Category Archives: Kids

And I’m back!

most-about-my-home

We are in the house and I’m starting to feel like a grown up again! It’s like I have my own life back.  I have everything that is important, unpacked and put away. Just need to figure out where I’m going to put and organize all that not-so-important stuff. But that’s the fun part of a new house.  Willow is slowly getting her stuff together. Last weekend she went to the Cape with my parents to have the inspection done on their new house so she wasn’t around to get it together but we’ll get there. And this weekend I got the yard all mowed, the gardens all weeded and Willow and my dad got our new pool up. There’s nothing like getting a bunch of yard work done and then taking a dip in the pool!

I have been doing a little bit of running in my new neighborhood. There’s a sidewalk on the main road that is about 1/2 mile from my house. I’m amazed at how much more relaxed I am running on the sidewalk. It’s so nice not to spend my whole run worrying about dodging cars.   Only problem is that with all the moving and organizing, I didn’t have time or utensils to cooks so we ate a lot of fast food. That caused me some problems on my first couple of runs in the new neighborhood. I was basically the poster child for crap in, crap out. This morning was a bit better. Still did some walking but that’s ok. I tried to talk myself out of the run while lying in my nice bed with my awesome new mattress and the AC keeping the icky humidity out. But eventually, I berated my laziness enough to get my ass up and out the door and that’s the hardest part.

I’m on day 30 something or maybe 40 of no-sugar. I’ve really shocked myself in how well I’m doing with that. I’ve lost 10.4 lbs and the cravings are getting fewer and far between. Our neighbors gave us a couple of Drumsticks (my favorite ice cream treat!) this weekend when it was hot out. Willow ate hers and I put mine in the freezer for her to have another day. It was in there for 3 days and after the first day, I forgot all about it. That’s huge!

I’m starting to feel less guilt about the huge mistake that I made in moving us. I’m coming around to that part when you see why something really bad happens. We are in a better house, we are both happy again, and now I know better than to allow someone else to hold my happiness. nothing i

My Top 10 Favorite Apps to Keep a Single Parent Sane

I was one of those people who fought against getting an iPhone (and the Kindle but that’s a different post). I just didn’t understand what was so great about it. I can get on the internet from my computer at home so why do I need it at my fingertips 24/7 not matter where I am? Well, now I know. I am now addicted to my iPhone , which I know isn’t a good thing but I use it to help me stay sane on this crazy ride.

app-store-iconOver the couple of years that I have had my iPhone, I found some really great apps that have helped to keep me sane, more organized and just generally make my life easier. So, I thought I would share them with you.

All apps that I get are free. Now, sometimes I start with the free version and end up upgrading because I like the app and know that I will continue to use it. But I always start with the free one because once you spend that $1.99 (and with sooooo many apps out there, that $1.99 will add up), that’s it. It’s unlikely that you will get your money back no matter how much the app sucks.

So here is the list of my top 10 favorite “Keeping Me Sane” apps:

Apps-2

1. bill trackerBill Tracker-This is one of the apps that I started with the free version then upgraded and paid the $0.99 for it because it was such a tremendous help and with the upgraded version you can add a password. With Bill Tracker you can input all of your bills for the month and it will keep track of what is due and what’s coming up due for you. It helps with budgeting to be able to see exactly what’s coming down the pipe. You can set up accounts for all your bills and keep your online login info, the account numbers, etc all together for all your bills. Once you’ve paid a bill, you go in and mark it paid. You can set up recurring bills for those bills that are always the same and you can put in bill amounts that change. You can also put in stuff that comes out of your checking account automatically (I hate doing this but it was the only option for Netflix and Hulu) and it automatically shows as paid on the day that it comes out of your account. $7.99 may not seem like a lot to worry about but with the huge fluctuations in my checking account each month, I need to have a reminder that they are going to be coming out of my account.

2. checkbookCheckbook- I use this app instead of a paper check register. I have a hard time keeping track of what comes out of my checking account and that’s really bad since I basically use my Visa debit card for everything because I never have cash on me. This app makes it much easier to keep track and you can do reports in it to see how you are spending in different categories each month. There is an option to set up a budget to make sure you don’t spend too much in a particular category but I haven’t used that yet. You can set up recurring stuff too. I set it up to automatically take out those two pesky automatic bills that I hate and I set it up to put in my paycheck. I have my car payment go directly into a checking account that I have with the credit union that my car loan is through so the money is automatically put in into that account on my app and then automatically withdrawn each month when they take out the payment. You can also set up accounts for your credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc and you can do a transfer when you pay on those things and watch your balances go down (or hopefully not up). This was one that I also paid the extra $0.99 for because I knew it was going to get used and I wanted to add a password to it. Set-up can take a little time but grab all your bills together and you can do it while sitting in front of the tv.

3. ipasswordiPassword- This is app is perfect for people who have tons and tons of logins and passwords (yeah, like every single person in the world). I try to use the same password for everything but some sites have different requirements and some make you change it every now and then and it’s just impossible to remember all of them. And I have all of my daughter’s passwords in here. This app also has the option of putting all different kinds of info. I put in my health insurance ID numbers (I also took pictures of my ID cards just in case something happens and I don’t have them with me) and all my info about my Jeep (license plate number, VIN number, etc) so pretty much any information that I need is all in this app. And it has a password.

4. pocketPocket- Pocket is also on the internet at getpocket.com. With this site you can keep track of stuff that you want to read later. You set it up in your favorites and you can click on a button and save something so you can read it later (it explains in better detail how to do that on the website). That always happens to me when I’m waiting for a meeting or a the doctor’s office and just browsing around. I’ll find something and then run out of time to read it. Now I can send it to Pocket and I can read it on my computer, my iPhone or my iPad later. Love it!

5. grocery palGrocery Pal-This app is just what it sounds like. A grocery list. You can set up different grocery lists for different stores. I have several of them. I don’t know about you guys but I hate it when I run to Wal-mart for toothpaste and forget that I actually needed toilet paper and conditioner too. So, now I just add it to my list and I always have it with me. You can also do it online at twicular.com and it will update your phone.

6. alamedAlarmed-This is my life saver. There are so many times that I think of something that I need to do at home while I’m at work and there is no way that I will remember by the end of the day. So I open up my Alarmed app and set a reminder to go off at the time I need to remember to do it. You can also set up recurring alarms. I have one to remind me to start the Jeep in the morning so we won’t freeze our butts off while waiting for the bus and I have one set to remind me to take my vitamins, etc, etc.  It’s very customizable.

7. calendarCalendar-The calendar already comes with the iPhone but use it! Did you know that you can go to iCloud.com and see and edit your calendar from any computer? Did you know that you can set up different calendars that you can share with other Apple users? I have a separate calendar set up for stuff for Willow that I share with her.  I can set up reminders in my calendar that will go off on her iPod Touch (though she has to have wifi to get them and that can be a bit of a pain). Having a calendar that I can get to all the time keeps me from forgetting stuff that is coming up.

8. errandsErrands-This is basically my To Do list. You can set up different To Do lists in the app. You can have one for work, one for home, one for kids, one for errands, one for recurring cleaning, one for basically anything you want. I’ll think of something I want to get done this weekend and I just add it to my list.

9. allrecipesAllrecipes- This also is a website at allrecipes.com but is an app too. I love this because you can set up a recipe box and save recipes that you like from the website or you can add your own. Then you can make a shopping list from them. I will put recipes into it that I find on Pinterest and then I can add them to the shopping list. Or, if I forget to take something out for dinner and I realize this at work, I can stop at the grocery store on my way home and know every single thing I need to make a recipe. I am always forgetting something in a recipe and it’s usually something big.The app also has a recipe spinner that is very cool. You tell it what kind of dish you are looking for (dinner, snack, lunch, etc), what the main ingredient is that you want to make it with (chicken, fish, veggies, etc) and how long you have to make it (20 mins or less, slow cooker, one hour, etc) and it finds all the recipes on the site that apply. This also helps when you forget to take something out for dinner and realize it at work.

10. podcastsPodcasts-There are so many free podcasts out there on every single topic you could ever imagine. Now there’s a separate app for podcasts. I listen to podcasts on my drive to and from work and I have learned soooo much good stuff about so many different topics. The list goes on forever. Check them out.

So, that’s my list of my to 10 “Keep Me Sane” apps that every single parent should have!

What are your favorie apps?

Single Moms Don’t Have To Be Victims.

childsupportI’ve noticed around the single mom blogosphere there is a lot of talk about not getting child support and how frustrating it is. There was even a  letter writing campaign to the President going around to try to get support laws changed.  I want to tell them to just let it go but I know what their response will be.  “My kids deserve it so I will fight for it.”  No, your kids deserve a calm, centered mother.  Money is just money. There is a lot of time, energy and money spent chasing down child support.  I understand wanting help with raising children that we didn’t make by ourselves but at what point should we say “I’m going to take care of them myself so I don’t have to rely on this Deadbeat anymore?” Not to mention the sense of pride that comes from not relying on anyone else. I started with nothing and worked my way up to a new home, an education, and a great job with a lot of potential, without help from my daughter’s father.  I still get frustrated sometimes and want to rip his balls off but once I let it go and spend calm time with Willow, life is so much better.

No matter what laws are made to try to make deadbeats pay, they will always find a way around it. There are too many organizations out there trying to get fathers their  “rights”.   Berkshire Fatherhood Coalition is trying to help the father of my friend’s kids only  have to pay $200ish a month for two of his kids. Not to mention the other three children he has (five total). He is claiming that he had to quit his job (making $100k) because he had no support in the area.  He told everyone he was moving to live with his sister in Georgia but actually moved in with his girlfriend in Tennessee.

How about helping single moms make it on their own without relying on support, programs for giving single moms more support and self-confidence. A friend of mine is recently divorced.  She came to me before she left her husband and asked for my advice.  The only piece of advice I gave her was to never, ever rely on child support.  She didn’t heed my warning and signed a lease, put her youngest in an expensive daycare, both of which she could not afford without her $1600 a month of child support.  I told her many times that she needed to make sure she could make it on her own but she insisted that it was court ordered and he wouldn’t quit his job.  Well, guess what.  He quit his job and moved across the country and hasn’t paid any support in about 6 months.  She keeps going to court to try to fight it and is completely stressed out about all the court hearings.  I tried to get her to relax by explaining that no matter what happens, she still may not get the support so let it go.  I found out today that she is only going to take it so far and then let it go. I’m very proud of her!

My child support is court ordered and I receive it sporadically at best.  But that is fine with me.  It’s a nice surprise when it comes.  I don’t see it as him punishing my daughter and I.  I see it that I have created this stable world for my daughter, I did, just me, all by myself.  My daughter is not spoiled (well, a little by my parents).  She has learned that she can’t have everything.  I don’t need a big fancy house and expensive car to be happy and neither does she.  Teaching our children that less is more is probably the best thing we can do for them (and the planet).

Please do not tell me that single moms can’t get good jobs.  First of all, a potential employer should never know that you are a mother, never mind a single mother.  This is not something that should come up in an interview or be on your resume. And there are a ton of federal grant programs for going  back to school. You just have to apply for them.

After you are done feeling insulted, stop and think about it. I’m not insulting you, I’m trying to open your eyes, empower you.  We don’t have to be victims.  We can take back control of our lives.  The best way to get back at these deadbeats is to show them that they can’t hurt us.  They think that by keeping this money from us they can still control us.  It’s time to stop being a victim of their games.  And stop being victims in general.  Help yourself!!!!!!!!!

Tween Time

I’ve been reading “The Everything Tween Book” and I came to a section about spending time with your tween. I thought, well, she acts like any time I try to spend with her is just awful. But the book says that they do want more time with mom but that they can’t express that because #1: they suck at communication and #2: that is so uncool!

tween book

So I decided to set aside time each night for this. Our routine has been that at 8:00pm Willow went to bed to either read or watch tv (ok, she chooses tv every time). Then at 8:30pm its all electronics off and reading until 9:00pm which is lights out. I usually spend that time watching tv or reading myself. So, tonight I’m going to implement “Mommy and Tween Time” from 8:00pm to 8:30pm. I have to remember that her groan doesn’t mean that she doesn’t really want to spend time with me, but that she is just trying to be cool.

So, I made a list of things that we could do together in that half hour of time every day:

  • Play Rummy
  • Walk the dogs (this will have to wait until the sun starts to be out longer)
  • Knitting (Santa brought us a how to knit book for Xmas)
  • Sewing (though I would need to find the box that my sewing machine and stuff are in so that might wait too)
  • Writing stories
  • Baking dog treats (found some recipes on Pinterest!)
  • Teaching the dogs tricks
  • Make a t-shirt quilt out of all the t-shirts she has grown out of (this may be just collecting the t-shirts now and cutting them up until we move and I have my sewing machine out again)
  • Doing all the crafts that I have  found on Pinterest.

Do you have set aside time each day to spend with your tween or teen? What do you do?

One piece of pink paper and it’s effect on my heart……

Dancing Chick handed me the papers from her backpack in a big stack. This is an every Wednesday event so I wasn’t expecting anything unusual. But when I came to the pink piece of paper, I felt my heart start to race and had to concentrate very hard on keeping my face completely straight. She was sitting at the table with me and I could feel her watching me.

It was the announcement of her first Father/Daughter Dance. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. This can’t be happening all ready. I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about this until middle school.

I realize that the paper has gone all fuzzy because I’m trying so hard to keep it together. I get my eyes to focus and start reading. Luckily the school put under the giant title “Father/Daughter Dance” or uncle, grandfather, friend, or anyone. I realize that I must say something and hope that DC thinks this will be something to look forward to. The convo went like this:

Me: “Did you see this?”

DC: “Yup”

Me: “Are you gonna ask Papa to go?”

DC: “I don’t know”

Me: “I think he would be really excited to go”

DC: “I don’t know” (this is actually a good sign. Everything is “I don’t know” so it seems that it’s just another thing for her).

Me: “Why don’t you call him and ask him?”

DC: “Not now”

Me: “Do you want to go?”

DC: “I don’t know”

Me: “How come?”

DC: “Well, maybe”

Me: “OK, well why don’t you just call him and see if he even would want to go?” (I knew my father would be very excited to go with her so I was hoping that if she talked to him she would stop with the I don’t knows).

DC: “Because that is something you ask face-to-face.” And she gave me that duh mom look that I have been seeing a lot more of lately.

Me: “Oh, ok. Well put it up on the board so you remember to ask him.”

That night, after she went to bed,  I went through all kinds of emotions. I was mad at her father and sad that something this normal had to have this effect on our little world. In the end, I was thankful for the strength to handle this in a way that will help my daughter deal with the hardships that this absence in her life will continue to cause.

So yesterday when I went to pick her up at my parent’s house after she was dropped off there from dance class, I brought the terrifying pink paper. I gave it to her without a word. She handed it to her grandfather and said “Would you like to go to this with me?” A giant smile spread over his face and he said “I would be proud to take my granddaughter to this.” His smile spread to her beautiful face and my heart slowed back to a normal beat.

They start talking about what they have to wear  (it’s a formal attire dance). My dad says “I’ll get one of those powder blue tuxedos with the ruffles.” DC says, “I don’t think so Papa. That’s not ok.” Giggling and wrestling ensues and the father part of the father/daughter dance has been replaced with grandfather.  I realize I have been holding my breath. Deep breathe and our little world goes back to our version of normal.

A new year=365 new days

And that means 365 chances to be a better, calmer, and more centered me. So, this year isn’t going to be about big sweeping changes. I’m going to work on being the best person I can be each day.

There will not be a “diet” this year, there will be healthy eating. Dieting makes me think of nothing but food all day long.  And it makes me very cranky and snippy.  This crankiness is usually taken out quite a bit on my work neighbor.  She is over 6 feet tall, skinny and beautiful. So I pretty much hate her when I’m dieting. This is not fair to her. So just making a conscious effort to eat healthier will (I think) work better for me.  I need to do this for my daughter as much as for myself.  The little junk food junky that I have created is starting to get a little junk in her trunk. And I don’t want her to be 34 and still be a junk food junky (like her mother).  The fact that I HATE to cook is the main issue that must be dealt with here. I’ve tried all the things that are supposed to help make cooking easier. What it comes down to is that I am just too lazy to do it.  It’s wasting too much money and creating a terrible habit that will be very hard for Dancing Chick to kick the older she gets.

The laziness comes from the slovenly lifestyle that I have sunk back into.  I know that if I get my huge, lazy ass out of bed and take the two steps (yes, literally two steps) to the treadmill in the morning I will not only have more energy but my entire outlook and attitude will change. It’s amazing how quickly I have lost sight of goals because my laziness makes it easy to not do it rather than work hard. I hate that.  That is such a terrible role model for my kid. I took last term off from my classes so that has helped me to be even lazier. When I am doing some kind of running program I feel better about myself and just have a better outlook in general. And I know this. I have more energy.  And I know this. I give my kid more attention and have more patience with her. And I know this. I lose weight and feel more in control. And I know this. I have a general, all-around sunnier disposition. And I know this. So why can’t I just do it?  I don’t know that.

So instead of making my usual list of resolutions that make me just too overwhelmed that I give up on all of them, I am going to take each day and do what I know I should do. Get up early and use my treadmill, eat healthier, meditate, get homework/reading done before the exact minute it is due, get to bed earlier and anything else that I know will help me be the  me I want to be each day. All of this together will help me accomplish the biggest resolution I have for myself and that is to be a better me, the me that I know I can be and really want to be. It’s just time to get out of my own way.

A helpful place for single parents?!?!?!

classesI was reading at Single Parent 411 about taking parenting classes and decided to google and see if I could find one near me. I put single parenting classes in Google and there were maybe three or four links to parenting classes (two of which were not for single parents) the rest were all single parent dating. WTF?

Is that all that society thinks we worry about, how to date?  Yes, there are those select few single parents who worry more about their dating life than their family life but those are few and far between.  Why isn’t there help out there for single parents who want help parenting.  I know there are plenty of parenting classes but I want one specifically for what I need.  I hate it but I always feel like I’m being judged when I’m around married moms.  I’m not sure if they are threatened by me or if they just pity me. Neither of which is anything I want. I want a parenting class that I can go to and feel completely comfortable in.  And I don’t want the answer to problems to be let your husband take the kids or make your husband do more around the house to help you out. These are not answers to my problems.

I wonder what it takes to start a non-profit.  I would love to create a place where single moms can go to get the help they need,  judgement free.  There could be parenting classes, a gym, day care, mommy/daddy and me classes, workshops for single parents trying to go back to school or start their own businesses, a meditation center, a library of used book swap/store, all kinds of classes for the kids, a therapist on site, etc, etc, etc….on my.  I’m going to have to look into this.