Saturday, December 28, 2013

Single Santa

This will be the last Holiday blog, not that I had many, because the tree is down and though there may a post about change on here soon – not a resolutions gal.

As I was driving home from work a couple of days before the actual Christmas Day (sidebar: I had to work Christmas, travel after work, and with my big fat Eastern European family it’s like a marathon of 72 hours of running) I heard a great version of Silent Night as the snow was falling at night. A smile came across my face as I imagined a glass of wine on Christmas eve while/after playing Santa by the tree with Silent Night playing on the digital fireplace. My next thought was that of a couple friends with kids and how there would be no one to share that moment with, smile at, or cuddle before saying “we better get to bed, they will be up in a couple hours.”  Then, though not really sad or anything, my mind started snowballing and I was wondering on the off chance that my atypical kiddo believed in Santa, even though she had already stated her disdain for the man (fine with baby Jesus though) does he get “mommy” something, wouldn't it look weird if “mommy” didn't get anything, and what the heck would I get myself and wrap up and pretend to be surprised in the morning!

Don’t worry I calmed down, found a couple things from Santa and ordered a lovely but simple Khol’s Vera Wang (thank you Khols, I feel special on the cheap) hat and glove set with no holes, lol ;)! As expected the kiddo had no interest in gifts, wanted to eat Jesus’ cupcake, and was more concerned about cleaning the mess of oats the reindeer left on the floor – forget St. Nick, for her it was like he was never here. She was thanking me through her stocking before I dropped her off before work.

And I just opened the last and most perfect gift with a make-shift pad Thai dinner and small glass of wine – an old textbook in order to upgrade an old certification to start my new career/bring bacon home life! I am actually really excited about it and tonight and today. We took down the tree by 9am, during nap time I got everything back in storage, we had a living room floor, AND I discovered that it was actually warm enough in the Midwest for a go at the park. I chose to end tonight like this, simple, back on blog/online after a few days absence, and my gift of new life to myself celebrating the true gift of new life we were all given on what most call Christmas Day and what my little family calls Baby Jesus’ Birthday. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The New Suburban Nuclear Family

I was reading another blog today and the writer was talking about this being her first separated holiday, I thought nothing of it really until I was waiting for the kiddo to be dropped off by her dad, tonight’s exchange went a little differently (the only word I can really think to describe the feeling right now), and on the way home I realized that this is my 3rd divorced Christmas. That isn't really the right word as it was more of a before baby break-up involving lots of lawyers, paperwork, and money – there was never really a family to be broken if you will. Anyway….

Here are the stats:

Probability in 2012 that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%–50%.

Today, one-third of American children – a total of 15 million – are being raised without a father. Nearly 5 million without a mother. 

I don’t think the realization of the 3rd “divorced” Christmas was it though, as I said tonight’s exchange was….different. Usually, my parents handle the exchange of the kiddo and my ex per our history, and I have started to only fill in or be there if their schedule needs me too or if we are running close on time to get to their place. Tonight was one of those times and I had done it enough before, but tonight we had to have a short convo about times & locations on Wednesday – Christmas Day in which he has her and I work this year, and it was awkwardly civil for the both of us (kiddo was asleep). Also, I have always had this “dad bag,” just an old, black, same-sex shoulder bag in which her extra clothes and communication notebook go in on visit days – well today she came home with a character big girl backpack/lunch bag set with the old bag in the side pocket. 

What I realized is because of our link we both have 15+ holiday seasons in which to figure out who is where and when, no matter how consistently inconsistent the kiddo will always have a bag ready to go 5-10% out of the year, and no matter if it is for the kiddo or the grandparents; this is now reality – not a was, or could be, or maybe one day it will stop – but a for now, this is what we do kiddo. And I will put on the best show when my feelings are weird or your feelings are weird or his feelings are weird because in the now this is our reality no matter how many dreams and cancellations come ‘round. However, as she turned on the tree lights when we got home, she knows home and she knows her family….our family and our home of two. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is It Over Yet?

"Whoever invented this Christmas nonsense should be taken out back and shot."

Sorry, but this is kind of how I feel right now - I am exhausted and it's about a week out from Christmas Day. I am still working my regular hours, no end in sight there and no extra time off around the holidays in my line of work to relax or get things done.

There was a time when I felt Christmas was simple, however, I can't remember when that was or how it felt. The duties seem overwhelming - on top of educating your children on the real meaning of Christmas, please make it to the pageant, after you have recovered from the Thanksgiving school parties (and family ones) please don't forget about the pageant again - oh and the cookies for the class party, BTW are you done with your shopping yet and what have you done for others too. It all just seems like way too much now a days.

Add on top of that the stress of having a kiddo who thrives on routine whose world has been upside down the past couple weeks due to all of the above and everyone surrounding her (even if I am trying my best to keep us out of it) doing the above as well, non regular school activities, oh and transition to a higher room come the new year. And doing it all as a single parent with the mental/emotional prep of what the actual 25th will bring with sharing parenting time, working that day, grabbing in a quick Christmas morning before the drop off, and being in 3 (technically 4) different cities in one day. As an adult I am kind of dreading it and can't imagine how much of  a loop the kiddo will be in.

I just want to have a simple day or two with my daughter and play with the couple of things I did get her for Christmas (not to mention assemble), get the budget straight without panic and feeling "less" than others, see a couple of friends, win a pantry and fridge makeover - filling it with all the good for you foods and lots and lots of water. And clean the place up a bit, I have done great at minimizing but need to do some more and would love to do it more internally as well.

Don't get me wrong, I do love the true meaning of Christmas and am looking forward to the couple of hours with the kiddo and waking her up in the morning and all - but I feel like not only has society (and metro Suburbia) sped up the whole holiday season but that it is getting harder and harder for us folks who want to just keep it simple to actually keep it simple.

I think next year we will just by baby Jesus a birthday cake, keep only the one foot small tree, drink cocoa and call it a day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

Ok, Ok – so it was more like 2:30-3am. Anyways, I had gone to bed early last night, feeling a little defeated and like I just needed to journal, pray, and get some sleep for the week ahead. It had been a long day of child rearing followed by a Sunday night dinner where I found out a family member was not in a position to even think about how Christmas morning was going to go for her and her 3 kids – whom she rarely has all together for holidays due to being a single mom. I explained I understood, as I myself spent very little as there was very little to work with but luckily found some things that I had in storage that the kiddo was too young to play with before I could wrap up, but back to the point I said I understood and we also mutually agreed not to get each other anything, just the kids. This thought brought me back to my own troubles and that I just wanted more time for my kiddo and a job that not only counted in my perspective but would equate in more time with the kiddo per commute and maybe a little more take home per gas and happiness via losing the stress.

By the time I got home, did bedtime stories (including baby Jesus of course), and looked around, I was overwhelmed and didn't know where to start except for with prayer and rest. So that is what I did, I journeyed my list of defeats, wants, true needs; prayed and was out around 8pm. Cue 2:30am or so and I woke up – my body probably used to six and a half hours of sleep and I just couldn’t shake something. I tossed and turned and finally thought or listened if you will. Then it hit me, I started getting up, looking around, and putting things in piles and good thoughts in my head. You see, I have been making piles of different things, clothes I don’t wear, toys & clothes the kiddo doesn't need or has outgrown, and various things in an attempt to minimize. I have been looking for a local organization that would take gently used things for the holidays, I didn't find one, until last night. With the kids’ ages, a couple of bows, and a couple cheap Pintrest ideas – I could help a family have a nice little Christmas morning. So I went into the kitchen, made some coffee, and got started a little bit, while filling in my own Christmas cards. The joy of giving can be pretty exciting and I was always the one who could never sleep but 2 hours on Christmas eve, so this explained a little.

It was also a work day, so I did have to get ready to scrape off the car, load up the bags, and get ready to wake up the kiddo, get her dressed and off to school by 6am with an hour commute to follow – only to work hard for an organization I no longer believe in, underpaid – and pick up my sleeping daughter later over 14 hours later. And though I was almost wishing I would be late per the snow so they could tell me to get out of there, and was preparing my speech of ethics in my head (all the while listening to K-Love and a few good Christmas stories) I realized I could give myself the gift of a letter. My letter of resignation that is. You see I can’t leave yet because I don’t have another job lined up, but in God’s time this will change. However, one thing I can do is start to write that letter of resignation, of ethics, of why a place that started out so promising years ago has hurt me not only financially but emotionally by asking me to discard my own ethics. It may not reach hands that will do anything, but I will turn it in someday soon I know and go off to better things. Things such as time, rest, and my family.

I pray this will happen soon, but it doesn't mean I can’t take the steps I want to while still bringing home the rent. I will have to have faith that God will show me the path I am meant to be on, rather show me how to support the path of my family that I am already on. Just like I hope my small gift of things I already have and know will re-iterate that all that mom's kids really want is her time (pancake mix, syrup, and hot chocolate with toppings included)!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Reverse Bucket List

A fellow blogger, who is now required to read to the end of this post, recently posted about making a bucket list and wanting to try and actually accomplish those listed adventures. A long time ago, I was in the middle of my “audited semester in law school” and looking for some evidence/timeline of evidence when I stumbled upon a box of magical things – pictures from Barcelona, pictures from New York (at the time I had totally forgotten I had been there just a few short years prior), tickets from this awesome club there to see a live band, game ticket stubs, etc. As I was knee deep in papers, emotions, and exhaustion with a sleeping baby in the next room– I decided to start making a list of all the things in my life that I had accomplished. A reverse bucket list of sorts, as I typed it kept getting longer and longer until it was over 2 pages of statements/adventures/events. At that time, I needed to see what all I had done so far in my life and if 29 years could have produced that much – just think what the next 30+ years could bring!

I can’t find my exact list right now but a few highlights I can remember are: been to New York, NY and California, visited 2 other countries – actually 3 with a layover, got my first Bachelor’s Degree, got married, got my second Bachelor’s Degree, got divorced, gave birth, truly became a mother, worked at a Level 1 Trauma hospital, been to 5 different baseball parks, etc. Like I said, the list was pages long and I am sure I didn't even think of anything.

Now I wanted to point to my audience, those who stop by my little blog now and then, and let me point out some things that are on my bucket list that you have already accomplished:

One of you hung an amazing wreath on your very own door! I dream of this and am so happy you got your dream, did you know what an amazing thing you were doing when you were hanging that wreath?

One of you travels the world and the country running marathons, going to concerts, visiting many friends AND gets to lounge on the couch with a warm mug and kitten when school is delayed or cancelled and can nap! Though I know you enjoy those moments, you may not think of them when you are grading all those papers. Oh a nap, how I envy that!

One of you posts the greatest things about your son, what he is and can do and say as he is no longer a baby (you know that baby that took a long, loving miracle to get here) – remember those when home, work, yard is getting at you – those things are huge, especially when his elders only did that just last week!

One of you has the exhausting pleasure of staying home with your kids all day, but most importantly I love your photos of your family, especially with their dad or the whole family – you all look so incredibly happy and like you all just fit together! I hope you hold on to these moments when your husband is away and your only communication may be tagging Facebook posts – those are some of my favorite btw too.

Now for you, my friend: With all the health odds against it – you ran half of a marathon! I am sure your doctors said that would never be possible, mine did too and I have yet to get past 5K on a treadmill, but you did it! Also, those 3 pictures where you hang your keys are almost as coveted by some as your two academic degrees.

So when things get tough, life starts fighting back, when you think you have accomplished nothing in the day/week/year, and/or you are just having one of those days when you feel you cannot get back up – think of all that you HAVE done so far, how HARD you worked to obtain those things you have, even the things that are nagging at you.

“When discouraging forces pull at us, we are not pulled apart. Instead, like strands of a rope, we are pulled more tightly together and grow in strength.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Key To My Heart Is Simple.......Sushi

During this Holiday season in particular, I have had a lot of discussions with friends, read articles, or have been reminded of status updates on needs vs. wants - and what are truly needs and what are purely wants. This is a difficult subject when I am asked what myself or the kiddo WANT for Christmas and my reply is nothing, but we are in need of x, y, z. So on the way home via the store for a simple dinner (instead of the want of a drive thru window), I took this in a different, fun direction for myself as to what I would want a future partner to do for me or with me without having to read this list.

Take me out to a real sushi restaurant, even if the thought of raw fish churns your stomach.
      - My once in awhile treat is wine and sushi from the store - yes, store sushi in the Midwest, not that bad so I can only imagine the real thing in a real sushi restaurant atmosphere.

Tell me to take a girls' night - like to that huge wine tasting in February at the Crown Plaza (wink, wink Elaine, we must attend).
      -  We all need a night for and too ourselves here and there even while in crazy love town, hang with the boys or on your own. I'll give you a guys' night too unprompted.

Along the same lines, plan a double date night with friends.
       - I dream of this, I really do - not anything formal just hanging out with some friends but in all of our best companies.

Bring me back an unexpected Starbucks treat for no reason - so much better than flowers!
      - To which I will undoubtedly say, "you so didn't have to do that" because I am awful at receiving as well as taking complements.

Pick out a movie WITH me.
     - Not the "oh you pick, no you pick" dance we all do; just spend an hour what used to be the movie store and is now is Netflix on the couch and lets figure out a must see for the both of us.

Fine, fine - send me flowers at work but not my current job - my future better one ;)
     - I am not a flower girl, you would know this, and you would do it just because and I would be surprised and embarrassed but so warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Ask to spend a day with me and the kiddo when you know I am ready.
     - You will know, I will say it's too soon even if it has been years, which is why it will be so important for you to know me well enough to let me know it will be OK. Nothing huge, just a fun day because you want to explore what I have created along with God's help of course.

I don't think any of this is over the top as I don't want a lot or for much and I think these things would be treats here and there just as I treat myself occasionally. But with someone, or rather by someone to someone who they know needs their wants occasionally.

Let me end by saying the above "things" would not make me fall in love and my needs for a partner (Christian man, a real Christian man who is not afraid to show it or to showy of it either is on the top of my list among many other internal attributes) far out weigh my wants and sometimes make it seem like he is not out there. Let me also say that I am and have been in a place where I don't need a relationship but want one - I think that is one of the only situation where our wants should out weigh our needs.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Hunger Games Part II

So where was I….yes, I had stopped off at the eve of the games. My plan was to arrive early enough to help out and finish some of my Pintrest “things for the kids to do” activities and of course eat breakfast J It was the least I could get to eat the entire day’s worth of meals – after all look what I was going into.
After loading the car (which looking at the truck seemed like we would be gone for days instead of just 24 hours) it was off to grandmother’s house we go. The first laughable saying of the day was when we started to pull into the Burb housing addition and my daughter went “yay,” and I was all – yeah sure yay. 

When we arrived in the house my dad was already in the kitchen, my brother was trying to go back to sleep after his daughter woke him throughout the night (as yes Virginia, she did sleep with him and his girlfriend moved to a couch), and said girlfriend was getting prepped in the bathroom. Second awkward moment: after getting the kids’ things ready, veggie plates, stuffing prep, I went in to do my hair, make-up, and put on the fall-ish sweater for the day – the girlfriend was assigned to peeling potatoes (yes, assigned by my father as the night before my nieces mother jumped on the salad over potato peeling before she had a chance) so she came in to change shirts as well and just ripped it off like we were sisters or something. I don’t really mind I guess but I have known you for what two days now – oh and let’s chat while we do this. I never even did that with my own sister, or friends, or even college roommates – so it was just weird.

By this time my niece had been upstairs and her mother had just made her way upstairs. I continued to get ready in the bathroom as I overheard her talking to my brother and the girlfriend as she told them she is seeing someone (she didn't really ever date so kind of a big thing), he is moving to her city down south for both business and her, yada yada yada. I stared at myself in the mirror as the lovely, great so I am now also Single Sally at this event – super *read said with lisp* oh and yes I did say it out loud to myself. Seriously, I wanted to face palm right there. Happy for her and all as my niece is a couple years older than my kiddo and her mom is 10 years my senior – but come on, on a flipping holiday gathering this comes out?! You single ladies know my pain.

Then the doorbell rang and I kid you not that my brother and I looked at each other like that scene in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – my sister and family were about to enter. Side-bar: My kiddo has SPD, OCD, ASD symptoms; my niece (brother’s kid) is recently diagnosed SPD; and my nephew has ODD, all of them 6 and under, you may Google the acronyms as I feel like I have already said too much but it paints the picture. I told you about my sister yesterday – so they entered during my kiddo’s and my niece’s nap time. Oh wait – I was told to get my daughter up because she was disturbing my dad from cooking and my niece from napping in that she was crying per not wanting to nap. Did no one see the later in the day outcome or was it just me?

As my sister, who can be loud entered, noise ensued as the kids started running and not playing together nicely. Dinner was soon served after an attempt to gather all the little angels for a prayer, all us siblings quickly got them their plates and left them at the kids table – hey it had already been a tough few hours. Did I mention wine was all around? As we sat at the adults table, something seemed to be off with the dinner, I noticed by having room on my plate for salad which is usually on my second trip for food, then my sister said “hmm..never mind it’s no big deal” followed by dad “no, what you can say it” sister “no, no it’s not important” followed by me “anyone try the sweet potatoes yet?” We forgot the sweet potatoes and stuffing in the oven was the instant finding of this conversation – luckily not badly burned and still pretty good – but who forgets the stuffing?!

My dad and brother then soon wrangled the kids who were done and could care less about stuffing, more trying to not kill each other or give my mother a heart attack/aneurysm, outside leaving me, the girlfriend, my sister and her boyfriend to chat. My mother was tensely scrubbing dishes at this point, she obviously had not yet had any or enough wine. Enter awkward convo about places in the world/states that I have never been, not that my sister has but was pretending to know oh so much about, and I was just drinking my wine staring off into space. Then came the “so what do you do” question, I answered my job title thinking it spelt itself out, and was asked “I know that, but what do you do?” Face palm – sorry this question is a huge pet peeve, especially when it is the question asked as the only go-to to include someone in the conversation, so I tried to make it sound good as obligatory nods were held. When we got up and the kids came in 15 minutes later – it seemed like hours – my sister said, well I was going to ask for fun “where is your boyfriend” but decided to be nice and laughed. I think I mentioned something about throat punching. I said “I don’t know, I am 0-3 in the non-psycho department” sister “well I am 1 for….” then I said “well, I could say something here but I will be nice this time” sister “no, say it, I can take it” me “no, no” sister prodding “oh come on, just say it” me “fine, you are 1 for – just count your kids if you’re not sure.” Yes very low blow, need confession, but at that point I had kind of had it.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of me watching the kids downstairs, only because my kid was there – not much relief was given and no wine is allowed downstairs. Super. We finally did cake for my long distance niece as her b-day is in December, presents in which she got to choose which language she thanked each individual in (more face palms), more wine, an uncle and aunt stopped by, I was told I looked tired and that it looks like I have at least gained a couple of pounds (they meant well…I think), and well until I got my kid into bed and my niece went to bed it was all a blur.

I sat down with my bro, the girlfriend, and my parents as we all had another plate of food, wine and watched a movie – Mixed Nuts as previously mentioned. Yet, not before the old – so how is it going with the kiddo’s father with my niece’s mother was had, oh goody. Goodbye hugs were given as I had to get up and go to work the next morning, and though it was a nice wind down eventually; I was ready to go to bed or to futon as it were.

I am sure I could turn this into a short story or book, however, there you have it. Hunger Games 2013 – survival of the most street smart, caring yet don’t mess with me, scrappy person with skill. Like I said, I did enjoy the day for the most part, but it was weird….kind of like high school all over again…but with your family….that you only stay in touch with as you want per all of the above.

Katniss -