About Me

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I am a wife, mother, and step-mom. I am not perfect, but try my best to reduce damage control. I have incredible family and friends that encourage us on this adventure. My mom always told me that motherhood isnt for whimps... and I couldn't agree more!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Help! They've Quarantined Me Because Im a Single Mom!!

I had decided to take my daughter to the park. It was a bright sunny day, and despite working all night, it felt invigorating to be outside. When we got to the park there was another mom there with her three kids. Soon enough our kids were busy playing and she was sitting next to be on the bench and we were deep in mommy conversation. She glowed with excitement as she gushed to me about being a full-time mom, how much she loved her son and two daughters, talked about her adoring husband who worked from home and the amazing familial benefits that produced, home-schooling, churches, etc. She asked me where I work, and was very intrigued, then asked if I was going to have another kiddo soon. Little did I know, my answer would steer the entire conversation to an end. I explained that I would love to, I wanted my children 4-5 years apart, but I didnt think it was going to be possible for me anytime soon. She asked me if I was having a hard time conceiving? I answered her honestly, I was currently divorced and wanted to be remarried before I thought about children. Suddenly she stood up, nervously rocking her baby back and forth as if my marital status was contagious and I just maliciously infected her and her off-spring! She attempted poorly to politely excuse herself from the park, and I was left feeling diseased!

I usually can laugh at almost everything... including this instance- it didnt mean that it didnt bother me though. It DID bother me. Yet, it is a common occurrence that I have learned is a lot less painful to laugh at, than take it personally. I felt like for some, they viewed a single mom, a divorcee', as if it was contagious. My closest friends that I have had for years are mostly all happily paired off. I never really thought twice about the ease it was for us to hang out before I was divorced. However, after earning the identity "Ex-wife", it was more challenging to get the invites. Suddenly, I felt left out of events that occupied mostly coupled guests. It hurts. And even as I write this I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Not only does being a single mom mean you are suddenly partner-less, but you also have to feel like your diseased because your single-ness is contagious? So out of frustration I decided to explore some of the reasons why this may occur, and come up with some ideas to help remedy the pain.

According to a study done by researchers at Brown, Harvard, and University California San Diego, it was discovered that divorce can spread between siblings, friends, and co-workers. The results of a 32-year study named Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Unless Everyone Else Is Doing It found that a persons probability to divorce depends on his friends divorce status AND even extends to his friend's friend's divorce status! According to the study, "The full network shows that participants are 75% more likely to be divorced if a person (obviously other than the spouse) that they are directly connected to (at one-degree of separation) is divorced." The likeliness of divorce is lowered to 33% if there are two-degrees of separation; at three- degrees of separation the likeliness disappears completely.

On the flip-side of this finding, the study discovered that the likeliness of divorce was greatly diminished when the couple involved in the union had friends in common.

The US Census Bureau found in 2008 that 50% of marriages end in divorce the first 15 years. This probability is greatly increased with each consecutive re-marriage.

Having gone through a divorce myself, I understand the deep personal pain and the long lasting effects. If I had a marriage that gave me a reason for my eyes to sparkle like the woman's in the park, I would want to protect it with all my strength too. So what can I do?? Am I doomed forever to walk the earth alone like the Incredible Hulk?? Am I marred with a bright red permanent sign on my forehead that reads, "I am a threat to your marriage because I am divorced!!"?? Is there ANYTHING I can do to salvage the married friendships I have without risking their marriage's success?

In a study done by Berkman in 1995 it was found, "For social support to be health promoting, it must provide both a sense of belonging and intimacy and must help people to be more competent and self-efficacious." What does this mean? In order to preserve friendships with married friends it is important to consistently encourage their success, individually and as a couple, rather than focus on their failure. (BTW: This also means not dominating your conversation with your own personal failures and negative drama!)

I have a friend who is married, but even before she was married, she ALWAYS talked so highly of her man. She constantly used words like "Dreamy" and would brag about the "Amazing" things he would do for her. She never indulged us girls in his faults. When I was with her, I only wanted to focus on the great aspects of my marriage, regardless of its reality. I loved talking to her, being around her; that positive energy radiated from her. I am sure he isnt perfect- but you would never know that from her! That is the kind of friend that us single girls need to be. One that affirms the reasons that our friends tied that knot, reminds them why he was "her one", and helps her dote on his positive side instead of allowing her to verbally validate the faults in their relationship without a positive counter.

If you find you need to talk to someone about the sometimes painful sting of being a single parent, find a single parent support group! Support groups can be anything from people that you meet with, or online chatters! Remember, birds of a feather flock together; surround yourself with the type of women you want to be. Avoid those that focus on their bitterness, anger, and resentment of the details of the divorce. Instead find women that are interested in play-dates, preschools, hobbies, careers, and enjoying the privilege of parenthood.
Here are a couple websites may assist you in a support group search:
      www.themommiesnetwork.org
      www.singlemom.com

I dont think I need to say this... but just in-case, keep the friendships along gender lines. If you are a single dad, dont go out and friend a married mom. Same goes for us women, as a single mom- I should not seek out a personal friendship exclusively with a married dad.  Be it wrong or right... it keeps things out of the grey areas. Protect your friends marriage... it is fragile and needs to be handle with absolute reverence.

Like a good friend, rejoice in their successes without envy or jealousy! If you are the kind of friend that points them to the positive aspects of their marriage, the reasons they fell in love with their spouse, the ways that their partner helps to complete them in their weaknesses, you will be a rare asset to the success of their marriage. Their spouse will want you to be their partners friend, and encourage your time spent knowing your building up their marriage and the spouses character... rather than attempting to tear it down. This will become your new disease... and it can be an epidemic that your friends cant get enough of!

If you want to have true friends, you should be a true friend yourself. - Anonymous

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1490708   <--- Breaking up is Hard to Do, Unless Everyone is doing it Study


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Friday, May 27, 2011

Failure is Only Failure When You Stay There: Things Ive learned that has helped me successfully move forward in life.

A family friend has a saying he has told me growing up: Failure is only failure when you stay there. After my marriage failed, despite my efforts to make it succeed, I felt like I had failed. Failed as a wife, failed my dreams of what I wanted my life to become, and most of all failed my daughter. When going through the divorce proceedings in court and fighting for custody, it is hard not to let it take over your life and assume the identity you lost as "wife". Here are some things that I have learned that have helped me let go of the bitterness and anger, the guilt and defeat, and feel successful and content as I moved forward with my new identity and my new life.

1.  Create Stability.
     When I left my ex-husband, it wasnt a planned out thing. I didnt have the luxury of explaining what was happening to her. For her, and for I to an extent, we were living in a home that we had known. A home with memories, good and bad, filled with our "stuff" that made it comfortable. Within a 24 hour period we were living out of the few things we were able to take that were stuffed into black trash bags and living with my parents. Now, for some it isnt such a rushed thing. But either way, it is a change in life. And change, no matter what the capacity or transition time, can be scary, especially for a child. I knew it was important to create a sense of stability for her, and in doing so I created a sense of stability for me. We found a condo we could afford soon after leaving. This created a space that was ours. We started new routines: she would have hot chocolate while I drank my morning coffee on the sofa together, etc. We started new traditions: cleaning the house together while cranking up the dance music. We found new things that we enjoyed doing: Get Out Of Town Adventures were when we would gas up the car, and drive to a location to sight see, play in the sand, and find new places to eat at. We also made sure to incorporate old traditions and routines into our day to avoid feeling like things were completely different, ie. she still slept with her baby blanket at night, still made dinners at home, etc. It was important for me to teach her, things werent better or worse, they were just different now. The one thing that remained through all we went through was each other. I made sure that she was my priority and we spent plenty of time playing together, finding new memories, and cuddling together.

2.   Find something to believe in again.
      "I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles." — Audrey Hepburn
        When I first read this quote it clicked a trigger deep in my soul. Audrey was right... it was ok to be a hopeful romantic... it was ok to watch the Notebook over and over again. It was ok to allow myself to believe in good things again,.. but it was RIGHT to make those beliefs a reality. I had choices in my life I could make to bring in hope, love, peace, security, happiness, and joy. Despite what I was feeling, I had to choose to do things that would evoke those emotions. Printing or writing out inspirational quotes and posting them in locations to read regularly also helped as good reminder. It wouldnt happen over-night, but I knew with some hard work and dedication I would soon be able to smile with hope for a better tomorrow.

3.   Single Mom: it isnt an oxymoron!
      I remember when I was single, dating was fun, hanging with friends was a daily occurrence, and I was carefree... with only my happiness as my priority in life. Then when I became a mother I found a new purpose in life. She was utterly dependent on me for everything, and if I wasnt attentive she would suffer. But I loved it. I loved watching her smile at me, laugh for the first time, pat my back with her chubby little hands as I held her and patted her back, seeing her big dark eyes in the night look up at me when she needed a midnight snack. Suddenly my happiness was wrapped around her little finger. Yes, there are times when you are utterly frustrated and ready to give up. But the pride you feel when you made it through the 3 months of colic, the teething, the all night flu... those are when you feel complete. Being single, and being a mom can feel like it is two separate ends of the spectrum. On one hand you want to enjoy the company of a man and feel desired and hot and sexy again... and on the other hand you feel you have to be attentive to your child's needs which can be an all encompassing  task at times. So how do you balance both? PRIORITIZE. Your first responsibility is being a loving mother. This means providing a safe environment for your child to thrive in. Creating an income to give your child a roof over their head, clothes on their backs, food on the table, and electricity to light the bulbs. Your second responsibility is to find a place you can confidently stand on your own as a woman in this world. This second responsibility is closely intertwined with the first. You need to give you the pleasures to make you happily available to your child with undivided attention. If your stressed on romances, complications of divorce, challenges of financial gain, etc, you will not be able to give your child the attention they need and crave.  The thing to remember about dating again is balance. Men may come and go, but you will ALWAYS be a mother, and they will always be your children. That will NEVER change. They should stay your number one- but allow yourself the occasional indulgences of pedicures, dinner dates, nights out with the girls, or anything else that makes you feel like YOU.

4. Working Out The "Tions".
     Frustration, depression, aggression, elation, stupidification... these are all emotions that can weigh us down and spiral us into a slump on the couch in a heap of tears. Although there is a time and place for crying and grieving, it isnt healthy to stay there. We cant be a loving mother when we are consumed with emotion. I found that expressing those emotions in physical activity was extremely therapeutic. I would do yard work, go for a jog, wash the car, scrub the grout on the counters, reorganize closets... anything to put that emotional energy into a beneficial task that took vigorous effort. This helped me feel successful, productive, and I was able to let go of that emotional oppression that was holding me down. For me physical activity was the best, sunshine, exercise, and productiveness released the right endorphins that elevated my mood and helped me find peace again.

5.  Create a Sanctuary.
     When I moved into my condo, I had an inflatable mattress on the ground. I was extremely grateful for it, but it needed to be inflated every other day. Within weeks my mom had located a bed for me. While I was at work, my parents moved my bed into my room, and decorated it with a side table, lamp, and decoration. She wanted to create a "Sanctuary" for me to retire to. This idea reverberated in my soul. I began to decorate my home with pictures of my princess and me. Of smiling memories of good times with my family and friends. I decorated with candles I would light at the end of the night as I sunk into my sweats on the sofa to watch a movie. I had pillows and blankets and things that were us. It was a place of comfort surrounded by joyful memories.

6.  Give yourself small things to look forward to.
     Even if it is splurging on sushi at the end of the week, making cookies on Thursday, a playdate on Monday, it is worth looking forward to. In life, it is all about the small things in life to enjoy to the fullest. I love getting flavored creamers for my coffee and look forward to it the moment my eyes open. I love marinating meat in preparation for a bbq. Having something to look forward to allows you to not let the divorce or custody consume who you are. It gives you something else to occupy your mind and discuss with friends.


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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time Capsulish Treasure Dig

While looking in my pantry for some chocolate to cure my cravings, I discovered a tin of Pepperidge Farms Pirouettes. I was ecstatic until I discovered it was an empty tin. But the moment disappointment hit my taste buds- the light bulb in by brain went off. This tin would be perfect to make a time capsule out of! After googling it and finding lots of official information on time capsules and registering them online... I decided to scale this project down to a 5 year olds size.

The goal of a time capsule is to capture what the moment is like and put it in a safe spot to later dig up and remember. Being a single mom that is learning to enjoy the time we have together without longing for a man, I gravitated to this idea like a bee to honey. If you are interested in creating a long term time capsule check out the following websites for information and ideas on how to do it:

http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Time-Capsule
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5eL81RXxXE

Supplies:
Tin, Box, or other container that will be element safe
Ziploc or other baggies to hold pictures, or other items not wanted to get wet
Tape or other sealing medium (ie: silicone calking)
Items to represent what your life is like today

Here is our capsule!

We decided to print out some pictures of her favorite memories

She cut the pictures out and wrote on some of them.

We ended up having a lot of pictures!

She likes to spell her name, so she added her name to her pics!

We drew a picture of our backyard to make a map to where we would bury the capsule.

She drew a picture to put in the capsule.

She added a book of stickers, a ring pop, a rock, the pictures, and her drawing. We set the dig up date for 100 days... September 1st, 2011
She drew the path to our treasure... which wasn't accurate at first!
This was our first 'X' marks the spot, but too many rocks inhibited the burial
We decided on a spot beneath a backyard tree where the ground is a little softer.

Because our burial is only 100 days long, we didnt dig a deep hole.

She buried the canister herself.


She was good about making sure it was patted down firmly when completely covered.

Our Treasure Map! She wrote her name at the bottom, re-drew the proper location, marked it with an 'X', and wrote 100 days at the top (well actually 100 bays... her d's are b's right now! lol)



This was a fun project. We marked the 'Dig Up' date on our calendar after counting out 100 days from today. We put the treasure map in a special spot where we can follow the map to get to the dig spot on September 1st!

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Coo Coo Over the Nest and Other Adventures

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My daughter and I created a little adventure... its a common thing for us to do. And since Im not really good at "Barbies" or other role play games... this is a fun way to learn a lot about your children and the way they think! This took maybe one hour to do, but we still talk about it a lot!

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Monday, May 9, 2011

I hate laundry!!

I found a new obsession shortly after I left my ex husband... cleaning! It felt so good to have everything put away and clean in its place. But as time passed and I found new obsessions to spend time on... I discovered I really... no, I REALLY hate laundry!! But I found a couple of things that helped me to save time. Time is a huge asset to any single working mom!!

Things to try:

-Sock Box: I put all of our socks (and underwear have their own bin too) into one box. I dont pair them up, and occasionally we go through them to pull out the ones with holes or that have become too small. I have developed a theory that we use daily: Matching socks are boring. Although this will not fall into the Type A personality box, it does help!! If you think about it, the sun will still set if they arent wearing matching socks!! And my princess loves to find a pink and green striped sock and match it to a blue and purple polka dot! It makes a fashion statement!!

- As soon as something new comes home from the store... find a home for it together. The key to a tidy house is having one place that something belongs.

- Have rockstar days!! We get dressed into some glam outfits, pump the music, and pick up the house together while singing and dancing. It is amazing how fast this happens!! And we have fun while we do it!!

- Give them some cleaning supplies to help out! I found an awesome cart with a broom, dust pan, mop, and pretend vacuum. I give her a cloth to dust, and febreeze to spray on the sofa. She sweeps and mops the kitchens for me while I clean other rooms. She is a big helper. Now that she is almost 5 years old she understands more about cleaning supplies, and I have been able to trust her with glass cleaner to clean the table and sliding glass door. I make sure these cleaning supplies are put up after she is done though, so she doesn't try to "surprise me" with cleaning without my loose supervision.

-Bikini lawn days! (Warning: DO NOT WEED WHACK IN A BIKINI-- THIS ENDS IN PAINFUL WELTS!!) We put on our bikinis and do yard work in the back yard. This is fun to pull weeds, get some sun, and play in the water!

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Painted Fruit Leather


We love to cook together! This is a fun activity and super inexpensive!

Ingredients:
-Apple Sauce
-Frozen fruit of your choice (we used raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries)
- You can also use JELLo mix to add for bright colors and flavors. (We didnt use this)

Equipment:
-Food processor
-Dehydrator (ask around if you dont have one!)

Start by blending the fruit.



Using a base of Apple Sauce, allow the chefs to paint, dribble and finger on the pureed frozen fruit mixture



After the artist is done, dehydrate on low for about 10 hours, or until dry. (Time is depending on the thickness of the fruit leather) Eat and enjoy!!



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