Tag Archives: children

Growing Up

My daughter is my only child. When she started preschool it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, Kindergarten was harder. Kindergarten meant she was growing up. Yesterday my little kindergartener graduated from fifth grade. She is no longer an elementary school kid. My heart is heavy.

I am trying to figure out why her moving to middle school is having such an effect on me. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy that she is doing well in school right now and is able to move up a grade, but at the same time, there is a cloud of profound sadness swirling around this milestone. Is this something every parent feels?

I am proud of my Baby Girl! She is growing into a wonderful young woman. I just wish that time didn’t seem to go so fast. Here is my girl,

One minute she was making goofy faces at me and singing into fake microphones the next minute she is helping with her baby cousin and swinging a sledgehammer during a kitchen demo. Kids grow up so fast! I sometimes wish I could have those little years back, but I know that the middle years will be just as interesting and challenging as the little years.

As much as I wish for those little years, I am just as excited to see what kind of person my Baby Girl grows to be.

Confused

Have you ever made a decision thinking it was a good one and then a week or a month later began to think maybe it was not such a good decision? That’s where I am at right now.

I took a promotion at work with some trepidation. I had been offered the job twice before and declined each time. I didn’t feel prepared to take the job. My daughter was still very young. She is a few years older now. The time I can spend with my daughter is very precious. I am lucky that I have a very supportive sister and mother who will care for my daughter anytime I ask. Being a single mother I worry about babysitters and child care services, I am not always trusting when it comes to my baby girl. Not to mention the money those services cost. When I was offered the job this time I considered it briefly before accepting. I asked for a 90 day probation period, I was given 60 but told they would prefer 30. After almost 30 days I spoke with the owner and received a salary offer that wasn’t quite what I hoped but was sufficient. I waited a few days and then accepted the offer. It has been 4 days and I am now wondering if I made the wrong choice. The scope of the work is quite a bit more than I have handled in several years. I am capable of doing the work, I just am not sure that I want to do the work. I was also hired with an assistant. She got a new job and will be leaving, no new assistant to be hired at this time. Looking to the future I wonder if a new assistant will be hired and worry that if one is not hired that I will not be able to keep up with the work my assistant did as well as my own work. I want to be fair to the Center Director and the owner and let them know how I am feeling. The truth is I am not sure I really want this job. I thought I did, but second thoughts are creeping around inside my head.

I feel like I am in one of those cartoons where the character has to decide between doing two things and the little angel and the tiny devil pop up on each shoulder. Instead of an angel and a devil, my little people are my daughter and my checkbook.

My checkbook is constantly yelling at me about the bills I have to pay. I feel like there are alarm bells ringing all the time, “IT’S TIME TO PAY ANOTHER BILL”! That damn checkbook always reminding me that there never seems to be enough money to pay for every necessity, every bill and still have a little fun. When I think maybe I have bit off a bit more than I can chew by taking on this new job my checkbook begins to whisper in my ear. Well, it starts whispering and then begins to scream a list of everything I am responsible for paying. House payment, gas, electric, car insurance, car maintenance, gas for the car, groceries, pet care, student loans, medical insurance, co-pays, clothes, shoes, camps for my daughter, debt relief program because at one time I couldn’t control my spending, Dad’s funeral bill that, according to my Aunt, should have been paid off awhile ago, the kitchen remodel that I started (and now have no time to keep working on because I am working more hours), school field trips, and next year school uniforms and the list just keeps going and going until I feel like I am drowning. Oh, how that checkbook makes me feel so damn guilty!

On the other shoulder is my beautiful, smart, loving daughter. She is backed up by my writing wants and needs, as well as at least one of her aunts. When I was trying to figure out if I should take this job I considered the impact it would have on my daughter. She is my priority, always. I thought about it and the bulk of my working hours are when she’s in school, with the exception of school breaks. I talked to her about it and she was all for me taking the job. Now I am left wondering what I am going to do with her for part of the summer. She has 3 weeks of day camp, but then what? Summer break is 9 weeks long. I am working extra hours and I feel like I cannot make some school functions and as though I am not spending much time with her, not like I was able to before. Despite the fact that I am at work mostly during the day while she is in school, I feel that I am taking something away from her. Then there is my writing, something that I really want to make a priority in my life. By the time I get off of work I am so tired that I am ready for bed after dinner is made. There are dishes in my sink and I haven’t done laundry in 2 weeks. One of my daughter’s aunts told me that she wouldn’t accept the job if she had social security like I do, she would stay home with her kids. If you are new to my blog I receive benefits from social security until my daughter turns 16 because my husband died 6 years ago. I can understand the aunt’s point. It was my intention to only work part time until I was no longer eligible for the social security and then go back to work full time. I don’t really care about money. My daughter isn’t going to remember all of the things that I buy her but she will remember the times we spent together. For this reason, it was a difficult decision to go to work full time. A decision that I am now struggling with.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my dilemma with work is small potatoes, but I could really use some advice. I feel like I have been deceptive to the owner and the Center Director and unfair to myself and my daughter. I am conflicted because I want to do well at this job and not give up so easily and yet I want to be able to give as much of my time to my daughter as I can. I don’t have another half that can pick up the slack for me when I fall short. I have a wonderful family that helps out, but it isn’t the same. I have roughly 2 months to make a decision before I will lose my social security benefits. I feel that taking those 2 months would be very unfair of me, so I am trying to do my best and decide what it is I want and make a decision within the next week. I am so very confused.

 

Change is in the Air

Hello! It has been awhile since I have written anything :(. Big things have been happening around my house :)! I am considering a promotion at work, I have started the process of publishing my second children’s book, I have started writing a for all ages book(sort of) and I have contacted a plumber to try to get the ball rolling again on my kitchen remodel. Lots of things happening!!!

I am really excited about my upcoming children’s book! It is called No More Hugs and is super cute! I get to meet with my illustrator, John Olmstead, towards the end of May to go over some of the rough drawings. I am hoping everything will be completed by the end of June so I can have it published by September. YAY!!!! I have also begun work on a book about enduring the loss of loved ones. The book is my story of loss and how I found my new normal. It is a hard story to write so it may take me awhile. I think it’s time to write it though, maybe someone else can benefit from my perspective.

The plumber is going to come to give me an estimate on moving my dishwasher sometime this week. I am not sure why the dishwasher was across the kitchen from the sink and not next to the sink in the first place. If I find out that it can’t be moved I think I will have it completely removed. I have found this amazing piece at a great local store that is handmade. It’s a bit rustic looking and I think would fit great in my house! With a kid and animals I don’t want to feel like things have to be pristine. I want that loved/used look that let’s people know I like to cook and makes my house feel comfortable and inviting. I have never felt comfortable in houses with formal living rooms and formal dining rooms. You know, the ones with the furniture you are afraid to sit on because you might break it or get it dirty? The houses where you feel like you can’t relax and sink into the furniture, instead you sit on the edge of the couch or chair to make sure you don’t somehow mess it up. I am glad that I can start that project within the next month! I told myself that I am not in a hurry and can be patient, but I am ready to start the next phase of this remodel!

I was recently offered a promotion at work. I have been considering taking the position for about a month. During this time I have been training for the job on a probation period. I think I will be decent at the job. My struggle with taking the promotion has several layers. Layer #1: I have had social security benefits since my husband died six years ago. This has allowed me to work part-time and be home more for my daughter. By taking this job I won’t always be able to take off work for day time school functions. On the flip side, I will get off most nights between 5 and 6. Which means I will be home to make my daughter dinner and help her with her homework. If I officially take the job I will lose the social security. This means if the job doesn’t work out there is no getting that back, I will have to get another job. Another job that may not be as flexible with lunch breaks and child illnesses. Another job that may not allow me to pick my daughter up from school and bring her back to sit in the office until I get off work. This is a scary prospect. An unlikely one, but one that must be considered.

Layer #2: I like teaching and working part-time as a tutor allows me to teach. Becoming the Director of Education will not leave me much time to teach. I have spoken with the owner and the Center Director and I will be able to teach a couple of hours a week. It isn’t the same as being a teacher, but at least it’s something.

Layer #3: I like to write and would really enjoy making that my full-time job. Taking this job will make writing more of a part-time job. On the other hand, taking this job will make it easier to pay for my illustrator. At least I think it will. I have not yet spoken to the owner about salary. During my probation time I am considered hourly. I have an appointment tomorrow to discuss salary. I am crossing my fingers and sending out as many prayers as I can that we can come to an agreement about salary that will make it worth giving up the short-term financial stability that I have with the social security. Social security isn’t much and there are some months when I wonder if I am going to be able to pay all of the bills and put food on the table, but it is a guaranteed amount of money coming in every month. Taking this job means losing that stability. Which in turn means that I need my salary to be more than what I get from Social Security after taxes to make it worth losing the benefits and the ability to be available for my daughters school functions.

Layer #4: Since 2011 my priorities have changed. That year I lost my husband, my grandmother and my Dad. Making money has never been first on my priority list, but that year made me realize that life is too short and too precious to not spend time with the people I love. My daughter comes first. She always will. I realize though that money is needed to provide for my daughter and living on social security and a part-time job does not always provide her with opportunities to experience life and learn new things in interesting ways outside of the classroom. As I said earlier, there are times when paying for food trumps paying the electric bill. Taking this job might mean that I can take her on vacation or send her to a summer camp. It might mean that she can join after school programs like track or take a martial arts class or purchase the drum set she wants so she can learn to play the drums like she’s been wanting to do for a year now.

That’s it! Big things happening here! Decisions to be made and lessons to be learned. Life is bittersweet and losses sometimes happen with gains. Until next time my friends! I hope your life is filled with a great mix of ups and downs. May the downs not be too low or too long and may you always be grateful for the ups and everything in between. As someone wise once said, “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” Lots of love friends.

Don’t Eat My Cereal

If I have invited you into my home for more than a 5-minute conversation I consider you my friend. If you have spent the night in my house you are, more than likely, considered family. I only have one hard and fast rule in my house, do not eat my cereal.

I am a generous person for the most part. We are all a little selfish from time to time and I am no exception. I will let you read my books, use my shampoo, make your dinner, I will even sleep on the couch and let you have my bed. You can borrow my clothes and use my computer. DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

See? I am generous. I am loyal to a fault and I usually share everything I have. However, if I am eating please do not stand over me and say, “I want some!” and then expect me to hand over my bowl or give you a bite. Have I not already given you everything else? Do not take another mile if I have already given you 2. In other words, DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

You want something from my garden? Ok, it’s yours. Want me to bake you some cupcakes? No Problem! Just DO NOT EAT MY CEREAL!

Welcome to my house, where the only hard and fast rule is: DON’T EAT MY CEREAL!

 

 

This a work of fiction, maybe ;), for all those generous people out there who would give you the shirt off their backs. Also for parents because we all know that if we were eating a shit sandwich our children would want a bite simply because we were eating it :).

P.S. If you like my writing check out my children’s book, Stuck by Valerie Prather, on amazon.com

My Book!!!!!

I wrote a children’s book! And I published it! Holy S***!  I am so excited!!! I am so nervous!!!! I keep thinking “what if people don’t like it?” and “what if people love it?”. AHHHHHHH!!!! DEEP BREATHS!!!! Ok…I’m alright now :). I am just so excited. I wrote this story about 5 years ago and finally decided to go for broke and publish it. It took me a little bit to find an illustrator. I found a good one, I think anyway. He was great to work with and really understood what I wanted for the book :). After several meetings and a couple of reworks the book is finally complete and ready for sale. Below are the cover and the first page of the story for your perusal, a sneak peek. You can buy my book (my book…eek!) at http://www.createspace.com e-store or from Amazon.com and this weekend it will be live on Kindle.  I plan on donating a minimum of 10% of the royalties to  a children’s charity. I have not yet decided which charity. I am still doing some research. If anyone has a suggestion or a favorite charity please let me know :). I hope you enjoy my book! Yay! Have I mentioned how excited I am? Ahhh!! So excited!!

Parenting is Rough!!!

Hello, everyone! A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my daughter’s escapades with in-app purchasing and her resulting consequences, I would like to update you on that situation and lay out some thoughts I have on punishments.

A couple of weeks ago my beautiful daughter bought $122.36 worth of in-app purchases for a game called Builder Buddies. She was promptly grounded from her iPad, video games and Youtube for a week, all seven days of the week, much to her great displeasure. I came up with a way for her to work off the money she “stole”. Yes, stole, she did not find it laying around, she did not earn it or ask for it, therefore, she stole the money. I put together a list of chores and designated a minute value to each chore. My daughter earned $8.50 for every hour of work completed. Let me tell you she worked her little behind off to pay that money back before her Spring Break started! She now has her iPad back but no longer has access to the iTunes password, in case she did not learn her lesson. All is right again in our peacefully chaotic home.

For the last five years, I have been a single parent. I have run through the gambit of parenting styles. I have yelled, negotiated, screamed, gave the silent treatment, grounded, spanked, bribed and so on. I wouldn’t say that I was a bad parent, just as I wouldn’t say I am a parent of the year. I am just trying to figure out what works with my head strong nine year old. I make tons of mistakes, but I make a lot of good decisions as well. That being said there is one trend in parenting that I do not understand. Public humiliation, I just don’t agree.

The last several years there have been many Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram pics where parents have their child on the street holding a sign describing their misdeeds. I have even watched some reposted videos where the parent has punished the child and is following them filming his or her reaction to the punishment and making the child tell about what they did wrong. I don’t understand this and here’s why. If I make a mistake at work and my boss decides that everyone in the office should be present while she yells at me I would be pissed! I certainly wouldn’t want to try to do better, I would start looking for another job. Unfortunately, kids can’t just go looking for a new family, so what do you think they will do instead? If it were me, I would hide in my room and speak as little as possible to my parents, I would withdraw from them. I would do this because I would feel like if I make the littlest mistake I might be humiliated again. I would think that the people who were supposed to be my guides in this crazy life have now become my enemy. My parents would cease to be my champions and teachers and now become my humiliators, my punishers. The people who I thought were supposed to love me unconditionally, just showed me that there are conditions to their love. That’s just me, I don’t know how you all feel.

Before any of you go berserk on me let me explain something. I know that children need to have punishments or consequences for their misdeeds. This is how they learn right from wrong. I am a believer that an occasional spanking, usually as a last resort, is ok. I believe in grounding and taking things away from children. I think that sometimes raising your voice lets them know how much you dislike their behavior, but a simple look and shake of the head can do the same thing in certain situations. I do not believe that public humiliation is the answer. I think our children get humiliated enough at school by their peers, by the teachers, and the bullies. Home is supposed to be the safe haven, not a place for more knocks to their self-esteem.

Parenting is hard! We all know this and finding ways to parent effectively in both good times and rough times is no picnic. Parents are deemed awful if they say that corporal punishment is okay. Then the same people who glare at them for that are giving out disgusted looks and nasty comments in the grocery store when a kid is throwing a tantrum because they can’t have the gummy bears they demanded. Bribing children into good behavior is seen as weak parenting, ignoring bad behavior is seen as non-parenting and spanking is seen as abusive. What do we do when everything we try is criticized? the answer to that seems to be public humiliation. Here’s what I say, my fellow parents, let people talk, let them judge you because they don’t matter. Whether you spank your kids or ground them, whether you ignore the bad behavior or yell instead is up to you and what you know works for your child. Raising a kid is a lot like a science experiment, trial and error. We try one thing and if doesn’t work we move on to the next. The one thing that we should never forget, our children depend on us to offer them a safe place where they won’t be embarrassed to make mistakes or be themselves, for this reason, any punishment for mistakes or misdeeds should not humiliate them. Punishments should help them understand and learn from their mistakes, not alienate them or cause a rift between parent and child. Remember, there is always someone out there who is going to say “if that were my kid…”, but she’s not their kid, she’s yours, so do the best you can, and when in doubt ask for advice. There are others going through all of this parenting stuff too and they might be able to help ;).

Well, that’s my two cents! What do you think? Is public humiliation ok? Any thoughts are welcome but please keep it civil, we are all adults and it’s ok to disagree but it’s not ok to be a jerk. Thanks all!

Jealousy Rains Supreme

The Green Eyed Monster has reared its ugly head inside my brain and is making its mission to conquer my heart. As a mother you believe that no one can parent your child as well as you, no one can possibly understand your child the way you do, or help them the way you can. You are after all his/her/their parent, to them you are everything and everything you say is gospel truth, right!? Right? Maybe? No. Once your kids start school you are no longer the end all be all in their life. Their teachers and their friends now know WAY more than you ever did. When my daughter started Kindergarten I accepted this, her teachers then and since have been good teachers.

But what happens when you invite someone in to your home? What happens when you take on a roommate out of necessity or kindness? What happens when that roommate becomes comfortable with correcting your child? Hmmmmmmmmmm………………maybe the most important question is “What happens when it seems your child would rather hang out with your roommate?” This is when the questioning begins. Am I a good parent? Have done something wrong to make my child not want me to help with homework, play games, or ask questions, etc…? You know the general “What the F*** is wrong with me? questions. So I have been dealing with the jealous monster in my head for a little and I can usually talk it away, but something has changed and the monster has begun to win.

I think war was really shoved to the forefront when Anastasia’s report card came. I was talking to Anastasia about her teacher’s comments and all of a sudden the roommate was attempting to work with her on the areas the teacher said needed work. I hadn’t even finished talking to Anastasia about it and roommate was already taking it upon herself to direct my daughters studies. I didn’t say anything to roommate because I thought maybe it was the G.E.M. again. Unfortunately I can’t stop thinking about it and I have since been picking at every little thing and asking myself “Is she trying to be my daughter’s parent? MY DAUGHTER! Not yours!” As these words reverberate through my head I try to tell myself that roommate is just trying to help and I am being a paranoid freak. Then I ask myself why is Anastasia writing cute little letters to roommate and roommate writing letters back? Why I am left out of the loop? Why is my little girl drawing pictures and dedicating her Hoops for Heart donation collection to roommate? What about her Dad who died due to heart and kidney related issues? What about her various family members that have high blood pressure? What about the woman who is doing her best to raise her? The thing is we only get to be a part of our kids everyday lives for a short time, then they begin to really grow up and they don’t need us like they did when they were little. Anastasia is only 7 years old, in the blink of an eye she’ll be an adult and begin to form connections with people that will take her even farther away from me. Whether it seems it or not I am very grateful that she has so many people that care about and love her. But I am her mother and a majority of her life lessons will come from me and so the jealous monster says that gives me the right to want and need for me to be her everything at least while she’s little. But does it really?

Tonight I made my daughter feel guilty about not wanting my help. Tonight I was a bad mother. Tonight I made my daughter cry for no other reason than I was feeling tossed aside like yesterdays newspaper.Tonight I will be making attempts to amend my bad behavior and get the Green Eyed Monster back in its cage. Tonight I will try to put those questions out of my head. Tonight I will accept that I am a good mother and that I am human and make mistakes. Tonight I will ask for help from those who have might also had these thoughts and feelings. Let me know how you deal with it so that I can learn and be an even better mother.

A New Kind of Learning

Okay, for about a year now I have been working on a great concept…well I think it’s pretty special anyway;) 

I want to open a school that focuses on students and the environment. So I got some friends together and we came up with Green Leaf Academy. So for the last year we have been working on getting our doors open. We have recently launched a campaign on http://www.startsomegood.com. I know I don’t usually post things like this and I will admit to being a little uncomfortable using my blog to plug my new business….but I’m getting more comfortable with every word! 

I have had one grand scheme or another since I was little, I was going to be a figure skater, a great writer, world class psychologist, and the best teacher in the whole freakin’ world! But never made it past the dreaming phase for most of them. I hold a B.A. in Psychology and a Master’s in education. But this idea…it strikes a cord in me that nothing else does(besides my beautiful daughter :)) 

I have found a bond with the environment and a passion for teaching children a better way of living. Sounds a bit corny I know but nevertheless it is true. I am going to share with you some pics and websites about my idea. If you like what you see visit www.startsomegood.com/greenleafacademy and help us start a lot of good.

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Fresh veggies will be grown in containers and onsite gardens to feed our students. Healthy meals=healthy students.
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Active learning takes place in a variety of settings. Classrooms won’t be filled with numb bums. Kids are active and like to learn in a lot of different ways.
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children are the VIPs in a school. Everything we do should benefit them now and in the future. The environment they live and learn in effects who they are and who they will be, so let’s give them the best. Let’s teach them how to care for the environment, their community, each other and themselves. If we do this then their futures are looking outstanding!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit our website at www.greenleaf-academy.org and on facebook.

Don’t forget to help us start some good at www.startsomegood.com/greenleafacademy. Every little bit helps:)