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!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Single" Parent doesnt mean "Disabled"!!

 I had been waiting for this day for so long! I finally took my daughter out for her first surf lesson! Of course, I had waited for her swimming skills to strengthen, and for her to get old enough to want to try. But honestly, I stalled because I was waiting for someone to come with me to be able to help me in the water with her.
So I decided to venture out alone and attempt her lessons solo. She did amazing and I couldn't have been a prouder mommy! She loved riding the white water in, and seemed to have a natural instinct for balance and position on the board. She seemed immune to the chilled waters and smiled and laughed through chattering teeth, "One more time Mom!"
I realized that as a solo mom, I didnt have to limit her experiences because we dont have a dad willing to participate. I am only short changing her (and my own credit) waiting for someone else to come along. I AM a solo mom. I cant change that right now. I would hate for my daughter to look back on her childhood and feel limited in her experience because she didnt have a dad. She shouldnt have to pay for his choices in that manner- she has paid and will continue to pay in other ways there.

I found that taking a small step- and trying something new alone- gave me a sense of independence and strengthened my bond with my daughter. We knew it might not be successful the first try- but at least we were out there trying together. Most of all, I was empowering her instead of victimizing her- an invaluable lesson.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beware: Compatible Needs Doesnt Always Equate to Compatibility

His Needs: Marriage, Wife, Family. 
My Needs: Marriage, Husband, Father. 
A marriage MUST be built on more concrete compatibility than needs alone.

All too often I have found that after going on a date or two with a guy- he has all too quickly fallen in love. At first, I thought that I suddenly possessed some type of Love Voodoo that I was subconsciously casting. (I had never had this kind of a problem when I was dating before I was married!) 

It has taken me three years to come to the conclusion that it isnt me theyre in love with. It is the idea of the entire package I bring to the table that could potentially fill their needs: Family.

It is appreciated when men understand that single/solo parents are not dating for a free dinner out. Our time is valuable because we dont have a lot of it to dispose frivolously. We are not only shopping mates to help us raise our kids and complete the traditional picture of what a family looks like, but attempting to find someone to share life with and grow old with as a best friend and lover.

Instead of coming to the table with "baggage" as so often our society fools us to believe, we come to the table with very precious packages- the hearts of our children.

For some men, this is all they have ever wanted was to be a husband and a dad- to have a family. What a gift to find a man with this desire!

They may want to rescue us from the hardships of being a single/solo parent, and give to the child/children that father figure they are missing. This is a noble quality when earned!


Here are some things to think about when dating:
  1. Honestly consider why your attracted to him: If it is because he would make a good dad, has a good job, and wants to get married- what will sustain your marriage, your relationship with each other, after the vows are said and the novelty has worn off. Do you really have anything in common? Where do you connect?
  2. Beware of the relationship that moves too fast: Although I am sure that your charmingly sweet- If he is attached before a real connection has been made, it is entirely possible he is in love with the idea of what you represent and not you. As a single/solo mom you represent an instant family, security, acceptance, love, and stability. Who wouldnt want that? Being in love with the idea of what you bring to the table is not the same as being in love with you and the amazing person you are. 
  3. Do not move too fast physically. This tends to cloud the judgement of women and doesnt allow for accurate discernment in these areas. Lust and Love are easily confused.
  4. Dont be afraid to say: This isnt working for me. If he is upset- it isnt because he is upset he is loosing you after a couple dates out... he is upset that his premature dreams of having an instant (and unearned) family has been lost. The earlier you know and tell him, the easier it will be.
  5. He should want to earn his role in your family. This isnt a consolation prize given out to the first man that pops the question without merit. A real man will honor your time with your children knowing he is not a priority in your busy life. He will attempt to make your life easier (ie: helping with household chores while he is around WITHOUT ASKING.). He will deposit into your life rather than deduct.
  6. He wont pressure you to move faster than you're comfortable. Single/solo moms have complete control in their worlds- and although we may want to relinquish some of that control- it isnt something we are willing to hand over to the first Tom or Joe that shows up roses in hand without showing their capabilities.
  7. Connections: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual... : There are many layers to compatibility, connections and attraction. Do you have enough to satisfy your needs?
Dont be afraid to leave your children out of the picture in order to get to know him better. This not only helps to protect their little hearts, but also allows you be an adult. If he wants to meet them earlier than youre comfortable - say no. If you dont protect your children- no one else will. 

Don't be afraid to be picky! You have a second chance to get it right. Dont be hasty in your choice. Dont compromise out of desperation. Be patient and have confidence that YOU have something that is worth the complete package of personal compatibility that will last past the 'I Do', past the empty nest, and past the future grandkids.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Good Things are Worth Waiting For

Recently, a friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook that really hit home:
"To all the girls who are in a hurry to have a boyfriend or get married, a piece of Biblical advice: Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz. While you are waiting on YOUR Boaz, dont settle for any of his relatives: Broke-az, Po-az, Lyin-az, Cheatin-az, Dumb-az, Drunk-az, Cheap-az, Lockedup-az, Goodfornothin-az, Lazy-az, and especially his third cousin Beatinyo-az. Wait on your Boaz and make sure he respects Yoaz."

Funny advice- but so true, and not just for women! I have met plenty of men out there that are anxious to jump the gun just to have the security of commitment. As a single parent we have a responsibility to our children to protect them and teach them the best that we can. They have already endured intense heart break. These little hearts need time to heal and feel protected instead of abandoned.

I have heard plenty of stories of moms (I am sure stories exist illustrating dad's can be included in this) that have quickly jumped into committed relationships and marriages exposing and sometimes abandoning their children to fill an insecurity of being alone. Some stories have horrific outcomes of abuse, emotional, physical, and sexual.

Before I married, I was a serial girlfriend. I went from one boyfriend to the next with little to no time between relationships. This was mostly because I loved being a girlfriend, having a boyfriend, and having all that came with being in a relationship.

I have been a solo mom for over 3 years now. Do I want to find that best friend and lover? YES YES YES!!! But I dont need to be a girlfriend and or wife because I am insecure alone. Loneliness is never a reason to love.

I watched a single dad run through girlfriends because he was insecure alone after his divorce. Every girl friend that came along- he would tell his kids that this was the one that he was going to marry, after only dating her as little as a month. This had a huge effect on his children as they began to form ideas and opinions of relationships, marriage, men, women, and love, faith and commitment. He was teaching his children life lessons about compromise, goals, vision, and most importantly self worth and the value he placed on his children.

Instead of pining for a partner- realize that you have a gift that you may never have again. You have a time in your life that you are able to give your children 100% of you uninhibited by a relationship. Enjoy your children fully and completely with a thankful heart. Remember: YOU MAY NEVER GET THIS TIME BACK.

We must remember as single parents that our children are ALWAYS watching us and like small sponges, they are interpreting our behaviors and choices, forming opinions, and soaking up information. The mate(s) that we choose ARE going to portray a message to them. If we are never without a "significant other" we may be teaching them that because we feel insecure and incomplete alone- they are not a complete person without another person to complete them and security comes from being with someone. We may be teaching them to settle for second best because it is available. We may be teaching them that it is acceptable to compromise self worth to avoid loneliness. They may be learning that as a parent it is acceptable to put adult needs before the children's.
Instead move slowly into relationships. Question and challenge personal attractions and notions. Avoid premature physical intimacy, as this clouds judgement and discernment. Get to know that person as a friend without alternative motives. Do not be afraid to disconnect from people in your life that do not treat you with the respect that you and your child deserve. If you feel a lack of confidence alone- that is an excellent indication that you are not ready for a relationship.

Dont be afraid to be alone and enjoy every moment of it. Contentment is an invaluable lesson that will permeate all aspects of life.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mr. Mom Goes Fishin!

My Mom fishing in Mexico
Me in Mexico
My Gramma (in curlers)& I in Mex

When I was a kid, we went camping every spring break. One of our traditions I loved was fishing with my dad early in the morning. Coffee in hand we would get in the boat. He would toss me the keys when I was old enough and we would speed across the chilled glassy lake to the dam where we would drop in a couple lines. I loved these moments of hanging with my dad. He would tell me stories of my mom and him fishing in Mexico, tinker on the boat waiting for the fish to bite, sip his coffee, and make up fish stories to tell when we got back to camp.

I want give my daughter those same memories! So off we went to the store for a fishing pole and hooks. We started fishing last summer, but we only used bait we could eat: Velveeta cheese, marshmallows, french fries, hotdogs, etc. This year we stepped it up with some bacon- and the rest became history! I was blessed with a dad that showed me how to fish- and I know not all single/solo moms/dads was as fortunate as I was. So000ooo... I figured I would try to explain as much as I could.


Mr. Mom's Fishing Tips

-After hooking a fish, use the wash cloth to grab the fish with. Some fish have small pokie thingys that come out... so this protects your hands from that amongst the slime and scales, and makes you look super brave!
-Use the needle nose pliers to pull the hook out ONLY IF YOU CAN STILL SEE IT!!
If the fish has swallowed the hook, cut the line. I am told that the fish will dispel the hook on their own naturally. (And if they dont they will go to the big toilet in the sky!)
-Check on fishing laws before you cast... some residential lakes do not require adult fishing permits. SOME DO!
-The stinkier the bait... the better the fish.
-Fish bite at sunrise and sunset.
-Take lots of pictures and HAVE FUN!!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Traumatic Sadness Happens.

****WARNING: I seriously debated on whether to post this one or not. I hope that my vulnerability and honesty can help someone else. This is NOT an attempt to solicit sympathy or paint myself as a victim.***

We all do it when we are uncomfortable with being unable to comfort another's pain. Simple words to give hope, founded or not. "She is in a better place now." "He is the one that is missing out." "You were too good for him anyways." "Youre better off without him." When I left my ex, I was told from friends and family that loved me and wanted to take my pain away, "Dont worry- it wont be long until youre remarried!" I remember the thought of marrying anyone other than my husband sickened me at first. Then it became a foundation I stood on- I began to believe it. For a while, it took my pain away. I found that it gave me comfort and a pseudo strength believing that I would someday soon be some amazing man's incredible wife. I wouldnt be lonely anymore the way I am now. My daughter would have a daddy again.

March has always been a really hard month for me. It used to be that it was hard because it was the month that everything came together and five years later fell apart in my marriage. Now it seems it is just another brutal reminder of what I dont have. This March has been harder than the years past.

I have been depressed and saddened over my failures before. I guess looking back at it all now- I numbed myself to function. If I wasnt crying I was able to function through the custody battle, restraining orders, divorce and creating a stable life for our daughter. I also had hope. I believed the empty promises that I would be remarried within a year. This is where my thoughts dwelled allowing me to numb myself by not confronting my pain completely.

This March marks the third year since I left my ex. I have spent three years believing that I would be married before the next holiday. I have spent three years missing being a wife; Believing that people do what they are good at- I thought I would be a wife again soon. I have spent three years being the third wheel, the one that wasnt invited to the couples BBQ, the one that was asked if I have met anyone new, or if I was going to be getting married anytime soon. Three years of hiding my left hand from the other parents at her school so they wouldnt notice I didnt wear a ring. Three years that I have been playing both mom and DAD for our daughter. Three years of parenting on my own. I used to tell myself to enjoy this time that I have with my daughter alone, because it wont be long before it'll never be this way again. Although I have enjoyed every moment, I never thought it would have lasted this long.

This is where I throw my pity party. I kick and scream and cry alone because IT JUST ISNT FAIR. I was an amazing wife that didnt believe in quitting. My daughter is an amazing little girl that definitely is completely blameless and innocent and undeserving. I was told that I would be a wife again soon. These painful empty promises have become hurtful lies I told my heart every day so that I could function. And now, three years later I see that it was nothing more than a band-aid on a traumatic injury. I am going to be 31 at the end of the month. I thought somehow I would be remarried by now and pregnant with another child, and my daughter would have a man she could proudly call daddy. I am in a place where I have no exposure to other singles- Feel online dating is not the place for me- and yet I am incredibly alone and the novelty has long worn off.

My mom used to tell me "life isnt fair." My grandfather use to say that "You know youre alive if you can feel pain."My church tells me "compare yourself to the suffering of Christ." Friends tell me, "It'll happen when you arent looking for it."

I guess for me, I just need to acknowledge my pain finally, and cry this one out. I tend to avoid crying if possible. Most of us do. It shows weakness- At this moment I am weak. Maybe this hurt will heal, maybe it wont. Simple validation and acknowledgement of perceptions, real or false, makes me confront the pain- instead of numbing it. Im tired of numbing it. So a pity party it is. I can figure out how to change this situation tomorrow- but tonight I think I need to cry because it is OK. Traumatic sadness happens.

Friday, March 9, 2012

History Lesson from 1879: Learning to Determine True Value

She handed me a handful of change for her coffee while she was on her cell phone. At that time, I was working as a barista in a drive-thru. I handed her the coffee then began sorting out the handful of change. There it was. It was huge and really heavy. I had never seen anything like it before. I picked it up to look at it closer... I knew it was a silver dollar- but it was sooo much heavier than a silver dollar. The date read: 1879. I cant even begin to tell you how excited this made me. I am somewhat of a sucker for history. I immediately ok'd it with my boss to buy the silver dollar out of my drawer and took it home to research.

It was a Morgan Silver Dollar minted in New Orleans in 1879. There were 3 million minted that year. The edges of the woman's hair was worn down, and the edge of the flip side show considerable wear as well. I had it evaluated and it was determined to be worth a whopping $7.00!! Still, I couldnt understand why anyone would use it to buy a cup of coffee?! She obviously didnt see the full value of the coin.

I couldnt part with it in all honesty. I imagined that it was in the pocket of someone that survived the great depression. That when they wanted to spend that dollar, they rubbed it contemplating if the item they wanted to purchase was really worth the value of that hard earned dollar in their pocket. So I stuck it in a box in my filing cabinet instead.

Recently, I came across that box. I pulled it out and looked at it. I held it, letting my thumb rub the worn areas thinking of the overwhelming anxiety the spender must have had in those hard times. I know that anxiety over finances. Wondering if the questioned purchase was really a want or a need, was it worth the time it took to earn that dollar?

This is a question I need to start asking myself. I am the queen of impulse buys. I am not talking about the rack at the register full of goodies under $5.00 either... although some of those are pretty good purchases I have known to indulge in too. I get a random idea in my head of what I want to buy, and I become borderline obsessive. I have to have it. I have dug through my house before pulling out sticky change from between the couch cushions to buy that Victoria Secret Lotion I smelt days before at the mall, a new purse, shoes... the list goes on. Robbing Peter (the guy that works for the electric company) to pay Paul (the guy that works at Target) for that new DVD. That is bad, because usually the obsession heightens the value until the obsession ends. So the question that I need to ask myself with every purchase, "Is this a need or a want??"

With our household recent financial crisis, I have been posing these questions to my daughter: Is this a need or a want? Is it something that we already have in the house and/or can do without? Is there a less expensive form of what we want to buy? Why is it that we need to purchase this right now? Does the item's worth outweigh the valuable time to earn the purchase price?  (Sometimes it is slightly defeating to hear her answers... like when she thinks a box of Nerd candy is more important than our dreams of a vacation to Disneyland. But she is only 5! And I am 30 still making those same defeating choices!)

I believe it is important to learn from history so that it isnt repeated. I know personally, I do not want to repeat my history, or see my daughter make the same mistakes I have made. So I want to equip her with the knowledge I have learned the hard way. I want to teach her to work hard, and to see things for their true and long lasting value.

Although that Silver dollar was spent frivolously on coffee, and might only be worth $7.00 in silver, it has taught me and continues to teach me invaluable lessons that just might help change a generation.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Creating a Financial Team with your Child- Visual Budget

I did a bit of research and brain-storming to find ideas and resources to help my princess understand our financial boundaries and limitations and create a financial team.  I came up with the idea of creating a visual budget. This is a simple idea for children to understand the limitations of financial income and spending. (This actually really helped me visualize the money in actual places, rather than just numbers on a piece of paper.)

She was really excited about this activity! We practiced counting, adding and subtracting money. She saw what looked to be a lot of money- actually wasnt all that much after the bills were paid.

First, I used a standard budget form to get ideas of what expenses would be on a budget. I drew each one out in a picture for her to color. 

Once colored we glued them on to envelopes. I started with gluing one picture per envelope- but later found that I could seal the envelope shut, then cut it in half to create two envelopes from one. Frugal!
Next we glued them on to our board. (I used an old board we had around the house from when I was teaching her about eating all the food groups. We just tore off the old display and covered it in white paper again. But you can use paper... or even just find a blank wall to stick it to!)

We started at the Top with the Paycheck.

 Next to and under the paycheck we glued the more urgent and used financial categories (ie: Rent/Mortgage, Utilities, Car Payment/Insurance, etc)

 I found a PDF file online with kids cash to print out... So we printed some money and cut it up. WARNING:  This was exhausting and tedious without a paper cutter. If you dont have a paper cutter- try the dollar store for pretend cash... or maybe you have some old monopoly money laying around!

 The basics of it are easy. Using the play money, count out how much money was in your paycheck/bank account. That is all the money that you have to pay for bills needing to be paid. Then using the money in the PayCheck envelope, dispense the correct amount into the envelopes of the bills that need to be paid.

For example: If your paycheck was $800.00, count out $800.00 in bills. Insert that into the paycheck envelope and put the rest away.

Now, what bills need to be paid?
Electric: $50.00
Nanny: $250.00
Rent: $600.00
Groceries: $50.00

How much do you have left for eating out, new shoes, birthday gifts, and movies?

This really helped my princess see that we dont have an endless amount of money. There is no money tree that I am secretly growing in the backyard. So, when she asks me for McDonalds... and I answer no because we dont have the money for McDonalds, she now understands what that means.



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My Trouble with Finances!

I am a big Audrey Hepburn fan! If you have ever seen the movie Breakfast At Tiffany's... me and Holly Golightly have a lot in common (And not just in the man department!). I have never had a head for numbers. Math was the HARDEST subject for me in school. So, naturally, this carried over into my finances. I HATE numbers!

I am a hard worker and I actually like working! Before I married, the paycheck that I would bring home would certainly be squandered on mindless things, eating out, and of course IMPULSE BUYS! I justified this with the imposed entitlement that I had worked so hard and thought I deserved to treat myself to something special. I would then realize that I needed to pay my bills if I liked to have lights at night and warm water to shower in. So I would call up the utility companies and arrange a payment schedule to pay the bill later. Eventually later catches up with you!

When I was married, I was able to hold down a secure job. I often worked two jobs to make sure that our bills were paid, since the Mr. I-was-married-to often failed in that department. Before his psychological disorder was really severe, he was good at managing our finances. I would give him my paycheck(s), and he would make sure that the bills were paid on time and that we had a little in the bank to splurge on. I loved this! Even when I wanted something special I couldnt have, not being able to have it now was easier just knowing that we were able to save for it later together. We were a team working together for a common goal. I was no longer poor alone and didnt get that overwhelming stressed out pit in my stomach that I was going to wake up to no electricity in the house tomorrow.

As a divorced mom, I have found that I truly miss and NEED that team feeling in my finances. Personal confession: I have taught my daughter that when you have had a bad day- it makes everything better to go shopping. UGH! Right?! I have used retail therapy for almost three years now to help ease the pain of my failed marriage. This has only brought me more stress, anxiety, depression, and ultimately made me feel completely alone. I am embarrassed about my choices and hide them painfully from those closest to me. This makes me feel even further isolated. Bitterness begins to creep in as I get angry at myself and my ex for his inability to pay anything in child support. (Honestly, more money wouldnt matter if I cant manage it period, and I know this.)

I have avoided discussing finances with my princess fearing that it is one more stress to add to the plate a child should never have had to eat to begin with. In my attempt to protect her- I realize that I might be doing her an injustice. I am not giving her an opportunity to be strong where I am weak.

I also realize that by choosing to openly discuss my finances with her- it makes it not MY finances anymore. It is now OUR finances. I will gain a little team member to help us achieve the goals we want to set. I wont feel so alone anymore. No one is as honest as a child is- and this will help me keep things in perspective.

So I have chosen to find a way to create a team with her. I am researching ideas on budgets, savings, and helping her develop the concepts of how money is made and the value of a dollar.

My next post will include a project we are going to try to help illustrate to kids the concept of a budget and help them understand the value of a dollar.

If you have any ideas to help teach children how to manage finances- please let me know!! I love new ideas!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Singing the V-Day Blues?

I knew that Valentine's Day was coming up this month, and for a moment panic set in as I envisioned myself sitting at home on the couch crying my eyes out because I was going to be alone. I pictured that I would pick up my daughter from school and she would have oodles of Valentines from her classmates. We would share a nice dinner at home. And then from 8pm till I finally would be too tired to stay awake I would sit on the couch with a huge pit in my stomach, sadly sickened that I was alone and fearing I would be alone forever.

This was too much for me to endure after surviving the holidays alone- so I decided to make the most of my singledom and take on the roll of cupid!

I found a married couple that rarely gets time to themselves. I didnt have to look far really, I knew my sister could use the weekend away with her hubby. I have watched their kids before, and so I offered to watch them for a night. This made me feel really good knowing that I was helping someone else have that romantic moment. I realized I was not going to be allowed to sit on their couch sulking knowing they were having a good time while I was at their house alone. So- I made plans to throw an 80s dance with the kids that night at the house. I knew this would keep my mind off of my loneliness.

This just might be one of the many amazing things that my mom taught me growing up: When you are giving to others, it makes it hard to feel like you dont have anything. It takes your focus off of yourself and what you dont have, and puts your focus on others and how much you DO have.

Nonetheless, I do have to say that it is OK for there to be some sadness. I think as a society we tend to not know how to handle sadness and grief. We want to move past it quickly as if it is an emotion that should not matter or be addressed. It is normal to be a little bit sad that you were once married and are now alone. That you had that person that you thought was going to be your Forever Valentine and now they are gone. The fact that you are sad, shows that you really did care for that person. If they were an important part of our lives at some point, we wouldnt be sad but rather indifferent. You may not be grieving that person per say, but you are grieving those dreams that you lost. With this being said, I do think that it is important to not let this emotion to overcome you. Maybe set a certain time away for you to think about those things and give them validation. This will actually help you to keep your emotions intact and avoid becoming numb to the pain because youre not allowing yourself to address it. After the kids go to bed, plan on taking a bubble bath with some candles. I always feel better if I cry in the bath tub; and maybe because I know when I get out of the tub, it is time to rinse that bad mojo off and start fresh. There is something that is so incredibly hopeful about starting fresh.

Happy Valentines Day!