" I Chose The Road Less Traveled... Now Where The Heck Am I? "

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just Another "You'll-Never-Believe-What-Stunt-He-Pulled" Moment...

As a child, I can admit I was a handful (my mother will probably say I still am).  Anything you could think of; every stunt under the sun... I managed to pull it.  I knew with Mason, I was in for some serious payback, but Monday, he truly surprised me.  I got done work, walked to my car, and made my way to pick him up from daycare.  I arrive to see his teachers disgruntled looks of amazement and Mason avoiding all contact with them.  I approach his teachers, and here it comes: "You are NEVER going to believe what he did today!" and I could tell it wasn't going to be something I was going to be proud of.  Mason walks up towards me with his head down and his teacher instructs him to tell me what he did.  Of course all I get is "Meh meh meh meh meh meh..." in a whispered tone.  He repeats himself this way several times.  Finally, (here it comes), his teacher says to me in a disgusted tone "We're out here on the playground and all the sudden we hear the girls run away from the playhouse screaming.  I go over to see what all the commotion is about and here is your son, pants down, PEEING on the playhouse."  I almost died.  What would prompt him to pull such an outrageous stunt?!?  He's never been allowed to pee outside on the playground before so why would he think it would be okay now?  His teachers and I have worked together consistently with our potty training efforts and have had great success, especially over the past year.  We've always PREACHED the POTTY..... so why pee on a playhouse, where you play with your friends everyday, when there are at least 3 toilet options just yards away?  I was embarrassed, shocked, disgusted, and confused all at once.  My only response at the time was "You did WHAT?!?!?!?".  We haven't had any other incidents so far since that happened but I still have no explanation.

Kids will be kids and the way they rationalize things can be outrageous at times.  We can't always understand or be able to explain why they do some of the things they do.  This is life.  I'm sure I'll encounter many more of these little "stunts" but for now I can only hope the public urination has been put to an end (before he's old enough to get cited for public indecency).  Bottom line is: We live and learn... and so do they.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Some People are CRAZY...

I’m sure every one of you reading this will agree that your parents have driven you absolutely insane throughout your life, especially those times when they “flipped out” for “no reason” and you “didn’t even do anything” to provoke it.  If you agree with this statement and have NO UNDERSTANDING as to why these occurrences happen so often… I can guarantee that you are NOT a parent.  If you do have kids and agree with this then you must be a terrible mom or dad! (Just kidding… sort of…)  The responsibility of raising children is a full time job, no joke!  

See Exhibit A.  This is my sweet little angel, Mason.  He’ll be 4 come April.  I know I still have MANY years to go but in these few short years, I’ve learned a lot and have a much greater respect than I have ever had for my parents and every other person out there with children.  As a mom, I am responsible to make sure Mason has everything that he needs.  This includes health insurance, child care, doctor’s visits, clothes (which he seems to grow out of ever 2-3 months), and obviously the kid needs to eat.  Then we have the “extracurricular” activities that “all the other kids participate in” so I can’t deprive him of those.  My parents never said “No Jess!  You can’t participate in something that is good for your health, keeps you active, and tires you out so you sleep well.”  It’s only an extra $35 a month, but those little extras add up.  He also participates in “Jazzercise”, a fun little dance class for kids his age that is INCLUDED in his schools tuition.  Once again “all the other kids do it”.  Okay… have at it then tiny dancer!!!  It’s free!  Then, recital time rolls around.  The costume cost me $50 and it was $5 per person who attended.  If I’m spending that much on a costume, I want people to come see him.  Only 5 of us went…. $25.  That’s an extra $75 total that I DON’T WANT TO SPEND!!!!  But I can’t deprive him of his childhood, so I write the check.  Of course a child needs toys and books to teach him creativity, all about dinosaurs, and to use his imagination.  Times sure have changed since I was a kid.  I used to spend most of my time playing outside, riding my bike, sports, and building secret forts in the woods.  For my boy, this is just the beginning.  This sweet little 3 year old child wanted a NEW Nintendo DS for Christmas.  Keep in mind he already has one.  The technology these days is hitting kids younger and younger.  He has an iPod and begs me EVERY DAY to play Angry Birds on my phone on the way to school.  He has and knows how to operate his portable DVD player and can get a movie going on Playstation 3 quicker than I can.  These advances in technology have added a surplus of costs and expenditures in modern day parenting.

The minute you become a parent, your freedom VANISHESAbracadabra!!  Poof!! It’s gone.  Try doing ANYTHING for yourself, be it a nice night out for dinner or drinks to a peaceful hour grocery shopping or going to class… YOU NEED A BABYSITTER!  Vacation time that most people use for a week at the beach or a few long weekends with friends, are spend cleaning up throw up, doctor’s appointments, sleepless nights, and catching whatever nasty little day care germs were brought home for me.

I barely remember the days where my morning routine was easy.  With my son, the simplest tasks become more complicated than quantum physics.  As a “Strong-Willed Child”, Mason has a fight for every request I throw out there.  He wants to wear his bathing suit to school in January or his snow boots in July.  Nothing is EVER easy.  Once I finally lure him out of the house in the morning, it’s another 10 minutes before I’m actually pulling out of my parking spot.  He has to “dilly dally” around, stopping to examine every crack in the sidewalk and leaving no stone unturned.  He asks a million questions about everything he sees or thinks just to prolong our precious time together before I drop him off at school.  He makes every task an impossible challenge and that’s what makes him special!  That’s my boy!

Putting up with things like this day in and day out with virtually NO down time…. No wonder parents always seem like these psychopathic nutcases… like ticking time bombs you never know when they’re going to blow.  I hope this gives you "Non-Child-Having" people out there a little insight into your parents’ “disorder” and their extensive history of spontaneous explosions.  To all the parents out there, you deserve a little laugh and some comfort knowing that you are not alone!  So the next time your parents are driving you up a wall, take sympathy in their frustrations because they made the ultimate sacrifice to raise you right.  Without them you wouldn’t be wherever the heck you are today.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Welcome to the World...

I remember this day like it was yesterday.  Every detail is so fresh and clear in my memory... except for the pain.  I don't remember feeling pain during delivery. (Let me tell you though... the next day was a different story!)  I would give anything to re-live this moment over and over and over.  This moment, captured in time, was and will always be, the best instant of my life.  This picture was snapped RIGHT after I had him.  He's still all swollen and slimy.  His ears are folded over from squeezing his way out and he's a total cone head.  I fell in love.  All day today, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the first time I saw his face.  I almost cried when I picked him up from day care tonight.  The day I became I mother, my whole life changed.  I became a different person.  Of course I was still the same wild and crazy Jess that everybody knew, but everything I did was not for my baby.  I have never been happier before he came into my life and I would lay down my life for him without a second thought.

Last night,  that very special moment was shared by two people who I care so much about.  I am so happy and excited for them.  I know I portray some of the more realistic, shitty parts of parenting at times, but I wouldn't choose anything else over it.  Being a mother brings me such satisfaction and joy.  My life now has legitimate meaning.  I am someone's mommy.  I can make boo boo's all better.  I can fix broken toys.  I can wipe Mason's ass.... ;)  You get it.... I am his Super Woman Mom!  I can do anything and make everything okay.  Now, this joy is going to be experienced by two new, first time parents.  I can not wait to be able to share that mutual understanding with them.  Parenthood creates a special bond between people all over the world.  It's like this super huge secret society.  Welcome to the club with the rest of us crazies, Ricky and Ali!  You are great people who are going to make amazing parents.  Congratulations on your new addition to the family!  She looks like a keeper!!!

<3 Happy Birthday, Giana Sophia!  You are a very lucky little girl! <3

(Pst!!! Aunt Jess will see you soon, little love!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What Doesn't Kill You....

... only makes you stronger ...Sometimes makes you wish it did.  Okay... so that may be a slight over-dramatization but it sure can feel that way.  If it's not one thing stressing you out, it would be something else.  It's an endless cycle of bullshit I like to call "LIFE".  I'm one of those people who always has to learn the hard way.  I wish I wasn't such a strong-willed, stubborn, do-it-my way kind of girl sometimes, but I am.  Any one who knew me as a child and teenager knows very well that I learned ALL my lessons via "the road less traveled".  I wasn't always the way I am today.  It's all the hard stuff, "the poison", that has taught me the most important things in life.  There is nothing more important than your health, your family, and the time spent with the people you care about.  The rest.... just fills in the gaps and reminds us to appreciate the little things.

Times have been changing, a job isn't so easy to come by, and YOUR job can practically vanish before your eyes overnight.  Going to work after having my son was not an easy task to say the least.  I was either over qualified, the job didn't pay enough money, or the hours wouldn't work.  After months of searching, I settled for a job that paid much less than I needed, but the hours and location were perfect. I even had health benefits (that I paid out the ass for).  I was a "supervisor" for Aramark.  Sounds pretty decent, right???  WRONG!  I hated my job.  I was pretty much running the Chic-Fil-A in a college food court (at the school that I was attending so yes, people i knew saw me) with people who were drug addicted, classless, criminals.  Very nice.  When I wasn't getting shat on for being the new, young, "white girl" coming in and trying to "run shit", I was being robbed blind and sexually harassed by the illegal workers from Honduras.  During my employment here, my son's dad and I split, I was temporarily laid off multiple times due to the school's breaks, and was being worked like a slave.  I did it for one reason... my son.  Working in such a situation really took a toll on me, physically and emotionally.  I was on my feet performing manual labor most of the day so I was EXHAUSTED by the time four o'clock rolled around.  I was back living at my parents house, a new single mother, and working a dead end job.  If that doesn't make you feel like shit then I don't know what would.

Now that I've been working for the county for about a year and a half, with good people, in a great environment, I can't imaging working anywhere else.  I'm in the perfect position to be taking on everything that I am regarding school.  Well, time to start looking again.  I came into work Monday only to find out that the decision we've all be waiting to hear about had been made.  Major changes have been made that could put my office out of the picture completely.  I will go to bed tonight not knowing if tomorrow might be my last day.  That is when my mind will REALLY start racing.  How am I going to get by?  What about my mortgage?  Do I pull Mason out of day care?  But he's in the preschool class now.  I can't afford that if I'm not working.  I don't want him to change schools because he's surrounded by wonderful people in a great environment.  What if I can't find another job?  What if I do find something else but I lost Mason's spot at school?  How will I pay my electric bill?  It's still cold out.  I need heat.  I have thought about what I would do if these changes became implemented and my job is eliminated, but now that the plan has been put into action, I feel like the "backup plan" really isn't so simple.

Our country is in a poor economic state and it is affecting everybody in one way or another.  I know I'm not the only single mom who could be unemployed any day now.  I just don't think I can handle any more speed bumps on my road to success.  I got pregnant at 20 but I didn't let that stop me from pursuing my dreams, I've been through hell and back with the split between Mason's dad and I, and I've endured financial and extreme emotional hardships.  I know I can face challenges with the strength of a thousand bulls, but I would give anything to have a somewhat smooth route to graduation.  When all is said and done, I have no control over the changes happening at work, whether or not I will continue to hold a position there, nor am I able to persuade them not to lay me off.  All I can do is keep my eyes open for hiring in the event I am let go, start thinking outside the box once again, and pray that I won't be forced to work another job like my last.  I know that I can overcome anything and get through the tough times.  It's a situation that I can only sit back and see what happens.  There's no use in sleepless nights and excessive worry.  I can only get my creative mind flowing with ideas and back up plans.

What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger and when life hands you lemons.... GOD DAMN IT! Make some freaking LEMONADE, Mama!

Stay strong, stand tall, be proud... and never let life get the best of you!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

HOUSEHOLD DIVIDED: How I Made It To Where I Am...

As parents, we all want what's best for our children.  I'm sure not too many people aspire to have a failed relationship and be a single parent, but let's face it, it happens.  The idea of "stay together for the kids" only goes so far.  I believe that it is best when a child is raised by their two parents in the same household but I have come to realize that this is not always "best".  What's worse than separated parents?  Two parents still living together who are constantly arguing.  The tension shows right through to children.  They see that their parents are unhappy, and may even feel guilty that they're only together because of them.  Luckily my parents are happily married and although they argue at times, I could never see them with anyone else.  I tried to put myself in the situation of a child with parents who just aren't meant to be together.  I would much rather see my parents happy apart than miserable together.

After many "obstacles" that I faced with my son's dad (which no I am not getting into because I am over it and am better off on my own) and many attempts at working our problems out, I had to make a very difficult decision.  "Do I stay or do I go now.... If I go there will be trouble.... If I stay it will be double!!"  Maybe the Clash had it figured out all along (actually since 1981).  I knew I was not happy, and realized that things were not going to change.  I knew that it would not be easy on my own, but I couldn't go on fighting and feeling the way that I did.  THAT was not fair for Mason.  So, I left.  I walked away from that relationship knowing that there was a chance that I would NEVER meet someone else who would be willing to take on a woman with a child.  I was willing to take that risk because I truly felt that was the best decision for the well being of my son.  And so my life began.

After a nice long bout of depression, I found myself, I began to love myself... and SURPRISE!!!! I was happy!  And all it took was a few months of karaoke and jumping out of an airplane to "find comfort in my life".  But it worked and I am grateful.  I was comfortable in my own shoes, ready to live again!  Okay... so it really wasn't that simple.  I went through some very hard times and was very upset with how my life was panning out for a long time.  Once again "the plans" had changed.  I just had to figure out a new game plan and my life would be back in order.  The point is that you WILL get through it and you will be stronger because of it.

You can't start thinking about finding someone new until you are comfortable with who you are, where you're at, and what you're doing.  Bottom line: You need to LOVE YOURSELF before letting someone else in again. Dating as a single parent is hard and I will get into that in my next post, but until then....

Stay strong, stand tall, be proud... you're surviving!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh My Goodness!!! Look At Your Butt!!!!!

That dry, red, flaky, sore rash on your child's backside is almost painful to look at.  And I'm sure you've tried all sorts of cremes, ointments, and lotions to try to make them feel better.  From diaper rashes to chafing on the beach, it is so painful for our kids to deal with but so hard to find something that works quickly.  Prescriptions that knock it out in a mater of a day, usually have a hefty amount of steriods in them.  Usually safe in small doses but over time, it will begin to take the pigment out of those areas of skin.  Trust me, I has eczema since I was born and one prescription did just that to me.

As a mother who has tried EVERYTHING under the sun on Mason's rashes from the time he was born until this very day, I have spend hundreds of dollars on different creams, ointments, lotions, and bath washes.   I finally found "The Cure".   He's 3 now and obviously isn't wearing diapers but he sleeps very soundly at night and has difficultly waking up to go potty.  After washing his sheets EVERY night for a few months I opted for pull ups at night (and YES they are the "generic" brand). Soooo, the rash remains. 

This stuff isn't super cheap, but it works very well.  This one product is also used for dry skin, dry lips, infant care, radiation care, diabetic care, and wound care.  It is AMAZING.  You can buy it online or Happy Harry's, Walgreen's, and several small pharmacies carry it.  When you purchase online, they offer a free tube for your first purchase.  The tube may be $15, but the money you waste on trying things that don't work is much pricier.  This is a product that is up and coming.  It is VERY popular among moms in my area and everyone who I've told about it that tried it said it was the best thing they had ever tried

CLICK HERE to check it out for yourself.  At least get the FREE sample.  I promise you will fall in love with it!

To aid in a quick recovery try applying the creme and letting your baby sleep diaperless so the skin can get some air.  Get your hands on some "pee pee pads" (like the ones they put under you in the hospital) if you haven't already.  They are great to use for this!

Stand tall, Stay strong, Be proud!

Friday, February 11, 2011

How Not To Resort To Swinging On Poles... Some Financial Enlightenment To Live By

Let's face it.  Kids are EXPENSIVE.  You can always plan for the necessities such as food, diapers, clothes, day care, ect.  Then, you have those "things" that just "come up".  Doctors appointments, medicine, 10 different types of diaper rash creams/ointments to find one that works, dozens of types of baby bottles because your little sweetheart just won't take certain nipples, emergency room visits because a birthday party mishap that led to a concussion.... you get the point.  As they get older there are other things to worry about.  I know I'm not rich.  I'm barely making it paycheck to paycheck as it is.  That is why I chose the day care center that I did.  They are very nice people that work WITH me in raising Mason, they provide EXCELLENT care for him, and compared to other day cares in my area, they are only a little more expensive than the crummy one down the road.  This particular one happens to have dance classes included in the tuition (okay that's cool) but then when recital time comes, the damn costume cost me $50.... plus $5 per person who attends.  Then they have an "optional" program that ALL the children participate in that costs me an extra $35 a month.  Not bad, but I'm on a budget and every little extra really pushes my financial limits.  Regardless of my situation, I never want Mason to feel like the poor kid who can't afford to do what everyone else does, so what do I do?  Sign the release forms and continue to write the checks.

There are so many ways to save money where it doesn't hurt.  You don't always have to make drastic cut backs in order to make it work (although I must admit that I did go over 11 months with no cable, internet, or home phone).  The easiest ways to cut spending costs, you will hardly even know its happening but TRUST ME, it all adds up.  First of all, sign up for the savings cards at the grocery store and pharmacy... You will save $5- $40 per visit depending on how much you spend.  Also, many store brand products taste almost identical if not better than Brand name products.  I know... the stereotype is that store brand stuff tastes terrible.... NOT ALWAYS TRUE!!!  It may just be a 50 cent difference but if you do that for multiple products you can add that onto the money saved list.  Before food shopping, MAKE A LIST! This is so important to keep spending down.  First, navigate the isles to acquire ONLY items on your list.  Then, if there are a few things that really stuck in your mind go gather them and check out.  Also, don't forget to NEVER NEVER NEVER go grocery shopping when you're hungry.... you WILL spend impulsively and excessively.  When it comes to things you regularly use, BUY IN BULK.  If you can buy things at Wholesale Club stores... DO IT!  If not, even if you buy things in larger sizes you will save money in the long term.  For example, many times chicken breast will sell for up to $4.99/lb at times, but if you buy the "value pack" you usually pay only $1.99-2.99/lb.  Also, instead of buying the snack size packs of cookies, crackers, pretzels, ect, I like to buy larger packages of them and then divide them into snack size ziplock bags for Mason's lunch.  The possibilities are endless here.

Energy bills will shock you sometimes, but there are easy way to cut back without disrupting your life.  In the winter, turn your heat down about 5 degrees when you leave the house and when you go to bed.  This will cut costs and it's actually healthier sleeping conditions.  In the summer, turn the AC temperature up about 5 degrees when you will not be home and at night.  When you are not charging your phone, unplug the charger from the wall.  Even when your phone is not plugged into it, the adapter still drains energy.  Keep the TV off when you're not watching it (don't use it as background noise while you do something else).  Turn lights off when you leave a room.  Finally, if you get thermal curtains/shades for your windows, you will prevent draftiness and save money on electric bills.

When it comes to gas in your car, the 1/2 tank to Full tank range provides you with the best gas mileage.  If you fill up your gas tank when it gets down to a half tank instead of waiting for your gas light to come on, you will save money in the long run AND eliminate the "will I make it without stopping" paranoia.

Another easy way to save money that I try to utilize frequently, is to bring your own lunch/snacks to work and make my own coffee.  Buying your lunch every day could cost you $5-$15 each day!  Making your own lunch or even bringing frozen meals will save you a ton of money every week!  I also buy a couple little special snacks specifically to keep at my desk so that I don't utilize the snack machines too often.  For those of you who have become Starbucks addicts like I have, invest in an inexpensive espresso maker.  I was fortunate enough to get mine as a Christmas gift but was told it was under $100.  If you are a Starbucks regular, this machine will save you hundreds of dollars over a very short time.  I've already mastered the Caramel Macchiato and Vanilla Latte!

I am ALWAYS looking for a bargain, no matter what the product.  I buy most of my clothing at Marshall's or online if there's a good deal.  I buy Mason's socks, undershirts, and underwear at Walmart, cute designer brand clothing at consignment shops, and also find things at Marshall's for him as well.  None of the things I mentioned are even recognizable as they are happening, but together it all helps to save.

Stay strong, stand tall, be proud... and know that there are so many people in the same situation trying to juggle the same things you are.