Sunday, March 20, 2011

Counting My Blessings

As you may or may not be aware, Ohio's governor is attempting to get a bill through that will do away with collective bargaining. For some reason, he feels the need to aim his focus on police officers, firefighters, teachers and all other state employees. Unfortunately, the bill has gone through the Ohio Senate (it passed 17-16) and is now in committee in the Ohio House of Representatives.

If this bill (Senate Bill 5) passes, as it is currently written, teachers' salaries will be reduced to $17,000 to $32,000 a year. This is a DRASTIC cut for many teachers who have moved up the pay scale to the $55,000 level. Our district tops out at around $62,000 a year for teachers with a masters degree plus 32 additional credit hours.

(Do not EVEN start on the bit about being paid during the summer and having 3 months off. If you've done your homework, you know that argument is ridiculous.)

We currently pay $20 a month toward our health insurance. I can't tell you enough how fortunate we are to have such good health insurance. So far my cancer episode has cost almost $200,000 and I've only had to pay about $5,000 out of pocket.

SB 5 states that we will pay 20% of our insurance. I know what it costs the district to insure me and my family (a little over $17,000 a year), so I've done the math. Instead of paying $20 a month, I'll be paying close to $300 a month.

I'm still not sure of the correct interpretation, but I may also lose my seniority AND my continuing contract.

Of course we'll also lose the ability to strike (I don't think the teachers' union in our district has EVER gone on strike, and I doubt they would, so quite frankly, this is the least of my worries).

So, if SB 5 passes as it is written, I will have my pay cut by over 40% AND pay 15 times more than I am currently paying for my health insurance.

As you can imagine, morale in schools throughout the state of Ohio is pretty much at an all-time LOW.

And this is just how it will affect me and my family. And we have two kids in college right now.

I have not checked out the issues that law enforcement personnel and firefighters will face. The people who think nothing of putting themselves "in the line of fire" so to speak, will also have to take cuts, as will ALL state employees, because the governor wants to balance the budget. (I wonder if he'll be taking a cut in pay and paying more for his benefits too? I'm not EVEN going to get started on that!)

We are making cuts in our family budget, in case SB 5 passes as is. We usually order pizza every Saturday night (the pizza shop knows who we are as soon as I place the order...yes, we're regular customers), and we haven't done that for a few weeks. We usually eat out once (or occasionally twice) during the week, and we haven't done that for several weeks. On pay days at my school (every other Friday) we get to wear jeans. On the opposite Fridays we also get to wear jeans, but we have to pay $5 to do so, and the money is donated to a good cause. I'm sorry about not always contributing to the cause, but I'm not spending $5 to wear jeans. I haven't done that for the last two "pay-to-wear" jeans days. We were talking about going to Myrtle Beach this summer, as we haven't been there since 2006, but we're not going now. We'd also been sort of kicking around the idea of maybe thinking about beginning to look at a new vehicle. Hahaha...NOT GOING TO HAPPEN NOW! There are other ways we're trying to cut back, but I won't bore you with the details.

Even with all this going on, I know that I am truly blessed:

I have my family, and for the most part, everyone is healthy right now. (Ted is dealing with some knee/back issues but we hope to get them resolved soon.)

Our sons are doing well in college and learning about "life," in addition to academics.

We have vehicles that run well and are NOT in need of repair (*knock on wood*) at this moment.

Our cats bring us so much joy and laughter, that we can't imagine what we ever did before we adopted them.

Things will work out, one way or another. If the worst possible scenario comes to fruition, then at least we know we won't be going through it alone.

As I've said all along in my adult life...things could always be worse. That's why I'm counting my blessings.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Skip This Post if You Don't Like Pictures

The Christmas season has come and gone, but of course I feel the need to share some photos with all of you.

Pepina was just lying around Christmas morning, waiting for the festivities to begin.

Oliver was getting impatient and kept jumping up on the coffee table, then down, then repeating.

Pepina finally expressed a little interest when someone opened up a gift.

Marina was not about to get up off the packages, NO MATTER WHAT.

Pepina liked watching Joe open up his gifts.

Cousin-to-be Cathy, Cousin Damon, and my mom enjoying a deep conversation on how to create the world's most perfect wine slushie.

Cathy is holding Cousin Davene and Rick's newest family member, Rafiki. He's a very sweet kitty.

Once dinner was over, Alex and Joe continued their Christmas break hobby of catching up on their sleep while my dad talks to Ted (out of the picture).

Damon decided that the kitchen towel Cathy received could be better used as a loin cloth!

Davene and Joe, just chilling out.

Christmas is always fun, but it's even more entertaining when there are children involved! Sister-in-law Patty and Niece Holly are getting presents ready to pass out, while Jamie watches daughter Kaylee, and Niece Kelly plays with Great Nephew Michael.

Michael is looking at his various gifts.

Sister-in-law Patty, brother-in-law Tim, and Niece Holly enjoying the holidays.

Sister-in-law Peg is wondering where the crayons are so she can start coloring in Michael's coloring book.

Alex is holding Holly's kitty Sophie while Joe watches.

Then Joe took his turn with Sophie. Isn't she a beautiful cat?

And that pretty much sums up our various Christmas celebrations! How was your holiday season?