November 10, 2013

Food Insecurity is just a fancy word for Hunger

I am beginning to research hunger especially among children in my community.  I'm not sure why this came to mind one day, but it did.  I have never gone hungry although when I was a child food was scarce when my dad's union went on strike.  We still ate, but at times it was just oatmeal.  I don't remember feeling hungry as the oatmeal filled me up, I just wished I had more choices.

Recently the government cut back on food assistance benefits (SNAP program) effective November 1st.  I know that there are people who abuse the system.  There will always be abusers, however I know that there are more people in need that don't abuse the system versus those that do.  Of particular interest to me are the children.  No matter what choices the parents make, children have no decisions in the matter.  In our country it is beyond my comprehension why a child should go without food.  

Many families are under employed or have been unemployed for a long time.  Having access to food is a priority and in my opinion is the right of every American.  This country produces enough food for all of us, it's just that some of us can afford food and some of us can't.

I have been watching videos on You Tube regarding people on SNAP and what it is like to be a mother and not be able to feed her children.  I have watched many videos produced by "Feeding America."  All of this got me to wonder what it would be like to be a single mom receiving SNAP benefits for her and her school aged son during the summer months.  This means no free school breakfast, lunch or after school program because it is summer.  So, what would this look like? It looks like $1.40 per person per meal.  

Instead of going on the food stamp challenge myself, I want to come up with meals on the above limited amount of money for 1 week for this type of scenario:  single mom with a school age son.  I am going to use the advertisement from the nearest grocery store and make up a list of food choices as if I am living in poverty.   I am assuming that I won't have a car and will have to walk to the nearest store for groceries.  

Here is what I would like from my readers:  I need your help in setting up this scenario.  

1.  What items would you think this type of person would have on hand that I wouldn't have to buy on my first shopping trip?  For example, ketchup, mustard, sugar, flour, soy sauce, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder.  What do you think someone would have in their cupboard?  You may think that someone in a dire situation wouldn't have any of the above, and if so, let me hear from you.

2.  I have never been to a food pantry.  In our community I know that I would need to be referred.  Let's say that I get a referral, give me a list of a few items you think I would be able to get from my local food pantry for the week.  Set the situation for me.  

3.  Give me any other ideas to set this situation up.  Be brutal as I want to really have this as a challenge just as if I was this mom, underemployed, and struggling to feed my son.  I want to experience the sadness, fear and pain of figuring this all out.

So, give me your ideas so I can set up the challenge for myself.

November 06, 2013

On Grandmothering and Keeping House

Posting can be a challenge when you care for an 8 month old 4 days a week.  I remember caring for a baby was a lot easier when I was in my 20's than in my 50's.  

I have spent this past week catching up on housework. It is hard sometimes to clean my house as I start to make a list of all the things that need to be repaired, painted or replaced and I tend to get side tracked.  I think I will start to call myself "building manager."

On Saturday it took me 6 hours to deep clean my living room, entryway, hallway and dining room.  Our old house has the original old narrow wooden floors.  They aren't sealed.  The previous owners put in an in house vacuum system so I use it to vacuum the hard wood floors, but with a dog those floors quickly look furry after a couple of days.  So, it was time to not only vacuum but to get down on the floor and clean them.  

My mom used to spray her dust mop with a light spritz of soapy water.  Then she would dust mop the floor and the dust would cling to the mop.  Again, it was a light spritz and she didn't soak the mop.  On Saturday I took a cloth and spritzed it with a mist of water and cleaned the baseboards and did the same to my hard wood floors.  In a couple of weeks when I have more time I will mop the floors with Murphy's wood oil soap.  I also used a separate cloth spritzed with soapy water to wipe down my old upright piano (that I painted a shiny black a few years back).

Dusting, mopping, vacuuming area rugs and working on the hard wood floors, cleaning cob webs off the ceiling and putting clutter away and taking trash out wore me out.  But the result was that after 6 hours I had 4 thoroughly clean areas in my down stairs.  These rooms are the ones that are most visible from the front door.

Today I vacuumed again (that darn dog fur) and deep cleaned the downstairs bathroom.  I don't watch my grandson on Wednesdays, as I need a day off.  Tomorrow I can straighten up the den and downstairs bedroom.  This is easily done with Ryan playing in the room that I am quickly working on.  On Friday my son and his wife have the day off so Ryan won't be at my house and I will spend the day deep cleaning my kitchen. 

The end result is that by Friday evening my entire downstairs will have been deep cleaned within a period of one week.  Then the challenge will be to keep it up, which I should be able to do by devoting an hour a day to cleaning.  

When Ryan is at my house I do a little housework, mostly laundry and some pick up.  I can't do much with a little guy crawling around and I find that my day is spent caring for him, playing with him and catching moments of housework when he is napping.  

This weekend I plan to tackle the upstairs but I know that it will take two weekends to clean out closets and deep clean.  I find that once things are in good order, I want to maintain that order no matter what.  It's just getting there and once you do get there, you feel like the queen of your home.

Which brings me to grand mothering.  As I stated I watch Ryan Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday each week.  He arrives at 6:30 a.m. and goes home when my son is done teaching for the day.  This depends on students staying after school for help, which I think is an awesome thing that he does.  So Ryan could be at my house until 4:30 some nights.  

I am finding that I am not the normal grandmother.  Most grandmothers do not watch their grandchildren as I do. One person told me that no way would she ever be doing what I am doing as she had already raised her children.  It's not for everyone and I understand it.   However, I am a bit old fashioned and I feel that families need to support each other as much as possible.  I also like the idea of Ryan being watched by family members as much as possible.  

Childcare is expensive but that is not my primary motivation to watch Ryan.  I want Ryan to grow up knowing that he is loved not only by his parents, but by extended family.  I also want my son and his wife to have the kind of support that my husband and I never had.  

When we were raising our two sons, we did not have parents to help us out.  My parents lived in New York and my husband's parents at one time were living in California.  Family lived far away and we only had each other.  We never had the luxury of grandparents caring for our children a day a week or even when we wanted to go to a movie.  We were used to it as it was our normal, but it was difficult many times.  

Yes I don't get a lot done many times when I am watching Ryan but I wouldn't trade the time I spend with him.  I know that I am helping to raise a confident and happy little boy and when it comes down to it, that is the most important thing I can do right now.

One other thing about grandmothering, when I am caring for Ryan I know my role as his grandmother.  If I think he is getting sick, I text his mother about this and let her make the decision if she needs to make a doctor's appointment or if he needs some Tylenol,  I know my place.  I am on the support team; my son and his wife are the parents and Ryan's primary care givers.  

The only way for grandmothering to work is to recognize that you know your place.  You have raised your children, but when you become a grandmother you get a second chance to have a powerful impact on a little baby's life.