Imagine Dragons Road Trip

Holy.Cow.

First let me tell you…I totally bought tickets for me and my daughters (my daughter and me…geez I suck at grammar) back in May to go to this concert.  I even left a track meet to get home and purchase tickets online.  That is how much I REALLY wanted to get tickets for us.  Sad…this is what my life has come to.

So, I went on to booking.com and got a hotel room.  Can I tell you how much I love booking.com?  Now, I don’t get anything from them (though if booking.com wants to come knocking…here I am!)  I was able to get a really nice hotel room at the Best Western in Oakdale, Mn which was only a little bit away from where the concert was going to be at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium.  Booking.com had the best prices AND the best thing…totally the selling point for my family of 6, I only needed to have a credit card on file but they DON’T put a hold on your card.  For a woman who doesn’t have credit cards and only debit, this is huge.  It can cause such an issue when you are booking in advance and there is $200 missing from your checking account.  And when you are on a tight budget, then this can also be a hindrance.  Not anymore.  Super excited that they offer this service.  I booked three weeks in advance.  Score!  Okay, enough loving on booking.com.

My daughters and I got on the road…late.  Sigh.  Story of my life.  We meant to leave at 9 a.m. but 3 hours later we headed out-of-town.  The trip was not too bad.  Where we live to the cities is about a 6 hour drive.  Yes, I live in Mn but we live right under Canada so the Cities are quite a drive away.  The trip was gorgeous.  There is nothing like Minnesota in the fall…no matter how short it is.  And sometimes it can be painfully short.  There is a beautiful ombre that happens with the trees.  Shifts of red, orange, yellow and green…just fabulous.  Pumpkins lining the highway for sale…and the farmer (God made a farmer) plowing and harvesting his fields.

The hotel was super nice.  Loved the interior.  I was kind of disappointed it didn’t have a pool, but it did have a large spa and workout room.  I am sure if I look I will see the they never mentioned a pool and I just assumed it did.  The rooms at Best Western were nice.  We chose a Junior Suite with a king sized bed and a pull out couch.  Plenty of room for me and my two girls.

My oldest had to do her live lessons so my other daughter and I inadvertently got lost.  Seriously.  My GPS on my phone hates me.  No joke.  I wanted to go to Target and so I put that into my phone.  Gentle reader, I AM NOT FROM MINNESOTA!  I have been to the Cities once by myself…and THAT was Minneapolis.  I don’t know the Cities at all.   Oh my word…let the madness ensue.  So…we get on the road.  My 11-year-old is my navigator.  And we’re driving and have no CLUE where we are going.  Because we keep passing these Targets on the way.  What-in-the-hell is going on?  Where are we going???  The cuss words start flying.  I suck.  Literally, I wound up driving in circles in some neighborhood in St. Paul.

So, then I realized that I originally put in the address for St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Note:  I stopped that destination…and put in the Target destination.  Ahahahaha…stupid technology.  Stupid woman for trusting stupid technology.   So needless to say, we found our way to the cathedral but never did make it to Target.  So we turned around and went to pick up my oldest.  Hahahaha!

St. Paul’s Cathedral is Free…the parking ticket not so much:

Can I just say I hate the parking situation in St. Paul.  There are so many dang signs of where you can park, where you cannot park…when you can park and when you cannot.  OH.MY.WORD.  I read the sign…well, I thought I read the sign.  The $36 dollar parking ticket tells me no, no I did not read the sign properly.  I parked like 20 feet from where I was supposed to.  Literally I was just inches from where I supposed to be.  Isn’t that the way it goes?

St. Paul’s Cathedral is wonderful.  Absolutely beautiful.  Stunning.  Sad.  It literally broke my heart…and Gentle Reader if you knew me, you would know I am Catholic.  I am also a believer in Jesus Christ.  I am not nor have I ever been a believer in the Church.  Any Church.  GASP! Sacrilege!   To me St. Paul’s was more about the power and majesty of the church than it was about the mighty love of Jesus Christ.   I was also struck by the influence of the Roman culture in our churches.  Statues to the 4 writers of the Gospel.  Statues to the Patron Saints of the Nations.  Lots of pomp and circumstance.  Lots of GIANT polished stone and gilt and cold…oh so cold.  Please do not get me wrong Gentle Reader.  I was awed.  My girls were awed.  But I don’t ever want them to think that the Church is more important than what Christ did for us on the Cross.  What GOD did for us by sending His Son.  Okay, enough preaching from me.

Getting Lost.  Again.:

So, we got lost again.  And i paid $5 for a parking spot we did not even stay in.  St. Paul had some work going on downtown and my STUPID GPS kept taking us in circles, so I decide, in my inherent wisdom to just pick a parking and go for it.  I mean, how far could it be, right?  Anyway, we walk…and walk…and walk…

Finally, we go into the Crown Plaza and look at this huge interactive map they have.  This really nice concierge named Neal, gave us a map and we were back on our way…to get our car so we could get closer to where we wanted to be.  I don’t think we wanted to walk 13 blocks back to our vehicle at night, in a city where we are unfamiliar!   ACK!

Following a real map, we found our location…even if we had to go in circles a few times (Yes, we did!)…and even more amusing…we ended up so close to the cathedral, it was almost comical…if I hadn’t been cussing like a trucker who has been on the road for 36 hours straight.

$80 Dollars later:

Do you ever feel like that dude in the Geico commercial who is riding the motorcycle with Dolla-dolla bills just flying off of him?  That was me.  I felt like that dude after the ticket, paying for parking twice AND buying shirts at the concert for $35 a piece.  Sigh.  But my girls were happy.  The shirts I purchased for them from Maurice’s ($42) went straight off in the bathroom and on came the new shirts.  Double sigh.  Cha-ching!

We came, We sang, We bounced:

Imagine Dragons are good.  And I mean, like…so amazingly good it’s unreal!  If you like them…you will love their live performance.  Their percussion and guitars and vocals and VIOLIN playing is just unreal.  It was so worth it!  Loved every single minute of it.  And the lead singer of the band is so humble…just unreal.  Super amazing.  You should catch them if you get a chance!

The funniest thing happened after the concert.  My girls danced and sang and rocked out so hard.  I bounced in my seat (I am a MOM after all…some decorum is warranted) and sang and loved watching my girls have the time of their lives.  What really struck me is how diverse the crowd was.  There were a lot of college students, but there were a lot of 40 to even 50 year olds and then ‘tweens and kids in the venue.  This older guy tapped my girl on the shoulder and said, “Best night of your life?”  And she had this biggest smile on her face and said, “Oh yeah!”  He then smiled at me and I smiled back at him.  He nodded his head in my girls’ direction and said, “You’re doing it right.”  I laughed and felt good about that.  Yeah, I am doing it right.

This is an experience that my girls and I will always remember.  There  were moments of frustration…but there were also moments of sheer fun.  Funny little inside jokes that my husband and my other kids won’t get because they just were not there.  Did it cost more than I expected…oh yeah.  Were the rewards more than I expected…oh yeah.  Would I do it all again…oh yeah!  But next time…I will have a map on hand, and use my map skills the old fashioned way.

Stupid phone GPS.  😉

Open Letter to a Friend

Dear Friend,

First and foremost, I want to apologize for saying “Screw You” when you told me you were moving.  Those were probably not the best words to speak.  But I sometimes have a hard time filtering what comes flying out of my mouth.  And so I am sorry…friend fail, right there!  I love you.  And I am so stinking happy that your family is moving onto bigger and better things.  And not like what you are doing is not BIG and GREAT right now because IT IS…but THIS, THIS is HUGE!  And it’s proof once more, that God truly does give us the desires of our heart.

It is super hard not to be sad though.  And selfish.  Sigh.  Stinking feelings.  My oldest and I had this discussion over this very thing.  Because, while we are happy for your family…we really want you to stay.

I want to run you down every time I see you.  And smother you in love.  I want to grab onto you like a drowning man grabs a lifeline…because that is what you are to me.  A lifeline.  A true kindred spirit with whom I can share my ugly with.  A mother who inspires me to be better.  A woman who shows grace and love and genuine care.  Who is not afraid to show me her ugly right back.  And to laugh with me.  And do crazy ninja-moves when we walk together.

BUT…I am trying to hold myself back from completely falling apart…because I know you must be totally overwhelmed right now.  Overwhelmed with the thought of moving.  Overwhelmed with packing up your whole home that you have called “home” for many years now.  Leaving a church that has been such an integral part of your life and of this community.  Leaving people whom you have come to love and care about. Overwhelmed with everyone wanting and needing your attention.  And so I am trying to play it cool and calm…but know this…inside I am SCREAMING “NO!!!!!!!!!”

So, yeah.  I want to have coffee every single day with you.  And soak up the time we have left and store those moments away like little treasures.

And I know I am totally being melodramatic right now…but dammit!  It’s my blog and I can. (y)

I know we have Facebook and Twitter and texting and Skype and vehicles to visit one another.  But it’s just not the same as picking up the phone and calling you and saying, “Hey.  You wanna go for a walk?”  or “Hey…I have cookies…wanna come have some coffee and chat?”  It’s.Just.Not.The.Same.

So know this, dearest one.  I love you.  And I will miss you.  But I have faith that God is good.  And His love endures forever.  And I know, He brought us together not so that we would be friends for a little while…but friends for life.  Thank you for giving me guidance.  Thank you for helping me on my faith walk.  Thank you!

Thanks for letting me show my crazy and my ugly…and loving me anyway.  You are THE BEST!!!

Psalm 118, a Hymn of Thanksgiving

It’s good.  Really good.

You should read it gentle reader.

A few years ago I read a blog about “Life Verses” and I didn’t understand what that really meant.  This wonderful writer was talking about how her pastor talked about “life verses” and how they could positively impact our lives.  Those verses from the Bible which speak to our heart of hearts.

Then, funny enough… I looked around my house and there were life verses everywhere.

In my foyer, I have John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

In my living room, I have 1 Corinthians 13:4

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud

These words, these vows…my husband and I spoke over each other years ago…for which I did not remember until I viewed my wedding video again after 14 years.  Sigh.

In the basement, I have Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad.

Something I have told my husband and children for years without thinking about it.  It was just habit to do so.

Oh dear and gentle reader…I do have life verses.  Amazing.  Who’da thunk it, right?

Do you have a life verse?  I bet if you look hard enough…it’s there.

Blessings be on you today, gentle reader.  Blessings be!

God is Faithful to the Desires of the Heart

I posted recently about being in radio and how to record your voice.  Which got me thinking about how I ended up in radio to begin with.

When I was very young…still a teen to be exact, I wanted to get into voice over work.  I “auditioned” to be a part of this company…only to get suckered into spending $800.00 for their specialty classes.  Snort, snicker.  Yup, I was a buffoon.

Fast forward about 7 years and I hear an ad on the radio that the local station is looking for some help.  I go in, get an interview and the rest is history.

I have mentioned before how good God is. How He does listen to our hearts desire.  I didn’t know it then…but God gave me the opportunity I had always wanted.  He got me into radio.  I don’t think I used that time wisely.  It wasn’t coincidence…He gave me this talent and Loves me.  Oh…I wish I could have seen what I see now!  And he wanted me to do something with it…and I failed him.  I had ample opportunity to be the one to effect change…to be a voice bringing hope and faith, and I chose to be rebellious and unrepentant.  Sigh.

I learned many things about radio, but I did not use my platform well.  I know that now.  I am so blessed that God is giving me another chance.  Thank You Father God for believing in me even when I didn’t know You.  You are so good.

So…what I am saying is this:  If you have a dream in your heart…a God Sized Dream…or maybe A GOD SIZED DREAM…if you are afraid to even voice this dream…God knows your heart.  He knows you.  You are not foreign to Him and He will not forget you.  It may take 7 years or 10 or 40 or even 80 (think about how long Abraham and Sarah had to wait for Isaac)…He will fulfill the desires of your heart.

Psalm 20:4 NIV (This one needs to be highlighted in my Bible.)

“May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

Psalm 37:4 NIV (this one is actually highlighted in my Bible.)

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

I just watched www.LifeWay.com and Phil Robertson from Duck Commander.  He spoke on his decision to follow Jesus, how it all started and what he wants for the legacy of Duck Dynasty.  It’s worth the watch…and I want Phil to Preach it!  Preach the word, brother!

As Phil Robertson of Duck Commander said, “We’re all counting time by Jesus.”  Amen, brother.  Amen.

Getting Suckered into a Tea Party…

imagesI got suckered into throwing a Tea Party.  Well, I shouldn’t say suckered…I agreed to do it…because a woman who I regard as my second mother asked me if I would do it.  Sigh.  Guilt is a nasty thing.

TeaPty5

 

 

 

 

 

So, then I find out that my daughter is singing at the Tea Party.  Whhaaaa-aaaat?  My 13-year-old is doing what?  Seems, one of my dearest friend’s friend, asked my daughter if she would sing.  Well, she also happened to ask that question at a basketball game…and introduced herself as a member of our dearest friend’s church.  My daughter thinking she was asking if she was singing at their church said, yes, I am singing…which she is.  So I get a phone call from my dearest friend stating that my daughter is singing.  I am sure you could hear the question marks My daughter knows better than to agree to a singing engagement unless she has passed it by me first.  Ahhh, the game of “Who’s on First?” ensues.  We get to the bottom of it and find out that my daughter could not hear the woman and agreed that she was singing, not that she would sing.  Bwahahahaha!

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So, then…as I am talking with my daughter about this tea party…and her being the MAD for MAD Hatter freak that she is (She is reading this over my shoulder as I type…and is laughing) SHE (she wants credit for the idea) comes up with the idea (See…I can give her credit for it) to do a Mad Tea Party a la Alice in Underland.  (Gentle Reader, it is no longer, nor will it ever be Alice in Wonderland ever since Tim Burton remade Alice a few years ago.)

Alice-in-Wonderland-Tea-Party-Southern-Vintage-teapots-and-teacups

How does one start planning on a Mad Hatter Tea Party?  Well…one goes to google “Alice in Wonderland Tea Party Images” and voila!  (Or VIOLA!!, as my daughter thought it was for years) You can find a wealth of information on that very subject.  Thank you, Google.

I have to admit, I am a bit excited about the prospect of putting this tea together now.  Everything is required to be mismatched…which is excellent, since I don’t have a tea set to save my life.  But I DO know a lot of people who have tea sets…so I can borrow theirs and be done with it.  I already have in mind a table center piece.  My wildly talented 13-year-old (She’s still reading over my shoulder, gentle reader.) made a Mad Hatter costume for Halloween.  She created a hat out of cardboard, covered it with fabric and made it look amazing.  (She’s trying to tell me in full detail exactly what she did, but as you can see or read…I left all that out.  She’s not impressed with me right now.)  That hat will be our center piece.  I have a silver tea set that I will use to put favors or candies in…and then we will have glass bottles, cakes, cookies and all sorts of frippery (frippery is such a fun word to use and I don’t use it often enough) to create a table.

I will take photos of when it is done.  And may or may not post them…depending on how successful it is.  Wish me luck!  (My daughter says Luck is for amateurs…sigh.  She is dramatic at times.)

 

Flat on my Back

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Sunday’s I go to the rink and teach for 5 hours.

This past Sunday, the ice was available before our normal lesson time.  I decided to get on early and warm up, which is something I don’t normally get to do.  So I hooked up my iPad and turned on Imagine Dragons.  I skated around the rink and everything was going well.

Then I decided to skate backwards which is usually not an issue…except for this day.

The rink I skate at is cold.  And I mean…not like the normal skating rink cold.  Growing up, the rink I skated at was probably around 40 degrees.  Cool, yes but not COLD.  The lobby at the rink is heated, but the rink itself is not.  So if it’s zero outside…it is usually about 10 inside.  The ice is set for around 21 degrees.  But, regardless…it’s cold.  COLD. COLD. COLD.  So now that it has been warming up, the roof drops chunks of ice and slush onto the surface.  Like, hockey puck sized globs of ice which then adhere to the ice surface.  Makes for a very uneven skating surface…but, we deal with it.

Well…the first couple of times around the rink were fine.  Then, all I remember is my right foot going out from under me and then staring straight up at the ceiling with my hands tucked to my chest and my booted feet straight up to the sky.  I slid a glorious 10-15 feet flat on my back, like a fat, magenta turtle.  (My coat, which my wonderful hubby bought me, is a cranberry/magenta-ee color.)  My daughter tells me I hit a bump and my foot came up off the ice.

I must have put my right hand down to break the fall, which explains the jarring pain which radiated up my arm from the palm of my hand.  When I felt the slap of pain, I quickly brought my hands up to prevent further damage.  I kept my head up…thankfully!  After my glorious slide, I lay there, taking a mental check to make sure that nothing was broken.  Nope nothing broken…but my pride.  I got up, dusted myself off and started lessons.  4 straight hours of teaching, skating and talking.  Sigh.  It’s bliss!

It wasn’t until 4 hours later after I sat down to watch a solo routine that I realized my shoulders were sore.  Huh. Why were they sore?  I shrugged it off and stretched a little.

It wasn’t until I was driving into my garage (I live about 1/2 an hour away from the rink) that I remembered to tell my husband about my glorious slide.  And then it all came back to me.  (Cue-Celine Dion)  My slip, my fall, my slide.  MY PAIN!!!!

Falling when you are 8, 10, 13, 16…not such a big deal.  Yeah, you get bruised, but then you get a war story to talk about.  Falling when you are thirty-something.  Oh LORD!  Where’s my cane?!?!?!

The half hour drive is what killed me.  I sat still for too long and stiffened up.  I could barely get out of my vehicle.  I hobbled into my house and my husband was looking at me weird.  Are you okay? He asks.  Um…no.  I fell. I tell him.  Ahh…he says, looking at me knowingly.  Then I repeat my glorious slide story.  He tries to not laugh.  I take three ibuprofen and still no relief.  My back is in pain, my shoulders, my butt…my whole right side.  I assume I fell more on my right side than my left.

I drink a glass of yummy wine.  Still no relief.  Okay…3 ibuprofen and a glass of wine and still I am in pain???  Not good.  So then I ask my husband to rub some Bio-Freeze on my back, which he does.  He lets it dry and then places a heat pad on my back.  Oh my Lord, the horror!  It’s like having burning cold shoot tiny little lasers through every single pore in my back.  I am on FIRE!  So after the 10 minutes of torture…my back is feeling better.  More loose.  I can move now without too much pain.  I am more limber.

We watch a little TV and forgo our nightly tea because we are both exhausted.

I climb into bed and scoot on my right hip.  HOLY HELL!  The pain is excruciating.  I scoot back out of bed and try unsuccessfully to see the bruise that obviously has to be there.  Nope, no bruise.  But I am sure if you were to peel back the layers of skin and fat that there would be bruise there.  It still hurts.  Two days later.  I cannot sleep on my hip because it hurts that bad.  UGH!

Anyway…I will heal.  But I am sore.  And out of wine.  But that’s okay.  Because it’s a GREAT story! 😉  Especially the way I tell it.

Blessings be on you today gentle reader.  You are amazing!

Sequestration: What it means for my family

My husband is in federal law enforcement.  It has been a long almost 17 years (he will have put in 18 years in June).  There have been many tears…many fears…many times I have wondered, will my husband come home tonight?  We have been threatened, yelled at and looked down upon.  He has been injured on the job with little compensation for his injuries.  It is not an easy life.  We have almost lost each other…when the job became more important than family.  We came back together and GOD became our focus and life has been smoother.  Not easy.  Never easy.  But more focused now that we have a focal point. (GOD)

So, with all this talk of sequestration…all the pundits talking about how it WILL NOT effect that many families; that this is just a scare tactic; that the cuts are good because we as a country need to cut spending…they are not looking at individual agencies and what they will face.

My hubby works for an agency that will take the lions share of the budget cuts within his main organization.  They are estimated to take 87% of their agency’s budget cuts.  To be exact, the main agency is looking at $285 million dollars worth of cuts with $245 million coming directly of his agency’s budget.  What does that mean for us and approximately 21,000 other families?  We are expected to take a 25% pay cut.  We are also going to be furloughed for 14 days…and this will be one day a pay period until the end of the fiscal year.  This penalizes us up to 40% in lost wages.  Would YOUR family be able to sustain a 40% pay cut for a few weeks?  A month?  Half a year?

Unlike other furloughed time periods for this agency, we will not recover any lost wages.  The last furlough was in 1995 and agents were given back pay because they were required to work those days even though they were not getting paid.  I personally, don’t have a problem with the furlough.  We can afford the furlough…seriously.  If 21,000 agents take a 1 day furlough over the course a set time period, say till the end of the fiscal year, it would save the agency close to $100,000,000.00.  That is 1 HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS.  Are we willing to do that for our country? YES!  Can the main agency as a whole make up the additional $185 Million in cuts without dipping their greedy little fingers into the agents remaining pay?  YES!  There are programs that are redundant (as in any government agency).  There are ineffective programs which make absolutely no sense.  And there are programs that can be cut back without negatively affecting the agency’s mission.

On one report this morning, I heard that my husband’s agency was going to lose their overtime.  Not a big deal, right?  Who cares, it’s overtime…right?  Well the problem with that is that it is NOT overtime in the traditional sense of the word.  Overtime is usually 1 and 1/2 times your regular pay.  So, if you make $10 an hour, overtime would pay your $15.  Not so with my hubby’s agency.

His “overtime” is discretionary anywhere from 10% to 25% of a base calculation.  If an Agent works 9+ hours of AUO within a 2 week pay period, they receive 25% of pay based on a GS 10-1 salary.  If they work less than 9 hours, then it is goes down from there.  If they work less than 4 hours of AUO in a pay period, they could become “de-certified” and are NO longer eligible for AUO.  So, that means if they have a case that they are working…and after their 8 hour shift they work another 6 hours…they will not get paid for those additional 6 hours.  Would YOU work at a job like that?

Here is a simplified AUO Calculation explanation based on an AUO case out of El Paso, Texas (you can read the case if you click on the link):

AUO pay is computed by application of a formula based on the number of AUO hours worked over a period of time to compute a weekly average of AUO hours. See id. at 6. The computation is applied on a sliding scale so that if an employee averages: (1) at least three, but not more than five hours of AUO per week, the employee receives 10% of his/her base pay; (2) between five and seven hours per week, 15%; (3) between seven and nine hours per week, 20%; and (4) nine or more hours, 25%. See id. Where an employee is off work for holidays, sick or annual leave, training, etc., with no opportunity to perform AUO, it would penalize the employee to include the “off” hours in computing the weekly average. See id. Thus, the concept of “excludable days” is applied, whereby time spent on leave or engaged in other activities, such as training, are excluded from the number of workdays used to compute the daily average of AUO hours. See id. “

Here is what OPM or Office of Personnel Management has to say about AUO and LEAP, another type of compensatory pay:

Appendix E

OVERVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVELY UNCONTROLLABLE OVERTIME PAY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT AVAILABILITY PAY

Administratively Uncontrollable
Overtime (AUO) Pay
Law Enforcement
Availability Pay (LEAP)
Authorized by 5 U.S.C. 5545(c)(2) and 5 CFR 550.151 through 550.163 Authorized by 5 U.S.C. 5545a and5 CFR 550.181 through 550.187
Paid to Border Patrol Agents and certain other employees (mainly in the Department of Homeland Security) Paid to criminal investigators or other approved law enforcement officers
Discretionary 10 to 25 percent pay supplement Entitlement to fixed 25 percent pay supplement
AUO is paid for all irregularly scheduled overtime work (i.e., not scheduled in advance of the workweek) Paid for (1) all irregularly scheduled overtime work, (2) any regularly scheduled overtime work that is part of the first 2 overtime hours on a regular workday, and (3) certain non-work hours during which employee is placed in availability status
AUO rate is based on the average number of hours of irregular overtime work performed per week (e.g., a 25 percent rate is authorized for an average of over 9 hours per week of irregular overtime work) Employees are eligible for LEAP only if they have an annual average of 2 or more hours of unscheduled duty per workday
If employees are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, as amended, they are entitled to receive an extra half rate for irregular overtime hours in addition to AUO pay LEAP recipients are not covered by the FLSA
AUO pay remains subject to the biweekly premium pay cap, even while other types of premium pay may be simultaneously subject to an annual premium pay cap LEAP remains subject to the biweekly premium pay cap, even while other types of premium pay may be simultaneously subject to an annual premium pay cap
AUO pay is considered basic pay for purposes of retirement benefits only for law enforcement officers;  Entitlement to retirement-creditable AUO pay is based strictly on the definition of “law enforcement officer” at 5 U.S.C. 8331(20) and 8401(17) LEAP is considered basic pay for purposes of retirement benefits, life insurance, and severance pay

Clear as mud, right?

AUO is an administrative overtime.  It is a crap way of being paid for the same amount of work.  If you receive a case in your 7th hour of your 8 hour day, you will be required to continue to work the case…but YOU WILL NOT BE PAID the same amount of pay for the 8th hour going into the 9th, the 9th rolling into the 10th or the 10th rolling into the 11th etc.  You don’t get time and a half.  What you get is a portion of your salary based on a calculation formula from the 1970’s.  One benefit of AUO is that is good for retirement purposes as stated in the chart above.

Anyway, I digress.  Other federal law enforcement agencies get paid LEAP or Law Enforcement Availability Pay.  That is fine.  They actually receive 25% up front, but they could potentially lose money based on their agency and how they deal with overtime and how many hours.  A detriment of LEAP is being on call-out hours and not getting paid for those hours once your 50 hour work week is done.  One nice thing about LEAP is that they could actually get paid OVERTIME.  Like, real-time and a half, overtime.  But again, that is at the discretion of the agency they work for.

For the type of work my husband does, I am not a fan of LEAP.  But, I am also not a fan of my family losing anywhere from 25% to 40% of our salary because the government cannot get its head out of its butt.

So…before you think that these agencies need to cut back…need to have this happen…look at the individual families it will affect.  We buy groceries, we buy clothes, we buy gas.  We are a part of your community and we spend money.  It’s not just us.  It’s all the businesses that depend on us to purchase from them.  It’s our communities and our tax base.  Our kids go to your schools.  Less money means less spending.  Period.  It could mean foreclosure and bankruptcy for many families.  Sigh.  It is THAT BIG.

My biggest issue with this sequestration is that it is not fair.  The across the board cuts ARE fair for all agencies.  From what I have read, most agencies are expected to cut 6% from their budgets.  Okay, I get that.  But within those agencies, and in our particular agencies case, taking 87% of that cut makes absolutely NO SENSE!

We have contacted our state representatives.  We are signing petitions.  But unless anything changes by Friday, March 1st, I will be looking for a job to help my family recoup that loss.  You know anyone hiring?

The one thing that is sustaining me, us…is God.  He is so faithful.  And I know He will be there for us.  Any hardship we face is nothing like the hardship His Son endured for us.  We are taking this as a growing moment.  A time to fully grasp our faith and walk it.  And yes…we have railed too.  Not at God.  Actually, we have thanked Him for answering prayers and giving us this glorious life.  We have railed at a government that is trying to reign in systematic abuse by screwing their employees.  Don’t actually fix the real problem…no…let’s just put a band-aid on it because that always solves everything.  YAY!  {<—-lots of sarcasm there}

Blessings be on you today, gentle reader.  God IS Good!