All Posts By Heather Wells

Perfect Mom? – Nah, Let’s Be Bad Moms

 

Perfect Mom? – Nah, Let's Be Bad Moms!

There is a new movie called Bad Moms set to hit the theaters in June that takes aim at the ‘perfect' moms and I can not tell you how excited I am about it!

The trailer looks hilarious and talks about so many of the things that I as a mom often feel. It doesn't sugar coat the bad side of things and how sometimes our kids can in fact at times be little assholes.  Yeah, yeah I know it's not exactly PC to say that about our kids but we all know that sometimes it's true.

The struggle and pressure to be the “Perfect Mom” weighs on us all. Do it all, know it all, BE it all…

Be the PTA mom, the mom who has her shit all together, have all the ducks in a row and so on. I personally have never been able to be that mom. I barely know if I am coming or going some days. Hell I have to put a reminder in my calendar to pick up my daughter or I may just forget. Yes, it's happened. I was so busy working that I simply didn't realize what time it was until the school called me because I hadn't shown up. Hello GUILT!

So often I looked at those moms that seem to have it all together and thought poorly about myself. Why couldn't I my shit together like them? Why wasn't I THAT mom? I killed myself trying to be it and in the process I made myself miserable. And guess what I still wasn't the perfect mom. So why in the world was I wasting so much energy and emotional space feeling guilty about it?

This movie is like a breath of fresh air to me! I can't wait to see it.

** PS. The video preview below is the NON-PG version. There are quite a few F-bombs so not to be watched at work or around little ears.

Self Care – Do You Forget to Take Care Of Yourself?

Self Care is so important but unfortunately we don't always practice it!

A few years ago I was a part of a group of parents with special needs children. Every couple of weeks we would get together and talk. Either to vent about what was going on in our lives, talk about specific needs or issues that we had or hear guest speakers.

This group was something that I looked forward to because I NEEDED that community, that tribe of individuals who were going through the same journey as I was. I had an outlet.

After a while the group stopped meeting for one reason or another and I just settled back into my life and routine without ever finding another outlet. Until recently when I signed up my boys for a TBI group for adolescents. The boys get to meet with other kids struggling with the same issues they are and I get to meet with the parents who are sharing the same struggles I have.

Self Care - Are You Taking Care of Yourself? - The Single Mom Blog

After that very first meeting I felt this sense of relief wash over me. I once again had people to talk to, people who understood. And with that realization came the understanding that I had allowed myself to fall into a funk. I was so busy just in the day to day minutia of my life that I didn’t realize what I had allowed to happen.

I wasn’t reading anymore, I wasn’t painting, I wasn’t doing things that brought me joy and happiness. I wasn’t talking to people about my stress and worry. I was just sitting back and letting life happen to me and beat me back down to a really bad place. I stopped fighting back. I had stopped taking care of myself.

As single mothers we often will take on the weight of the world. We take care of everything, do everything and worry about everything. It is so easy for us to become so busy caring for the kids and everything else that we forget to take care of ourselves. We don’t do the things that we need to do for ourselves.

Sometimes it’s because we feel like we can’t or shouldn’t. That it would be selfish of us to take time that could be spent doing other things. I know that too often I feel guilty if I do something for myself or take time for myself. If ever I get a day to just sit and do nothing I feel bad because I SHOULD be doing something.

But taking time for yourself and caring for yourself is so important!

Taking the time to really care for yourself the way that you care for your children is critical to your life. When you don’t take care of yourself then you are not as effective as a parent and it can creep up on you slowly while you aren’t paying attention. I didn’t really understand it or even identify it as a problem until I started up with this group because I felt that weight lift a little. That weight I hadn’t really known was there until it shifted a bit.

Self Care - Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

I wasn’t enjoying my life. I wasn’t enjoying my kids. I stopped doing things that were important to me. I was sitting by just letting everything sort of go to hell – because I had stopped caring. And I couldn’t understand why. Now many people would identify this as some level of depression I’m sure. And while I am not ruling that out at all I also realize that this was something that I could do something about.

Little things that I could do to start taking care of myself again. Things that don’t cost money or cost very little. Things that maybe don’t SEEM like they would make much of a difference, but trust me THEY DO.

Here is a list of things that you can do to take care of yourself so that you are the best possible version of yourself for your kids.

  1. Spend time outside – go for a walk or run (if you are one of those people who actually like to run).
  2. Meditate even if only for 10 minutes in the morning before you start your day
  3. Turn up the music and dance around
  4. Read your favorite book
  5. Cuddle with your kiddos
  6. Make sure you are getting enough sleep
  7. Un-clutter your life – get rid of things you no longer need, organize the things you do
  8. Get a massage – I now that this costs money BUT often if you look for a massage school in your area they have discounted rates so their students can practice
  9. Unplug – turn off your electronics and quiet the outside noise from the world
  10. Ask for help! – I know that this is often hard for many of us but we can’t always do everything all the time.
  11. Drink a nice cup of teaTeavana™ is one of my favorite places to go for loose tea, sooo good! This is one of my few indulgences when I have a little extra money.
  12. Every morning take 10 minutes to stretch and take deep breaths. Calm your mind for the upcoming day
  13. Keep in touch with friends and family – quite often because we do it all alone we end up feeling secluded or shut off from the rest of the world. Don’t let that be the case – schedule time to meet with family and friends as often as possible.
  14. Dress up from time to time – look I’m as much a fan of yoga pants and comfy clothes as the next gal, in fact as I write this I am still in my ‘jamma pants’. But wearing these things all the time can become a bad habit. Take time on your personal appearance – you don’t have to be catwalk worthy, but running a comb through your hair and putting on a nice blouse and mascara can make all the difference in the world sometimes!
  15. Take a yoga class – now before you talk about cost and how you can’t afford it… there’s this thing called the internet and it’s kinda awesome. You can find yoga videos for free almost anywhere.
  16. Take a long hot bath – or if you are lucky enough to have a hot tub get in that bad boy for a while and soak (while I contain my jealousy because I don’t have a hot tub and want one desperately.)
  17. Do some silly things with your kids – BE A KID! We have them and often we spend so much energy trying to get them to grow up, maybe it’s time to spend a little time being childish again.
  18. Let it be – accept that you don’t ALWAYS have to have your shit together. The house doesn’t HAVE to look perfect, it’s ok for the laundry to pile up every once in a while. Understand that your sanity and well-being is more important than perfection.
  19. Eat better – Now I am a huge fan of chili cheese fries but I know that I should NOT be eating them every day. Having a better well rounded healthy diet can improve your health as well as your mental state.
  20. Remember to tell yourself that you are doing a good job! – Never forget that you are a rock star because you are. Good days or bad you are still amazing and you are doing just fine!

Why You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

One of the people that I really pay attention to and follow pretty religiously is Gary Vaynerchuck a.k.a. Gary Vee. He is this amazing entrepreneur who has really perfected his hustle. This man is a machine when it comes to his business and his life. He has build several successful businesses and makes it a point to be on top of developing trends. If you ask him he will tell you that he “day trades in attention and builds businesses”.

Recently Gary posted something on his Instagram account – ‘One life. One time. Way too many people aren’t acting this way.’

And I have to say this simple little meme really spoke to me. After going to Infusioncon this year and listening to the speakers talk (and Gary Vee was one of those speakers) I came home and started thinking about all of the things that I simply put off in my life. I started asking myself –

‘What do I want out of my life?’

‘What am I doing to move my dreams and goals forward?’

That first question was an easy one to answer – because I want a lot. A lot for myself and a lot for my family. Not just the tangible things either like a new car and new home but things like a happy life where we don’t stress all the time. A life where the kids and I can travel anywhere we want and they can learn new things and new culture.

And most recently a life where I can provide an environment for my son where he can feel as independent as possible when he becomes an adult. Being able to provide for him throughout his adult life as an individual with special needs.

The second question was the hard one. Because I haven’t been doing everything that I can. I haven’t been doing all that I could do to move my dreams and goals forward. And I KNOW IT!

So why is that? I mean it should be really simple right? Have dream – do what you need to in order to achieve it. Easy.

Not so easy apparently?

But why?!?!

Why You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone -

After sitting and thinking on this one little quote from Gary Vee I started to realize where my struggle was. It goes back to mindset, which is something that I talk about on a pretty regular basis (because it’s IMPORTANT). Having the right mindset is truly key but sometimes we get stuck in that mindset.

It’s all well and good to have a positive mindset or a mindset aimed toward achievement and goals. However, if you take no action toward creating that life then the mindset does you no good. So I started to think, well WHY if I have the right mindset am I not making progress?

FEAR. Plain and simple it’s fear.

I am absolutely fucking terrified of stepping out of my comfort zone. This nice happy place that I have gotten to. I did the work to get myself here and now I am terrified to go beyond this. I think that so many people stay stuck where they are because they are afraid of stepping out beyond what they know. I know I am.

Coming out from my comfort zone means trying something new, doing things that I have never done before and with that comes the possibility of failing. And I fear failure more than anything else. I don’t like losing, I don’t like failing… hell, who does? But ask any successful person and they will tell you that failure is often a good thing to experience.

Learning from our mistakes. You know that thing that you teach your children? It isn’t something that only applies to kids, it is relevant to all of us. When we fail, we pick ourselves up and try again – but this time with the knowledge that we gained from that failure.

But it is so hard isn’t it? Because in our warm fuzzy comfort zone we have gotten used to sitting back and letting this be our norm. And it is so scary to rock that boat, the one you spent so much time working to build. All those years of work and struggle to finally get to a place where things are good (at least most of the time) or all those years spent in your current situation – it’s become your norm. It's what you know. It's what you are good at.

Stepping away from that into something new brings the risk of possibly losing what you have. And THAT is what scares me the most. Losing what I worked so hard to create for myself and my family. The possibility that it could all be gone if I fail.

So why then would I risk it?

Because ‘One life. One time.’ … you only get one shot at this life. So if you want more from it then you have to be willing to take risks, to step out of that comfort zone and try new things. The worst thing I can imagine for myself is to be an old lady and look back at my life and regret not doing the things I wanted to do.

Not to mention, if I only get one life then I damn well better make sure I live that whole life. Quitting smoking was definitely a step out of my comfort zone because I FOUND comfort in smoking. But I knew that if I wanted to be around for my kiddos I needed to step away from that and quit.

Getting healthy again is also out of my comfort zone. If I want to have a full and healthy life then I can’t exactly eat chili cheese fries every day, even if I REALLY want to. Getting healthy means pushing myself to work out and train when I would rather nap or sit and watch TV.

It’s hard changing all those things that have become staples in my comfort zone.

But no one said that anything worth having would be easy.

That is why you have to really examine where you are in life. What has your comfort zone become and if you aren’t currently living your dreams and goals then you need to step out of that comfort zone and start taking action! Because nothing will change until you do!

A Letter to The Man Who Stole My Son’s Life

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I'm certain that somewhere right now you are living your life as happy and care free as you always did. Probably still drinking too much and abusing your body with whatever substance you can find. I'm sure that the children that you created don't really cross your mind – except when they take that pittance of money out of your check to pay down the $18K you owe in back child support.

I'm sure that you don't suffer any guilt or remorse over what you did – because how could you. You have no idea the pain you caused. You have no idea the loss you created. You have no idea that in essence you stole a life. Of course you are able to continue on as though nothing ever happened because how could you know what you did.

You only saw him a few times after you nearly killed our son. You weren't there for the years and years of doctors appointments, physical therapy, CAT scans, MRIs, neurology appointments and evaluations.

You missed out on all the meetings with schools and special education departments. You escaped the joy of sitting through IEP meetings and testing. You haven't had to explain to another parent that you are so very sorry your son threw a chair at their kid but he simply can't control himself.  You weren't there to experience your 3 year old being kicked out of a daycare because he was “too much” for them to handle.

You didn't get to experience what it was like to see your son scream uncontrollably and bang his head into the ground or on a wall repeatedly because he couldn't articulate what was wrong with him. You never experienced the fear of not knowing if your child was ever going to be able to sit up on his own, walk, talk, run … hell, he still isn't able to even ride a bike.

I wish I was able to say that I had evolved enough over the years to be able to forgive you for what you have done. I wish that I could be that good of a person. Because if I was I wouldn't feel this gut wrenching anger every time I watch my son struggle. And yes, I say my son because you lost the right to call him yours long ago.

I really wish that I could move on past this urge to track you down and take a baseball bat to your head. I know that wishing that makes me a vindictive person, makes me less than what I am aspiring to be…but I can't help it. I want nothing more than for you to understand what it's like to live the life you sentenced him to when you shook him.

I look at my son, and the struggles he has faced throughout his 15 years and rage wells up inside me because he didn't have to struggle. He shouldn't have had to struggle. HE WASN'T SUPPOSED TO STRUGGLE LIKE THIS!

But you, you worthless human being, you changed his life forever. You took away any hope of a normal life for him. A normal future. You took away his life, the one he was supposed to have. The one where he could grow up and learn to drive a car, move out on his own, start a life with someone he loved … he thinks about those things you know.

But they are abstract thoughts, the way a young child would think about them – a little kid imagining what it will be like when he gets older. You see because of you my son will forever be a child. He will forever be stuck with the mentality of a 10-12 year old.

And worse than that, he will be forever tortured by the knowledge that he is different than he should be. You see this amazing young man struggles on a daily basis because he is AWARE of his age and how old he is and what that SHOULD be like for him. But he knows that he isn't like that. He KNOWS that his struggles are not ‘normal'. He is forced to watch as his little sister passes him by on almost every level of development and he struggles every day with that knowledge.

Imagine that for a moment. Imagine being aware of the fact that you SHOULD KNOW how to do something but you simply can't. Imagine as a 15 year old having your 8 year old sister be more advanced than you will EVER BE. Imagine watching your twin be able to live a more ‘normal' life than you. And KNOW that it wasn't supposed to be like that.

Imagine listening to your child wish he was ‘normal'. Listening to him tell you that he feels like he should just leave because he knows how hard he makes your life. Imagine feeling that gut wrenching heartbreak, knowing that your child feels like he is a burden to you.

And I say these things like you should care, even though I know you don't. You don't even know the pain you have caused.

I don't hate many things in this world because I don't like the way that hate makes me feel – but I hate you. I hate you for what you took from my son. I hate you for taking his life, the one he was supposed to have. One where every day wasn't a struggle just to keep a thought in his head, or understand certain things … one where he could just live without constantly needing to work on keeping his temper and his focus. A life where he will forever be 10.

I wish I could be that kind of person who could forgive you, but I can't – because every day I am faced with the reminder of what you did. Every day I watch my son face a new struggle. Every day I think about that life, that easier life that you took from him – and I will never ever forgive you for taking that away from him.

Being Accountable – Yes, You Need to Own Your Shit

Accountability. Seems a simple word really; but in practice it can be difficult at times and sometimes even harder to teach. In my life and in my family it is something that is so very important though. Being accountable for the things we do, the things we say, and how we feel are things that I try to teach my children because they are so very important.

In today’s society I feel that many people have stopped teaching this concept to their children. That they need to be accountable for themselves, in their actions, in their words and all throughout their lives. The world will definitely hold them accountable so why wouldn’t we teach them to hold themselves accountable?

Hold yourself accountable, success doesn't just come find you

It’s not always easy and quite honestly sometimes it just plain sucks but being accountable for yourself is so key to your success. Going through life with the ability to say “I did that” or “Yes I messed up” or “I will complete this by a certain day or time” and then DOING IT – all very important. Too often it is easier to just let things slide, to just shrug off your accountability and that is where we end up getting into trouble. That is when we start allowing ourselves to shirk our responsibilities.

For my children this is a hard concept to learn – heck it’s hard for ME sometimes. But it is so very important to me that they understand this basic concept of owning your shit. And what I mean by that is if you did it, then you OWN it. You don’t blow it off, you don’t pass it off to someone else – you OWN IT.

My daughter has recently developed a bad habit of whining or pouting about something and then when I call her out on it she says “I wasn’t pouting/whining!” (mind you she is pouting/whining as she says this). Now how are you going to sit there after stomping your foot on the ground and saying in that annoying higher-pitched voice that you don’t want to go to bed that you WEREN’T pouting/whining. That is the very DEFINITION of whining and pouting.

OWN IT! You were whining. Be accountable for your actions. You can say you were whining and then tell me WHY you were, explain to me – TALK to me about what is bothering you, but don’t stand there and tell me you weren’t doing something you clearly were.

The Single Mom Blog - Be Accountable, no one is perfect!

Here’s another example – my son was told multiple times to empty the dishwasher. I go into the kitchen to see that it still had yet to be emptied. I say “Son, you still haven’t emptied the dishwasher.” This boy looks me square in the eyes and says “I could have sworn I did. I thought I did it.” But he says it in a way that implies that I am mistaken and that there aren’t any dishes in there. Clearly I MUST be wrong because ‘he THOUGHT he did it’. And he will argue with me even though the dishes are clearly STILL IN THE DISHWASHER.

OWN IT! Be accountable and say “Crap mom, I forgot. I was going to empty them but I must have gotten distracted by the television. I will do it now.” I will happily accept that as opposed to you arguing with me for 15 minutes over the full dishwasher about whether or not you actually emptied it. (Those dishes didn’t magically put themselves BACK into the dishwasher son!)

I don't expect you to be perfect, but I expect you to be REAL with me AND with yourself. We live in a society where lately it is so much easier to blame others, or your upbringing, or your environment, or your teacher or ANYONE else rather than be accountable for our actions.

Oh you got a bad grade on your test? Maybe it’s because you didn’t STUDY beforehand. That is more likely to me than your suggestion that the teacher just has it out for you or isn't doing their job. (How often now do we see people blaming the teachers for their child's bad grades instead of blaming the child? Or instead of the parents holding themselves accountable for not making sure their child studies?)

Oh you are upset because you don’t have the money to buy that toy? Well maybe it’s because you didn’t finish your chores for the week and therefore didn’t earn your allowance and NOT because I am a mean mommy who won’t get you what you want.

Be accountable, own your shit!

The Single Mom Blog - Accountable, Excellence is a HABIT

As an adult I have to be accountable for my choices and actions. If I don’t hustle and work to get clients, complete work and build my business then I don’t have the money I need to take care of my family. And that is NO ONE’s fault but mine. It’s not the government screwing me over. It’s not immigrants taking my jobs.

I own when I screw up – at least I try to. It’s not always an easy thing, in fact it’s hard as hell to admit when you are wrong or screw up. But it’s important to do it – because THAT is how we learn and how we grow.

As a mother it is my job to prepare my children for a world that doesn’t care about them the way I do. A world where they will likely get kicked in the teeth repeatedly. A world that doesn’t care if they are my special babies or if it hurts their precious little feelings. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t prepare them to the best of my ability for that.

The last thing that I want is to send my kids out into the big bad world with this fantasy that the world will bend over backwards to accommodate them. Because it won’t. Sometimes that means that I have to be hard on them. Sometimes that means that I have to raise my voice to be heard. Sometimes it sucks. But I do it anyway.

Sometimes it means that I have to hold myself accountable in areas where I REALLY don’t wanna! For example, when I tell my children that their rooms are disasters and mine isn’t far off from one…well guess who has to clean their room too! Yep – THIS GIRL! If I want my children to have accountability, then I damn well better have it too. And sometimes that sucks as well.

Now I guess I had better get started on that room of mine before they get home from school…

MISSION: Survive Spring Break – Day 1

MISSION: Survive Spring Break - Day 1

My mission whether I choose to accept it or not is to make it through the next week with as minimal casualties as possible. I always felt that Spring break was somewhat of a preview of how our summer vacation was going to go. If my kids and I can make it through Spring break without a massive implosion, then it was a pretty good indicator that our summer would be a smoother ride as well. However, if we couldn’t make it through a week without some major arguments, a couple of groundings or someone ending up in the ER then all signs point to our summer being an all-out slug fest.

I realize that it isn’t always like this for other families but hey we never wanted to be like everyone else. Our family dynamic is, well – dynamic. Having special needs children who are stuck with each other day in and day out with no separation or relief from one another tends to bring out the little demons within. Now before you go all self-righteous on me about saying my children have little demons within, understand that 1) it’s just an expression and 2) you don’t know my children.

Stressed Out Single Mom

I’m sure that your kids are the picture of perfection and would never DREAM of throwing the remote at their sibling’s head because they won’t stop nagging them about getting their turn on the television. I’m sure that your little angels have NEVER colored all over their brother’s face while he was sleeping (only for mom to find out later that it was with a Sharpie). And I’m sure that your children don’t EVER overreact when their little sister comes into their room without knocking for the 8th time that day sending them into an absolute rage.

And you know what, you’re lucky. I’m sure your little angels have all their activities planned out for them. Or you have some fabulous trip in store for your week off of school and work. But for me spring break brings the knowledge that at some point any of those previously mentioned scenarios could very likely become a reality (and have in the past). And while some families are wondering if they will go to the beach or the indoor pool today, I’m just praying that I won’t have to break out my first aid kit.

surviving spring break, spring break, single mom success,

Now don’t get the wrong impression, my children aren’t raging monsters (even though I said that they have little demons within) they are just kids. Two teenage boys with brain injuries that cause problems for them when it comes to anger management and impulse control. Now stop and take that in for a moment. And think about what you know to be true about teenage boys – they ALREADY have impulse control issues and anger management issues at times due to raging hormones right? So add to that brain injuries that take away what little control they had to begin with over these things and you have somewhat of a powder keg situation in my house more often than not.

Throw in a dash of know it all little sister and BOOM!

Then add in that little sister who is at times more advanced than one of her brothers, knows more than he does in some areas AND has a pretty big personality. An 8-year-old who has very strong opinions and never wants to admit she is wrong – I can’t imagine where she got that from… There are many times where I have to physically separate her from her brother because neither will back down from a fight. Thankfully they haven’t crossed over to any physical fights yet, but I wouldn’t put it past her sometime soon – she’s pretty scrappy.

So when I say that my mission is to make it through this week with as minimal casualties as possible, I’m not joking. If I make it out with my sanity mostly intact and all three kids still with all their original parts, then I call that a success.

Thankfully today my daughter’s BFF is here and is keeping her busy with make overs, giggle fests and general crazy little girl things. The teenagers are in their separate rooms doing whatever moody teenage boys do (I try not to think too much about that). And I am attempting to actually get some work done.

So far so good… but it IS only 11:30am – we still have a long way to go.

Q&A With My 8 Year Old Daughter

So I recently decided that I wanted to do a Q&A segment where I would answer some of the questions that my readers and podcast listeners have asked. To get started though I asked my 8 year old daughter if SHE would like to be the first guest.

I decided today would be a great day to do it since we were stuck at home due to a local blizzard here in Colorado. (Yep that's how we roll here in Colorado in the spring.)

The Single Mom Blog - Colorado Spring

She was very excited to do this and I gotta say I was too. I can't believe I hadn't thought of it before! It was so much fun. She asked me some great questions and some that I didn't expect.

The Single Mom Blog - Wednesday Q&A

My daughter's questions were:

  1. When you were my age did you want to be a single mom?
  2. What was your reaction when you found out you were having twins?
  3. What was your reaction when you found out you were having another kid?
  4. What did you guys do for fun before I was born?
  5. When you were a kid, did you want three kids?
  6. What did you do for fun when you were a kid?
  7. How old were you when you got your first phone?

Welfare Hostage – The Trap of Government Assistance Programs

Anyone who has ever been on government assistance programs (or welfare) can attest that is isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For most people welfare was never intended to be a permanent solution but only a short term boost until they could get back on their feet again.

However, as with almost everything in the world there are those whom abuse the system. Sadly, they are also the ones who usually are very vocal about the fact that they abuse it, and as such end up casting a shadow over all in the system.

The Single Mom Blog - Republican vs. Democrat

I have a relative who leans, well actually more like falls, to the right on the political spectrum and we rarely agree on anything. This relative has stated frequently how he believes that liberals/dems want to simply take advantage of the government and get everything for free. How those who are on government assistance programs are all lazy and just mooching off the government. That there are those who stay on it forever and just abuse it and take his hard earned money.

Sadly, there are many other people who believe the same thing. Are there many people who do abuse the welfare system? Yes, of course there are. However, those people are the minority not the majority of those who are receiving assistance. The problem is that most people do not fully understand what it’s like to be on those assistance programs. They are intended as a short term solution but for many they are also a trap that keep them dependent on the services they provide.

Many people don’t realize that I was on government assistance for almost 8 years on and off. Not because I wanted to be or because I was abusing the system. I was basically held hostage by the government assistance/welfare programs that were intended to help me. Sound crazy? Yeah for most people who haven’t experienced what I did, it would probably sound crazy.

The Single Mom Blog - Welfare Hostage, stressed over money

So let me break down what my experience was and why I tell people that I was a welfare hostage. After my son was hospitalized and his father was charged I no longer had anyone to watch my children while I was at work. I was working a full time job and NOT on government assistance at the time. BUT I wasn’t paying for childcare either because the boys would stay with their father while I worked. Imagine my shock when I found out that the cost to put my twins in a daycare was more than my rent.

I knew that there was no way I could afford that, so I started looking into assistance programs for child care. That led me to the Department of Human Services and their assistance programs. After I started looking into the programs I was again surprised by the fact that I made too much money at the time to qualify for child care assistance. What? How can that be? I don’t make enough money to actually afford child care but too much to qualify for assistance?

Ok so what do I do now? I need to work; I WANT to work. So I quit the job I had been at for over 4 years and took and almost 50% pay cut in order to meet the child care income requirements. Now if you are sitting there going, why the hell would you take that kind of pay cut? Well, here’s why – and here’s why most people get stuck in government assistance programs. The difference between the child care assistance program income cut off and what I would need to earn in order to actually afford child care was about $15,000 annually. For many this is the major issue – the assistance programs are not designed to help people become self-sufficient. In fact, they do the opposite, they keep you dependent.

So here is the scenario:

I took the pay cut to get the help needed for childcare assistance. I worked that job, did well and got a pay raise – which is what you would normally want right? But in this case it wasn’t because that raise wasn’t enough of a raise to actually afford my child care, but it WAS enough to put me over the income cut off and so I was immediately cut off of the child care programs.

So what happened then? I can’t work if I don’t have child care so I would lose my job. Now without a job how do I support my family? So I had to go back on assistance to get the child care assistance and fins another job. Then I was back in the circle again of working, hitting the income limit and losing assistance again.

welfare hostage, the single mom blog, single mom, empty pockets

This is the constant struggle that many people on assistance programs face. The inability to ever completely pull themselves away from the programs that are intended to help them. Not everyone has family or friends who can watch their children. Not everyone will be given a $15,000 annual raise that will finally put them in a financial position where they can finally afford the child care they need to work full time. So what are their options at that point?

I make this point on a regular basis to people like my relative who don’t truly understand what these kinds of circumstances are like. They rage and rage about how people like this are just mooching off the government like everyone on assistance is just sitting around eating lobster on the government dime. Again, are there those who do abuse the system? Yes. But there are also millionaires and corporations who abuse the system by hiding their earnings and not paying taxes.

If you are going to rage against one, then be sure to rage against the other as well. Or instead how about you don’t judge situations that you know nothing about. Try to see things from another perspective. OR if the way the programs are structured REALLY bothers you enough to yell or say horrible things about other people – maybe you should look into how you could HELP create change.

Are You Living Your Life Deliberately on Purpose?

Are you living your life deliberately on purpose? Or are you simply reacting to what life throws at you? I recently had to ask myself this same question…

Every year I attend a conference in Phoenix hosted by Infusionsoft (Now Keap). If you haven't heard of Infusionsoft don't worry, you're probably not a marketer or small business owner, BUT I guarantee you that if you have ever filled out a form on someone's website and then started getting emails from them – you've at least experienced a small part of Infusionsoft (Now Keap).

Infusionsoft by Keap is a CRM/Marketing platform that helps small businesses automate their sales and marketing. It is a very powerful tool that many business owners use. Ever heard of Damond John from Shark Tank? Or Steve Harvey? Yep, they use the software too.

Every year the good folks at Infusionsoft throw a big conference for us geeks and marketing people to go to; and every year I go I learn a whole truckload of new things. This year though was a little different. I still learned all the great marketing tips and tricks that I use in my business and I still met a TON of really amazing people. But this year they had a new MC for the event – Scott Harris.

In the last few years the owners brother was the MC, and he was always wonderful. Very happy, very excited and really fun to watch – I always enjoyed seeing him. This year however, with Scott at the helm, the main sessions took on a different tone. Instead of just being entertained while waiting for our next speaker, we were coached.

Now for some of you coaching, or life coaching, is not a new thing. You've probably heard of it, been told about it or even experienced it yourself. For many it is a foo foo thing that they feel doesn't work. For others it is a life changing experience that they would experience again and again.

You've seen coaches before, people like Tony Robbins (the guy with the big teeth) and Dr. Wayne Dyer – coaches who range from money and wealth coaches to spiritual coaches. There are so many out there and they more often than not truly help people become better in one form or another.

For this Infusioncon event though, having Scott there created a change in the framework that I truly enjoyed. Now, not only was I coming away from this conference with new ideas and resources for my business. I also was coming away with a new mindset.

I am going to live my life deliberately on purpose!

The Single Mom Blog - Live Your Life Deliberately On Purpose

One of the many things that Scott brought up was that you only get this one life, this one body and this one time and that time isn't getting any longer – it's getting shorter. So what are you making of this one life you have? What are you doing with that time you are given? Are you living your life full out? Or are you sitting there waiting until tomorrow to do the things you know you should be doing?

I have so many goals and dreams that I have never taken massive action on. I take little steps here and there but I never have just gone full out and passionately gone after them. I know that I took a huge risk in order to start my business and grow it to what it is now but I still have been playing it safe because of fear.

I am afraid to put my dreams and visions out there on a grand scale because I hate to fail, I fear being ridiculed and more than that I fear being ineffective. Putting my dreams out there only to be told that they don't matter to anyone but me. Now I KNOW that is an irrational fear but it is one I have struggled with my whole life.

During the sessions at Infusioncon this year we were given a workbook (which is another thing I really liked about this years event) that we were to take notes in as we went along. And the recurring theme in MY notebook was this: STOP BEING SO DAMN SCARED.

The Single Mom Blog - Live Life Deliberately On Purpose

I have allowed the fear of failing to keep me from truly pursuing my dreams and visions. I haven't been living full out and I know it. I know that had I put into motion all of the things that need to happen in my business and in my life I would be so much further down that path to my goals.

I came home from that conference with a renewed sense of purpose AND the drive and desire to break free from the things I have allowed to hold me back. I have created my goals and am now working on building out my process for accomplishing those goals.

The reason that I decided to post and podcast about this is that I know that there are many of you out there who also have goals and dreams and visions that your are not accomplishing. Are you allowing something to keep you from those goals? What excuses are you making for not starting today? How much MORE time to you think you will get?

Because like Scott said at my conference – you aren't getting more time in your life, you are losing time every second of ever day. One day you will look up and another year has gone by and you are no closer to your goals than you were before. What is keeping you from doing those things that you want to do? And don't say your children or your ex or your job… because those are not it.

Your major block is YOU and your mindset and your ability to take action. So how will you live your life? Just sitting there waiting for it to happen to you? Or will you go out and live with purpose?

Will you live your life deliberately on purpose?

I know I am going to!

Confessions of a Terrible, Horrible, Awful Mom

Yep, I am a terrible, horrible, awful mom. At least I would likely be labeled as one by the paparazzi and social media if I were a famous person. If I was a mother who's parenting style was constantly under scrutiny like many of the celebrity parents out there I would definitely be tagged with that headline.

Recently one of my favorite blogs – Scary Mommy – addressed an “article” from another site calling actress Charlize Theron a ‘monster mom' because she was “dragging” her son into her car.

The Single Mom Blog, horrible awful mom,

I love the Scary Mom blog because they have a sarcastic and smart ass type of style that mirrors my own. Their article reflected exactly what I was thinking when I saw that nonsense – that isn't dragging that is “getting an immobile child into the car”.

As a parent there have been many times when my child or even children have behaved poorly and we were forced to leave the store we were in. There have been many many times when my child has thrown himself to the ground and gone limp noodle while throwing a fit. Which makes it almost impossible to manage them WITHOUT picking them up and dragging them.

The debate has always raged on between those who think discipline is a good thing or a bad thing. Is it right or wrong to spank your child? Should you let your child just ‘express themselves‘ freely? It's a constant swirl of who is right and who is wrong – who is a good parent and who is an awful parent…

In the article they apparently had a “family relationship expert” review the photos and dissect everything that she was apparently doing wrong. This person went on to say that instead of telling the child what to do she should be “selling” the reason why he should get in the car. That she should be asking him about his feelings.

The Single Mom Blog - Awful Mom

Now I am all for asking my children to discuss their feelings and share their opinions. I do believe that it is important. However, if my child is flailing on the ground in the middle of a parking lot the last thing I am going to do is ask them about their feelings. At that moment in time my child is behaving poorly and I will NOT tolerate them laying on the ground (which by the way isn't all that safe in a parking lot!!) because they are unhappy.

If you are unhappy, fine – but you can express that when safely in the car, or outside of the store. You do not get to act like a butt and throw yourself around to get your way and expect me to just sit back and watch it happen. Especially in a parking lot where you could get run over by another vehicle.

Teaching My Children Consequences Makes Me An Awful Mom

My feeling toward dealing with or disciplining my children is basically that it is my job to prepare my children for a world that doesn't care if it hurts their feelings. Teaching them to believe that they can behave however they want, when they want simply because they feel like it is not going to be doing them any favors.

Especially for my boys who have impulse control as well as anger management issues – allowing them to believe that the world will bow to their behavior is not a good thing. They need to know that they can not get away with behaving like jerks without consequences. No. I'm not talking about beating or hurting children but there have to be consequences for bad behavior.

The Single Mom Blog - Awful Mom,

When there are no consequences for bad behavior children start to believe that they can do what they want and nothing will happen to them. Take for example the “Affluenza” kid who killed 4 people with his car and was pretty much let off the hook because he was “too rich” and had been raised to not know any better. And then what happens?

Then he ends up breaking his probation, leaving the country with his mom and all kinds of other B.S. and is now finally facing some jail time (hopefully). But it came at the cost of 4 people's lives. It came at the expense of another family who's son will never leave a wheelchair now. All because a child wasn't brought up to understand that bad behavior has consequences.

Teaching my children this does not make me an awful mom. Just like Charlize Theron trying to get her child into the car when he is doing the whole ‘limp noodle' thing does not make her a ‘mad mother‘. It makes her a parent, just like you or I doing the best that she can.

But like I said before, if teaching your child that they can not get away with behaving poorly without consequence makes me an awful mom, then I guess I'm an awful mom. And I will wear that badge proudly if it means my children will grow up as decent kids with the knowledge that they can't just be jerks.

The Challenge of Growing Up and Letting Go

Growing up and letting go… sounds a bit like an after school special title doesn't it?

Regardless of what it sounds like it is in fact what I am currently struggling with. It seems like it wasn't that long ago when my boys were just little kids and now I am coming face to face with the reality that my little boys aren't little anymore. They will be 16 this year, and to be quite honest I'm scared shitless about it.

I have openly admitted in the past that I am very protective of my children, probably more so than most mothers because of what happened to my son Gage. Having a child almost die is one of the worst experiences I have ever gone through. After that I have just dreaded even the possibility of something else happening to any of my children.

The Single Mom Blog, Letting Go - Boy Climbing a tree

Even something as simple as climbing a tree, something that I did quite often as a child, became something that makes me instantly nervous now with my children. The thought of them possibly falling and getting hurt is something that I can’t stop thinking about. Things like jumping on trampolines or even riding their bikes there is always a thought in my head of the possibility of them being hurt.

I know, I know – I’m over protective, I already admitted to it. I’ve been getting better as my kids have gotten older. However, now I am dealing with the looming fact that my boys are about to turn 16. ARG!!!!! Twin 16 year old boys! If you find yourself instantly feeling sorry for me, you are not alone. Every time I mention that I have twin teenage boys everyone always gets ‘that look’ on their face and says “I’m sorry”.

The Single Mom Blog - Letting Go, Teenage driver sign

As we get closer and closer to 16 my son Connor is now talking about possibly driving. We aren’t sure yet if he will be cleared to drive having a brain injury but we are starting to look into it. Now I’m faced with even MORE worry and stress and I have to wonder if my father went through the same thing when I started driving. Worrying about my safety, other drivers and any and every other thing that could possibly go wrong on the road. I’m sure every parent does.

I personally am dreading it not only because of the worry for their safety and such but because it means that they aren’t my little babies any more. *Sniff Sniff* It is so hard to believe that my little boys are almost legal driving age. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago when they were just little boys playing in the dirt out back with the dog. (Now I can barely get them out of their rooms and off their phones.)

Getting a driver’s license, staying home alone while I am out of town on business, looking into getting jobs and discussions on their futures – it’s enough to make a mom want to cry. Not just because my babies are getting older and I’m simply not ready but because I am so very proud of them. 15 years ago I was told my son Gage may never be able to walk or talk and now we are talking about what he is going to do for his future.Guess it’s time for mom to start working on being able to let go. My boys aren’t little boys anymore and coming to terms with that is definitely hard for me.

How Do You Forgive Someone Who Ruined A Life?

How do you forgive someone who ruined a life? If you have been following my blog for a while you know that I am the proud mama of two amazing special needs boys: Gage and Connor. Both are Shaken Baby Syndrome survivors and are two of the most important people in my life.

As you may have heard in previous podcasts I mention briefly about my son being hospitalized when he was only 5 months old and that he spent over a month at Children's Hospital here in Colorado. But I never dove too deeply into what happened to him or how it impacted us as a family.

The Single Mom Blog Baby in the ICU, Shaken Baby Syndrome

Gage's injuries were so severe that the doctors who were treating him were not sure if he would even survive, but if he did they said he would likely be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. They couldn't give me any promises or assurances of how he would do either once we realized he would actually be able to leave the hospital.

Gage was in a drug induced coma for several weeks and when he was finally able to come out of that coma he did so without any of the basic skills that babies are born with. He didn't have a sucking reflex and had to be ‘taught' how to nurse from a bottle again.

When he finally was able to leave the hospital he had to endure months and months of physical and occupational therapy to be able to hold his head up, sit up, walk, talk and all of the other things that babies normally learn all on their own. These things no longer came naturally to him because his brain didn't process things the way it was supposed to anymore.

Growing up his life has been a series of constant challenges. He has had to work three times as hard to accomplish things that would seem easy to other children. We have dealt with sensory integration issues, behavior issues, anger issues and more… things that “normal” children don't have to even think about or figure out how to work around.

All of this would be bad enough had it been some stranger, or child care worker who had done this to my child but it is even worse when it is your child's father. The one person in the whole world other than you who should have your child's best interests at heart. It's even more devastating at that point.

no justice, The Single Mom Blog, forgive

Having to go to court and defend yourself to lawyers, police officers and social services for leaving your child with the one other person in the world that your child should be the safest with. I fought for 2 years with social services to gain full custody of my children, not because I was a threat to them but because I had to prove that I could care for them as a single mother. (But that's a post for another time).

So how do you go about forgiving someone for something so horrible? I ask because I haven't found the answer yet. I look at my son and all of the challenges that he has faced and I can't help thinking ‘what was your life supposed to be'.  My son wasn't born with a disability it was something that was done to him. He was a perfectly healthy baby who had his whole life turned upside down before it ever really had a chance to begin.

I look at him and every time I see him struggle I get angry inside at the person who did this to him. As I sit here in the Children's Hospital Neurology Clinic (again) for yet another evaluation I get angry. While I wait to hear from the doctors what concessions will need to be made for my son because as he gets closer to 18 we have to plan for a life where he won't be able to care for himself.

Knowing that my son could have – and SHOULD have – had a different life than the one he has now fills me with so much rage toward his father. I know that it isn't healthy and many people have said that I need to learn how to forgive.

But how? How do you forgive someone who hurt your baby so horribly? How do you forgive someone who took away every chance at a ‘normal' life for your son? How do you see every day the struggles your child has to endure and forgive the person who caused them?

I don't know how. I haven't figured it out. I may never.

So I guess all I can do right now is continue to be there for my son, do everything in my power to empower him to succeed. Maybe the forgiveness will come in time – but I'm not holding my breath.

5 Fun and Easy Valentine’s Day Crafts

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5 Fun and Easy Valentine's Day Crafts

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I found a  very cute and easy Valentine's Day craft that is ideal for younger kids on the Martha Stewart website. Now normally I don't cruise the Martha Stewart site, because I am a bit domestically challenged and the site is not always up my ally. BUT for crafts and ideas like these it is one of my favorite places to go. This Crayon Heart project is fun and simple and lets your little ones be creative using items you already have around the house.

Click here to be taken to the site with all the information on how to create it! My 8 year old daughter and I did this and it was so much fun for her!

Martha Stewart Crayon Hearts
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Felt Valentine's Day Fortune Cookies
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Of course as always happens to me when I do actually visit a site like Martha Stewart's I end up spiraling down into the bliss of crafts and DIY projects. While doing this I found yet another really cute Valentine's Day craft/project.

This one is just a little bit more complex than the Crayon Hearts above but still something fun for a kid to do. These little Felt Fortune Cookies can be used for Valentine's Day parties at school, for family members and for teachers who would like to give something special for their students.

Click here for instructions on how to make these fun little cookies!

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Another quick and easy craft for you or your children to do this Valentine's Day is one that I found on the Real Simple website for Valentine's Day Votive Candles.

These candles are simple to make using Washi tape, ribbon and/or double sided tape. Votive candles can be picked up at your local dollar store or your local craft store for low cost. The Washi tape, ribbon and double sided tape can be purchased there as well. We used the double sided tape with red and pink glitter for some of the candles for a sparkly look! Click here for the original post in Real Simple.

Valentine's Day Votive Candles
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Valentine's Day Chalk Board Frame
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Chalkboard picture frames can also be a really fun project for your kiddos during Valentine's Day. We've done these before at our house but never for Valentine's Day. They are so very easy, you can buy cheaper picture frames at the dollar store or craft store and paint them with chalkboard paint.

In this example from the Real Simple website they have red chalkboard paint which I had never really seen. They linked to this site where you can find a ton of different color chalkboard paint (which I LOVE and plan on using for future projects). However I'm sure that you can also find it other places.

Your kiddos can paint the frames and then once dry write their very own Valentine's Day Messages.

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This last one is by far my favorite as it reminds me of when I was little and we made Pet Rocks. It is a simple and easy project that kids of all ages can enjoy.

So easy to make but so much fun, I found the idea here in the Grow Creative blog. All you have to do is find a couple of decent size rocks, clean them off and then it's time to decorate them. You can use Sharpies, paints or even washable markers depending on the rocks and which shows up best. Then you can cover them with ModPodge to seal them and also make them just a bit shiny.

These are so easy and fun and will last you for a long time. Plus they can be added to your garden when Spring rolls around to add some fun and color! The creator of the Grow Creative blog says she plans on leaving them around the neighborhood for people to brighten their day. And come on, how AWESOME is that!?!

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Valentine's Day Love Rocks

New Year – Not So New You?

Every year when New Year's Eve and the New Year roll around everyone starts talking about resolutions and how the New Year will bring a ‘New Them'. Which is great in theory – but when you start the New Year with these big plans or ‘resolutions' but you are still the same you inside then you will likely fail.

For example, if your resolution is to lose weight but you don't really change any of the bad habits that helped you gain the weight in the first place then you won't be successful. If your mindset isn't right then you will ultimately fail.

New Year goals The Single Mom Blog

How often have you found yourself saying “I'll start my diet tomorrow.” or “I'll exercise tomorrow.” and then you make another excuse and another. I know that I myself have been very guilty of it. I often times feel like the amount of weight I have to lose makes me feel like it's impossible so I give up before I even start. And unless I change that mindset for myself I will never lose the weight.

Changing your habits, replacing things instead of cutting things out and other various ‘tricks' can help you on your journey.

Being able to replace the bad habits with good habits was something that was key for me in quitting smoking so I believe that this would be helpful in losing weight as well. Changing the habit of snacking on chips into a habit of snacking on carrots instead. Minimizing the amount of sugar I eat is more likely for me than cutting out sugar completely because then I don't feel like I am depriving myself and end up binge eating an entire bag of mini Snickers.

Knowing my limitations and taking them into account are helpful for me when setting my New Year goals. I call them goals instead of resolutions because for me goals are more attainable. Goals no matter how big can be accomplished, even if it means that you need to break them down into smaller goals which seem more possible.

Resolutions always feel to me a bit like campaign promises. You know say you're going to do something to change things but then you don't really do anything to change at all.

New Year goals The Single Mom Blog

When I decided to quit smoking I knew what my limitations were there too. I knew that just cutting back for me wouldn't work. I knew that limiting myself to just a couple of cigarettes a day would never work for me even though it does work for some. I also knew that I didn't want to be dependent on patches or gum.

So for me quitting cold turkey was going to be the only way for me. I also had a lot of help from my son who came home one day from school in tears because they had done a presentation about smoking. They showed him the lungs of a smoker and talked about people dying from smoking. So he comes home crying “Mommy, I don't want you to die. Please stop smoking.

Hello Guilt!

But the guilt worked very well, I was able to quit cold turkey over 4 years ago. However, as often happens when you quit smoking I gained a lot of weight. So now the goal is to lose that weight.

I have decided to start a new workout program Cize along with my regular training sessions while my kids do Parkour. As well as changing my eating habits and limiting the junk food (which is by far the hardest thing for me).

I am also using an exercise tracker with the goal of working out 5 out of 7 days of the week. Also an app for tracking the food I eat so I can see where and when I go over too many calories. Establishing better habits and putting in checks and balances to try and keep myself in line when I want to stray from my path.

This weeks podcast goes more into how important it is to work on the internal as well as the external to make the goals that you set for yourself happen.

Are you spreading shame and judgement instead of joy?

The holiday season is by far my favorite time of year. I absolutely love seeing all the lights and decorations and putting up the Christmas tree with the kids. This time of year just always gives me that warm fuzzy feeling, but for some it brings a lot of judgement.

Recently a mother came under fire over social media for providing TOO MUCH for her children.

Judgement of mom for too many presents

Emma Tapping, mother of three and savings blogger, posted an image on her Instagram account showing her Christmas tree almost engulfed in presents. Soon after the image was taken and used to create a meme stating: “It's nearly time for all the materialistic parents to compete and broadcast how many presents their kids have. Just remember, there are a lot of children who won't get much.”

This set off a social media frenzy of people criticizing and casting judgment upon this mother for her post.

People started telling her that she was spending too much on her children. That she shouldn't spoil her kids like that. That it was wrong for her to post how much she had bought for her family when there were families out there with nothing or very little to give.

Judgement on how many gifts she bought for Christmas
Mother judged for the number of gifts she gave
Mom judged on social media for gifts
Mother judged for how many presents she bought

It's astonishing how many people came out of the woodwork just to slam this mother and judge her for how many gifts she had purchased for her kids. We live in a society today where, thanks to social media, people can be random assholes to anyone else.

People who would probably be perfectly nice to your face can go online and judge, insult and even sometimes threaten others. Have we become a society of assholes or is it just easier to be one due to the anonymity of the internet?

Personally I have no issue with this mother or how much she bought her children. Would I buy that much for my kids, no – but we aren't talking about me. These are her children and it is her money to do with as she pleases – so why do so many people feel that they can jump all over her for it?

Social media judges mom for buying too many gifts

Not everyone were jerks about it though. Many people came to her defense online. Many who understood that not only was she allowed to do for her children as she pleased, but also that she was a savings blogger who knows how to get more bang for her buck!

Also, because she is a saver she was probably able to buy more gifts because of the money she had saved throughout the year!

I've done posts before about judging others and how as parents we sometimes face it from multiple different sources. Sometimes we are judged by what we do or don't do as parents. How we discipline or don't discipline our children. We get judged by our families, friends, other parents and now thanks to social media complete strangers!

This is the time of year when we are supposed to be a little bit kinder and nicer. I mean we should be those things all year round but at Christmas time even more so right?

So why lately do I see more people being rude, mean, flat out jerks to others? Who are you to cast your judgement upon me or anyone else? Is your life perfect? Are YOU perfect? No, because none of us are. And if this woman wants to buy her children a mountain of presents then who are you or anyone else to tell her she shouldn't?

Family on Christmas eve at fireplace.

Are there many children out there who have very little or nothing coming their way for Christmas? Of course there are. And sadly it will probably always be that way. However, should you just assume that because this woman bought so much for her kids that she isn't aware of that? Do you know if she donated all of their old items to those who were in need? Do you know if she used her smart shopping savvy to buy even more stuff and donated that to those in need?

No you don't. You don't know and therefore you shouldn't judge.

The best thing about the holidays for me is watching my children open whatever gifts they get. There were many years where we didn't have much, and there have also been years where we had an abundance of gifts. Either way as long as I teach my children to be grateful for all they have then it doesn't matter how much or how little they get.

And for all anyone knows this woman teaches her children the same thing. I mean if she blogs about saving money I'm sure she has to be imparting some of that wisdom onto her children.

So how about instead of sitting in judgement of people we do not know, instead we start embracing the spirit of the season and be a little kinder to one another. Stop judging and shaming people you don't even know and start spreading joy instead.

I'll start by wishing EVERYONE the Happiest of Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Merry Festivus for the Rest of Us!

The True Meaning of Christmas in A Starbucks Cup? [Podcast]

Unless you have been living under a rock you've probably heard about the recent strike in the ‘War on Christmas'. That's right! Yet another company is guilty of taking the ‘Christ' out of Christmas. Starbucks recently unveiled their holiday cup and apparently there is a bit of an issue with it.

IT'S RED.

The Single Mom Blog, Starbucks Christmas Cup

That's it, nothing more – just red. Now for most of us rational and non-nut bag people this is not an issue. Red cup with a green logo, that's pretty festive to me. (Maybe next year they can make it plaid – I like plaid.) In the past Starbucks has had cups with reindeer, snow flakes, ornaments and such as decor on their mugs. This year they went with something basic and yet still Christmas-like. Just plain red.

There were a few people that appeared to have a problem with this. One gentleman took to YouTube to express his distaste of the new cups and the internet blew up.

“Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups?”

Starbucks Christmas Cup Idiot with a gun

Joshua Feuerstein has decided that Starbucks wants to remove Christ from the holiday. He says that they won't even let their employees say Merry Christmas. So he suggested instead of boycotting them people should go and BUY coffee there. And when they ask for the name give their names as Merry Christmas. Thereby ‘tricking' Starbucks employees into saying “Merry Christmas”.

There have been many responses to this cup controversy

Starbucks Christmas Cup - The Single Mom blog
Starbucks Christmas cup The Single Mom Blog

… but Ellen's response is by far my favorite!

“Now this holiday season if you want Christmas with your breakfast you're gonna have to do it the old fashioned way. You're going to have to get really really high and then you have to go to IHOP and just stare at your pancakes and ‘I see baby Jesus in there' …”

Now let's step past the fact that Starbucks has never professed to be a Christian company. And the fact that they have never had any specific religious images on their cups in the past. And instead focus on the real issue here. How a coffee cup could possibly dictate one's religious beliefs. Is the removal of holiday images from this paper drinking container really going to cause people to turn away from their faith?

Is it possible for one company to wreak havoc on an entire belief structure simply by what images they do or do not print on their merchandise? Is your faith so flimsy that a coffee cup could make you question it? Holy shit! Starbucks has some serious power!

As a non-religious person I do not take ANY offense at the extensive amount of religious paraphernalia that I am bombarded with this time of year. The manger scenes. The religious references in Christmas songs. The constant barrage of images of Jesus on the cards I get in the mail. WHEN WILL IT END!!! (insert sarcasm here)

Nativity scene The Single Mom Blog

Non of these things offend or bother me. And none of them make me feel a sudden urge to convert or start going to church. So how would the removal of those things cause you or anyone else to STOP believing? Is your faith so easily shaken? Would the removal of any or all those items make you forget why YOU celebrate the holiday? I doubt it.

So Starbucks removing holiday imagery from their cups shouldn't either. It's not as though they had a giant cross on all their items and decided to remove them due to public scrutiny. No. They made the cups red. Nothing more, nothing less.

How about as Christians, instead of worrying what a company prints on their products you worry about the things that actually matter instead. Homelessness, poverty, hunger, famine, the wars that are being fought, the soldiers who are being ignored, the refugees who need help…

As a nation we spend so much time focusing on trivial things and imagined slights that we often miss the bigger picture. So instead of worrying about what is on your coffee mug maybe spend some time being thankful for what you have. Focus on the good in your life and help do good in another person's life. Remember that no matter what your belief structure is – the base of it is likely love and compassion. THAT is what the holiday is supposed to be about – not what is printed on a paper cup.

Oh and for the people who are ‘tricking' Starbucks into saying Merry Christmas – I'm certain Starbucks is just fine with that. Their profit increase thanks you!

5 Things I’ve Learned From My Special Needs Son

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5 Things I've Learned From My Special Needs Son

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As many of my readers and podcast subscribers know my twin boys were shaken by their father when they were infants. My son Gage’s injuries were so severe he was hospitalized for a month and a half at Children’s Hospital. His doctors told me that if he were to survive his injuries he would likely be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. My son defied all odds and amazed all of his doctors with his recovery. It has taken years of work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy; not to mention MRI’s, CAT scans and countless neurology appointments but at 15 my son has been able to attend school and is in his sophomore year of high school.

Gage at 15
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However, he also has many delays and various issues. Gage's brain injury has caused delays in his executive function as well as his coping skills and anger management. His age is 15 but developmentally he is closer to 8 or 9 years old at times. Gage doesn't always understand the consequences of his actions. He is quick to lose his temper and has low functioning coping skills.

This has made for a dynamic and often times explosive home environment. When you add to that a brother with his own delays from his brain injury. As well as a little sister who has started to pass him on many levels. We tend to have many different arguments and blow ups in our home. Having to deal with all these things I have learned a lot.

Here are the top 5 things I have learned from having a special needs child.

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Patience – This has been the hardest thing to learn and even harder to maintain. As my son has grown the challenges have changed. Gage’s brain injury changed the way his brain processes information. It doesn’t function the way ‘normal’ people’s brains do. Gage left the hospital with low coping skills, sensory integration issues, and problems communicating. As a young child he would often have lots of outburst but because he couldn’t communicate it was a guessing game to figure out what the cause was. It took my family and I months to realize that the sound of paper tearing terrified him and would make him to scream. As he got older I couldn’t even take him down the Halloween costume isles at the stores because it was all too overwhelming for him.

As a teenager we are now dealing with hormones & teenage attitude which is a whole new circle of hell. There are days when he will have hour long rage-fests and I end my day physically and mentally wiped out. Only to turn around and do it again the next day. Every day I practice taking DEEP breaths and walking away until things calm down. Being a parent is hard enough, but having a special needs child requires levels of patience you didn’t even know you possessed.

Pick Your Battles – Gage's brain injury often causes him to see things in only black or white. There is no grey. People who have traumatic brain injuries will often have emotional and behavioral problems. When he gets his mind set on something it is almost impossible to get him to change it. Which means if we make plans and then need to change them he is often upset. He doesn’t always understand why things just can’t be the way he wants them all the time. There are many times when I have to pick my battles with him. Is it really worth a 2-hour argument over whether or not he has cheese balls with dinner? Probably not. Do I want to get into an argument over whether or not he needs to shower today? Yeah, that’s an important one. There are many times when it’s easier for everyone in the family to allow certain things to slide than to engage him. Sometimes people don’t understand this or they criticize my parenting. They don't understand that sometimes the peace that we get from giving in to those small things far outweighs the downside from them.

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Gage Age 8

Some people are assholes. – Having a special needs child has made me realize that there are some people who are just assholes. I have had complete strangers come up to me in stores and tell me that I should control my child when he is having a fit. I have had people tell me that if I can’t control my kid I shouldn’t take him out in public. One person even tried to get in my son’s face and yell at him. This just made my son scream louder and I almost did physical harm to said stranger. People have no idea that my son is a special needs child because he doesn’t LOOK like he has special needs. I understand that my son’s meltdowns can be disturbing and often disruptive, but they don’t hurt anyone. Yes, I am aware that they can be annoying, just as a complete stranger telling you how to parent is annoying. Most people ignore him and continue about their business. But there are always those special few who feel it is their duty to put in their two cents on how I should handle my child.

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Gage Shaken Baby Survivor EEG
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Some people don’t know any better. – It took me some time to realize that those above mentioned assholes just didn’t know any better. They couldn’t possibly tell that my son had a brain injury that caused him to lash out when scared, angry or frustrated. They didn’t know that when he was a toddler screaming was his only form of communication. They didn't know about his speech delay. And they didn’t know that just the seams of his socks in the wrong position caused extreme reactions.  Not every child with a disability shows it on the outside, some disabilities can’t be seen.

Sometimes they are only noticeable when something is wrong. Not everyone is able to understand or deal with it when those issues come up. All they see is a child laying on the ground screaming. So I have learned to take everything with a grain of salt. Now when a situation comes up where I have to deal with someone who feels they need to ‘help’ me parent. I remind myself that some people just don’t know any better and I smile and walk away. (OK sometimes I still call them assholes in my mind, but not as much as I used to.)

It’s not personal. – Now that my son is a teenager I am dealing with puberty, hormones and all the attitude that comes with them. Add on the problems that come with a brain injury and my son is a powder keg most of the time. The smallest spark can set him off and he explodes. When he does have an episode there are times when I feel bad or responsible for the problem. As parents we often blame ourselves when our children have problems or issues. If only we had said ‘no’ more. If only we hadn’t given them processed foods. If only, if only, if only.  I have to remind myself not to take it personally when my son has one of these episodes. The times when he says mean things because he is so frustrated, I can’t take it personally. Because I know that he is only lashing out because he doesn't know how else to handle it. I wait for the storm to pass. Then, when he is calm enough to understand and process what I tell him, we go over the issue. We talk about what happened and how he can better handle it next time.

My son is one of the most amazing young men in the world. He has worked so hard to get where he is today and we as a family have struggled with him through all the ups and downs. We still have a long way to go and a lot more work to do. And while I try to teach him how to manage his disability – he teaches me too. And I am a better person and mother because of it.

Are You Using Social Media to Shame Your Children?

Today's Single Mom Podcast discusses a topic that has really started to bother me lately. As a parent I completely understand that there are times when our children will push us to our absolute limits. Times when we will be so angry that we have to walk away from them and count to eleventy-billion before we can even think of speaking to them again. Often times this will result in the child being grounded or punished in some form or another.

However, there has been a steady increase over the past few years of parents utilizing social media to dish out what some are calling tough love and others call emotional abuse. Parents who take to Facebook or YouTube and post videos of them basically humiliating their children for all the world to see.

The Single Mom Blog: Back to School, mom yelling at kids on couch, bored kids, kids no listening

A few years ago you wouldn't have seen anything like this going on, but it has become a disturbingly recurring subject on my social media feeds. The first one I remember is of a gentleman who had seen his daughter post a letter to him on Facebook basically being a spoiled brat and complaining about having to help around the house. He read her letter on the video and then after talking a bit more to make his point to his daughter he then shot her laptop.

This one actually didn't bother me so much because he didn't put his daughter on the screen, he didn't call her names or try to degrade her – what he did was speak to her in the same fashion that I would my own child if they were being disrespectful. Now personally I wouldn't have shot the lap top, I would have kept it for my own OR given it away to a child in need of one instead – one who would have appreciated it in a way that his daughter didn't seem to. But hey, it was his property to do what he wished with.

Lately though I have seen parents recording videos of their children where they stand them up with signs stating what they did wrong, yelling at them and even calling them names. Degrading them on camera and then posting in online for the whole world to see and comment on.

It appears to just keep getting worse, almost as if it is some kind of sick contest to see which parent can out do the other or get the most likes on their videos/posts. They seem to thrive on those who give them positive feedback as if the need the validation that they are ‘doing the right thing‘ by treating their children like that. I understand wanting to give your child tough love and feeling like the only way to get through to them is with extreme measures but this? This is something that I simply do not understand or condone.

bullies, The Single Mom Blog

The internet is FOREVER people. Once you post something online you can't ever take it back. These poor kids will have this potentially haunting them forever. Other kids may see what was posted online and use it to further embarrass or degrade them. Basically these parents have turned into the type of person that we try and protect our children from.

Think about it, if someone else was recording your child being teased, bullied or embarrassed and posted it online as a parent you would be mad as hell about it. For some reason though these parents have justified doing these things to their kids because they are the parent – which doesn't actually justify it because AS parents we should be better than that.

What kind of example are you setting as a parent by doing this to your child? You are showing them that it is ok to degrade and embarrass others. We live in a society now where when our children witness injustices or bullying they now take out their phones to record it rather than actually stepping in and helping. For example when this kid was beating up a blind kid. A BLIND KID! – there was a group of children just standing and watching while another was recording the whole thing. Thankfully another kid stepped in to help the blind teen who was being attacked.

As parents though maybe if we stop using video and social media to ‘punish‘ our children and teach them it's okay to embarrass and degrade others then MAYBE they will not in turn think they can do it to others. So please for the love of your children, stop using social media as a platform to embarrass your children into submission. Try grounding them, taking away every piece of electronic equipment they have, make them do community service ANYTHING other than social shaming.

5 Reasons Why Consignment Sales Are The Best

As a single mother I am always looking for various ways to save money and one of my biggest expenses is clothing for my kids. Especially with how quickly my daughter is growing. As a baby she was growing out of her clothes every few months it seemed.

So when I found out about a local consignment sale I was very excited to see what that was all about. I had looked into consignment stores in the past, where you take your items in and they stay at the store until someone comes in and buys them – but I was never really a fan. There is no guarantee of if there will be customers coming in and where will your items be stored or displayed?  And on top of that, how long will it take for my items to sell (if they ever sell at all)?

So when one day I found the ad for the Denver Just Between Friends sale I became very interested. JBF is a franchise that runs consignment sales across the country where people can buy and sell gently used items twice per year. (Other locations may have sales more often – I can only speak to the Denver sale on frequency.)

The very first time I logged into their site I was very impressed with the way they ran the sale and decided that I would try it out and have participated in every sale since!

Here are the top 5 reasons I love consignment sales.

1. Quality, gently used clothes at a fraction of the cost

Let’s face it, kids are expensive! Especially when they are growing out of everything you buy them in record time. Things that I bought my daughter new for Christmas or new school clothes would be too tight or too short within months of getting them for her. So having to constantly renew her wardrobe became extremely costly. The consignment sale I go to allows me to get her ‘new to her’ clothing at 1/3 of what I would pay at the stores, sometimes even less than that!

AND half the time there are clothes there from places I would NEVER actually shop at myself. I have gotten clothes from the GAP, Baby Phat, Children’s Place, Justice and more – and at prices that I can actually afford. (I refuse to pay $20 for a shirt that my daughter will grow out of in 6 months). I found 2 pair of practically new jeans on a hanger selling for $5. $5 for TWO pair of jeans!

The clothes are in great condition and at the low prices I can even afford to buy a size up just in case she has another growth spurt. Last sale I purchased 64 items at a total of $145. That is roughly $2.25 per item – know anywhere else you can get jeans for less than $3?

2. Clearing out items from our home

For years I was holding on to my daughter's highchair, crib, play pen and stroller. They were just sitting there in our garage. I had tried to sell them at garage sales with no success and those items you can no longer donate to the Good Will due to recalls and such – they don't have the desire to check for recalled items. I couldn't bring myself to just throw them away because it is just wasteful and horrible for the environment. AND I didn't have any friends who were having babies that I could give them to.

So when I discovered this sale I thought hey I can just take them there. On my very first sale I was finally able to sell all of those items that had just been sitting there for so long. I made a pretty good amount of money from them too, definitely more than I could have made at a garage sale or selling them on Craigslist. AND the Just Between Friends Sale has a dedicated person who's job it is to stay on top of any recalls so when you bring your items to the sale they are checked against the recall lists to make sure that they are safe.

Every year, twice a year, when the sale rolls around I go through all of the clothing that my children no longer fit in, the toys they no longer play with, the books they no longer read, movies they no longer watch and I take them to the sale. Instead of throwing things away or simply giving them away I am getting the opportunity to make some money back from all those things that I have bought and paid for over the years. AND the clothes that I bought from the sale that my daughter grows out of – you guessed it – they go right back to the sale (provided they are still in good condition).

3. Meeting great people and other moms

The Just Between Friends sale also rely on a lot of volunteer help from those who consign or shop with them. Because it is a sale of such a grand scale they need a lot of help setting up, breaking down, checking out, and so on. So every sale I not only consign and shop but I also volunteer. Now at the Denver sale when you volunteer for certain shifts or to do certain things (like bring dinner or help advertise the sale) you get perks – like a pre-shopping pass or something like that, where you can shop early before the masses arrive.

Also, when you consign and volunteer you get an additional percentage from the sale of your items. So typically a consignor would get 60% from the sale of their items, but when you volunteer for certain shifts you can also earn an additional 10% from your sales. Which is great!

But one of the things that I love most about volunteering for the sale is the opportunity to meet some great people. Other moms and such, little ones who come with their parents to the sale. It's a really fun time and I always enjoy it. I have met some really great ladies at these sales.

(Another perk of volunteering is that you will usually walk A LOT. So you get a fair amount of exercise as well. Last sale I walked over 13,000 steps in a 6 hour period.)

4. Getting the clothing for my kids for FREE

FREE? Yep, basically for free and sometimes even at a profit! I know, I know that sounds a bit crazy but hear me out.

For my very first JBF sale I consigned a TON of items, piles of clothes, toys that hadn't been taken out of the toy box in years, movies, books and of course my daughter's baby items. I also shopped for new clothes for her, basically replacing her entire Spring/Summer wardrobe because she had grown out of everything over the winter months.

I found a TON of clothes for her, in all honesty I went a little bit overboard and ended up with about 85 items of clothing. However, those 85 items of clothing only cost me $165 so all in all not too shabby! Now here's where it gets really good – in that first sale after everything was tallied up I earned $258 from the items I sold.

So $258 – $165 = $93 in PROFIT after purchasing new clothes, so basically I got a whole new wardrobe for my daughter without spending a cent, in fact I earned money. How amazing is that? To be able to buy new clothing for your child without it impacting your budget? In fact having it HELP your budget. Pretty great right. Now I will say that these results aren't always the case, but for the better part I usually earn more than I spend at every sale.

5. Our things still get donated

So for years and years before I found out about this sale I would simply donate everything that my kids outgrew. That way there wouldn't be a waste, I knew that it would go to help others get clothing either for free or at a low price AND it didn't do harm to the environment by simply throwing things away. I still do donate items that don't make the cut for the sale (things that have small stains on them or tiny holes, books with writing on them etc.) but for the most part everything goes to the sale.

The last thing about this sale that I want to mention, that I also absolutely love, is that if you wish you can tell them that any items that do not sell at the sale you want them to donate. And THEY will take them to be donated for you. So not only are you given the chance to possibly make some money back on items that you have bought for your children, you can also still donate them should they not be picked up at the sale.

You can also choose to not donate if you want to pick the items back up once the sale is over. Many people do that and then just bring them to the next sale to try again and sell the things that didn't sell last time. Which is great for some people as well. Personally I just donate anything that didn't sell, that way I don't bring the things BACK into my house and I am hopefully doing some good as well.[/vc_column_text]

And there you have it, the Top 5 Reasons that I love consignment sales. Now if you are interested in finding out more about the Just Between Friends sale you can click here and see if there is one in your area.

Also I highly recommend listening to the podcast that I did about the sale as it has some helpful tips on how to get ready for the sale, things that I have learned about the sale and so on.

Stop Sending Your Sick Child To School! (It’s Not That Simple)

In today's podcast I talk about how recently one of my lovely children brought home a nasty little bug that they happily spread around to our entire family, not once but twice! Yep that little germ decided that it was having such a good time making us feel yucky that it stuck around for a second round of phlegmy shenanigans.

Now I am fairly certain that this pesky germ was introduced to our family from one of their friends from school. There have been a multitude of sick kids in my daughter's class as well as at my sons' high school; children are just little walking petri dishes. This is normally where you see people posting about how people should keep their sick kids home so they don't make everyone else sick. If you were expecting that kind of a rant then you should stop reading at this point.

I am not one of those people who will complain about people sending their kids to school sick, because I have in fact in the past sent my children to school sick. Yep, I have dosed my child with cough  medicine and Tylenol and sent them on their not-so-merry ways all the while hoping that they remember to cover their mouths when they cough and to wash their hands.

Now, before you start going into spastic fits of parental outrage, let me explain why I did so and why I do not fault other parents for doing the same.

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to stay home when their children get sick. 

Wait – did I just say ‘luxury'? Yes – luxury. While it may not seem like it at the time, while you are wiping snotty noses and faces, trying to keep fevers down or holding back hair while your child pukes up everything they just ate – it is in fact a luxury to be able to do these things.

You see the reason that I don't judge or get angry at those parents who send their children to school still fighting off whatever germy has happened to infect them that week is because I know that not everyone can afford or are able to take time off to stay home with their child when they are sick.

As a single mother there were many times when I knew that if I called in again because my child was sick I would likely lose my job. There were times when I knew that if I took any more time off to stay home with my little one I wouldn't earn enough on that check to make the rent or pay the light bill.

The Single Mom Blog - Welfare Hostage, stressed over money

Many parents out there, both single and two parent households, are just one unexpected bill or one missed day of work away from not making it. As a single parent my budget was always extremely tight and many times I was robbing Peter to pay Paul. So when I had to miss work because my child was sick, it caused a huge problem with my finances.

Not everyone gets sick time. Not everyone has a significant other who can pick up extra hours to cover what you weren't able to work. Not everyone has another parent that can tag team and stay home while you go back to work. So when I say ‘luxury' of being able to stay home – that is exactly what it is.

Working from home allows me that luxury of being able to still earn a living while my child is home sick. I am able to take care of them AND still work. Not everyone can do that, and not that long ago I couldn't either. So yes, I was one of those parents who sent their child to school sick just praying that they would be able to make it through the day, because I couldn't afford to lose my pay OR even possibly my job.

And YES I am aware that if people didn't send their children to school sick, other kids would be less likely to get sick as well. However, even if every child who was sick stayed home and didn't go to school – they would STILL get sick. I mean let's be real here, the only way to keep kids from catching things is to isolate them and put them in a bubble.

They're gonna play with their friends, they are gonna touch a surface with germs on it – hell for a period of time my son would lick everything he came across. (Yes, I know it's gross – he's a boy and I couldn't watch him every second.) And here's the other thing – for most children getting sick every now and again is a good thing. It's how they develop stronger immune systems, their bodies need to learn how to fight off germs and they do that by catching the germs.

Which is one of the reasons that my children have not gotten the flu shot for the last several years. Now don't start jumping all over me again – I am not anti-vaccine, I believe all children should have their shots for all the biggies – measles, mumps, polio, etc.

However, the flu shot is not something that I feel they need every year – but there are some who have lower immune systems, poor respiratory health and so on for whom the flu could actually be fatal. For those people it is VERY important that they get the flu shot, because it could save their lives.

My children DID get the flu shot when they were infants and toddlers when their immune systems were still young and getting the flu would possibly be fatal, however now they are older and do not get the shot. Neither do I. And we have yet to catch the flu.

We don't get sick often and when we do it takes a pretty super-bug to knock us down (like the one we recently had) but even that doesn't knock us down for too long. (Before this last bug hit us it had been almost 2 years since any of us were sick with a cold.)

I also am not an over-sanitizer, I don't make them sanitize their hands every 15 minutes, I don't wipe down the grocery carts at the store, I don't carry bottles of hand sanitizer in my purse. I'm pretty sure that I lived through a childhood without various forms of hand sanitizer just fine and my children are too.

I truly believe that the reason that my children aren't sick as often as other children is BECAUSE they have been exposed to, AND survived mind you, other sick kids and germs. Your child getting sick every now and again is NOT the end of the world, it really isn't. Now for some children who do have weakened immune systems or other health problems, I know that being around other sick kids is more serious than for other kids. However, if they are in school there will sadly never be a way for them to not be exposed to germs, again – little walking petri dishes.

So while I understand that no one wants their kids to get sick and feel miserable, maybe stop and take a moment to realize that when parents do send their children to school sick, they aren't doing it to purposefully infect your children, but because maybe they don't have another option available to them.

I'm sure that every parent in the world would like to be able to take as much time as needed to get their babies healthy again before returning them to academia, but not everyone can.

So the next time you find yourself complaining about ‘those parents‘ that let their child infect your child while at school, try stopping to realize that you don't know that parent's story or why they allowed their child to go to school sick. Maybe show a little compassion and realize that other parents aren't deliberately sabotaging your child – maybe they just didn't have any other option.