SUP?

I’m sitting at an intersection with my windows cracked and Jay Z and his friends busting out of my mom-mobile and a surly tow truck driver at about 2 o’clock from me looks back over his shoulder and eyes me. He is tatted from his fingertips to his eyeballs. I give him a traffic head nod like “sup?” He shakes his head and huffs then turns and takes a swig from a gallon of water in a bottle labeled Juicy Juice.

Really? Hey Juicy! You’re not so hot yourself. Don’t you know 40-something white ladies are probably one of Jay’s largest listening demographic? Lighten up. Maybe mix something stronger into your Juicy Juice.

I’m glad to have a few moments to myself after dropping the kids off at school and before I have to rush into work. How many coffees will I need today? I ponder.

What’s happening this week? I’ve been debating whether to join a softball team at work. Practices are once a week, right after work. I’m falling off the fence on the “no” side. The exhaustion that comes with figuring out who to bug to take care of my kids after school once a week is what forced me to take a hiatus from belly dancing. My job hangs in some weird balance, with a vote coming up in a month that will decide whether the unit I belong to will continue after the end of June. I’ve always taken government job security somewhat for granted. Guess what! I shouldn’t have thought this way! Your financial well-being and quality of life may lay in the hands of one senator who thinks he has come up with a brilliant idea and a legislative analyst. I’m sure this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened…

My daughter informed me this week that I have a fourth child (I can’t figure out what happened to number 3), whose name is Kool Tooley. It turns out that I gave him away at birth and she and her brother have recently discovered his existence. My son won’t confirm or deny this story. He sits in the backseat of the car, staring out the window, while my daughter weaves fantastic stories about Kool. My son already looks like a defeated husband with selective hearing. I’m hoping that wherever Kool lives, he’s in a financially stable home because I just can’t provide for one more child if he decides to come looking for me.

My daughter is also going public more frequently with her discussions about her absent father, or “donor dad.” She is wavering between whether she will continue to harass me about his whereabouts, or if she will just adopt a father. Because if people can adopt children, then they surely can adopt fathers, too. Another tricky issue I’ve had to address with her lately is why even half siblings aren’t allowed to marry each other and have babies. I’m always too tired to explain this in a way that a 6-year old going on 18 will understand.

“Because the baby may be born with an arm growing out of his head.”

Really? That’s all I’ve got? Way to go! Currently, I’m looking for volunteers to pick up their phone when one of my children calls with a difficult question like, “Can I play on the iPad tonight?” or “What will you give me if I pick up my toys?” or “Why does that boy have long hair?” I just don’t have it in me anymore…

Play date (aka when a saint offers to host your children at her house for a few hours while you are at work)

What’s new this week? Well, my children had a play date with a family they have never visited before.

The mother picked them both up after school. Nerve wracking. What can my children do to embarrass themselves and me between 2:30 and 5:30 at a new family’s house? I was at work, holding my breath. At 4:30, I jumped out of my seat, packed up and flew out. I set my map and headed north.

How fancy will their house be? Will my children already have mentioned how much cleaner and bigger their house was than our house? I was sweating now. What is my daughter telling the mother? It was my son’s friend and my daughter was invited along, despite my warnings to the mother.

“She likes adult women. She thinks she’s a grown up too. She will talk your ear off. She might not say age-appropriate things. She likes painting. Give her some paints and some paper. She will leave you alone.”

The mom reassured me that it would be fine. She didn’t mind. I was pretty sure my daughter would be telling this mom a bunch of weird things about me and our family. Or asking her questions that were too personal.

To my relief, the strangest exchange was my daughter asking the mom if she was Jesus’ mother (they share the same name). Not bad. My daughter painted in the basement the whole time, churning out miniatures on small wooden panels. My son, along with his friend, were acting a bit like crazed maniacs when I arrived.

I immediately felt a mix of sympathy, admiration and gratefulness for this mom. She had taken on a huge risk, supervising these two squirrels, her older son, and Vincent Van Gogh junior, who might have very well cut off her own ear during the visit.

I am so thankful for people like this in my life. People who are willing, whether they realize it or not, to lend me a helping hand by welcoming my children into their home. ♥️

Was v Were

Was v were. I never thought I’d be THAT mom.

“Momma, I were at school yesterday and -” my daughter starts.

“Was. You was at school yesterday.” I’m such a jerk.

“You was not at school yesterday, I were.” Correct. I were not, you was.

“No, I WAS at school yesterday, NOT I were.” My final attempt at teaching good grammar.

Her, exasperated: “You was not at school, Momma! I were.”

Like a nightmare flashback of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” in the making. Where are the cameras? I’m being punked.

Keep in mind, my correcting her is VERY recent. I’ve listened to was/were reversals for months now.

“Momma, if Reiny and I was at school together, is it was or were?” We are on to something here. If I can’t communicate this concept, maybe with the help of a stuffed reindeer, we will be golden.

“Ahhh, yes. If there is more than one of you, it is were. If it’s just you, then it is was.” I am pleased she is making the plural form connection, which we’ve touched on a few times.

“Momma, where is Reiny?” Uh oh.

“She stepped out back to smoke a cigarette.” Me, trying to cover for the fact that I forgot Reiny at home when I came to pick up the kids. Along with their snack.

“Reiny doesn’t smoke.” Seriously? Then who is leaving their butts outside my back door?

“Then she is at driving lessons, with Alec.” I took at stab here. Last week, my daughter swore Reiny had enrolled in driver’s ed.

“Reiny hates Alec. He makes fun of her in ballet class. Plus she doesn’t drive, Momma.” This is all news to me. In fact: Newsflash. Reiny doesn’t smoke, drive or take ballet. And who is Alec? We don’t know a single person named Alec. Yet these are all things that YOU, child, have told me she is doing over the past week when I ask YOU where she is. I was just playing the game.

“Ok, baby. I have a confession. Reiny isn’t feeling well and she’s at home in my bed.” I come clean. Kind of.

“Did she throw up?”

Oh my goodness. Really?

“I don’t know baby. She were not throwing up when I left her this morning.” BAHAHAHAHA! So bad.

And now you know why I am rechecking my medications, giving up gluten, catching up on past church messages, listening to soothing classical Indian ragas and meditating like a boss. All in my free time.

I Can’t Keep Go-Gurt in Stock

“Maybe we should go shopping tonight,” my daughter suggested as we walked in the door after returning from the after school program.

“Why shopping? What do you think we need?” I asked.

“We are out of yogurt again,” was the reply.

“Well, it’s not my problem that you and your brother consumed 16 tubes of go-gurt since we went to the store LAST NIGHT!”

“That was 3 nights ago,” says brother.

We have problems with time tracking and targeted consumption at our house. I can’t keep go-gurt in stock. Sour Patch Kids Go-Gurt flies off my refrigerator shelves like box fans at Walmart in August.

These kids get so pinpoint focused on one type of snack or food and then you can’t keep enough of it at home. I like diversity. It’s the key to a good life. With food and my kids however, the name of the game is sameness.

What’s for dinner this week?

Pancakes and sausage. We must eat this every night. If the kids come home and momma’s mixed it up with hamburgers and French fries, all hell breaks loose. This was pancakes and sausage week.

“Momma, what do you have for a snack?”

“Graham crackers.”

“I hate graham crackers. I’ve hated graham crackers forever.”

No, in fact, you haven’t. I thought we were still on graham cracker for snack week. It appears we transitioned to yogurt smoothies week and I didn’t get the memo. The kids only drink yogurt smoothies now. Graham crackers are passé. Hated even.

“Momma, can we have dinosaur chicken nuggets for dinner this week?”

Shocked. “I thought you hated those?”

Look of mild confusion on son’s face.

“No? When did I say that?”

Hm. Ok. It’s dinosaur nuggets and tater tots week. Search back of freezer for dinosaur nuggets to see if they have expired since the kids’ last love affair with dinosaur nuggets.

My freezer is full of once-loved food items, just waiting, like sad, worn toys, to be loved again by my children. Sometimes when I see expiration dates approaching, I will say at dinner time (over pancakes and sausage):

“Hey, remember those turkey meatballs that we loved to eat every night last March? Wouldn’t it be great to have those again?”

Blank stares on children’s faces.

Sigh. Looks like that bag of meatballs won’t be making a comeback before its time is up…

The Light and Fluffy Pre-Holiday Recap

Hey blog. It has been awhile. So much has happened over the past 3 months and instead of happily chatting about it to the world, I’ve decided that large chunks of the time period should just be swept under the rug. Not too much damage done, thankfully, but maybe enough to close out 2017. Let’s do a quick and light recap.

The Tinder Trap: There is actually a lot of material here, as to be expected with an online dating app. Suffice to say I escaped with only a few minor cuts and scrapes, a potential lifelong friend, and another acquaintance whom I enjoyed meeting enough to agree to Facebook friendship for the time being.

The Unexpected Father Meeting: Running into my daughter’s father by chance in a public place, with her in tow. This could have been REALLY awkward. My daughter and her father have never met, until last week. I felt that a meeting like this had the potential to implode, like in Back to the Future when Michael J. Fox traveled back in time and befriended his father in high school and was trying to facilitate the romance of his father with his mother, without vomiting. I watched my daughter and her father together, chatting like old pals, old pals who had the exact same eyes. She only knows him as “Momma’s friend,” but for a chance meeting that could have been disastrous, it was actually very pleasant and peaceful. For those of you who are wondering, there was no miraculous father/daughter reunification, but I’ve been at peace with his absence for awhile now, and so that’s ok.

Skincare and dog care: My businesses are right about where I can manage them at the moment. I would love for both to grow, but my bandwidth this time of year is severely limited by my insecurities around providing great holiday experiences for my children and keeping up with the craziness as a single mom. I am thrilled to have great clients in both areas of work, and a wonderful business partner on the skincare side with whom I’ve reconnected with after almost 20 years. I’m looking forward to some quality time with her in Las Vegas at the end of January, while she is there for work and I’m taking advantage of $70 airfare to catch up with her in person. I’m confident the new year will bring some fabulous experiences and the opportunity to meet and work with many more cool people! I’m so thankful I dived into these side businesses.

Self care: In early summer, I joined a belly dancing class at the local rec center. We just wrapped up our last session for the year. Through this class, I met many amazing women, in particular, two very special ones, and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn and practice this beautiful art form with good friends who are authentic, loving and fun.

And finally, bah humbug: I’m not a fan of this time of year. I know there are many who are not, for so many different reasons. It’s the time of year when being on your own with two children feels like a giant pimple on the end of your nose that is angry and red, and refuses to be fully realized so you can just pop it and be done with it. Just to be able to pop that sucker, so the pus can ooze out, the swelling can go down, and you can feel some relief. Graphic, I know, but this is how I feel being a single parent during the holidays. This will be the first year since 1991 that I will not exchange gifts with some form of a significant other. After several goes of scratching out invisible numbers on the couch beside me, I’ve concluded that it has been 26 years. I’m really looking forward to the handmade items that my kids brought home from school today and were begging me to open. It appears that they are ornaments and have to be opened prior to Christmas, but I’m holding out as long as I can.

The iPhone Police: Quinquagenarian v. Teenage Son

How many government workers does it take to figure out how to restrict a teenager’s access on their iPhone?

I know, a new version of an old joke. I’m so scared to become a parent of a teenager. Only 6 more years. Six more years until I will live in even more of a hyper state of hyper-vigilance. This is how the conversation went this morning between me and my co-worker about policing teen iPhones.

TP (Teen Parent, or Toilet Paper, which is what he really is right now to his seriously tech advantaged son): “I need to delete Instagram and Snapchat from my son’s phone. How do I do that?”

Me: “Hold the home button until the icons shake. There will be little X’s in the corner of each one? Press the X.” (Because at 5 years younger, I have a serious leg up on his tech skills and I know the terminology, like “icons” and “shake”).

TP: “The shortcuts are gone. But they are in his apps. Damn it. I told him to disable his password in the car today and he took his phone and he only had it for like 10 seconds and he was like this.” TP re-enacts son speed typing across the phone and hitting “send” 40 times in under 5 seconds.

Me: “Did you Google it? Google it. That’s what I always do. I don’t know what I did before Google.”

TP: “Yes, I googled it, I can’t find anything.”

Huge sigh from me. These seniors need so much help with their phones. “Ok. Give me a minute, I’ll go look it up.”

I find the information I need back in my office and call him at his desk.

Me: “Come down here. I have an answer for you.”

TP makes his way down to my office after a 60-second debate about why I just can’t go back to his office (we are literally 10 steps away from each other).

I read the instructions off my monitor about how to delete apps from his settings on the phone. He starts reading off apps as he begins deleting the obvious culprits: Instagram and SnapChat.

TP: “What’s Yellow?”

I quickly do a search on Google.

Me: “Looks like it’s the new Tinder for teens.” Scanning and reading aloud headlines about police and parent concern over Yellow, which has taken over every American teenager’s phone. My coworker breaks into a sweat and utters some words that I don’t like to print in my blog.

TP: “What’s Find My Friends?”

Me: “Oh, it’s just a standard iPhone app I think. I don’t use it. Whenever I turn it on, the only person I can find is XXXXX.” Insert name of another coworker who is seriously the only friend I can ever find with the app.

TP: “Ok. So those are all gone. I can give him access to Safari, right? I mean, that’s ok.”

I am starting to get lightheaded with all my tech expertise. What can I mooch from this guy? He really needs my help.

Me: “Wellllll……no. It’s not ok. I mean, all he has to do is go to the homepage of all of those sites and he can log in to them through Safari.”

TP: “I need to restrict access to those sites?” He is tentative, concerned, wide-eyed. Maybe he can buy me coffees for a week in exchange for helping him create a firewall between his son and the outside world. Did I use firewall correctly in that sentence, I wonder as I write this.

Me: “Yes. You will need to do that.” More Googling and giving him the URLs so he can block the sites from his son.

About ten minutes later, TP finally leaves my office, feeling a smug satisfaction, that he, along with the help of his much younger, more attractive and tech savvy coworker, has outfoxed his son this round. To be continued……..

Microblog Monday: 5 Life Changing Reasons!

One of the things that’s freaking me out right now is how much I LOVE having side businesses. I’m hoping one day that I can just become a master of side businesses and a full-time employee of none. Now if I can just get the American healthcare system to play nice with me.

Five life-changing perks for me:

1. UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FEEDS MY SPIRIT!!

Who doesn’t love dogs? There are probably a few people, but through Rover, I get to experience a wide variety of dog personalities which has busted dog breed stereotypes for me. I also get to meet new people, use my business to help my kids learn about respecting animals and being responsible, and get to cuddle with the cuddlers (as I learned from Smoke, not every dog likes to be cuddled).

2. GREAT SKIN AND NEW FRIENDS!!!

I’ve felt like dead woman walking since I had my kids. With R+F, my skin has completely transformed from when I started using it 3 months ago. I love sharing this experience with people. I also have had the unexpected pleasure of reconnecting with friends and acquaintances I have not spoken to in ages and the support and positivity of the women I’ve met in this business is second to none.

3. CONFIDENCE BOOST!

With both of my side gigs, I’ve started to step out of my shell and consequently have gained more confidence and stressed less about what people are thinking of me.

4. 9-5 KILLS MY SOUL!!

I’ve realized how much I appreciate the diversity and energy of having more than one stream of income. I’ve known I’m not a typical 9-5 girl my entire life (ask my co-workers how well I stick to schedules – ugh). Mixing up my day job with other types of work has really boosted my mood – despite some occasional exhaustion from staying up too late because I can’t stop working once the kids are in bed.

5. MY KIDS ARE FEELING IT!!!

Largely because I’m a more positive human being. My daughter has quickly picked up on my entrepreneurial spirit and loves creating things to sell to people. It’s hard to sell things on the curb in my neighborhood, so she’s finishing up some ladybug garden rocks that she wants me to post soon. My son loves helping me create videos for my business. Ultimately, I want them to learn that anything worth doing is worth doing well and that their solo parent (with the help of God, family and good friends!) can carry the day to provide a home that they can thrive in.

 

5 Things I Love About Summer!

The title of this blog is meant to come across as positive, exciting and bursting with infectious happy energy! Here is what I’m really thinking about summer right now: I’m tired of living sans air conditioning. The average temperature in my home runs about 85 degrees in the early evening. I swore up and down that this would be the summer of the cooling system installation extravaganza. After obtaining a few estimates that I can’t really afford without taking a loan and discovering that many HVAC companies are booked out at least a few weeks, I’ve decided that this might be the summer where I leisurely explored the idea of installing a cooling system and decided to put it off another year.

Why not? I’ve met some really interesting HVAC guys and a whiney electrician, increased my knowledge of heating and cooling systems exponentially, spent quite a bit of time getting to know my fuse box, and received plenty of bad news about the issues that an old home presents when installing anything major that requires electricity. I can give you the rundown about the options that are available nowadays when it comes to cooling your home and tell you why you should never use a present day GFI testing thingy to check ungrounded GFI outlets in an old home.

Move on, you say. Let’s talk about why summer is so great. Here are the 5 things I love about this summer.

  1. I get to spend one whole day a week hanging out with my children! Through this experience I’ve learned that being an SAHM is probably not the ideal way to go for me, but I wouldn’t trade our Tuesdays for anything. Even when they involve hours and hours of bickering, hearing the word “Momma” a mind-numbing amount of times, and turning down hundreds of requests per day regarding TV, iPad, and iPhone usage.
  2. Above-mentioned children have learned to swim! When we do go to the pool, we don’t have to spend a lot of time in the wading pool where the water is suspiciously warm all the time and toddlers in swim diapers splash and squeal all around you.
  3. Crime seems to have slowed down this summer in our neighborhood! While data shows our area as the most popular place in town for our police force to hang out, our immediate surroundings have remained relatively quiet (knock on wood). 
  4. It is too hot to use the oven in my house which limits our diet to only items that can be eaten straight out of the fridge and prepared on the stove top or in the toaster! Add in picky eaters and the only things I really need to keep readily available are bread, peanut butter, jelly, and cheese and turkey slices. 
  5. Homemade cold brew coffee. With vanilla almond creamer. 

As you can see, the upcoming school year and fall will likely be greeted with some long faces and heavy hearts. Despite the high temps in the house, we’ve managed to have one of the better summers in recent history.

The Marijuana Sitter

For the past few years, I’ve had the honor (?) of living next door to a trailblazer in the now legalized marijuana grow industry. While HIS grow has never been legal, because he exceeds by at least 20 times the number of plants he can legally grow and operates across the street from a daycare, we have had an uneventful and symbiotic relationship during that time. For the past two years, because he and his wife grew their family a bit, he has been renting out the house. This most recent set of tenants has been by far the most interesting, and in particular, a man I will call Louis, who is by trade, a Marijuana Sitter. This is my term based on the description of his job duties, he refers to himself as a “Roadie.”

My acquaintanceship with Louis began about a week before he officially moved out of the house next door. For about two weeks, I had noticed a new truck in the driveway, which was there consistently. There were always many cars parked in and around the house, but this truck kept returning. Sitting at the front of the truck at the top of the driveway, there was often a tall, thin man with thick, wavy, longish black hair and an unkempt beard, who smoked endlessly. Sometimes, I would sit at the bistro table in front of my house while he smoked in the driveway not more than 20 feet away, but we wouldn’t exchange anything other than a head nod. Had the backyard of the house next door not been continuing to fill with smelly trash wrapped in black plastic bags, we might not have ever spoken.

When the heat climbed to the mid-90s, the backyard started to smell, and the landfill next door became a problem for me. On my way to work one morning, I pulled over and walked up to Louis and introduced myself. We spoke briefly about the trash in the backyard and he begged me to call the city about it. He was eager to move the other tenant, a woman who was in the prostitution business with underaged children who smoked weed, out of the house as soon as possible. And he wouldn’t be able to call the police himself because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself (translated: outstanding warrants).

As Louis’ story about the happenings around the house over the past several weeks unfolded, I was quite surprised that it was only 9 months worth of trash stashed in the backyard that had caught my attention. Most fascinating was probably Louis’ job though. He is a marijuana sitter for a living. He travels around to grows and stays to help care for the plants through certain phases of growth. He gets paid quite a bit too. He also makes deliveries to parties and festivals. He gets antsy when he has to stay in one place too long, and in particular with a woman who would often take off and leave her underaged children at the house by themselves while he slept in the next room. His truck had Texas plates, but he explained that he couldn’t really go back to Texas because he has too many felony warrants there, but for crimes that are only misdemeanors in Colorado due to legalization of marijuana. He referred to several other acquaintances who were in the same situation, running from Texas and relocating in Colorado to avoid being charged with felonies. Having worked as part of the criminal justice system for the better part of the past 25 years, I found this an interesting unintended consequence of legalization. He was also thankful for the fact that he could carry a gun in Colorado since his crimes were not felonies here.

We had a good conversation. I decided that he was somewhat attractive except for the awful state of his teeth. He encouraged me to call the city and even the police, that I shouldn’t have to deal with all the garbage in the backyard, having two young children and all. After speaking with him for about 45 minutes, I thought that maybe the garbage in the backyard might have been the least of my concerns for the past several months, had I been wiser.

Now, both tenants are gone, and the owner of the house has pulled up a dumpster and the dirty work has begun. My other neighbor informed me that the owner would be removing the grow from the house permanently, as he had had Louis remove all the plants and equipment, and that he might even sell the house. At first, I was hopeful. Maybe a nice family would move in next door and I wouldn’t have all the constant car and person traffic, as well as the really smelly period just before harvest, when, before a few weeks ago, I thought hundreds of skunks were being slaughtered each summer. But then, isn’t there a saying about familiarity or the known versus the unknown?

Can He Be Our Dad?

We were headed off to the Dinosaur exhibit at the zoo last night, meeting a coworker and his wife and son. I received a text from him saying they were running about half hour late, so we stopped at a BBQ restaurant not far from the zoo. After a failed dinner – my kids ONLY eat hamburgers and french fries and tender shredded meat covered in tangy sweet BBQ sauce is abhorrent to them – we hopped back in the car to head to the zoo.

As we were pulling out, my daughter noticed an older man, dressed head to toe in camouflage, surrounded by backpacks, with a long, gray beard and wraparound sunglasses.

My daughter says from the backseat, “Momma, can he be our dad?”

“Who? That man with the long beard?”

“Yes. He looks nice.”

My heart broke in two right then. Like it always does when I’m overwhelmed by the crushing “you are less than because you are a single mom and your kids will wind up wounded” feeling.

“Honey, I think he’s homeless.”

“Well, then we can bring him home. He can live with us. He can be our dad.”

That put the cherry on top of my already feeling insecure parenting sundae. At the zoo, she reveled in the attention of my male coworker, begging us to each hold each of her hands and “jump” her.

We have a good life. Sometimes things can eat at you though. I’m still working on my heart of steel.

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