Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Project 365: Day 31 - Losing Control.....

Few things hurt more than the day you discover you no longer have control of every day of your children's lives. For most parents, this day comes when their kids reach some tweenage milestone and they're hanging out with their friends more than they're hanging out with you. Or when they get their driver's license and you're lucky to see them for a few minutes before they're off to school each morning. Or they fall in love for the first time and their whole world only revolves around the new found love of their lives, and no longer you.

But for a single parent, that day comes much sooner. We are faced with that realization the first time custody is handed off to the "other" parent. You've had them for your "share" of the time and now it's their turn. The first day is usually not the worst day. At that point, the children don't fully understand what's going on. To them, dad is taking them home and you'll be along shortly. It's not until probably the third or fourth hand off that they begin to realize, "Hey, wait a minute! The last time we did this I didn't see you for three whole days. What the hell!" And then it happens. The unbearable cry of a child being put in the back seat of daddy's car when they know mama's not sitting shot-gun.

You do your best to put on a strong face. You tell them that you'll see them soon and that they're going to have fun at daddy's. But nothing helps. They know the deal. They're starting to understand the new dynamics of their family and they don't like it one bit. You stand there, in your driveway, and you watch them pull away slowly. It might not really be slowly, but to you the car creeps backwards into the street as slow as the sunrise. Ten seconds turns into an eternity as you still hear them crying in the back seat. And then suddenly, eternity is gone in a flash. The car is no longer in your sight. And yet you still stand there frozen.... thinking, no wishing maybe they forgot something and they'll have to turn around and come back. After about fifteen minutes you realize they're not coming back and you won't see them again until Tuesday. As you walk back through the door of your now empty and quiet home, the strong face you previously had plastered to your head suddenly looses all feeling and sinks to the ground. And you break down.

That is how the realization of no longer having control of my children happened for me the first time. I say first time because a second, more painful event took place that burned this realization into my mind, my heart and my soul.

I had been in the new house for about three months when I got the call. Their dad was on the other line and the sound of the first syllable out of his mouth sent me into a panic mode that I can now only describe as blinding numbness. Big E had gone missing. His dad couldn't find him any where. Apparently the entire neighborhood was out looking for him. You see, that is one thing I truly miss about where I used to live. You could depend on every single neighbor in our community. And that day they became part of our family.

The boys had been out side with their dad and several neighbors and their kids. They were all playing in the backyard, going in and out of the house, riding their big wheels and bicycles, playing with bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Parents were gathered together in the usual spot on the side yard, talking about getting their kids into the right school or that "bad" corner down the street. You see, I know this was happening because it was a scene that we played for years in that neighborhood. But this scene ended much different than all those in years previous.

Their dad called for Big E and he didn't answer. Well, maybe he had gone inside. So dad went in the house, called for him time and time again. No answer. Fifteen minutes had gone by and the other neighbors started calling out for Big E, too. Twenty minutes gone now, still no answer. The dad running in and out of the house frantically calling out to his son and painfully hearing no reply. A call to 911 was placed. Police converged quickly. More neighbors were gathering. Dad tried to remain calm, but was slowly losing it, fearing that Big E had walked to the front of the house and someone grabbed him from the front yard. That fear worsened the minute he heard the officer call into his walkie talkie thingie on his shoulder and said "we need a bus and dogs at 428 ........". He lost it. Remnants of that fear still pierced his voice when he called me. But by then, his voice spoke in fear because of the experience he just endured. Because by the time the call was made to me, Big E had been located by a neighbor. He was hiding under the chaise lounge in the sun room. He heard his daddy calling him, but he was hiding, and at four, you're not supposed to give your hiding place away.

So now, Dad's fear transferred to me, but by the time it made it's way through the phone lines, it was no longer fear. It became anger. Deep, blood red anger. I wasn't angry at him because Big E hid from him. I was angry at him because he was there when it was happening and I was here, 45 minutes away. And he put me here, because he didn't want to be married anymore.

So that was the second time I realized that I no longer had control over each day of my children's lives. This second time was much harder to swallow but took less time to sink in. This was our life now. He would always be there and I would always be here. And our children would always be in between. While this dramatic and frightful event made it perfectly clear that custody of control was now part of the deal, acceptance of this is taking a little bit longer. But I'm working on it. Separation will be a continuous work in progress, but at least today I'm in better shape than I was yesterday and tomorrow, well..... I'll let you know tomorrow.

One thing I do know....... Tweenage milestones, Driver's licenses and falling in love will be a cake walk for me.

31 of 365: Tonight I have control and we're being silly in big pants.....

Good Night All!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Project 365: Day 30 - Sunshine....

I must say, I am quite proud of myself. Today marks 30 straight days that I have actually kept this up. To be perfectly honest with you, I figured I would falter somewhere around day 17, with some lame excuse. My day was exhausting and I simply passed out before getting around to it. Or, my laptop crashed, along with my desktop computer at home, along with my work computer, along with my IPhone. Or, the lamest of all, I simply forgot. How the hell can you "forget" a year long commitment you made to yourself (and the 10 other people that may or may not read this?) I could have used any one of those excuses, but I relentlessly declined. Even if it meant posting something at 1:30 am (and believe me, I LIKE my sleep.)

So today marks 30 days of journaling various scenes from my life. So far, it has been a great tool for memorizing the things that I actually would like to look back on a year from now and say "wow, I've come a long way." I think of it as my electronic portal of growth. A digitized chronicle of where I was and where I plan on going. I enjoy looking back on my life and seeing what kind of person I was a month ago, a year ago, five years ago. As long as I've made progressive steps forward, then I know I'm doing something right. If I were to look back a year ago and discover that I was the same exact person I am today, no better, no worse, then what did I accomplish?

You can't live life standing still. Life will begin to grow around you and your feet will begin to take root and the ivy will start to wrap it's vines around your legs, immobilizing you. You will stand there watching life take place all around you, without you, forgetting you, leaving you behind. That is, if you decide to stand still.

I was never one that could stand in one place for too long. I look back on my life a year ago and a great deal has changed. More than I would have ever imagined on this day 365 days ago. As a matter of fact, this time last year, I was planning a weekend birthday trip. Alone. I knew that some serious decisions had to be made and I knew that the only way for me to focus on doing what was best for my boys, was to drive to the mountains, sit on the back porch of a cheap hotel, drinking even cheaper coffee, reading books, looking out into vast woods of luscious green and sit there.... alone, with nothing but my thoughts. Besides the few phone calls I made to my boys and to my mom, there I sat, in silence for two and a half days. A lot of good came from that trip. Minus the enormous amount of junk food I inhaled, because it was my birthday and I could do whatever the hell I wanted.

So here I am, a year ago, with my peanut in my lap and the sun on my back. Shining a light for my year to come. For better or for worse, and like my tattoo, the sun's always got my back.

30 of 365: Looking back; moving forward.

Good Night All!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Project 365: Day 29 - Band Aids......

Sometimes single parents over compensate to make up for the fact that their time spent with their children has been forcefully reduced. We take them to McDonald's too often, we buy them toys and surprises more than usual, we shower them with gargantuan amounts of affection (my personal favorite). All in an effort to cover up a situation that may be difficult for them to fully understand, the broken-family band aid, I like to call it. If we place this band aid just so, then maybe they won't notice the separation as much.

But they notice. I knew a long time ago that my husband and I would separate. I put it off as long as I possibly could. But we weren't getting any younger. And the kids certainly were not either. I'm glad that I made the decision to leave when I did. The boys were a little over four years old. They would understand to a certain degree, but if we did it while they were still young, then maybe the event wouldn't affect them as much as it would if they were, say, 6 or 8 or 10. It was the right decision. It's true what they, "kids are resilient." And they are.

They understood far quicker than I ever thought they would. They were referring to their "two homes" even before I was. They knew "mama's house" and "daddy's house" and they knew it would never be one home again. But they were ok with it. It was so much harder on me than it ever was on them. It still is.

BUT every now and then one of the boys will display an emotional outburst, a public showing of distress the separation has created. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it breaks my heart into a million pieces so small, that I'm certain once I put it back together several pieces are still missing. Never to be found again. And when this happens, I almost feel as if I've spoken too soon. "Ah, my boys are doing great." "They're adjusting very well." "They are young enough to adapt easily." So, what I've learned is..... that it doesn't matter when you do it. It affects them at every age. Hell, there are things that my birth mother did to me at age 1 that I truly believe shaped parts of my personality today.

So even though my argument for separating sooner rather than later has taken an about face, my final objective will always remain the same: to love my boys with all my heart and help them to understand that everything I do, everything I am, everything that is me, is because of and belongs to them.

Sometimes the band aids are more for me than they are for them.

29 of 365: Smiles and blue skies need no band aids....

Good Night All!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Project 365: Day 28 - Rescue..

After eight long months alone, Tready has finally been rescued from it's dark lonely home in the basement. She has been placed in her new permanent residence thanks to the boys' daddy and Mr. G. Thanks guys!!

28 of 365 - Ahhhh......Home sweet home.

Good Night All!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Project 365: Day 27 - Lesser of Two Evils.....

It is amazing how quickly the addition to video games forms in a young child. Six months ago, my boys had no clue about them. Then in the blink of eye, they are masters at XBox, Playstation and Wii. Not to mention various handheld devices they have been able to play with from time to time, courtesy their cousins. And no, I don't have all three of those consoles. When you are a child who possesses two homes, you tend to have a larger variety of, well, everything. And then throw a third home into the mix via Mimi and PawPaw, and these kids have more coming from a broken home than most kids do in a fully united family unit. One of the perks, I guess.

So, the video game thing has really surprised me. I knew that kids became addicted easily, but this is quite ridiculous. Their dad and I work really hard on putting limits on game time. And being a single parent, it can be really easy to let "game time" occupy the kids while you get some much needed chores accomplished. I will not lie and say that I haven't ever done it. I try my hardest, though, not to. But when I do, and I'm not saying I do often, but when I do, then I try not to beat myself up about it. There are too many other things, much bigger things, that I could beat myself up about. And this is not one of them.

So now a new realm of gaming has made it's way into our lives. Albeit my fault, but still. I found this great website called "Jump Start" and if you're a parent, more than likely you've heard of it. I hate that I've introduced my kids to yet another electronic brainwashing device, but this one is educational! And therein lies my justification. If it's educational then it has to be ok, right?

This site is great, though. It's a 3D interactive preschool lesson with dragons, pirates and anything else that lures a child into wanting to learn. They love it and I love the actual lessons the game tricks the kids into learning. Win win!

So if I had to choose between Legos Star Wars (and they have this in the XBox, Playstation AND Wii versions-dear lord) and Jump Start on the computer, well then I would have to choose the lesser of the two anti-physical activity evils. I would have to go with the game with the ulterior motives, Jump Start. Working your brain burns calories, right? So they're not becoming total slobs yet......

27 of 365: Classtime! And they thought they were playing, ha!

Good Night All!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Project 365: Day 26 - Better than air guitar....

Big E said that he was going to work with me tomorrow. I asked him what he was going to do there and he said "make money, mama." And I asked, "how are you going to make money?" Loved his reply, "I'm going paint it and then cut it into rectangles." Wow. If only it were that easy.

26 of 365: I know I already put one shot of Peanut in these pjs, but seriously? How cute is it that he's rocking out on the guitar on front??

Good Night All! I'm gonna go cut some money now.......

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Project 365: Day 25 - Remember When?.....

I have a bad memory. I always have a hard time remembering someone's face. I'm bad at remembering names almost all of the time. I sometimes can't recall if I've seen a movie before. Minor everyday responsibilities often escape me. But nothing boggles my mind more than when I try to think back before kids. I know I lived before then, so there has to be something that happened. I was 32 when they were born, there was definitely life before 32. The question is, who's? And was it any good?

I guess to ask myself if my life was any good before 32 would kind of be an insult to those who were a part of my life before 32. I know that my life was good, great even. I have an amazing family. One that you might not claim as your own in front of a crowd, but behind closed doors, they're your closest allies because you realize you're crazy just like them. I love my crazy amazing family. And my dearest friends from long ago have remained that way to this day. Some have made it past the 15 year mark and one has been precious enough to stand by me for over 27 years.

And while I couldn't imagine my life without all these amazing crazy precious people, at the same time, it is hard for me to remember specific events or interactions I had with them over those 32 years. I barely remember high school. If you add together all 6 years I attended college, I probably remember a combined total of 9 solid days. And I promise you, forgetting was not caused by anything you may be imagining. Hell, if I had done any of those things you are imagining, I might have something to remember.

But it's funny. I know I have a hard time recollecting childhood memories, but I know my childhood was good. I couldn't tell you the names of any of my high school teachers, but they did something right because I graduated with great grades. And I have no idea what kind of elective classes I took in college, but I earned a degree in sociology and they don't just give those things out to anybody.

I don't want the next 20 years of my boys' lives to go by and I'm writing about how I barely remember most of their childhood. I want to soak in as much as I can and maintain a memory database of all things "them" for easy retrieval when I need them most. I cannot allow myself to let their lives flash before me and then slip away into some memory graveyard like I have my own childhood. Digging becomes much harder once they're buried.

The point of all this is that I'm totally excited about this project. It gives me a chance to spend a whole year journaling every single day and commemorating it with a photo. Maybe that photo will help me remember how I felt more than the words I wrote.

25 of 365: Amazing night of giggle wrestling, hiccup laughter, goofy pictures, and silly videos with my favorite men.

Good Night All!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Project 365: Day 24 - Fleeting chores....

I want to be one of those moms that gets more done in a day than should be humanly possible. Even though I'm a single parent with a full time job, I still feel like there are moms out there that seem so much more productive than I am. I read the blogs of other moms, some single some not, that manage to finish eight hours of work, pick the kids up from school, after having a conference with the teacher, stop by the grocery store on the way home, cook a well balanced dinner that didn't entail dumping frozen nuggets onto a cookie sheet, clear out the dinner mess, get all kids bathed and in bed, and then have time to craft a well written entry detailing how the hell they were able to get all that done in one day. I'm exhausted just typing that.

Maybe I am that productive and I just can't see it from where I stand. On my days blessed with my children's presence, I think about all the things I want (actually need) to accomplish while the boys are with their dad. And when they are with their dad, I am lazy, spending the whole time thinking about everything I want to do with them when they come back home. And all those needed "accomplishments"? They are but fleeting thoughts of less important matters.

So the reading more books, working on photo projects, updating the ITunes, rearranging my closet, vacuuming my car, cleaning the bathrooms (which most definitely MUST be done this weekend), they all get a back seat to the blissful thoughts of two precious beings. Those boys get shot-gun every time.

24 or 365: I actually did play around with a new app tonight (since I am boy-less). but that was ALL I did.

Good Night All!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Project 365: Day 23 - Tomorrow....

Well, much like the lonely tread mill that still sits in darkness in my basement, my pilates equipment has also found a sad resting place in a dark corner of my bedroom. Why does my excitement fade within a few weeks of a new found "ways to make me better" idea?? I don't know. I'll think about that tomorrow.

34 of 365: I'm coming to rescue you dear pilates equipment. Just after I finish this pudding cup and one more episode of Project Runway. I promise.....

Good Night All!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Project 365: Day 22 - A Different Time....

It was exactly four years ago this weekend that my marriage fell apart. Of course, many tell tell things happened prior to this specific weekend, and many, many changes took place in the weeks, months and years following this specific weekend. But it was exactly four years ago that I knew our marriage would most likely not survive.

I think back to that time and how I tried to figure out what it was I had to do to save it. I also think back to that time, which was just a couple of months prior to the boys' first birthday, and I knew I couldn't deal with it right then. I had a party to plan for goodness sake. I wasn't about to let my personal problems ruin the most significant day of my boys' lives since their birth. But painting the "face" was tough.

This picture perfect family was boiling under the surface yet the image was cool as a cucumber. I remember how our friends and family responded in complete shock as I turned to them for guidance and support. I remember watching those same friends and family, wondering "Are they really as happy as they look? Are they going through anything similar to what we are? Can we ever get back to what they appear to have?" I remember having no answers to their questions as to what happened. Because I honestly didn't know. There are parts of me today that still ponder in the bewilderment of our separation. But that is not the point of this entry.

Today I think back four years ago and how everything I envisioned in our future simply faded into some unknown oblivion. You know how you have this image of yourselves when you're older and your kids are in their teens and then their 20's, 30's, etc? You see yourselves watching them become adults together, sending them off to college together, witnessing them as they make their own families, together. You think about the family trips you'll take together and next house you'll buy together, one with the large backyard, where the boys can play, and maybe once you saved up enough money, you'd put in a pool. You think about grocery shopping together and how you will eternally be debating the benefits between regular milk and soy milk. You think about the trips you'll take together once the kids are off to school and how you'll explore different countries together because you want to teach your kids that the experience of travel is so important.

But not once do you think about doing any of this alone. And four years ago, all of my images of our future together started to blur and eventually fade, until there was nothing but void. After years of building up my imaginary future into this beautiful collage, watching it slip away from my grip was painful. It was as if the current was pulling it away and no matter how hard I swam towards it, the distance grew more and more. I had no control of it. And losing control was not something I was thinking about four years ago.

I post this photo tonight from my archives. It is one of naive oblivion, before the future started fading away. A time when I thought we were ok.

22 of 265: A different time.........

Good night All!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Project 365: Day 21: Winner! part two...

So my sister is the winner of all things music, more specifically, concerts. Never in my life have I met anyone with a shinier golden touch than her. It is unbelievable. Almost to the point that anytime she wins concert tickets from calling into the radio or filling out some raffle at some community event, the response she gets from everyone is less than she expects. Of course, we all want to be excited for her, but on her 73rd win, the excitement simply becomes a dull hum. I think she has learned to accept the less than stellar response. I think once she wins the mega jackpot lottery, then all our tunes will change!

Of course, anytime she wins, I win too! Because I'm usually the lucky individual that gets to accompany her on these free entertainment vouchers. This year, I've seen New Kids on the Block (I don't want to hear it, it was actually quite entertaining), Rascal Flatts (and I don't even like country music), and tonight's treat..... Maroon 5. Now that was a concert I truly enjoyed! Adam Levine is just too damn sexy for words.

The concert was great. And here is what I promised. My first entry of myself in my blog.

21 of 365: me (left) and my little sister (right).

Good Morning Everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Project 365: Day 20 - Good Stuff....

Footie Jammies are the best!!

20 of 365: My little rock star.....

Good Night All!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Project 365: Day 18 and 19- Tolerable.......

(So profound, it deserves two days)
About six months ago, I made a commitment that anytime my boys said anything funny, without the intention of being funny, I would have to write it down. I wish I had made this commitment the day they start talking. I really could have documented some side splitting material. But since I waited until just six months ago, many of the best moments have come and gone and I don't have a lick of memory to account for it. But that's ok. I live my life knowing that the best is yet to come.

But from the things I have written down or the ones I miraculously pulled from my cob-webbed memory vault, I have an endless supply of laughter inducing remedy to cure any blue day. My children put a smile on my face that could not be generated through any other means. They create warmth in my heart that the strongest fire could not match. And they say and do the most amazing things that continue to make me look upon them in awe and wonder how I ever lived before them.

Today's entry into the "my kids say the darnedest things" journal comes from Peanut. I am surprised that I don't have eighteen million entries from that child alone. He talks with the determination of an auctioneer, fearful that his time will be up before he gets to the best parts of his story and possessing more verbal energy than any other human being I've ever met. I often have to tell him to slow down and breath so that he doesn't pass out from lack of oxygen.

So back to the point of my story. We go to get haircuts today, each of them sitting proudly in the salon chair, being worked on simultaneously while I try to maintain a conversation with both of them at the same time. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds. One mis-timed "yes honey" or "I know" or "mmmm hmmm", then you might have just agreed to ice cream for dinner. But I usually maintain the dueling conversations with ease. However, today's conversation with Peanut caught me off guard. And he wasn't even actually talking to me as much as he was talking to the hair stylist.

I overheard her ask him about being a twin. And then she said "I wish I had a twin sister." Peanut looked up at her and with no hesitation whatsoever he replied, "well, if you want a twin, you have to be tolerable." She and I both stopped all movement and looked at each other, frozen. She had this confused look on her face and I know we were both thinking the same thing. "What did he say?" So I asked him and he replied, "to have a twin, you have to be tolerable." I'm not sure if I was as impressed that he used such a big word or that he knew how to use it as I was his profound interpretation of twin-hood, as unintentional as it may have been.

Who taught him such a large and complex word? And once he learned what it meant, how long did it take him to analyze the delicate relationship he has with his twin brother? I do not think he's ever said anything that made me think more than he did today.

18 or 365: Pulled from my vault of all-time favorite "brothers" pictures.....

Good Night All!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Project 365: Day 17 - Ahhhh......

Much better. After one miserable night of sticky sweaty sleep (and not the good kind), we have finally cooled this house down. I am learning that sometimes the hands have to go up and wave that white flag. My dependency on the soon to be ex has decreased significantly over the last six months, but there are sometimes (at least for now) that I know I will have to call on him to rescue us.

I'm ok with that. And not having that everyday person I can depend on will continue to take some getting used to. But for now, I know that I am usually enough.

17 of 365: Air......

Good Night All!

Project 365: Day 16 - I need a handyman.....

There are many benefits to having a man in the house, besides the obvious. About a month after I moved into my new place I found myself struggling with something that I was embarrassed to admit I needed a man for. It was quite a pickle I was in. I could not open the pasta sauce jar. Pretty sad, I know. But that was just one of those stupid trivial things I didn't think about. How the hell am I going to be able to open pasta jars? Who was going to get rid of the creepy spider in the corner of the room? Who was going to change the water filter in the refrigerator? How will I even know when it's time?

I was sad from my loss of companionship. I was heartbroken from my loss of love. However, I am now just extremely frustrated from my loss of an extra set of hands around the house, stronger hands. But I'm a big girl, right? I can kill the spider. I can buy one of those rubber jar opener thingys. I can find the light in the fridge that tells me when its time. Right? Of course. But come to the rescue when the AC goes out?????? I think not.

16 of 365: Damn it's hot!.....

Good Night All!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Project 365: Day 15 - Home......

Despite the occasional phone throwing, foot stomping, "I hate you" bombs my parents endured when I was a teenager, we have always remained a tight knit family. I come from a fairly dysfunctional southern family, west of Atlanta where dysfunctional and southern usually go hand in hand. Although some would like to call it crazy and redneck. I prefer dysfunctional and southern. It makes it sound a bit more "proper". And in the south, it's all about being proper, or at least trying to "claim" proper in some way.

I truly love my family, my very large family, including about 186 cousins. It's funny how in the south, anytime you talk about your family, a cousin always has to make it into the story somehow. And for my family, that's not very difficult. And in this town, growing up, there was always two degrees of separation between you and everyone else in the county.

But still, I love where I grew up, even if I did run like hell when I was old enough to get away from that town. You spend your teenage years wishing you could be anywhere but where you grew up. You just knew that there was real life "out there" somewhere, bubbling with energy and vibrating with amazement. You knew that as soon as you were old enough, you were releasing the grip this old town had on you, closing your eyes and letting the city pull you in like a powerful magnet. You would dream of finding a studio apartment you could share with a complete stranger you met by tearing a piece of fringe from a homemade roommate wanted sign. You would become the best of friends and explore this new vibrant city together taking it by storm. Weathering it with ignorant confidence and naive drunkenness.

At least that's how you would imagine it at the age of 17, when you're tired of high school boys, you're itching so badly for something new in your life that you're skin's becoming raw, and you and your mom fight like teenage sisters sharing a room. I tend to make colorful the stories that would seem rather dull if told by someone else, but in this case, the color is true and bold. I experienced my teenage years with wonderful parents. I know that now. But try to tell me at 15, 16, 17 and I'd look at you like you just swallowed poop and enjoyed it. Yeah, that's how crazy I'd think you were. But being a parent makes everything I did or every way I behaved as a teenager seem so comical now. And I image that's exactly how my mom felt too when she looked at her young children and remembered back when she was a teenager. (and if I'm wrong, I'm sure she'll tell me tomorrow after she reads this)

But alas, even after all the anger, the embarrassment, the wanting to run away as fast as I could, I wouldn't trade going back home for a weekend visit for all the cities in the world. There is no where else in the universe that I could feel as comfortable and as safe as I do when I'm back home.

Thanks for enduring me this weekend, mom and dad.

15 of 365: has nothing to do with my post, but it WAS taken at my parent's house (so it counts)..

Good Night All!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Project 365: Day 14 - Happiness Is.......

Need I say more..........

14 of 365:

Good Night All!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Project 365: Day 13 - Passing....

So I went to a funeral today. Well, it was more of a memorial service, because he was cremated. It was a beautiful service. His children got up and said some very sweet words for their father. One son even wrote a song and played guitar. It was beautiful.

Funerals are interesting to me. No one really knows how to act and you leave there feeling guilty for having smiled at the other guests and saying words like "It was good to see you." How can it be good? The situation for which you are "running into each other" is certainly not a pleasant one. But really, what do you say?

People always try to come up with fond memories of the dearly departed and most are successful. It make me honestly wonder what people will be saying about me. "She was a sweet girl." "Remember that time........" I can only imagine how they will end that statement. And I can only imagine how much of it will be embellished or even completely made up. but the others will nod and agree and claim they remember it too.

I guess that is fine. As long as it paints a somewhat positive light on my life. And as long as they wait until they get home to talk about anything that may conflict with the self-righteous image I try to paint of myself.

So today was about the passing of time, the years that have gone by in the blink of an eye and trying to piece together the memories I have of a person I barely knew.

13 of 365: RIP Ross.
Good Night All!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Project 365: Day 12 - Faces again......

My kids love faces.....

12 of 365:

Good Night All!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Project 365: Day 11 - Zen-like.....

Every couple of weeks I like to treat the boys to McDonald's. They love the anticipation of finding out what toy they are getting. They get to release some final energy of the day on the playground. The playground is indoors, which is perfect for Atlanta's 100 degree weather. AND it saves mama from having to cook. Win win!

So tonight the boys were extra excited when we pulled into the parking lot as a surprise. Normally I use McDonald's as my "bribery" to ensure they have a good day at school. But not today. This was pure unadulterated whim.

And everything was going just fine when all of a sudden I look over and in a split second, Peanut is biting into Big E. You swear you think you're past a phase and then it rears it's ugly head in the middle of the McDonald's playground. So that was it! We packed up everything and cut our playtime short. They were both devastated of course. And I tried my best not to give them that "look" that burns itself into every child's memory. But I'm afraid it slipped out.

So on the way home, I look in the rearview mirror and notice Peanut doing something very peculiar. He has filled his cheeks up with air and then very ungracefully spits all the air out. And by that I mean his exhale is accompanied by more spit than air, but his intent is there. I ask him what he is doing and his reply?

"That's how I get rid of my bad energy, mama." Now imagine that in a four year old accent with a slight lisp. I was utterly inspired. I am all about taking a deep breath and releasing whatever negative force is building up inside. But my four year old??! I don't believe I ever taught him that and it's probably something he learned in karate. But who cares? How very zen of him. And it makes him look cool too.

11 of 365: Peanut......

Good Night All!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Project 365: Day 10 - Faces.....

I love faces.

10 of 365

Good Night All!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Project 365: Day 9 - Silver Linings.....

There is a great deal of sadness and despair traveling through our country these days. A war with no end in sight, a tanking economy that we thought was at rock bottom but somehow manages to dig just a little deeper everyday, unimaginable health issues that may or may not benefit from any kind of healthcare reform. It is simply far too difficult to keep up with all the less-than-cheerful events rocketing through our nation and the world. So we focus on our own rock bottoms.

I do my best to put a positive spin on all things in my life. I am not always successful. But my attempts are always worth something. And I am proud of those attempts. I am equally as proud and even more in awe when I see people around me put their own silver lining around the toughest parts of their lives. I watch what the most important people in my life go through and I feel completely helpless. My own rock bottoms prevent me from keeping them away from theirs. But it does not stop me from trying. However, even the most sincere efforts do not measure up to the success of personal attitude.

For as long as I can remember I have had this mantra "our reactions define who we are." How we react to events in our lives becomes the fiber of our make-up, our personality. It has always been important to me to figure out the best outcome from a various array of simple reactions when something unexpected happens to me. When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I could have reacted in a multitude of ways: fear from the complete unknown, anxiety from the financial aspect of it, worry from the thoughts of "I've not even tested out being a mom to one, how the hell am I going to be a good mom to two". Instead I chose the thrill of adventure. What possible good would it have done to harbor any of those other feelings which would have led me to varying degrees of negative reactions?

When I finally accepted that I would become a single mom, once again I was faced with avenues of behavior to choose from. Too many roads leading to areas unknown and they all scared me. There were many times I wanted to fight, many times I wanted to kick and scream, many times I wanted to curl up and disappear. And while any one of those may have served their immediate purpose, after about 15 minutes, the glory would be over. And who would I have help? Me? Him? My boys? None of the above.

I took a step back and looked at how my life would be if I chose that road to the left, you know, the one where hated resides and anger is his neighbor and the mayor is blame (and no "the left" is not a political reference). If I take that road, who will I be a month from now, six months from now, six years from now? And more importantly, who will my children think I am? Will they see someone strong or someone broken? Will they look at mama as strength or instability? After peering down that road for about 2 minutes, I knew it was not my path.

When I was faced with sadness and despair and a choice to either control it or let it control me, it was a no-brainer. I briefly took into consideration the option of resenting my soon to be ex husband, but I chose the option of remaining friends with the father of my children. It has most definitely been a less stressful option and I am happy with the prospect that my children will see me in a more positive light through all this.

Reacting with a silver lining is the path I take and I see it being taken more and more everyday by the people around me. We should all have our silver linings. I know I have two.....

9 of 365:

Good Night All!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Project 365: Day 8 - Excitement in many forms.....

I believe we would all agree that excitement comes in many forms. Jumping up and down. Letting out a high-pitched squeal (which could be awkward if you're a guy). Cart wheels down a long hallway. My excitement comes out through an uncontrollable smile. One that just won't seem to go away no matter how hard I try.

I love to watch people getting excited about things. It shows passion. It shows heart. It shows a level of feeling that you're not afraid to let shine, regardless of how ridiculous you may look. The ridiculousness is the best part. Because it shows that you are able to let go and just feel. Isn't that what life is all about anyway?

I love watching my boys get excited most of all. It's usually the result of getting a new toy or moving to a new challenge on a video game or pulling into the White Water Park parking lot. By my favorite form of their excitement comes when they are trying to tell me a story and they are so passionate about it that their words move faster than their mouths. And they get tongue tied and flustered, but when they finally make it to the end, they finish with a proud and resounding "And that's what REALLY happened!" Just awesome.

But today I witnessed a rare form of excitement. One that comes when you least expect it. It totally sneaks up and you and takes you by surprise. Today was the first day of Pre-K.

8 (a, b, and c) of 365: Can't you just feel the excitement oozing from their tiny little pores???......

Good Night All!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Project 365: Day 7 - Highs and Lows....

I will talk a lot about being a single parent..... A LOT. So if you don't want to hear about it, then maybe this isn't the blog you should be following. But for many of you out there, or rather many of us out there, we look to the struggles of others in our same situations as verification that we are not alone. A type of solidarity among like individuals if you will. I read about the experiences of other single parents and I become increasingly thankful that my separation and impending divorce is not as tragic as others. It does not make it any less painful but luckily for me, the pain subsided a while back. It does, however, remind me that there are millions of us out there seeking advice, encouragement, and lessons learned from our all too large "club."

At this stage of my looming divorce, I do not feel like I have earned the privilege to call myself one of your most educated peers, but if anyone can look at my experiences and learn anything from them, it is that you have to take the good with the bad. You can't go back and erase what has happened, you can't go back and make that other person miraculously change their mind (although I would be lying if I said I didn't try), and you certainly can't take back any terrible things that were said or done in the heat of whatever moment. But what you CAN do is take stock of your life as it is now. Push past the pain, the hurt, the loneliness, the anger, the resentment, the regret. Force it out of the way as if you were using a machete to clear away the thick brush of hell that has become your divorce. It will take as much fight to chop down this wall as it did to build it in the first place. But once the layers start falling and you can see that tiny little speck of light trying to push through, I'm convinced that's when it will become easier. I know what you're thinking "easier said than done." But I do not talk about things that I myself do not live by. I struggle with my wall everyday, but I can tell you one thing...... that tiny speck of light is growing more and more each day.

Now, for those folks that may browse through my blog, but you are not going through what we in the "divorce sucks and single parenting kicks ass, literally" club are going through, first off let me say bravo! I envy you and pray that you never have to. Otherwise yours may become another blog that I follow. But for the intact families out there, I hope you will remember us single parents regardless of what side of the war line you were on before the first "charge" sounded on the battlefield. All too often, when families are split, friends and extended families split too. It's not just a separation of husband and wife, it becomes a separation of whole communities. People feel obligated to to remain loyal to one side or another. And that hurts more than it helps in some cases. So, if at all possible, remember us.

Now for today's photo. I go through my highs and lows and I face them with equal anxiety. My highs are seeing my babies, but knowing that my time with them is cut off two to three days a week, therein lies my anxiety. My lows are those two or three days a week and therein lies my anxiety. BUT I am learning to take my good with my bad and make the best of every day whether it be with them or without them. I cannot spend my alone days wallowing in my alone-ness. I have to live as much without them as I do with them. Although life is so much more fullfilling when they are with me.

So today was a non-wallowing, live alone, make the best of it day. And as you can tell from my photo, (toys put away with care, game remotes tuck away in their designated spots, the absence of food crumbs on the table) I finally cleaned my dirty house.

7 of 365: Highs and Lows.....

Good night All!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Project 365: Day 6 - Joy....

Do you remember when you were a little kid and the only thing that matter was enjoying life? You searched out fun and happiness anywhere you could find it. You created whole worlds in your mind that only little kids could travel to. Not too much else mattered. Sleep, eat and fun and definitely not in that order.

It's a true shame that as we get older, that fades with every passing year. We forget how it feels to completely let go of all our insecurities, to open our imaginations to possibilities unknown, to spread our arms out as wide as they can go and simply spin. I honestly feel like that's why God put children on this earth. To remind of us of all the most important things: love, joy, happiness and fullfilment.

We grow up and we get consumed by all the wrong things, stress, fear, shame, loneliness, just to name a few. I thank God everyday that he gave me my children to replace these things with the things they feel so naturally. It takes no effort on their part. They know nothing other than doing the things that make them happy. But we, as adults, are burdened by our own life experiences. And naturally feeling the good in life no longer becomes part of our make-up. We have to work at it, struggle sometimes, in order to regain even a fraction of what a child's entire being is about.

My children have allowed me to struggle less and less with this. I sit back and watch the two of them live and love. I experience joy through them and everything else doesn't matter any more. It does not matter that I don't have the love of someone I once did. It does not matter that I have to worry about having enough money to pay for everything on my own now. It does not matter that my house hasn't been cleaned in three weeks. All that matters is spreading my arms out as wide as they can go and spinning.

Thank you boys for replacing all my bad with all your good.

6 of 365: Joy and Happiness............

Good night all!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Project 365: Day 5 - Tready.........

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this sad, lonely treadmill I have sitting in my basement. Well, I actually haven't been able to stop thinking about the sad, growing rear-end that's been following me around for I don't know how long.

You see, in a previous life, I was a runner. My reincarnated self unfortunately does not involve the luxury of throwing on my sneakers and heading out for an impromptu 5 mile jog. This new life, of course, has been gifted with far more important luxuries. These new luxuries, as I like to call them, keep my calorie burning activities going at a fairly steady pace. Parenting is an endurance sport. But single parenting is..... well, if tennis could be played in high heels, with one arm full of groceries, a cell phone duct-taped to your ear, and thirty pound bags of sand strapped to each leg all while running on said treadmill, then I would compare it to that. I challenge the brave soul who says parenting is easy. I will flat out bitch slap anyone who says single parenting maybe just a "little" tougher.

But back to my sad, lonely treadmill....... When I moved in my new place, a treadmill joined the clan by way of my precious cousin who no longer had room for it in her one bedroom condo. And I, most eagerly said "Yes! I'll store it for you until you get a larger place!" I was so ecstatic that I would have this "in-home-mini-gym". Since I was no longer able to go out for my regular run while the dad watched the boys, this would be perfect!

Of course, it has now been almost 8 months and my sad, lonely treadmill has taken up permanent residence in the garage. It is quite unfortunate. Here is this perfectly good method of burning countless calories and here ALSO is this perfectly flabby butt that so desperately needs the companionship of this treadmill. And yet, there it remains. Alone, scared, cold, and in the dark. It is painful to look at everyday when I park the car and walk into the house. I have this slight heartache for it, sympathy almost. As if I've left some poor abandoned puppy on the side of the road, hungry and crying for love.

So why is it still there you ask? Well, because I am only one woman. I am not two strong guys that, if they had any heart, would help me out in this situation. Nope. I am simply one woman. And therefore, it will sit there, in the garage, until someone comes to rescue it from darkness.

Ok, so if you haven't figured it out, this is a plea! Seriously! Can someone please come help me move this thing!!???

5 - 365: Sad, lonely Tready.....

Good night all!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Project 365: Day 4 - Double Sigh.....

4 of 365: AND I've lost them again.....

Good night all!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Project 365: Day 3 - I'm Resourceful.......

I use it for many reasons: to make them quit fighting, to make them do something nice for their brother, to make Ethan take turns, to make Chase eat something he wrinkles his nose up at, and ultimately to make them love me more. I'm talking about bribery. Yes, I said it! Whatcha gonna do about it??

I'm sure I'm not the first and nor will I be the last. Sometimes that's all you got when you're in Target and they refuse to quit pinching each other while sitting in that buggy where the seats really only allow enough room for one year olds. (but I'm not complaining....Thank you Target and Walmart and Publix for recognizing that not every family consists of only one child).

Don't get me wrong, I do not use it every single day..... well, maybe I do, but only one or two times a day! One of my dear friends posted a loving comment on one of my posts about how married parents take for granted certain things. When you are dual parent household, tag teaming certain "duties" really does come in handy. But when you're a single parent, you don't have the luxury of one parent cleaning the kitchen after dinner while the other parent gets the kids bathed and ready for bed. Sometimes, in order for me to successfully make it through those stores I mentioned earlier, I have to resort to extreme measures. And if I had a penny for every time I said "if you don't stop it right now, I am putting these toys back!" Well, needless to say, I'd be rich and then I could just hire that "second parent". Actually I'd probably be rich already if it weren't for all those damn toys! (yes mama, I said damn.)

But there is a small part of me that really loves buying them things that make them so happy. Who am I kidding??? There is a LARGE part of me that loves it. I treasure every single second I have with my boys even if it forces me into bankruptcy. It's absolutely worth every penny!

And therein lies picture number 3. Today's end result of bribery. Quit looking at me like that..... I got what I needed in Target AND we had our first non video game night in weeks! It really works. I recommend it to all my friends! =)

3 of 365: Bribery...

Good night all!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Project 365: Day 2 - Sigh........

So I've lost my boys to this thing called.......... XBox.

I'll keep you posted if I'm able to find them again.......

Good night all!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Project 365: Day 1 - Realizations....

Sometimes divorce is a quick and painful experience that happens in a blinding instant. The impact taking the air out of your lungs. Leaving you dizzy and confused.

But sometimes divorce is a long slow process through individual events over a long period of time. The gradual distancing; the occasional show of disrespect; the growing lack of interest. You don't see them at first; passing them off as "oh he had a bad day at work, or he's not feeling well, or it's his time of the month." You refuse to acknowledge these events that are culminating, gathering, and growing into divorce as a whole. Because once you've acknowledged the event, gave it significance, it becomes one of many realizations.

It happens like aging. You don't notice the new wrinkles every single day. You refuse to see the gradual sagging of body parts. You ignore each new grey hair. But then all of a sudden, you wake up one morning, walk to the bathroom, rub the sleep out of yours eyes and oh my God! You're old! When did this happen? How did I not see it coming? Why did all this just sneak up on me??!!

It didn't. It was there, all along, trying to speak to you, showing you the signs every day. It was the blind eye that turned away. It was your refusal to accept or acknowledge. Or maybe, you knew it was there, hovering just under the surface. You've always known that it will bubble over one day. You simply wanted to live as much time in oblivion as possible. There's nothing wrong with that. I've done it for years.

And now, I leave you with my first picture of many, 365 to be exact. This image of sadness is one that I hope will not repeat itself. Because I do not want this project to be about sadness, but rather the multitude of steps my boys and I will go through on this journey.

1 of 365:
Heading home after what will probably be our last family vacation, together, the four of us. Realization number 687.

Good night all!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Project 365.....

So, I told you I was working on a project. Well, this is it. Over the next year, I will take pictures....... lots of pictures. Each day I will upload one from that day and I will talk about it. Or maybe I won't (talk about it, that is). It just depends on how my mood floats me. But each day, there will be something. Some sort of reminder of what took place that day; a photo-journal if you will.....

I am one of the gabillion who has a Facebook page and one of my "friends" talked about this project and it truly interested me. When our boys were first born, we took pictures.................. lots of pictures. But as they are growing, I am finding my time slipping away and very few photos to remind me of these precious moments. Therefore, I am making it a point to remember every single day, for one whole year.

I barely remember what I ate or even wore yesterday. And those are the things I don't really care about remembering (except when I want to make sure I don't wear the same outfit two days in a row to work - that would be awkward). But things like what my children ate, if they liked it, if they hated it, if they crinkled up their noses and refused to eat it in the first place; or things like what they wore or said or simply how their sweet faces looked that day. THOSE are the things I CANNOT afford to forget. Those are things that are most precious to me over all other things.

Now, some days I may not have photo commentary regarding them. Some days may consist of thoughts from my increasingly jumbled brain. On those days, I will consider it a survival tactic of sorts; a way to release some of that jumble junk my brain seems to love collecting.

But the rest of those days will be my boys and our journey on this road alone, just the three of us.

Happy Living All! (and I hope you enjoy)......

P.S. I will cheat on day one. Tomorrow's photo was actually taken today. I know......already I'm not following the rules....... So what! I can play however I want. =)