Child of Divorce

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I had a very happy childhood. My very first memory, from my swim lessons was when I was the ripe old age of 18 months. Studies have shown that when you have a happy childhood, you retain a lot of memories. I had such a happy childhood that I moved 3 doors down from my parents and am giving my children very similar memories. The same trail for my kids to play on, the same neighborhood schools to make friends at, even the same hill for them to race down on their scooters. However, my older son will not share the same innocence and happiness that I had at 11 years old. It tears me up inside every single day.

You see I married his father when I was 20 years old after only knowing him for 3 months. One word comes to mind… STUPID. But I was in love and running off to Vegas against my parents will sounded incredibly romantic. And it was, at the time. So fast forward to when my wonderful little boy is 3 years old. The end of my marriage was eminent. I remember leaving his father with all our stuff packed in the car, my toddler crying for his daddy and his dad running by the car, both crying out for each other. It was by far the hardest day of my life.

When you’re in the thick of it all you don’t really think that life will go on and that life will get better. But it does. I met a great man that truly considers Big E his son. He has never once referred to him as his stepson. In fact, when he proposed marriage, he didn’t propose to me, he proposed to both of us. When we got married, the three of us were at the alter, not just my husband and me, but the 3 of us making vows to each other. I wouldn’t have gotten remarried if it were any other way. Picture perfect right? Sorta.

My ex-husband gets Big E every other weekend. He loves his son and fought me in court to maintain that visitation. He pays very little in child support. So little it barely covers what he eats these days, a whopping $260 a month. He lives in a multi-million dollar house, drives very fancy cars, and takes more vacations than I can count, but swears up and down that he can’t afford more than $260 a month. His wife had told me on the phone that I am heartless and a bad mom. I can go on and on how this woman had negatively affected me. She has this vision of me that I am this terrible person, but she doesn’t even know me! Who is she to judge? And the worst part is she actually says to my son that I am a bad mom.

Well my ex-husband and his wife are having problems now. Big E hates going over there but loves his dad. He cries all the time that he loves his dad but hates how he’s treated. The worst part is there is nothing I can do. At Big E’s age, he can control if he goes over there, but he wont tell his dad he doesn’t want to go. There are a lot of tears right now.

The good news is that he has our home. He has his mom, his dad (because lets face it, my husband is raising him, he’s there every moment of every day, helping with homework and cheering him on in the outfield at games) and his little brother. All we can do is provide stability and love, steer him in the proper direction and hope we come through loud and clear.

My happy memories that I was hoping he would repeat are there, unfortunately though they also have a very darker and sadder counterpart. I feel so very guilty every day that I did this to him. I feel like I am responsible for all this pain he is suffering. And he is SUCH a good kid. It honestly kills me inside.

Ah… the modern day American family.

Rambling Thoughts

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What’s up with the few (ahem) gray hairs standing at attention every time I get out of the shower? I am trying to resist putting chemicals in my hair but they are not helping!  This is perhaps the one and only time I’ve ever wished to be a natural blonde.  I mean, it’s got to be less noticeable if you are blonde than if you have dark hair, right?

Why does it take me so long to get anywhere these days? Like the Scriv, I’ve only got one child.

I swear I was never so absent-minded before I had a child. Does this wear off ever?  I always start with the best of intentions, organizing my day and getting everything I’ll need ready. Yet somehow when I get to the place where I’m going to return something, I inevitably neglect to bring that very something. Or I lose the coupon I so carefully printed off the web that morning that was the reason for me visiting that particular store. Twice I’ve forgotten to take my child’s mitt to t-ball practice. And I never seem to have whatever club card I need. I try not to switch purses much for this very reason!

Where did my 4-year-old learn how to charm me into giving him what he wants? He makes things sound so reasonable.  “How about if you just let me spend a little while on the computer and then when you tell me it’s time to get off and do something else, I’ll do it right away AND I’ll eat that fruit.  Does that sound good, Mommy?”  Aha.  Wait, what did I agree to?  I know darn well he’s probably fibbing.

Ugh.  Bedtime.  Another typical battle with a boy who hates to fall asleep.  “No, I will NOT close my eyes because I am NOT sleepy!”  Snore.

Napping at Disneyland

Disneyland - One of the few places my boy still naps

I used to like Star Wars until I was forced to talk about it twenty-five times a day.  “Do you like the part when Anakin Skywalker turns into Darth Vader?  Did you know that Luke and Leia are brother and sister and Darth Vader is their father?  Did you know that, Mommy?  Anakin used to be good but then he turned to the dark side…”  Thanks, Daddy.  Couldn’t you have waited until he was older?  I have to confess I kind of miss the Wiggles.

Okay, I force myself to go to the gym for about an hour at a time and it does feel good to have some energy and stay trim BUT I still don’t love to exercise and there are these super toned women (moms even) taking several classes a day plus gym time that seem to eat it up. Is there something wrong with me or is it them? And forget about the dieting part. There are simply some things I won’t give up unless the doctor says so.

Why does every other kid seem to love veggies but mine? Are these moms lying to me? And how about the moms who say the kid potty-trained herself in 3 days at age 2? Or the ones whose preschoolers take long naps willingly, go to bed on time AND remain in their own bed every night?  Did I miss something? 

Ah well, here’s something to brag about. My son taught himself to write at 3. Ha. No joke. He loves letters/words. TAKE THAT, MAMAS OF VEGGIE EATERS AND GOOD SLEEPERS!  Who cares if he took 4 ½ years to potty train?  He can write his own random thoughts.  Take today’s tidbit.  “I make chairs”.  Brilliant, eh? (I just got back from Canada, can you tell?)

The Librarian

Silent Sundays

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I Need a Tardy Slip

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Okay, I can admit it–I have a tardiness problem. I’m always late. Actually I’m not as bad as I used to be, but the child has consistently required more time to get out of the house than I originally thought. Although even when he’s not involved, I just can’t seem to get it together. Take Friday, for example.

I had a day-long seminar, which I was very excited about and didn’t even involve the Mouse. So I wake up on time, get ready, no problem. And then…

I start up my car and drive down the street, realize I forgot that I left my notebook at home

Retrieve said notebook, plenty of time to make it to the seminar

On the way to the freeway, the binging and flashing red light reminds me that I’m out of gas. Crap.

Get gas, still hoping to make it on time.

Freeway is no problem, but I decided to follow the given directions rather than input the address in my GPS or rely on my own experience–after all, I’ve been there before! Once!

Get off the freeway and make a right. Drive about a mile and a half and then think, “Hmmm, I should be here by now.”

Look up at street sign, realize I’m on the wrong street. If they start a little late I’ll only miss a few minutes.

Regret that I didn’t take the route I took last time I went there. Turn around to go back.

Pass the street I normally would have taken to get there. Good call! And I’m going to have to sneak in the back of the lecture hall so nobody sees how late I am.

Drive around the campus looking for the correct parking lot. All seminar materials reiterate that if I don’t park in the correct lot, I WILL BE TICKETED AND GOD HIMSELF WILL SMITE ME ON THE SPOT!

Third go-round of the campus including a detour where they closed an intersection specifically for this function. I hope I’ll make it to the second seminar.

Pull over halfway in the parking garage to check the map again. Piss off the guy behind me.

Park and see the parking permits other people have displayed. Must be the right place!

Don’t want to look like a dork on a college campus looking at a map, so walk in the direction I believe the building to be.

It’s not.

Walk back toward the correct building. Maybe I’ll make it in time for lunch?

Arrive at building, check in, take the wrong entrance

Find the ladies room. Not the lecture room. At least that will come in handy later, with my peanut-sized bladder.

Find the lecture room, but no more seats. Sit on the floor, having missed a full half-hour of the opening lecture.

Fabulous. At least I made it.

I’m wondering–is this tardiness thing a mom thing? Like the other day I was driving to a playdate and called the organizer, Mommica. The  conversation went like this:

Me: “Hey Mommica, I’m running behind. Just pulling into the parking lot now.”

Mommica: “Okay, I’m at the intersection of Late Lane and Really Late Road.”

Me: “Wait, isn’t that three miles behind me?”

Mommica: “See you there!”

In fact, there’s only one mom in the group who consistently arrives on time: Bruin Mom. And it’s easy to tell that Bruin Mom is there because she has a distinctive car. Bruin Mom has two children under 3 and is pregnant with another. Seriously, if I can’t even get myself and one child out of the house on time, I have no idea how she does it.

One time she came late to a meetup. When I didn’t see her car after I arrived late (of course), I wondered if I was at the right house.

I need a tardy slip for life.

Although one time I was driving down the freeway and saw a personalized license plate that said “ALWYS L8”  I mean, who thinks that’s a good idea? I can just imagine the police officer on the highway thinking, “Well a lot of people are speeding here, but look at that ALWYS L8 plate–I bet she’s late! I’m going to pull her over and give her a ticket just to make her later! I know I would.

I may have a tardiness problem, but at least I’m not dumb.

The Scrivener

An Education in Life

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I went to private school my whole life.  My father is a very accomplished, educated man.  From the time I was very young he instilled that I must go to college in order to be successful.  I attended an all girl catholic college prep high school where I was very average when it came to academics.  I loved the social aspect of high school but hated the work.  I’m sure most people felt that way, but I really didn’t care if I got C’s, after all, I had no big dreams of being a lawyer, a biologist or doctor.  I truly and honestly always knew my only burning desire was to be a mom.  I know many women right now are yelling at me, what about womens lib?  Equality?  Are you from the dark ages?  No, I’m not.  Of course I had interests, I loved art, the computer and knew I could make a career from that, but as far as burning desire to charge through high school and college for my dream career, nope, I just wanted to be a mom.

When I was the ripe old age of 18 I set forth on my next adventure… college.  It definitely was an adventure, but I can honestly say I was too immature to handle it.  I went to many parties, took way too many trips to Mexico and ended up failing out of the 4 year school my parents worked so hard to get me into.  My super-fun dorm room turned into a room back at my parents house and I landed myself in community college.  Don’t get me wrong, community college is a great place, but for me, starting out in a dorm at a 4 year school made community college seem like, well, failure.  I attended classes irregularly and put the minimal amount of effort it took to pass my classes until at 20 I met my ex-husband.

I was swept off my feet, stopped going to classes and moved in with him.  3 months after meeting him (yes, you read that correctly… THREE MONTHS) we ran off to Las Vegas and got married.  I’m sure it was my rebellious way of getting back at my mom and dad for trying to control me and my values, but at the time I thought it was so romantic.  I attended a small trade school and got a certificate in web design.  It was hardly an accomplishment, I attended a few classes and got a certificate that could have just as easily been printed on my home Hewlett-Packard.  I went into the workforce and can honestly say I had a successful job as a web designer designing sites for major companies such as Burger King, Los Angeles Times and many more.

At 22 I gave birth to my first son, Big E.  Finally, my burning desire became a reality!  I was a mom.  I loved every bit of it.  I had no postpartum, I didn’t feel like I was giving up anything and I can honestly say I had no problem giving up my early 20’s.  Of course I really didn’t know what I was missing, because when I look back, of course I see that I gave that up, but the important thing is that I didn’t feel it at the time.  Unfortunately, at 25 my marriage fell apart and I found myself back in my parents bedroom once again, of course this time I had a small child with me.

After 9-11, pretty much all web design jobs dried up for those without degrees.  OUCH!  I had a great portfolio and great client names.  But you know that little section at the bottom of the resume that’s entitled “education”?  Well apparently it really is that important.  I got an admin job making decent money.  I had met an amazing man that is now my husband and I was doing fine financially.  I got fired from the admin job (don’t get me started on that one!) and went to work at the Queen Mary in Long Beach as a graphic designer in the marketing department.  It was a small department consisting of 3 of us.  I learned a lot from my manager about marketing and public relations.  After she left the company I took over a lot of responsibility with buying radio ads, marketing campaigns, public relations, I was loving it.  I was there 3 years and really did take a lot from it.

In 2003 I started dabbling in photography.  I even had clients and everything.  But I realized that I was fixing so much in post-production that I needed technical education on the camera.  Once again I find myself needing an education.  The very thing I had been avoiding for the past 15 years of my life was finally catching up to me.  I always knew I wanted to get a degree, to finally finish up what I had started at 18 and gave up because I was too busy tapping the keg and having a good time.

I enrolled in an online BFA program for an art school in photography.  For the first time in my life I have a 3.8 g.p.a.  I LOVE my classes and I love going to school.  I have watched my photography go from okay to award-winning and it feel fantastic.  Its definitely harder at 34 with a husband and 2 kids.   Plus I can only handle 2 classes at a time which will probably put my graduation at 2013.  It’s a little hard sometimes to think that I could have had it so easy had I done it my parents way.  I wouldn’t have these huge student loans piling up, I wouldn’t be having my son watch 2-3 movies during the day during preparation for midterms, and I probably could have studied over seas.  I had a wealth of opportunity that I tossed away.  Its a tough pill to swallow.

I did get my dream of being a mom, its just a shame I realized my other dreams so much later.  Do I regret any of it?  Not a bit!  I will tell you one thing though, when I do finally finish my degree in 2013… I am throwing the biggest graduation party this side of town.  Success is so much sweeter when you’ve had to work this hard for it.

Excuse me while a pour another cup of coffee to finish up studying…

The Photo Addict.

Works for Me Wednesday: Hotel Freebies

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Disrespect a hotel reservationist and you may find yourself in the tiniest room in the joint, right next to the noisy elevator with a great view of the dumpster in the back parking lot. That is if you are able to score a room at all!  The flipside of this is that most people who work in reservations really do appreciate a little kindness and will go out of their way to help you.  I’ve had really good luck with the latter approach.  Here’s what you do if you know the place you want to stay but can only afford the bare minimum. 

Check internet rates first.  Sometimes the best offers are web-based only.  Before you book, try also calling the hotel directly and cross check rates they offer.  This will also give you the opportunity to ask questions and get a feel for whether it is a busy time for them.  Perhaps your dates are flexible and you can switch plans accordingly.  Use your politest voice, be honest and tell them you must book for the lowest price but be sure to mention whether you are celebrating anything in particular.  If booking online, sometimes just a nice e-mail in the special request box will do.  The agent will make a note of this and it will sometimes get you little extras.  Just by doing this I have gotten free wine, cake, special views and big room upgrades. 

Sign up for any special hotel clubs.  Sign up is free and usually involves just a couple of minutes to fill out an online form but it can get you special attention if you are a member.  This could be anything from free internet access to express check in privileges.  It could get you parking discounts in big cities, free travel kits, free passes to the gym, etc. 

Once you have booked, follow up with a call just a few days before you arrive.  Talk about how excited you are about your visit and ask if they expect the hotel to be booked during your stay.  If the answer is no, request a complimentary upgrade if at all available.  Tell the agent you are traveling with a little one and explain that even a little bit of extra space would make all the difference to you and your family.  This has almost always worked for me, whether it is the Holiday Inn or the Westin.  God bless those reservation agents, they really do want you to enjoy yourself and spread the good word about your stay!  Don’t forget to leave a positive comment card praising the name of the person who helped you.  Happy travels!

The Librarian

Works-For-Me Wednesday

I’m Not Pregnant–I’m Just Fat

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It’s Tuesday, so that means it’s time for Random Tuesday Thoughts! Here’s mine.

People will say anything. I used to think this was limited to the elderly, who, once they reach a certain age, seem to eschew all vestiges of social graces and personal boundaries and say whateverthehell comes to mind, because, “I lived through the Depression and you whippersnappers don’t know a thing, would you like another Werther’s Original?”

Obviously I'm carrying octuplets

However, once I got pregnant, I learned that apparently all bets are off when it comes to pregnant women and parents, and everyone gets to say what they want–and they won’t even offer you a Werther’s Original in exchange. Unlike many women, nobody rubbed my belly uninvited, for which I considered myself lucky. But the questions and comments–oy! I can’t even count the number of times people asked if I was having twins. I wasn’t. Mouse was just way out in front, but who asks that kind of question? I mean why not just cut to the chase and say, “Wow, you’re fat!”

Although I suppose that’s better than previous times when I’ve been asked if I’m pregnant and I actually wasn’t. All three times happened at the airport. I have an implanted medical device so I can’t go through metal detectors. I have to be patted down every time I go through security, which is super-convenient and I just love doing it. Not. Anyway, three different times, the TSA agent conducting my pat-down asked when I was due. The first time, I was so embarrassed I mumbled something and left as quickly as a could. The second and third times I realized that it wasn’t ME who should be embarrassed, so when the agent said, “When are you due?” I replied with, “Oh, I’m not pregnant. I’m just fat.”

Ha.

Let’s just say that I guarantee those women will never be asking that question again.

Now that Mouse is here, people constantly comment on his size. Mouse is a stout lad. At 14 months, he’s currently 28 and a half pounds. He was only 7 lbs. 7 oz. when he was born, but he didn’t waste any time packing it on and by his 3 month appointment he was already off the charts. I have to shop for him at the Baby Gap Big and Tall store.

Won't somebody please think of the chubby kids?

No, there’s no Baby Gap Big and Tall, but if there were, it would make my shopping a lot easier.

Anyway, I get comments on his weight all the time. Most of the time it’s, “What are you feeding him?” Now how am I supposed to answer that one? Especially when I give my standard answer, “Twinkies and steroids,” they look at me like I’m crazy–as if they think I really do give him Twinkies and steroids.

Food, people. I feed him food.

And then there are the comments about his future football career. I’m not really a football fan. It took me years to fully understand the rules of the game (why is the clock still ticking and they’re just standing around? Wait, why is the clock stopped now?). The thought of my precious son crouching over and running head-first into another former customer of Baby Gap Big and Tall makes me nervous. I mean look at their heads! That can’t be good.

Then again, a friend of mine whose daughter is teeny tiny was complaining about how everyone keeps asking her, “What are you feeding her?” as if she were deliberately starving her kid to death. I guess we just can’t win.

The Scrivener

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