Taking the Scenic Route

Monday October 23, 2006

23rd October 2006

Monday October 23, 2006

Home safely from our weekend trip to KC to the dentist.  We are home too late to really call anybody, so I am putting it here for people to see if they are still up and about.  Lots to blog about later, but need to get kiddos taken care of now.

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20th October 2006

Friday October 20, 2006

1emotion-medI am one happy mama.  After his therapy I was strapping him in to his carseat.  As I finished, as usual, I kissed his forehead and said “I Love You”.  This time, for the first time ever, he echoed back “I Love You.”  I almost didn’t recognize what he said immediately because he has never said it before.  The moment will forever be seared into my memory.

I am glad Zach was driving that time, because as I sat in the front seat, tears welled up in my eyes.  I was, as they say, verklempt.  _cloud9

 

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20th October 2006

Friday October 20, 2006

Some of the comments inspired me to write a little more at length.

I am in Kansas.  I used to wait tables and have worked as a Restaurant Manager (although most of my work history is working in Hotels, from front desk, night audit, to Reservations and Revenue Manager).  The minimum wage for servers (and other tipped professions) has been considerably lower than the federal minimum wage.  (our state doesn’t have a sperate minimum wage like some states do).  I think it is around $2/hour now, but I am too lazy to look it up.  In theory, the business is supposed to make up the difference between the server min. wage and the federal min. wage when there are not enough tips to fill that gap.  In reality, most servers will rather over-report their tips to make sure the business doesn’t have to make up the difference because if you show that you aren’t making that much you will probably be fired.  BTDT.

Now, in a nicer restaurant, that is rarely an issue.  (although there aren’t many places here you can wait tables and make a ‘real’ living like you can on the coasts, you can sometime find a place with a pretty decent income).  However, in the family restaurants that are so prevalent around here, especially in areas where the economy isn’t great, it happens quite regularly.  In those areas, because the economy is so bad, people need the job so desperately that they keep it even though they sometimes end up being taxed on money they don’t even make in order to be employed.  When you are a high school kid just making ’extra spending money’ it isn’t as big of a deal.  When you are trying to actually live off the money, it is a huge deal. 

The other crappy practice a lot of servers are subject to is split shift scheduling.  The less brutal way of doing this is to basically force a several hour unpaid “lunch break” between the rushes, so you aren’t on the clock, but it is generally expected that you will stick around so that you can be called upon to go back on the clock just as soon as it gets busy enough.  The more brutal way, that my manager kept pushing me to do (and I resisted…I was always in trouble because my labor was often ‘over budget’), is to keep pulling people on and off the clock all day, according to how busy things were.  (even if they had active tables, but they were in a lull)  It is also standard (and this is the thing that I got yelled at for a lot) to make the servers do their side work off the clock, under the guise of ‘getting ready for their shift’.  I think it is bullshit that they should have to do the really icky work and not get paid.  Side work sucks enough, but side work off the clock is demoralizing (and illegal, but that seems to be beside the point much of the time).

The industry is ripe with abuse to the employees.  Part of the reason is that it is often the only place people can get jobs.  They hire the people who have a difficult time finding employment elsewhere and are therefore, more likely to take the abuse because they feel like they have to.  The people that work in the kitchen and back of the house (well, except the chefs, who are often paid very well and have huge egos….those reality television shows that are so shocking to the general public because of how much the chef’s screamed at people seemed pretty par for the course to me) usually put up with a lot more crap than the front of the house people. 

I do agree that it isn’t like this everywhere, but it certainly does exist.  I saw it over and over and over again, from the crappiest ‘2am drunk rush’ is the biggest shift, to 5 star restaurants on the coast of California.  It was considerably better at the high end place (because the tips make it more worth it), but it still existed.

That is why I am really sensitive to people’s tipping practices.  I am especially horrified when people who are reasonably well off don’t tip well.  For instance, our former neighbors.  We decided to all get pizzas delivered and watch a movie together one evening.  Now they make $50K/year compared to the $10-12K we made at the time, but when they got the pizza, they didn’t tip.  at all.  I was mortified.  Our meal was about half the price of theirs because they got a huge array of sides, and it made me feel like I needed to make up the difference, which just pissed me off because we couldn’t afford it (which is why we didn’t order that much).  

I strongly believe that even if you can afford the menu items, but you can’t afford the tip, then you can’t afford to eat there.   Period.  No “they should pay them better” or “I deserve to be able to eat out” or other lame excuses.  It is that general sense of entitelment and ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ attitude that hurts real people, but still allows the business to stay open.  (after all, it is no skin off their nose if you pay them for the food but stiff the server they aren’t paying much for).   We have literally gone years in between visits to restaurant (unless a parent offered to spring for a meal) at certain points in our lives because it just wasn’t in the budget.  Eating out is not a life neccessity, it is a luxury.

Even though it has been a while since I have worked in the industry, the reality of how people are treated will never leave me.  I think it is important to always remember that they aren’t *just* my server, they are human beings who deserve to be respected and treated the same way you would treat your friends.  I might not be able to make a difference in the *big* issues in the world, but I can make a difference in the people’s lives I touch, even if it just having the basic human decency to be kind to them and let them know I value their work.

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18th October 2006

Wednesday October 18, 2006

sucking up the spaghetti

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in action

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18th October 2006

Wednesday October 18, 2006

I can’t stand Rachel Ray.  She seems like the kind of person who is all fakey, fakey ‘nice’ when she is in public/in front of the camera and then a raging bitch when the cameras are off.  Her horrible tippng has totally turned me off of her $40/day show…yeah, you can really stretch your money a lot farther if you are a horrible tipper, but I think that if you can’t afford to tip appropriately, you can’t afford to eat there.  Makes me irrationally angry when somebody compliments a server but only leaves them 10-15% or worse.  (I have seen her leave 7-9% the few times I have watched)  We have friends we refuse to go out with unless we can afford to tip for them because they won’t tip. 

However, her recipes kick serious butt.  Tonight we made Tilapia baked in couscous (which was good, even though we modified it to make it cheaper) Last night we made Eggplant Parmesan Rigatoni. It was DIVINE!  The fire roasted tomatoes are my new “secret ingredient”.  I never even noticed them on the shelf before this recipe inspired me to look for them.  Really worth it.  We didn’t even have good parmesan, but it was still fantastic.  It was honestly the first time in my life that I understood why people like tomato based Italian foods.  Alfredo sauce, I get…love it, but I have only barely tolerated any kind of red sauce, and only then when I was sure there was no onion.  The best thing about this recipe is that it never called for onion in the first place, so I didn’t have to figure out substitutions.  I got to taste it how it was meant to be made and it was good.

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_drool

 

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16th October 2006

Monday October 16, 2006

If Zora’s feet are any indication, she might not stick around on the 3rd percentile.  We got her first pair of shoes this week, after first getting her some socks and realizing she was never going to keep them on.  I decided to get the 6-12 month Robeeze boots instead of the 0-6m ones, assuming I could make up the roominess with socks until she grew into them.  Well, they fit.  If she has any kind of a growth spurt we are going to have to buy her the next size because her toes are pretty close to the end already.  They are the cutest little boots on her, and she really can’t kick them off.  I am glad I went ahead and got them because it gets pretty cold in here in winter and I don’t have to worry about her little bitty toes getting too cold now.

Watching the Night of Too Many Stars benefit for autism on Comedy Central tonight I realized how lucky I am.  Truly.  It might be stressful and financially draining, but at least I do have some options for helping Zane.  Some good options.  Both the places he goes to for therapy are great, work together, but approach his education from slightly different, but complimentary angles.  I don’t really have a lot of good to say about the public school system yet, but at least *right now* he has appropriate help.  I worry about the future sometimes, but I know that God has made a way when there was no obvious way more times than I can count and I need to just continue to have faith and keep listening. 

He doesn’t have very much spontaneous language yet, but I can say “yet” because it looks like it is coming.  He doesn’t interact spontaneously very often, but we see sparks of it every once in a while (like this morning for a few minutes) and we are seeing those sparks every so often and at a gradually increasing rate.  I can’t wait for the day that it isn’t so novel and exciting that I don’t blog about everything he says.  I still wait for the day he says “I love you” with no prompting.  At least I have hope of hearing it.  So many parents don’t have that hope.  I am very fortunate.

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15th October 2006

Sunday October 15, 2006

Zora is my little dancer lately.  When we play music, she pulls herself up to bop her little tush to the music.  If she is sitting, she will try and move her shoulders and head to the music.  Adorable little spirit!  I really hope to capture it on film sometime soon.

This morning started out so sweetly.  The alarm hadn’t gone off quite yet, but Zora was awake. Usually she nurses when she wakes up, but this morning she kept pulling up, using me for support.  Everytime I pulled her back down to nurse, she would get herself back up and start babbling happily.  Eventually I hear Zane giggling and peek around and look behind me.  Zane is sitting up and making faces at Zora.  Zach said he had been watching them and Zane had been blowing kisses to her and she was babbling back at him. _heartbeat

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15th October 2006

Sunday October 15, 2006

 

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13th October 2006

Friday October 13, 2006

 

Good link for Autism:  http://www.autism.org/

 

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13th October 2006

Friday October 13, 2006

Zora is on the grumpy side the last day or so because she has the two top front teeth trying to break through.  Hopefully that will happen soon.  One of them looked like it might be out by the end of today, the other was visible, but still under the skin just a bit.  She is velcro baby again.

We are thinking we might need to reinstate nap time for Zane on school days.  He just gets totally wiped out and falls asleep too early, then wakes up and doesn’t want to go to bed. 

We also put together that he has a lot better speech right after some gross motor work, especially things like hanging from something.  I knew that on some level, and was interacting with him in a way that worked within that, but never really put it together that concretely to be able to tell other people.  This week one of his teachers noticed it (an expert in autism…her student is supposed to be his therapist, but she is working with him too…they don’t get verbal ASD kids very often and it is exciting for her) and tested it a few times this week and there is a clear connection. 

One good progress point:  Today he asked for help to move Zora away from him when he was on the computer with minimal prompting.  It is moving in the right direction.  After the verbal request, I put a little ‘fence’ of barriers around his computer so that he could play Blue’s Clues in peace and Zora could watch him from a non-irritating distance.  She is excited to be near him, he is happy she isn’t trying to grab his keyboard and mouse.  I am happy that he is starting to come to us to help him solve problems instead of trying to solve them by whatever means possible (pushing, smushing fingers, biting, ect).  ‘asking for help’ is a core issue and I am so happy to see it getting better.

Zach was invited to give a presentation tonight for the IEEE meeting for students and professionals.  Pretty neat honor.

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