Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goosfraba - Calm the *bleep* down! *Explicit language*

I have, what I would consider, a very drama-free life.  I don't invite drama through my front door.  I am a good person, I treat others with respect, and I live an honest life.  My husband is the same way.  He works extremely hard for our family, and sacrifices 9 months a year of memories and proximity so that we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and a couple of luxuries here and there.

Some of you may know about my 3 older children and the custody situation with them.  I won't go back through all the details, but a year ago, when my unemployment ran out, I decided to file a modification for my child support.  I, personally, have not had any income from employment coming in since April 2011.  Have I tried to get a job?  Absolutely.  While I was on unemployment, I had to apply for a minimum of 5 jobs EACH WEEK!  This means that I applied for a MINIMUM of 390 jobs over the course of 18 months.  There were no duplicate applications.  I applied for a wide variety of jobs, ranging from secretary positions to IT positions (that I was qualified for).  I got called in for 2 interviews during that time.  This gives me an interview rate of around 1/2 percent.  Not exactly promising!  Of those two interviews, neither resulted in a job offer.  My ability to obtain employment becomes less and less with each week and each month that I continue to remain unemployed.  The larger the gap in my "employment" history, the less likely an employer will hire me.  Pair that with my challenging situation of being a "single" wife, and being the sole care provider for my 3 year old son, whilst 33 weeks pregnant with our daughter, and I'm basically causing potential employers to run the opposite direction when they see me!  I do love staying home with my son, and teaching him, playing with him, and caring for him.  I look forward to doing the same with our daughter when she is born.

Sorry for getting off track a little, but I wanted to make it clear that I'm not a deadbeat trying to get away with not paying child support for my three older children that don't live with me during the school year.  I'm simply trying to do what is FAIR given the circumstances.

Ok, so I filed this motion a little over a year ago and mailed it in to the MD Child Support Enforcement section at DHR.  When I called to check in on it (they typically have 30 days to respond to written communications), I was told that the paperwork had not been received.  (I blame myself for not sending the initial packet via certified mail so I could track it).  We moved from our home in Florida up to Pennsylvania a year ago, so by the time I got word that this had happened, all of my files were packed up and in storage.  Now I had to wait until I could get back to FL to get my paperwork out of storage in order to re-file.  I did re-file in June 2013, and this time I sent the documents via certified mail.  Finally, at the end of August, the other party was served.  A hearing date was set (according to the online system) on October 1st for November 1st 2013.  Unfortunately, I didn't receive a notice of the hearing until 10/19/13.  This left me 12 days to prepare for a hearing that would be located 900+ miles away.  Did I mention that I'm 33 weeks pregnant?  I can't currently travel due to the pregnancy.  In fact, my husband did the traveling for me back in August when my older children needed to be taken back to MD.  I have also arranged for them to travel without me for their Thanksgiving and Christmas visits as well, because I cannot travel during that time.  So, you get the point, right?  I can't travel.

I started calling the courts the Monday morning after I received the notice.  The last time we had a modification hearing, my side of the case was represented by an attorney that was hired by the child support division of the State's Attorney's office.  I sent him all the documents that were necessary for the hearing, and I didn't have to make the trek to Maryland to appear for the hearing.  All was resolved.  This time, I made the mistake of assuming the same would be true, so my first attempts were to contact him directly.  I left a message for him on 10/21, 10/24 and again on Monday, 10/28.  When I called on 10/28, the secretary I spoke with that time told me he was "away" and wouldn't return until Thursday or Friday (my hearing being on Friday).  I was a little concerned about cutting it so close, but I had already faxed in my last 3 years tax returns like the secretary the previous week had suggested I do.  I had a little bit of optimism left that it would work out and be okay.  I received a phone call from the secretary I spoke to on 10/28 yesterday afternoon.  She informed me that since it was going to be in front of a judge, I needed to find out if the attorney I was trying to reach would even have been assigned my case.  Panic mode set in.  It had never occurred to me that he wouldn't be assigned to work on this case.  So, I started calling every office in the courthouse that might possibly have some knowledge of this case.  I contacted the assignment office.  I contacted the civil office of circuit court.  I contacted the administrative judge's secretary.  I contacted the state's attorney's office again.  I contacted the child support section of the circuit court.  I finally decided to try the Master for Domestic Relations office, even though they weren't supposed to be hearing the case.  It turns out they were the ones who were able to provide me with the most information.

After speaking with them, I learned a few things.  First, I learned that the word "retired" doesn't necessarily mean that a person is no longer working in the same capacity they had prior to retirement.  Puzzled?  Let me break it down for you.  The judge who granted custody of my older three children to their birth father 5 years ago when I announced that I wanted to relocate to live with my current husband in Florida, SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED THIS CASE BE HEARD IN HIS COURTROOM.  That alone is kind of suspect, in my opinion, but it was his case back then, so ok.  However, said judge RETIRED OVER 30 DAYS AGO!  Like, BEFORE this case was set in for a hearing!  When I asked how this could happen, I was told that he can hear cases on an "as-needed" basis because they haven't replaced him yet.  I guess it's somewhat possible that by mere luck of draw he could have been assigned my case, but I have a confirmed report stating that his office specifically requested this case be presented before his court.  Something stinks, and it's not my 3 year old's diaper, if you know what I'm saying.

The woman I talked to in the master's office was very helpful, and told me I needed to fax in a letter requesting a continuance as soon as possible stating that I needed to request the assistance of the attorney who helps non-custodial parents with these cases, and cite any other reasons I may have.  I typed the letter up, citing that, the fact I was 33 weeks pregnant and unable to travel, and citing the short notice for the hearing, hardship of obtaining travel arrangements, etc. and faxed it to them within 15 minutes of our conversation.  I called them back to let them know that I had sent the fax.

I decided to call this afternoon to find out if the letter had been received and/or presented for a decision.  I spoke to the administrative judge's secretary, and she informed me that she did receive it, and she presented it to the judge.  She told me that his ruling was "no action".  When I asked her what that meant, she said that basically, if I didn't show up, then he would dismiss the case.  She said that wouldn't prevent me from filing again in the future.  I about lost it.  It took FOREVER to get this heard in the first place, then they set it in with 30 days notice, but I only get 12 days by the time the letter gets to me, and I have not one crappy reason, but THREE very valid reasons, one of which is a medical reason, and he basically DENIES it?!!  What the fuck.  (Pardon my french, but abbreviations just do NOT do justice to the royal fucked up-edness of this situation).  She told me I could get my doctor to fax in a note stating that I'm unable to travel, and that might have a better shot.  Let's say I did see an OB/GYN.  (I don't.  I see a midwife.)  So, if I saw an OB/GYN, I could call their office about 12:45 pm on a Thursday, and explain the situation to a receptionist, who would then leave a message for the doctor.  If he was still in the office, and today isn't his "surgery" day, then he may see it sometime prior to the close of business.  If he does, my file would need to be pulled and reviewed by said doctor.  At that point, he would then need to relay to another office employee to draft such a letter, and then fax it in to the courts.  I highly doubt it would be realistic to expect that all of this could be accomplished prior to the hearing time of 9:30 am tomorrow morning.  My situation is a little different, so I called my midwife.  I explained the situation to her.  She was more than happy to draft a letter with the pertinent information and fax it in for me at some point this afternoon.  I'm not sure if it's been done yet, but I did call back and leave a message that they should be expecting a fax this afternoon.

I basically have NO FAITH in the civil court system.  Criminals have more rights than anyone.  I used to work the criminal section of the state's attorney's office, and saw time and time again where somebody accused of a crime would request continuance after continuance after continuance, and they would all be granted, with basically no questions asked.  Excuses from "I can't get a ride to the courthouse" to "I've got a hangnail" would be grounds for a continuance.   It's total bullshit, and this royally pisses me off to no end.

So, to help myself "goosfraba", I've got to get it all on "paper".  This is my therapy.  I can't vent to my husband, because he's working thousands of miles away overseas in order to support our family and pay my child support so that the state of Maryland doesn't a) take away my driver's license, b) place a restriction on my passport, c) seize our assets/tax refunds, d) place a tax lien on our property, e) incarcerate me.  Isn't he a great husband?

By continuing to pay the amount ordered for child support, I'm probably screwing my chances of having the amount modified.  I'm showing historical precedence that we are "able to pay".  However, if I stop paying the ordered amount, I risk actions A-E stated above.  Stuck between a rock and a hard place.  If I had balls, they'd have me by them.

So, there you have it.  When I was the parent receiving the child support in Maryland, I was not without complaints.  The system is broken, the family court system needs a complete reorganization, and Judge "Fuck You Too" needs to be removed from the bench.  Period.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

When one door closes, another one opens.

For a little over a year, most of my blogging time has been devoted to Macaroni Kid.  I took it on thinking it would be a great way to learn about kid-friendly events happening in my area, and maybe push me to get out and meet some people.  It actually did all those things for me.  It was a great experience, but that chapter of my life has come to an end.  I like to do things until they're not fun anymore.  Being tied down and HAVING to publish every week at the same time, and pulling together the events for the calendar started to become too time consuming and it just wasn't fun anymore.  It didn't help that I had to relocate from our area temporarily, which made finding out about events even more difficult.  I felt my community would be better served by having somebody that really wanted to do it and could give it their full focus.

Since I made that decision, I also made another.  I signed on to become a consultant with a direct sales company called Lemongrass Spa.  I had been using their products for a while, and liked everything I had tried.  I signed up and my business started to explode!  I had my first recruit within 16 days of signing, and since then have added three more to my team.  I've done a couple of home parties, and I have 6 more scheduled on my calendar now!  I am really excited about the products, and the business opportunity is so ground floor, which I believe is what has allowed me to grow so quickly!  One of my team members signed her first recruit 2 days after she signed!  I truly believe it's because the products speak for themselves.  They're all natural, handmade in the USA, and they work better than any product you'll find at your local drug store.  If you want to learn more about our products, please check out my website and follow me on Facebook!

Now that I'm not strapped down with the old venture, I've found I have more time to do my therapeutic blogging.  I like to just regurgitate my thoughts onto "paper" so to speak.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lemongrass Spa - Review and a Giveaway!

So, what is Lemongrass Spa?  Some of you may have heard about it, but others may not.  Lemongrass Spa is a direct sales company that markets to women with its all natural and mostly organic skin care line.  Many products are vegan, which has its own market as well.  The line has everything from shampoo and conditioner (without harmful chemicals such as sulfates, parabens and phtalates), all the way down to foot scrubs.  You can literally remake your beauty routine over from head to toe.

I first used Lemongrass Spa for my son, when I tried out their Baby Wash.  I was searching for a natural product that wouldn't contain all those harsh chemicals that the typical store-bought baby wash contains.  Even some of the ones that are marketed as "natural" have some sort of additive that would irritate my little guy's newborn skin.  I noticed a friend of mine had begun selling something called Lemongrass Spa, so I asked her if they had a baby line.  She told me they did, so I ordered some of the baby wash.  She gave me a sample of the baby lotion to go along with it, and I tried that out as well.

The first time I used it, I wasn't sold.  It just didn't smell as good as some of those drug store baby washes.  It has a very mild scent, but it's not actually "scented".  The smell is from the natural ingredients that are found inside that cute amber colored bottle.  I continued using it because it was gentle on my son's skin, and it got him clean.  His skin was always super soft, and rarely did I ever need to put lotion on him, since the baby wash didn't dry him out.  I did try out the baby lotion on my own hands, and was surprised at how long my hands would stay hydrated after using it, even between washings.

When I ran out of his baby wash, I used some of the leftover store bought wash I had for a couple of days.  Immediately I noticed a difference in my son's skin.  It got splotchy, dry, and started to feel different.  I immediately contacted my friend to order some more, and I ordered the Baby on the Go Gift Set because we were going on vacation soon.  It contained baby lotion, baby wash, healing elements balm stick, massage oil, and a handy pack of 7th Generation travel baby wipes (as a mother of an infant, I was always up for extra baby wipes!).  I got the opportunity to try everything inside, and then I was wanting to try some other things from their product line.  My friend had included a sample of their Pink Grapefruit Body Polish, so I decided to try it out.  I had been using a really expensive body scrub from my local salon, which was also sugar based, and consisted of natural oils.  However, the Lemongrass Spa body polishes were about $20 per container cheaper, so I decided to give it a shot!  I loved the feel of the pink grapefruit body polish, but I really wanted to try a flavor that was more "tropical".  I told my friend what kind of scents I was looking for (something pineapple-y, mango-y, see the theme I'm going for here).  She told me there was a Coconut Lime Vanilla Body Polish that I would probably like.  I went ahead and ordered some of that, along with the Fresh Mango Body Polish.  They arrived within a couple of days, and I was hooked.  I LOVE the way they moisturize my skin in the shower.  I use them daily to exfoliate.  They are great to use before you shave your legs, since they remove all the dead skin.  Sometimes I wait until after I've shaved to use it, and then I love to see the water bead up on my skin (it's like when your car has a fresh wax job...the water beads up and doesn't affect the shine!).  When I step out of the shower to dry off, I just pat dry, and I can feel the towel glide over my skin.  It's amazing!  I don't even need to use lotion, which is awesome!  However, I still do use lotion because I also fell in love with the Lemongrass Spa lotions, body icings, and whipped body butter!

So, I've been using the Lemongrass Spa products for two years now, and little by little, expanding my collection.  I was about to place yet another order for Body Polish (Vanilla Latte has become my new favorite!), when that lighbulb in my head flickered.  Why not become a consultant?  I love everything I've tried so far, but there were still many products I had not yet tried.  This way I could get many of the most popular products in the consultant kit at a HUGE savings (around $500 worth of product for $139!), and then when I needed to re-order I would get an automatic discount of at least 25%.  I had a few questions before I signed on the dotted line, so I talked with my friend to ask her a few questions.  I have done direct sales before, and the ordering requirements were just too high for somebody who's doing mostly for the personal discount to meet.  When she told me I would only need to order $25 of product each month in order to remain "active", I was sold.   I signed up online, and my consultant kit arrived the same week.

I couldn't wait to dig in and try everything out.  I'm happy to report that I have quit using all my regular skin care products.  My expensive cleanser (I used to pay $38 for a 6 oz. bottle of facial cleanser, and $60 for 2 oz. of moisturizer!!) are sitting in my bathroom cabinets UNUSED!  The Ultimate Face Kit for Normal to Dry Skin contained equivalent products and then some to what I had been using.  There is a gentle cleansing gel, a toner, the eye cream (which I never used before Lemongrass Spa), a moisturizer, a face polish (for exfoliating) and a face mask all in this kit.  The entire kit retails at only $79!  This kit was included in my consultant kit, and I'm so glad it was!  I have used all of it for about a week now, and I noticed a difference in the texture of my skin after the FIRST use!  Now that I have used it twice a day for a full week, I am happy to report that my skin is much more supple (it feels like I have baby soft skin again!!), hydrated, and even-toned.  I've had no breakouts, which is awesome because I'm prone to them.

I could go on and on, even more so than I already have, but you're not interested in what I have to say!  You just want me for my giveaway!!  So, here's the deal.  Enter the giveaway below, and one lucky winner will be chosen at Random, via the Rafflecopter app, to win their choice of ONE of the following sets.

Ultimate Face Kit for Normal or Dry Skin ($79 retail value)
Ultimate Face Kit for Oily or Acne Prone Skin ($79 retail value)
Pampering Baby Gift Set ($38 retail value)
Coconut Lime Vanilla Spa Ritual Collection ($54 retail value)
Men's Private Reserve Gift Set with Body Wash ($38 retail value)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Raw Peanut Butter Cups - Veganized!

I saw a recipe for Raw Peanut Butter cups (think Reese's!) pop up in my news feed on Facebook a couple of weeks back.  I figured it was worth a try!  First, I had to get a couple of the ingredients because I don't normally keep them on hand.  They're really quite easy to make though!

You'll need 1/2 cup cacao powder, 1/4 cup coconut oil (I had to heat mine up a tad to liquefy it), 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, 1/4 cup all natural organic peanut butter (or any nut butter of your choice), and 12 mini-cupcake wrappers (the size of the bite size Reese wrappers!).

Mix the cacao powder, coconut oil and maple syrup in a bowl until it's a smooth consistency.  You may need to heat your coconut oil to liquefy it (because I don't care how much you "mix", you're never going to get that hard pressed coconut oil to liquefy without a little heat).  Scoop the cacao "chocolate" mix into the bottom of each of the 12 wrappers.  Layer a scoop of the natural peanut butter on top, then top with a scoop of the chocolate mixture and smooth out on the top.  Immediately place these into the freezer and let them set for at least an hour.

I may have placed a little too much chocolate mixture into the bottoms of the wrappers, because I ran out of the chocolate for the top layer.  Mine were nowhere near as good looking at the photo I saw on the recipe (which you can find HERE), but I'm pretty sure the taste was the same.

Even if yours turn out as ugly as mine did, don't let that deter you from trying them!  Mine sat in the freezer for two and a half days before I worked up the "courage" to try them.  OhMyGoodness!  They were BETTER than the store bought peanut butter cups!!  My kids loved these too, and they were super easy to make!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pinteresting Find January 16, 2013

This week's Pinteresting Find is the Husband's Healing Stew from the Oh She Glows food blog.  While it's true that I didn't actually FIND this recipe on Pinterest, I did PIN it, so you can all check it out when you have a minute.

Oh She Glows is a great source for finding delicious, healthy, VEGAN recipes.  I love this particular site because most all of the recipes I have found are tofu/tempeh/seitan free!  Her recipes are labeled according to type of diet (Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Soy Free, Nut Free, etc.) which makes it really easy for those with special diets and food allergies to find something wholesome and delicious.

I decided to try this recipe partly because I had a majority of the ingredients on hand (I did have to run to the store to purchase some pearled barley, fresh parsley, frozen edamame, and zucchini), and partly because my mom (who I'm visiting at the moment) is a bit under the weather with a cold.  Angela from Oh She Glows claimed it helped her in her recovery from the flu last year, so I thought we would give it a shot.  It's packed full of healthy ingredients.  Go ahead and give this recipe a try!  It made about 10 cups of soup, which lasted 3 adults and one toddler through 2 meals and leftovers for one of us to have a pretty large lunch.  If you think it can't possibly be filling, guess again!  My meat-and-potatoes loving father filled up on just one bowl, and said he didn't miss his meat and potatoes at all!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

52 Week Money Saving Challenge

I hadn't realized that Pinterest had come out with a re-vamped app making it so much more user-friendly on my iPad. I've been all about pinning my favorite recipes this week. This article is not recipe related, but rather, challenge and money related.

 Every year, I say I'm going to save up some money by the end of the year. When the end of the year comes around, I'm no closer to saving money than I was at the beginning of the year! Seriously! I saw this great idea that can be quite feasible for almost any budget!

The chart below should be used as a guideline.  The idea, put away $1 for week 1, $2 for week 2, and so on, for each of the 52 weeks of the year.  You'll never have to put more than $52 a week into your savings account, which to me, makes it pretty feasible!  I know I spend AT LEAST that much eating out each week.  The first few weeks will be pretty easy for us.  If you are paid bi-weekly (like we are in my family), then on week 2 of January, I will put $3 in our savings account. Then on week 4, I will put $7 in our savings account.  Get the idea?  Adapt the schedule and make it work for your family!

I would like to modify this to place money into my childrens' savings accounts as well.  Since I have 4 children, I know that realistically I can't afford to put $52 in 5 separate savings accounts in one week at the end of the year (which will be right after Christmas when I'm typically broke!).  I will set a goal for each of their accounts for the end of the year, and divide that amount by 26, and they will each get the same amount every pay day.

If I am only able to stick to one of my goals for the new year, I hope this is the one!  Happy saving everyone!

From the blog