Random Mumbling

Do you ever read posts on your favorite sites and instantly get annoyed? Do you read what people are saying and wonder if they are really doing what they say they are doing or going to do? Maybe I am getting older because I seem to be getting really annoyed a lot faster.

Facebook – I do love Facebook because I stay connected with my family and friends much easier with the site. However, today for example I read where someone is having some health issues. I read where people are saying, “were praying for you”, “adding you to our prayer wheel”, “keeping you in our thoughts and prayers“. Hmmm

I know some of the commenting people and I’m thinking, yeah right liars! Am I being too harsh? I just want to respond and ask if they are really praying. Or is your post meant to stick your name on the wall of the person that posted and asked for prayers. Why does this annoy me so much?

I read Joe’s comment where he said he is keeping our mutual friend in his prayers. I know Joe, I know that the only thing he prays about is if he will have enough money to buy his beer for the night. But do I really know that or do I just think I do? Hmm..

I remember approaching Joe and his lovely wife in November of 2011 and asking if they would like to join us for a small group. We wanted to create a circle of people who would be interested in having a light meal and a study on Bill Hybels Becoming A Contagious Christian book study. Joe had laughed at me and had said the only praying he does is when he takes his first swallow of beer and say’s, “Oh thank God”.

Perhaps Joe has had a change in his life and he really does pray now. Praying is done in many ways I know. Perhaps when Joe say’s he’s praying for her he really is saying he’ll keep her in his thoughts.

We all see or read things that could annoy or disturb us perhaps this post has done that to you. This is random I know and I’m probably mumbling a lot.

Do you ever read postings and wonder about the reader?

W.

 

Single Parents – A Tender Spot In My Heart

I just read a post Child Custody and Divorce in the blog About The Children LLC. A great blog with a plethora of information.

I never knew how hard single parenting was until I went through it myself. I looked and looked for a support group to help me cope and I could never find one. We did have a support group at our church; however, we both attended the same church and I felt uncomfortable sharing.

A divorce leads to unfamiliar territories with so many struggles. The division is not only with the children. The division is felt on so many levels. Now we have division of property, finances, choices, decisions, friends & emotions. It’s no longer two people making a life and living. It’s now one person making it all happen and trying to create a home. It’s tough to do on a single income. Feelings of inadequacy and depression can set in very quickly after a divorce.

There is a misconception that child support establishes visitation. There is no correlation between the two. This is something I heard first hand by my attorney. Of course this could have changed since 2001. I’ll go into my child support case in a different post. Child support while it’s granted by the courts is not a definite. Depending on the employment status of your ex you may or may not receive support. It’s best not to depend on it.

My snip it …

I counted on those support checks, it was the only way I was going to make a home for our family, at least that’s what I used to think. Those checks were going to be the only way we were going to have some resemblance of the life we used to have. My mistake was thinking that I was going to be able to live in the same life style I was accustomed to. The same life style my ex accustomed us to live in.  Not the case, in fact, we took a nose dive, a spiraling downward turn in a face down auger motion that wouldn’t stop till we hit rock bottom or what I would call rock bottom.

After two support checks, they stopped coming. He bounced around different jobs and didn’t have a steady income, so we in turn didn’t have a steady child support check.

It took the help of another single parent to help me, to give me a hand up, to make me realize that the only way I was going to make it was to depend on myself. Family is great, but sometimes family is the first to cast stones. I love my family they are great. But for many reasons I chose not to share details. I chose not to paint an ugly picture of him. Trust me, it’s very hard not to fall into that, “he is the worst man”, syndrome.

We received two support checks, just two. He no longer had a steady job or income. Through the next four years, I believe we received an additional couple of checks. I didn’t pursue it further. I was done fighting, I was done with so much negativity. I was just ready to move on. The situation got worse when the family found out I was not receiving support. Seriously, what’s a parent to do, what choice do we have? Sure, I could have gone to court again and asked for him to pay; but, he didn’t have a job. He had no way of providing for the girls.

Just because he couldn’t pay support didn’t mean he didn’t get to see the girls. I made sure he was informed of school functions, activities, and grades. I made sure he was told of anything relating to the girls. Visitation is a whole other page in our saga. Needless to say he stopped coming and the girls stopped wanting to go. I forced them as long as possible just like I force those phone calls. In the end it was his fail. He stopped calling, showing up, and showing interest. Again, I was done fighting, I was done trying, I was just done. So I stopped being the inviting one.

I have a tender spot in my heart for single parents. Ay no, unless you’ve been a single parent you don’t understand those struggles. You wouldn’t understand the hard choices we are forced to make to ensure our children are safe, protected, and fed. There is hope and there is help. The trick is knowing who to ask and knowing where to look. But, help there is.

Do you know a single parent? Did you know you can help with simple gestures? I loved my neighbors and friends. Esther for her constant plate of cookies, Sam & Danielle for showing me how to start my mower and mow. Tony for teaching me how to check the air in my tires and how to use the air machine at the gas station, for teaching me to check the oil and fluids in my car. Mary for her gift of my first tool box with the basic tools in them. Sarah, for my first set of jumper cables and teaching me how to use them.

I have a tender heart for single parents.

W.

 

 

Spanking In The Early Years

Ha! I know spanking is such a controversial subject. Some parents believe in spanking and other’s believe in alternative method’s of disciple. I’m not a healthcare professional or any kind of professional to know what the real detriments of child spanking really are. If any.

I am however a parent who believes in a regular beating. Did I just make your jaw drop? Just messing with you. I am a parent that believes in spankings. Not beatings mind you, but a good spanking. I tried not to use my hands because I am a strong woman and I was afraid of hurting the girls. But I did use Frank. Frank was the belt that hung on the inside of the guest closet. It was not to be touched by anyone but the person being punished. The girls knew when it was coming and when they had gone to far. Spanking was not a regular thing at our house but it did happen.

When I was younger I was a good kid to a point. I know I deserved all those spankings I got. Let’s be real here, my beautiful mother didn’t particularly use a belt or paddle, she’d use what ever was close to her. Spanking in the early years was different from what it is today. I don’t believe a child is allowed to be spanked now a days. If I remember correctly I was spanked with:

  • A belt
  • A wooden spoon
  • A flip-flop
  • A piece of water hose
  • A hanger
  • I had to pick my switch if one was not readily available

I remember sitting on the floor and scooting my bottom across the floor to rub the pain out from the belt whooping I had just gotten. I remember being 13 years old and getting into my grandpa’s liquor cabinet and having a good time with that. My mom happened to be walking in when I was gulping a can of Schlitz beer. Oops… when she asked me what the hell I thought I was doing, I calmly said drinking grandpa’s beer. She asked me to put it down and go home. She had used that dreadful low tone voice of hers. I knew I was in trouble. Just to make sure, I asked her if I was in trouble and if she was going to beat me. She said I would find out as soon as we got home. I knew that meant yes, so I finished the beer before walking out the door sideways. All the while mom was staring at me with this incredulous and murdering look on her face.

Yes, I deserved it. The same with when i was 8 and I wanted a pickle from the local dime store. Mom wouldn’t buy it for me so I threw a fit in the store and kicked a rack down that was displaying sun flower seeds. My mortified mother grabbed my arm and took me outside to my grandpa’s old Falcon car. I must have loved trouble when I was younger, that or it just followed me around.

Spankings in the old day’s sure were different. Did you ever get spanked? Do you have a vivid memory of a spanking and would you like to share?

W.

 

 

 

The Dreaded Phone Call

Image

Christmas time is a bit rough for all of us. The girls get sad and upset because they are away from the family festivities and they miss their sister and brother. Then I see them tear up and of course I tear up. My husband sees me tearing up and he get’s upset that I’m upset. Ugh – a viscous cycle. Emotions run high and deep in this family. You’d think I was going through menopause this past holiday season. Whew…

In our family, the worst part of the holiday is the dutiful phone call that must take place. I see it in their faces, one daughter enjoys calling her dad; but, tires so easily of his conversation that she ends within 5 minutes. The youngest daughter doesn’t really have a relationship with him and as she says, “mom you force me to call him”. Her face tightens up and she gets this wrinkle right above her brow line between her eyes. That’s the sign of stress I see in my little 12 year old.

It’s difficult to explain. I don’t force them to make that phone call because he asked or make them visit because the courts demand it. I force them because I don’t want them to live with regret when they get older. They are way too young to decide whether or not they will call or visit him. So, I choose for them.

Al, our 22 year old lives 45 minutes away from him. When she was younger until the age of 17 and graduated high school, she was also forced to visit and call her dad. As she got older it became quite clear that she had no respect for him. This past Christmas was the first year that she didn’t reach out to him. She hurt a little she said but she was ok. She says she knows how it is and what it will be. She’s accepted and made peace with it. The sad thing is that he didn’t reach out to her either. Such a sad and twisted way to be.

We currently live half way around the world and have installed Skype on each computer, text plus app’s on hand held devices, even have an iPhone so they can all iMessage each other. It’s a great setup and communication can easily be done. Wish it was utilized more.

For those of you in similar situations, do you force your kids to call the other parent? Do you force them to visit? What are your thoughts?

The squirrel photo has no relevance or significance in the story line; but, I liked it and decided to add it.

Part 1: Money – How we saved

It seems that money is key during any kind of celebration. Whether it’s the holiday’s or a birthday, there’s never enough money. We hear this more and more especially in single income families. I realize it’s hard, I’ve been there too. So I speak from experience. I’ve often said that money is the source of all evil and credit cards is the death of all.

The year is about to end and a fresh new 2013 will begin. Debt will not go away unless you make it go away. The next time you feel the need to say, “I don’t have enough money”, take inventory. Inventory your life, where are you and what can you do to get ahead? Use the resources around you. Live simpler, you’ll love it!

The following list is changes we did in 2008 that helped save money. It was hard and we fall off the wagon a time or two. We had to constantly remind ourselves where we were and where we wanted to go to stay on top of our finances.

  1. We started the envelope system suggested by Dave Ramsey
  2. Mike stopped chewing ($27 for a roll of 5 every 2 weeks = Approximately $700 in annual savings)
  3. We used the library instead of buying books, magazines, & newspapers
  4. We used the internet at the library instead of buying at home
  5. We borrowed movies from the library or used red box ($1.00 rentals) no more cable
  6. We stopped eating out and treated ourselves to once every 2 weeks – mostly pizza
  7. We used coupons, but only for the items we normally purchased
  8. Shopped the clearance and reduced item carts in the grocer
  9. We started a small garden (failed the first year)
  10. We didn’t have cell phones
  11. Purchased used cars instead of new ones
  12. Rode our bikes when ever possible
  13. Bargain shopped for clothes and frequented thrift shops
  14. Started charging for babysitting (the first couple of times it’s a favor after that it’s a habit)

For daily entertainment we utilized the public parks, bike paths, board games, card games, puzzle’s, visits with friends, etc.. Not every activity has to cost money. The park is a great way to spend time with the kids while letting them burn all that energy naturally. We had the space so we would have camp fires and the volley ball net up.

Or course this is not all-inclusive and there are so many more ways to save and while you’re at it, you live simpler and happier. We have!

W.

 

Holiday’s Can Be Chaos In A Blended Family

IMG_0814

Christmas decoration in the Xintandi Mall, Shanghai, China

Seems like every holiday, I do mean every holiday divorced children are pulled in a lot of different directions. Christmas time is the worst and the most dreaded. People they’ve not seen or hardly see are demanding their attention and presence at their home. People that don’t really keep in touch with ask they stop by for a second. That second becomes hours.

We are a blended family and as such there’s quite a challenge when it comes to holidays. At times the demands and stresses of having to be in so many places takes away from the fun. The holiday’s become a chore. The kids are robbed of being able to sit still in one place for the day or even half a day. Think about it, they have mom, dad, and grandparents on both sides. There’s also the elder relatives who can not or do not go out during the winter months (not much) and so they also look forward to a visit. Then they have the spouse family they must get together with. In my daughters case, her serious boyfriend is also from a blended family so he has the exact same situation as she does. Such a vicious cycle. That’s why I took a stand early on.

When my girls were much younger and soon after our separation I took a stand and put my foot down. We alternated say Christmas. On the 24th they were with one parent starting the 23rd and on the 24th in the evening through the 25th with another. Everyone else could have the girls on different days. But, I would only allow one house per day. For the most part everyone knew and understood what I was trying to do; however, there were and are those that don’t understand. Does it matter what they thought or think? Nope, not one bit, not to me at least.

Now that the kids are older, they chose what they want to do. I’m selfish though, I ask that they keep one day reserved for just me. One day where I know my children can wake up and start the festivities with their favorite breakfast and go to bed after a full day of family time. I should say that our oldest 3 have that choice the youngest two do not. This has worked out rather well.

As a divorced family it’s important that everyone work together for the sake of the children. I know I used to hear this all the time. That’s not always easy to do or the case. I personally took a stand after watching my children be torn apart by our first divorced Easter holiday. It was at that time that I decided, “No More”. I put my foot down from then on and I decided where they were going.

In a family such as ours, there is a court document that dictates certain times such as holiday’s, vacations, etc. In my case, I threw that document out the door. I am the parent. I decide what is best for my children. I never followed the courts visitation guide lines. If for example their dad had a special celebration planned where he required both the 24th and 25th of December with the girls, then I would stand back and take another time to celebrate. I never wanted to cheat the girls out of precious memories and times they could have. Decisions were made in private and away from listening ears. The girls were never involved in the decision-making.

Does that sound cruel? Does it sound like they never had a choice? They did have choices in some cases but major decisions were made for them by their parents. As it should be I would think. Now that they are older, they tell me they are glad that they never had to decide where to go and with who as it helped them not hurt anyone’s feelings.

Trust me, I was called every name in the book at first because I wouldn’t budge from my controlling ways. Communication was and is key, if you don’t plan ahead of time, then chaos becomes the normal and not the exception.

This holiday season we are in China. It’s the youngest two kids, my husband and I. While this holiday was lonely without the kids, it was also refreshing. There were no demands of any kind or decisions to make. I never quite realized to what extent the stress was during the holiday’s until this year. This year my biggest decision was what to put in their 3 boxes and what time to make the Skype call to their dad. That’s it!

The girls commented to me that this year was kind of fun, we played games, stayed in pajamas for half the day, had company, watched movies, and we never had to leave the house. Mercedes said that they missed seeing their dad but that this was the best Christmas ever because even grandma couldn’t get mad.

From the mouth of babes….

W.

 

If That Was My Kid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Yesterday I shared a brief story about my daughter and her not so great decision to shoplift. One of my greatest irritants is when I hear someone say, “if that was my kid I would”. You’d do what? Grrr.

I often wonder how people can say this. Does anyone seriously know what they will do in any given situation unless they are going through it themselves or have been through it? Family members that found out about Al were outraged that I had left her in the juvenile detention center. I was told how wrong I was and that I was being too damn harsh. Hmm.. I don’t regret it one bit. Oh, it was hard to leave her there. It was the hardest weekend of my life. But, taking her home to the comforts of home seemed like a reward regardless of all the privileges she lost as a punishment. Several times I would start to hear, “well if that was my kid”, me being who I am would quickly interrupt them immediately and ask, you’d do what? I don’t think anyone knows what they will do unless they have experienced a similar life experience. 

If you’r ever tempted to say, “if that was my kid”, stop yourself. You don’t know what you would do. If I had to do it over again the only thing I would change is that I would ask for community service to be completed in town and in a very public area. Yup, harsh but if your gonna do the crime your gonna do the time. Right? 

Image

I see you looking at me, judging, wondering what’s wrong with me. Stop, you don’t know what you would do. Yup, I’m talking to you.

W.