Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Cost of Being a Kid

It was 1987, I was 9 years old, and after a trip to see the +St. Louis Cardinals beat on the +Los Angeles Dodgers I was hooked on baseball. I did whatever it took to make a few bucks; I mowed yards, did chores, put out hits on neighborhood kids (maybe not "hits" but definitely made fun of) all so I could spend that hard earned cash on baseball cards. Back then the deck to collect was Topps and it was a cool .50 for a pack including a piece of gum. I would mow the yard for $5 a month, fold laundry, dust, vacuum, and keep my room up for $2 a week, and if I went to my grandmother's house I'd get $5 to spend on whatever I wanted to keep me busy. For those "not so quick at math" that's roughly $13 a month. Of course, some chores would get skipped, yards wouldn't get mowed so.... now we're talking around $8-10 a month. At any rate, I spent that money on candy and baseball cards. Not a huge deal at 9 years old. The holy grail of collectibles at that time was the Topps 1987 card #170... Bo Jackson.

Believe it or not, I spent an entire summer buying pack after pack trying to get that card and not until Christmas, when my parents bought me an entire box, did I finally get one. Think about it for a minute, in 1987 I was spending .50 per pack looking for one card!

I was in +Target the other day and looked over at the loot in the checkout aisle; you know, the stuff they put next to the gum that makes your kids drive you nuts with the "I wants"... For giggles I pulled out a pack of Topps baseball cards and quickly dropped them. $2!!! Who the heck?! What just happened? It was a fun .50 hobby! $2!!! I purchased my remaining necessities and pondered exactly how much does a childhood cost? Not only did I collect baseball cards but my brother and I found comic books (which aren't .75 anymore), comic book cards, posters, etc. Even with a "comparable" allowance my kids could never afford hobbies!

According to Westegg.com's handy little inflation calculator the same .50 pack of cards should only cost $1.01 today. So what's the deal?! A quick look at +Marvel Entertainment showed that the .75 comic I bought in 1987 now costs $3.99. Using the inflation calculator it should only be $1.51. So how much DOES a childhood cost?

I was an only child, as was my wife, so before we got married we discussed how many children we wanted. Side note... being an only child definitely presents a false sense of adequacy (we were totally not ready for 4 kids) but we're happy with our decision. Anywhoo... Let's just say that we have one kid that wants to collect baseball cards, another that wants to buy Lalaloopsy books, another likes stickers, and the last likes to draw on the walls... We'll keep it cheap and reasonable (I don't want to give anyone any false pretenses). Remember also, that this doesn't include the "necessary" extra-curricular activities which include memberships and associated costs. I, literally, need to sell a vital organ per month to keep up with it!

I'll ask again, how much DOES a childhood cost? Of course our children are all involved in activities and they truly do not have any "wants" but I don't have enough grass in my yard for anyone to cut to earn enough money to buy more than one pack of baseball cards per month! Let him push the mower around the neighborhood? Sure, that sounds safe (if you've followed my posts before then you know this is sarcasm). I'm not worried about him chopping a toe off, I'm worried about something happening to him, period! And the girls? Well, I should have the cleanest, most spot-free home in the world if they were to polish door knobs and sweep floors however, there's not enough surface area in our home to keep clean to warrant earning more than $5 per month, per child!

This isn't a "child-hood bashing" contest, it just occurred to me, that's all. For all of us parents out there that had happy childhoods, pass it on! I've got to rush-off and make another organ donation, my son just found model rockets...

#chores #childhood #mowinggrass #BoJackson #SummerJobs

Monday, March 17, 2014

I wouldn't buy a new car if my life depended on it...

+Military Spouse ran an editorial called Skinny Spouse Confessions in which the anonymous author talked about her struggle with weight gain and how she constantly gets comments like "gosh, you are so skinny, you could use a cheeseburger." While this is a topic that pales in comparison to its opponent, weight loss, it is still a real thing. Yes, skinny people need love, too!

Anonymous talked about how she "could fit into her prom dress" at 31 years old and even went to GNC and purchased weight gainers, which went right through her. At any rate, weight gain is a real struggle for some. I entered the Air Force at 158 pounds and left basic training 6 weeks later at 163 pounds. I was ecstatic because at 6-foot 3-inches I, too, was "made fun of" for my disproportions. I struggled with weight gain for the next six years and spent hundreds of dollars on weight products and countless hours at the gym. I finally made it to 180 pounds before meeting my wife. Now at a sturdy 220 no one bothers me and I offer to eat their cheeseburgers.

Back to the point... The topic of this post is unique in that it refers vaguely to the intent of this topic. If a man buys a +Chevrolet Corvette, something he's been saving and searching for his whole life, what does he do if, after a few years of driving and caring for, it begins to fall apart. All of the constant upkeep, gasoline expenses, tweeks and twerks it takes to keep happy and running... HE BUYS A NEW ONE!

So what do you think I should do if my wife of, let's say 10 years, slowly but efficiently balloons to almost twice her size? We can't go out like we used to, we can't enjoy activities like we did when we were dating, I'm constantly consoling her while she bemoans about the latest barrage of insults, I don't understand?!! I bought a Corvette and now I have a Pinto!

Now let's relate that to ourselves with some specific examples:
Q: He/She isn't the same size 
A: Well, let's be realistic. For her, children do have an impact on a woman's physique. After having four  children though, my wife is still smokin' hot. This is more about the folks with one kid who say it's "baby-weight". Seriously?! The problem begins with "why isn't my spouse attracted to me anymore?" I quickly answer that with "Are you the same size you were when you met?" Remember that men are not only attracted, but stimulated visually. If you've packed on a few pounds for winter, that's one thing. But if you are still eating for two and your child is about to graduate high school... come on, we need to address habits not husbands. Men, your wives didn't marry a Calvin Klein model (obviously) but starting out looking like Brad Pitt and winding up looking like Chris Farley, then she has every right to cry "foul". I mean, the years may get to you and Ted Bundy is "ok" but there's no reason you should turn into a special episode of +The Biggest Loser either. Have some pride! Bottom line here is that if you don't appreciate one-another, someone else will! Financial issues being the number one complaint/reason for divorces, number 2 is all about looks.

A divorce attorney from Marietta, Georgia, lists the top 10 reasons marriages end in divorce. While it isn't an iron-clad statement to say "because you've changed", it is easy to look at the list and say that "#5: Expectations" and "#6: Fulfilling one another's needs" definitely feels the blow in this category. A few questions I hear regularly are:

Q: What should I do to get my spouse's attention again?
A: Going back to the car reference for a minute, no one wants to pull their dream-car into the garage every few weeks only to have it pulled out and dented up again, just to repeat the process. This is exactly what happens every time you break a promise; "I'm going to lose weight... starting Monday", or "I will make a better effort to..." If that sounds like you then you should invest in a balloon company with all that hot air! It's not going to happen over night, but neither did your current condition.

Q: What is the hardest thing I/We will have to do to get our relationship back the way it was?
A: This is a double-edged sword and I begin with "Do you really want it the way it was or do you want to move forward from here?" When my wife and I got married it was awesome; no kids (immediately), tons of money, all the free time in the world, and nothing but one another to focus on. Over the past 12 years I've grown accustomed to the way it is now; sharing my time and life experiences, enjoying our little-bit of time with one another (it makes you appreciate the quiet moments), etc. So, you have to ask yourself, is the way it was the way you want it? Secondly, if you have to ask this question, you're probably not willing to go through with it. If you have to ask "what's the worst that can happen" then you're probably not prepared or equipped to handle it. On the other hand, if you just DO IT and meet the challenges head-on with the resolve to see them through to success, then you're good. You can accomplish anything! Diets, weight gain, weight loss, "cheat days", anything.

Q: How should I begin? Professional coach? Personal trainer?
A: Get one of the free video programs from the library and start at the beginning. It doesn't make any sense to go join a gym when you're not going to be using any of the equipment there. Go for walks, jogs, and build up to runs together. Ride bikes if you want, just do something! Once you feel like you're not being challenged then checkout programs like +CrossFit® or join a running club in your area and meet people.

What we've talked about here is one woman's story and her difficulty with weight gain and turned that into a discussion and resolution bank on overweight spouses, both male and female. I'm sure you've heard of a "dependapotamous" before. Briefly, it's a spouse that embarrasses you in public. There aren't enough people on the planet with inherited hyper thyroid-ism or those that didn't induce it themselves by their poor diet and personal habits. Better yet, we all see on a daily basis the uniformed service-member busting the buttons off of their uniform or the lady in yoga pants and gym clothes that has no intention of going anywhere near a gym. Have some respect for yourself and go get the person you think you lost and discover the spouse you've been missing.

#MilSpouse #underweight #GNC #dependapotamous #neverquit #crossfit #militaryspouse

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