Change

People say the only constant in life is change. Change is normal. Accept it. Embrace it. It’s a cycle of life, but sometimes it knocks you off your feet and carries you into a life you would never have imagined for yourself. That is what happened to me. Now a little over three years after this change I speak of–I’m finally putting my fingers to the keypad and writing. Funny that I say ‘me’ like I was the only one involved in this big life change. In reality it was myself, my ex and our children–not to mention the family who supports us even to this day. This post is definitely long over due. I have wanted to begin writing again, but I’ve felt that my experiences were to painful for me to be able to share openly. I was only inspired to write this after I heard a commercial on the radio speaking about domestic violence month. Realizing that maybe writing this post could help someone else as much as it could help me is the reason I’m typing these words. I still can’t write the details publicly, but if you feel compelled to email me you are more than welcome to.

Three years and three months ago my family was residing in a disguised nightmare. Everything seemed ok. I tried to pretend that everything was ok, but in reality it was all falling apart. The only real peace I get from thinking back on it all is that Journey and Faith were seemingly unaffected by it all. They were fed, nurtured and thrived in a situation that wasn’t ideal. Not a fairy tale at all.

Three years and three months ago the girls and I flew back to Colorado in a flurry of tears, hugs, and heartbreak. I packed three suitcases; one big one full of clothes (for 2 weeks), one small one with some of the girls favorite toys, and one more with miscellaneous items. Without any identification except a black-eye, I boarded us on a Southwest flight back to my native state. Arriving was bitter-sweet. I was happy to be home, but the prideful side of me felt like a failure. Like a dog with its tail between its legs. I had left with so much potential–I was starting a family with a man I loved, we were living in a beautiful house, I was a stay-at-home Mom  enjoying the gorgeous California weather and then in a flash it was gone.

With the help of my best friend I made the decision to stay in Colorado and to not rush back into a life that was not there. I chose to do what was right for me. It’s still hard for me to do that because so much of my early twenties I spent thinking about what was right for everyone else. I pushed my wants and needs to the back burner. Now that I’m in the forefront life is much more confusing. What is it that I wanted? Love, family, stability, happiness? How can I get those things? Will they ever come? I still have trouble realizing that all of those things still have a place, but not in the mold that I have imagined. Coping with this change, I’m not the same young woman who began this blog with her best friend so many years ago. I look back at past posts and feel tears come to my eyes. I’m even more sad that I let this blog suffer in the process. Sharing my journey through motherhood was therapeutic, fun and the perfect way to chronicle the lives of my two daughters.

They are the real reason that I made the decision to leave and not go back. Rebuilding our lives here, alone, has been so very hard. We have had support from a variety of community resources, friends and family.  Unfortunately, we have experienced homelessness and have lived in a domestic violence shelter for two months and in transitional housing for 10 months until we were able to attain an apartment.

Transitioning from a stay-at-home mom to a single working mother has been hard. I have had to play double duty when it comes to household duties and raising the girls. I find myself becoming envious of mothers who can stay home with their children, but don’t want to. It is a dream to be able to spend time with your children. I’m at least lucky enough to work in the same school that the girls attend, but our nights are busy and I feel stretched thin at times. I worry that I’m not giving Journey and Faith all that I could. I feel guilty for wanting time for myself. I feel like a failure (again) for not being able to provide the family I envisioned for my children. They don’t deserve to live in a single parent home. They don’t deserve to only see their Dad 3 months out of the year.

What keeps me moving forward is knowing that they do deserve a healthy loving life.

I deserve a healthy loving life.

This is only the tip of the iceberg! I have so many more thoughts, but I will save them for another time (and this time I won’t wait three years to share them). I welcome comments and I look forward to putting the Mommy back in Mommy Lounge.

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As you may remember, I recently partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger.

Author, Speaker Mary Byer’s created this program after the release of her book, Making Work at Home Work: Successfully growing a business and a family under one roof, to help other Work at Home Moms (WAHM) conquer some of the struggles that she herself has been through. Mary says, “I feel really privileged that I was able to write this book. I wrote it with Work at Home Moms in mind. There are so many unique challenges about working at home that only another work-at-homer can understand!” I would like to encourage you to explore their website for some great advice and some much-needed encouragement.

If you would like to become a Making Work at Home Work blogger, go here.

Work-at-Home Childcare Strategies

(From Making Work at Home Work)

I wrote part of my first book with a toddler on my lap and some of my second with a child standing behind me on my office chair running his fingers through my hair. I’ve packed for overnight trips only to come out of the bathroom and find that while I was in the bathroom, my son unpacked my bag for me. I’ve shown up for client meetings with childish scribbles defacing my meeting notes. And I once bribed my kids with raisins and a later trip to McDonald’s so they’d sit quietly during a meeting when a sitter canceled at the last minute.

Despite the stress, I wouldn’t change a thing. But if I had to do it all over again, I’d be more deliberate about planning for childcare rather than assuming I could easily juggle a business with my mothering duties. As you consider the child care issue, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Give yourself permission to arrange for child care in addition to your presence at home. Many work-at-home moms have trouble with this simply because they are home precisely so they can be available to their children. Some believe it defeats the purpose if they utilize outside child care resources. But working from home without any child care makes your job as an at-home CEO more difficult. Figure out how much and what type of care you are comfortable with, then stay within the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. It is possible to be fully at home and effectively utilize additional child care. The two are not mutually exclusive.
  • Be flexible. What works for one season in your family’s life may not work indefinitely. Trust your instincts about what’s working and what’s not, and pay attention to what your children say about the caregivers you’re dependent on. Be responsive to what they reveal, and consider your needs as well as theirs. It’s possible to find something that works for everyone, though it may take perseverance to do so.
  • Be creative. I love the idea of paying my kids to keep themselves busy while I work. (They love it too!) I wouldn’t have thought of this on my own, but I’m inspired by the mom who shared the idea with me, and I’m actively looking for other creative possibilities. This idea reminds me to be willing to explore new options as my child care needs continue to evolve.
  • Have the courage to do what’s best for your family. Because you and I are different and our needs and circumstances are not the same, our solution to the child care issue should also be different. That’s okay. Too often we look at what other women are doing and adopt the same solutions for ourselves without considering that our values, resources, and experiences are not the same. Your strategy needs to take into account your family’s situation and any unique circumstances that influence what’s right for you.
  • Seek support. Because the parental pact is so important, be sure your husband is comfortable with what you are doing. Even if he’s not interested in helping you decide what’s best or interviewing potential sitters, keep him informed. This keeps things running smoothly and lends itself to family harmony.
  • If financial resources are tight, trade child care services. Find another mom who works from home with whom you are comfortable exchanging babysitting services and develop an exchange agreement that allows you to regularly watch each other’s kids. Make sure you find someone who’s reliable so you can count on the regular work time this option provides. While spousal support is important, teaming with other work-at-home moms is valuable, too.
  • Reevaluate your needs occasionally. As your business evolves, your child care needs will likely change, too. More work may necessitate more child care. A business that’s seasonal may require periods of outside child care followed by periods of no assistance at all. As children age, they will be more able to look after themselves, perhaps eliminating your need altogether.

When my children were preschool age, I evaluated my needs on a day-to-day basis. It was stressful to have this issue continually hanging over my head. As I’ve entered a new season of mothering (the school season!) I’m now able to identify my needs on a monthly basis, which causes far less anxiety. If you’re in an early season of mothering, hang on! The child care puzzle gets easier to piece together as your children mature.

Work-at-home moms tell me that child care is one of their most pressing concerns. If it stresses you too, know you are not alone. Give yourself permission to proactively address this issue in a way that works for your family. When you do, you’ll be more likely to be a satisfied and effective at-home CEO.

Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. You can learn more about making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at www.makingworkathomework.com.

Bucket List

Written by: Kalisha

It has been so dead around here that Mommy Lounge probably seems like we are on our way to kickin’ the bucket! I had just finished writing the Wordless/Word-full Wednesday post over at UV Skinz when I decided to blog surf a little and I found this bucket list at I’m Just Beachy. BTW, UV Skinz is offering a 15% coupon code off of all online orders during the month of June!!

(Man! I hate it when I write and don’t hit save and then when I try to publish the dang WordPress tries to act like I wasn’t signed in and then some of my work doesn’t get saved and then I end up rambling in a huge run on sentence because I don’t have the time or the patience to re-write what had been wrongfully erased and it’s kind of fun, but probably really annoying to someone out there so I will stop.  Wheew! Ok, let’s just move on–to the Bucket List!)

Here we go!…

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band (if Junior High counts)

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower (I’ve seen shooting stars, though!)

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyworld-On my list since I live in FLA!

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language (I took French in High School. Does that count?)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing- (On my short list)

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Short listed)

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie (Only on the set).

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasman

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades-short listed

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day

In Memory of Sterling

Journey, Daddy, and Sterling

Journey, Daddy, and Sterling

April ’00-May ’09

Sterling Beck aka Bubba,Turtle, Love of our lives!…

Yesterday we sent our 10-year-old Great Dane, Sterling, to Doggy Heaven. We found out Easter weekend that he was in the late stages of stomach and liver cancer. The vet suggested that we put him down immediately and that he only had five days to live.

I began to explain to Journey and Faith that Sterling was very old and sick (he had become very skinny and would barely eat) and that we needed to help Sterling get to Doggy Heaven. Days after our talk I started to notice Journey and Faith giving Sterling extra hugs and attention. dsc08605

It has always been a rule that he wasn’t allowed in the playroom or the girl’s bedroom. Selfish on my part because I didn’t want to clean dog hair from two more rooms in the house. But towards the end there were times when he laid in their room and I didn’t stop him. I just wanted him to rest and be comfortable where ever he wanted. One day Journey came to me and said that Sterling’s feet were cold and she covered him up. When I saw this I was so touched!

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There were only two times when Sterling broke my “no-going-in-the-girl’s-room-rule”, when Journey was a baby and another time when Faith was born. He refused to leave and even growled at me, which he never done before. Each time there were reports of tremors and an earthquake on the news. We couldn’t believe it!

He was more than just a dog. He was my Brett’s life-saver. Our protector. Journey and Faith’s playmate and my teacher. Sterling showed so much patience, strength, understanding, and always showed unconditional love.

Sterling had always had a big appetite; even after wolfing down his dog food he would always sit and wait for someone to share their dinner with him. That was one of the first reasons we knew something was wrong because he just stopped eating as regularly, but whenever Journey had a cookie to share he wouldn’t turn it down.He always enjoyed cookies, doughnuts, popsicles, and his all time favorite was pizza crusts!

sterling-and-journeyHe was always admired everywhere he went, mostly being mistaken for a huge Dalmatian or a small pony. Sterling loved to play hide and seek, ran like a stallion, and was always gentle. He never picked a fight with other dogs, unless he felt they were a threat to us. He loved small dogs and children so much that I feel he never knew just how big he was.

Saying Good-bye to Sterling was hard. When Journey and Faith gave him hugs and kisses Brett saw that Sterling had begun to cry. It made him too emotional and he had to leave the room. I looked Sterling in the eye and told him that I always loved him, that he had a been an amazing dog and we would see him again someday.

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Our family will always miss Sterling, but we know he will always be in our hearts. The house feels really quiet now, even with two crazy girl’s running around. We miss the sound of his bark and the clickity-clack of his feet. We miss him, but I feel comforted knowing that his suffering is over. I imagine that Sterling is healthy, happy, and young again; running and chasing after frogs and squirrels in the creek where he grew up.

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We will always love you Sterling! This is for you…

We had pizza and it felt so weird to not have Sterling to give the crust to. :-(

We had pizza and it felt so weird to not have Sterling to give the crust to. 😦

Always in our hearts! Love, Kalisha, Brett, Journey and Faith

Help Save a Baby!

I want you to read about and participate in the “I Saved A Baby’s Skin Today” Skin Cancer Awareness Month Campaign! I am so excited for May to begin because my goal is wrangle all of the bloggers I know (and the one’s you know!) to make this a huge success for UV Skinz and all of the lucky babies out there who have the chance to receive a FREE Baby UV Swim Shirt!

Read on to find out the scoop!…

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, UV Skinz is promoting awareness of sun protection and skin cancer prevention by donating up to 3000 Baby Skinz swim shirts; UV Skinz will ship a free Baby Skinz swim shirt with every order placed in May.
“The intent is for customers to ‘pay it forward,’” says Rhonda Sparks. “We hope clients will donate the Baby Skinz to a charitable cause of their choice such as a women’s shelter, YMCA or even a neighbor in need. We want to get as many children covered as we can and with each donation, we hope to raise the level of awareness that much more.” Each May shipment will contain a free UV Baby Skinz along with a flyer encouraging customers to pass along the Baby Skinz to a chosen cause. UV Skinz was able to give away about 1,850 swim shirts for the May 2008 Skin Cancer Awareness promotion. The company’s goal this year is to nearly double that as supplies allow.
Babies under age six months should not be in the sun at all. Most pediatricians recommend no direct sunlight exposure for infants within the first few years. However, most infants older than six months regularly spend some time outdoors, even if just for walks in a stroller, and should be sun protected from head to toe. Protecting babies’ skin, regardless of the season, is essential to good skin health and safe sun exposure into adulthood.

The National Cancer Institute reports that many common cancer rates are falling, but melanoma rates within the U.S. continue to grow at an alarming rate. Sparks implores parents to cover their children to prevent them from becoming the one in five Americans who will develop skin cancer. “I am doing all that I can to protect my children from suffering the same fate their Father suffered when we lost him to melanoma. I hope our Baby Skinz donation program will prevent more families from being impacted by this devastating disease.”

An important part of skin cancer prevention is creating awareness. Creating awareness is all about saving our children’s lives in the future. Over 90% of skin cancers are preventable with the right education and awareness. We need you to help us spread the word about Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” UV Skinz blog campaign!

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As a blogger and an influential part of the blog o’ sphere…How can you help spread the word?

  • Blog about the “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” campaign.You can see the full press release here. Feel free to include links to UV Skinz, the press release and/or UV Skinz blog! Remember the campaign starts May 1st.
  • Once you’ve posted come back to the UV Skinz blog and add your url link to our Mr. Linky–Let the blog o’sphere know you support Skin Cancer Awareness!
  • Add our button and/or banner to your blog! Let everyone know you support this campaign and encourage others to do the same!
  • Follow UV Skinz on Twitter and join in on the discussion by following the progress of “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” campaign with twitter hashtag #UVSKINZ (Remember to use a “z” and not an “s”)
  • The official “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today!” Post will be live May 1st!
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What can I do if I don’t have a blog?
  • Print out the official “I Saved A Baby’s Skin Today” Button and post it to your bulletin board at your home, home-office, or work.
  • Follow UV Skinz on Twitter!

So, what’s in it for you?!

Besides the warm feeling you get by helping to save a baby from potential skin cancer, UV Skinz is giving all bloggers a special discount code to use at our online store! At checkout enter the code: MOMBLOGS15 and  SAVE 15% through August 31, 2009 (as long as you are a participating blogger it doesn’t matter if you aren’t a Mom )

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Disturbing Satisfaction!

A special treat from Daddy…

dsc08624 The other day Brett brought a couple of those lollipops with the bug inside for Journey and Faith. Gross! I protested, but he said it was harmless and lucky for Journey she was awake when he brought them home. Faith wasn’t awake and doesn’t know she even got one of these nasty things! (BTW, nobody mention it!)

As you can see in the picture the sucker has a baby scorpion inside (minus the stinger)!

I let Journey have the rest of her lollipop while Faith was napping. She got some kind of disturbing satisfaction from trying to get me to take a lick, and then an even “bigger lick”  and  she basically tried to shove the lollipop down my throat! YUCK! It even has the nerve to taste like sweet strawberries too.

dsc08622Yes. That is the look of disturbing satisfaction. And the exact look she had when she ruthlessly forced the lollipop into my mouth!

Luckily, I wasn’t scarred by the incident, but I have this great black mail picture! HA! Mommy loves you, Journey!

A Big Birthday Surprise!

My firecracker Faith turned 2 on March 27! dsc08531I have decided that this nursery rhyme best describes my sweet Faith…

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

This nursery rhyme is really about Faith! She can be the sweetest thing and I just melt when she tells me that she loves me, but when she is frustrated or mad–you better watch out! Besides her fiery temper, I feel really blessed to be Faith’s Mommy because she really does give me faith in joy, love and family. She keeps us all on our toes and always gets so excited over the simplest things–including the jumping up and down! Ever since her birthday she has sang me the Birthday song at least once a day and it is so amazing to watch her blossom into a beautiful child.

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Faith finally got her ears pierced and now won’t let me go near them to clean. I have to squirt the solution incognito onto her ears in the bath. It is really so bad that Brett was looking at me like I had lost my mind! HA! Oh well, a Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do!

I really can’t believe how fast the time has gone, but what makes it even more special is that we all had a surprise visit from my Mom and brother. The really crazy thing is that I haven’t seen them in about two years and they had never met Faith in person!

Basically, I got tricked. I was kind of an emotional wreck for about three days after I found out that my Mom and brother were not going to be visiting for Faith’s birthday or spring break (part of their mean and evil trick to throw me off their trail!) I felt kind of heartbroken because I hadn’t seen them in so long. It has just been finances that have kept us apart and that in itself really sucks. So, when I found out they were not coming I was just bummed. Then on the Wednesday before Faith’s birthday we were getting ready to go on a walk after dinner when suddenly I saw my Mom and brother standing in my backyard! I screamed and cried all at the same time, so loud that Brett got freaked out because he thought Sterling had died or something. It was a great surprise to say the least. I was just so thankful that Journey and Faith really got to spend some quality time with both my Mom and brother. Here are some pictures…dsc08472

dsc08549Journey and Faith really loved their time with Uncle JJ and GiGi (stands for Greatest Grandmother!) Now I realize that I didn’t get any pictures with them! I was too busy behind the camera.