Tip of the Day #1

Tip of the day for Photography

Morganroth Photography

So I’m embarking on a new journey with my marketing plan. For so long I’ve been going against the grain of things, especially when it comes to photography. I fought digital long and hard, in fact I still do and shoot film from time to time. Mostly a hobby and for fine art now. I fought long and hard against using post production main stream tools like anything Adobe! Once I embraced Adobe I fought against presets and templates! Now I embrace them! I am even starting to embrace social media and smart phone photography. The point is I want to be current for my beautiful and wonderful clients! I want to be tech savvy and on your level! Truth be told I’ve learned a lot from my client feedback surveys and reviews which I appreciate that you took the time to do for me!

I know many may have…

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Graduation is getting closer

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My ‪#‎honorcords‬ came today!!!! It’s getting real! ‪#‎graduation14‬ ‪#‎pcbears‬ ‪#‎phoenixcollege‬ ‪#‎grad‬ ‪#‎aasphotography‬ ‪#‎itsabouttime‬ ‪#‎ptk‬ So stinking excited! I can’t wait! 7pm @ Phx College Holgon Football field May 9th ‪#‎happybirthdaytome‬ Just waiting on my cap, gown and tassel.

Gallery Shows & Updates

Updates on my Photography Work.

Morganroth Photography

Some Big happenings going on with Morganroth Photography right now, and you DON’T want to miss them!

 

“Desolation” a personal photo-journalistic approach to details of every day life in the aftermath of the biggest fire catastrophe since 1933 that claimed the lives of 19 of our bravest Hotshot Heroes from Prescott on July 30, 2013; is currently on display at the MonOrchid Gallery inside their solo exhibition gallery called the Bokeh Gallery. You can Get directions and information about MonOrchid and the Shade project here on their facebook page: MonOrchid Gallery. The images on print display tell the story about items, that we use almost every day, but never pay too much attention to them; such as in “Spun Out” you will see in a pile of ashes the only thing left is the casting outside of a ceiling fan, and in “Hells Kitchen” you see that the…

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How to get your Bill Companies to do their job!

So, dealing with Southwest gas today, I got to thinking that I NEEDED to write a post on how I personally deal with getting things done.

1) I’m a very VERY busy women. As stated in other posts, I wear many hats, that keep me busy most if not all of the time. I’m a wife, home maker, mommy, student, teacher, and career business women. I simply don’t have the time, nor the patience to deal with companies that lag at doing their job.

2) I have schedules to keep, time frames to stay on top of, and I keep them all juggled fairly well, and I don’t need an unnecessary kink in the system.

3) No one, and I do mean NO ONE messes with a hugely pregnant women who has two little ones; a toddler and pre-schooler. When my bills are paid, I expect my things to work, and not just work, but work properly. You better believe I will be proactive and persistent in fixing the issues.

So, how do I deal with these companies when there is an issue? Especially since I am very proactive about things, I keep things well oiled and maintained, and I have a system to make sure all of the bills are taken care of; in essence my bills are always paid.

1) When I call, if I’m doing something other than the basic changes, or bill payment, I almost always just give them the info they ask for, tell them VERY briefly my issue, and then request a supervisor immediately. What I’ve learned is that, no matter HOW much or HOW little information you give them, the first person you speak to, can never do anything to fix your issues if it’s outside of the basic things as mentioned previously. MOST times the second “supervisor” (which I know from working in call centers, is not always a supervisor, they are floor leads) can fix the issues, on the very rare occasion, they can not. You sort of have to know what your issue is, and kind of know how the companies work, in order to get to the right person. Minor issues above the basic changes and bill pay, these floor leads can correct. Major issues, you will just have to briefly explain the issue again, and ask for a higher supervisor. That third person (third time is the charm, right?) can almost ALWAYS fix what ever issues you are having.

2) My example currently would be with my gas company. My bill is paid, and the heater was not working. I called yesterday and after a two hour ordeal, they finally sent some whack tech out, who either didn’t care, wouldn’t do anything, or was just lazy. He didn’t fix the issue. By the time I got to call back, they said they couldn’t send anyone back out until Friday. (Mind you they charged me $15 to send a tech out to fix the issue, that wasn’t fixed.) Well, I was completely upset by that time, and had other issues I needed to face at that moment, so I said I’d be calling back. Which I did; today. When I called back I finally got to that third person, the real “Supervisor” and got an expedited “medical” reason to get a tech out today, right now. I’m hugely pregnant, and my two little ones are sick; I made sure to say they were a pre-schooler and toddler. I even made sure to tell them that both of my little ones were sick. Yes, believe it or not, the age of children and their condition, will light a fire under these companies behinds. Especially when  you explain that you can’t even make them feel better because you have a gas water heater, not electric. So that’s my second tip really, TELL THEM YOUR CHILDREN’S AGES and IF THEY ARE SICK! This is a case when “over share” will get done what you need done. She TRIED to charge me another $15. When I CALMLY explained to her that I was already charged yesterday for this, that it was not fair to charge me again, seeing as the guy didn’t fix the issue, nor did he enter my house, or was willing to do so to check on the issue, she promptly waived that fee. The one fee, okay, I mind that less, but you wont be charging me twice for the same issue, when it wasn’t taken care of the first time.

The gas guy got out here finally, and very promptly I might add, and it was a broken switch, the pilot switch to be exact. Yes, they do break, even on their own, (I’m not a gas professional, I don’t know how they work, that’s not my job. I just know how to maintain my stuff, and when they are working/not working.) In either case, he fixed it in less than 20 mins, and got on his way. My heater was working again, and I had hot water finally.

3) BE CALM! You get more bee’s with honey than you do with vinegar. Being rude, mean, nasty, and just down right applauding, wont get you anywhere, nor get anything you need done. I have learned to be calm, and low key, truthful, and direct. This seems to get the best responses. Don’t LIE to them, and don’t over exaggerate, don’t be “chipper” either; just be calm, and pleasant. I used to get so over aggregated, and you could hear the panic almost in my voice, and it never got things done, then one day I just decided to start directing them with a calm and pleasant approach, and this greatly improved getting things done for me.

4) BE FIRM! You can be firm while being calm and pleasant, you don’t have to be firm and rude. I’ve only had to call and make payment arrangements on bills a few times, and the times I have had to do that, they have always wanted me to pay what I knew I couldn’t, or on a day I knew would not happen. For example, I had to call my cell phone company once, and my bill was like $100 bucks, I totally just forgot to pay it, not a big deal, it happens sometimes, and luckily for me I’ve been a customer with them since 2008. However, they always start off with saying you have to pay x amount, then you simple state, “I’m sorry I can really only pay this amount or on this day. I have to have money for gas to get to work/school, and food. Will this amount work?” KNOW ahead of time exactly WHEN you can pay and HOW much you can pay, and stick to it. They will always haggle it down two more times before they will ultimately accept your offer. Just be nice, and keep it calm, but be firm; in the sense of standing by your offer. These companies want your money and will take it any way they can, even if it means waiting a little longer for it. Like I said, I don’t need to do that often, very rare occasions I do need to do that, because hey, I’m human, I slip sometimes and forget.

5) BE PERSISTENT! Don’t take “no” from the first person you speak to as the final solution. Refer to tip number one, remember that most times, the first person you speak to, can’t do what you need them to do. Often times it’s the second or third “supervisor” you speak to that will get it taken care of.

6) TAKE CHARGE! Yes, take charge, you pay them every month, and you expect your services to work properly. Take charge, don’t let them have the power just because they are the bill company, YOU PAY THEM! Sometimes a gentle and subtle reminder that YOU PAY them, not the other way around will help move things along. I always like to throw in “yes my bill was paid on x day, my new bill just came out/will come out on x day and I already have bill pay set up to pay on x day.” That shows them you are on top of it. Sometimes I throw in a little extra like, “I’m paying you for my gas so I can have heat during the winter and hot water, I can’t give my sick children a hot bath because the gas is not working. My bill is paid, so I really need my services to be working properly. After all it is why I pay you every month and on time.” ON an even rarer occasion I have had to get a little more “rougher”. I do have a background and connections with local media, and will say, okay, I guess I’ll have to call so and so with so and so news and tell them that you are leaving a third trimester pregnant women and her sick toddler and pre-schooler without gas for heat and hot water when our bill is paid for almost a week.” THEY Do not want that bad PR. Trust me they don’t. Although I have that connection, I suspect MOST of you know how to contact the news stations to submit stories, emergency stories, and things like “3 on your side” etc. If push comes to shove, don’t be afraid to throw that out. Be TACTFUL, calm, and firm about it. There is NO need to be rude or nasty about it.

7) BE PROACTIVE! Don’t just wait for them to do their job, constantly call them to keep them doing their job. Ask for an ETA (Estimated time of arrival) ask for the tech’s name, ask where you stand on their daily work orders. Gather as MUCH information as you can, and be sure to write this down, along with anyone’s names you have spoken to. Make sure to include dates and times you called. (If you have a cell you can always re check your call history, but just write it down for good measure.) You will NOT believe how many times I’ve called to deal with issues, and the rep did not appropriately or accurately note the account. THEY CAN pull call logs, provided you have the correct date, time, person you spoke to, and the number you called from. They CAN and WILL pull that call and listen to it. This works to your benefit!!! Trust me!

8) PLEASE & THANK YOU, go a LONG way! Sad to say that I have to actually say this, but I have seen MANY MANY people not use this! I just can’t believe how many people will not say Please and Thank you. Trust me, it will take you further and get more done if you use please and thank you.

9) ANSWER their questions genuinely. If they ask you how your day is going, or what the weather is like, then answer them with a truthful reply and genuine reply. They are just simply trying to pleasant and cut the dead air while they work their magic. It makes them feel more comfortable with you, and sympathetic to you, and will thus further get you where you want to be.

10) BE PREPARED! SOMETIMES, no matter how much you followed these tips, you will very occasionally get a road block. Sometimes you may need to be prepared to pay a bit more, or pay on a day you don’t want to, or wait until a later time to get a tech out to fix your issues. SOMETIMES, so if you have followed every tip, and you are still getting a road block, still be prepared to offer a tad more, different date, or later time. It’s called compromise. You want them to compromise with you, so be willing to give a tad bit at the end.

I hope this helps! Bottom line is, make sure your bill companies do their job and work for you, especially if you are paying your bills on time! Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and take the initiative!

Things at Christmas that just Tar my Feathers!

A friend sent me a message this morning regarding an article from Fox News insider with Megyn; you can see the article here: Megyn Takes on Secularist for Forcing Schools to Cancel Christmas Toy Drive.

There’s this group called the American Humanist Association (AHA), headed by the director Roy Speckhardt, who believes that Christmas Box Toy donations at School’s, that are backed and sponsored by religious groups, “proselytize” children. (Proselytize: convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.) He further goes on to say that “These gifts are gifts with strings attached” because Christian organizations placed religious letters/pamphlets into these gift boxes. He namely attacks Samaritans Purse, that sponsor and distribute the Operation Christmas Child Box project. He recommends that the schools use organizations such as the Marines Toys for Tots; which I guess he isn’t aware is also backed and sponsored by The Salvation Army, which is also a religious association.

I’m seriously APPALLED at this! You don’t have to be “religious”, or Christian, to understand that for some, Christmas, and Christmas time is about the Spirit of Christmas, of all things that are good. About Love, giving, thankfulness, etc. Where is their heart?

As far back as I can remember, our school had ALWAYS had a toy drive! We ALWAYS gave what we could, and support people! Shame on you American Humanist Association for, forgetting what Christmas is about! Those toys, and gifts for these children, signify that they are not forgotten, that someone, somewhere loves them. Children NEED that! Shame on you for making this a “religious” thing, when it’s far more than that! I am truly disgusted!

This is what is happening to humanity now, cold heart, greedy Grinch’s, who rob people of peace, love, joy, and happiness. Maybe they need a visit from the three Ghosts of Christmas to get a reminder!

America has forgotten what we were founded on, who founded us, why we left England. Although many will beg to differ, you can’t deny undisputed facts! “In God we Trust”, “One Nation Under God…” I think some Atheist have taken it too far. Unfortunately, some on all sides take it too far. We simply live in a time, where nearly everyone feels the need to be right, and that they are solely right, and anyone else who differs in belief and or opinion is simply wrong and beneath them. Sad times we live in. This is why people don’t know their neighbors, and why no one helps people anymore. I am truly thankful we found a neighborhood, that we know and love our neighbors already! Yeah, okay, so it’s a little stepfordish, but it reminds me of the “good ole’ days” growing up. Where I don’t have to be afraid to let my children out of my house, and I can trust my neighbors. I can hang a friggen Christmas Wreath on my front door and not bolt it into the door, for fear someone will steal it!

This isn’t about me though, it’s about this association, that wants to rob innocent children of one day, one day that tells them, they are loved, they are not forgotten, that they mean something. He wants to rob communities from helping those who are less fortunate. He’s not hurting himself, or standing up for “what’s right” or “separation of church and state”, he’s being a dang Grinch, and he ought to be ashamed of himself!

How is the Christmas donations ANY different than politicians on Capital Hill who have secret agendas? Who make tea party pacts, and sneaky deals and offers under the table. “Hey Joe from California, if you vote my way on this, which you don’t really have a huge opinion on, I will vote your way on that, which I don’t really have a huge opinion on. What do you say? Is it a deal?” If you honestly don’t think this, doesn’t happen, then you don’t know a politician, or you never paid attention to History.

A pamphlet with information about who God and Jesus is, in a box, that is sent to a child somewhere for Christmas, isn’t even nearly the same. It’s a piece of paper, that a child may not even likely read, or even look at! It’s not making a secret pact, it’s not forcing it down their throats, it’s no more than a piece of paper with Christian Facts on it. They can chose to read it or not. At some point we all chose to believe or not. How is that ANY different? It’s not. It’s certainly NOT like it’s sitting at the schools either! The schools simply have donation boxes. That’s it. The church does the rest. I certainly do not see any “proselytizing” going on Mr. Speckhardt! Your facts are vastly skewed, and you are simply the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. For YOUNG children, especially ones that know NOTHING or very little of God, and Jesus, Christmas is about Jolly Old St. Nick, Santa, in his Big red suit, belly of jelly, 8 tiny reindeer, a sleigh, and a magic sack of gifts. Shame on you from taking that from them, because of a piece of paper, they might not even look at twice!

Christmas is ABOUT giving! It’s about helping those less fortunate, as adults, it’s about the joy, laughter, and happiness on Christmas morning when the kids faces light up this world! It’s ONE day we can all come together and be truly gleeful! Why would you take that away? Just because some religious group backed up with funding, means, and the heart to distribute these items? I certainly don’t see NON Christian or even Atheist groups creating organizations to do this. You’ll be hard pressed to find any other group that is not Christian affiliated doing anything of the sort.  I don’t see you and all of your wealth offering to do it either! I certainly hope you never fall victim to hard times, but if you do, and you find yourself standing in line to sign your children up for the Angel Tree, (again backed up by the Salvation Army, a religious group), I would hope you think back to this “victory” of yours, and remember how you potentially destroyed Christmas for so many innocent children, who just want to feel loved, and not forgotten for ONE DAY! If this were oz, you’d be the cowardly lion asking for a heart. All your little shenanigans is doing, is making more Christians LIKE MYSELF, make a bigger stink, and a bigger stand and going even MORE out of our way to prove that you are absolutely, inconsequentially wrong!

The Christmas Spirit will prevail, with your without your Blessing Mr. Speckhardt, and it will be a blessed one, and we will find other ways, despite your soul-less heart. Remember. Take a lesson, and take note Mr. Speckhardt, you may have won a very small battle, but you have now started a war, that you will not win.

“Drug Addicts, Are they scum? What do you think?”

Every morning, after I get the kids from their rooms, come down stairs, make their sippy cups, get them their breakfast and change bums, I sit down as they are eating, and eat my breakfast. I check my news outlets via my smart phone, and then I check facebook (sometimes) and a mommy site of mine. It’s sort of my Hello, wake up, since I’ve had to cut down on coffee, being pregnant. =/ Oh, how I miss my morning coffee!

This morning, there was a post, “Drug Addicts…. are they ‘Scum‘ What do you think?” After reading this women’s post, she apparently had made another post prior to this one, talking about her drug addict daughter, and how she was arrested, and how the women on this site were so mean and ruthless about her daughter being scum. That the evening news was even worse about it, because her daughter was picked up during a sting operation.

I felt for this women, not because I felt the nasty replies were less than legit, but because I felt for her pain of losing someone you love to drugs. I sat for a minute or so, before I finally decided to reply, with my two cents.

My family has been riddled with drug abuse and addicts, (thankfully never myself, I watched it tear my family apart and nearly destroy some of my good friends, and I never wanted anything to do with it. I did however go through a time of heavily drinking; a short 6 month period of time.) My parents were into drugs when we were young children, I don’t remember when they started, all I know is it was the foundation of their demise, divorce and set the wheel in motion for our family to be shattered into pieces. Although my parents both EVENTUALLY cleaned up, it was not without consequences. The end result was we, the three of us children, aged out of the foster system. Our file had been deemed return to parent/s for the longest time. Then one day, suddenly it was changed, to “State Ward.” There would never be a chance again we’d be a family. In fact we all three went to separate state run group homes. By the time they changed our status to “State Ward” from return to parent, we were teens, no one wants to foster or adopt a teen, especially those with significant baggage. I fought long and hard for the three of us to be as close as possible and to remain in our schools we had grown up in, because I guess I just knew somehow that we needed some sort of familiarity with our chaotic life. We needed our family, which were our friends that became our family.

The three of us and our friends were all of our family we ever had, for the longest time. I kept my private life quiet. People who had known me my entire life, had NO idea what I was going through. I feared they would NEVER understand. See, our school, our home was in a “rich” area. We went to Garden Lakes Elem, which was considered a rich school, very charged in extra circulars, sports, and academics. After all I was on the advanced track. I just didn’t think that my “preppy” (as other schools claimed us to be), friends, classmates, peers could ever understand my deep dark secrets. They knew I lived with my grandparents for a long time, but they didn’t know about the abuse we endured, they didn’t know about the hell we were living through. They could never understand that I was working full time to support myself in my own apartment, they could never understand that I survived off of two to three hours of sleep, to make sure I finished all of my advanced course homework, after work, which was after track/cross country/band practice. They simply wouldn’t understand that I bought my furniture from Goodwill’s, and was sleeping on a little pull out cot. That I barely had enough food to sustain me. They would never understand that I lived on 83rd ave and almost McDowell, and I had to walk half a block to the bus stop at 430am, just to catch the bus, to take it to the Glendale Luke Link, so I could sprint another half a block to make it to the school bus stop by 6:45am, just to make it to school on time. There were no city bus systems that went anywhere near my school, when I was in high school. For two years, my Jr and Sr year, I lived through this. I was too poor for a car. I had no one to buy me a car. I felt jipped, my friends were getting their cars for their 16th  birthday’s and having a blast just being high schoolers. I was barely making it. On occasion I went a week without electric living out of an ice cooler until I could pay the electric bill that pay day. I finally got an amazing job January of my senior year, and I finally was able to buy this junk car, I paid $500 for it, and it worked right up until the moment I could afford to finance my first car, then it literally blew up in my face. Only a few of my CLOSET friends knew ANY of this, they never dared to speak of my secrets. They never dared to mention why I left my home, my school, my friends/family for three months my freshman year, when CPS ripped us out of my grandparents home, because the abuse got worse, or how hard I fought to get back. They never pointed out my bruises, cracked ribs, bald spots on the back of my head from having being dragged by my hair, and so on. They knew my secret, but we never spoke of them, we just went on as business as usual.

Why do I divulge these terrible secrets that very few knew about me? Because the ball that rolled down the hill, that created this life for me, was set in motion by drugs, drug addicts. My life was ripped apart, I lost my childhood, even before what I just described, I lost my family, and I lost me for a while.

When I was 6, I had started 1st grade, no one was home to watch my siblings, and even at 6, I just couldn’t in good conscious, leave my siblings at home. I used to go to our backyard (We sublet ted a small apartment home on a farm property, that usually had no electricity) and pick a grapefruit, or an orange, and feed it to my siblings, before getting them cleaned and ready to take them to school with me. I would walk a mile with them to my school. Then I would hide them in the bathrooms, I swear the teacher must have thought I had a bad bladder or something, because I was checking on them as often as I could. I would sneak my lunch outside, behind the building and bring my siblings, and would feed us. Then back to hiding them in the bathroom until school was out. When we got home, I would find whatever I could in the house for us to eat for dinner. I did this until my brother was in kindergarten.

Why do I bring up these events? Because again, drugs made my parents forget they had three small children depending on them. We ate like royalty on the weekends my grandparents would show up and take us to their homes for the weekends. One weekend it was my moms parents, the next it was my dads mom and step dad, the following it was my dads dad and step mom, and on the fourth weekend, I would shamelessly call my aunt, or a grandparent and get them to come get us. I would sneak food home from their houses, so I could feed us. Once I walked all the way from 35th ave and Bethany from my moms house, to 83rd and Mcdowell, all night, with my two sleeping siblings in the wagon behind me, to my dads, who took us to my grandparents so we could eat, we had not eaten in two days. This is what drugs do to a family.

Honestly I can’t tell you why, at 5,6,7, and 8 years old that I did what my parents should have been doing. I’ve been told that if it were not for me, and thinking about my siblings, who were younger than me, then none of us would have made it out alive. A blessing and a curse. These stories, are not fairy tales, they are not stories, they are my life, they are true events, they really happened to me, us. I can’t change them, I try to ignore these memories and have even tried to completely forget about them, but I can’t.

So, when my sister started using drugs in grade school, I knew I had lost the battle. To her, it was easier to fall into that trap, than to fight out of it. I was wholly devastated when I learned she had gone to juvi the first time for drug possession. I tried and I tried to help her. I offered her a clean, nothing much, even had to share my bedroom with her again, apartment. She pulled a knife to my throat one day when I came home for lunch, because I asked her to move so I could get into the fridge for lunch. She was high and cleaning my title with a brush. I realized that day, that I could no longer help her. That the only way she was getting help, was if she wanted it, and she didn’t. I basically started to mourn the loss of my sister. Drugs, they change you, the people we used to know and love are not the same when they are doing drugs. My sweet, loving, giving, beautiful, Dr. Doolittle (female version) sister was a monster, that I no longer recognized. There was no hint of her left when she is on drugs.

I wanted NO part in that life, or lifestyle. I didn’t want to ruin my life, and be scumming for the rest of my life. I did the only thing I knew I had to do, I walked away from her, and I told her to never return until she was clean. I still sometimes mourn the loss of my sister, yes, she’s still here physically, in body, but her spirit, the person I knew and loved, isn’t here any longer, and hasn’t been for a long time. Truth is, she may never come back, not after over 10 years of heavy drug use. If my mother couldn’t convince her on her death bed to get clean, and I couldn’t convince her with her nephews, so she could be an aunt in their lives, then I’m afraid nothing will bring her back. For me, I know it’s not a question of IF I will get that call to identify her body, it’s a matter of WHEN. She has no desire to change, and I can’t help her or make her, until she does want to change. I can’t have that around my children, family or in my home though. So she knows she can’t come here. Things end up missing when she does, and that’s because she hawks it to get money to get high. She leaves for hours down the street to get high. I simply can’t have that filth here, not around MY INNOCENT children. They deserve a better life than I had. It might not be perfect, and they may not get everything they want, but they are loved, and every need is taken care of, and then some.

The last time I physically saw my sister, was this past Spring, she scared the living tar out of me. You could see every bone in her body. I was out working on homework for a class assignment. I figured since I was in the area, and had not heard from her since Christmas, that I would stop by briefly, just to see if she was still alive. When I pulled up, she excitedly wanted to show me something she had done. I had my camera on me, so I didn’t even think twice. Her druggie boyfriend, friends and her, had dug out under neath their mobile home and across the culd a sac to the drug lords house, a tunnel, and living space. It had “bedrooms”, a bathroom, a living room, a kitchen, rooms where the meth was being cooked, rooms where the weed was being grown. The entrance was in the shed out back, covered by a heavy tool box, that they built stairs down into, that they CARPETED! Yes, seriously! She was so proud of this! Yes, it was ALL underground! From their house to the drug lords house. She was so pleased with her self that she decorated it down there. WHO in their right mind does this? I was shocked, and I felt like it was going to cave in at any time. I wanted out of there fast.

I cried all the way home. My sister was truly gone now. THIS is what drugs do to people!!!!

A drug addict, IS NOT the person we remember them to be, and they never will, until THEY chose to clean up. This was not my sister. This was a monster, in my sisters body. We really have not spoken since then. She just barely found out that we moved and are expecting a third son. Still, it doesn’t phase her. She will end up dead or back in prison. I’m just waiting for that call. So yes, do I think drug addicts are scum? Yes, especially when they are using. Because drug addicts are not the same people they were before the drugs. You can’t even call them your loved one when they are using, because they simply are not. Drugs change people, and kill the person we love. There is nothing you can do to change that.

I do plan on one day to tell my children about my life, and how drugs affected me, who never touched a drug, and how it took their aunt from us, how it killed my aunt. I do plan on telling them how drugs destroyed our family, on all sides. I don’t know when that day will be, or what exactly I will tell them, but I do know that I will be honest about it, and I will tell them, that drugs don’t just ruin and destroy the person using, they ruin and destroy those who love them. That my wish for them, is that they never touch one single drug, that if a friend offers, that it’s not “uncool” to say no, and walk away, because they will thank their lucky stars when they are older.

I have several friends who made it through drug addiction, and are WONDERFUL people today that I LOVE so much. The difference between them, and my sister, or other drug addicts, is THEY chose to change. It was a choice they made. No one could make that choice for them.

Sadly, this is how I feel, and what I think, based off of my experiences. I pray everyday that the Lord heal my sister, and remove the monster holding her hostage, and I pray every day that she chooses to come clean, and change. One day I hope she makes the choice before its too late, because I would LOVE IT if my children could have their aunt. My heart hurts, because although my husband and I over compensate to give them everything they need and some of what they want, they are missing out on some family. They have three awesome Uncles on my husbands moms/step dads side who love and adore them, and are always there for them. However, their only biological aunt, is not in the picture, their uncle, my brother is out of state, and trying to get back to AZ. Their other aunts and uncles on my husbands dad and step moms side, don’t even know them, and they don’t know their aunts and uncles on that side. It’s complicated. But it breaks my heart. The size of a family isn’t what matters, it’s the quality of the family. Between my dad, husband, my husbands mom and step dad, and my husbands brothers on that side, including myself, they are a very loving and high quality family dynamic. That’s the most I can ask for, to give my sons, the life I never got to have growing up.

I was able to break the cycle my parents fell victim to, and I have brought myself a LONG way from where I was. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but I did it, I accomplished a lot! I’m so proud of where I came from and where I am today. However, that doesn’t change what I feel about drug addicts.

Grocery Shopping Saving, My how I do it.

I guess it’s been said, and brought up to my attention, that I’m rather great at budgeting our grocery bill! I just am a penny pincher, and I do all that I need to, to save when I can. So to help a few friends out that have asked me how I do things.

 

First, I start with all of the local ads. I go through each ad, page by page. I list each store, and under each store I write down ONLY items we eat, need, or want to eat. Then I make a master list combining all of the stores. It looks something like this: (See below)

Fry’s:

  • Banana’s .39 cents /lb
  • Oscar Myer 8 count Hot Dogs 2 for $1
  • etc….

Bashas:

  • Milk $1.12 ea
  • Libby’s 14.25-16 oz canned veggies 4 for $1
  • Banana’s .49 cents/lb

Albertsons:

  • Chicken buy 1 get 2 free
  • Boneless pork chops buy 1 get 2 free
  • etc…

Then I do my master List of all of the stores. If there are duplicate items (normally there are, since I write down ALL items, regardless if it’s under another store yet or not) I ONLY write down the store that has it for the cheapest value. It’s NOT always necessarily the cheapest price, but it’s the cheapest value. For example this last grocery run, Hidden Valley Ranch 28oz was 2 for $5 at one store, and the 72 oz was $6 at another store. You have to break it down to price per unit. In this case, price per oz. 28 x 2= 56 because it’s 2 units of 28oz for $5. Now divide. 5/56= .09 cents per oz. Now Divide 6/72= .08 cents per oz. Sure it’s only .01 cent difference, however, that cent makes a difference in tax later. The BETTER value is the 72oz for $6.

So my master list would look something like this:

Grocery List:

  • Banana’s .39cents/lb @ Fry’s
  • Oscar Myer 8 Ct Hot Dogs 2 for $1 @ Fry’s C= .45cents off when you buy 2.
  • Milk $1.12 @ Bashas
  • Libby’s 14.25-16oz canned veggies 4 for $1 @ Bashas C=.50 cents off when you buy 5 or more.
  • Chicken buy 1 get 2 @ Albertsons
  • Sugar (I add items I’m out of and need, that I couldn’t find a price match for at the end.)

 

 

Second, I clip ONLY coupons from the newspapers, and my online coupon sites that we USE, and NEED. I don’t waste my time clipping coupons I may or may never use, or items we may or may never need. I have a coupon pile of un-clipped coupons, in case I need to go back and retrieve it, however, once those are expired, I toss them. I don’t like clutter, or things taking up space. You don’t NEED to be an extreme couponer, to use coupons effectively. My philosophy is, only clip what you will use. You may be wondering what the C= at the end of my master list above mean. Those are my coupons I have clipped. I match my coupons up to the items on my list. I will cross check my coupons with the ad match list, and again figure out what the BEST value is. Sometimes using the couponed item is the best value, and sometimes, it’s not. The trick with this list, is to remember that this list is ONLY a guide, it’s not an absolute. I’ll explain that more in a few steps from now.

 

Third, I meal plan. I make a month calendar, and I meal plan for the month. I make sure to include Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and snacks. EVEN if on the OFF chance we eat out instead of cooking at home, I STILL plan for every meal and snack. That way I KNOW I will have enough to last, and perhaps hold us over if I don’t get to grocery shop on time. My Meal Plan looks something like this (See Below):

Monday 11/19

B: Cherrios 1/2 banana

Snack: Gold fish

Lunch: PBJ Sandwich, carrots w/ ranch

Snack: Celery w/pb

Dinner: Pork Chops, baked potatoes, dinner rolls, green beans

I do this for every day of the month. Again I use this as a GUIDE! It’s not set in stone, and I don’t rigidly go by this schedule. It’s just a guide to let me know HOW much food I need to buy. If I want to have BBQ ribs one night, vs Pork chops, we are flexible enough to change it. If I’m not feeling well, then I have hot dogs we can do from another nights meal. Or if Our son wants Carrots instead of green beans, then we change it out.

 

Fourth, I price match and use coupons at Walmart. The Walmart by our house is a rural Walmart, and our food is not taxed, plus we get fresh food daily there, and prices are lower, than city Walmarts. Perks of living out in the boonies. =) This is where I use the master grocery list above as a guide. Let’s go back to the Hidden Valley Ranch from my last grocery list. We determined that the 72oz bottle for $6 was the best value. However, when I get to the store, I don’t just automatically grab that. I look to see if any other ranch that I know we will eat, has a better deal. For example: Great Foods Ranch (Walmarts Brand) was 36oz at $2.50 ea. Just do the math again. We know that the 72oz @ $6 is .08 cents/oz. So all we need to do is 2.50/36= .07 cents/oz. Yes, it’s LESS than the 72 oz’s, however it’s cheaper. You can get 2 36 oz bottles that is equal to 72 oz’s for a $1 cheaper, because it comes out to $5 instead of $6. You are getting the SAME amount of ozs as you intended to get, at a cheaper price. Don’t be afraid to try off brands. My husband was a Hidden Valley Ranch snob for a LONG time. Then the price of ranch kept increasing, and I said enough is enough. I’m getting what’s cheaper, and you’ll eat it or you wont. I try to buy the Hidden Valley Ranch when I can, if it’s the better deal, just for him, however, he knows, that if it’s not the better deal, I’m not getting it. You’ll be surprised how many of the off brands, and brands your not fully aware of, have no taste difference, or very slightly different. It IS okay to “splurge” every now and again, and get the “good” stuff. Just not as a habit. Now if Hidden Valley Ranch had a coupon that I clipped, I would have already figured it out with the coupon. I do clip coupons for all ranches, just IN case, the coupon and in store deal combined is better.

 

Fifth, I buy my bulk items from Costco/Sams club. Mostly hygiene, and baby items like diapers, etc. Sams club gives you MORE diapers in their box, for the same price that it is at Costco. However, you get MORE wipes in a box for a cheaper price per unit at Costco, same with Gold fish. (That’s why we have both memberships. I sat down one day and figured out how many diapers, and other items we buy in bulk, and then divided it all buy the cost of the membership. The cost of the membership is minute in the amount that we save. To buy half the amount of diapers from Walmart we pay 3 dollars less than we do at Sams club.) We typically only buy snack items in bulk, and hygiene such as toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, baby butt cream, diapers, wipes, sometimes canned food and boxed food items, if there were no good deals in ads, or coupons. Soda in bulk is almost always cheaper at Sams and or Costco, not always the case, that’s why knowing that a 36 pack of pepsi is $5.30 at Costco/Sams is their set price, unless they have a coupon that month comes into play. Safeway will do 4 12pks for $10 every couple of months. Break the unit price down like before and you can see where it’s cheaper.

 

Sixth, I have a separate budget for groceries that is not part of our grocery budget for items that go on super sales. Items that have a LONG shelf life. For example, last grocery shopping trip, canned tuna was .15 cents ea, vs the normal .49 cents ea. If you eat Tuna, you know it’s hardly EVER on sale, that’s a GOOD time to stock up. Same with boxed and other canned foods. Such as Hamburger Helper, it was on sale at 10 for $5, most times, at best it’s 10 for $10. You get the idea.

 

Seventh, I know when to shop at what stores. For example, Albertsons does their buy 1 get two free on almost all meats the 3rd week of the month. That’s when they have the highest volume and best meat to do this with. You HAVE to go to Albertson’s for this, Walmart does not price match BOGO’s especially on meat, UNLESS the ad happens to have a “unit” price savings, etc. Which it never or on a very rare occasion does. It’s BETTER to price match at Walmart the second week of the month. This is the week when ads are the best, because this is the week they have their largest volume of food come in. Ads typically drop on Wednesday here, so I never go that day, they get low, and don’t restock until that night, so I go on Thursday’s or Friday’s. Saturday’s there are too many people there doing what I’m doing. I’ve found that Thursday’s are OPTIMAL days to go and price match during that second week. I bulk buy the fourth week of the month, because that’s the week when Costco drops their coupon ad, and you can get TP, Diapers, Wipes, etc cheaper. Hint, if Costco does their $5 off on Huggies diapers then it’s still a better deal to get diapers at Sams club. HOWEVER if they drop their $6 off on Huggies diapers that week, then it’s a better deal per unit at Costco. Cleaning supplies are on the best deals the first week of the month.

 

I have four separate grocery/shopping budgets. 1 for groceries, 1 for hygiene, 1 for cleaning/bulk/other needs and 1 for perishable short shelf life items, like milk, produce, etc. I didn’t learn all of this over night. It took me about 6 months of going to various stores every week, listing things, watching trends, really looking at the ads and coupons, talking to the grocery stores, etc. Yes, TALK to your grocery managers! They are willing to tell you how that particular store operates on sales, coupons, price match, etc. Talk to the produce and meat guys, they are MORE than willing to tell you when things go on sale, and what the trends are. Sometimes if you ASK the meat guy, he will give you meat at a RIDICULOUS lowered price if he has to take it off the shelf that day or the next. Meat is STILL good if you freeze it! Just remember your basic food handling, get it chilled and frozen promptly and defrost it properly, to get it out of the food danger zone, and COOK it at the proper temps. You can google search all of that if you don’t know how.

 

I do this for EVERYTHING! I price match and use coupons for everything. I have a rule, IF it’s NOT on sale, with a coupon or/ or price ad match, then we DON’T get it, unless we ABSOLUTELY need it. That’s how I Birthday and Christmas shop as well. I start Christmas shopping and birthday shopping almost the day after. A penny here or there may not seem like a lot right now, or at that time, but it does add up quickly. You are taxed on every single penny, so that ads up. I’ve been able to cut our $600/month food bill down to about $250/month. That’s just using coupons I need and will use, with price matching. I’m not an extreme couponer, and I have no desire to be, or stock up an entire closet or garage, to me that’s wasteful. But I do back stock enough in my fridge and cupboards, JUST in case there is an emergency. We are NOT on any public assistance, we don’t qualify, so I’ve had to radically take a look at our budgets, and make some significant changes. None of what I do, takes more than two days. One day I spend going through the ads (usually a Wednesday), clipping my coupons, getting organized, etc. and the second day (about two hours) at the grocery stores. I DO look at the ads every week to stay current with trends or if on the off chance, an item we didn’t stock up on, is now at a super sale price, I can stock up on. However, that’s rare, and the system I use, is really been doing great.

 

I hope this helps some of you! Happy shopping and saving!

Misery loves Company

I wont say who, and I wont go into too many details, but I’m annoyed beyond belief at this moment. How can someone so spiteful, and so full of hate even care what’s going on in my life? The only explanation I can think of, is they are bored, and unhappy with their own life; misery does love company. I wont play into it, I never do. I just keep my mouth shut and go on about my own business.

A rumor, from the rumor mill got presented to me tonight. Apparently the rumor is, that my husband and I only got married because I got pregnant and we had a child together. I beg to differ, but 3 children later, a huge house, all of the bills in both of our names, not to mention the love and attention we give one another, to see each other happy, kind of says the exact opposite.

Not that this ridiculous rumor deserves a rebuttal or even an explanation, however, for the record, love and understanding along with YEARS of failed ways, lead us to the decision to marry.

My husband and I have been through a LOT. A thousand and one ups, and a million more heart-wrenching dumps. We survived adultery, child loss, spiteful rumors from “friends” who attempted to separate us in every way they could. We’ve survived so much, including our own demises towards one another, including every attempt to harm one another out of pain and hurt. Yet something kept pulling us back together, time after time, after time. We both certainly went out of our way to run, but our paths were always brought right back to one another.

One night, about a week before our oldest son Jayden was born, we had a sit down heart to heart talk with one another. We went to Red Devil for dinner, basically our last romantic, kid free, last horrah, before our son would be born that weekend. Our conversation didn’t stop there, when we got back to our apartment, we continued to talk. We talked all night into the next day. We finally came clean about our wrong doings, and lies, that were keeping us apart. We ultimately forgave each other that night. We were on the verge of splitting again, in fact, people we trusted tried every method they could to spilt us apart, and not help us with our issues at the time. Not surprising, seemed to have been the story of our life together since day one; felt very much like star crossed lovers.

In any case, with the pain, and hurt behind us, and us moving forward, it was easy for us to finally see, that we were ready to finally get married. We thought about all of the possibilities, long engagement, short engagement? Ultimately we scrapped the idea of any engagement really, and set a date for a month and two weeks after our son was born. We even scrapped the big wedding, and basically ran away to Vegas; best decision of our lives together, seriously.

Yes, we thought about what people would say and think, and honestly, we didn’t care. It had been just over 10 years since we started dating, and if that wasn’t proof enough, then nothing we could accomplish together would be proof enough to anyone. No one’s opinions, or beliefs mattered to us at that point. At the birth of Jayden, and all during the labor, we found out just how much we loved each other, have always loved each other, and will always love each other. There was no hastily decision, because we fought it the entire pregnancy. We both don’t believe in divorce, and we both don’t believe in getting married for all of the wrong reasons. Plain and simple, it was time, we were ready. The fact was that he wasn’t going anywhere, and nor was I.

So little rumor spreader, before you open  your giant mouth again to attempt to harm, think about this, are you spreading rumors because you are unhappy, or because it’s the truth? Because where I stand, it’s because you are unhappy with your own life. You made your bed, now lay in it, and leave us alone.

Boycotting

Alas another business has decided to make public their personal beliefs and views on some hot topics, namely LGBT lifestyles and rights. The Salvation Army made public that they don’t support the LGBT community. That all of their donations go to straight people and children, because they don’t agree with the LGBT lifestyle.

It wasn’t that long ago that Chic-Fil-A made a public statement regarding their beliefs. Many people protested and boycotted them during that time. Now they are planing on not donating and boycotting the Salvation Army.

I may or may not agree with a companies personal views, morals, ethics, or beliefs, but that does not mean I will boycott them for standing up for something they stand up for and believe in. When it comes to beliefs, and belief systems I feel they need to be expressed healthily, and respectfully. I feel that we all have different belief systems, and thus we should respect the fact that we are different and believe different things. I wont be boycotting the Salvation Army or any other company that stands up for their beliefs.

I however will choose and have boycotted a company for unethical practices, agendas, and blatant discrimination. I chose to and still continue to choose to avoid and boycott Abercombie because they discrimination of older, larger, and less fortunate people. They have a philosophy and policy that they only want young, skinny, sexy people wearing their clothing line. They made this very public and apparent. In fact they don’t make any of their clothing over a size 8. I feel that is morally wrong, and discriminatory.

So the Salvation Army does not agree with LGBT lifestyles and rights. It’s their belief, think about if the shoe was on the other foot. Would you want those who are not LGBT boycott your business because you don’t agree with their lifestyle and beliefs? Seems silly I know, but that’s the point. Owners of businesses are people still too! They have thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc. They will run their business in the same manner.

Has the Salvation Army gone too far, as to saying that they don’t want their donations to go to the LGBT community? Maybe, maybe not. They aren’t in the business of helping that particular community of people. They are in the business of helping people get back on their feet, drug rehab, they help the Marines with Toys for Tots, and so many other great causes. Why is everyone up in arms over ONE cause they are not helping? We all have causes we chose to help, because we believe in them. I personally chose to help Samaritans Purse, and Habitat for Humanity, because I believe in their causes. I feel that families who have been put through some major devastation, need some help in picking up, rebuilding, and trying to keep life as normal as possible, if nothing else, for the sake of their children. Does that mean I don’t care about other causes, such as Toys for Tots, or the Angel tree, etc? No, just means, I know that need is meet, year after year, people plan to meet this need. This need is overwhelmed at times from the responses of generous people.

I feel my contributions go further in other organizations that help people for other reasons. Which is why I donated all of my time, energy, money and photos to various places during the Yarnell fire. Which is why I donated to Samaritans purse so they could go up there and help clean up and rebuild. Yes, I’ve had two house fires in my lifetime. (Luckily I was not home for either one, and all I lost was material possessions.) That’s why those causes are near and dear to me, personally. Do I care that the two organizations I donated to are Christian Faith and based? Not really. It’s great they are, and I wholeheartedly support those ministries, but it wouldn’t have mattered to me any different if they were not, or if they were run by the LGBT community. The bottom line is SOME community, SOMEWHERE, had heart and heard a calling to get these organizations together to help those in need. Does it matter what they believe in? For me, no. Does their lifestyle matter? Again, for me, no.

So what if the Salvation Army does not support the LGBT community? For so long they have done SO much good! The continue to do so much good, and they are Angels here on earth. For years to come they will do good, regardless of their beliefs, because there is a need they are answering. I don’t see anyone else standing up to take over, without wanting to make a profit, outside of what covers operation costs. I don’t see a HUGE community of people in any other organization putting people through rehabs, getting people jobs, giving them clothing to go to interviews, helping them learn, giving to children and families during the holidays. The bottom line fact is, the Salvation Army has that heart, has that rapport, has been doing this for a LONG time, and will continue to do so. Does it matter at the end of the day, what they believe in personally? No, it doesn’t. I will however add, that maybe their was taken out of context, it’s possible. People will always infer what they want to infer.

I will say though, I think if you are going to stand up for a cause, and or belief, then stand by it. There is no need to back down. There will always be opposing views and beliefs, that’s just a fact of life. I was slightly bothered by Chic-Fil-A when they recanted their beliefs. Never once did they discriminate and never once did they say that the LGBT community couldn’t eat at their establishments. They loved and served everyone equally. It should have never mattered to begin with what their belief was/is, just that they loved and served all who walked through their door. It should never have mattered who they donated to, or what causes they put money and energy into. You donate to causes that you personally believe in, that somehow, someway aline with your beliefs.

Like I said, it doesn’t matter what MY personal beliefs are, as long as I treat all equally, and as long as I stand for something. I’m more than well aware that there are a number of people who oppose me and don’t share the same beliefs, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less, nor does it mean that I treat them any less. We just disagree. Plain and simple. It would be a pretty boring world, and life if we all agreed on everything, wouldn’t you agree? Sure the thought of utopia may seem fine and nice, but if you love literature, then you know that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be as we have read from “The Giver.”

The next time you want to boycott a business because of their belief, just think for one second, are you boycotting them for a practice that is discriminatory, or for a belief? What is their track record? What is their foundation? Let’s really think about these things before joining the knee jerk reactions and hoping on the band wagons.

I know this is my Exploring Motherhood blog, and it’s about exploring motherhood, and as I have said before, sometimes motherhood is about exploring yourself and figuring out who you are. This topic is as much that, as it is, how I want to raise my children, and form their beliefs. I want my children to be independent thinkers, and really think about their actions, their beliefs, what they stand for, or don’t stand for. I want them to be able to analyze something entirely, thoroughly before making a concrete decision. In the way that I do it, I would love to see them do it. Which is why I lead by example. I show them what I do, and explain to them what I am doing, so they can form that good habit right away. No age is too young. That’s my core belief. Sure they may not understand you, nor have ANY idea what you are talking about, but, at least you are trying, and one day, they will understand. I don’t want my children to react off of knee jerk reactions, or join band wagons, when they have no deep understanding as to why they are, I want them to fully understand the entirety of it, before they make their decision.

Like I said, my personal views and beliefs aside, because I feel that if I even go into mine it will completely skew the point of this post, I absolutely feel that a belief is not something you should boycott.