I’m Wearing Mascara Again

I’m sorry I haven’t posted a blog since February 28th.  Although everyone who knows me knows that I am annoyingly optimistic and cheerful, I have been struggling over the past couple of weeks with self doubt, a touch of heartache and a boatload of fear.  I’m not ready to share the details, but would appreciate whatever prayers and good vibes and happy thoughts that you can throw my way.

So many people keep telling me, “You need to give it over to God and let Him handle it.”  I don’t know about you, but that certainly sounds like the best way to handle any problem… but the true issue is HOW to give it over to Him.  How do I just say, “Here God… I’m not thinking about this anymore”?

Granted, throughout my life it seems that good things always come from the doors that have closed in my life.  After my divorce, I moved to Greenville where I quickly got a good job with Bank of America Mortgage (just by starting a conversation with a random stranger at the cell phone store).  That led me to a transition job with SunTrust Mortgage that bought me time while I applied to law schools.  Once I got into law school, the kids and I were able to move back to Raleigh where they could be closer to their dad.  Since law school tried to kill me, I left after three semesters and had a new job working with a political consultant less than a week later.  After a year, I was offered a position where I work now (which is where I briefly interned while in law school).   All of this brought me back to Raleigh and kept me here long enough to reconnect with Joe (who dated one of my friends in high school)… and now we have been blissfully married for ten months today.  As I have blogged about before, HAPPY BEGETS HAPPY BEGETS HAPPY.

Sure we have had our share of insignificant struggles, but none of those compare to the darkness I feel as though I am facing now.  Decisions must be made that affect much more than me and they have far-reaching consequences for which I don’t want to be responsible.  I have been praying incessantly and I have cried more than I would care to admit, but the fact of the matter is every single day I feel more at peace in my heart.  Every day I feel like things are going to be just fine.  Every day I feel more and more comfort in knowing that whichever way this goes, we are all going to be fine.

I guess that is God at work in me – giving me peace when I have none and giving me comfort when I doubt.  I am so thankful for all of my many blessings and I need to focus on that.  I have transcended before and can do it again.

On Saturday, I wore mascara for the first time in two weeks.  I explained that significance to a friend of mine by saying, “Wearing mascara proves that I have not cried today and, more importantly, it proves I started the day with no INTENT of crying.”

Baby steps.

Advertisements

I Love Being A Mom – Even in Winter Storm Pax

IMG_5048

No one is playing basketball today!

This has been one of the longest weeks that I can remember… and it’s not over.

Those close to me know that I am a very anxious person at times.  It’s not something I am plagued with full-time, but often situations that are out of my control are very difficult for me to handle.  This week’s weather left so many uncertainties that I was an absolute trainwreck.

My husband was in Greensboro for work and two of my kids had to get from their mom’s house to our house and the other two had to leave our house to go to their dad’s house.  Mind you, Greensboro is about an hour and a half away and both of our exes live about thirty minutes from our house.

Add in the potential for “debilitating,” “crippling,” and “devastating” weather (thankyouverymuch for that national news) in the south and it’s a recipe for a mom meltdown.  We are just not equipped for this kind of weather – physically or emotionally – so my anxiety has been in hyper-drive.

As a mother, one of the hardest things about my divorce has been letting go of the kids when they go to their dad’s house.  It’s not that I doubt him in any way, because I know they are well taken care of and that he makes good decisions.  My problem is I am not there to hold their hands.  I’m not there to clean scrapes or kiss bruises or wipe tears away.

Now that my kids are older, that fear is more related to safety issues beyond my control.  So this week, the potential weather had me in a frenzy with all of the “what ifs.”

What if I go in to work and the kids get out of school and I can’t get home to them?  What if Joe goes to Greensboro and can’t get home to us?  What if I need to go get two of our kids from their mom and I can’t drive in the snow?  What if they are pulled on the back of the four wheeler at their dad’s and hit a tree?  What if their step-mom gets stuck in traffic taking them out to their house and they are in danger and I can’t get to them?  What if the power goes out for days and I run out of fire wood and Joe is still not home?  What if the water stops working? What if… what if… what if…

If you have anxiety, then you know that all of that was running through my head AT THE SAME TIME last night while I was trying to fall asleep.  I think it was close to 2am before my brain finally gave me a rest and I fell asleep.

I woke up this morning still feeling anxious until I got a text from Joe that he had gotten up and driven back to Raleigh at 5:15am to avoid any bad weather.  He said he was going to pick up the two kids with their mom and would be home.  I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of relief. That was a major weight off my shoulders.  I had been an absolute basket-case worrying about Joe driving back in the bad weather just one day after out 9th month as husband and wife.

Thankfully, I brought my laptop home and had my calls forwarded, so I was able to work from home and didn’t have to worry about leaving my kids alone.  That is such a blessing on days like today because I was able to work all morning in my bathrobe and know my kids were safe and not alone.

I can’t explain the peace I felt in my heart when my husband and two kids came walking in the door this morning.  It’s that amazing feeling like a part of your heart that has been missing is back.  Slowly but surely I felt peace returning in my chaotic brain.  My children were picked up by their stemom and driven out to their dad’s house.  The snow had just started and I was a keyed up mess for the entire 30 minute trip until I got the text that they were home safely.  At that point, the snow was falling steadily and hard.  The news soon after started to show people deserting their cars on snow covered roads.

My entire family was where they were supposed to be and safe, so I did what any mom would do… I took a nap.  And it was such a good one. I slept hard and woke up to a beautiful snow falling out the windows by the sofa.  What did I do next?  I mixed a little drink and took a long hot shower… and then painted my toenails.  We cooked a nice dinner and ate together as a family (minus two).

Unless you are a mother, you cannot possibly understand the realm of emotions I have felt today – fear, hope, worry, love, relief, peace.  I have hugged all four of my kids a little harder today.  I have snuggled with my husband while watching the weather. I talked to my kids earlier at their dad’s house and was relieved to hear their voices (again).  I’m so thankful that they enjoy talking to me and telling me all about their day because I just can’t get enough of them.  I hung up with an “I love you so very much” and a smile… My cup has runneth over with love today as I have dealt with my fears and seen God take over and keep everyone safe.  It was one of those days where if I could actually hear God speak, then I am pretty sure he said, “Val, chill out… I got this.”

And then just to ease my stress even more, I got the call from work that our office is closed tomorrow.   That means when I climb into bed with my handsome husband in a few minutes, I can sleep well knowing that even if the power goes out or if the ice storm really does cause damage, we are safe at home… together.

The house is quiet right now, but I am not lonely.  My husband may be asleep in his recliner and two of our kids may be snoozing away already upstairs, but my heart is happy just because being a mom has to be the scariest but most rewarding job I have ever had in my life.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

For My Teenage Sons – Lessons From Super Bowl XLVIII

Our handsome boys at our wedding...

Our handsome boys at our wedding…

Published today by the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/valerie-deloach/for-my-teenage-sons-lesso_b_4740417.html

In our home, we try to teach our children through real life examples.  Rather than just tell our teenage boys not to use drugs, we talk about Lenny Bias like he’s an old friend.  Because they both love basketball, the Lenny Bias story is a human anti-drug ad that shows our boys that it only takes one time for drugs to kill you.  Whether or not it was the only time Lenny Bias used cocaine doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that our boys learn that two days after being chosen as the second overall draft pick, before he could even sign on the dotted line for his new endorsements that would make him rich beyond belief, Bias was dead.  Through his story we have taught our boys that no one is invincible and that drugs don’t discriminate.  Drugs don’t care if you are rich or poor – they kill you just the same.

The Super Bowl and the weeks leading up to the big game gave us plenty of material to discuss with the boys.  Sure there are lessons that we can all learn from the Super Bowl – lessons about being a good sport or how practice pays off.  But there were also some players in the final game that can be used as teaching tools for our teens.

1) The Richard Sherman Lesson – People will always remember the bad you do, and the good can be quickly forgotten.

The post game rant of Richard Sherman’s following the NFC Championship game quickly became news around the world.  Most of America spent the week before the Super Bowl arguing over whether Richard Sherman is or is not a “thug,” rather than speculating about the big game.

What must be explained to those who know little about football is that Richard Sherman is actually a very well-educated man.  He graduated as the Salutatorian from his high school in Compton, California and played football at Stanford.  He started “Blanket Coverage – The Richard Sherman Foundation” to get proper school supplies and adequate clothing for families in need.

Sure he has succeeded in life, but how will people remember him for years to come?  He will be remembered as that raving lunatic who looked like he wanted to push Erin Andrews.  Through this example, we hope the boys will see that “pretty is as pretty does” (my father’s favorite saying as I was growing up) and that all of the good that you do can be wiped away by just one slip of the tongue or one mistake.  Granted Richard Sherman has had a LOT of slips of the tongue over the years, but this particular example is what will be remembered forever.

As William Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.”

2) The Percy Harvin Lesson – A man isn’t judged by how many times he falls, but by how many times he gets back up.

Percy Harvin had a frustrating season in the NFL.  He began the season by having hip surgery which kept him from playing in 15 of the 16 regular season games.  He came back excited to play in the post-season and suffered from a concussion after two plays in his first game.  So again, Harvin found himself on the sidelines and was probably doubting himself as a player and worrying about his future since the Seahawks had made a major investment in him.  Finally, as the Super Bowl neared, Harvin decided he was ready to play.

And boy did he ever play!  He accounted for 137 yards in his first four touches, but he will be remembered best by the opening kick-off of the second half where he ran an 87 yard return for a touchdown to put the Seahawks ahead 28-0.

If you saw that run without knowing anything about Harvin, then you would have been impressed by his lightning fast speed, but knowing that he had just recently recovered from hip surgery and a concussion makes it even sweeter.  Sure he could have doubted himself and stayed out of the game.  He could have been self-deprecating and beaten himself up for being weak.  He could have given up instead of going through intense rehabilitation for his hip.

But he didn’t.  He got back up… and he got back up wearing a Super Bowl ring.

3) The Peyton Manning Lesson – A man’s character is defined by how he treats other people, even those who can’t do anything for him.

I read a fabulous article online titled “Peyton Manning Leaves Crushing Super Bowl Loss With Reputation Intact.”  In the article, Dan Wetzel writes about how even after their terrible loss to the Seahawks, Peyton Manning was still stopping to sign autographs and talk to fans.  As Wetzel so eloquently put it, “At some point, though, at some level, what really matters about a man is how he treats people who hold no leverage over him, let alone how he treats those people in moments of tumult when it would be quite understandable if he just ignored the request.”  SO TRUE.

We want our boys to learn that it’s not how you treat people who can offer you something in return that counts.  It’s how you treat people no matter who they may be.  My father is a well-respected former judge who was the perfect model of this.  Over the years I have heard so many people say how kind he was to them, even as they stood in front of him in court.  I have always told my children that they too need to treat everybody as if they are SOMEBODY.  Peyton is an example of this and because of it his reputation is one of class and he is viewed by most with admiration and respect.

4) The Russell Wilson Lesson – You may not be the strongest, but you can work the hardest and play the smartest.

Russell Wilson was told over and over again that he was too small to play football professionally, but last Sunday he became the shortest quarterback to ever hold up the Lombardi trophy.  That’s quite a fete for someone who was the 3rd round pick in 2012.  Elizabeth Merrill wrote a great article called “The True Measure of Russell Wilson” on ESPN.com.  In it she quoted Wilson as saying, “My faith is so strong that I believe that God made me 5’11” for a reason… For all the kids that have been told, no, that they can’t.”

He learned that attitude from his father who always encouraged him to play his hardest and to work to be the smartest player on the field.  Because my son hasn’t really started growing yet, but plays basketball with a bunch of 8th graders who look like grown men already, I constantly try to teach this lesson.  I tell my son to be the one who makes the smartest passes and to be the most prepared so if you get the chance to shoot, that you MAKE THE SHOT.  The only way you can do that is to practice/train nonstop.

For our boys, I think the Russell Wilson lesson is most definitely the most applicable right now.  He is proof that it’s not the size of the man that matters… it’s how long he practices, how hard he plays, and how smart he is about both.

Life Got in the Way!!!

I am not one to ever wish time away.  As a matter of fact, I often have that feeling of wanting to freeze time.  I look in the mirror every morning (well, after I put on my glasses so I can SEE myself) and wonder where this 39 year woman has come from?  I feel like I was 29 just yesterday… but ten years have just FLOWN by.

photo(52)

29 years young at the beach with my babies

And the kids???  How in the world have they gotten to be so OLD?  My youngest child, who I feel like was born YESTERDAY, started cotillion a couple of weeks ago and is almost as tall as I am already! I feel like the past 10 years have just been a blur, so I now find myself just staring at her (which makes her terribly uncomfortable, by the way).  I crave the moments we can spend together.  I LOVE Tuesdays because it is the one night that I can focus all of my attention on her since the other children are all with their other parent.  We can get sushi and just catch up on life…

photo(54)

On her way to her first 5th grade cotillion!

My first born is a full blown teenager now.  He is growing every single day and will pass me in the next week (if he hasn’t already today).  He is filled with that teenage angst and wants to argue with every single thing I say (while showing me how cut his abs are, of course), but I am still proud of him in everything he does.  Even when he talks incessantly about things that I have absolutely no interest in!  Some days he seems to put forth effort into his schoolwork and some days he absolutely couldn’t care any less about it.  I try my best to be encouraging when he does well.

photo(4)

Throughout the years of their childhood I have often wanted to just yell, “STOP GROWING, NOW!!!!!!!”  I have wanted to just freeze time so that I could enjoy that moment forever.  Admittedly though, I am ready and willing to close the book on the last month of my life.  September 23rd was my birthday, which seems to be when everything peaked.  It has been DOWNHILL ever since.

1374805_10202105613221263_1757861529_n

My birthday celebration with my kids and three of my nephews… happy thoughts.

Since then, we have had strep throat, lice, unknown stomach pains (that still are not resolved), meetings about educational “issues” (results coming soon) and a spot cut from my temple (still waiting on biopsy results).   I had a friend who had to have surgery on her wrist (so I cooked dinner for her family) and my son had a friend who unexpectedly lost his father.  I ran the Bull City 5 Miler only two days after suffering a stomach virus and now two days later I am still having trouble walking (mental note: don’t run 5 miles when you haven’t even hit the pavement in a month).  I know I looked like some sort of fool trying to walk down the stairs of my parking garage coming to work this morning.  And there is no telling what kinds of germs I picked up since I had to use the nasty handrails in a stairwell that more often than not smells like the pee of the local homeless people.

Lately I have been able to relate to the new song, “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.  The video is below:

The song begins with him talking about how he feels his way through the darkness.  I too feel like I am “feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart.”  The darkness is this new life as a blended family and just the fact that life is passing by so quickly.  My sweet husband is so helpful in every single way and I can see how it pains him to see me struggle with my emotions.

I love our life and I love our kids, but I find myself in a constant state of worry over all of our kids because I want everything to go well for them.  I am not the kind of person who will blindly walk through life and project my happiness on those around me.  Instead I spend my time worrying that others are NOT as happy as I.  So on top of the external pressures of the past month, I have also been putting a tremendous burden on myself to make sure everything is going well for the rest of the family.  The death of my friend’s husband has also caused me to fear the loss of Joe.  It took us 20 years to reconnect and I am counting on at least 30 more years of newlywed bliss with him.  That has been weighing heavily on my heart.

photo(55)

Immediately following our 5 Mile race on Sunday… we can run together to stay healthy!!!

As with everything in life, I know that these crazy emotions will rise and fall like the tides I love so dearly at the coast.  I know that this too shall pass.

I think the problem I am having right now though is that I do want to savor and enjoy every single second of this life with my handsome husband and our amazing kids, but lately life has dealt me some pretty crappy cards.  And it upsets me tremendously when I don’t know how to handle what is put on my plate.  I remember my grandmother saying, “I know the Good Lord won’t give me more than I can handle, but I sure wish he didn’t have so much faith in me.”  Amen. And AMEN.

The song continues with, “I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start.”   I know that I need to start TODAY.  I need to focus on the good and not let the insignificant, petty things in my life affect who I am and how people know me.  I am proud of the fact that I have an annoyingly positive attitude.  I love that my friends know if they are having a bad day they can call me and I will make them laugh.  I love that if either of my girls are feeling down, they know I am a few steps away with a big hug to help make things better.  We don’t know where this journey will end, but we must make the most of each and every day before it’s too late.

photo 1 (2)

25 sittin’ on 25 mil….

The next couple of stanzas of the song really make me think of my years as a single mom.  I let life with my children pass me by because I was so busy focused on making money and trying to meet someone.  Although I had friends who tried to tell me that I needed to prioritize, I thought I had all of the answers so I ignored them.  I tried to “carry the weight of the world” because I had too much pride to just ask for help.  Most importantly, I was looking so hard for something but in the meantime didn’t realize that I was lost to myself.  I needed to be happy with ME before I could be happy with anyone else.

“Wake me up when it’s all over.  When I’m wiser and I’m older.  All those times I was finding myself, I didn’t know I was lost.”  It’s unusual for me to feel this way, but I sometimes find myself at a loss – not knowing how to deal with my son or not knowing if the lice will come back or trying not to let ex-drama affect me.  Not to mention that all of this chaos in my life has prohibited me from doing the one thing that I truly love – writing.

So starting RIGHT NOW… I am going to do three things daily to get me out of this funk:

1) Smile and focus on the here and now.  I’m not going to let the actions of others bring me down.  I will see those actions for what they are – sad attempts to take away the happiness I have in my life.  I am going to spend every second I can with my kids so their memories of their childhoods are of US and not things I gave them.  I’m not going to worry about them anymore, I am merely going to do everything in my power to make sure they communicate with us if something needs to be changed.

2) Write, write and write some more (daily)!!!!  I have always been best when it comes to getting my thoughts and feelings on paper.  Sometimes I have trouble expressing myself verbally, but if I sit down at my laptop then I can write for days on end.

3) Take care of ME.  I need to exercise daily, take my vitamins and drink lots of water.  It’s hard to feel down when you are at your best!!!  Plus, taking care of myself will hopefully ensure many, many more happy years with Joe and our kids (and future grandkids).

With all that being said, sorry for my little break in blogging… LIFE GOT IN THE WAY.  But I’m awake now and am thankful for every minute of every day (and have two more blogs ready to post!!!!).

This is HOME.

It has been a tough week for me… and I AM TIRED.  And it’s only Wednesday.  I think we all experience these back to school blues to an extent.  We crave the structure and routine that starting school brings, but it takes a few weeks to really get back in the swing of it all.

 

Considering it is “Hump Day” (which by the way, if you have not seen the Hump Day Geico commercial above, you have GOT to see it to get a laugh), I thought it appropriate to write about the lows and highs of my week thus far.  The ups AND the downs…

This week definitely started out with a low.  TWO WORDS – head lice.   My sweet daughter had her obligatory case of “welcome back to school” head lice.  My heart again goes out to her stepmom because it was once again discovered while she was at her dad’s house for the weekend, so I only had to deal with the stuff at our house and not the actual creepy crawlies…

So my weekend was spent washing sheets and pillowcases, bagging up stuffed animals from her bed, boiling brushes, etc.  Thankfully I am very OCD when it comes to sharing any kind of hair stuff (since this has become the norm once a year in our house) so it appears for now that the rest of us are clean.

But WHAT IS IT ABOUT LICE that make everyone itch like crazy just talking about them?????  I have not stopped itching since she made the call to me to tell me that they had found a bug.  BLAHHHHHHHHH… We were sitting up at North Hills watching a Johnny Cash Tribute Band when she called me and my friends who were with us can tell you that I went downhill FAST.  I hate that I have such a weak stomach that the mere discussion of lice made us have to cut our night short.

And then we had to send the dreaded text to Joe’s ex to make sure everyone there was clean, which they thankfully were.  Then I had to call her best friends’ moms and tell them so they could check their girls (always a FUN call to make) and email the teacher so she could send a letter home with everyone.  I also had to go to Ulta and buy some lice repellant shampoo.  Hey, ANYTHING like that is worth a try!!!!

With that being said, it infuriates me that obviously she got it from somewhere and if other parents knew their child had lice and didn’t report it, then it is just NOT OK.  Checking their hair is not something I do daily, but apparently I need to make it a part of my routine.  Thankfully, it appears we have it taken care of… and I will re-treat her hair on Friday and continue to check her hair daily.

On Monday, my son had to go to the dentist and have four permanent teeth extracted so that he can get his braces put on next week.  He has my teeth (bless his sweet heart) and since his teeth are so big his poor mouth just can’t hold them all!  I had a headache all day Monday worrying about his anxiety over going to the dentist.  It’s hard to know that our children are upset and know that there really is nothing that we can do about it.

I had to miss work on Tuesday because he was so swollen and still had quite a bit of pain when he woke up (not to mention the bloody mess he left behind on his pillow).  Right before he went to bed on Monday he also pulled his final baby molar out – so he lost FIVE TEETH!!!  That is a crazy amount of teeth to lose in one day.

I found myself feeling bad for being so concerned with my daughter’s head lice and my son’s teeth since the daughter of one of my best friends from growing up was in an accident this past weekend and fractured her skull.  Worrying about lice when your friend is worrying that her daughter won’t wake up makes you feel quite silly.

Please please please warn your children that they can get hurt for their inattention.  Children these days are so glued to their phones that they can find them in the hospital just like my friend’s daughter.  She was on a golf cart and was looking at her phone.  I assume the driver made a sudden move that she was unprepared for and she fell out head first and fractured her skull.  Thank the Lord her prognosis is good now and she is recovering, but with any brain injury it will be a long road ahead for them all.

There have been some high notes in my week as well and I need to remember Philippians 4:8 (the verse read at our wedding day four months ago today), “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  Rather than be consumed with head lice and dry socket I need to think about all of the good we have had happen this week.

My mother came to visit yesterday which was a major bright spot in the week!!!  She came to town and walked my daughter home from school and went with us to piano practice while Joe went to my step-daughter’s choral performance.  We then did a girls only dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant (think, “where everybody knows your name….”).  We love it there because the sushi is good and they know what we want without us having to order.

After dinner, my daughter went to her room to do her homework and mom, Joe and I sat on the sun porch (my favorite room in the house) and drank wine and laughed for hours.  It was so refreshing to have her here.  I often wish that we lived close again.  When I lived in Greenville it was so nice to be able to drive across town for a quick dinner with my parents.  It’s important to me that my kids spend as much time with their grandparents as they can.  They are blessed with many wonderful grandparents and they can learn so much from each one of them.

Our kids are each a blessing in their own way also.  I am amazed every day by all four of them.  My son is such a loyal and honest young man.  I am so proud of his dedication to working out two hours a day, while making sure to finish his homework first.  It blows my mind that we don’t have to hang over him to make sure he does what he is supposed to do.  He does it because he is supposed to.  My step-son is such a kind-hearted soul.  He wants everyone to be happy and he tries to make sure that he doesn’t do anything to cause anyone to be unhappy.  He’s so extremely talented as well.  He has just recently started playing the piano at my house and I am so impressed by his amazing talent.   My daughter is so crazy tall and athletic.  She can truly excel at any sport that she puts her mind to and really seems to enjoy it.  She is also a talented piano player and is loved by everyone in her class.  She impresses me with her strength and her ability to ignore negativity thrown her way.  That will be a huge asset as she grows into a teenager.  Finally, my sweet step-daughter.  She is so focused when it comes to her homework.  It’s so nice to have a child who sits to do her work and just knocks it out without having to be put back on task.  She is very talented at singing and seems to get better all the time.  She is a definite leader and will no doubt do great things as an adult.  She will MAKE things happen.

And the biggest blessing of all to me is my handsome husband Joe.  He works so hard in every way to make me a priority and is quick to jump to my defense in any situation.  He is also my biggest cheerleader and he encourages me to do what I love – write a novel, coach soccer, spend time with my friends and family.

I have to keep my focus on him whenever I have a week like I have had.  He is my North Star.  He is my home.

When we started dating we marveled at how often the idea of “home” would come up – in church, on the radio, through Joe’s stepdad in his advanced Parkinson’s disease.  Because we grew up in the same hometown, we couldn’t ignore the fact that we had the same home. Greenville, NC was “home.”

But we quickly realized that the “home” we were hearing about went much deeper than our hometown.  Our “home” is together.  It’s no coincidence that we both wept a little when the offering song at church this past Sunday was, “This is Home.”  We know where we belong… and I am so thankful to have him as my HOME.

“And I got my heart set on what happens next
I’ve got my eyes wide, it’s not over yet
We are miracles
And we’re not alone

Yeah, this is home
Now I’m finally where I belong, where I belong
Yeah, this is home
I’ve been searching for a place of my own
Now I’ve found it, maybe, this is home
Yeah, this is home”

– Switchfoot

 

Survival of the Fittest – Single Motherhood

While I am trying to get into a regular routine for the fall, I think I am going to try to devote Tuesday’s blog to answering questions that are presented by my readers.  Let’s hope I can get into the swing of life soon, because today is day two of school and I already feel like I have been railroaded!

First day of school - 8th grade & 5th grade

First day of school – 8th grade & 5th grade

Ironically enough, the topic I chose for today (fitting for this time of year) is:

Organizational Tips for the Single Mom

I sat down to write the outline for this blog and it was absolutely the easiest topic on which I have ever brainstormed.  After being a single mom for almost nine years, I have plenty of tips and ideas on how to improve the quality of life for not only you, but the people around you.

1) Don’t Put Off What You Can Do Today!

That is very self explanatory, but essential when you are a single mom.  If you put one thing off, then with certainty there will be four more things piled on the list before tomorrow.  So as soon as a permission slip comes in, fill it out and have your child put it right back into their folder and write the field trip in your calendar.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have forgotten to write something in my calendar and had to fly in a panic the morning of the field trip to take a lunch bag to school before the bus leaves.  All of that anxiety can be avoided if you just followed the simple procedure – sign, give to child, write in calendar.  Which brings me to my next tip:

2) Make Your Calendar Your Best Friend.

My ex, his wife, my husband and our kids all have access to the same Google Calendar, so although I prefer to have a hand written calendar that I can look at, I always enter dates into the Google Calendar so my ex can stay on top of events even when the kids are not with him.  I compare my calendars weekly to make sure they are both up to date.  Having both allows me to schedule an appointment at the dentist even if I don’t have my hard calendar in my purse.

It’s also helpful because it can help put the responsibility into the hands of your ex to stay on top of what is going on.   When we were first separated and the kids and I were living over an hour away from my ex, I tried to send him weekly emails about what was going on with the kids and what activities they had and when.  My daughter was too young to have phone conversations, so I would be her voice in letting him know what we had going on.  It was and still is important to him to be an active daily presence in my kids’ lives even when he cannot be with them.

Early in my tenure as a single mom, I was not very good with being on time and keeping track of appointments.  Honestly, my ex had spent so many years staying on top of me about where I needed to be and when that I don’t think I was really prepared for having to keep everything in order alone.  It was tough, but once I realized the importance of organization, it made life much easier on all of us.  And once I learned the stress it caused my kids to be late for school or their activities, it made my children much happier.

3) Don’t Commit to Something Just Because it Sounds Good.

This is actually a big deal.  It may not sound like it, but if your child sees a commercial for the Circus and you say, “We should go to that,” you are setting yourself up for torment.  I used to say that a lot to my kids, “We should go on a cruise” or “I’ll take you there someday.”  In my mind, I was telling them how everything was going to be great in our life someday.  I was convincing MYSELF that things would be better.  Sadly enough though I now realize I was getting the kids excited about things that would never come to fruition.

My advice to every single mom is this: Unless you KNOW that you are going to do something, even something as small as going to the park on Saturday, then DON’T COMMIT.  It is disappointing to the kids and it will be death of you while the kids attack you with a barrage of questions on when you might go and where and how and with whom…..

What works best for me now that my kids are older is to say, “I will think about it, but I cannot possibly commit to that right now.”  My kids know that if I say that, then there is a possibility, but only if they BACK OFF.  Because they know that if it’s a NO, then I will say NO.

4) Learn to Say NO!!!

Let’s practice that right now… “NO!”  I don’t just mean to your kids… I mean to ANYONE and EVERYONE who wants more from you than you have to give.  I hate to say it, but I had to resign myself to the fact that being a room mom or hosting book club in my child’s class two afternoons a week was better left to the many stay at home moms who had kids in my child’s class.  It’s hard enough to be a mom, but throw a full-time job (where you are the only source of income for your household) and there are just not enough hours of the day to be Super Mom and volunteer nonstop.

The key to learning to say no is to also learn that you cannot beat yourself up over it.  I desperately WANTED to be the mom who could help dish out food in the cafeteria or do the cash register at the Book Fair, but it just didn’t fit with my work schedule.  I have always done my best to help with field trips here or there or special parties, but even that can be draining on your work hours and your finances when living on a budget.

So learn to say no and focus on your kids in other ways.  They won’t doubt your love and will understand if you explain that you cannot get off work, but will take him/her to ice cream after dinner.  Quality time is the most important way we can say yes to our kids.

5) Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!

I have always been TERRIBLE at asking for help.  It was like asking for help was admitting some perceived shortcoming.  I learned over the years that there are SO MANY PEOPLE out there who are willing to help you if you allow them.  Being afraid to ask or feeling like you are needy is completely in your brain and you need to figure out how to deal with it.  I don’t know how I would have survived the years as a single mom without the help of my parents, my friends and even my ex and his wife.

It took many years to get there, but I finally over the last couple of years got to the comfort level where I could ask my ex if he could take the kids if I had an event or if I just needed a break.  I think it was a paranoia for years that he would in some way “use it against me” if I asked him for help.  The truth of the matter is he was just happy to get some extra time with the kids.

Another form of delegation is getting the kids to carry more weight around the house.  I have a couple of single mom friends who still do everything they did for their kids before their divorce although they are no longer stay at home moms.  One of my best friends actually gets up and blow dries her daughter’s hair every morning.  Another one of my friends gets up early, gets ready and then fixes elaborate breakfasts for her kids.  My children learned how to fix their own breakfasts at a VERY early age.  I would be busy getting ready for work, so my kids had to gain an independence earlier than some.  They would get up, get ready, pack bookbags, fix and eat their own breakfasts, brush their teeth and be ready when I came downstairs.

Again, it is guilt that keeps too many mothers from allowing their kids to do for themselves, but THEY NEED TO LEARN INDEPENDENCE!!!!

I have struggled a little with Joe on this topic because he is accustomed to doing EVERYTHING for his kids – laying out and ironing clothes, fixing breakfast, pouring milk, etc.  I have had to ask him NOT to do all of that for my kids because I am proud of how independent they are and I don’t want to take that away from them.

6) FIND TIME FOR YOURSELF………………………………….

This is the biggie of all biggies…. because it’s nearly impossible, but it must be done if you are to have any sanity.  My kids went to their dad every other weekend for the first four years after our divorce.  So my alone time was few and far between.  They were so young though that I could get a sitter after putting them to bed and meet up with friends for a while.  At their age now I could not do that because they are up too late (and I’m older and couldn’t handle going out so late on a work night!).  But there are plenty of ways you can be good to yourself so that you can be the best you that you can be.

I think after divorce we try to recreate ourselves.  If we initiated the divorce then we want to prove that we are better than we were before.  It seems that most of my friends who have gone through divorces follow the textbook divorce routine.  They exercise when they don’t have the kids so they lose a lot of weight.  They try to do what they can to improve their physical appearance – change their hairstyle, wear more make-up, get manicures and pedicures.  All of this is just part of the rite of passage and is probably needed by women as a way to build self-esteem during a time of very low self-esteem.  I’m not saying that you should run out and schedule work to be done, but you need to TAKE CARE OF YOU!!!!

The truth is that if you cannot take care of yourself, then you are of no use to anyone else.  Including your children.  So do what you can to take care of you, including moving past the anger to enjoy your new freedom.  Focusing on the future will allow you to stay positive and HOPEFUL.

And who can’t benefit from a little hope?

One of My Biggest Weaknesses May Actually Be One of My Biggest Strengths

I think my biggest weakness is that I require structure and routine.  And when I say “require,” I mean CANNOT survive without it.  Like EVER.

As much as I would like everyone to believe that I am a free-spirit, someone who can hop on a jet on a whim and travel wherever the hot deals will take me, I’m just not.  I thrive on predictability.  I like deadlines and schedules and consistency.  My favorite time of the year?  When the new calendars come out and I can start filling each box in with all of our “stuff.”  My second favorite time of the year? Back to school.

When I was a first year law student at the ripe age of 35, my young classmates looked over my shoulder in awe at my calendar.  One of the 22 year old guys behind me said incredulously, “Is your calendar (cough, cough) COLOR CODED?”

Yes, I am THAT girl.

And now that I have two more kids and a husband to keep track of, my obsessive need for planning and scheduling is in overdrive.  This whole fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants summer may work for some people, but I am craving order and structure.  Chaos makes me want to run and hide.  It’s especially daunting right now since two kids are back in school but the other two are still living the carefree life of summer.

Yeah, I even have a copy of the tide chart when I go to the beach.  Predictability...

Yeah, I even have a copy of the tide chart when I go to the beach. Predictability…

I just want life to get back to normal.  Is that too much to ask???

If you’re an anxious person, then you know what I am talking about.  Predictability and structure and guidelines are what get you through the day.  I have been like this since I was a child.  All of my friends went to Camp Seafarer and loved it, but I went to Camp Thunderbird.  At Thunderbird, you were given a schedule and they would tell you when you were supposed to move to the next activity.  I thrived in that environment!  One summer I decided to try Seafarer since it was closer to home and all of my friends went there.  Seafarer, however, did not have the schedule.  I was let loose and could do whatever activity I enjoyed.  I was a wreck.  I didn’t know where to go and I absolutely floundered.  I couldn’t wait to get back to Camp Thunderbird the following summer.

My first summer at Camp Thunderbird

My first summer at Camp Thunderbird

In high school, my roommate at boarding school can confirm that I was up until the wee hours of the night before a big paper was due, typing in the closet on my word processor.  I would still be working on the paper right up until class time and then I would turn it in and get a good grade.  If I attempted to write the paper well before it was due, then I could not focus.  I needed the impending deadline to make myself get it done.

As an adult, I see this anxiousness come out when I do not have a plan.  My mood is much better when there is a weekly menu and I would never in my life go to the grocery store without a list.  I plan dinner parties or invite people over because that’s the best way to make me clean the house (gotta have that deadline!).  As I have written previously, Joe knows that I need to know what time we are leaving the house, whether it’s for church or dinner or heading out of town on a trip.  If I don’t have a schedule to work with, then I cannot possibly be ready on time.  The absolute worst thing to say to me if you want something done is, “Just get to it when you can…”  Because if I do not have a timeline, then it likely will not get done.

Weekly menu...

Weekly menu…

Over time though, I have learned that this structure I require is not always a bad thing.  Although I often consider it a weakness, structure doesn’t have to be oppressive.  There is a great sense of security that comes from a structured environment.  There is little “unknown,” and it’s the “unknown” that can cause a great deal of anxiety for a person like me.

In January of 2012, I fainted in my driveway.  When I say the word “faint” you may envision me crumbling to the ground, but that would be far from reality.  I fell like a tree and my face was the only thing to break my fall – not my body or my shoulder – MY FACE.  Straight into the pavement.  I looked like someone had dragged me behind a car.  The doctors ran all sorts of tests from MRI’s to CAT Scans to blood tests, but they never definitively could say why I fainted.  As a result, the next few months of my life were truly my rock bottom.  I lived every minute of every day afraid that I may faint again.  Driving on the highway was terrible because I feared I would faint while driving and wreck.  I had terrible anxiety during that time period all due to the “unknown.”

The unknown can be an exceptionally scary thing to face.  For kids, the unknowns associated with the divorce of their parents can send them into a tailspin.  This structure and routine that I have often viewed as my weakness can actually be a strength when viewed as a way to help people through situations where there is an unknown factor.  For example, structure and routine can give children the ability to structure their own lives.  If they know what is going to happen next, then they can take ownership of their schedule.  It can become their own.

Having something that is their own can certainly be a major achievement when the chaos of divorce takes over in a family.  We have found that in our home having regular routines – dinner together at the table, homework, calling their other parent, bedtime – gives the children confidence in what comes next.  It’s like giving a three year old the countdown at the park, “We are leaving in TEN minutes,” “We are leaving in FIVE minutes,” “Wrap it up, we are leaving in one minute.”  It helps to eliminate the stress of the unexpected.  Children from an early age show that they respond better when they understand what is going to happen next.  If you walk up to a three year old and say, “We are leaving the park NOW,” then you will be dragging a kicking and screaming child to the car.

I’m hoping that my need for structure and routine will be a comfort to all four of our kids as we transition into our new normal.  Knowing what to expect and knowing what will happen next gives them less to worry about in an already stressful time.  Our predictability can make them feel loved without fear of any more loss.  We eliminate the unknowns and just focus on our family.

Maybe what I perceive as one of my biggest weaknesses can actually be my biggest strength in parenting our kids.

Get Off Your Phone and PUT A SHIRT ON!

I know I have written about it before, but teenage boys are such an interesting breed of crazy.  I remember feeling a little fearful when the ultrasound revealed that we were having a boy.  I remember thinking, “I don’t know what to do with a boy!”

He has been ALL BOY from the beginning...

He has been ALL BOY from the beginning…

And admittedly, everyday, I still think that.  Boys are such different creatures than girls.   At least I understand the feelings and thoughts my daughter has, but I don’t get boys at all.

My sweet boy at 13

My sweet boy at 13

And I love my son. So much.  Even though he smells like a weird mix of fish and grass and dirt most of the summer.  I love him.  Even though he won’t talk to me about anything I am interested in but insists on talking to me about every little thing he can think of that I do NOT want to hear.  I love him.  Even though he is most of the time just a smaller version of his father.  I love him.

We were on vacation last week at the beach and where was I while the rest of the family went to the aquarium with my parents?

I was sitting in my car at the park while my son practiced basketball.

Here I sat...

Here I sat…

While he was at the AAU National Championships in Myrtle Beach a couple of weeks ago, Bobby Cremins, a well known retired college basketball coach, spoke to the boys and told them that if they were not working out 5-7 hours a day in the summer, then they weren’t truly committed to advancing to the next level.  So all I hear from my boy these days is,. “That’s fine that he doesn’t do drills… if he wants to stay on the same level.” or “She must not care about practicing because she just wants to stay on the same level.”  He is all about advancing to the next level and his desire to work out constantly is proof.  Every night at the beach from about 9-10pm he was on the street in front of the cottage doing ball handling drills.

He’s also all about shoes.  If I hear another thing about LBJ’s or KD’s or Kobe’s, I will scream.  I get texts from him with screen shots of the shoes he wants next.  He has even started trading shoes with friends if he likes their shoes better than his.  I try to block out his talking when he starts telling me about how many pairs of Lebron’s his different friends own.

Apparently he has "SHOE GAME"

Apparently he has “SHOE GAME” – two pairs of MANY

He says he plans to have a shoe room when he gets older.  Not a shoe closet, he said… but a shoe ROOM.  I wish I could have seen my face when he was telling me about that for the first time.   Incredulous is a good word.

I may need to call the plastic surgeon to take advantage of their botox special….. because I feel like I use that face pretty much every time he speaks.

He knows this look well... I may need to take up my plastic surgeon on their botox special this month!

He knows this look well…

Hey, at least I listen.  Most of the time.  It’s not like he listens to me!  I feel like life passes him by because he spends a majority of his time with earphones in listening to Spotify.   Last Tuesday night we were pulling out of Bojangles and I saw a hot air balloon, so I pointed to it and said, “Look at that hot air balloon!” And he plainly said, “It looks like a hot air balloon.”  As seems to be the norm lately, I looked at him with that same incredulous look… and he said, “What?”  Turns out he had not heard me and only saw me point.

Sometimes I wish I could tune him out like he tunes me out.  13 year old boys want to fill you in about the new Call of Duty Map Pack and all about Jay-Z and Beyonce being part of Illuminati.  They are either “starving to death” or they won’t eat saying, “I’m fine.”   I sometimes feel like a recording on repeat alternating between, “Put your phone down” and “Put your shirt on.”   He cannot understand why in the world it is important to me that he wears a shirt while we are sitting at the dinner table.   I’m often called into the basement while he is playing X-box so that he can show me some sort of “kill shot” or a video of his alter ego on the screen jumping off a building on a skateboard and landing into a crumbled pile of pain on the pavement below.

It seems that everything revolves around the shock value.  It’s the fart in the car or the “What the freak?” with a little too long of a pause on the beginning of freak…  He wants to keep me on my toes.  Yesterday he called me at work and started the conversation with, “Have I told you today how beautiful you are?”  Yeah, he wanted a friend to spend the night.

On my way into work this morning, I started talking to a lady in the parking garage elevator.  We chatted as we were walking to our offices and she said, “Have your kids started school yet?  My son started kindergarten yesterday.”  I could see the fear in her eyes and I remember that fear all too well.

It made me think about how far we have come since my sweet boy went to kindergarten.  He was constantly being moved and we had to go to parent/teacher conference after parent/teacher conference.  I can’t tell you how many times in elementary school I heard things like, “I hate to use the word ‘class clown,’ but….” or “He seems to work better by himself away from the rest of the class” or my personal favorite, “He can be sitting next to a friend, so I move him to sit next to someone I know is not one of his friends, and by the next day, they are best friends too…”

This same kid moved to Raleigh four years ago and decided to run for Vice President of his new school in fifth grade… and won.  He volunteered to be the manager of the basketball team in 6th grade (since you can’t play until 7th grade) and then made the team in 7th grade.  This same kid ended up making all A’s & B’s in the final quarter of 7th grade.  After years of worrying about his behavior and grades, he finally seems to have found his routine and it is working for him.

Summer of 2002 and Summer of 2013

Summer of 2002 and Summer of 2013

I am so proud of my boy… and even if I never understand why he tries daily to shock me and even if his underarm hair is now getting too plentiful for me to count, he is still that little boy who used to like to sleep in my tennis shoes and insisted on wearing belts (even with gym shorts) so he would have something to hang his light sabers on.

photo(19)

And I cannot wait to see the man he becomes…

We Got This…

I think most people can agree that I am an annoyingly optimistic and happy person.  I recently saw a picture of myself without a full tooth smile and I had to look at it twice because I didn’t recognize myself.  My kids know that it is rare to see me without my smile, but admittedly, it happens.  And it apparently happened last week.

Last Thursday was just a bad day for me.  Work was fine, but there was some other ridiculous drama going on that caused me to spend a lot of time talking to my dad (a retired judge), others in the legal field, and just friends who are familiar with the situation.  By the time I got home from work I was emotionally exhausted.  I drove up my driveway and just sat in my car for a few minutes talking to myself.

“You can do this.  Put your smile on and convince the kids you are fine.  You got this.  You got this….”  I slapped the smile on my face and walked into the house.  As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I could see my stepdaughter sitting on the floor with the Monopoly board in front of her.   She was smiling broadly and said excitedly, “Valerie, come here, quick!”  So I walked quickly into the living room and my daughter jumped out from behind the door, arms flailing and screaming.  Yes, it was a childish attempt to scare me, but guess what I did?  Yep, broke down in tears.  I mean, fell ALL TO PIECES.

It was rather embarrassing to see the looks on the faces of my daughter, my stepdaughter and my babysitter.  I walked back into the kitchen with tears streaming down my face.  Both girls followed me back in the kitchen and were looking at me with a mixture of confusion and concern on their faces.  I told them, “I’ve just had a really bad day and you just really scared me…”

They both hugged me and hugged me and were visibly upset over my reaction.  By the time Joe walked downstairs we were all laughing about my craziness.   I was fine after that, but I have a feeling the girls will think twice before they scare anyone anymore.

Although I may have upset the kids by my reaction, maybe it is good for our kids to see us as human from time to time.  Because Joe and I are such happy people, I don’t want the kids to grow up thinking that we are some sort of freaks of nature, because it’s just not possible to be perfectly happy every single day of your life.  Things are going to upset us.  I also don’t want them to think we are hiding our feelings.  We want to focus on good communication in our home rather than living in fear of what someone may or may not be thinking or feeling.

A few weeks ago while we were on vacation, my son was giving me a difficult time, so rather than fly off the handle or ignore him, I asked him to walk outside with me.  I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “Look, I love you.  I have been so excited about this trip and being here with you, but the way you are acting is hurtful.  It is making me feel sad to see you act like this.  I know you don’t mean to upset me, but this behavior is making you feel bad and it is making me sad.  Do you want that?”  He quickly apologized, promised to do better and said he did not want me to be upset.

We want the kids to know that we are humans and we have feelings.  We want them to see our imperfections and to know that although we are newlyweds and everything is beyond perfect NOW, it may not always be that way and that is okay.  It is how we handle the problems we may face that will define us.

The other day both girls were in our room and Joe and I were joking around with each other and one of the girls said, “Uh oh!  You better not say that! She may divorce you!” and Joe put both arms around me and hugged me and said, “No way.  Divorce is not an option.”  I said, “Nope. Not even an option.”  And one of them said, “Obviously it IS an option or we all wouldn’t be here right now.”  And Joe said, “It’s not an option for US.”  You could see how comforting that was to both of the girls.  They have had plenty of change, so it’s good for them to know that WE will not change.

We admit to our children that we are not perfect and we have made mistakes… we won’t always be happy and we may not always get along… but they can take comfort in knowing that we will fight for us.  We will fight for our family.  And that anything is possible through God.

So next time I have had a bad day, I won’t hide it from my kids.  I won’t linger in the driveway trying to pull myself together.  I will just say, “I’ve had a bad day and I am trying to deal with it.  Thanks for loving me in spite of it and I promise I will be back to myself in no time.”  I will hug them all a little tighter and through their love my smile will eventually return.  We are a family.  There is no reason to hide my feelings from those I love most in the world.

God, Love, Communication and Trust – the foundation of our home.

As I told myself in the car… “WE GOT THIS.”

“But I’m STARVING to DEATH!”

It’s official!  Joe and I have made it seamlessly through our first two months of marriage.  Well, maybe “seamlessly” is a stretch, but it has truly gone much smoother than I would have expected.  Blending two families into one (and fitting all of their junk and our junk into one big pile of junk) is not an easy task.  But after two months, the rooms are pretty much set up to the kids’ liking and every day more things are finding their place – even if their place is in the yard sale pile.

And every day we are each finding our “place.”  As can be expected, there is resistance on all of our parts in little ways – even with Joe and me.  So far though it seems the biggest resistance is coming from my sweet boy.

My son was only four when his father and I got divorced.  Since then he has had to grow up faster than most kids.  He was fixing his own breakfast and getting dressed on his own from very early on.  He is a very responsible kid, so I have not had to stay on him much about things.  He does his work (most of the time) and he does his workouts and even if given the option to stay up, he usually chooses to go to bed at a reasonable time if he feels tired.  For years now he has come home from school and fixed his own snack and done his work without being prompted or supervised.  He has been the man of the house with a lot of independence for almost nine years, so this is a big change to now have three more people in the house – and more rules.

The thing he seems to be having the most trouble with is the food rationing.  While that sounds rather harsh, it’s the best way to describe what we have been doing.  We have told the kids that there are certain snacks and foods that are reserved for school lunches – prepackaged chips and cookies, Gatorades and chocolate milk.  My boy just CANNOT get this.  Every single day he asks, “Can I have a Gatorade?” or “Can I have a chocolate milk?”  And we are still finding Oreo wrappers and chip wrappers in the basement playroom each night.  When you tell him to make his own chocolate milk with milk & chocolate syrup, he looks at you like you have punched him in the gut.

I think he would like to come home to something like this every single day...

I think he would like to come home to something like this every single day…

I have a hard time cracking the whip on this because I realize that he has had to adapt to a lot of changes in his short life.   At the same time, I know that my knowledge of this is being taken advantage of…  He knows that I will cut him slack, so he pushes the envelope.  He acts like he’s starving all of the time although we have told them there is limitless cheese & crackers, peanut butter & crackers, cereal, fruit, Easy Mac, etc.  But he is smart enough to know that no mother can stand to hear their child say they are “STARVING TO DEATH.”

This week all four kids have been at basketball camp.  When we took them all on Monday for sign in, I put $20 in each of their accounts for food.  That may not sound like a lot, but it costs about $3 total for a lunch (with a drink) and we sent them each with a Gatorade, a pack of Oreos and some Nabs in their bags.  My son came home on Tuesday and said, “I have $1 left in my account” and the sitter said that each day on the ride home he was eating his Oreos and Nabs in the car.

He spent $19 in two days!!!  Even the rest of the kids were shocked.  They all had about $12 left.  In an attempt to persuade the remaining three to be frugal, we told them they could keep whatever money they had left in their account at the end of the week.  I gave my boy $5 more (I had intended to give each $25 anyway, but wanted to see if they could make it) and sent them on their way.  The girls were thrilled because they wanted to make it through the week on the original $20 so they could get $5 on Friday.

My son?  Not so much… He apparently blew right through the additional $5.

This morning as I was walking to my office from the parking garage, my son called.  He was frantic, “Mom, remember the $5 you owe me for pulling weeds last weekend?  Can I get it for lunch?”  Yes, he actually believed that I would leave work and drive to the camp to give him the $5 (insert laughing mom here).  I told him that I was walking in to work and he would have to ask Joe.  Joe had two $20 bills and four $1 bills, so he gave my son $4.  Again, the other kids kept saying, “Seriously, WHAT have you been buying to already spend $25??” His response? “Just let it go!”

Tonight we are taking the kids to a baseball game.  In an effort to save some money, we are ordering pizza and a 2-liter of Mountain Dew to have before the game so that we can just get the kids one snack each at the game.

I am already waiting for the backlash from my boy – the shoulder shrugs, the deep breaths, the mumbling, the talking back. He just does NOT seem to understand that our family has completely doubled in size, so the cost of food has doubled as well.   He has always been so thin that I have encouraged his large eating habits.  I still do, but I want him to eat smarter now.  Buying snacks at camp and then eating the snacks he took to camp on the way home is NOT smart eating.  It’s a waste of money.

Anyway, we are obviously a constant work in progress, but the important thing is the past two months have been so easy for all of us, with just a few minor hiccups (it’s amazing how unhappy people try to spread their unhappiness).  Thankfully each attempt to cause misery only makes our family stronger.  Our focus is on God, our relationship with each other, and getting the kids through this time of transition.  Nothing else matters in the least.

And it’s obvious that the kids are adjusting well… When we are all spending time together, the constant smiles on their faces and the calmness in their spirits prove to us that everything is going to be just fine…

#truth

#truth

…and Joe and I agree that the past two months have been the best days of our entire lives.