2017 Resolutions

I have never been really good at resolutions, reaching goals or accomplishing tasks in a timely manner.  I have an impulsive and addictive personality that prevents self-control and willpower.  However, I’ll be 30 next year, and I’ve decided it’s time for some changes.  New year, new me, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe if I consider this a Bucket List instead of a list of resolutions, it’ll seem more fun?

  1. Quit smoking.  I started smoking a little over a year ago, because Jackie smoked, and I wanted to share something with him.  Plus when we first got together, and when it wasn’t so serious, we drank a little bit.  And for some reason, I like a cigarette in my hand when I’m drinking.  Not sure why.  Anyway, I have an e-Cig/vape thingy.  So in two (2) more days, I’ll be smoke free.
  2. Lose 50 pounds.  That’s a little over four (4) pounds a month, and I think it’s doable.  I don’t know if I’m going to join a gym or not.  But by eating low carb and exercising (walking) three (3) times a week, I’m going to seriously try to do this.  I need more energy, I need a smaller belly and I need my 30s to be my best years ever.
  3. Grow out my hair.  I cut it myself when it gets annoying.  This humidity doesn’t really help, even when a straightener is involved.  So right now, it’s above my shoulders, in a “bob” of some kind that I hate.  So by the end of next year, I’m hoping my hair will be way past my shoulders.  What kind of vitamins help with that?  Comment below.
  4. Take a vacation.  I haven’t been on a real life, beach vacation in YEARS.  Next year is the year.  My parents, grandfather, aunt and uncle, a bunch of kids, and my family are going to Gulf Shores in June.  Pool, sand, ocean, tanning, more pool, etc.  I cannot wait.  The kids, Jack and I are going to have so much fun.
  5. Get married.  For the last time.  I want to have an actual wedding, but the more drama Jack and I encounter, the more appealing an elopement sounds.  Either way, I will be married before I’m 30, and that’s exciting to me.  Especially because my future husband is one of the three (3) best things that has ever happened to me.
  6. Lower/rid myself of some of my debt.  I’m so tired of never having any money.  Time to open that savings account and put some cash back for a rainy day.
  7. And along the same lines, I’d like to have a new car by the end of next year.  Consider it my most unreachable goal (probably).  But I’m still keeping it on my list.

So there aren’t many things on the list, but I think I have enough to accomplish this year.  I’m excited and I am going to REALLY try to make this work.

Have a happy new year, everyone!

XOXO!

Meg/cC

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Time Management/Efficiency, Meg’s Way…

On the heels of a busy Christmas break, my house is a disaster.  I’d post pictures, but I’m honestly embarrassed.  The kids tore into their presents, left the trash, and then took their gifts to their bedrooms to clutter those rooms as well.  And anyone who knows me for more than five minutes knows that I am incredibly particular about the condition of my house.

I’ve actually gotten a couple of different emails from fellow mom bloggers, asking me to post a list of tips for managing time.  So I thought I would do that today.

Disclaimer – I am not a time management expert, and there are lots of things I don’t do well.  But there are some things I do to minimize stress in my home, and other moms might find these helpful, too.

  1. Do 15 – 20 minutes of housework a day.  In the grand scheme of things, 15 – 20 minutes is not a lot of time, but you’d be surprised how much you can get done in that time.  Housework, for me, is all about maintenance.  I don’t like spending my whole weekend (which is my only time off) “catching up” on stuff at home.  So I try to do a quick run-through every evening during the week.  These are things I’m excessively anal about, that take about 20 minutes to do:
    • keeping the dirty clothes picked up and put in a hamper;
    • keeping the shower curtain closed;
    • making sure the dishes are actually in the sink and not on the counter beside the sink;
    • putting things under the carport in a storage room; and
    • making sure there are no “frumpled” rugs in the house.
  2. Make lists.  Set deadlines and realistic goals.  You’re not a superhero, and you can’t get everything done in one day.  But I am a list maker, and I try my best to abide by the small lists I make every day.  My list for today includes doing one load of laundry, taking the decorations off of the Christmas tree and wiping down the mirrors in the bathrooms at home – a list of three, totally doable things that I know I can knock out tonight, and then not have to worry about them again.
  3. Do not put off until tomorrow what you can get done today.  Again, I’m all about maintenance.  And I do struggle in this department at times, especially where laundry is concerned, just because I hate it so much.  But I try my best not to let things “build up.”  That’s why I try to do that 15 – 20 minutes of housework a day, and that’s why I try to live by those small lists.  Jack and I often bicker, playfully, about this issue.  His theory is usually, “Why today?  Why not six months from now?”  And my answer is always, “…because you might not have time tomorrow.”
  4. Delegate.  If you are not the only person living in your house, that means you are not the only person who makes messes – and for that reason, you should not have to be the only person who CLEANS those messes.  I am not above the “honey-do” list, and I make those often.  I find that if I don’t, I’m the only one who does things around the house.  No one in my house really take initiative to pick up after themselves like I do, and so often, it is perceived that I am “barking orders.”  But at the end of the day, if you put some responsibility onto other family members, who are totally capable, you’ll find that you have a lot more time to get things done.
  5. Take on one task at a time.  In my experience, multi-tasking might mean you get a lot of things done, but they’re all done very poorly, or only half-way.  Focus your energy on one thing, and once it’s been completed, move onto the next thing.  Along the same lines, eliminate waste.  Touch things as few times as possible.  The fact is the more times you have to touch something, the less efficient the task.
  6. Make sure everything in your home has a designated place.  This is a BIG deal to me.  I absolutely hate hearing someone say, “Where’s my….?”  Oh, gee, I don’t know, where is it supposed to be, and why is it not in that spot?  The kids lose their shoes quite often, and Jack loses…well…pretty much everything.  If you make sure there are places in the house for literally everything you have, then you won’t have to wonder where those things are when you need them.  The remotes in our house go in the drawer of the small table beside our loveseat.  When I go to get them, and they aren’t in that drawer, it drives me nuts.  My kids know the rules.  If you get something out, put it back.  And if you lose something, you’d better find it yourself.
  7. Learn to say NO.  This one is really hard for me.  You are only one person, and you can only do so much.  Set your priorities and stick by those.  Do not allow yourself to take on more than you can physically, emotionally or mentally handle, or to be pulled in a million different directions.  If something comes up that you don’t absolutely HAVE to do, and you don’t want to do, just say no – whether it’s taking your kids to a classmate’s birthday party, or working overtime, or attending an extended family function, or babysitting, or even going on a date or girls night out.  Do your best, cut your losses and rest easy at night, knowing you’ve done what was necessary to get through the day.

I hope this helps SOMEONE.  If anything, it has certainly realigned my thought processes , and it has reminded me what I need to work on, as well.

XOXO!

Meg/cC

Co-parenting After Divorce.

I used to think that being a mom meant a few things:  1.) having the kids with me all the time; 2.) getting my way; and 3.) disagreeing with my ex-husband, because there was absolutely no way he could ever be right about anything, ever.  I thought it was all about proving who the better parent was, at any cost.  Divorce is hard.  And when children are involved, it’s even more difficult.

But, as I’ve said before, after a three year custody battle that ended up costing enough to put my kids through college, the Judge made his decision.  Summarizing, we were ordered to basically split it all – custody, expenses, holidays.  Everything.  So my views on what it took to be a good mom were completely stripped of me.  I had to share, I had to let go, and I hated it.

Years later, I have learned so much.  And the reason for this post is to share those lessons with you.

A few pieces of advice when co-parenting with your ex:

  1. Remember that it’s NOT ABOUT YOU.  When you become a parent, your needs and opinions absolutely must take a back seat, and your children should become who matter most.  This is my number “1” rule, because I believe it is the most important.  I don’t necessarily WANT to get up at 6:30 and pick out school clothes, and it isn’t necessarily what’s best for me – but it isn’t about me – it’s about Lexi and Jameson.  And we should all take the same approach when co-parenting.
  2. Focus on the good things.  When I start to feel anxious or overwhelmed by the effort it takes to co-parent, I stop to remember the positive basics:  A – he loves his kids; B – he is a good dad; and C – my kids love him.
  3. Be proactive, not reactive.  Learn the value of IGNORING.  My ex has made comments, spouted accusations, and said otherwise hurtful things directly to or about me lots of times.  And there were plenty of times I’d have loved to throw his douchebaggery back at him.  But in my experience, not responding at all is sometimes the best way to handle a heated situation.  Your ex will eventually stop if he/she knows hurtful words don’t affect you, and you won’t say anything you might regret later.
  4. Control what you can control, and let go of the rest.  This one was really hard for me.  I am (and have always been) a stickler about a few things – what the kids wear and eat, what time they go to bed, and what their grades reflect as to how well they do in school.  But I can ONLY control those things during my custody.  It still isn’t easy.  When they come home with greasy hair, dirty socks, or Cs and Ds in their grade folders from the previous week (my ex’s custody), I lose my mind.  Luckily, it’s only in my mind.  I make sure that the kids are clean, rested and studied up during my time with them.  I stick to our routine.  I provide my affection, attention and advice.  But at some point along the way I realized that I cannot control his custody.  There are things they are going to do with their dad that I will disagree with – things that aren’t unsafe, but just not my “cup of tea” (hunting falls into this category).  The only thing I can do, and should do, is keep my mouth shut, and enjoy MY time with the kids on MY terms.
  5. Text or e-mail as much as possible when communicating.  This takes tone out of the equation.  It also means you will have a paper trail, if a “he said/she said” situation ever arises.
  6. NEVER discourage your kids’ relationship with your ex.  Make your kids available for phone calls during your custody, so that your ex can check on them.  When they leave you, give them a kiss and a hug, and tell them that you love them and to have fun.  Do not speak ill of your ex in the company of your children.  Do not argue with your ex in front of your kids.  Go back to Advice Point #1 – it’s not about you.  It’s about your kids.  And how is bashing your ex around your children beneficial, at all, to them?
  7. Let go of resentment/bitterness.  I’ll admit, during my custody battle against my ex, all of my dirty laundry was aired.  My ex’s attorney grilled me for hours and hours, belittling me in front of the Judge.  I even had family members testify against me, on my ex’s behalf.  Up until that trial, and never since that trial, have I ever felt so betrayed by so many people.  That betrayal turned into to hurt, hurt turned into bitterness, and I carried it around for a LONG time.  Even to this day, I have to swat those demons off of me like flies on a watermelon.  It is not good for your children if you remain bitter.  It is not in your kids’ best interest, and you will not be the best parent you can be, if you carry that burden.  Figure out a way to find some peace.
  8. Realize it’s not a competition.  My ex and I have completely different parenting styles.  Luckily, my children are resilient (as are most children), and they know the routines at each parent’s home.  It’s not about what you do better than your ex, or what your ex does better than you.  It’s about being the best mom, or the best dad, you can possibly be, and then understanding that your best will always be enough for your children.
  9. Make yourself available and approachable.  The easier YOU are to get along with, the less blood you’ll have on your hands when it comes to the drama.  Refer to Advice Point #4.  You cannot control how your ex behaves.  But certainly, you can follow your own agenda and reach your own goals – and one of those goals should be to appear non-confrontational when dealing with your ex.
  10. Love your kids more than you hate your ex.  And REMEMBER that you do.  Every decision you make should be based on that one rule of thumb.  Children are not leverage.  They’re not a piggy bank.  They’re not ammunition.  They’re not trophies.  Part of being a good parent means loving them the most and making them first priority, in all decisions, INCLUDING dealing with your ex.

Parenting is never easy, and of course, it’s even harder when you have to do it alone.  Make it easier on yourself.  Find a way to get along with your ex.  Find a way to keep the peace.  That’s what’s best for everyone, especially your little ones.

XOXO,

Meg / cC

Hello, Pot, this is Kettle…

In December 2009, my husband (the kids’ dad) and I separated. I moved to North Carolina – for a few reasons – one, to escape the drama, and two, to hold onto my kids a little longer, as my son was only four (4) months old at the time.

After an extensive (and expensive) custody battle, the Judge basically ordered me back to Louisiana, with Lexi and Jameson, in 2012. I obliged.  In July of that year, I moved from my lovely home in North Carolina into a rundown piece of crap mobile home in Louisiana.  I was not happy about it.  I lost my kids 50% of the time (my ex-husband and I have a split custody arrangement), I lost my great job in North Carolina, I lost my pretty little house.  I lost my Aunt Sharon, my church family and my friends.  And my kids lost their home and daycare, family and friends.

I was not in a good place when I moved back to Louisiana, and by the end of that year, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like my family and my kids were much better off without me, and I turned up a bottle of Xanax.

Obviously I am still here. My stepdad discovered me, confiscated the pills and allowed me to move in with him, my mom and baby my sisters, to allow me to find a better job, save some money for a nicer house, and basically get well.  It was a temporary thing.

But as is most often the case, two (2) weeks turned into two (2) months, and I was still staying with my parents. I didn’t MEAN to be immature, irresponsible, or a mooch, but I struggled to “get my shit together,” as some say.

So one afternoon, I was at my parents’ house, with my kids, while my parents were out of town. My two younger sisters called my ex-husband to come pick up the kids (mind you, it was MY custody), and they came over to “talk” to me.

During that visit, my sisters (one 16 months younger, and the other a little over 4 years younger) called me every name in the book. They both told me I was not acting responsibly, that I was a deadbeat, a horrible mother, and that I needed to grow up and get my own home and stop ruining everybody’s life by taking handouts.

The above synopsis of the coversation that took place is very conservative and censored in relation to what was actually said and done. They were so ugly to me.  There I was, already at the end of my rope, ready to end my life because I just couldn’t deal, and then I was bombarded by name-calling and threats.  I will never forget the conversation.  I’ll never forget the “tough” part in whatever “tough love” they thought they were giving me.  I am still so hurt and heartbroken by the way I was criticized, scrutinized and antagonized.

The funny thing about me, though – I only hated myself for it. And it was less than a month later that I moved out of my parents’ house, into another not-so-great place, which I somehow turned into a home for my children and me.  I got my own car.  I got a good job, which I still have, four (4) years later.  Things were tight financially, and lonely when it wasn’t my custody with Lou and J.D., but I made it work.  I started at the bottom – and I mean the WAY bottom.  And the best part is…I did it ALL BY MYSELF.  I paid and made my own ways.  I pulled myself together, I started making good decisions, and I kept my ducks in a row.

And a year later (2014), I moved into a nicer home – a condo. I was working three (3) jobs.  I found a routine that worked for me and stuck to it.

And now, four and a half (4 1/2) years since I was forced to move back to this awful state, I live in a nice house, even if it is tiny (less to clean, right?). I am engaged to someone who loves my children and me very much.  I was able to quit working two (2) of my jobs, so I have more free time.  I am able to pay for half of my kids’ private school tuition.  I have a vehicle to drive, I always have a hot meal on the table at night, and I have a smartphone, for God’s sake.  I am doing very, very well.

Now, let’s go back to this lovely lecture by my sisters in 2012. I was 25, which means my two (2) sisters were 24 and 21, respectively.  They were both living in their own homes, with their own kids and significant others.  I guess, at the time, they felt entitled to say the things to me that they said.

But now, the middle sister, now 28, is separated. She did the very same things that I did when I was going through my divorce, and now she and her husband have split.  It is what it is – divorce happens, marriages fail, and I certainly do not blame her if she is doing what she thinks is best.

This middle sister has always been a stay-at-home mom. She was working part-time, but I believe this is her last week at that job.  Additionally, the house she lives in, the car she drives and the bills that need to be paid are all in her husband’s name.  Understand?  That means she is in THE SAME position that I was in four (4) years ago – no job, no car, her kids only half of the time, all for a guy she met online, who lives over ten (10) hours away.

Last weekend, I learned that she will be living in my parents’ rental home, rent free, as my mom is going to allow her some time to secure a job and find her own place to live.

As it turns out, I’ve caught wind that she is going, this weekend, to visit her boyfriend. A ten (10) hour drive requires a few things – a rental car and a credit card or cash for gas and food – certainly expenses she cannot afford if she is trying to find a full-time job and secure her own place to live and get another vehicle, one that is in her name.  But of course, she is thinking and acting impulsively, doing what feels good in the moment, with no sense of conviction or fear of consequence, as in, how it will affect her financial status, her custody situation, or her ability to get her own house and car.

How is this situation not the very SAME situation that I went through four (4) years ago? Why is the person who cursed me out, called me names and trash-talked me behind my back now going through the same things?  And how is she somehow able to justify what she is doing now, based on how I was treated all those years ago?  How does a person treat me so poorly, and then, when ending up in the same position, not, at the very least, apologize to me for those things she said?

In fact, I have heard opposite dialogue – that our situations are not the same, and that she does not want to hear my opinion or advice. Basically, I was ordered to stay out of it.  And I have.

To say that I am still bitter about that four (4) year old conversation is an understatement. To say that she is the pot calling the kettle black is an understatement.  To say that our situations are different is completely inaccurate – they are 100% identical, with very few exceptions.  At least her soon-to-be ex-husband is allowing her to stay in his house right now, using his electricity and water, and eat his food, while she continues to text, Snapchat and call other men (yes, men, as in, more than one).  At least he is still paying her car note and for her cell phone (which is used to text and call these other men).  At least her husband hasn’t yet sued her for full custody of the kids they have together.  I was not lucky enough to enjoy those luxuries.

And now she will be living off of her soon-to-be ex-husband’s kindness, and my parents’ kindness, as well as the kindness of those who often offer to babysit the boys on which she really needs to focus right now. Her priorities are skewed, and her agenda is completely narcissistic.

Not only do I not appreciate the hypocrisy that is currently being displayed, based on a four (4) year strained relationship, because of the things she said to me back then, but I also do not appreciate the way she is acting toward my parents and me, NOW. Her actions have certainly spoken louder than the words she spoke four (4) years ago.  Karma is about to bite her ass so hard – she has no idea.  And when it happens, I can only hope she learns the same lesson I had to learn.

I am so tired of paying for four (4) year old mistakes, especially when someone who chewed me out, who says she doesn’t trust me, who called me a trashy deadbeat no-good mother and person, is doing THE SAME THINGS, only with much more help. I wonder how long she will be paying for her mistakes?

I am not the type of person who puts someone on blast, points out hypocrisies or openly criticizes someone’s decisions, because, at the end of a long day, what she chooses to do is none of my business. And I have stayed out of it, like she asked.  What I will never understand or forget is how someone can be so ugly to me, turn around and make the same bad choices, and not offer a fringe of remorse for her ugliness, or her current decisions.

The good news – I am completely straight, 100% content, and totally happy with the way I am living my life. The decisions I make are centered around what is best for my two (2) little angels.  And I know I am going to be okay, because that is my CHOICE.  I just wish others’ choices were not so irresponsible, immature and sanctimonious.  As the rednecks is the stupid town say, it really CREAMS MY CORN.

XOXO,

Meg / cC