learning curve time is going to be awhile. I've heard tell from others who accidentally loaded the wrong weight, and it took them days to figure out how to edit that into the right weight. So, it is no surprise that it took me 4 weeks to figure out how to change my plan tracker so that activity points came off first, then the weekly welfare points. 

I found the panel that contains the radio button to change to activity points first, and none too soon. I had a bit of a run-in with a bag of onion rings for a dollar at Culver's. It crashed my daily points, but with a brisk walk I was able to take some whole wheat pasta and a jar of roasted red peppers, and turn in a satisfying dish for 6 points (oh yeah, there was a teaspoon each of butter and cream in there). I earned it.  

A Moral Dilemma

Just found out about a day ago that my ex-son-in-law and his present wife have allegedly been caught selling the special needs equipment of two of their children on Internet sales sites to other families of special needs kids, over and over again, getting the money without sending the product. I've heard the evidence, and seen some of it, and it looks very damaging to me. There were some cases of sales where it was not even theirs to sell, but a rental, such as a special wheelchair. This is bad enough, but the folks who have been robbed by these two have little recourse. 

It's one thing to steal from family, especially extended family you don't like. It's another thing to steal from folks who are walking in your shoes or worse. To add insult to injury, nobody is helping these people. The Navy (yes, I will say the branch out loud, in bold type for all to read) claims it is a civil matter, and they can't do anything, although there is proof EXSIL was indeed involved. Civil authorities can't be bothered.  As long as the Dynamic Duo (cough, cough) stays below the radar, keeps their alleged crime below a certain amount, no law enforcement, military for him or civil for her, seems to be inclined to stop them.

I talked with the man who runs a ministry that hooks up special needs families with equipment at reasonable prices, and where the Dynamic Duo (cough, cough) apparently did a lot of damage. I offered what I had in information, about 4 Rubbermaid tubs' worth that I have to sort. I don't know if it will help these folks, and I don't care about EXSIL's privacy at this point. 

I also offered the current addresses of his siblings and mother. The man didn't want to "involve" EXSIL's extended family. It's his choice, but I can't see why. This is not regulated under the Fair Debt Collections Act. This is theft, and it's theft from those who truly need the assistance. Criminals need to be caught, and it's not vigilante to inform family that they have an alleged perp in their midst.

I heard from several people. One was a woman who is trying to adopt special needs children from a foreign country, where they languish. She couldn't see what good the information I was offering would do, but EXSIL and his wifey set back the adoption with their scam, and she opined contacting the media in various parts of the country where these two have done their damage might help. Another wanted ME to go after EXSIL and the Little Woman on her and her husband's behalf. Ain't happenin'.

I don't know, I have no crystal ball and flunked seeing into the future as a high school course. EXSIL and his present wife have four children themselves, two with special needs. He was not a great parent to the children we now call our own. If he's ripping off people online, to use a 60s expression, I don't see how he's changed much over the years. He owes me money, too.

It would be nice to see his rear-end in a jail cell, though. So, I'll make PDFs of what I have over the next couple of weeks and see if it helps anybody get justice in the matter.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Retro TV: Father Knows Best

My kids love what they call TV-Not-in-Color. I don't mind DVRing some of the better shows for them, so we can watch together. They marvel how children in the 1950s and 1960s got to play outside until all hours, walk to school by themselves, and went to the malt shop on their own. I get to explain about dial phones, lack of Internet, and why the autos look like new versions of old beater cars (because they are).

We've been watching "Father Knows Best" (FKB) recently.  The show is actually older than I am, having been on radio before TV in 1949, and then the TV show started in 1954. It's the story of a dad, a mom and three kids in the small town of Springfield. The state is unknown, although there are, so far, references to Rockford, St. Louis and Chicago being in close, but not too close proximity. We do know New York is a day away by train, as the eldest daughter was in a wedding in New York and did just that.   

This was one of my favorite shows in reruns as a kid. I spent a lot of time watching TV, as I had frequent sore throats and fevers that kept me out of school for days at a time. The Andersons were a very nice family, and they had more than the standard two TV kids. 

I've heard through the years how the mothers of television shows in the 1950s and early 60s were too stereotypical, always doing housework in dresses, pearls and heels. But as I was watching FKB, I discovered Margaret Anderson didn't. Oh she wore only dresses! She was in her early 40s, according to the story line, placing her in college during the Roaring Twenties (and she did attend college, was Portia in the school's production of the Merchant of Venice). She did cover her dresses with a full-length smock affair, and uses heavy-duty rubber gloves for the tough jobs. She worked smarter, not harder, but she did work. But pearls for household tasks, let alone heels? Hardly. 

Margaret got on the eldest daughter's case, regarding dress. Betty, AKA Princess, saw nothing wrong with performing work tasks in public in "dungarees" or jeans rolled up ala capris. Betty went to the high school, and later to the junior college, in her jeans, a belt firmly holding them in place, to work on decorations for dances or scenery for plays, but never for classes. The younger daughter, Kathy (Kitten), also wore shorts, jeans and other play clothes, in addition to dresses to school.

There were real situations, and real anger in some episodes. Jim and the children not only made it clear to Margaret that they didn't wish to attend her annual family reunion, but they made fun of her relatives in the living room! Margaret pouted and then said they weren't going to the reunion after all, if they felt that way. She even stopped making baked beans from the scratch in mid-process! However, Margaret forgot to call the relatives to inform her of her decision. A cousin shows up to ride with them. The bean situation is fixed by a local deli. The kids get in the car for their mother's sake, and even bring along some activities for themselves and their cousins.

The children were far from perfect. James Jr., or Bud, was lazy in the extreme, always looking for the easy way out. He spent the first two seasons in the basement, apparently hiding out from work, from his friends, from bullies, and from his sisters. Betty breathed the rarefied air of good academics, and never let anybody forget it. Kathy was whiny at times. Betty and Bud ganged up at Kathy, and Kathy earned that nickname Kitten in more ways than one, especially when she took out the verbal claws on her elder siblings. 

All three of the Anderson children seem to have been expected to work for their money. Bud constantly complained about his lack of funds, just as much as his mother nagged him to take out the trash, mow the lawn, and get a part time job. The Anderson girls seem to have the work for money lesson down. Betty had several baby-sitting jobs, and was shown taking several job opportunities through the school. Young Kathy was entrepreneurial, frequently trading toys with her young friends, and even shaking down Bud for items, in exchange for being left to his own devices. 

Jim Sr. worked very hard at the insurance agency, a job I wouldn't want. He seemed to combine the rules of good salesmanship with the Golden Rule. He wasn't always the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he did his best. Oh, and he helped his wife with household tasks, completed the "honey do" list, and helped his male friends with their tasks. He liked to golf, but put off his game to do chores first.

The Andersons tried, when possible, to let their children discover on their own what could happen, when it wouldn't harm them. We recently viewed an episode where teenage Bud was swindled by a carney worker. The $6 Margaret gave Bud to pick up Jim's rewoven pants at the tailor's went to a game of chance. Jim knew the carnival was bad news, as he wouldn't insure it. He warned Bud, and  informed hi they expected to be repaid for the gambling incident. Yet Bud was drawn to the carnival like a moth to a flame. Offered a job by the head carney, he took a job in a dunk tank, thinking he would make $25, to be paid the next day. What a shock to his system when he woke up and found the carnival skipped town!

It took courage and faith for Margaret and Jim to allow Bud to make this mistake.   Most likely today, the parents would have been down at the local police station filing a report, threatening to sue the carnival. Instead, they expected Bud to suck it up and learn from his mistakes. Margaret and Jim just chalked it up to learning life's lessons.

It makes me feel good, as a parent, to remember there was a more innocent time, yet there were still problems raising kids. I've read in at least one of the few books that exist for grandparents raising grandchildren, that such grandparents have to "get with the times" when it comes to parenting. I see nothing wrong with parenting as the Andersons did, even if it was only scripts written for actors. They were, in a day when people did not air their troubles in public, human in their actions and reactions.   

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Legislators, whose welfare do you consider? Part II

I once read a very explicit novel on laws against the Second Amendment called Unintended Consequences. It wasn't the best written book I'd ever read, or the shortest, but it made its point that enacting laws to overprotect can often lead to consequences the various bills' authors never imagined.

I believe there are a lot of welfare laws out there that were supposed to assist people in times of need, but developed unintended consequences. Just because the money is raised by taxes doesn't make it less theft from somebody's hard-earned paycheck and thrust it into the pocket of somebody who may or may not deserve it. 

When husbands and fathers started leaving families and not paying support, welfare once again stepped into the breach with a deal. If the custodial parents would only file papers against the nonpaying parents, welfare would give them money and collect it from the offending parent. This is still money being taken from the pockets of those who earned it and placed in the pockets of others, no matter how they might need it, no matter how much of a loan to the custodial parents it allegedly is.

Now grandparents are trying to collect support from their offspring who are legal adults. The chances of their local child support enforcement office chasing down the parents who owe it are slim to none. These offices don't understand the situation. They figure the old folks will go away, or the parents will come back. They also try to retrofit law and don't realize grandparents aren't merely custodial parents.

By law in most states, unless a grandchild is born to a minor child, or the grandparents adopt the grandchild, grandparents are not legally responsible for the financial costs of raising grandchildren. Just because a grandparent becomes the custodian or the guardian of a grandchild doesn't suddenly make them liable.

I know. I experienced extreme frustration at the hands of Illinois FHS and DHS when my children were my grandchildren. My case for support came up after 26 months of custody. At that time, the states attorney's office sent me a letter telling me I had no business trying to collect support, that I had adopted the children (something the person who wrote the letter should NOT have known, as it was a closed related adoption), and I should get a private attorney to do so. 

For the 26 months my children were our wards, we spent about $40,000.00 on their needs, not including the money we spent on adoption. Out of that, Illinois paid our wards $5,486. What if we had not been able to afford what was necessary?

To the best of my knowledge, DHS and FHS never once tried to collect from the biological parents. 

One of the biological parents is employed in the military. In addition to the base pay he receives, he gets untaxed income for a place to live, food to eat, uniforms, certain other pay and allowances. He knew he had this set of children to support, yet he made four more. By law, the children here were supposed to come first.

As for our adult daughter, she has already made one child that we know. She has a bachelor degree, yet works in retail. 

My husband and I have thought about going to court through a private attorney and collecting what is due us. Even if we can't bleed a turnip, it would be a hoot to watch the bio parents' wages being garnisheed one dollar at time. We're still exploring the details, looking for an attorney with a pair, so to speak, who would actually take on these bozos and the courts.

But the welfare system gives little help, if any, to grandparents who do not insist that it do so, and even then, it isn't much. It's time for legislators to stop our present system of welfare, and with it, the urine tests, the vouchers, the robbing Peter to pay Paulette.  

Legislators, whose welfare do you consider? Part I

Recently, the legislature of Florida passed, and Gov. Scott signed into law, a a bill that requires prospective welfare recipients to submit urine, tissue or hair samples in order to receive benefits. Parents who fail drug tests can name some other individual to collect on behalf of their children, but that other individual must also pass a drug test. 

I don't care if people who want certain jobs gain them by taking a private drug test for the company. I think the government is wrong when it makes military members take drug tests, but when one signs one's life away to join the military, one has no current choice.

But I think it's wrong to drug test welfare recipients.

You of course ask why. I think it makes several assumptions that are not true.

It assumes that all people who are recipients of welfare are drug addicts, thus reinforcing stereotypes. It assumes they are all stupid, wasteful individuals who have no self-defenses when it comes to drugs.  It doesn't take into account parents who find themselves suddenly single. It doesn't take into account alcohol.  It expands the black market for clean, fresh urine creators, and ways to trick the System. What it does for foster parents who act as representative payees (RPY) for foster children I have no idea.

It makes grandparents pee in a bottle, usually grandmothers. As a class, grandmothers should be up at arms at pulling their undies down.

If, indeed, drugs are involved in this scenario, somewhere along the line there is going to be a grandparent who must use the system to get some kind of care for a child. It might be a senior on a fixed income who now has more mouths to feed. It could be getting the kids health insurance. It could be an attempt to get the local child support office to make an attempt to collect support from unwilling adult children.

I opined on a friend's Facebook page that, instead of trying to create more jobs for lab techs and clean piddlers, perhaps Florida and other states should consider in-kind goods, if they were so stinkin' worried about the money being misused. I know quite a few grandparents in the situation of raising grandkids, and they would not be adverse to receiving help along the lines of the Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC. 

WIC gives pregnant and nursing moms, and kids under a certain age or with certain nutritional needs, vouchers. These vouchers are not very popular among the drug-addled crowd. They are extremely specific, for certain items of food. It states very plainly how many dozen eggs, how many boxes of which whole-grain cereals, how many jars and type of peanut butter, and how many gallons of milk a recipient gets. No sugar water in pretty colors. No mistaking the intent of the money. 

I see no difference between a jar of Skippy and a pair of 4T  jeans. I see no difference between a dozen eggs and basic school shirts. 

I mentioned that I don't believe in welfare, but as long as the government was offering, if I needed it, I would use it. Ultimately, I would like to see welfare gone, and people who need help going to those willing to give it, instead of redistribution of wealth via child support collection and TANF payments.

Would you believe that a young woman informed me that grandparents who collect welfare on behalf of their grandchildren actually "take" the grandchildren in order to collect the TANF money to buy drugs and alcohol, and were responsible for their adult children's misbehavior? She of course believed that children in such instances were better off with the State in foster care. She actually stated that grandparents' income should be counted toward the support of grandchildren, even when they were conceived by adults and not as a part of the grandparents' household.

It is a good thing I live nowhere near this young, ignorant, naive woman. As it was, I gave her an earful then and there on my friend's wall. When I apologized, he told me I was right, especially for my main thought: Welfare shouldn't exist. Period.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Macy's Has a Freebie for You! and Weight Pogress

Struggling to figure out a field trip for the summer that is inexpensive and yet fun, perhaps even educational? Macy's has a freebie for you!

Chicago Museum Adventure Pass is a program sponsored by Macy's and local libraries.  Depending on the museum, your family can get one, two or four free general admission passes to a lot of great museums in the Chicago area. Just go to your participating library and ask! Your librarian will be happy to see what's available, as this works much like library materials, on a first-come, first-served basis. The passes are good for seven days from the date printed. 

Don't live in Chicago? Not to worry if you live in Michigan or Minnesota! Macy's happily supplies passes at those libraries as well.  

Double check with museums before bringing a picnic lunch from home. Some allow you to take the lunch in with you (Get those backpacks from school if they aren't too worn out and have the kids tote them!), but some museums will have you eating lunch someplace else.

At least you won't be sitting at home doing nothing!

Our weight progress is slow but steady. We discovered it would be better recorded with a new scale. The Mister is still on the plan, but opted to start again when we purchased the new scale. He's still lost 7 pounds. I've lost 3, and decided to keep going on the goal I'd already started. 

The plan food is wonderful, basically because the plan food is our food, just cut into manageable hunks. While learning online to control portions might not work for everybody, we've been on diets before this, so we have food measuring devices as well as a general understanding of how to go about it. 

Activity is our main problem, and getting it takes some planning. I've taken the kids for walks in our local forest preserves. Sometimes the Mister comes, sometimes he doesn't. We've also incorporated chore activity into the loss plan. Summer session starts next week at area colleges, so we'll see how much activity the Mister can get on his own.