Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beaming With Pride

Can you feel it? I believe I’m sending out warm and fuzzy rays of sunshine right now. I had a really great blog entry of progress but after tonight I have to share ... and brag.

Younger Boy received some hard cover Tonka Block Books. There are six of them and they have colors, words, numbers, opposites, etc. He’s been playing with them and pretending to read them lately, and tonight I decided that I was going to read them with him.

First we did words. I would say the word and he would say it after me. I’ll tell you what, listening to a toddler try to say the word “dependable” was cute. Especially when he giggled the first time we read it because he wasn’t sure. But he had the word down. And he loved the word “Fearless.” He actually asked me to use the word. I have no idea where he learned to do that from, but my sentence was “Younger Boy is Fearless.” He really liked that.

Then we did the colors. I know he wasn't reading the actual color words, but since he was saying the correct color I congratulated him on reading the color book by himself. There's nothing like a child's smile to make your giddy and happy inside.

But what really made me proud and excited and giddy was when we did the number book. The numbers are written out as words, but there is also the same number of images on the pages. I counted out one truck, then two trucks. Then I turned the page and he started counting. One, Two, Three. He counted all of the objects through out the book by himself. And it absolutely delighted me when we turned to the last page of the book and he counted out: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten!

Who knew that little stinker could count up to ten. I guess he is paying attention when I count out things.

Oh, and did I mention how proud I am of him? Because I’m definitely proud.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Think It’s Stupid

So I think this is one of those nights where I just need to get the thoughts out in order to let it go.

So for those that are kind of new, Jane had another baby last year with her new guy. The baby’s name is Trevor. And for those that might not know, we have the hardest time getting Jane to actually call us with her days off so that we can arrange the days that the boys will see her. She hardly ever asks for them, and it always feels like we have to force her to see them because she never shows any interest or puts any effort into seeing them.

Back to today, we still don’t have her days off for the next two to three weeks (which is what we get at a time from her the way her current shift manager does the schedule). She likes to leave her phone off, leave her phone behind, not answer her phone or just plain not call back. Even if there is a message left reminder her that we really need to find out the dates or that we have something important to tell her.

And today, something kind of lit up in my head about this week. Tuesday is Trevor’s first birthday party. Two or three weeks ago Jane asked if the boys could come to it. Well, I didn’t think anything of it until today. Because today it occurred to me that Jane didn’t ask for them for any of the holidays. I scheduled time for the boys to see her over the holidays. It occurred to me today that this is the first time really (outside of the occurrence for summer vacation time with the two older boys – here) that she’s actually put effort into asking for them.

To the point, and maybe I’ve worked myself into a fury for nothing, but it occurred to me that she put effort into seeing the boys because it was Trevor’s birthday party.

Am I making sense here?

I’ve gotten rather angry about it. Not super angry that I can’t think past it, but angry enough that I think she’s perhaps done an injustice to the boys. She can’t make the effort to call us with her days off to ensure that she sees them every week. She can’t make the effort to make sure that she can get any time to see them for holidays or their own birthdays. But she can make the effort to make sure that they can come to Trevor’s birthday party?

OK, I’ve said it (well, written it) out loud. So maybe she’ll prove me wrong now so that I can feel like a real bitch. But if still makes me pretty angry.

I’m not going to put any effort into wondering why. However, I am going to let it roll down my back and float away. I’ve come to the realization that in order to let it go I need to really feel the emotion and confront it. And once I’ve done so I can say “Eh, Que Sera Sera.”

So I feel a lot better now that I’ve written it. I’m not stewing over it. I feel lighter.

But I still think it’s stupid that she hasn’t called us back with her days off.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Singing My Preschool Woes

Do you remember your younger childhood schooling days? I’m talking preschool here. I went to a parent co-op preschool and I have such vivid memories of playing there. I remember some of the activities, I remember the songs, I remember my teachers, and I even remember getting in trouble for kissing a boy under a table.

Anyway, Younger Boy is at the age where he is definitely ready for preschool. He knows his colors, he knows his shapes, he knows numbers 1-5 (sometimes he knows 6 and sometimes not. It depends on the day.) And he is so, so, so excited to go to preschool. He asks me everyday if he’s going to preschool and I always have to let him down.

I feel horrible telling him not today. I’ve been trying to make sure he has things to do that aren’t just playing with Thomas and Friends, because at some point in the morning Thomas just isn’t fun anymore. I also refuse to park his butt in front of the TV for more than a half hour. We have play-doh and finger paints and Lincoln Logs – and that’s all great and all but it just doesn’t replace play time with other kids and the opportunities I know an outside preschool teacher can provide.

Now that we’ve moved and are a bit more settled in we’ve really been researching preschools. Unfortunately I can’t consider the more affordable parent co-op preschool because I just can’t take 3 to 4 days off of work every month to help out. So I’ve been looking into the life of private run preschools and our city’s preschool programs.

I’m waiting to hear back from the city’s preschool program because at this point, it looks like it’s the one program we might actually be able to afford. Because whoa – preschool is expensive.

I had no idea just how expensive it was until I started to look at prices. One preschool we looked at, and toured and really liked is about $250/month for a two day a week program. And that was one of the cheaper programs. Others we looked at want $135/week for a two day session!

I don’t want to deprive him of a great opportunity to be social with other kids and to go to preschool, but $250 a month is really cutting into our budget. And considering we’re trying to save up to pay for the wedding, I just don’t realistically see how we can afford it. I’m really sad about this, but I’m not giving up hope.

And trust me that I would ask Jane for help funding if I thought it was one: realistic and two: she could/would help out. But considering that she just can’t afford to help with anything I don’t even want to take a step down that road. Besides, according to their court papers the only thing that is written that she is expected to pay for is medical expenses that go beyond what FH’s medical insurance will cover.

So far the city-run preschool program is the next affordable option, but if not then I’m looking into possibly daycare options. I’d like to at least get him into some social setting so that he’ll have that opportunity to play with children that aren’t his brothers. I know how important social interaction is when it comes to children. Who am I kidding? I know how important social interaction is to adults! I’d also love to be able to send him off to be social without me there. I think that is an important part of him learning his independence and learning more about himself.

Anyway, those are my preschool woes. Wish me luck, and if you have any other ideas of how I can affordably get some socialization in for Younger Boy I’d love to hear them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thankful for the Preview

Despite the “taboo” of living together before getting married, with three kids in the picture I just felt that I had to do it. I was raised Roman Catholic. Since high school I have learned to develop my own ideas. But the “sin” of living together before marriage kept echoing in my head. (Those echoes are hard to turn off after being dragged to church three times a week and having nuns and priests preach down on you about how you are sinning and sure to be sent to burn in hell unless you ask for forgiveness.) After a while thought I said “F” that!

The other big risk that came with living together was of course sacrificing life as I knew it. Like in Izzy Rose’s book “The Packaged Deal” I too sat there many nights before and after moving in thinking to myself amidst tears and frustration and overwhelming feelings “This had better F-ing work out.”

As I mentioned in my last entry, September 15th was my one year anniversary as an instant mom. It involved leaving my dream career, my sister, my friends and my single-gal lifestyle. Being thrown into an instant mom life was by far not easy. Having to figure out meals for a family of five, caring for children full time (that weren’t mine), living with people and trying to hang on to my sanity overnight in no way can be mentally healthy for anyone.

But hey, I’m still here. And I’ve seriously thought about it the last couple of days.

Moving in before getting married has giving me the following:

One – An opportunity to see what daily life might be like. Before I moved in it was me, my sister and the cats. Life wasn’t quite as organized and dinner might range anywhere from a beer and some good food at a pub to a baked potato at home. Socialization was on my terms and if I just wanted to lie around in my room with a book or a DVD I could. Not that I jumped into this relationship and situation with plans on leaving, but by not being married I could indeed still leave if it just wasn’t what I wanted for myself.

Two – An opportunity to experience the crap of living in the aftermath of divorce without feeling trapped. I had a huge epiphany yesterday. I honestly think that had I gotten married and moved in and had to experience some of the things I have had to – I really think that I would have likely felt more bitterly about it feeling like I was trapped by the bounds of marriage. I really hate feeling I’m being forced into something without a choice. Whenever I’ve come across the “I didn’t sign up for this” notion I’ve reminded myself that I did make the decision to be a part of it, and that I was still making the choice to be a part of it. I think having the option to be able to leave has really made me appreciate my situation more. I am making the choice to be here. I’m not trapped and being forced to experience this with no way out. And even though we’re not married yet, I think that living together before hand has helped to make me stronger and more aware of what life is going to be like.

Three – The opportunity to slowly adjust to life with a man and his children, and an opportunity to experience what life is like to be a part of something bigger than myself. I have had so many friends who have gotten married and then found that they just couldn’t tolerate life together afterward. I’ve seen relationships fall apart after moving in with each other. Do I totally love living with all the aspects of an all male household? No way! There is no way in hell that I love smelling the silent and deadly gas that seems to occur every day. There’s no way I love hearing the daily complaining and yelling and whining. But, I’ve learned that these are things that I can tolerate living with. And that the man and boys I’ve chosen to live with I love more and more each day … despite their smelly gas and constant noise.

So after a year I’ve come to realize that I really am thankful for the opportunity to preview what life might be like after marriage. I’m even more thankful for the opportunity to experience all of this with the option to walk away from it. It has made me appreciate it that much more. And despite that we’ve been living together for a year, both my fiancé and I are still absolutely excited about getting married. Our living together hasn’t ruined the excitement of “What’s to come” because there is still so much to come after marriage for us and our new little family.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wishing And Hoping For Jane

I’m Back!!!! Michigan was amazing! And crazy! And oh do I have stories and photos to prove it. I also found that a male gives the best ever pedicures and manicures. Every mom definitely deserves to sit in one of those sweet massage chairs and get pampered once in a while. I was long over due. My mini-vacation was definitely some good quality me-time.

September 15th was my official one year anniversary as an instant mom. Whoa. Where did the time go? I thought about writing a big old reflecting entry, but Jane has messed up that. So instead I will share a couple of random introspective thoughts I had on the plane ride back, and then get the “Wishing and Hoping” out of my system.

After a year of being an instant mom:

*I find that I crave for silence and peace and calm whenever I can get it. Whether that be having my fiancé drop me off at Starbucks so I can sit there at a table surrounded by calm. Sitting in the house petting Nasty Cat while soaking in the quiet and still moment when my fiancé is at work, Younger Boy is napping and Older and Middle Boy are at school. I used to wish for companionship and how I just want some quiet and calm time to myself. Even if it’s just 5 minutes – I’ll take it!

*I find that not giving in to frustration is amazing. As an example: The boys started out wanting T*co B*ll over homemade enchiladas. And now they guzzle up homemade egg drop soup and clam marinara sauce over pasta. And that all happened in less than a year. Who would have thought!

*It feels nice to hear the boys refer to us as “my family.” I lowered my expectations of what to expect from the boys and their acceptance of me and our lives together have soared past it. I about cried at my homemade Mother’s Day photo. And having Middle Boy run up to me to give me a hug when I picked him up from their school and after-school program … it was seriously one of the happiest and vivid moments I’ve ever experienced.

*I’m thankful that I have friends who have been children of divorce who have been more than willing to help give me advice and share their experiences with me. Having parents that have been married for 30 years now doesn’t exactly help me relate to a child of divorce. And although I know that everyone’s experience is different, I take in any education and knowledge that I can get. And I am thankful for the opportunity to gain it.

*I am very thankful for all the support I have had and still have as an instant mom. I’m thankful for my fiancé, my parents, my family, my friends and of course all of you other moms and stepmoms. I know there is still a very long road ahead of me, but being able to make it through this first year helps me feel more secure in my new life. Back in college a friend once told me “Your friends believe in you Crys, But you have to believe in you too.” And I do believe in me, but having others believe in me too has helped a lot when the going gets tough.

Hoping and Wishing
Tonight was one of the nights that we brought the boys over to see Jane. We tried to slip in an extra day for her to spend with the boys this weekend. My fiancé called me up to tell me that the extra Saturday didn’t look like it was going to work because Jane had a meeting for a fish society that she belonged too. Then he told me that she was thinking of maybe bringing the two older boys with her.

Well, first my blood boiled because she was again leaving out Younger Boy. Then my heart rate jumped a notch when I thought about it some more – A fish society meeting as your day to spend with your children? Now I work in the pet industry … with includes exotics like fish. I’ve also been to many other niche related meeting. I’ve sat through a veterinary presentation for small mammals, I’ve sat through a bird behavior presentation, and sorority meetings. I’ve sat through all kinds of editors and internet related meetings. And seriously, a meeting where business is being conducted or a presenter is trying to teach something (unless it's directed for and created for children) is not a place for children. It also isn’t the place to spend quality time with your children, in my opinion at least.

I honestly didn’t know what angered me more; the fact that she was leaving Younger Boy out again or that she wasn’t putting the kids best interest first. Because I can tell you now that unless there is a TV or video game on those two boys cannot sit still and focus on something they have no interest in. Luckily, Jane checked her fish society’s website and found out that the meeting had been rescheduled so all three of the boys get to spend some time with her that day after all.

And here it is. My wishing and hoping are that Jane will get a clue and put her children first one day. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow, it doesn’t even have to be next month. But I just hope that for her sake, and for theirs, that one of these days she’ll put effort into spending a good quality day with them doing stuff with them because she wants to, and not just because she has to.

That is a wish and a hope that I have for her after my first year experience as an instant mom.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mixed Feelings About Michigan

I’m really excited about this week. One of my old college roommates is getting married on Friday. So I’m flying out to Michigan to attend the wedding. However, my fiancé couldn’t get the time off of work so he will not be accompanying me to this one. (We’ll be flying out together to Missouri for another college roommate’s wedding in October.)

I’m really, really excited because I’ll get to see quite a few different circles of friends out in Michigan. I’ll be seeing one circle at the wedding, another the following Saturday morning and yet another Saturday evening. (I get to crash a bachelor party for my roommate who is getting married in October. I should also mention that this roommate is one of my brides men in my wedding next year.)

I’m really, really, really excited about getting to hang out with all my friends, and to hit up the night scene again. I can’t tell you the last time I actually went out bar hopping and was able to have a fun night out.

I however, am kind of bummed that my fiancé won’t be there with me. I kind of really did want to introduce him to my other life in Michigan. Especially since not all of my friends that I’ll be seeing will be able to come out for our wedding.

It’s rather weird and frustrating having so many different lives. I guess it comes naturally with moving around a lot and having so many different circles of friends in all the different areas that I’ve lived (Western and Eastern Michigan areas, Northern and Southern California and Oregon).

I also, kind of, wish that I could bring the boys with me for the trip. Older Boy had mentioned that he wanted to visit Kalamazoo (where I went to college) and that he wanted to fly on a plane. He of course also mentioned that he would like to visit Michigan during a time that it is snowing. I told him that if we did visit Michigan it would most definitely not be when it’s snowing. Four years of Michigan winters was just enough for this California girl. (OK, technically it was 3 ½ Michigan winters. I left right before a nasty snow storm came in 2005. But that was still enough for my liking!)

I know that one of these days we’ll all be able to all head out there and I can show off and introduce my new family. But I can promise you all now that despite my mixed feelings about my trip out there I will have a great time out in Michigan this weekend. So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days, you’ll know why.

Watch out Detroit! I’m coming back!

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's Setting In & Some Swank

It’s Setting In
I picked up my wedding dress and accessories today. Younger Boy came with me to help get out of the house and he proudly helped hold up the bottom of the dress bag for me. I must say it was kind of nice to have the help as I struggle up the staircase with a Caffino, the keys and my purse in one hand and the top part of my dress and bag with my veil and sash in the other. Otherwise I would most likely have dragged the bottom part of the dress bag up the stairs hoping that it wouldn’t tear and dirty the precious gown inside.

Bringing home the whole shebang though and seeing that I had 155 days on my Wedding Countdown Counter on my Facebook page kind of sunk in that I’m getting married next year. And I tell you now; I have been far too busy being an instant mom, an instant domesticated goddess to a family of five and a workaholic to really let it sink in.

And it’s still slowly sinking in that I’m getting married, and I’m officially going to be an instant mom, and that I’ll officially be off the market. Technically I am off the market, but as the saying is sometimes thrown around “I’m not married yet.” But still … it’s just plain weird to me. I enjoyed my long distance relationships that didn't get in the way of my career so much, that it just seemed so out of character for me to suddenly walk away from it all to be an instant mom. I don't think I've stopped to think about any of that either. Who has time to do such things when you're dealing with kids and Jane and work?

I'm getting married. Me … who the longest relationship I’ve had was back in high school (almost two years). And after that I was pretty good at having a new boyfriend every three to six months. And those were the long term ones. A guy was lucky if he was worth dating past two weeks. Even my own mother stopped trying to keep track of who I was dating after I went off to college.

So even though I have this role of stepmother in my heart and efforts, the thought of actually being married and someone’s wife is a whole other issue I’m finally considering.

Weird…just plain weird to me.

Some Swank
The awesome and amazing Swanky Smirking Cat has bestowed upon me the Swank Award. She finds my thought and heart of my stepmom role swanky. So Thanks!!

And now I shall pass on the Swank to my fellow following bloggers:

KweenMama: Who truly is the definition of Swank with her tips and recipes and advice.

JustMe: Who seems to always experience and understand just what I’m going through…because she’s often experiencing it at the same time too. She is by far swanky!

Congrats ladies!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Struggling with the Negative Attitude

As you may remember for me 2009 is The Year of the Coffee Bean … a.k.a The Year of Being a Positive Influence. Along with that you may remember that I’ve really been struggling in connecting with and working with Middle Boy. Today was another one of those Bang Head on Wall days.

Older Boy and Middle Boy started school yesterday at their new elementary school. Older Boy is in fourth grade and has already made some friends. Middle Boy is in first grade and has told us that he has still not made any friends.

Now trust me when I say that I have been trying ever so hard to be helpful and positive. I’ve pointed out that it’s the second day of school and that sometime making really good friends just takes a couple of days. Both Older Boy and I have given suggestions to Middle Boy on how to go about talking to kids in his class – like asking if he can play; asking if the other kid would like to play; asking the kid simple things like what is your name, who is your favorite transformer … blah, blah, blah.

Middle Boy informed me this morning that he hasn’t tried to make friends with any of the kids in his class because all the kids in his class are ugly.

Can I tell you how hard it was to hold back that frustration and disappointment? Now don’t get me wrong. I clearly remember getting angry with a friend back in first grade and telling her “Well you can’t come to my birthday party!” Now that was the ultimate insult. Whether I planned on inviting her or not, being told that you’re not invited to someone’s birthday party is an absolute diss! But to hear that negativity come out of his mouth seriously made me feel rather saddened and disappointed inside.

I really wasn’t quite sure how to respond to it. I calmly told him that was not a very good reason to not try to be friends with someone. Then the following conversation occurred:

Me: How would you feel if someone said “I don’t want to be friends with Middle Boy because he’s ugly.”
MB: I would feel sad.
Me: How do you know that some of those kids don’t want to be your friends?
MB: I don’t know.

I’ve talked to my future hubby about trying to talk to Middle Boy about this.

I completely understand being the new kid at school. I’ve been there both as a kid and an adult. I understand being shy. But I seriously have a hard time understanding this sort of negative and hurtful view. And lately it seems that Middle Boy is all about not giving a darn about other people’s feelings. I also can't tell if he just doesn't want to put forth the effort to try and make friends or if he's perhaps throwing his negative "I'm better than thou" attitude at these kids. Because if someone said and did the sort of things that he's been doing lately, I wouldn't want to be his friend either.

The other statement he said to me today included:

Me: So did you get to meet your teacher today? (His first day of school he had a sub.)
MB: Yes.
Me: What was she like? Is she nice?
MB: She’s almost fat.
Me: Oh Middle Boy, I hope that you didn’t say that out loud to anyone …Especially in front of her.
MB: I didn’t.

I’m sure there is a parenting book out there on it. If it was clearly labeled “How to work with the Middle Child of Divorce who is in the ‘I don’t care about other people’s feelings’ stage” then I’d be all set. But I don’t think that any publisher out there would be willing to publish that title.

I’m a little at a loss. I want to think that this is a normal stage for kids to go through. I want to think that there is a really simple and easy solution for this. But at the moment I’m really stumped at how to approach it. I’m Ms. Positive Attitude here. I’ve been doing really, really well with being Ms. Positive Attitude. But Ms. Positive Attitude is getting a little frustrated with Mr. Negative and Rude. And at the same time I’m wondering what other factors could be contributing to this attitude. If it’s something along with Middle Child Syndrome; if it’s something with being a child of divorce; if it has anything to do with the type of attitude that Jane has been an example of. Maybe it’s a combination of all of the above, or maybe not. Maybe this is just something every parent has to deal with once in a while when the right personality is unwound in a child.

Sometimes I think being an instant mom blows. My fiancé has been a parent for about 9 years … I’ve been a parent (and with Jane’s help I’ve had to become a main staple parent) for almost 12 months. [That’s right. My one year anniversary as an instant mom is coming up on September 14th.]

Does anyone want to get a martini with me and unwind?