Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bullying is alive and well!

My 12 year old son has been bullied since kindergarten. Guess who started it and made it okay for this to happen? His kindergarten teacher.  It took a bit but we were able to document what she was doing.  She was doing it to other kids as well, and she was doing things that were very much against school policy.  We had to go up the chain of command right up to the school board.  Yes we got her removed but the damage was done. Over the last 7 years the bullying has gotten so bad that his life was hell at school. The level of violence directed at him is difficult to understand, especially considering the so called zero tolerance.
In grade one he was being picked on by kids in grade three. In the school "playground" they would gang up on him, pick him up by his arms and legs and slam him into the cement. He would come home with scrapes and bruises. We confronted the school about it, it was a small play area and the teachers would just ignore what was going on.  But when we confronted them with what Nick was telling us they admitted it was happening.   We told him he could defend himself, that even though the school had a no tolerance policy he could do what he needed to to stop the boys and get away.
We got a call from the school after the first break. It turns out Nick decided offence was better than defence. The way the teachers described it was, "As soon as the bell went Nick ran out of the classroom, out to the play area. He ran up to the group of 6 grade 3's that would hurt him every day. He took all 6 down to the ground before the teachers could stop him.”  They were trying to suspend our grade 1 for taking out 6 grade 3 boys. The boys who hurt Nic never got in trouble for what they did, and the school knew about it because when we confronted the school they knew who was hurting Nic. So who did they go after, the victim who decided to stop being the victim.
For the last few years one kid has made it is goal in life to torment my son. He is a popular child and got all his "friends" to pick on Nick as well. The bully made sure everyone understood that if someone was my son’s friend they would be bullied as well.  That my son could not play in any games, or even play at the park by the school.  My son hated going to school. It was reported to the school consistently.  It was so bad that the school told the bully that if it continued they would suspend the bully.  All that happened was Nic got bulled more buy this kid’s friends.  Nick was told that if he told anyone about the bullying it would get worse.  He was afraid every day. 
The bully’s dad actually encouraged his son to hurt ours and would get mad if he did not actually do anything to Nic.  It was so bad we had to call the police on the Dad twice because he threatened to hurt me.  He would walk up behind me on school grounds, lean over and whisper threats that no one else could hear.  He would stand outside our house and look into our front window.  So the dad was told that if he did not stop he would be charged with stalking.  The result, the violence to my son went up.
This summer the kid and his friends made a point of hanging out at the park behind my house and picking on my son every time he went outside. At one point my son asked for a pocket knife and bugged us all summer for one. What we did not know was that he wanted it for protection. The boy who picked on him had one and told him he was going to "Shank" Nic. He spent all summer trying to stay in the house because he thought this boy would kill him. It all came out on the first day of school. We pulled him out of school. He spent 3 weeks out of school as we arranged for a new school that we have to drive him to because there is no transportation when you put your kid in an out of catchment school.
He loves his new school, but is so used to being picked on he is having a bit of a problem adjusting. It feels uncomfortable for him not to have to constantly watch his back. It is uncomfortable that kids want to play with him, and talk with him and be friends instead of hurting him. This is in Canada and there is a real issue with victims being punished for what others do all the time.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

No more waiting for the world to go to Hell in a Hand basket

For years now I have known that things are going to get bad:  That there will be food and water shortages, wars and people starving, dyeing because they cannot afford or get to medical care and more.  It has always been something coming in the future, something I could prepare for, to try and protect my children from.  Then today I realised there is no more waiting, we are already there.

There has been some war going on someplace in the world for years and years now.  The war did not have to be where I live.  No war is killing people every day.  People are starving, and dyeing right now because of war.

I see people struggling to sponsor refugees, to find some way to give these people a better life.  One person pointed out the cost to sponsor one adult refugee, $12,600 a year; it was about the same amount as two people on welfare (Ontario works) receive.  The amount to sponsor two adult refugees, $21,200 is around what my family of five lives on, with my husband working full time.  To sponsor a family of 4 it would cost $27,000.  We have many families here already living on less that. 

It was also pointed out that any refugees would probably end up living in bug infested homes, because that was what they could afford.  Guess what, way too many families currently live in bug infested homes, ants, cockroaches and bed bugs to name a few.  Bed bugs alone are epidemic here, and you don’t have to be poor to be one of the people living in those conditions. 

There are too many families homeless, trying to live in shelters, little baby’s to seniors and everything in between.  There are people living on the streets right now, in our city.  There are people going through garbage looking for food, right now.  There are people going without the medication or medical help they need here in my country right now because of cut backs and things not being covered anymore. 

People working, with homes are struggling to feed their families.  Many of us have to make real changes.  Meat is becoming so expensive that people just cannot afford it.  Meat is one of the things that people have to cut back, reduce portions or simply skip completely.  Vegetables and fruits are starting to get expensive as well.  Actually everything is becoming far more expensive.    

There are a lot of changes, unexpected changes that cannot be ignored.  People are going back to an older way to live, growing food, canning and even hunting.  One of the things that stood out was the fact that people are going back to eating things that most of us don’t see as food.  For example, squirrels.  I am part of a BBQ group and one person was so happy because they were able to get a bunch of squirrels and wanted to know how to cook them.  They showed the squirrels skinned and prepped for cooking.  What was surprising was the number of people with recipes, advice on how to cook them or even pictures of the squirrels they cooked.  One man showed two squirrels cooked and ready to eat, and was unhappy because he had only been able to get two for that meal.  This was not a random thing, this was a food source for people.  They are going for the smaller animals, squirrels, rabbits, and well whatever they can get.  There was no embarrassment, or shame in this, it was more pride because they could feed their family.  More and more people are out hunting/trapping what they can.  People were talking about if it was okay to eat city pigeons verses farm raised pigeons.   This is not in a war torn or third world country, but one of the biggest countries, one that is considered wealthy by most.  Yet our food banks cannot keep up with the demand.  We have people going hungry every single day, real hunger as in that piece of bread is their food for the day.  Schools have started snack programs because too many kids don’t have food to eat.  (We don’t have lunch programs here)

 People are looking into growing what they can in their back yards, balconies and inside their homes.  Any space that can be used to grow something to feed your family is going to be used.  Even if it is just herbs it helps.  We just ordered seeds for things we can grow in our home over the winter.  We are putting plastic shelves in our windows so that the plants can get the light they need. We live in a small townhouse with very little space, and no real “growing area”.  Our neighbours did not plant flowers this year in the little tiny spot we have to grow stuff.  No it was food, tomatoes, lettuce, mint, peppers, etc.  We even planted blueberry bushes in our little spot.  On a side note several of the neighbours had the food disappear overnight from the front garden spot, because people are hungry.  Many people have turned their little cemented back patio into little gardens using flower pots because we are not allowed to put anything on the fence.  Last year we were supposed to get a community garden in our complex, like many of the other complexes but somehow that was stopped.  There are community gardens showing up all over the place and I am going to have to buy a spot in one of them in the spring seeing as our community garden was stopped. 

Old fashioned skills are coming back again.  People are canning again.  Yes canning.  Getting foods as cheap as possible and then canning it so that they will have it later.  It is not just farmers anymore.  I started canning food a couple years ago.  It has made a huge difference on me being able to feed my family and I am not the only one in my area to start.  More and more people buying canning equipment and learning every day.  Stores that never carried canning equipment suddenly have entire sections dedicated to canning.  Canning groups are becoming bigger and bigger every day.  

I can no longer turn my head away and try to convince myself that everything is okay.  Not when sponsoring a refugee takes more money then what people here are already living with.  Not when the conditions that many families live with here are considered unacceptable for a refugee.  How can we be trying to help out refugees when we cannot even help out the people already living here?  I have to admit I was upset to find out how much money my Government is donating to help out refugees, but children, adults and seniors are living in worse conditions here than what is considered acceptable for a refugee to live under.  Please note that I am not saying that the refugees don’t need help, or that they should not get help.  They do need help.  However, I am saying that there are people right here in my country that also need help and they are not getting it.  Why is it okay for many regular citizens of my country to live in conditions not acceptable for a refugee to live in?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why do people think it is okay to be abusive to people price matching or couponing?

I save a lot of money doing couponing and price matching.  Along with the savings comes abuse from other customers and sometimes the cashiers!

Today I had a good and bad experience at Walmart.   I got in line with a very full cart.  You could clearly see I had a lot of stuff.  Lady gets behind me with 6 items and two kids.

I tell her right away; “I am couponing and price matching.  It might be faster if you go through the express checkout right beside us.“
 “No, I don’t mind, I am fine!”
“Okay, just so you know, I have a lot of stuff today”

The cashier was wonderful.  She had no issues with my cart load of things to price match and coupon.  She was fast!  I had a hard time keeping up with her, and I was very organized.  Had my coupons all ready, and all my price matching was clipped in Flipp and she still had me on my toes.  My order went through quickly.

As a side note:

  • I saved about 40% of my order: I spent $104, saved $69.  My order would have been $172.  I probably actually saved more because some of the items were on sale at Walmart and I did not need to price match to save.
  • I had 14 unique items.  Some I had multiples of.  Mostly 2 but did have 5 of one item.
  • 6 of the items were price matched saving me $38.
  • 9 of the items had coupons saving me $31.

We had two issues, both to do with price matching.  She wanted to make sure I could price match my pop and had to call for a customer service manager.  Who was there right away, no waiting at all.  Quick easy question and we were off again.  The second problem was on the very last item.  She wanted to know the address of a store, which I have to admit I was not prepared for.  Flipp will only let me price match locally so I knew it was a local store but could not find the address on the flyer.  It was just too small on the screen.  I had an idea of where it was, but was not a 100% sure so I wanted to give her the right address.   Just as I found it she asked another cashier if he knew where the store was.  He did and she was off again.

The lady behind me who was okay with me price matching and couponing started yelling at me because I should have been more organized and I was holding everyone up.  WHAT?  Nope sorry, but I have no idea how much more organized I could have been.  I told her that it was going to take some time, but she decided to stay in line behind me.  I have to admit I was confused.  The cashier was so fast that it took less time with all my coupons then some of my smaller orders without coupons or price matching. 

I had one little problem, trying to find the store address.  The issue took less than a minute from beginning to end.  As soon as I let the cashier know I did not know for sure the address but would look it up she was asking the cashier beside her.  So as far as delays and issues it was a really small one.  The lady’s reaction to the whole thing was not.  Yet she felt perfectly comfortable yelling at me. 

This lady decided that because I had coupons and was price matching it was okay to be extremely rude to me.   Why was it okay for her to yell at me, because she had to wait in line behind me?  This was not the first time something like this has happened.  I have had cashiers give me attitude and make comments, even on just a small order with one or two coupons or price matching.  I have had people come up behind me and then leave in a huff because I was couponing or price matching.  Some become abusive like the lady today.  
Some people love watching how much I save.  Some cashiers are wonderful, nice, kind, considerate and even coupon and price match themselves.   So I know it is the individuals who have the issue, not all shoppers or cashiers.

It is still disruptive and embarrassing when someone takes the opportunity to be abusive, cashier or other customers.  But that is not going to stop me.  I save way too much money by couponing and price matching.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

East Side Mario's One of the worst dinning experiences we have had in a very long time

We had decided to go out for dinner as a treat.  My daughter has been bugging us for months to go to East Side Mario's.  We had planned to go to a different restaurant but as we drove by the East Side Mario's we saw the sign for their 12 for 12 special.  12 different entrees for $12 and kids would eat for free (actually was $5 off their meal off the kids menu so no it was not “free”).  We decided to go in – biggest mistake in a long time.  Horrible, horrible service and the food simply sucked.
It was about 5 pm, a little early for us but we went in anyway.  Because there were 5 of us we had about a 15 to 20 minute wait to be seated.  They had several empty tables that were reserved, and that was understandable.  It was once we were actually seated that the problems began.

When we were seated the waitress showed up with our menus.  I told her that we really needed to get a chocolate milk for our two year old daughter.  She was very fussy and I wanted to keep her calm.  At that point we ordered a coffee for myself, water for my husband and two fancy drinks for the older two kids.  I stressed that we really needed the chocolate milk.  20 minutes later, yes 20 minutes later she showed up with my coffee and the water for my husband.  She claimed that the bar was holding up the kids drinks.  It was another 10 minutes after that before the kids drinks showed up.  So even though we had shown up about 5 pm it was 6 pm before we got our drinks.  It was not that busy!

By then I have spent a half hour trying to keep a two year old calm.  When my husband’s water s showed up the two year old attacked it, put her hand in it and started drinking it.  The waitress saw this and still took over 10 minutes to bring us the kids drinks.  I am sorry but it does not take a ½ hour to pour a glass of chocolate milk.  She never brought my husband a fresh water, and I had drank my coffee before she showed up with the kids drinks, it was over an hour before I got a refill of coffee.

Oh, by the way, she did not take our order until after the drinks arrived.  So in a half hour she came to our table to drop off the menus and we gave her our drink orders.  She came back to drop off our drinks and then after that came to take our order.   By now the two year old is going out of her mind.  It was impossible for me to look at the menu and deal with her, hence why I had asked for the chocolate milk, to keep our two year old happy and give me a chance to look over the menu.

She dropped the kids drinks off asked if we were ready to order.  I said no I needed a moment as I was trying to choose between two items.  I was about to ask her a question about two of the menu items but she walked away and did not come back for quite some time.  I could see her standing at the other end of the restaurant by the kitchen talking.  We could see that people who came in after us had their meals before we even had our order taken.  Heck they had their meals before we had our drinks.
She eventually came back. I had been staring at her for about 10 minutes.  We quickly placed our orders but when it came to me I still had my two questions to ask.  She made it very clear she was not happy about me taking her time by asking her about the two pasta sauces.  I quickly just picked something because I was afraid that if I did not she was going to make us wait forever before she came back to take our order.

Now it is after 6 pm, our kids are used to eating at 6 pm.  The two year old is now really upset, drank her milk within a minute and had been stuck in a restaurant for over an hour, with no food and not able to run around and play.  We waited until about 6:20 before the bread arrived.  Another 15 to 20 minutes for the soup and salad to arrive.  It was about 7 pm before our entrĂ©e’s arrived.  We had been in the restaurant for two hours before getting our meals.

Our food was lukewarm, not hot.  The pasta was too al dente, it needed about another minute the sauces were not very good at all.  The bread was just okay.  The garden salad was tasteless, very little dressing and it was very plain.  The Caesar salad was not that good, no garlic, very bland.  The soup had no flavour at all.  Nothing tasted very good, not even with cheese added to it.  Our two year old would only eat a couple of the noodles off my plate, and the ice cream desert.  She did not touch her meal at all.  We ended up packing up our dinner and going home.  I started to feel sick after eating, so did my kids.  It took forever to get our bill.  I actually packed up the kids and went to the car while my husband waited for the bill so he could pay. 

Now understand we went to the restaurant prepared to keep our two year old occupied.  We had her Innotab with movies and games on it.  We had crayons and paper and even a few toys.  However, we never expected to be stuck in the restaurant for 2 ½ hours.  No one can expect a two year old to be stuck at a table for 2 ½ hours.  The whole experience was horrible.   It was so bad that my husband only gave the waitress a $2 tip on a $54 bill, and we normally give more than 10% as a tip.  So you know it had to be bad for us not to give a good tip.  We are never ever going back to East Side Mario's.  The food was not worth the money and the experience was just nasty.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Why don’t people want to change their lives for the better?

I have been noticing many requests for food, diapers and other necessities on Facebook and other places.  Many people are struggling to survive.   I get it, lots of people just don’t have the money to make it from paycheque to paycheque (working or not).  I know that it is a reality, many people have to go to food banks, and even then it is easy to find yourself without before you have any money to buy more.

I always feel bad, and worry about the kids because it is usually someone with children asking for help.  Not saying that people with kids are going without more than those without kids.  I just think that a good parent is going to let go of their pride enough to ask for help when it is for their kids, where they may not if it was just for their self.  I know, I am a parent and we struggled for a long time.  For my kids I went to food banks, went without so my kids had the food or clothing they needed.  A few times in my life I have had to ask for a little help, and was lucky enough to get it.
For the local people asking for help I have offered to help them change how they buy stuff, to coupon.  I have even offered to give them coupons and take them out so that they can get to the store and learn how to get their money to buy more then it usually does.  Heck, for some things all I have to do is pay the tax.  It is how my family is able to have the food we do.  You save on what you can and use the rest to buy what you have to. 

So far not one person has taken me up on it and I don’t understand why not.  I mean, sure I cannot give you food right this second (actually some of the coupons will give you free food) but I am willing to teach you and help you so you can feed your family better using coupons and price matching.  It really works, but it does take time and a lot of effort.  It can be very difficult when you bus and have to try and buy everything for the month in one trip.  I know, I have had to do that for a long time.  I don’t understand why people are willing to ask for help, but then are not interested in making changes so they don’t have to ask for help.

I learned a long time ago that not everyone with their hand out actually needs it, some do, but some make a good living begging.  Other people are usually just fine but something happened to put them in a position of needing help for this week or month but things will be fine after that.  Others are in a position of needing help all the time, not enough money, too much debt, or they simply don’t have a clue how to handle the money they do have. 

I just find it frustrating when there are people who would benefit by making a few changes in their lives are unwilling or not interested in making any type of change.  It makes me question if I should keep offering to help.  I am sure if I said, here take the food I have worked so hard to get for my family they would be glad to take it, but are not interested in doing the work for their self.  I just don’t get it.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Couponing and Price Matching feeds my family

There is a downside to empathy. It is hard for me to see others in need and not help.  It is hard to see the stories and videos of all the horrible things going on in the world, and my own neighbourhood.  It is hard to walk away from a child knowing they are hungry or in pain, but you are not in a position to help (not actually walking away from a child, but hearing about it is enough for me to feel as if I am).  This weekend I had one child (my daughters’ friend) ask for a drink, milk because she had not had any for some time.  I have been there a few times this last year alone, I know how hard it is when you cannot even buy milk.

Today I saw several posts from Moms out of money and food asking for help, in my town.  I get it, I have been there.  I had to change how I lived my life.  I had to learn how to budget and give up things and go without.  I had to spend the time getting the deals and going without something to stock up on something on sale because it would save us money in the long run.

The real issue is we are poor.  Even those of us with jobs can be poor.  Our income does not match with our debt load or the cost of just living.  I am lucky, I was shown how to shop, use price matching and couponing last year.  I am now able to buy more for less, sometimes even free.  In Canada it is hard work saving money that way, but it is worth it.  I joined groups that do the same thing and we all help each other find deals on food and anything else we can.

I have to admit that couponing and price matching and stocking up on stuff has saved our butts a few times when money was short, or gone.  I don’t think I could feed my family as well as I do if I was not couponing and price matching.  Even with that the cost of meat is getting to be too much.  I am going to have to learn to have meals without it most of the time now, and less of it when we do.  So we have to change how we do things again.

I know part of it is that we getting hit with the January hardships.  We (as in most of us, not us personally this year) spent too much trying to give our kids Christmas, to celebrate and give joy, instead of going without of always feeling poor.  Suddenly the money and food are low or even gone and there is still too much time before there is going to be any money. 

I wish there was some way I could change this, make things better for people and it hurts my heart and soul to see the way people live, and are going without.  Mainly because I have been there, I grew up like that and lived most of my life that way, even when I had money I did not feel like I did, that something was going to happen and I would have nothing.  My greatest fear is to be homeless, or be unable to feed my children so when I see others unable to feed theirs I want to help.  I am feeling very sad right now. There is just too much BAD going on.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hate crime vs terrorist attack what is the difference:

(Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris - murder of a policeman, who just happened be to Muslim)

With the many, many different attacks going on in the world it is interesting to see the labels people use.  Some people refer to an "event" as a hate crime and others call it a terrorist attack.  When it comes down to it, what is the difference?  Both are targeted, both are designed to create fear, both are a way to try and control the actions of others and say your way is the only way and that anyone who does not follow that one life path should be harmed or killed.  It does not matter if it is committed by one perpetrator or by many, the result is still the same. 

All these types of "crimes" are the result of anger and hate: the man shooting women from a tower, bombing a planned parenting clinic, people flying planes into buildings, others using car bombs to kill people of a different religion or geographical area, the rape, torture and murder of people "on the other side" regardless of sex, age or even religious or political affiliation.  This is not a Muslim "issue", it is a continuous issue throughout history with different "players" be it Catholics versus Protestants, Christine vs Pagans, Irish vs English, or Muslims against anyone, and many more examples.  At some point every group, be it geographical, cultural or religious has either been targeted, or been the aggressor. (If I am wrong please give me examples of a people that have never been the victim or aggressor.)
No need to hate, or teach hate

I don’t have any answers on how to change this.  I don’t even know if humankind can change this part of ourselves, it always seems to be us against them.  I have to laugh because even as I write this I do so knowing that I am trying to influence others, to get them to "change" and see things my way.  Sure my ideal is to not hate, harm or kill but still it is my idea of what is good and right.  I cannot make others follow my ideals, The difference between me and people I would consider terrorists or do hate crimes is that I am not going to try and force others to change and do as I say or harm those that don't believe as I do.  
Vasco da Gama fans attack an Atletico Paranaense fan during the match in Joinville in Santa

In one way sports and other competitions seem to be a good way to fulfill the need for us vs them.  But it seems as if that need to identify with one group, and be against or better then another never goes away, just gets bigger.  There is even violent conflicts between people who like different teams, so even sports competitions don't control or reduce that need.  It is one of our greatest weaknesses.  It is a great way to control a population, give them someone to blame, to be angry at, to hate and harm.
The greatest example I can give is Hitler. He knew he needed a focus population to blame so he found a population that did not have a “country” to support them, the Jewish.  He used hate, discrimination and in the end mass murder to unite and control his country.  Others still use his ideas to justify feeling “We are better than everyone else, we are right, people must do as we want” and making it okay to hate, harm and kill everyone that does not fit in their ideal world.  The funny part is Hitler himself did not fit in his so called perfect race of people.  That alone in my view justifies the belief that all his propaganda was political and power motivated, not an actual belief of superiority.  The hate and us vs. them was simply a tool to get him what he wanted.
(I don't know if this is a real quote from Hitler or not, regardless idea behind it is valid, the victor writes the history books)

I think in most cases this is true, even when it is disguised as a religious motivation, it still comes down to “We want you to do what we think is right, not what you think it right.  Only we have the right to make choices.”  I am sure that the people actually doing the killing (and in some cases dying for their cause) really believe what they are being taught.  It is the people telling them what to do, what to think that you have to take a close look at.  It is never a good idea to follow blindly, no matter what the belief or instructions are.  Think for yourself, make choices.  And if your salvation comes at the cost of others rights, freedoms and lives is it really salvation?