Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Loving Summer!

Nugget and I are loving the summer! I mean what is not to love? Well, maybe the heat, but that can be easily overcome.

**Let me preface this by saying that all of my suggestions are geared towards single/only parents and other "non-traditional" families, but of course they are also good for traditional parent households. ANYONE looking for some easy to navigate fun, something you and your kids will enjoy.**
It can be really disappointing to realize that you do not have enough money for a community pool membership. In Ohio it gets very hot and very humid, very fast. After a winter spent mostly indoors there is an overwhelming need to be outside. I pondered my options and realized that the pool may not be the best option after all. When you are at the pool with smaller children you have to not only be watching them, but you have to be right next to them to make sure they do not drown. This can be less than relaxing for a parent.

Yes, I know I sound selfish. It should be about the child and making sure they have fun... blah blah blah. I am not saying I never engage in activities that my child enjoys more than I do. I think it is safe to say my non-working time is dominated by activities that are oriented to children around the age of 3. Think about this though... YOU deserve to have time to relax too AND I am pretty sure that Nugget has more fun when I am also having fun. So, of course I have a list of things to do with your child during the summer that are fun for you too

  1. Find a "Splash Park" in your area. You know those fountains that they encourage young children to play in? Usually there is a big cement slab with water that comes up in fun patterns from the ground.
    The reason I love these parks so much is because even if you have a younger child (i.e. 3ish yrs old) you can sit still and monitor them. I was able to get some great pictures of Nugget having fun, listen to a book on tape and enjoy a bit of sunshine. When I felt like I was getting a little too hot I could go into the water with Nugget and spend some quality time playing with her. It is a win/win. *Remember you should always be monitoring your child, duh! I am just saying it is easier to do this at a splash park than a pool.*
  2. Flea Market anyone?? This can be surprisingly fun with a small child. As long as you have water, snacks and possibly a stroller for those who may need to rest or nap on the go it is a desent day out. I find that a good plan is to give my child a wallet/purse with some change and a dollar or two in it. Discuss with them what they want to find and how much money they have to spend.  This is also a good lesson in money management. *If you want to build on this, try having them earn money for chores, at the end of a period of time they get to spend what they earn.* Flea markets are great because there are usually cheap items a child can buy for pocket change, unlike going to the cheapest toy store and having to spend at least $10 on a doll wearing only a swimsuit! Kids like to feel like they have some power, they like getting new things… and of course they love food that comes off of a cart. A Flea Market provides all of this.
  3. Local fairs and festivals are in season. Over the summer there are so many special local celebrations you could have a new experience every weekend. Most do not charge admission on the local level, and you can find out info on costs online most of the time. In my area there are festivals such as, The Strawberry Festival, Community Festival, PRIDE festival, Jazz and Rib Fest and a bunch of local art festivals and farmers markets. To save money, just pack a lunch and snacks. You do not need to spend a dime in a lot of cases.

    State Fairs and even a lot of County level can charge you out the butt just to get through the gate, but even these events may have a discounted day or free admission for certain hours. Make sure to look online and in local businesses for possible discount tickets to these fairs.
  4. Need some cool air? Try going to an indoor play area. I am about to tell you to do something that most mommy blogs wouldn’t… find a McDonalds with an indoor play area. Buy a cheap snack and then let your little one play while you cool down in the modern marvel that is air-conditioning. If you prefer to avoid the golden arches, most cities have at least one indoor playground with tubes, slides and a germ infested ball pit for your child to revel in.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

3 Years

Can you believe it? It has been 3 years since The Day That Changed Everything! When I was going through it time seemed to crawl and then stand still for long periods, now time is flying by. It is also hard to imagine that this day would come and I would completely forget about it, but I did. I only realized yesterday that it was almost mid-June, June 8th was the actual day that everything happened. See that people, time does make things easier.

Remember all of those clich├ęs that drive us nuts when you are dealing with a tough situation? Most of them are true, at least to a point.

“Time heals all wounds.” Yes. There will always be scars, but the wound will heal. Memories will still feel like a punch in the gut, but the blows become less and less.

“God only gives us what we can handle.” I believe this as well. The problem is, not everyone chooses to rise to the challenge. The strength is there, but you have to work your muscles and it helps beyond words to have others around you to help you carry the load.

“Everything happens for a reason.” True. Remember to open your eyes and think about what the reason may be. I have talked to people who have been through much worse than me, yet they have found meaning behind their tragedy. Mine is easy, without my X I would not have my daughter.
Those of you that have been with me from the whole journey, thank you for helping me through it. Those who are new, hopefully you can read the past entries and learn something.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Setting the Record Straight

I have been a single parent for almost three years now and in that time I have experienced many misconceptions first and second hand. I would like to clarify some things for those who may not understand or have knowledge of what it is like to be in my situation or another that may be similar. You all know how I love bullet points and lists :)

I am single. This is a fact. I am also a parent and this means I will be around other parents. Some of the parents I interact with are fathers, most of which are married or in a committed relationship. There seems to be a misconception that just because I am single I am somehow a threat to another person’s marriage. I promise I am not. I would never make a move for a married man. I do not flirt with parents on the playground or during our child’s swimming lesson. I am a lady. This term is not used as much as it should be, but I do consider myself a lady. Being a single parent does not make me a slut, or desperate to find my child a dad. There is no need to “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife”. IF a married man made a pass at me I would be disgusted.

I am not on any government assistance and never have been in the past. I have a good job and make a decent living. BUT… if I were on assistance why would it bother you? I was left with nothing for months. Overnight I went from a two income household, expecting a child to a single income, single parent, paying for a home, car, bills, food, daycare, divorce and custody battle… assistance would have been damn helpful! I unfortunately did not qualify, so instead I went into debt. There is no shame on using government programs when you need it, none. Not every single mom is on welfare, and not every single mom on welfare is cheating the system.

I am not bitter or depressed. At least not any more than most people! I do not hate men or want to shut them out their children’s life. It might be surprising to hear that I am STRONGLY for a father’s paternal rights. I believe both parents should be involved whenever it is safe and in the best interest of the child. I tell other single moms very often to be civil and friendly to their child’s father. Having a good male role model is important for a child. My personal situation makes it impossible for me to promote a relationship between Nugget and her biological father, so her role models are my dad, my brother and my brother in laws. I know many more wonderful men than I do bad ones. When the time is right I would love to find a wonderful man for myself!

To anyone who thinks themselves a legal genius, a bona fide Law and Order expert let me set the record straight. As of right now, in the great state of Ohio, there is no way for me to dissolve my X’s paternal rights. It seems obvious that a pedophile who admits to downloading upwards of 700 images and videos of girls between the ages of 4 and 14 and who was caught trying to meet up with a 15 yr old for sex should lose all rights to be a parent. They are a danger, especially to a daughter. The state protects every other child in the nation against this man, yet my daughter lives with the threat of having to visit with this man. I currently have full physical and legal custody and that will most likely always stand, but the problem is my X can apply to the court for visitation and custody. That is his right, and I can’t change that. Instead I have to fight to keep my daughter safe and pay a lawyer to help me. Remember any money going to a lawyer is lost and I would still not qualify for assistance (legal aid or food stamps).

Another legal point; I applied for child support. Asking for child support does NOT mean X has more of a right to visitation. They are handled separately. I asked for the money for my daughter’s wellbeing. If I could live without it I would. It is for Nugget, period. Please do not assume that you know what you would do in my situation. I am trying to keep my little family going.

Being a single parent does not mean that I bring a bunch of men around my daughter. I have only introduced one man to my child and he was my boyfriend for 7 months. A man will never come before my child. Nugget is not an obstacle to my dating life. If a man can’t handle me being a mother then I do not want to be with him.

If you see a picture on facebook of me out with friends that doesn’t mean I dump my child off on a regular basis. I am with my child every night except once a week when I play soccer and she stays with her grandparents. I am allowed to have fun once in a while and enjoy adult interaction. My unmarried status does not give a person the right to assume I am licentious or anything but a responsible mother. To quote the frequent Maury guest “You don’t know me!”

And finally... I will say it again… I did not know my X was a pedophile before the day the police came to my home. I had no idea or suspicion. A lot of these men including my X are very intelligent and good at fooling people and hiding their activities. It is hurtful that others seem to think I had knowledge of this and chose to stay with the man. That is sick and weak. I am a strong woman; I would never stay with a man who I knew to be a pervert.  The fact that the first question asked of me when people find out is “Did you have any idea?”  is insulting.

EDIT: I am not referring to people who ask me "Looking back did you miss any signs?" or anything along the same lines. I am in no way offended when people ask me questions, feel free to do so!! There have been a surprising number of people that really want to know if I knew or if I ever found anything on our computer or in our house... When you have been asked so many questions it becomes easier to weed out those who are looking for information that may help them and those who may really believe I knew.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Advice from Becca - 20 random tips

I can only offer advice. Take it or leave it. What works for me may not work for others.

With all of that out of the way here is some advice I have accumulated over the years. Some is serious, some is humorous... take it or leave it people! :)

  1. Live by the RULE, not the EXCEPTION. - True story: I personally knew a man who survived a car crash only because he was not wearing a seat belt. I still wear my seat belt every single time I am in the car. This is my number one rule in life. A married man will most likely not leave his wife... if you smoke your health will most likely suffer... a pedophile will most likely NEVER be safe around children.
  2. If you have a small child you may as well put a small chair in your bathroom because they will need somewhere to sit while you use the toilet. They are going to want o be in there, like it or not!
  3. If your child is anything like Nugget here is some mealtime advice. Put anything you want your child to eat on YOUR plate first and pretend to give them your food. Make sure the child sees you "sharing". This does two things. 1) It is a good example of sharing. 2) It keeps your real food safe from the little vultures.
  4. Single Parents are especially in danger of being deprived of adult interaction. Sign up for a community art class, sports team, mommy group.. anything that gives you the opportunity to talk to someone who can wipe their own butt.
  5. Dating is not a good way to make friends. I hear a lot of single parents say they are lonely and crave some adult conversation so they join an online dating service... if you are lonely and feeling a little gloomy dating may not be the best idea. You are more likely to get into a bad or pointless relationship.
  6. When making pasta take some advice from Coco Chanel... take out the amount of noodles you THINK you need and then take some away.
  7.  Tell the people you love how you feel. Even if they can't say it back... there can never be too much love inthe world.
  8. Never try change who you really are for a man/woman. A person can inspire change, but they should never demand it and you should never force it.
  9. Take a vacation, every single year! Go far away, stay home, two weeks or a long weekend... doesn't really matter! Just take the time to relax and do something fun.
  10. There is no shame in asking for help.
  11. Keep an old pair of jeans, pair of shorts, a tshirt, old sneakers and a sweatshirt in your car. For you and your little one. Can't tell you how many times I have used these emergency items.
  12. Wash your car. Sounds simple, but it is good for your car and it is one chore a child LOVES to be involved in. Whether you go to a car wash or do it youself they love it.
  13. Let your child see you having fun. I remember watching my parents play softball, going to movies with them and watching them play games with family and friends. It is important that a child sees you having a good time. The more memories they have of you smiling and laughing, the better. You don't want them to only remember you sitting on the sidelines, or stressing over money.
  14. On the same note... make sure your child sees you being a good sport. Don't be a sore loser. Nugget comes to my soccer games, and she will not see me cursing at people or getting into petty arguments. She will see me supporting my team and trying my hardest.
  15. Get certified in Basic Life Saving.
  16. Don't make your child your whole life. Hear me out! My child is my life in many ways, she is my heart, my truest love and the person I put above all others... a parent can't change how they feel, that is set in stone... BUT I do have my own activities. I say no to her. I do not put all of my hopes and dreams on her shoulders. I want the best for her, but I want to prepare her to be her best on her own. This means I owe it to her to be my best. I have to do that on my own. Make sense? Well. at least I know what I am trying to say! Lead your child by example.
  17. Have a tool box. You would be surprised how many houses do not have proper, basic tools.
  18. Own at least a few pairs of cute underwear/panties/bras. It is easy to fall into the "Hanes habit". Hanes are great, I am not a hater ,but there is just something about wearing sexy under things... It helps give you an extra boost of confidence.
  19. Along the same lines: Have at least 3 go to outfits: One cool weather casual, one warm weather casual and then a date night/girls night outfit. Be prepared to look good without having to panic.
  20. Love is the most beautiful thing in the world. Don't rush it. Don't force it. Don't shut it out. Don't let it blind you.  It is easy to get swept away, but you will be much happier and safer if you stear your vessel with a clear head.