How Sequestration will negatively affect my family.

I tend to lean towards the left when I am discussing social issues, and tend to lean more towards the right when discussing fiscal issues, but right now I am leaning towards disgust with both sides.

I am not extremely politically savvy.  I don’t understand all of the subtle nuances of the budget, debt ceiling, deficit reduction etc.  I read about it, but to be honest it seems to me there is a lack of nonpartisan articles out there.  Some have their viewpoint (Democrat) and says the Republicans suck.  Others have their viewpoint (Republican) and says President Obama and the Democrats suck.   The list of partisan websites goes on and on.  However, I have yet to read an article that blames them ALL.  THAT is what I want.  Something that gives me just the facts.  So after reading and reading I have come up with what seems to me to be the facts.

We are in terrible debt.  Our economy is a mess and we keep spending money.  We spend too much on Medicare and Social Security.  Medicare, Medicaid and entitlements are in bad need of reforms.  The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.  I was in favor of the richest of the rich paying higher taxes.  Not because I am jealous, but because if I was in their shoes, I would be okay with giving more to help those who have less.  I can only assume that others share the same ideals I do.  I can’t be the only one.

I am also okay with getting rid of loopholes for oil companies and super wealthy Americans.  That is a revenue.  I suppose it is a “tax increase” as the Republicans tout it, but in my mind it really isn’t so much an increase as it is a “fairness meter” to level the playing field a bit.

Okay, so all of that being said, I understand that President Obama originally put the Sequester before Congress.  I believe he was using it as a bluff.  I don’t think he thought that the Congress would let it happen.  Quote from CBS News.com: “The $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress’ 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional “supercommittee” couldn’t come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years — half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. The cuts were designed to be so drastic that Republicans and Democrats would be compelled to craft an alternate, bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction.”

So that tells me the sequester was agreed on by EVERYONE.  Now we are 10 days out from the sequester happening and Congress is on a week vacation.  Seriously???  WTF???

If the Sequester happens thousands of Civil Service workers will be forced to take a 22 day furlough.  That is 22 days off without pay.  In order to make this forced pay cut more manageable for families instead of 22 days off in a row without pay, each worker will have one unpaid day off per week, or 4 unpaid days per month. Unfortunately for us Bluebell is a Civil Service Worker.  She will get 22 days off without pay.

This is a BIG deal.  I know for my family that means a loss of over $600.00 per month in income. That is A LOT of money to remove from a family budget.

That basically equals 1.5 of my paychecks, so I am working for free for three weeks!

We recently had a family meeting and talked to the boys about what was going on and if the furlough happens what it will mean for our family.  It means No eating out.  No hot school lunches. They have to pack every day.  It means no more allowance, a timer for showers (10 minutes only) and a serious reduction in our grocery bill.  No more snacks, just basic necessities.  No more hair appointments for me, back to coloring my hair with a bottle. If the furlough extends for any length of time, it means no Boy Scout summer camp this year, no summer swim league, no family weekend camping trips and possibly no graduation celebration for our High School graduate. It means I have to work every Saturday to try and bring in extra income.  It also means we have to use our income tax refunds to pay bills.  No extras this year.  This may not seem like a big deal to y’all, but it is a big change for our family lifestyle. The total loss of income to my family will be over $4000.00.  That money has to be absorbed elsewhere in my budget because the mortgage needs to be paid.  We need water and electricity and heat.  There may be extremely limited air conditioning this summer. That is not pretty in Southeastern Virginia.

I have to say I was very proud of our boys, because when we had this meeting there was not ONE single complaint out of any of them.  In fact, they asked what they could do to help out the family.  That was a very proud mama moment for me.

Congress, and the President could learn a lesson from my boys.  My boys could teach them that when times are tough we rally together and pitch in to make it work.  We compromise and reach a deal that everybody can settle on.  These are values Bluebell and I taught our boys when they were in Kindergarten.  Maybe Congress and the President need to spend some time in Kindergarten to relearn how to compromise and get along.

There are thousands of families that will be affected here in Virginia.  If every family has to tighten up the way we will, I wonder how long it will be before local businesses are affected??  The economy on this area will no longer be inching up, but will come to a screaming standstill.

I don’t lay all of the blame on the President’s doorstep.  Nor do I blame only Congress. I blame them all.  I have decided I am making it my personal mission to email and/or call EVERY Congressperson, Senator and the President to ask them why they feel it is okay to make American families suffer financial consequences such as these.  I am also going to ask them why THEY do not have to receive furlough.  They are Federal employees also.  Why are they above suffering along with their constituents?

I urge you all to join me in asking our Representatives these questions.  They need to know the American people are not happy.  Many people will agree with me, but I wonder how many will actually take the time to contact them.  If you are willing ti put your money (pun intended) where your mouth is, here is a list of all the United States Congressional Representatives with phone numbers.  If you click on their name you go to their website where you can get their email addresses.  Here is a list of Senators.  And the White House.

I am starting my email campaign today.  Will you join me?

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Death Pudding Cake (diabetic friendly)

You know I just love me some Vegan Virtuoso.  Her baking rocks my world.  But since y’all may not know her then you don’t know that she is a tiny thing.  Slender, slender, slender and young.  So she can consume sugar filled items at will.

I on the other hand am in my mid (ha ha, I mean late) 40’s, and am trying very hard to lose 40 pounds.  I have lost 5 so far, and am doing Weight Watchers to get me the rest of the way.  I also love to bake.  However, I really can’t have all of the sugar.  So I take other people’s recipes and alter them to make them lower in calories, yet still tasty.  Most have been successful.  Such as the chocolate chip cookies, the fruit cobbler, the strawberry scones,  and my famous Diabetic Chocolate Swirl cheesecake.  Some have been flops such as the Diabetic Blueberry cake, the whole wheat flour chocolate cake, and others.

This recipe adaption was super YUMMY!!! So much so that Bluebell has eaten almost the entire cake in one day.  So I baked another last night and decided to share the recipe with y’all.

Diabetic Chocolate Death Pudding Cake

  • 1/4 + 2 tbsp Truvia baking blend
  • 1 cup all purpose flour  (I used white flour)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp light butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add melted butter,  milk, and vanilla, and stir until combined. Spread batter evenly in the bottom of an 8×8 pan.

In a small bowl, combine:

  • 1/4 cup Truvia baking blend
  • 1/4 cup splenda brown sugar baking blend
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

Sprinkle evenly over top of batter. Don’t stir.

  • 1 1/4 cup hot water

Pour over batter and sugar mixture. Don’t stir. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes, until center is set.

NOTE: This cake doesn’t rise, but it does bubble. Make sure you bake it in a dish with at least a 2-inch depth.

Cut a piece of the cake, and place upside-down on your plate or in a bowl, and spoon some sauce from the bottom of the pan over it.

Ingredients
Ingredients

Mix flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder in a bowl:

Dry ingredients in bowl
Dry ingredients in bowl

Add butter, milk and vanilla:

liquidsin bowl

Spread in an 8×8 baking dish:

cake in pan before sprinkle

Sprinkle mixed up brown sugar blend, cocoa, and remaining truvia on top.

cake with crumb topping

Pour hot water on top.  DO NOT STIR!

cake after water

Bake at 350 oven for 30 minutes:

cake after baking(Sorry it is sideways)

Cut into 12 servings, put on a plate and enjoy:

cake on plate

 

According to the weight watchers website this cake is 4 WW points per serving. Also it only has 8 sugars per serving!!  YUM!

Other nutritional facts:

Calories 100.7
  Total Fat 3.1 g
  Saturated Fat 1.9 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
  Cholesterol 8.3 mg
  Sodium 5.2 mg
  Potassium 34.2 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 24.2 g
  Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
  Sugars 8.6 g
  Protein 1.5 g

 

A lesbians thoughts on Gay Marriage

The newest states to support same-gender marriage are Maine, Maryland and Washington.  Nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington and Vermont) plus Washington D.C. have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In 2012, the legislature in New Jersey passed a freedom to marry bill, and work is now underway to override the governor’s veto. 

New Mexico and Rhode Island explicitly respect out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples, while nine states now offer broad protections short of marriage. Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island allow civil union, while California, Oregon and Nevada offer broad domestic partnership. Two other states, Colorado and Wisconsin) have more limited domestic partnership.

Now it seems as though Illinois is on the verge of passing a law that would allow same sex marriages.  

With these advances, a record number of Americans live in states that recognize relationships between same-sex couples:

•    Nearly 17% of the U.S. population lives in a state that either has the freedom to marry or honors out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

•    Nearly 39% of the U.S. population lives in a state with either marriage or a broad legal status such as civil union or domestic partnership.

•    Over 42% of the U.S. population lives in a state that provides some form of protections for gay couples.

That makes 10 states that allow same-gender marriage, 2 states that recognize same gender marriages from other states, 5 states that allow civil unions, 4 states that grant nearly all state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples, and 4 states that provide some state-level spousal rights to unmarried couples (domestic partnerships).

Gay-Marriage-map

New York , Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, DC, and Massachusetts are all on the East Coast.  I also live on the East Coast.  I live in Virginia.  If New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware allow same-gender marriage, how long before Virginia starts to feel the heat to follow suit?  This is something I think about frequently.

I think about it for different reasons than many others do.

I have lots of thoughts on this matter.  As a matter of fact, when I went on vacation last summer to visit my mother, who lives in Kissimmee Florida, she asked me what my thoughts were on gay marriage.  My mother is very aware that I am in a same-gender relationship, and is NOT homophobic in the least, but she doesn’t really understand it.  She is 72 and comes from a different era than I do.  It does not bother me at all that she does not understand, and is a little reluctant to meet Bluebell.  The fact that she is accepting of me, and loves me anyway, is all that matters to me.

So in June 2012 when New York (not far from where I live) voted to allow same gender marriages, it caused the most recent uncomfortable discussion about Bluebell and I getting married.  Quite a few of my friends said that we should rush up to New York and get married.  We could take a mini vacation to the Big Apple, have a great time, and while we were there we could get married.  I just laughed it off, and said, “Oh no, there is no way we could do that, the kids are home for the summer…Bluebell doesn’t have enough vacation time…we start college in a few weeks…”  I used a different reason each time.

But when my mother asked me about it, and the NewYorRican asked me about it, I had to delve deep into my own thoughts and really think about why I don’t want to get married.

gay wedding

I am afraid to tell my gay friends that I don’t want to get married.  It is like I am somehow “less” gay because I don’t want to rush off and get married just because it is legal.  Or that I am snubbing the Gay Rights Movement in some way because I am not willing to participate in a wedding.  That my decision is in some way a slap in the face to those who have “fought so hard” to get the votes to make same-gender marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc., legal.

I do not want to marry Bluebell.  At least not right now.  I have a few reasons for this decision, all of which I feel are very valid.  I would like to share my thoughts because it is very possible there are other people like me (and Bluebell who agrees with me completely) out there.  People who don’t necessarily want to get married just because they can.

First, I am a divorced woman with two kids.  Just for tax reasons I don’t want to get married.  Bluebell is also a divorced woman with kids.  We can both file as Head of Household, (HOH) and get a pretty nice refund back each year based upon our exemptions, deductions, etc.  I also am an independent contractor for a dermatologist, and we each have our own 401k’s plus an annuity plan we own together.  We co-own a house.  The money we would lose every year if we had to change from two people filing HOH to two people filing as a married couple would be a big deal.  Our taxes would go from being a pretty simple affair to quite complicated.  We could possibly lose some child support income also.  So from merely a financial standpoint it behooves us to stay single.

Secondly we both have children.  Our children were born into a standard heterosexual family, and our children spent their young lives living with a mommy and a daddy.  The reasons we became divorced had nothing to do with each other, but everything to do with marriages that failed.  When we chose to be together it was after many agonizing talks about our children.  Would they be okay with it?  Would we have to fight our ex-husbands for custody?  Would they try to take our children?  My decision to be with Bluebell was mine.  I did not ask my children what they would prefer, yet I have tried to be respectful of their feelings regarding my decision.  Bluebell has done the same.

wedding rngs

We have told our children that they don’t have to like it, but they have to respect the other adult in the house.

I will not get married while my children live at home.  I let my kids describe Bluebell to their peers as they choose.  They might call her their mom’s “friend”, they may say “partner”, I don’t know because I let them make that choice for themselves.  We do not live in DC, or New York, or LA where being gay is okay, and even fashionable.

We live in a part of Virginia that is very Republican and very conservative. I will not knowingly put my kids in a position to feel that they are treated differently because of the adults who live in their home.  You may not agree with that, but I feel it is important to allow my kids to decide for themselves how they want to describe the family they live in.  I will say they are much more comfortable with the family now than they were even as recently as two years ago.  They call each other “brother” privately and publicly.  That is a step in the right direction.
Keep in mind that there are many, many heterosexual couples that never say marriage vows either.  Just because they CAN get married doesn’t force them into a position where they feel obligated to.  Neither should a gay couple feel obligated to get married just because they can legally.

Let’s face it, the bottom line is even if I choose not to get married for my own reasons, it is an absolute shame that I don’t even get to make that choice because it is not legal in most states.

This needs to change NOW!