We Really Are Okay

We Really Are Okay

To My Son’s Father,

While you truly do not deserve an ounce of my energy or a moment of my time, I am writing to you on behalf of our son and his unfulfilled desire to experience some glimmer of a healthy and functional relationship with his father. I use the term “our son” extremely loosely as your contribution to his existence has been minimal, yet this beautiful young man still longs for your love.

I could hear it in his trembling voice this evening as he enumerated all the reasons why he would rather not have you in his life any more.  Frankly this has been a long time coming. You’ve missed out on so much: a lot of skinned knees and ear infections, a lot of late nights and early mornings, a bunch of empty pockets and unfulfilled promises. You don’t feed him or clothe him or cuddle with him. You do not help him with his homework. You don’t listen to him, comfort him or respect him as an individual.

In the 16 and a half glorious years that our child has graced this planet, you have managed to not only miss out on countless memories and milestones, but also to contribute a surplus of disappointment and daddy issues to his life. Time and time again you have failed to show up, forgotten to call, and messed with your son’s emotions and sense of security. You have become famous for incoherent conversations and infamous for sleeping off hangovers instead of spending your free time with him. You’ve made limited attempts to support your child in any manner whatsoever. You take no initiative to be involved in his schooling. You take no steps to take part in his healing. You ignore all monetary obligations to assist in his surviving. Oh that’s right, you did pay rent two months in a row last year, half the rent back in April of last year; and of course there was that time back in 2004 when I had to sell you our big screen tv so you could actually help me pay rent.  Yet somehow you believe that the few times that you did help us equates to you being there for him all his life. When in reality you’d often say things like “I’ll see him when I see him.”
Most recently you claimed that me being unable to pay rent is my problem and that you are not responsible for me.  You are right.  However, you do not seem the least bit concerned about how this affects our son – where will he sleep, what will he eat, how will this affect his grades?  Perhaps this is your way to force him to live with you, again without any consideration about how doing so will affect him.
In spite of that I never kept him from you. I never prevented you from seeing him and I never told him anything disparaging about you. I let him make his own choices.
I am thankful to you for many things. The first, and most obvious, is for contributing your genetic material to create him, albeit the solitary shining achievement in your legacy of fatherhood. Secondly, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude for the many lessons you have taught our boy. Thank you for teaching him to be strong. Without your constant onslaught of spectacular screw ups, he might not be as fiercely resilient as he is today. Had you not failed him in every way imaginable, he might have only had the opportunity to be a typical little boy. Thank you for teaching him to be independent. He doesn’t need you. Not for anything anymore. Thank you for teaching him one of life’s most valuable lessons: expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed. Thank you for teaching him how to cope with grief, and anxiety, and depression at such an early age.
Thank you also for all of the unsolicited advice you continue to dole out to your son: he should play a sport, he should eat more vegetables, he should be thinner, faster, smarter, better.  Because according to you he belongs to a superior, highly educated family. Since you seem so interested in working in the advice department, allow me to return the favor. Get a life. Get a grip on your selfish, self-centered, childish and petulant behavior. Get it together for your son.
Our son is special. He is smart and funny and all-around awesome, and he is tough, independent and successful. He has a spectacular sense of humor and a well-rounded sense of self.
Although I am concerned about how this decision will affect him as he rushes into manhood I am relieved that my silence about you is finally over. My protection of you in the eyes of my son has ended. I will no longer bite my tongue about your questionable parenting, and I will no longer force him to make any attempts to contact you. My son, will determine from this point on whether or not HE wants to deal with you.
Despite the fact that I am currently unemployed and our future seems bleak and uncertain; I know Baz and I are walking out on the other side of this dark tunnel holding hands, mother and son – an unbreakable bond of love and support. We are stronger than we’ve ever been because of each other, because not only did I guide and show him the way, he showed me too. He gave me the reason to believe in myself and push hard to become who I am. He taught me how to love, and he showed me what the meaning of work ethic is and what the word fight really means. We really are okay.
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On Your 16th Birthday

On Your 16th Birthday

You are sixteen today. SIXTEEN! How is this even possible?!!? I remember being sixteen. I loved being sixteen! (It doesn’t seem that long ago actually.). For the record, I think you’re going to be way better at it than I was. You have a better sense of who you are than I ever did.

Many changes will be arriving soon enough and experiences are going to be pouring in, just remember to always be true to yourself. You were born in this world to be an original just as you are. Of course there will be times where you will sometimes blend in with the world, but at the end of every day, remember to hold on to your individuality. Stay caring, loving, humble and as confident as you are and allow these characteristics to become permanent elements as you continue to grow into your future self.  As much as I celebrate the ever-more-amazing you, and want to wrap you up in super-duper extra strength bubble wrap to keep you safe and sound as you navigate the next few years; I know I have to let you cut your path.  I pray that you make good decisions. But if you make bad ones, I pray that you be given a moment of grace so that the consequences aren’t life-altering, heart-breaking or soul-crushing and that you appreciate that moment as gift and a chance to grow. 

Oh, yes, remember to always call your mother. I know this sounds cliché but do it anyway. For as long as I roam this planet, there will never be a time that I don’t want to hear about the latest in your life, your friends, your studies, your job, what you hope to achieve or even just what you had for lunch. I may not always have all of the answers, but I can promise you that I will always be here to listen, nurture, and comfort you. So call me.

Don’t be afraid to be all in. Explore, read, see the world, get involved, defend a cause, right a wrong, step out of your comfort zone, sing, dance, make a fool of yourself, swim, run, hike, watch sunsets, play games and look at the stars. 

I am so very proud of you my son and I am ridiculously blessed to be your mom. I know your future holds great things.  And I feel privileged to claim a front seat in watching it all unfold. Live long and prosper. 

Happy birthday, Sebastian!  

 

Do As I Do

Do As I Do

Growing up I heard the words “Do as I say, not as I do” often enough to know better than to use them on my own child.  In fact, I consider it hypocritical of me to ask him to do things that I wouldn’t do myself. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I am not athletic in the least.  I do my best to get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep (and if I can sleep in, I will), eat healthy and exert a minimal amount of energy just enough to keep me on the edge of NOT developing heart problems and/or diabetes.

Often our meals are made from scratch using whole foods such as lean meats, lentils, brown rice, kale, spinach, carrots, green beans, turmeric, coconut oil, veggie or whole wheat pastas, etc. (You can find a recipe HERE and HERE.)  BUT…oh boy, do I LOVE my sweets!  I’m a sucker for cookies, cakes and ice cream – most desserts really!!! Unfortunately, so is my son.

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Most parents think that if we “teach” our children well enough with our words they’ll be able to make better decisions than we do, but let’s look at the latest research, shall we?: Moms’ and kids’ activity levels are directly linked to each other.   We know better. Obviously.  We know what the healthy choice is: to eat our (not deep-fried) veggies. To get a good night’s sleep. To make time to play and move our bodies. And yet, again and again, we avoid getting physical at all costs.

My excuses and “reasons” were inexhaustible: “I’m happy the way I am.”; “I’m too exhausted to wake up at the crack of dawn and/ or after work to contemplate going to the gym.”; “I am beautiful enough already.”  Not realizing that, all the while, my son has been picking up on my habits, developing the same behaviors towards fitness and, much to my dismay, gaining unnecessary weight.

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Casting a disapproving look at myself.

After numerous failed attempts to coax, and even bribe, my son into becoming more active it finally dawned on me that he wouldn’t do anything if I didn’t first set the example.  So, I joined a gym and reluctantly reactivated my old MyFitnessPal account to keep track of my meals.

Now, I hate counting calories and wouldn’t know how to determine the amount of calories in my home cooked meals but thanks to this app I can record my food with just a few taps on my iPhone.  It’s actually shocking to see how quickly the calories, fat and sugar grams start adding up. Just this morning I’ve already consumed half of my target sugar grams for the day!

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Today’s Food Journal Entry of First and Second Breakfast  😉

Keeping track of my food has forced me to face the fact that, regardless of my fitness goals, what I consume affects my body in ways seen and unseen.  One of the things that I’ve found interesting is the importance of keeping track of the macros in one’s diet.  What are “macros”, you ask?  Macros short for macro-nutrients like protein, carbs and fats.  These macros are the basis of all calories you consume. Rather than obsessing over calories, targeting macros helps keep you focused on food composition and overall healthfulness rather than just low-calorie options.   And again, with the help of free apps like MyFitnessPal it’s easy to stay on track! (No, I am not getting paid to say so.)

MacrosCalculation
Calculate your optimal macronutrient ratios based on your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level using a Macro Calculator.
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MyFitnessPal helps me keep track of my macros without an extra app.

Although I have yet to see any visible results on the scale I have noticed that my clothes fit a lot better. AND I am happy to report that my example has not gone unnoticed.  On Monday, as I was going about my new routine, my son approached me and asked if he could join me at the gym.  For a brief moment it seemed like the clouds parted and a chorus of Angels sang in triumphantly!

FINALLY!!!

For the last two days we’ve been walking 30 minutes to the gym, lifting weights then walking 30 minutes back home.  Monday when I asked my son if he was ready to go home he replied, “One more exercise.  This is strangely addictive!”  Then yesterday on our walk home he said, “We should have started this years ago.”  To which I replied, “I know.  I’m sorry.”

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A Mother’s Strength

It is with a sad heart that we ask for your support at this time. Mike and Ericka Hostler, parents of five children said, good bye to their youngest baby, Jazz Little Horse Hostler.

Ericka is a fellow merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel and was out of state being recognized for her accomplishments when she heard the news.  I cannot even fathom the depth of her loss yet she continues to display superhuman grace and strength and I am just in awe.  My prayers go out to her and her family.

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“Lord, bring comfort and peace. Peace is your essence. Peace is your name. Bring peace to this family who has lost their precious child in death. There is no way to remove the pain. Though the grief is unreal, grant them the strength to release him into Your arms and by faith receive in return the boundless comfort of your presence.”

An fundraising account has been set up to off set some of the costs the family may experience. So if you can contribute please make a donation by visiting: http://www.gofundme.com/mbuy6m3c

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Thank you and may god bless you

Happy Mother’s Day

Visiting Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico with Mom and Baby Sister
Visiting Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico with Mom and Baby Sister 1986

When you get right down to it, it’s not that hard to say I love you. Three little words & it sort of says it all. So, in theory, it should be pretty easy to do that for Mother’s Day.

Here’s the thing, though, you can go in & out of like with your mom. So Mother’s Day can sometimes be a little tricky. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love her. Sometimes it’s just hard to find the right words to tell her, especially when you’re holding on to your differences…. yet…in spite of those differences she is Mom…..

Moms come in all shapes & sizes, but they’re pretty easy to recognize because they’re the ones who teach you stuff all the time about how to be in the world & sometimes that sounds a lot like: chew with your mouth closed, sit still. stand up straight, be polite, Look them in the eye & sometimes it seems like that sort of thing doesn’t add up to a whole lot… Until the day you feel the soft ache of love in your heart that makes you care for a friend who hurts or when you look in a stranger’s tired eyes & you stop & smile… Or when you listen to the ABC song for the thousandth time & you laugh & say ‘again’ & suddenly you understand that this IS the real thing moms do & it adds up to the whole world…

I love you Mom – the messy, ugly and beautiful that is our relationship….<3
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A fin de cuentas, no es tan difícil decir Te Amo. Son tres palabritas, de esas que lo dicen todo. En teoría, debería ser fácil decirlas en el Día de la Madre.

La cosa es que uno a veces no se lleva tan bien con Mamá. Así que el Día de la Madre a veces puede ser un poco difícil. Pero eso no significa que no la amamos. A veces es sólo difícil encontrar las palabras adecuadas para expresar lo que sentimos, especialmente cuando nos aferramos a nuestras diferencias…. sin embargo, a pesar de esas diferencias que ella siempre será Mamá…..

Las Madres son de diferentes formas y tamaños, pero son fácil de reconocer, ya que son los que te enseñan cosas todo el tiempo acerca de cómo ser en este mundo y en ocasiones eso suena muy parecido a: mastica con la boca cerrada, estate quieto, párate bien, se cortés, mira a las personas a los ojos y a veces parece que ese tipo de cosas no son la gran cosa… Hasta el día en que usted mismo siente ese dolorcito suave y sutil de amor en su corazón que le ocasiona apoyar a un amigo necesitado o cuando mira a los ojos cansados de un extraño y se detiene para brindarle una sonrisa… O cuando escucha la canción del abecedario por milésima vez y se ríe y dice ‘otra vez’ y de repente entiende que esto es lo que hacen las madres y que realmente lo es TODO en el mundo…

Te amo mamá – lo sucio, lo feo y lo hermoso que es nuestra relación…. ❤

Happy Birthday, Son!

Baby Sebastian & Mom (circa 2001)
Baby Sebastian & Mom (circa 2001)

He stands nearly half a foot taller than me now, growing so fast, his pants hem and this momma can’t keep up. He flexes muscles and is quick-witted, he is smart, empathetic and keenly aware of social issues.

My prayers were answered when the ultrasound wand confirmed we were having a boy, “a son.” Because I was convinced that having a son would be “easier” as a single mom. But I didn’t know about the mother-son bond and how this boy with his long dark lashes and tender heart would undo me.

Nearly every day for the past 15 years, he has touched my soul in some way. He is the first to ask “How was your day?” and “Did you you sleep good?” or say “Mom, you look so pretty today.” He makes me laugh so hard over the silliest things and will instantly change my mood after a hard day at work with one of his spontaneous hugs.

Sebastian turns 15 today and there are a few things I need to say to him:

You don’t have to fit in. The world expects you to act a certain way. Culture demands it. But it’s okay to be a square peg in a round hole, to look different, be yourself. It’s alright to chart your course to God’s plan, even when others might not understand it. Yes, you might feel odd or weird chasing it, but that’s okay, most world changers do.

You don’t have to give in. You already know about the pressure–to talk or dress a certain way, to disrespect adults or girls, to be like those that do. But you possess the strength and character to walk away, the Christ living in you will help you stand. You don’t have to give in. But if you do…

You get second chances and third and fourth… You can start again. Every sunrise is a second chance to get it right, to say no, to say I’m sorry, to ask forgiveness, to make a new start. I want you to know that this is what God is about. He wants to give you as many chances as it takes, just don’t ever stop taking them.

You don’t have to be tough (all the time). Boys are supposed to be rough and tough. Maybe you’ve heard that “real men don’t cry” and always wear a stiff upper lip. But I want you to know real men are tender, they care about others, and root for the underdog. They rush to open the door for elderly women and use their manners. They cry over poverty and when they grow up, they tuck their babies into bed.

You don’t need a girl (yet). Girls. They are everywhere and their influence can be intoxicating, you’ll discover that soon enough. I can’t wait to see the girl God brings into your life and I already pray for her. Become friends with Godly girls, but don’t be in a hurry to make them a girlfriend. That time will come, enjoy today.

You make me proud. If you didn’t do another thing, win another award, get another A, or an E in conduct, I want you to know I’m proud of the young man you’ve become. I love the way you are a good friend and listener to others. I love the way you give generously. I am proud of you, son.

You are a success if you love God and others. I don’t know what you will be when you grow up. I think an engineer or a millionaire, possibly a missionary pilot or an artist. The sky is your limit and it’s your choice. But no matter what you accomplish or don’t, in my eyes, you’re successful if you love God first and others second. Always remember this is true success.

You have great men in your life. God has given you amazing men to shadow. They love God and their families more than themselves and if you aren’t sure where to step next, look for their footprints.

You can always come home. No matter what happens in this life, what you do or don’t do, you always have a place with us. We might make you want to leave with our rules or ask you to because of your actions, but we won’t stop you from coming home.

You are loved. No matter how long those legs grow or how high I have to look up to you, you will always be mine. I can still wipe your tears and listen to your heart. I can still ground you and make you say your sorry (hopefully). No matter what you do or what happens in this life, you are mine and nothing can change that. If you never hear another word I say or choose not to listen, you must believe that you are loved deeply by your parents. But even more than we love you, you are loved by a God who sent His son for you. Don’t ever doubt it. Believe it. This life might bring great joy or sorrow, great wealth or loss, but you can make it because you have love. Make sure you give it away. It’s the best way to receive it.

And most of all, we say a lot by not saying anything at all. We can accomplish a lot by praying these words from Psalm 63:8, “Lord, please instill in my child a soul with a craving for You, a heart that clings passionately to You.”

Happy birthday, son.

Brilliant Way To Save

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Every year I see ideas like this and think about saving up for something really nice myself but I never quite get around to it. This year I’m really gonna commit to doing this money saving challenge.  For some time now I’ve been wanting a good SLR camera and this would be the perfect way to save for it!  Care to join me?

It’s called the 52 WEEK MONEY SAVINGS CHALLENGE

It’s actually quite simple and extremely basic.

For each week of the year, you save that same amount in dollars!  For example:

Week ONE: You save $1

Week TWO: You save $2

Week THREE: You save $3

Week THIRTY-TWO: You save $32

You get the picture?

You keep doing that all the way through the end of the year and Voila, you’ll have enough cash to buy yourself or someone else a very nice gift.

This is a perfect way to teach kids the value of money and the importance of saving.  Have them save in quarters, either in 25 cent or 50 cent increments!

Just print out these templates and paste them onto a jar!

You can save in One Dollar increments!

You can save in 50 Cent increments!

You can save in 25 Cent increments!

You can save in One dollar increments Backwards!

You can save in dollar increments biweekly!

 

Let me know how you do!