Sustainably Single Parenting

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

A Wonderful Christmastime December 26, 2012

Christmas Day went better than expected. I’d stayed up until 5:30am on Christmas morning assembling the girls’ dollhouse.

The dollhouse has an elevator! It is taller than our Christmas tree. Hopefully they'll let me play with them!

The dollhouse has an elevator! It is taller than our Christmas tree. Hopefully they’ll let me play with them!

I’m sure that it would’ve taken less time if I’d a) had an electric screwdriver b) had gotten more than three hours of sleep the night before and didn’t have such a hard time comprehending the instructions c) had time and space to start working on the dollhouse before Christmas Eve and/or d) had a husband helping. It took me six hours, two calloused hands, and one more sleepless night to get it done, but I did it! I was proud of myself, but I was totally drained on Christmas.

I must have stared at these directions for 2 of the six hours it took me to assemble the dollhouse

I must have stared at these instructions for 2 of the six hours it took me to assemble the dollhouse










On Christmas Eve we’d attempted to make sugar cookies for Santa. The girls always love helping me in the kitchen so I let them pour ingredients and do some mixing. Just as I was about to scoop the flour I noticed mealybugs. Great. Another all day project of cleaning the cupboards is ahead, but at that moment I just tossed the bag and used an unopened box of gluten free flour instead.











The recipe I was using for the cookies didn’t call for gluten free flour. Sometimes the gluten free all-purpose flour is interchangeable with regular all-purpose flour, but for this recipe the dough was not holding together enough to be rolled and cut into cutesy Christmas shapes. I opted to add chocolate baking powder to half of our dough and convinced the girls that Santa would love our uniquely layered cookies. They were easier and faster than decorating  shaped cookies, they got the job done, and the girls gloated that they were probably the only children in the world who’d left Santa the type of cookies we’d made. Probably so. They tasted a bit chalky.











On Christmas morning the girls divvied up the gifts. I’d only written their names on a few of them. They opened and oohed and ahhed and thanked the gift givers. I told them that some of their gifts were donations from people in the community. I want them to understand that people can do great things for those they don’t even know. They were quite pleased, and they’ve vowed to help me go through their toys so that we can give things that they no longer play with to less fortunate children.


Santa stuffed stockings and left fairy costumes

Santa stuffed stockings and left fairy costumes

Santa and his reindeer enjoyed our cookies and carrots

Santa and his reindeer enjoyed our cookies and carrots









I decided early in the day that I wasn’t going to make the Christmas feast I’d intended to make. The turkey and homemade everything else can wait. I was far too exhausted and needed to rest my feet. I spent a good portion of Christmas lying down. The girls played with their new toys and enjoyed themselves without much need for my help.



My mother and sister know that I rely on maps and printed directions. Their gifts should keep my eyes on the road and the girls' tantrums under control!

My mother and sister know that I rely on maps and printed directions. Their gifts should keep my eyes on the road and the girls’ tantrums under control!











My mother and sister and the girls got me presents. I was also given numerous gift cards from classmates, my landlord, donors to my support group, and friends. The girls made me their presents at school; I absolutely love them!


Terra made a Christmas tree out of her hand prints!

Terra made a Christmas tree out of her hand prints!

Amara made me an ornament with our family on it!

Amara made me an ornament with our family on it!











Before bed we played several games of Uno. Amara is surprisingly good already and Terra (she played with her cards face up on the table so that I could help her make choices) won twice! It was a lot of fun. I didn’t have much time to stress and think about what I was missing. I tried to just enjoy my daughters’ joy. Seeing them happy and carefree and being able to relax for a moment was the greatest part of Christmas.


Not Quite Home for the Holidays December 24, 2012

This year Christmas will be just my brood and I. Today we will bake cookies for Santa and leave carrots out for the reindeer. edibleart-beautifulhouseWe’ll gather moths for the gerbils so they can have their Christmas feast. We will watch Christmas movies, and possibly all sleep in my bed. Christmas will be peaceful; there’ll be presents and good cheer, ecstatic sisters, and a house filled with love and laughter. I should not be sad about the things we won’t have this year, but I am.

It’s not the lack of presents. The girls have so many toys already that I’ve stopped keeping most of them in our condo. This year I was able to buy them a few things that they wanted, but we are financially dependent upon my school loans, and as the semester came to an end, so did our living expenses. I was given, once again, a very generous gift from donators to my support group. Clothing and presents were provided for the girls and several gift cards were given to me. Everything will come in handy and I am sincerely appreciative. I am still so new to this idea of accepting things; I am so used to giving. Every time something is given to me I anticipate the day I’m able to give back. I will never forget what these gifts have meant to me. But not even my inability to participate in the cycle of giving has me down this season.

It’s the lack of family. It’s the loss of his family. My mother lives in Illinois, my sister in New Orléans. I already knew that we would not be spending Christmas with my mother and sister. All throughout my marriage spending time with my family was not as essential to our routine as spending time with his. When I entered my marriage I was already feeling at odds with my mother and sister. domestic_violence_400x258I was disconnected from them, and being with my husband gave me the permission to explore myself and my budding adulthood without their influence. I did a lot of the isolation for him; all he had to do was encourage me to not put up with the negativity I felt coming from them.

His family became very important to me. His mother was always comforting, loving, open-minded, and available. She assisted us with our sustainability efforts and treated our children well. His sister became one of my best friends. I felt very close to her and enjoyed the times we got to spend together. I always knew that leaving my husband might also mean that I would be sacrificing my relationships with them. I hated the thought, and on many occasions I chose to stay with him because I could not imagine losing my new family.

His mother and sister were amazing, but also his grandmothers, his cousins, his childhood friends. StabilityHe’d grown up with a security that I’d always envied. For most of his life he’d lived in the same house, with the majority of his family within a 10 mile radius.  Family gatherings were frequent and heavily attended. I hadn’t had that kind of life; my family was far away and slightly deranged dysfunctional. I’d always wanted the type of family life that being a part of his family provided. I wanted to be able to throw a party and have more than three people attend. I wanted to have a family member’s house to hang out at on the weekends. I wanted to be able to stop by unannounced and feel comfortable staying the night. I wanted to have the poker buddies, the fishing company, and the annual camping trips. I’d wanted the community of relatives supporting me unconditionally.

RedTelephoneI knew there’d be no easy way to leave him without the possibility of losing his family, but I didn’t think things would end as horribly as they did. Now, with the felony charges and restraining order against him, I have more than likely lost them. They have contacted me only a handful of times since The Big Incident, and all of those times have been extremely brief. The standard, “How are the girls?” and nothing more. Due to the restraining order, they aren’t allowed to ask me about the court cases, and I’d assume they want to avoid talking about my marriage, but how do you avoid those topics? So they avoid contact. I haven’t called them for those same reasons. I feel that it would be almost unfair of me. They must be supporting him, so I am now the enemy. And it’s not as though I don’t understand, but it still saddens me.

I did not want to lose them. I did not want to lose the Christmas’ with them. More than the mounds of presents; I enjoyed the family Christmas gatherings, my daughters’ excitement being with everybody, the chance to feel included in a clan of people who may not have looked like me, but who shared my last name, who would fight for me, who would be there for me and my babies. This Christmas will be the first of…how many? without his family. Will I or my children ever be invited back in?


Mr.WorryIt pains me to think of this loss. I try to imagine that someday, after the court cases, after some time has passed, I will not have totally lost the relationships I built with them. Maybe he has not told them horrible lies about me. But as he never takes the blame for anything I’m almost certain he has been badmouthing me. Maybe somehow they do not believe the horrible things he is saying. Maybe they would like to contact me, to support me, but they feel like it’d be disloyal to him. Maybe they really believe his side of the story. I really don’t know what they’re thinking, because they don’t talk to me. So I sit 1000 miles away and worry.

This Christmas will be filled with so many good things. My daughters and I are thriving, my pregnancy is going well and is almost at its end, my schooling is three courses shy of being complete, my daughters will have a mini, mama-made feast and they won’t notice the lesser number of presents from Christmas’ past. Our condo is comfortable and safe. We don’t have any money, but I have a plan for ways to make it through until my next school loan check is disbursed. Red-Christmas-decorations-christmasWe’ll be okay.

I don’t know if I should mourn the loss of his family. I’m holding out. I’m hoping I don’t have to let them go. It will be impossible to not think of them on Christmas. To not think of him being with them, enjoying them, being accepted and loved by them as my daughters and I used to be. It will be hard for me, but they are his family, and maybe I never really had them anyway. Maybe they were never really mine. But it felt like they were mine, every time we traveled to see them at Christmastime.


Oh Christmas Tree December 3, 2012

We’ve been given another gift of generosity. This time, a free live Christmas tree! I couldn’t believe it when we got the voucher, it seemed too good to be true. We’d just purchased an artificial tree on Black Friday and I’d been meaning to set it up, but time (and my reluctance to love it) kept me from opening the box. Good thing, because we got to return it after we used our voucher.


On Saturday morning we went down to the farm where they were giving the trees away. I figured it would be some slummy setup with the poor-people-trees in a shabby corner and the others spread about the farm. I wasn’t going to complain either way. How could I? A free tree. A live tree. A guarantee that we’d have help strapping the thing to the roof of our vehicle.

XMasTree2012-2What really occurred nearly brought me to tears. We were greeted by the farm workers as though we were family. The girls giggled with Santa Claus and told him what they want for Christmas (Dinosaur Train toys and Hungry Hungry Hippos) while a woman took my voucher and showed me the stations I was supposed to visit.

At the first station we indulged in cookies, brownies, cider, and candy canes. At the next station I was given three bags of ornaments (typical gift bag sized bags, there were about 40 ornaments total). The next station had specialized ornaments, decorations, and household items (candy dishes, candle holders) that had been donated and were free for the taking (I choose two packages of purple and gold ribbons to tie on our tree). The last stations were for getting a tree stand, and choosing a tree.XMasTree2012-3

We all agreed on a chubby tree that Terra wanted. It stands about five feet so we were able to fit it into the back of the van easily. I got it into the house by myself and got the stand set up. I even found my husband’s saw and cut the branches from the bottom to make enough room for the trunk to fit securely in the stand. I could not, however, jam the trunk into the base of the stand and screw it in without assistance, so I called a friend.

XMasTree2012-5Tonight the girls and I decorated the tree. It looks amazing to me. The first tree of our new beginning. I am still holding back my tears though. This is so difficult. Being without him…trying to stay strong. Last year he decorated the place so beautifully. There were lights around our entire living room and our tree looked amazing. He bragged that we had the best decorations in the condo association, and I (more humbly) agreed.

The girls think the tree is perfect. They do not see it as small and don’t know how it compares to our previous trees. They do not notice the personalized ornaments missing. They do not know that the afghan I’m using as a tree skirt was a free gift from someone who makes them and donates them to the domestic violence center. They do not know that every time I get a whiff of the needles I am crying inside because my wedding anniversary is on Winter Solstice. They do not know how much it’s killing me to stay merry, to teach them how to appreciate everything while I’m still mourning.


It’s good that they do not know. I want them to enjoy the tree. I want them to enjoy their Christmas. I want so badly for them to just be happy children, and not let any of this other stuff bring them down. I am very happy for our Christmas tree. It’s going to force me to cope with these painful memories, compel me to address these unhealed wounds. But it’s a beautiful tree, and I am very grateful indeed.


Santa Craft November 26, 2012

I haven’t been able to make it out to Michaels or ACMoore in a few weeks and my stock of cheap prepackaged crafts has depleted.

Luckily, I had a huge stack of adhesive foam sheets, some cotton balls, and glue, to make this easy Santa craft for my girls.

Designing the parts was fairly simple. Cutting them out was a little tedious, but the girls enjoyed the craft so much that it made my time spent well worth it! *Don’t ask how I forgot the beard*


One long thin black rectangle for Santa’s belt
Two short fat red rectangles for Santa’s arms
Two short thin red rectangles for Santa’s legs
One small yellow square with its center cut out for Santa’s belt buckle

One large red circle for Santa’s belly
One medium white (or peach or brown) circle for Santa’s face
One small circle for Santa’s cap
Two smaller red circles for Santa’s rosy cheeks, and three black for Santa’s buttons
Two tiny black circles for Santa’s eyes

Two black boots
One red cap
One cloud shaped cap liner
Two white (or peach or brown) hands
One black smile, nose, and set of eyebrows

Cotton Balls























Getting started!

I love how they did different things first.










Almost finished!

She did much better than I’d expected!










All done!

A Santa Family 🙂










































Christmas Parade November 19, 2012

Yesterday was our town’s Christmas parade. We had such a great time. The weather was perfect, the children were well-behaved. It was a nice break. Even though today will be spent making up for time spent away from home yesterday I cannot complain. I got to see the smiles on my daughters’ faces, and I got to be close to a team of Clydesdale horses! How could one complain after that?


Clydesdales! They’re so beautiful!

Can you EVER get enough of Clydesdales?









We had a great spot along the curb

There were at least six marching bands.


The girls really loved seeing the old cars

They had a few favorites; this was one

You don’t get to see/hear this everyday

They loved the wigs! The music too of course.