Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

A Visit from My Mother June 17, 2013

My mother and my daughters :)

My mother and my daughters 🙂

Over the weekend we were able to spend some time with my mother. It was a really nice visit. She hadn’t been able to visit me since my birthday last year, so it was her first time meeting the baby and only her second time visiting since my husband’s arrest. Over the years, especially during the eight years that I was with my husband, my mother and I have had our difficulties, but I love her and appreciate what she has done for me. I know that her life hasn’t been easy.

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My girls were so excited to see her. They absolutely love my mother 🙂 It was nice to see them so excited for family to be around. I wish I lived closer to people who truly loved my children and could assist me in raising them. I wholeheartedly believe it takes a village to raise a kid, and the better the people in that village the more likely my children will become well-rounded, healthy, productive, hardworking members of society. For now I’m focusing on being consistent in my parenting, understanding the goals of negative behavior and how to properly respond, and securing suitable childcare for when I start back working outside of the house. Baby steps.

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My mom stayed from Friday night to Monday morning. We didn’t really do too much, but that was fine by me. I had the most fun on Saturday when we went to the beach. Amara and Terra collected shells and buried one another in the sand while Mom and I figured out how to build the beach hut and set up the beach umbrella I’d purchased earlier that day. It was fun working together, even though the girls only spent several minutes in the shade after we’d assembled everything.

All of us girls at the beach (Terra, Me holding Nohra, my mother, and Amara)

All of us girls at the beach (Terra, Me holding Nohra, my mother, and Amara)

On Sunday, my mother took my big girls to the movie theater. It was their first time ever going to a movie theater and they saw Epic. They loved it! All in all we had a great time. I learned a lot more about how I can enhance my parenting, my mother spoiled me with gifts and time apart from my babies, and everything pretty much went as it should’ve. I’m happy that she was able to visit me!

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Art In The Barn June 14, 2013

Today we had the pleasure of going to Essex, Massachusetts to model some jewelry for Art In The Barn, an annual art exhibition and sale where artists donate 50 percent of their proceeds to a land conservation community called the Greenbelt. The event was held at a beautiful reservation with a marsh and a lot of rocks to climb. The modeling portion was a favor for a photographer friend, but we had so much fun that it didn’t seem like work in the slightest. I got to wear a beautiful earring, part of an artist’s set that cost over six thousand dollars, and a bracelet by the same artist that was priced around $32k. I just about wore the cost of my house today 🙂 It’s probably something I will never have the chance to do again.

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My favorite pieces of art were the head sculpture, the spoon holder with the elephant and the word “Journey”, the sculpture of the cardinal with the flowers, and the painting of the woman vacuuming the flower. Some of the artists were actually present at the reservation, so that made the event even livelier. Being around such beauty and creativity really fed my soul. I have a lot more of the east coast to explore. I really enjoy being in this part of the country, it suits me well.

 

A Few Good Things June 10, 2013

I’m trying more and more to look at the positive things that are happening instead of allowing myself to get overwhelmed and depressed by the bad. I cannot guarantee that this time next week I’ll be smiling (as I am now, on three hours of sleep, with an impossibly long to-do list for tomorrow morning), but I hope to at least still be building my “Good Things” list.

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1) I found a couple of babysitters!!!

After months of not having anyone but my neighbor and one girlfriend to rely on to watch my kids, I finally interviewed and hired a babysitter! Don’t ask me where I’m going to find the money to keep paying her…but I figure it’s a good investment. I’m paying nearly $10K to take my last two graduate courses, and should I fail them it will be money down the drain, so it seems feasible to pay a babysitter so that I can have quality study time. I’ll make it work somehow…

Also, I followed the advice of a friend and found teenaged girls willing to babysit through a homeschooling group. Bright, energetic, responsible, level-headed teenaged girls. Yay! I knew some of those types of girls had to be out there somewhere 🙂 I feel such a weight lifted from my shoulders even though I’ve yet to leave the house and let anyone watch my girls yet. It just feels better knowing these people are willing to watch my girls should I have the need. And there may certainly be a need soon, because when Terra goes to castings, I am not supposed to bring the other two children along with me. What’s that? Castings? YES!

 

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2) Terra was chosen by a modeling agency!!!!

My four-year old is a model! Isn’t that adorable?! The Casting Call day wasn’t a huge, rainy waste of time. The agents at one of the places we went absolutely loved her, and are now representing her! I’m so proud of her and happy for her! I knew she could do it. All of my daughters are beautiful, but Terra’s personality and temperament are well aligned for showbiz. This is just the beginning and she hasn’t been booked for anything yet, but she had a professional photo shoot to build her portfolio and she did so amazingly well. It was incredibly cute to watch her, and she had a lot of fun. My oldest, Amara, was a little jealous at first, but she really only wants to do it because Terra is doing it. I’m still willing to shop around for agencies that want to represent Amara and my baby, Nohra, but I may take it slow as just having one child in the business can be consuming and I’m not known for having the most time on my hands.

 

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3) I’ve managed to meet my deadlines for my classes these past two weeks. Way-Too-Much-Homework-954x1024

Okay. Okay. Maybe I managed to meet some of the deadlines by rearranging the syllabus, but hell. I still finished what my professor expected me to have finished. I’m doing alright with it all. It’s a lot of work, and I’m staying up late and I’m waking up in the middle of the night sometimes to get it done, but…I’m getting it done. I know this isn’t the best way to go about completing my Master’s…but under the circumstances, what’s another two months of not sleeping? I’ll have the rest of my life to catch up on sleep. Right now I need to finish this degree!!! I’m so happy that I chose the professors I chose for each of my classes as well. Both are perfectly suited for the projects I’m pursuing.

 

4) I get to start going back to therapy!

Now that I’ve found a few babysitters I’ll get to start going back to see my therapist regularly! What a sweet relief 🙂 “Nuf said.

 

5) I’m getting better at being nonchalant

Back when I was pregnant with my first child I thought it would be so easy to practice attachment parenting and that if I just loved my child and showed her that she was safe and encouraged her to express her emotions things would be alright. I never expected thrashing arms and legs, spitfire comments, and utter defiance. I am still a very gentle disciplinarian; actually, their therapist suggests that I be a little more stern…I’m trying to set more limits, to explain consequences, and to be consistent, but with all that’s going on it’s hard to have the energy for every tantrum. Still, lately I’ve done alright. I’m still a softy, but I’m not allowing things to get to me so much anymore. Yes, my daughters still act out, and I still rack my brain thinking of ways to deescalate the situation, but it’s not making me angry or flustered as much anymore. I’m keeping my cool, and not wearing my heart on my sleeve around them is actually working in my favor. It’s hard to not show emotion when things are going downhill, but I have to be the bigger person, and lately I have been.

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I’m proud of myself. Last week was a hard one, but I took it in stride and I came out alright.

 

Casting Calls and All May 27, 2013

This past Saturday I took my daughters to their first open call at a modeling/acting agency. What an experience! My older two have shown an interest in the industry for some time now; after everything we watch they ask me to look up the actors who played their favorite parts, they look through my dust-collecting parenting magazines for pictures of kids modeling, they marvel at the posters and billboards of children their ages and “want to do that too!”

I considered it when they were babies, but I always felt like I’d be exploiting them and it wasn’t fair. I’m not sure now if someone else planted that guilty seed or if it was my own doing, but with my current baby I don’t feel that way at all. My big girls want to know what the industry is about and my infant just so happens to really enjoy smiling, so I figured…I’m not working a 9-5, we’re finally close to a big city that has major industry connections, why not give it a try?

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All of our professional pictures were taken by Shannon Culpepper ❤

So we went. I didn’t get to bed until 1am on Saturday morning because I’d spent the night preparing their applications, arranging their photos in folders, packing our meals, and being anxious about it. I had to wake up at 5am to shower, pack the van, and wake/groom the girls before getting on the road to the first open call.

My GPS lead me astray, but we eventually made it to the parking garage. We suited up for the rain, and walked for thirty minutes to the first agency. So far so so…it was wet, and cold, and Boston’s sidewalks are not very accommodating to parties of…more than one. But we’d made it, and we weren’t late. We went inside and took some open seats next to another family of curly headed children. The mother and father of the curly headed siblings were drop dead gorgeous; I couldn’t even keep eye contact with the father out of fear that I’d blush too much. Wow. It’s not that I lusted for him, it just seemed impossible to me that anyone could look that gorgeous without being Photoshopped!

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Anyway. The accented agency man explained the business to us and what would happen if our children were accepted. Since I had both a baby and children for the older division he had us stay behind and wait for the second session to end before interviewing my girls. They had to sit quietly for over an hour before it was their turn to be interviewed and I was incredibly impressed with their behavior and their answers when it was finally their turn to speak.

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I’m not sure what will happen, but it was a learning experience either way. We left that agency and headed to another. It was another good 45 minute walk away in the cold, in the rain, but we were already prepared for it so I wanted to stick it out. We got there on time, parked the stroller, walked up three flights of stairs, and waited…and waited…and waited…and waited some more. No one every showed up. What?! We have no idea what happened, but we were not the only family waiting for the agency to open its doors. Several other mothers, one of them a mother of six who had traveled from Rhode Island for the open call, were just as confused as I was. Calls made to the agency earlier in the week verified that the agency would still be having the open call, but the doors never opened, and it made me a little unsure of whether or not I’d want to work with them regardless now.

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So after an hour of waiting around quiet at the second agency I wrote a note, slipped our folder of applications and pictures under the door, and we headed toward the Boston Children’s Museum. It was still raining out, and still cold, and we were getting hungry. I’d planned to go back to the van, grab our tennis shoes and lunch and the baby carrier, then head to the Children’s Museum after the open calls. I found, however, the navigating Boston’s subway system with a stroller is not the easiest thing to do, by far. After making circles around the subway stations, searching for elevator access and smelling the stench of the elevators we found, I scratched visiting the van from our list and head directly to the Museum.

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When we finally arrived at the Museum the line was longer than I’ve ever seen it. It was raining harder than it had all day, and there were at least twenty families in line ahead of us. I just laughed because I couldn’t have imagined things getting much worse. We’d watched a few clips from “Singing in the Rain” a few days prior so the girls attempted umbrella tricks while we waited in line, but I was nearing the end of my energy.

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We finally got into the Museum, but being inside wasn’t much better. We weren’t cold and wet, but I swear that every child in Boston was there as well. The place was so packed full of people you could barely get from one room/activity to the next. We stayed for three hours, but spent most of our time maneuvering around the mass of bodies, and visiting the bathrooms. Ugh! It was so overwhelming.

When we finally made it back to our van, after another ridiculous attempt trying to navigate the handicap subway exits, I packed us up, distributed snacks, and drove for three minutes before Nohra was crying so hard that I had to pull over for fear that she’d choke on her tears. It had been a hard day for all of us. We eventually made it home, did Bedtime Business, and fell asleep.

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I must admit, it wasn’t all headache-inducing craziness. One perk of hoofing it around the city to the two agencies was that we wound up right in the middle of Boston’s Anime Convention. The girls loved seeing all of the colorful costumes and even took a picture with some girls dressed as Madoka Magica characters! We also hadn’t known prior to arriving in the city, that the last official mile of the Boston Marathon was being run at Copley, and we got to watch and cheer awhile as people crossed the finish line. And a friend of mine from Emerson met up with us at the Children’s Museum and brought us brownies from the bakery where she works. It was nice getting to see my friend, see Boston Strong again, and hear my daughters say, “I can’t wait to grow up so I can dress up like those people!” 🙂

 

A Day for Me May 13, 2013

Mother’s Day was lots of fun this year. My oldest daughter, Amara, had a good understanding of what the day meant (thanks to my teachings and what she learned on the Sprout channel) and went to great lengths to make it special for me. She was very well behaved that day, let me pick all of the games and things we’d do, and even volunteered to get her curls combed out without whining. AMAZING!

Mother's Day Bouquet

Mother’s Day Bouquet

It was a nice day. I did clean the kitchen and bathe the girls and wash a few loads of laundry, but I knew I couldn’t take the day off completely. We’d already planned to go the the Museum of Science in Boston today, so doing a few chores on Mother’s Day was necessary.

It was off and on rainy on Mother’s Day. In the morning, I let the girls jump in puddles before their bath. They had a blast! I didn’t get to go hiking like I’d wanted to, but we went outside awhile to search for inchworms. We found about 30 in as many minutes!

We mostly stayed inside though, eating homemade popcorn, playing board games, dancing to rock and roll and saying “I Love You” a lot. In Boston, my classmates were walking the stage for graduation, but I’d take dancing in the living room with my daughters to La Bamba any day. It was grand 🙂Blog5.1

I tried not to think about him too much. It’s tough, but I did alright. I think it’s harder to push the thoughts away because it’s so close to The Big Incident’s anniversary (and another hearing for his felony charges, and another few hearings for our divorce), but I didn’t let it ruin my celebration.

Mother’s Day isn’t about flowers and candy and gifts from a husband; it’s a day to reflect on how much I love being a mother, a day to do something special with my kids. Mother’s Day recharges my ability to enjoy this craziness for another year.

We had fun at the Museum of Science today too. It had been awhile since our last visit, but we’ll go again soon.

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Tough Week May 10, 2013

This has been a really tough week for me. I tried to relax and enjoy the fact that I’d have two full weeks between semesters. I tried to take it easy and just work slowly, calmly through my to-do list. I tried to keep up on self-care and CBT and even toyed with the idea of doing some guided meditations. But none of those things happened.

TheKillerSpeaksAfter a few days of cleaning I wound up freaking out that I was running out of time to get things done. I had that horrible nightmare (I mentioned it in my last post) and sleep has been impossible ever since (I’m not staying awake all night, but committing to sleep isn’t easy. Once I am asleep I have intense, violent, and exhausting dreams). I got an A in my class (yay!), but the joy faded quickly. I saw myself in a friend’s mirror, and within hours I was picking apart the image I’d seen. I’ve been watching The Killer Speaks way too frequently. It frightens me. The killers’ personalities are eerily similar to my husband’s.

I am feeling all out of sorts. Things are just swimming through my head. There’s so much to accomplish, but I have so little energy, and so little desire. Everything I do with my three young daughters takes an entire day. Every trip to the grocery store, every support group, every karate class, every therapy session; I only plan to do one big thing each day, if at all, because the simplest things take us five hours.

Even when we stay at home we’re busy from breakfast to bedtime business. It’s insane, and I’m completely drained. I would never really, but I wish I could just run away and do absolutely nothing for a couple of days. I need to rejuvenate. I want to rest. But that’s waaaay too much to ask. It’s tough to think that this will be my life, more or less, for another two decades.

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Okay, maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe it will get easier over time. No. Not maybe. It will. I  am just very overwhelmed with right now. And to be completely honest, right now is not all that bad. I get to be at home with my daughters. Yes, the housework is endless, and everyday presents new challenges, but everyday I’m presented with their smiles and bright eyes, everyday I get to kiss chubby baby thighs, and when I do finally manage to get some sleep at night it is in a safe place.

There are people who care about me and my daughters. I am two courses shy of finishing my Master’s degree. No matter how hideous I feel there are people who reassure me of my beauty. I know that I still have the potential to go after my dreams. This week has been tough for me. I’ve been feeling low, but this week is just one more hurdle. I refuse to drop out of the race.

 

Fun and a Festival May 6, 2013

My break from classes has been going well thus far 🙂 The girls and I had family pictures taken on Saturday (well…we gave it a go…not quite sure how the pictures will turn out because one of my daughters was tired and cranky and another was being defiant and whiny, but…I had a good time), and on Sunday we attended a Wizard of Oz themed Kids Festival!

Sleeping baby :)

Sleeping baby 🙂

Amara and Terra beneath the balloon arc

Amara and Terra beneath the balloon arc

Terra and Amara riding ponies

Riding ponies

Amara and Terra getting as fire safety lesson from the fire deputy

Getting a fire safety lesson from the fire deputy

Showing off their sand necklaces

Showing off their sand necklaces

Climbing into the bounce house

Climbing into the bounce house

Shooting apples into the trees

Shooting apples into the trees

Aaugh! The Wicked Witch of the East is dead!

Aaugh! The Wicked Witch of the East is dead!

Amara made it through a hole and won a prize!

Amara made it through a hole and won a prize!

Terra made "Emerald City" out of sparkly green play-doh

Terra made “Emerald City” out of sparkly green play-doh

The lion must have been hiding from the Wicked Witch of the West

The lion must have been hiding from the Wicked Witch of the West

After the festival we went to the playground :)

After the festival we went to the playground 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I got started on my cleaning (I am nowhere near finished), and I began scheduling interviews with babysitters. I think the interviews will go well; I’ve already got a feeling about the one I think will be the one 😉 I still have a ton of things to accomplish, but I’m attempting to just allow myself to take it slow and only do what I’m capable of doing without feeling too stressed and/or overwhelmed. Besides the unshakeable nightmare that I had last night (actually NOT about him this time, about the baby…it was terrible…that’s all I’ll say) things have been quite well. I’m hoping it only gets better throughout the week.