Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

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My hubby's brother and sister-in-law are in town for the holiday, along with their first grader twins (a boy and a girl) and starting this afternoon I’ll be on vacation through next Tuesday, hurray!

I’m so happy that my house is full of love and extended family.  I’ll be back after the break!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holding onto Kindness - Be the Light

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Yesterday, my governor came out with a statement that he would welcome the Syrian refugees—that our state is committed to welcoming “all people with tolerance and mutual respect.”  To hear this made me so proud have a leader stand up for the rights of others, to take a stand against cruelty and malice and—evil.  A light in the vast climate of fear.

Then I listened, from the confines of my comfortable (but slightly stinky) car, to the opposing viewpoints of people calling into our radio stations, saying the Governor went out on a limb, wasn’t thinking, who was going to pay for all these refugees, we have a homeless problem, we need to take care of our own, first.

It’s easy for us to say, from our position in the horn of plenty, to ‘take care of our own, first,’ but how can we not remember who we are as a people, as a nation in our world?  Do we forget that the reason any of us are here in our country is because our “people” traveled here, in some instances under similar persecution, themselves?  (And by the way, our nation’s immigrants and first settlers have a terrible history of persecution, the native peoples of our country can attest to that, which is another serious discussion altogether.)

I see how it’s easier to avoid the atrocities from the other side of the world.  To hide our faces from the images of that little boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey. To think it’s happening to someone else, not me, not my sister, not my brother.

It’s hard to think of these strangers as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses, uncles, aunties cousins.

But to all of the people who cry out at the cruelty of ISIS and armed conflict in our world, who cry out at injustice of genocide and war crimes against humanity, and to those 24 governors who hide behind a mantra of:  “it’s a national security issue, they can’t come here!”:

I will respond first of all with logic.  In 1980, Congress passed the Refugee Act, which gives our President the authority to allow refugees into our country who are fleeing persecution. Therefore, the governors (especially the conservative ones who are pandering to their GOP electorate) can cry “national security” all they want, but what they’re really doing is putting their self-interests, not our humanity, first.  They are putting their political agendas and manipulating the public’s fear into beans to count for their re-election.  Because at the end of the day, these governors cannot block a federal law, they can only make it very difficult to carry it out.  So by stirring up fear in their respective electorates, at the expense of the little boy who was lying face down on the beach, and his dead brothers, and his dead mother, and all of the fleeing, desperate human beings in a similar position, they make it difficult for people to try and understand that legally, we are bound to help these refugees, and even more difficult for people to accept that maybe, treating others with kindness and help is something that we can embrace, rather than fear.  To those 24 governors, I ask you to be brave leaders and to stop pandering to fear.

I know it’s easier to respond to difficult situations with fear.  I was afraid of my abusive husband for years, I still get PTSD flashbacks.  My first instinct was to shut down, then to deny the violence was happening, to pretend everything was okay, he really didn’t hurt us, I must have just imagined it.  But hiding in fear solves no problems, and the problems only get worse.  Until there is nothing left inside you, the light that once was you, dwindled down to a tiny, tiny flame that is easily blown out.

Do we want ISIS to win?  Because responding to ISIS with fear, is exactly what ISIS wants.  They want us to be divided, they want to wage war, they want to conquer.  And while it seems counterintuitive, we can’t meet ISIS’ actions with more fear.  Hate plus fear plus more fear and hate, equals a whole lot of evil.

The refugees fleeing from this violence aren’t actually “the other.” They are us, we are all on the same side.  The refugees just happen to be our brothers and sisters who were unfortunate enough to be on the front lines of terror.  They are there, in the battlefields, their families enslaved, sold into slavery, or beheaded.  We are here, me driving in my stinky car to work, because I’m lucky enough to have a job and have a kid or two who spills water and snacks as we go to school and if I forget to clean it up right away, congratulations to me, I have a stinky car.

If the tables were turned, and we were on the front lines, like the victims in Paris who are apparently easier for us Americans to relate to, wouldn’t we want someplace safe to flee to?  Someplace where our humanity, hopes, dreams, peace, were respected and dignified? 

Lastly, I will respond with kindness.  What differentiates us from the Islamic state is that we do not persecute people because of their religion, race, color, education, abilities, sex, country of origin (read the Civil Rights Act and the American with Disabilities Act).  At least, that’s apparently our goal—since we don’t have the greatest history record in acting any of this out, but we keep trying, and keep trying to improve i.e. the Marriage Equality supreme court decision just this year, after all.  So if we are to be true citizens of our country, then it follows that we will find a way to help our fellow people with kindness.  In this case, people who enter our country via the 1980 Refugee Act, are our fellow people.

Open our doors, to the people in need.  Open our hearts to our fellow humans.  When our lives end, our actions will define us; do we want to be defined by the darkness of fear?  Or by making this world a better place?  Let's be the light.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Happy Holidays and Getting through them after Divorce

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I'm over at DivorcedMoms with my latest article on tips for getting through the holidays as a single parent family.  Please come by and check it out

Holy moly, Thanksgiving is next week!  I need to stock up on my butter.  And stuffing.  And herbs. And spices.  Eeep!!  :)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy No-Bake Eclairs

It’s rare that the hubby, the girls, and I are all off on the same day.  And since it was Veterans day, I told the girls about their great grandfather, who served in WW1, as a medical assistant, and their Uncle P, who was a marine.  That we have a lot of people to be thankful for in protecting and serving our country.

We proceeded to relax and enjoy a gentle, no-stress day together—the girls and I used a coupon so we could get our toes done at the pedicure salon, the hubby and I took them to see the new Peanuts movie (I loved that they were able to include the Red Baron!), and we went out for a quick bite of sushi afterwards.  Then hubby took DD1 shopping so she could spend her allowance that she saved for over a month, and where she carefully picked out a headband and a slap-wrist watch.  DD1 came out of the store beaming!

When we got home, I cockroached the no bake recipe that’s been making its rounds on Facebook, the Éclair cake, and had the girls help me with all the mixing, pouring, carefully laying out of graham crackers. (We tried it this morning, definitely kid approved!)

Hubby grilled steaks for dinner and we all sat down together.  Afterwards, we watched half an episode of SuperGirl, which I think is a fun show to watch with little girls.  My two Supergirls. 

Some days, I’m just forever thankful for the little things.  DD2 snuggling in my lap and turning around to plant a big smooch on my cheek.  DD1 giving a hug to A after dinner because she loved the grilled steak so much.  Holding the girls hands as I say our nighttime prayer.  And after putting them to bed, DD1 running into the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth, making sure I’d give her one last tuck in.  Falling asleep with a smile on my face.  Thank you, world.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

You F** and Houston, we’re headed for puberty land

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Last night, DD2 was all giggles at DD1’s girl scout troop meeting, sitting on my lap, snuggling and pretending to be asleep, then giggling some more when I discovered that she was really awake.  Then all of a sudden, she said, “mommy, can I tell you a secret?”  and so I leaned in, and she whispered in my ear, “when daddy gets mad at me, he says you f**k!”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, so I said what?  And she leaned in and said it again—“when daddy gets mad at me, he says you f**k!”  And honestly, because she was whispering, I couldn’t be sure I was making it out, so I said, can you tell me that again?  And she leaned into my ear, put her hands around her mouth and said it again.  I finally understood that she’d turned that wonderful FY phrase backwards.

I gave her a big hug, and said, you know what, ladybug, those are terrible words to use.  She gave me a hug back, and then bounced off to go running around the hallway.  Ugh.  Ex is at it again.  Time to consult with the play therapist, if I could have handled that better, and how to handle it again should it come up.


As for the second part of this post--this morning went much better than the other morning, thank goodness, the girls were up dressed and ready, nary a whine or a fuss, and we were all downstairs, getting ready to leave for the school drop offs.  DD1 noticed that DD2 was copying her picture, and because DD1’s voice is still hoarse, she whispered, I really HATE it when DD2 copies me.  And I looked DD1 straight in the eye and I said, I know honey, it’s really hard being a big sister.  One day it will get easier, and one day you’ll see that DD2 is showing you she loves you, but right now, it’s just so very hard to be a big sister.  DD1, instead of some smart retort or hmpphing, just nodded her head and leaned against me.

Then, DD2 piped up, It’s really hard being a little sister, too!  And I said, you know, you’re right, it’s hard to be a little sister and a big sister.  DD1 didn’t like the sound of that, but she didn’t debate it.

However, in the car on the way to DD2’s school, DD1 kept snapping at DD2 to stop chewing with her mouth open, that it was DISGUSTING.  Well, as loud as she could, except she had to whisper because of her voice (I’d laugh, but then it would be rude.  Okay I’m laughing now).  And I reminded DD1 that it wasn’t her job to tell DD2 what to do, that’s mom’s job.  Unfortunately DD1 couldn’t stop commenting on DD2’s chewing and I stepped in another time, saying, DD1, it’s not nice to use the word disgusting when it comes to your sister.  And to DD2’s credit, she was trying to chew with her mouth closed.  So then DD1 decided to mimic her sister chewing, even though she wasn’t eating anything.  (Okay, I’m laughing again!).

So finally I said to DD1, do I need to deduct $1.00 from your allowance because you’re having a hard time remembering it’s not your job to tell DD2 what to do? 

A hoarse: NO! from the back seat.

Ok, good, I replied.  And all was was quiet as we pulled into the DD2 drop off, I walked DD2 into school, and got back in the car.

So on the way to DD1’s school, I decided to revisit puberty land with DD1, since she seemed calm, wasn’t fuming, or having a hissy fit.

Me:  Honey?
DD1:  yes? (I noticed it’s the normal tone, not mean puberty land tone).
Me: So remember how we know that girls’ bodies change, just like they say in the Care and Keeping of You?
DD1:  yes…
Me:  Well, part of what happens when your body changes, is that your brain changes a little bit too.  It’s called hormones.
DD1:  What?
Me:  Well, you’ll learn about hormones in science, but what happens is, when your body’s changing, your moods change, too.  It’s puberty  Like sometimes you get super frustrated and angry at DD2, or me, or dad or anyone.
DD1:  Does this mean that the blood comes, too?  (we’ve talked about periods already…a few times)
Me:  Well…puberty kind of happens on a spectrum.  Do you know what spectrum means?
DD1:  No…?
Me:  So you know how a rainbow has Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple?
DD1:  Uh huh…
Me:  Well, that’s a spectrum, a rainbow goes from Red to Purple.  And puberty kind of happens on a spectrum too.  It doesn’t always happen all at once, and sometimes some parts happen at the same time as others.
DD1:  Okay, good (still using normal tone, I might add, so think she’s really listening).
Me:  Well, part of puberty is, these hormones affect you, and affect your moods, and sometimes you might get so upset, you feel like your brain is going to explode.  (From my rearview mirror, I can see DD1 is looking intently at me)  And it’s okay to feel upset and angry and frustrated.
DD1:  Yeah.
Me:  And gosh, especially when you’re really upset like that—that’s a good time to practice being gentle with you.  You be gentle with you, and do your best to be gentle with others.  So when you really feel like your head’s going to explode because you’re so angry, maybe say something like:  I’m REALLLY UPSET!  Instead of calling someone a bad name or doing or saying mean things.
DD1:  (a pause)  I KNOW mom, you’ve told me that a hundred million times.
Me: (Really?  Hadn’t realized that and I do start laughing) Okay, well I’m glad you know what to do.

There’s a nice silence, at least I can tell she’s not glaring at me. 

Me:  So honey, you know when mommy tries to give you a hug when you’re really upset, and you get mad?
DD1:  Yeah?
Me:  What would you rather have me do, to help you feel better?
DD1:  (After thinking a little bit) I wish you’d tell me you were sorry.
Me:  You mean for hurting your feelings?
DD1:  Yeah.
Me:  Honey, Mommy is really sorry for hurting your feelings.

Quiet for the rest of the drive to school.  When I walked her into school, she leaned in for a kiss, in front of everyone in the cafeteria no less, so I guess my little girl still has one foot in little girl land, as her brain and body reach a tentative foot ahead.

p.s. I noticed DD1 put on her training bra today. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Parenting: Win, Lose, or Draw

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Happy November!  Happy Belated Halloween!  I had a ninja and a ladybug—along with four of their pals and two big brothers of said pals, herding through our neighborhood, which goes crazy with the fog machines and mini-haunted houses and lit up pumpkins in every size and shape (saw two minions this year, so cute).  So my heart is really full and happy about that!!

Ok, I’ll start with the win—at least, I think of it as a win in that I figured out how to talk to DD1 about the bath/training bra issue.  I couldn’t write about it in my last post, because I was so worked up, had to mull it over in my brain on how to handle it in a way that put DD1 first and my feelings and the Ex's motivations, second.

So one night before dinner, DD1 was reading on the couch and I joined her for some pre-dinner snuggles.  We started talking about how at her dance class, she gets to change in the dressing room all by herself.  And how her privacy at dance is a right—not a question—and she agreed.  Except she likes to change with her BFF, and I said, that’s totally fine, because you want to, and because your BFF is a girl. 

I followed up with privacy being something she is entitled to—when changing at school, when changing at dance class, at mom’s house, or dad’s house.  She agreed with me, and then she started talking about her training bras, she said she wears them because at dad’s house, her t-shirts are too thin (DD1 has been conscious about her “upstairs” development for a while now), but at mom’s house, she doesn’t need them, because we have nice, thick t-shirts.  I responded that it’s her body and great if she wants wear her training bras, and I could pack thick t-shirts in the overnight bag if she wanted, and she said yes!  (p.s. I noticed she does wear her training bras every now and then lately, even with our thick t-shirts, so just letting her experiment and do what she wants with her training bras). 

So then I broached the topic of her bathing at dad's--if dad still helps her with her bath, and she said he only helps her turn on the water, then he leaves.  She said he used to wash her body, but she washes her own body now.  I told her that was great, because I knew she knew how to take her own shower, that she’s a big girl.  She then said that she always leaves the door open when she takes a shower at dad’s house, and I said, well, if you want to close the door it’s totally fine, because privacy isn’t a question, it’s your right.  Then we talked more about how girls’ bodies change (she’s read the American Girls The Care and Keeping of You from cover to cover), and that it’s okay to buy training bras with dad, but when other body changes come up, like periods and tampons, that’s a girl/mom thing to do.  She nodded thoughtfully.  I could see the wheels turning. 

At any rate, I took this as a win—in the sense that DD1 was confiding to me about her feelings and thoughts, that we talked about privacy, and ultimately, that she seems comfortable and okay.  I was relieved to hear about her dad backing off a bit on ‘bathing’ her, and we normalized the training bra issue.  /Parenting Win.

Parenting Lose:  this morning, both DD1 and DD2 were so fussy and rude and bratty about getting up, I totally lost my temper.  After 20 straight minutes of the whining and fussing, I finally got upset and told DD2 to change her clothes RIGHT NOW.  I told DD1 if she didn’t sit still, her pony tails would be ALL MESSED UP for her dance exam that evening (DD1 cried a little bit, :(  :(  :( ).  Then the dog decided to steal the comb we were using, and I yelled at the dog to DROP IT RIGHT NOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Sigh.  They stopped fussing and whining immediately.  The dog dropped the comb.  I said, so you guys are acting mean and fussy and now I’m yelling, so everyone is feeling bad, right now!  Rawr!!

I then finished DD1’s pony tails, perfectly, to DD1’s relief.  I opened the master bedroom door and roared at the hubby lying in bed (he gets up after us), YOU have to feed the dog, because WE have to leave NOW.  I checked the bedroom and DD2 was dressed.  We all went downstairs.  I let the girls give the dog a treat and put her outside, then we loaded up and left.  I of course forgot DD2’s homework, my water bottle, and so that entailed two returns from the carport, and two slams of the kitchen door.  (Kids were already in the car, so slamming was for my benefit). /Parenting LOSE.

Parenting Draw.  So…on the way to school, I told the girls that no one is perfect, and we have to try our best to be kind to each other, and not be mean.  DD2 piped up and said, well, daddy said it’s not okay to be mean to him, but it’s okay to be mean to mommy.

For once, DD1 didn’t pipe in right away to defend her dad.  Either her voice wasn’t working, or DD1 wasn’t disputing the truth of the statement.  I took a breath. 

I asked DD2, “are you sure he said that?”

And DD2 said, “yes!” in her confident, chipper voice.

So I said, “gosh, you know what girls, no matter what, I would never want you to be mean to your dad.”

There was silence as I made my way over the next few minutes down the road to DD2’s school.  When we got there, DD2 bounced out of the car, held my hand, and skipped into the school, giving me hugs all the way.  DD2 said, “I’m sorry I was mean to you,” and I said, “I’m sorry I was yelling this morning, too, Mommy loves you a whole lot.”  Off to school, my sweetheart, bouncing ladybug, so zen and in the moment, she has probably forgotten this crazy morning all together.

When I got back into the car to take DD1 to school, there wasn’t much talking, but DD1 has lost her voice due to her allergy coughing over the last few days.  She did ask me what to tell her teachers about her voice, and I said, well the doctor said your coughing is due to allergies, and the post nasal drip is dripping on your voicebox, but since you don’t have a fever, it’s okay to go to school.  When I dropped her off, she gave me a hug and a kiss on the lips, which is her way of telling me she loves me.  So I told her, “I love you honey,” and “I know you love me, even when you’re mad at me.”  She walked into school, I can’t tell if there was still a chip on her shoulder or not.

Later, I emailed DD1’s teachers about her allergy condition; I got a reply from one of them, thanking me for keeping them in the loop—and that DD1 was so cute, DD1 had told her the same thing!  My sweetheart, conscientious DD1.  So…/Parenting Draw.

I think I’ll call it a day. I need hugs.  And to do better next time.