Monday, December 13, 2010

New Haircut

Many of you moms out there will get this, I'm confident: Since the day she burst into my world, I have struggled to wrap my brain around the idea of cutting Kensie's hair. I know it sounds silly, but she is, after all, my first child, and all of you screwed-up first children out there know how crazy parents can be when raising firstborns! I don't know what I've been so afraid of really: her growing up too quickly, seeing her beautiful blonde locks in the bottom of a dustpan, her looking like I did at this age when my mother placed a bowl atop my head and proceeded to cut? Whatever it was, I knew what had to be done, and I knew it had to be done soon. With her hair nearly touching the top of her butt, it had become nearly impossible to remove the "tanglers" that consistently formed from that bit of sucker, syrup, spaghetti . . . whatever she had gotten into it during the day! And being that the poor kid had to hold the swath that continually fell into her face high above her head just so she could see to play, I finally made the decision: It was time to CHOP! With the encouragement of my entire family, visiting for our holiday celebration, I mustered up the courage, and we did it. Four inches now gone (and some of it in an envelope in my purse), it's no 70s bowl cut, but I like it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

So Long for Now

My sweet cat has been gone for more than a month now, and I have finally stopped leaving the garage door cracked hoping that he will come back to us. It breaks my heart that I will never again see his sweet face or feel his warm body purring right next to mine in the night. I don't know why life has to be so hard, especially when it pertains to matters of the heart, but I pray every day that wherever he is, this precious creature whom I so easily grew to love more than 10 years ago is healthy and happy, and will someday leave me a little "gift" to let me know he is OK. We will miss you, Torgo!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Little Watchdog

Recently I did a two-week cleanse. I had started feeling kind of off; my stomach just wasn’t right, and I had had a few headaches here and there. I’ve been terribly busy lately and not eating as well as I should, so I decided that the gurgling in my stomach and occasional stabbing pains in my head were my body trying to tell me something. So one Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, I headed to Whole Foods and picked up its cleanse.

I never seem to do anything like the normal Joe (my mother will verify this truth for you). Instead of just going out and exercising several days a week for an hour or so like most people, I don’t feel accomplished unless I’ve pushed my body to burn more than 500 calories per session (boot camp anyone?). Hell, if I’m not gonna burn 500, why not just stay in and watch the Biggest Loser instead? Simply cutting back on the things I know I need to adios sounds logical, right? (I am told cheese and wine are not major food groups, but I’m not so sure I agree.) Oh no, I decide to take it to the limit and cut out everything but veggies, fruit, whole grains, beans, and the occasional protein bar! (Vegetable soup and Three-Bean Chili everyday begins to get old about Day 4.)

So decision made, I began the Whole Foods cleanse. Mistake No. 1: I told Kensie what I was doing. (I don’t say diet around K. I think it’s unhealthy for young children to be exposed to anything “diet”-related but, rather, they should be taught how to live a healthy lifestyle from Day 1.) Initially, Kensie was unaffected by my cleanse. She already eats healthfully (I’m pretty strict about her diet), so I just ate what she was eating or included her in what I was eating if she showed interest (she rarely did). If she asked me a question about the cleanse, I’d explain to her that Mommy was just trying to make my body feel better by only eating foods that would help make me healthy and strong. She accepted my explanation and really just seemed uninterested until . . . Week 2, when I re-implemented my one glass of wine per night. Turns out, Kensie had been paying attention and, apparently, keeping notes in the recesses of her brain.

One thing I didn’t realize before I had Makensie (one thing, that’s a laugh!) was that even when you think your kids are not paying attention (which is most of the time), they most certainly are. (This is not always a good thing, I can attest.) Kensie proved this point to me every evening that I had that glass of wine. With an all-knowing look on her face, she’d scold, “Mommy, I thought you weren’t supposed to drink wine.” You’re right, Baby, that’s what Mommy told you!

After I finished my cleanse (by the way, I felt great during once I got through the sugar withdrawals) and went back to a normal, healthy diet, Kensie did not revert back to her former self, when Mommy was eating leftover pizza while she was eating grilled chicken and broccoli. Nope, now, no matter what I do, I’ve got a little watchdog analyzing my every move. “Mommy, are you supposed to have that piece of cheese?” “Mommy, I thought you weren’t allowed to have catsup?” “Mommy, you said you couldn’t have wine!” In my quest to avoid exposing my child to the dark world of dieting and the vicious cycle that almost always accompanies it, I inadvertently created a little monster. Though I didn’t use the actual word, Kensie has now been exposed to exactly what I had tried to protect her from, which means I will have to spend the rest of my life making sure she knows that no matter what shape, size, color, religion, sexual orientation—whatever she is or chooses to be—she is special, and she is beautiful. (And I’m going to have to eat chicken and broccoli for the REST. OF. MY. LIFE.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Balancing It All

I’m sure I’ve written about this topic before—maintaining balance—but never have I felt so strongly about its importance than I do right now in my life, mainly because things have been really crazy lately! There’s the usual stuff—work, being a single mom, having a social life. But lately I feel as if I’m not only trying to balance those things, I’m also trying to please everyone around me (while working full time, freelancing, helping to start a new business, raising my kid, maintaining friendships, having a social life, dating). What I’m finding is that while trying to balance everything in my life (this has never worked for me, by the way), I am wearing myself slap out!

I’m not sure I’ve ever had real balance in my life, though I’ve always strived for it. I’m that person who is often on the verge of grasping a little bit of that ever-evasive normalcy only to be pushed over the edge by the next “thing,” whatever that “thing” may be. And there is always another “thing.”

In college, I tried to balance several jobs at once, a boyfriend, and a social life (while trying to fit in a little study time now and again for good measure). After college, it was a race to get as far away from home as possible, so moving across the country with the boyfriend, finding a job (hour and a half commute both ways!), traveling, exploring, soul-searching. I spent a lot of those after-college years really trying to figure myself out—what I wanted, who I wanted to be with, where I wanted to be. (Just FYI: I still haven’t figured that stuff out.) I spent so much energy trying to “find myself” during that phase in my life that I think I might have missed a few things along the way (well, I am still single at the ripe old age of 36!). And moving into the “mommy” phase has really thrown me for a loop! Toss a baby into the mix that is my precarious life, and you can only imagine how difficult things have become to figure out. (But seriously, that kid is the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me! Love ya Kens!)

So my life now, while in a sprint to figure it all out and create some serious balance, is more uncertain than ever before. With everything that I have to juggle right now, I wonder: Does this thing we call life ever get any easier to figure out? Whew, I’m exhausted.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Truth Hurts

When life seems to be rolling along at a manageable clip, why does the universe feel it necessary to toss in a little something “special” to remind you that you may not be in control of things? I mean, my life the past few years has definitely not been ideal. Employment has been scattered, living situation has been crowded, social life has been uneventful. But it has been manageable, and it has been somewhat comfortable. I’ve been making plans, working hard toward my goals, envisioning what my life is to become. And lately, my hard work and detailed plans have been materializing before my eyes. Right now, distractions are the last thing I need! But true to form in the complicated web that is my life, I can faintly see another path becoming visible in the distance. Let’s see how the universe handles this one!

Now on to Kensie.

So K has hit the terrible threes head on. She never really had issues in her “terrible twos.” Though many people say the twos can be the worst toddler age, that was just not our experience. But boy, when Kensie turned three this month, it was like a lightning bolt struck the earth, and from the ashes arose a kid who seems to know that I am required to love and take care of her despite anything she might say or do. “Ta-da! Hi Mommy, meet the real Makensie Rain!”

Kensie’s appearance has seemingly changed overnight! Her golden blonde hair is down to her bottom and curly at the ends. Her skin is showing a bit of an olive tone (yay, she won’t melt in the sun like her poor, pasty, red-headed mommy!). She’s sure to become a sun goddess in her teens with that skin. Her legs are taking shape and becoming long and lean (she’s got the Johnson legs!). Her belly, once a poochy gut full of milk and mashed-up avocado, is starting to streamline. Her face is no longer chunky and round but has an almost mature look to it. I’m pretty sure this kid was meant to be my cousin AJ’s, not mine!

K’s personality has changed quite a bit, as well. She loves clothes! I see a fashionista-in-the-making already (again, AJ’s kid). She has to pick out her own outfit every day, but not just that: It must be chosen and on her back by 6 a.m.! Food has become an afterthought: If I can get K to eat a scrap other than her gummy vitamin before noon, call me mother of the year! Her Pa used to pick on her constantly, but now she picks on Pa! Preschool is a little bit scary but gets easier every day. Water rocks her world. Cartoons have become nothing more than background noise (well, other than Enchanted, of course). Books are the best thing since sliced bread!

My little girl is no longer a little girl. When I look at Makensie and see what she’s become in such a short period in my life, I can almost visualize the amazing adventure we have in store. Dance and softball like I loved as a kid. Possibly swimming, which also runs in her blood. School dances, silly crushes, Sweet 16, driving, dating. And in the back of my mind, all I can hear is my mother’s faint voice getting louder and louder and louder and louder: Payback is hell . . . Payback is hell . . . Payback is hell . . . PAY. BACK. IS. HELL!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Beach?? THE BEACH!!

I’ve struggled lately with the idea of whether to take Kensie to the beach in the wake of the Gulf Oil disaster, but this past weekend, the universe finally intervened. I had called a family friend hoping to take K to their house to swim on her birthday (before I started back to work, we went swimming in their pool on Mondays and Fridays as often as we could), but when I found out their whole family was going to the beach for the holiday weekend, I took it as a sign. I had to get K down there! So within 24 hours, my mother, Kensie, and I were headed to the beach. P.C.-bound baby!

Growing up, I’d always vacationed in Destin, about 60 miles away from Panama City, and had migrated over there only a couple of times (once with my softball team when I was in middle school, and once to watch my Jayhawks lose in the Sweet 16 in a bar packed with KU students on spring break). I was excited to try something new and different, even though that “new and different” place was nicknamed “The Redneck Riviera.”

So we headed out on our voyage into the unknown with GPS in one hand and portable DVD player in the other (an absolute necessity when driving more than an hour with K in tow). We had expected that the trip might take a little extra time being it was Fourth of July weekend, and everyone and their brother and all 22 of his cousins headed down to the Gulf during summer holidays. A normal driving time to Panama City would be about four-and-a-half hours, but we expected it to take a bit longer, and we were OK with that. We’d get there when we got there, and we’d enjoy every minute of the drive in the meantime.

So with Giselle singing “True Love’s Kiss” in the background (Kensie’s new obsession, “Enchanted”), my mom and I chatted excitedly about everything from Kensie (a near-constant topic in my household) to our impending move to Kansas to the most recent rerun of “The West Wing.” And we drove. And drove. And drove. Finally, we began to notice that not only was there no (and I do mean no) traffic, but we were driving on back country roads (not just back roads, mind you, back country roads) and, on occasion, being led down dirt roads with names like “Daisy Duke Drive” and “Opie Taylor Trail.” It had quickly become apparent that our GPS was taking us the “short” route rather than the “right” route, and we seemed to be smack-dab in the middle of Deliverance country. Everyone who grows up in the Deep South knows that the path to Destin is Highway 331, and the path to Panama City is Highway 231. Well, we were on neither. But we decided that since we’d come this far following GPS Lady’s advice (and seemed to have made really great time), we might as well keep going.

So after five hours of driving, at about 8 p.m., we seemed to be on track (what track, I’m not sure, but GPS lady seemed to think we were almost there). We were headed right into Panama City, and we were making good time! At some point, GPS Lady tried to get us on the beachfront road, but I remembered the last time I drove that road (heading to watch the ’Hawks in college), and if I recalled correctly, it took us a good hour to go just one mile. This is Fourth of July weekend: Ain’t no way I’m gonna take the beachfront road! Finally, not knowing exactly how close we were to the condo but assuming we had to be pretty close at this point (and knowing at some point we had head toward the beachfront to get to the condo), I hesitantly hopped onto the beachfront road. Immediately, I knew it was a mistake.

Two hours (and about 10 miles) later (we had left at 3 p.m., mind you), we arrived at the condo. I was completely frazzled and almost in tears, and Kensie had taken to asking me over and over again, “Mommy, are you mad?” My response: “No baby, I’m not mad, I’m frustrated!!!” Wait, now I know where she gets that line!

After a 20-minute search for a cart, we headed to our room. Immediately, I noticed an odd smell, but with so many other things going on at the time, I chocked it up to the ocean (you all know the ocean can throw out some pretty unpleasant smells at times). We began to unpack and get settled. Kensie was excited (so much so that bedtime was pushed back to about midnight), and I was beginning to return to my normal, happy-go-lucky self (aided by a much-needed glass of red). But that smell lingered. After a couple glasses of wine on our balcony (which overlooked the Gulf and a poolside filled with karaoke-ers belting out “Sweet Home Alabama”), we went to bed.

The next morning, K woke bright and early (before 6, if I recall correctly) on her third birthday, and we began our day. (At this point, I had begun almost unknowingly looking around the place for the source of that foul odor.) We took K out to breakfast, hit Starbuck’s, Target, and the grocery store, and four hours later, headed back to the condo (as early as K wakes on most days, four hours is nothing in the morning, as we were back by 11 a.m.). Immediately, it became apparent that I was not going to rest until I found and extracted whatever was causing our condo to smell like a Port-O-Let at a rain-soaked Drivin N Cryin concert (can you tell I’ve actually experienced this?)! My mother, noticing my unrest, calmly suggested, “Maybe it’s the rug.” The rug!! That’s it! Unfortunately (or fortunately, I should say), that was it. The extremely heavy, not-too-cheap area rug was, apparently, soaked with urine. URINE! (Just FYI: This condo was nice. Granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances. There was no reason for it to have a urine-soaked rug right in the middle of the living room!)

After adiosing the rank rug and having a stern talk with the front desk people, we went on to have a fabulous time in Panama City, Florida. Kensie had a great birthday party with our oldest family friends. I got to see a college buddy I hadn’t seen in 15 years and meet her husband and adorable kids (who were older than K but wonderful with her, even though she grabbed them by their hands and dragged them all over the condo showing them her new toys). We swam in the pool and the ocean. Kensie playfully jumped waves as they crashed into her body. We got to see what had to be the most amazing fireworks show on the beach (I swear we could see for miles and miles!). And Kensie got to stay up until nearly midnight three nights in a row! (I paid for that later, by the way.) Most importantly, I got to share with my daughter a place that I have visited and treasured since I was five years old.

All in all, we had a fabulous weekend with some of my favorite people in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. My now three-year-old little girl is one lucky kid.

PS: Thanks, Mom, for your acceptance of my fanciful whims and your spontaneity. Kensie and I love you!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Has Funny Left the Building?

Lately I find that I have little to say to others that I would consider funny (minus when I talk about my ever-so-hilarious little girl!). I never used to worry about things like I do today, and that made the world a much funnier place to live! Hell, I used to actually have fun every now and again (if memory serves), and I used to find others quite funny, as well! Ah, those were the days (or so they say). Lately, life has sort of become, well . . . unfunny.

I’m sick of reading about natural disasters, unemployment, political infighting, murderous rampages, and celebrities’ tweaked-out lives. I’m tired of turning on the news and seeing nothing but how this world in which I will someday have to leave my daughter is turning to shit. More and more I find myself deflated by the negative state of our world today. I try and stay positive, but with a young child to bring up in the ruin our world has become, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I miss the good ol’ days. No more are the days when a kid can get up in the morning, eat breakfast, and head outside for eight hours of exploring whatever it is he finds to explore. Today, he has to play in his fenced-in backyard with Mommy peering through the window every five minutes. No more are the days when parents could drop off their kids at the pool or golf club, and leave them there all day long without worry. I’m pretty sure that would be considered bad parenting now. You can’t even leave your kid strapped into the car seat for two minutes and run into the 7-Eleven to take a pee without fear of someone snatching your kid or being handcuffed upon return to the car!

The world we live in today is hurried, polluted, starved, frustrated, scared, abused, and strangled. Everything is crying out to be saved: the earth, its people, animals, and plants, our oceans, all the way down the tiniest forms of life. It seems that everything human beings touch is doomed!

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic. I really don’t think what I’m saying is anything that hasn’t been said hundreds of times before. What I want is to not be part of the problem but to help create a solution. Problem is: I don’t quite know where to begin. Recycling: obvious. Renewable energy: on the horizon. Volunteer to help clean up whatever mess we get into next: necessary. But then what?

My generation now bears a colossal burden, and we have a seemingly never-ending road ahead of us before even scratching the surface of the damage human beings have done to, well, everything. Our kids will learn from our mistakes and our example, and they will also inherit whatever we leave behind. Why not teach them now how to help heal our world so that someday they will be proud to pass on what we worked together to mend?

Note: If you want to know what your kids are thinking about our world today, check out this 2009 study by Habitat Heroes:

• 1 in 3 children (ages 6 through 11) fear that the planet won’t exist when they grow up.
• More than half (56 percent) believe the Earth will not be as good a place to live when they grow up.
• Girls worry more than boys, but overall, kids in metro areas worry more than those in rural settings.
• 28 percent say they fear the extinction of animals more than anything else.
• Nearly 25 percent worry about not having enough safe drinking water.

The good news:
• 95% of the children believe their parents are trying to help save the environment by recycling, using reusable batteries, and conserving electricity and water.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Grass is Always Greener

The old adage “The grass is always greener on the other side” could not be more profound in my life than right now. Why is it that no matter what, many human beings just can’t seem to be happy in the moment—right here, right now? Well, I am definitely human.

I have this issue I deal with on a daily basis no matter what my situation: I want to be a full-time professional, and I also want to be a full-time mom (not to mention an entrepreneur on the side!). And I want to always be the best at both! But I’m not sure it’s possible for these two worlds to come together in perfection.

As you know, I started a new job this week, whereas for the past eight months, I was freelancing and at home with Makensie. While at home, I wasted a lot of time worrying about the fact that I wasn’t working enough and needed to find a full-time job to support my kid. Now that I’m back at work (and grateful to be here and loving it, for the most part), I’m spending too much time wishing I were at home with Kensie. See my dilemma?

Many mothers (fathers, too, I presume) struggle with this dichotomy on a daily basis. How can you be your best on the job when you know you’re missing out on so much at home? How can you be at home with your child and enjoy every single moment of your time with her when you want or need to get back to work? It’s a constant struggle, and one that weighs heavily on this single mom.

My biggest fear heading back to work is simple: I’ve worked hard these last eight months building a strong relationship with my daughter, and I don’t want to lose that. Kensie and I spent nearly every moment together—at the pool, with friends and family, at the zoo, on trips here and there. I made a point to get her out nearly every day, and we spent a lot of real quality time bonding with not only one another but with my parents, and my friends and their kids. Kensie and I really became close, and I am just not ready to lose that connection! But already, only one week in, I can see things beginning to change.

The first incident was the other night when Kensie wanted her Nana to put her to bed, not me. Ouch. Then yesterday, I left for work just after K got up, and I didn’t see her again until this morning (it was girls’ night out last night, and don’t get me started on how hard it is to have a social life in this mix!). This morning, instead of calling for me when she woke, Kensie called for my mom. Sniff. This thing is tough!

I don’t know if these recent happenings are a sign of what’s to come (the collapse of everything I’ve worked toward since the day of her birth!). Yes, I can be dramatic. Or maybe it’s just a normal adjustment that Makensie and I must endure to prepare us for this new chapter in our lives. Whatever it is, I know that we are lucky in so many ways, and I am grateful for our life. Instead of a stranger caring for her five days a week, Kensie gets to begin preschool and spend lots of extra time with her grandparents. Lucky kid! Instead of me spending all of my hard-earned money on daycare and babysitters and rent, I am lucky to be able to tuck some of it away for a rainy day instead (thanks Mom and Dad!).

The truth is, whether at home or working full time, in my eyes, nothing will ever be good enough for my girl. Makensie, she will adapt to whatever life throws at her. She’s happy, healthy, and strong at the ripe old age of (nearly) three, and she has lots of people around her who love her to pieces. But me, I will suffer. I will think about Kensie constantly, tear up when I get a picture text of her riding her bike playfully, feel cheated every time she chooses her Nana over me, and regret every moment I miss while away from her. But I will also be doing what is necessary to raise a gracious, grateful, grounded human being, one who understands that life is not always what you expect it to be and adapts. With that in mind, I can be at ease in my current situation. Here’s hoping the turbulence of the past couple of years is beginning to settle.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“Nothing Gold Can Stay”

These days, my life is simply a series of balls that stay in the air at all times. Full-time mom. Starting a new company. Trying to stay healthy. Day care. Swimming lessons. And, as of yesterday, working full time.

As I sit at a desk doing this new job in a familiar building surrounded by people I worked with more than five years ago and am happy to be working with again, all I feel is grateful. Grateful to get up early and get Kensie ready for her day. Grateful to be in the mix of the congested highway leading to work. Grateful to drive up the stone-lined path to the beautiful building I once (and will never again) took for granted. Grateful to have a job in my field in this economy (“temporary” is fine with me!). There are so many people in this town and in our country right now who can’t find work at all, and I get to come here every day and earn money to support myself and my child in a beautiful setting with great people doing what I love. I. AM. BLESSED.

I haven’t always felt this way about working. When I was younger, I took that privilege for granted. I changed jobs frequently. I moved around a lot. A job was just a means of getting cash to support my lifestyle, little more. But when I had a child, my view began to change. Suddenly, I had this constant reminder of my responsibilities—to my daughter, to myself, to those around me, to the world (new moms tend to exaggerate things)! And when the economy tanked and I lost a couple of jobs, I began to truly appreciate how lucky people who have stability in their lives are. And that’s when I decided it was time to find a way to ensure that my daughter had a bright future. I’ve always loved what I do, and I’ve been lucky enough to work within my field since I was in college. But I’ve recently discovered that loving what you do and having a chosen career path are simply not enough anymore. So now, I’ll try anything that will keep my daughter fed and playing happily in her Target rompers!

Nothing is permanent. Jobs, homes, friends, lovers, nature. It’s something we all know but most of us choose not to think about. Look at the catastrophe in the Gulf. Growing up, it never occurred to me that I may not be able to share with my children the beauty and tranquility of a place I visited multiple times each year of my life and saw as a second home. I never once thought that something so horrible and possibly irrevocable could happen to this sacred place. I was going to take Kensie to the beach for her third birthday celebration this summer, but not now. People there are getting sick. Children are playing on beaches right next to clumps of oil mixed with God knows what. I can’t take my child there now, and it breaks my heart.

Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same; it just can’t. As Robert Frost so eloquently wrote:

“Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

Inevitably, this phase, too, will come to an end. But I plan to appreciate every moment of every day, because, in the end, isn’t that what matters the most?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Daily Positives

There are so many positives throughout our daily lives, but rarely do we mention or even recognize them as positive. During a time when things are a true struggle for me and life is not even close to what I thought it would be after 36 years, I’m going to try and reveal some positive things that I encounter (or at least wish for) on a daily basis. Let me show you how easy it is!

• The look my sweet cat flashes as he’s crawling into bed without me because I’ve stayed up later than he would have liked
• A great movie coming on at 9 p.m. (knowing it’ll be over by 11 p.m. so that I can still get up at the butt-crack of dawn with Kensie)
• A random instance of my baby grabbing my hand and looking into my eyes to say, “Mommy, I wuv you!” (OK, OK, too obvious!)
• A big, fluffy, white dog licking my feet for no apparent reason (he loves me, I tell you, he loves me!)
• The impulse to shave my legs more than once a week (wow is that ever a positive, because it doesn’t always happen!)
• The quiet of a completely empty house (again, rare)
• The memory of hiking in the beautiful Northern California mountains with some great people (and critters) and then ending the day with an evening at my favorite pub
• A good breakfast spot (which is really lacking here in the 'ham, where breakfast spots other than the [nasty] Waffle House are scarce [Oops, a bit negative. See how quickly it seeps in!] )
• The knowledge that the “chipmunk cheeks” caused by my recent rendezvous with prescription Cortisone will eventually go away (it’s not that few pounds I’ve gained since I’ve been sick my doctor assures me!)
• The knowledge that the “all-new sweets craving” caused by my recent rendezvous with prescription Cortisone will eventually go away (which is likely the cause of the extra few pounds)
• A random “decent” song on the truly miserable Birmingham radio waves (bring back “Reg’s Coffee House” and “Live 100.5” for God’s sake! [Wow, I snuck in another negative. This is tough!] )
• That change (or at least the expectation of it in the very near future) is imminent
• A good glass of red (always a positive in my book!)
• The fact that my very first University Daily Kansan editor just won a Pulitzer (I’m in good company with all my fellow graduates of the great William Allen White School of Journalism at KU, just wish I had the great job to prove it!)
• “Mystic Pizza” (or any other 80s movie that comes on when you’re feeling desperate and unappreciated: “Oooh, your kiss is . . . sweeter than honey . . .” )
• An unexpected steak dinner after a long afternoon of babysitting some great (though sometimes dramatic) kids
• My girlfriends, who seem to always check on me at the exact right time as if they somehow know that I need them
• Kensie having discovered morning cartoons so that I can catch a few extra “Zs” (go girl, keep it up!)
• Pilates (need I say more)
• A quiet moment (ANY quiet moment)
• The promise of a new “family” business venture that will cure me of having to work for people who only think about No. 1
• The fact that with the house up for sale, I’ve already cleaned out every closet and can therefore think of nothing else that needs be done (yeah right!)
• Can I end with somewhat of a negative? What the hell happened to spring!?! From winter straight to summer is what truly sucks about life in the South! (OK, I’ve just completely blown my positive vibe, but really, the heat is ridiculous this early in the season!)

So I think I’ve just proved that there are many more positives in a day than most of us realize, and if we could just take the time to recognize those positives, maybe our lives would actually become more positive! I know it’s hard (as is evident in my multiple negative tangents in the above list), but if we would just take the time to recognize the good in our lives and stop focusing so much on the bad, our world would be a much healthier, happier place to be (says the unemployed single mom living at home with her parents whilst scraping together pennies from the rare freelance job who has no clue how to take her own advice).


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who’s in Charge Here?

As I sit in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart with Kensie sleeping heavily behind me in her car seat, I can’t help but reflect on the past few months. Not a lot has changed. I’m still a single mom freelancing to make ends meet (yay for freelance work!), still living with the parents (thank goodness, really, for this one), still without much of a social life (I’m sorry, what does “dating” mean again?), and still . . . barely sleeping.

As you know, Kensie has never been the best sleeper. She never really slept through the night until she was about 1 1/2 years old, and then it was pretty short-lived. But now, at more than 2 1/2 years old, things have actually gotten worse. Not only does she not sleep through the night, but she comes into my room and either cries to get into my bed or sneaks in. Initially, I didn’t think it’d really be much of a problem being she’s really still a baby (my baby!) and just wants to sleep with her mommy, and that just makes sense at her age, right? Well this is what I told myself when she first began the practice. So I decided that I’d let her do it until she reached 3 (much to the chagrin of several of my mommy friends) and put the nix on it then. But as the days and nights (seemingly unending) went on and on, I began to realize that I was going to have to make some changes.

The reason Kensie napped behind me in her car seat in the Wal-Mart parking lot on this day was because she fell asleep on the way home from a play date, and she was so tired all morning I just couldn’t bring myself to wake her. So, as so many times before, I sat quietly and wrote as Kensie slept. And after about an hour (which is a normal naptime for K now), she woke, was happy to be at the store, then skipped daintily by my side as we walked in to pick up a few necessities. The rest of the afternoon was typical. Playtime, a DVD, snack time, playtime: You know the drill.

By dinnertime and after much discussion with family and friends about a “sleep plan” for Kensie and me, I had made the decision: Mean Mommy Must Materialize! I’d threatened K a few times in the past few months with locking her in her room if she came out to get into my bed, but I never followed through with it (this is likely the worst form of parenting there is, by the way) because it was just too hard! It’s so much easier to throw them in the bed and fall back asleep (until the kicking in the head and stuffing their feet under your back as you try to get comfortable ensues). So I took the easy road, and I paid the price. My “baby” had taken over the only free space and time I had in this world. But tonight, it was all going to end.

As I got Kensie ready for bed, I explained to her my “plan.” “Baby, when Mommy puts you to bed tonight, you need to stay in your bed all night until you see the sun come in through the window in the morning.” “Will I see it today, Mommy?” “No baby, in the morning.” “Today?” She’s not quite got the today/tonight/in the morning concept yet. “Mommy sleeps in Mommy’s bed, and you sleep in your bed. And . . . ” (insert deep breath and attempt at stern voice here) “if you come out of your room at all tonight . . . ” (breathe, breathe, breathe . . . now do it!) “Mommy’s going to put you back in the bed and . . . ” (don’t be a wuss already!) “lock the door!” “OK Mommy, I won’t come out of my room tonight. I love you Mommy!” Whew, OK, it was done. And the kicker to the story: Kensie didn’t come out of her room all night until the first flicker of sun came through the window at about 6:20 a.m.

Dude, this kid’s been playing me for months!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I'm Still Alive!

As I sit down to write this blog entry (old school with pen and paper, as I do from time to time), I struggle to find a blank sheet in my one-subject spiral notebook. I’ve just realized that Makensie has taken it upon herself to create “art” on nearly every page. Never a dull moment!

I haven’t blogged in quite awhile, and there are many reasons why, the most obvious being the holidays. You know how hectic they can be. My brother’s family was in town for two weeks, which meant we had three children under the age of four, one married couple (my brother and his wife), one divorced couple who lives together (my parents), and a single mom (me) all staying in a four-bedroom, three-bath house for an extended period time. (Did I mention the three dogs and one cat?) You can see how the logistics of lodging could get complicated (and it did). Privacy and quiet time were nonexistent.

Another obvious reason: I’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking for jobs and trying to build up my freelance business. (Check out my Web site.) Of course, getting a job is my top priority right now, so I have to spend any extra time I have on this endeavor. In the same vein, I’ve been trying to figure out what the next steps in my life will be. I had hoped to pinpoint where I want to raise my daughter, what I want to do as far as my career (if I even have a choice in this economy), and how I’m going to achieve all of my future goals. This is an extremely transitional period in my life, and I want to make the right decisions for myself and for my daughter, which takes time and a lot of soul-searching. And boy have I been soul-searching!

A new project I’ve been working on with my mother is writing a series of children’s books, which has been a lot of fun and a welcomed creative outlet for me. Unfortunately, the books have trumped my blog the past few months because of an end-of-February deadline. Three books are written, so now we’re in the formatting and editing phase. At the end of February, my mother and I are attending a conference for children’s books writers and illustrators, where we hope to learn a great deal about the next step in the process—finding a publisher. It could be a long road, but we’re hopeful that it will be a fruitful one.

Getting myself back into shape (two years is plenty of time to have lost the baby weight, so no more excuses!) has also been a top priority in my life the past few months. I’ve changed my diet extensively. I did Extreme Fit Training’s Boot Camp for three months (miss you Coach Val!), which helped me get back on track fitness-wise. It also provided yet another creative outlet for me: I was the Boot Camp Blogger, in which I chronicled the ups and downs of my three months of extreme training. The training was tough but exactly what I needed at this place in my life, and I hope I’m able to go back soon. For now, I’m going to the gym five days a week and trying to keep myself fit on my own. It’s harder without being held accountable by others, but I’m working on it.

Finally (as I run into another “doodle” of Kensie’s in my notebook), being a full-time mom is hard work! Don’t get me wrong: I love being at home with Kensie and am fortunate to be the one who’s teaching her and playing with her and cooking her meals and brushing her hair and bathing her and wiping her bottom now that she’s potty-trained (well, maybe I’ve gone a bit too far on that one) and molding her into the extraordinary person she’s becoming. It’s just hard to find the time for all the things I need and want to do in a day with a kid at my heels buzzing, “Hey, Momma. Hey, Mommmaaaa. Mommy! Mommmmmmaaaaaaa!!” But I’m getting better at organizing my and Kensie’s time. I never thought I’d say this, but working full time as a journalist is waaayyyyy easier than being single and a SAHM. Thank you universe for my wonderfully supportive family and friends! Without them, I don’t know where we’d be.

So, I’m hoping to beef up the number of Single Mommylogues entries in the next few months while continuing to look for jobs in multiple areas of the country and build my freelance company, write children’s books and explore getting them published, work out five days a week, figure out my future quickly so as to begin my life again, travel a bit here and there, and raise my child into a grateful, gracious, grounded human being. Oh, and did I mention trying to keep up with a couple of prime-time shows I’ve recently gotten sucked into that leave me feeling as if my day is incomplete when I miss them? I won’t tell you what they are for fear of losing one of my two readers, but I will say that one of them forces me to cover my eyes in embarrassment from time to time and the other has brought me to tears on multiple occasions. Yes, I should "just say no," but what else do I have to do with the two hours of time I have in the day for myself? Trashy TV it is!