Sunday, September 30, 2007

It can only get better, right?
This morning Bill got a call from his mom letting him know that his grandma passed away earlier this morning. It's been expected to happen for quite some time now, as in months, & we all knew that it was going to happen any day.

She was in her late 80's, small & frail & living with dementia. For the last few months, her body was giving out. Her lungs were filling up with fluid & they had to be drained every 4 weeks or so. The last time this happened (about a month ago) the Doctors said that they weren't going to drain her lungs any longer. The rest of the family made plans with the medical staff that when her lungs filled up again, they were going to give her morphine for a pain free passing.

Two weeks ago, Bill's dad went to say his final good-bye's & make funeral arrangements (much to her dismay, but that's another post for another day). She wasn't ready to go at that time & held on for another couple of weeks. Last night Bill got a call from his mom saying that his grandma was down to 58 pounds, refusing to eat & not letting the nursing staff do anything to help her. We knew it wasn't much longer until she let go.

Aunt Ju-Ju sent Bill a text message later in the morning saying that Uncle J wasn't going to the funeral & said that it should just be the two of them that go up for the services. That really made me upset. I'm really getting tired of this "let's keep kicking Kristin out of the family" crap. I told Bill that as his wife & part of his family, I wanted to be there for him. We didn't have much time to talk about it as I had to run out the door to train both my photographer & massage friends in a park boot camp session.

There must have been something in the air because all three of us showed up with little dark clouds of gloom. We all had started the day out with unpleasantness & while it was great to have good friends to talk it over with, it made for a less than stellar workout. We totally lacked energy & enthusiasm. At least we did it, though.

After the workout I came home & Bill & I talked about our travel plans. We decided that Logan & I were going to stay home after all, only because it would be the easiest way to go about it. We wouldn't have to lug Logan's car seat everywhere & also deal with bedtime /naptime fiasco's now that he's sleeping in a toddler bed. Or, live through a terrible two's tantrum meltdown in the middle of the funeral services (which we both know would happen & it wouldn't be pleasant). So, Bill is going to be gone for a day & a half while the kiddo & I hang back at the house.

We had our family photo shoot for Christmas card pictures scheduled for today & despite the mood, we decided to keep the appointment. My photographer friend met us up at a mountain park in the canyon where we could get pictures with the beautiful fall colors. Logan was a "challenge" to say the least & out of the hour & a half we were there, he screamed & cried for about 90% of it. It was frustrating & exhausting (for me, anyway). It's a good thing she's talented because I thought she would only get unhappy, grumpy pictures. She emailed me with a couple of samples. They look great. I can't wait to see the rest of them.
This last one is where Logan is throwing a tantrum, trying to run off, kicking & screaming. I had to grab him by the arm & the leg to bring him back. I'm surprised you can't see steam coming out from my ears, or horns growing from my head.

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's about time
I finally got my hair cut today. Do you know how long it's been since I've stepped foot into a salon? Almost 2 years. Logan was 3 months old the last time I had a pair of scissors near my head. And, at that time my hair was long enough to donate to Locks of Love. Not the case this time around. Apparently my hair grows slower than molasses in the dead of winter. It takes 10 inches or more to be able to donate & I didn't even have 5 inches to pull into a pony tail. I was very, very surprised.

I love the cut. It's a cute shoulder length cut with side swept bangs (which I haven't had in over 10 years). I have before & after pictures, but I don't feel like posting them. It's just that after staring at myself in the mirror for a straight hour & a half, I've developed a complex. I'll post them later.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Writers block
If there's one thing I've learned about myself over the last few years, it's that I experience burnout pretty darn quick. No matter what job I've had or how much I loved it, it still happened. Usually I would burnout so bad that my recovery resulted in an emotional meltdown or a career change (from personal trainer to stay at home mom is a great example).

Fortunately, I've been able to recognize & accept this limitation & personality trait. I don't let it bum me out & I just move along. Over the last few months, there have been many stressors in my life that have been pushing me towards burnout, which manifested as writers block on The Other Blog. I have three different posts (meal replacements, anatomy & another time wasting machine example), incomplete & unpublished that are just "there". I finally was able to sit down during Logan's naptime & pump one out off the top of my head. I'm finding that it takes personal experiences to snap me out of writers block.

Last week the General Manager of the small town gym left Bill a message letting him know that they changed their minds & wouldn't let him work as a sub at the front desk (which was going to let me continue training at the gym without purchasing a membership). We were officially banned from going there altogether - just because Bill questioned them about deducting illegal charge backs. I guess they figured out we were serious about reporting them to the State Labor Board. This put a wrench in my training programs for clients that I'm doing one-on-one sessions with.

So, the weather has been beautiful & absolutely perfect for park/boot-camp routines. I'll be able to train outside for a few more weeks, then I'll have to get a membership somewhere (& this will make for an interesting post, for sure). My photographer friend & I did our first park workout last night & it was so much fun. It also made for a great topic on Virtual Fitness.

So, after a month of writers block, I finally have my "Gym in a bag" post up. I hope I'll be able to keep the momentum going!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Food for thought
I was going to save this post for a rainy day. That just so happens to be today. Since we're stuck inside all day & without the car, it's perfect. Girl From Florida posted food pictures last week & asked if others wanted to join in. I'm all for food content, but I don't have any competitions this week. In fact, prior to yesterday, we didn't have any food in the house. Our cupboards were bare. We were down to rice & beans, both of which Logan wouldn't eat anyway.

We stocked up on all sorts of good food, so now I have ingredients to cook with:
The not-so-good-for-you stuff is all Bill's (Deli meat & mini bottles of Jack Daniel's)

Same thing here. The pizza is Bill's.

The potato chips are for Bill's lunch, even though I want to eat the whole

I could live on chicken noddle soup. And we seem to have a TON of pasta.

We obviously aren't in to the low-carb diets.

This is all my food (& Logan's too). Bill won't touch anything here except for the bananas. It's to the point where I want to get another fruit bowl. I don't have enough room for everything!

So now that I have food to cook with, this is what I'm eating today. It's actually a very typical day & I eat this "routine" often. Clearly, it's nothing special or exciting:

Whole wheat mini-bagels with light strawberry cream cheese, strawberry slices & a huge cup of mocha-latte flavored coffee with sugar free hazelnut flavored creamer.

Not pictured, Logan had a pancake with strawberries & milk. He doesn't like cream cheese.

Left over pasta with ground turkey meat sauce & a little Parmesan, green beans with pepper & a nectarine.

Not pictured again, Logan had a cheese quesadilla, grapes & green beans (most of the green beans were thrown on the floor to Buddha & he didn't get pasta because I didn't feel like cleaning up tomato sauce).

Tuna & cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Logan had raisins & goldfish crackers.

Ground turkey taco with avocado & tomatoes ( I usually have lime juice & cilantro to add, but I forgot to buy some this week).

Logan had sweet potatoes with broccoli & plain yogurt, since he's pseudo vegetarian & very picky.

And there's my boring food journal in picture form. Hopefully I'll make something more exciting later this week. Hopefully I don't eat all of Bill's potato chips, either.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Unintentional Transition
Well, well, well. Has it been an interesting day or what. I hope I don't have another one like it again for quite some time. It all started out early this morning at 2am...

Bill had been out for Dudes Night Out, celebrating birthdays for three guys he used to work with at the small town gym. It was a crazy night with two of the three celebrating their 21st birthday. He was out cold to the world. I however, was up because Logan would not settle down to go to sleep. He cried off & on for an hour or so. It was not a sick cry, or a painful cry, but more of a whiny complaining cry. I had no idea what was wrong with him. A day later, I'm now suspecting teething as the culprit, but I wasn't thinking straight at the time of the incident.

After about the 10th time of getting up & tucking him back in - with him signing "book" & "bath" every time I came in to calm him down - I leaned over the side of the crib & the whole side rail fell off & onto the TOP OF MY FOOT. I was tired, pissed & now injured. There was no saving the crib, especially at 2 am, so I started to get his room "toddler-bed ready". Meaning, getting all of the things I didn't want him getting into (diaper cream, medicine, hand sanitizer) out of his room.

He slept in his toddler bed for the first time last night. He actually slept OK, but we were exhausted & I canceled my workouts for today & slept in...until 11:00am. We all slept in until 11. Even Logan. When I woke up, I went into his room to find him sitting in his bed reading a book that he pulled from the bookcase.

Naptime was much more difficult. Because our schedules were so off, he threw a fit about having to go down for a nap. He's usually pretty good about it, but with this attitude & the fact that he could get out of bed; it was not fun. At one point I went in to check on him only to find him up & about with dirty diapers strewn about the room. He got into the diaper pail & emptied it all over the floor. I just about died.

Bedtime tonight was a little easier, but I was still met with resistance. I'm pretty much having to pull the mean mommy card "you do as I say & there's no discussion about it". It stinks having to be so stern, but he won't cooperate any other way. After giving him the I'm not messing around look, he was in bed & stayed there.

So now Logan is officially sleeping in his toddler bed. We so weren't ready for this, but there wasn't a different option. So, we're making due. Ironically, the crib is on the latest recall list & I told Bill about it on Friday or Saturday night before all of this went down. It's being recalled for the exact same thing that happened, the side rail detaching from the crib, only some younger kids have died from getting stuck in between the two sides. I'm calling the company on Monday morning.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This is probably really mean
Since I've been bargain shopping, coupon clipping & signing up for deals, I've been getting a crap load of telemarketing calls when I never got them before. There is a number from Ohio that calls every single day, multiple times a day. It's quite annoying.

I've never had to register my number with the Do Not Call list, so I finally did a few days ago. Apparently, it takes up to 30 days for the request to process & the calls to stop. Prior to registering my number, I just didn't answer the phone hoping that an unanswered call would be enough to make them give up (after 500 attempts). Not so much. Now I've resorted to letting Logan answer the phone.

It is so funny & I can't help but feel like an elementary school kid pulling a prank. Whenever I see this Ohio number on caller ID, I run over to Logan & hold the phone up to his ear. He smiles this really big grin while the operator on the other end talks about how I've won a million dollars, blah, blah, blah...

Logan: "Ah! Ba Ba! (grunting noises)"

Telemarketer: "Kristin, are you there? Kristin? Kristin?"

Logan: "Yesh"

Telemarketer: "Kristin, are you there woman?" (yes, she actually said this not more than 15 minutes ago).

I have to bite my tongue so I don't bust out laughing while he's trying to answer her questions. The call usually ends after 30 seconds, but you would think after 10 or more calls like this, they would get the hint! Don't they take notes? After unanswered calls & then after a Toddler answers the phone a billion times, you figure they would find something more productive to do. I guess not though.

So for the next 20 or so days, Logan will be working on his phone skills, learning how to answer questions out loud (rather than just nodding his head) & perfecting annunciation. Good times, I tell you!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pay it forward
Sometime last month in one of our Club board meetings, we were asked to help think of ideas for our yearly service project. MOMS Club is a non-profit organization & in order to keep that status, we have to have a certain amount of money in the bank account & provide a service in the community at least once a year.

This got me really excited. I really love doing service projects & volunteering for those in need. While I was still active in the church, I participated & helped organize events with Habitat for Humanity, "adopted" needy families at Christmas (& did "Christmas in April too), I got friends together & made cookies for the homesick missionaries, the list really goes on & on. After I left the church, I didn't have as many opportunities to volunteer as much, but I still organized free fitness seminars & talked to elementary school kids about health & exercise.

Paying it forward means so much more to me now that our family has been on the receiving end of community services. Without these support systems in place, I wouldn't have been able to get the ultrasound needed to check out the lump last month or the dental exam that I had last week (because we don't have dental insurance & this was before Bill made his career change). I was going to come to our next meeting with a list of ideas for The Club to vote on because I had a sense of personal responsibility to give back to those that gave to me.

In our Club meeting last week, we voted on a lot of projects. We're going to make blankets for traumatized children (by abuse or other horrific life experience) so they have their very own comfort item. This was important to us as mothers with children who have many lovies & soft blankets. We understand how import these are to our own kids. I brought the Komen Foundation suggestion, where we will have a Pink Playgroup day. Everyone will wear pink & make a cash donation to the foundation (lots of pictures & details will come from that day in a few weeks). We will also make a cash donation a the end of the year to the womens resource center who works with the Komen Foundation here in town.

I was the contact for the resource center because not only were they the ones who facilitated the ultrasound for me, but they were the ones who found a dentist for me too. It was purely by chance that I found out how desperate they were for funding. I was there for my dental consultation just days before our monthly meeting & told them that I would make sure to suggest helping the center too. They were thrilled, to say the least.

They called me a few days ago asking if I could meet the director for coffee. They wanted to talk about organizing an event for next year. Of course I said yes & told my photographer/workout friend who is also the co-president of our chapter. We all met this morning while Logan & Little M ran around & had fun together.

We are in the works in organizing a huge event in our small town. We're putting together a family "moms & tots" 2 mile (1 hour) stroller walk for next spring where the resource center will pull permits, organize a pre-walk breakfast, have a post-walk park playtime & advertise this all over town. This is unbelievably exciting & I'm so happy that I can be a part of it. I hope we can have a successful event that raises enough much needed funds for our community. For me, this is really paying it forward.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Name that rash!
There's never a dull moment when you're a parent, that's for sure. After Logan's adventure with hives & a trunk rash last Friday, the flare up lasted all weekend to where I was getting concerned. It didn't seem right & I was worried that he was eating something regularly (like wheat) that might be irritating his poor little body.

I called to follow up with his referral to the allergist on Monday morning, where I found out that his insurance policy had been canceled at the beginning of last month (for no apparent reason - it just happened). I had to fill out a form at our pediatricians office to have faxed to the insurance company so they would cover a denied claim (his check-up was 10 days after they canceled his insurance) & we would be able to send in the referral as well. Now we sit here & wait while he has this rash.

This morning we were getting ready to go to playgroup & I checked my email. Half of the kids wouldn't be there because they were sick with colds & one of them was at home recovering from roseola. I had to do a Google search to find out what it was. Now I'm wondering if Logan had it.
He's had cold-like symptoms all week, but we thought it was allergies especially since Bill's allergies have been acting up too. That with mysterious rashes & hives, it made sense to me! Logan did have a fever the other day (yesterday? Monday? I don't remember), but it wasn't bad enough for me to go get the thermometer. He seemed fine & wasn't burning up. Then yesterday he developed a flat purplish rash across the bridge of his nose, arms, legs & trunk. This is when I started freaking out inside because I couldn't take him to the Doctor. Bill reassured me that Logan was fine because he wasn't itchy or bothered by it.

Upper respiratory symptoms, trunk rash, fever, purplish rash over entire body & totally grumpy attitude? Umm, coincidence? Maybe not, but then I'm not a Doctor. I just pretend to be one.

So, he's acting fine without much of a rash (now it just looks like typical eczema) & we're still waiting to hear back from the insurance company so we can get his allergy tests done.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm trying so hard
So hard not to get overly excited! Bill worked his first day at his new job today. He sent me a text around lunch about how things were going great & he was so excited to be working there. He came home grinning from ear to ear, talking about how it was a great place to work, the people were really nice & he felt like he totally fit in.

He talked about his position & how he has the highest sales goals in the company (which also means the highest commission earnings in the company). If he makes the absolute minimum, it is still twice what he was making at the small town gym. I also read about his health insurance, which has maternity coverage that starts in January. Not that we've made a decision yet, but we would be covered & could actually consider having another baby next year.

There are so many good things about this career change. Bill is so much happier & over all, it is so much better for our family. We won't be barely scrapping by anymore. We actually won't be dirt P.O.O.R anymore. We'll be able to have a nice Christmas, take care of the things we need to take care of, get out of this stupid house & finally just BREATH. Being poor is stressful & a huge weight has been lifted.

I'm trying so hard not to get too excited because it's almost too good to be true. It seems like whenever life presents us with something good, it's always a tease. It's always just within our reach & then it gets ripped away & we are worse off than before. The last two or three years have been incredibly difficult times for us & I just want to believe that the tables have finally turned. I hope this really is a new chapter & the pendulum is swinging the other way.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bye-bye binkies!
Today has been hellish. Logan has been a handful all. day. long. He's literally driven me crazy. I am so exhausted, both mentally & physically.

This morning we went to the Canine Learning Center for a tour with The Club. Logan wasn't listening to me & running off. I kept having to pull him back, grab his arm, hand or the hood of his hoodie. We were there to learn about how to approach a strange dog & see an agility demonstration. Apparently, Logan is still too young to stand & hold my hand for 5 minutes. But he was more of a booger than ever, with other moms actually commenting about it. "What's his deal today?" He was much happier after the demo when the kids were let loose to run the agility course themselves.

He keep up with the whiny, temper tantrums for the rest of the day. When it was nap time, I gladly put him in his room. I was so frustrated, I looked for his binkie & when I couldn't find it I thought, too bad so're not getting it & I don't feel bad about it!

He actually took his nap fine without it. He cried for a minute, but he was already crying anyway & it didn't last very long. The rest of the day was pretty much the same, but I discovered a huge rash on his chest & stomach in his after-nap diaper change. It was there that morning when he woke up for the day & I thought it was eczema. His rash got worse throughout the day & by bath time he had some full blown hives.

I did the usual rash/hive/eczema routine with the baking soda bath, but it looked bad enough & itchy enough to use an antihistamine. I think his throat might have been itchy because he was scratching at his left ear. I also mixed some calamine lotion in with his everyday lotion & lubed him up. I got some loose fitting PJ's on him & put him to bed...without his binkie again. He did fine. He cried for no more than a minute (more like 30 seconds) & he's been asleep ever since.

I hoping the rash is a freak incident, but I'm calling his Doctor on Monday to follow up with the referral to the allergist (because it seems like they've dropped the ball on that). However I'm hoping the binkie weaning is not a freak incident, because so far & given the circumstances, it's been really easy!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Think cheese for me, please!
Last night was pretty funny. I was looking around for printable coupons & Bill asks me if I could find one for him. It was his one & only bargain request, that I find a coupon for Tillamook cheese - "The Best Cheese in The World". Or so he says.

When we lived in Portland, we ate Tillamook cheese (& other dairy products: ICE CREAM at the coast!) regularly. Bill is a meat & cheese kind of guy & apparently he is obsessed with the Tillamook brand.

I went to their website since that was the #1 place to look for coupons & what should I find? The Tillamook macaroni & cheese cook-off! I had no idea Tillamook had a cooking competition, let alone a macaroni & cheese cook-off! I have an original baked mac n' cheese recipe that I've made for my massage friend after the birth of her second kiddo & according to her husband, it was the best mac n' cheese he's ever had. Since I've already made it, I made a few changes to make it a little more original & unique then I went ahead & submitted it this afternoon (the deadline is the 16th).

This is a two part cook-off. If I get picked for the regional finals, I'll drive down to The Big City to compete. If I win, I'll receive 25 pounds of Tillamook cheese & $1,000. Then Tillamook will fly me out to Portland to compete in the Grand Finale cook-off where I would have a chance to win $5,000.

Of all of the cooking competitions, this is the one I want to win the most (well, next to the Better Burger $50,000 grand prize). It would give me a chance to go back to Portland for free & I could see my sisters & niece. I want to go so bad!!

I told Bill about the prizes & he laughed at the 25 POUNDS of cheese. "If we won 25 pounds of cheese, I wouldn't sh** for a month! Can you freeze cheese?" Holy hell, I've never laughed so hard. He has a point though. That's a lot of cheese.

So, I'll know if I make it if I get notified by September 28th to participate in the first cook-off on October 16th. I hope I win because I really, really, really want to.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A conversation last night after Logan went to bed:
Bill & I were making Amish Friendship Bread together (which by the way, was delicious!!!) & singing The Wonder Pets theme song (yes, we are truly dorky parents, but this really makes us laugh. A lot).

Laughing & singing while I mix & he adds ingredients
. "What's gonna work? - Teamwork!, What's gonna work? - Teamwork!"

Me: So, do you really, truly want Logan to be our only kid? Are you saying that because that's how you feel, or are you saying that because of financial reasons?

Bill: Financial reasons has a lot to do with it.

Me: So, with this new job...does it change your mind?

Bill: I would wait a couple of months to see how things go, but if it turns out well, I would talk about it more.

More random conversation about health insurance, maternity coverage & pregnancy time-lines trying to figure out when would be a good time to start trying, but not making a decision.

I'm not sure if the same Chinese Water Torture technique that Logan uses on me works the same with Bill (as this is the one hundred millionth time I've talked about it) or if we are just simply on the same page. Finally. While there's not a specific "time" that we're going to start trying, at least this is progress. A conversation where we both say, OK, let's wait a little longer & we'll talk about it again rather than a flat out No.

There's still a lot that has to happen before we start trying, like getting Logan potty trained (as recommended by Jen, who's going through HG for the third time- Thanks Jen!). But, maybe Logan is going to be a big brother after all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bargain high
The last few weeks I've been doing a bit of bargain shopping. I've mentioned my coupon trading site (where I just received a TON of trading coupons in the mail yesterday) & some of the deals I've found online (like the $50 pearl necklace that I got for $2.00, the Calphalon gift set that I got for free & I just got my $1.99 cookie cutters this afternoon).

The weather is getting cooler & Logan needed some warmer clothes, so I hit the sales on Sunday. I got him a bunch of new pajamas, a new pair of shoes, couple pairs of jeans, a couple of shirts, hoodies & sweat shirts & some lounge around the house outfits. I spent less than $99 & saved over $126. Carters, Oshkosh & The Children's Place were all having 50-70% off sales & I had a few coupons to boot. It was awesome!

I cleaned out Logan's closet & sold his clothes at the second hand boutique yesterday. I should be able to pick up what they didn't buy along with a check from what they purchased & go buy him some more clothes. The sales that I found were actually cheaper than buying his clothes at the boutique. You can't beat that.

I'm going to have so much fun shopping for Christmas presents this year!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

More to keep me busy
I'm definitely not one of those moms who hang out at the house watching TV all day long with the kids. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, someone to meet.

I workout 4 days a week with my massage friend & my photographer friend (Sunday's being two-a-days working out with both of them at separate times-for four hours total). Twice a week I walk for an hour with the walking group where we pack the kids in the strollers & walk on the inner-city trails here in town. We have playgroup once a week & various activities all of the other days. There is something scheduled every single day of the week. I get massages one to two times a week. I have monthly board meetings, club meetings, babysitting co-op meetings, birthday parties & MOMS Night Out. I have my monthly tasting parties for the cooking competitions & now I'm going to Cooking Club.

Whew. That's a lot of stuff. And that's not counting the "spur of the moment" stuff like play time at the park before dinner or shopping trips or business stuff like writing articles, designing workout programs & calling attorneys. It's no wonder I get to bed at 1-2 am every night.

This weekend was the first Cooking Club get together. Each month there is a theme & to kick the first one off, it was 30 Minutes or Less. The members of the Cooking Club made their quick & easy dish, brought enough for everyone to sample & a copy of the recipe for everyone as well. The first meeting was very small with my massage friend, another Club member, the host (who's from The East Side Chapter) & me. But there was certainly enough food to eat!

I made a mini-meatloaf dish & I was very happy that the theme was 30 minutes or less. We got home from grocery shopping at 1pm & my massage friend was picking me up at 1:40 to get there by 2. I got it all together, put it in the oven, jumped in the shower & I was getting the dish in a container just as I heard her knock on the door. Perfect timing.
This picture is for you Girl From Floria!

We had a great time eating delicious food & chatting. There was pizza, a chicken bruschetta casserole, three-pepper quesadilla & my mini-meatloaves. YUM! I'd never made the dish before (as I often do, using everyone as recipe guinea pigs) & I was pleasantly surprised at how good they turned out. It's something that I would make again, if only Bill ate things other than plain meat & cheese.

Friday, September 07, 2007

He got it!
This morning Bill went to shadow a few people at the potential new job. While he was learning about the different positions & what to expect, they told him his test score: 95/100. Apparently most people only score in the 80's.

After the shadowing, they told him that the people he worked with would meet & discuss his performance, then call him on Monday or Tuesday to let him know if he got the job. Bill got the call later this afternoon letting him know that it was unanimous. Evidently, not only did he ace the test, he hit it off with all of his "co-workers". He starts on the 17th.

Bill has mentioned working as a sub at the front desk of the small town gym, just so we can keep our free memberships. This would be great because I can still train my friends there & he can still play in the racquetball leagues. He won't work much (like maybe a few hours a month) but it would save us $85 + dollars a month from not having to buy a membership at another gym. Sounds like a bargain to me!

Well, it will be interesting to see what life is like after the 17th...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Double the pleasure, double the fun
It's official. We're speaking to an attorney to proceed with another lawsuit, this one against Bill's current (soon to be former) employer. What. The. Hell.

He met with the owner of this gym this morning (let's call this one "small town gym" & the other one "Big City Gym" just to cut down on the confusion). They told him that he's causing too much trouble & stirring the pot & tried to fire him on the spot. They compromised with letting him finish the sales leads he currently has & they will part ways on the 15th.

In the meantime, Bill got a call from the techie-kind of job he interviewed for yesterday & was offered the job. He goes in tomorrow morning to shadow & officially "accept" the position (& find out the actual pay structure). So, the situation could be a whole lot worse. We're confident that everything is going to be A-OK.

The attorney that we met with for the Big City Gym case is out of town until Tuesday. We'll try & meet up with him again to see what we can do in the small town gym suit, be it a dispute solely on the commission or possibly that & a wrongful termination case. At the very least, we can file this with the State Labor Board & go through a mediation process.

It's at this point that I can see why I went through all of that crap trying to find an attorney for the Big City Gym suit. Now I know exactly who to call, what to say, what employment lawyers in our town offer free consultations & what to do in situations like this. We actually "have" an employment attorney that we've met with & have a connection with. Proceeding with the small town gym lawsuit will be very easy & virtually stress free. Imagine that! I still can't believe I'm saying "stress free" & "lawsuit" in the same sentence.

It's just strange to realize how life events eventually fit together like puzzle pieces. We knew Bill's time at the small town gym was coming to an end. Last week we had a "money versus morals" discussion at dinner, where Bill was telling me some underground news about the fitness industry here in town. We've known for a few years that the Big City Gym had purchased land to build their first club here in our small town. Since we've worked with the Big City Gym, we know the world domination that happens when they first develop in a town. It's oddly similar to the movie Dodgeball. The Big City Gym is definitely Globo Gym.

Bill learned that the Big City Gym is breaking ground in 4 months. They will set up their sales trailer until the building is completed by late spring/early summer. When the Big City Gym opens, all of the average Joe gyms will go under. Only the boutique gyms will stay in business. The small town gym? It's an average Joe gym & we know they won't make it.

Before all of th developments this morning, Bill was talking about possibly going back to the Big City Gym, even though we are currently proceeding with a lawsuit. His mentality was "if you can't beat em', join em". Financially, I can see his point. Emotionally, it was like a kick in the gut. I started to cry in my salad thinking about dealing with them again. I mean, they fired me for being pregnant, they screwed up our insurance paperwork & refused to fix it so now we're in this legal mess & overall, I just want them to burn to the ground. The Big city Gym is a multi-billion dollar gym, so that's never going to happen. They're just going to spread all over the world like the plague.

So, this change of career is prefect timing. It's kind of funny how all of this is feeling more like a nuisance rather than a huge, stressful upheaval. All I have to figure out is where I'm going to train my friends. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get into the small town gym after the 15th. I'm getting my thinking cap on...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It never ends, does it.
You're never going to believe this. Not only are we perusing a lawsuit against Bill's former employer (The Gym), but we might start another lawsuit with his CURRENT employer (a different gym). This is why I hate the idea of working for other people. The employee always gets screwed. Well, at least that's how it always is for us.

This is the scoop:

Bill is paid hourly versus draw. The way his commissions are calculated is he is paid by the total amount of the agreement over the length of the contract the customer signs.


Customer signs a 12 month contract at $57 a month $57 X 12 = $684
Based on his sales numbers he is paid anywhere between 6-10% of the total amount of the contract. So anywhere from $41 to $68.

On the contract it states that if you cancel out your membership early (before your contract is up) you must pay a cancellation fee of $150 to $225 depending on the type of membership (single, couple, family).

When he started working there in November of last year he signed a wage agreement stating that he would be making hourly vs. draw, & would be paid commissions according to their tier.

$25,000+ = 10%
$20,000-$24,999 = 9%
$15,000-$19,999 = 8%
$10,000-$14,999 = 7%
Under $10,000 = 6%

This is all that he signed.

A couple months into his employment he started getting "charge backs" on memberships that he had sold the previous months. These were charge backs for people who wanted to cancel early & were not made to pay a cancellation fee. He also received charge backs for people whose accounts went past due, due to credit cards declining or them closing their bank accounts. The total that he has been charged back equals over $2,000 over the 9 months that he has been employed there.

The dispute is that we do not see how they can legally do this after his commissions have been paid & it is out of his hands whether or not these people pay for their memberships. They have an entire group of people in their business office who handle all of the cancellation calls, EFT rejects etc. He's worked in many different gyms where there is a (legal) three-day cancellation policy in which he doesn't get paid on the membership, but it's never ever been like this before.

Is this not ridiculous? He is their top sales person, making them a crap load of money every month & this is the thanks he gets? Yesterday Bill got his paycheck & found out that they shorted him over $900 due to "charge backs", which is nothing he ever agreed to. We've been talking about this issue ever since he found out what was happening (months ago) & now it's affecting the livelihood of our family (go figure). He had a total freak out at work & talked to the General Manager telling him that he has a family to feed & they better fix this now or it's getting reported to the Labor Board & we're taking them to court to recover the cost of these "charge backs".

They scheduled a meeting with the owner of the gym for tomorrow afternoon.

In the meantime, Bill had an interview with a different company this afternoon. He aced their written sales test (they said it was the highest score they've ever seen) & he'll get the results of the test later tomorrow (where he had to take an IQ test. Not bragging, but I think he's qualified for MENSA). The next step is that they'll offer him a position & he goes in to "shadow", making sure this is something he wants to do.

I'm not holding my breath because he's interviewed with this company before (back in May) & it fell through. Even after they were showing him around saying, "this is where your desk will be. This is where you will, blah, blah, blah". If you're not going to hire someone, then why tell them this is where you WILL work? Anyway, I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Trade it!
I've picked up another hobby. I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but I'm doing it anyway. Lately, I've been hooked on bargain shopping. I've been clipping coupons & finding amazing deals. I found some Christmas presents that would have been $35 & $50, but I got one for free & the other for $2.00. It's so much fun finding these deals & I get all excited after grocery shopping when I read the total savings of $50.00 at the bottom of the receipt. I'm a dork, but whatever.

So, one thing I've noticed about coupon clipping is that I don't use half of the stuff I clip (or print, really). They are mostly for products that we don't buy & would never buy, so here I am, left with an organizer (yes, I now have a coupon organizer & I'm about to get a second one. Another testament of my dorkiness) full of useless coupons. Or so I thought.

I'm trading these suckers. I'm now one of those hard core traders that has their own coupon trading site. But you know, in the two days I've had my site up, I've traded coupons that I would never ever use for coupons that we use all of the time. It's a great little system.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Party Time!
This afternoon was full of birthday fun for Logan again. One of his best playgroup buddies turned two & we had a great time celebrating with the family. There were lots of people from the club & everyone brought their husbands too. There was a bounce house, tons of food, juice boxes for the kids & beer or wine coolers (HA!) for the parents. It was a great little shindig.

Here's a video (with audio!) of Logan jumping around in the bounce house with his friends. He had so much fun! It was pretty funny because he was too short to climb back up, so I had to pick him up & throw him in every time.