Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Loving Memory

Ten years ago today, our world changed. Terrorists attacked the United States of America in one of the most horrific attacks ever. 

I remember where I was. I was driving in Austin, TX. My oldest son, K, was 5 years old and in kindergarten. My youngest son, N, was 2, almost 3, and visiting my parents in Corpus Christi TX. I heard about the attacks on the radio. I spent several hours of that day at K's school, watching the devastation of the World Trade Centers being hit and collapsing over and over again on tv.

There are no words to express the anger, devastation and heartbreak that we, as Americans, felt that day. So many lives lost, many in heroic acts trying to save anyone they could. God bless those police and firemen that rushed into danger as many rushed away and who lost their lives trying to protect the innocent.

In heartbreaking and tear inducing memories, a tribute to those that we lost. God bless you, I promise, WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Single Motherhood

     As many of you know, I am a single mother. Single mothers face a myriad of problems and issues that other parents do not generally face. We have to juggle many additional things that married parents do not. The biggest one is the whole single aspect. Single means alone, by yourself, with no one else to assist you or give you a break. I think this, outside of finances, is the hardest aspect of single motherhood. I have to raise my sons without assistance from their dad, my ex-husband. When I need a break from my sons and when they need a break from me, there is nothing I can do to give us those much needed breaks. I can't even really ask friends for assistance even though many of them are single parents themselves. They can only tolerate so much of the train wreck known as Jen at a time, plus they frequently have other plans of their own. Not being able to take a much needed break from each other leads to a great deal of stress for everyone. Many of the worst arguments I have with my oldest son are due to not being able to take a break from each other. And of course, as a teen, he gets bent out of shape when I say I need a break from him and his brother.

     Another big issue that single motherhood faces is finances and budgeting. Budgeting is often difficult, if not downright impossible due to a lack of income. Single mothers make the least amount of money in the workforce of women workers. Non-parent women make the most, then married mothers, and lastly, single mothers make the least amount of money. Women in general do face discrimination in the workforce, but single mothers face the most. I guess that having children is a handicap in the workforce and that being a single mother somehow gives employers the ok to practice pay discrimination. Low wages are not the only financial problem single mothers face. Child support is an important contributor to the income of many single mothers. Unfortunately, there are many dead beat dads out there that don't pay child support at all, or if they do pay it, it is frequently inadequate, sporadic and unreliable. Many single mothers, like myself, are forced to rely on child support because the only jobs we are able to get are low-paying jobs with no financial security to them. When the fathers of the children refuse to take financial care of their kids, it creates untold amounts of stress on the entire family... not just the mom who has to worry about how she is going to pay rent, pay the bills, buy gas, and provide food, but also the children because they are not stupid and those kids are generally aware of what is going on, and this causes a great deal of stress on them as well. The kids start worrying about things like am I going to have a place to live next month? In my opinion, I feel that kids should not have to worry about such grown-up issues, but many of these single parent family kids do worry about such things. My ex-husband causes our sons a great deal of stress and worry because he is inconsistent with his child support, and once again, we are facing homelessness since he did not pay the proper amount of child support for the month of June. And this time, there is no government program to fall back on for a place to live.

     Yet another issue that single mothers face is stereotyping and public discrimination. When another woman, especially a married woman, hears that you are a single mother, that woman has the tendency to automatically assume you are desperate and that you want her man. This always makes me laugh while it offends me. I am sorry, but I am not interested in your man.... I have learned that I don't need a man to make me feel good or to make my life complete. You can keep your man all to yourself because I do not need or want him to make my life complete. I am not desperate and I have learned that the only person that can really make me happy in life is myself.  Public discrimination is slightly different. Yes, there is a lot of the 'she must be desperate/lonely/hard-up' attitude, but the biggest discrimination I have found is the assumption that every single mother must be a welfare mamma that pops out babies every year or so. This is infuriating to me. Many single mothers don't receive welfare because the rules and guidelines make it impossible to receive help. If a single mother is able to receive assistance, the restrictions and limitations that are placed on her make it very difficult to maintain that assistance, plus the amount of assistance received doesn't even cover  basic things like rent. 

     Housing is another big problem for single mothers. Because of limited income, many places are too expensive, and if it is affordable, it is not safe and does not allow such necessities as a personal washer and dryer. Housing assistance is so minimal that the waiting list for such things like Section 8 have a waiting list thousands of families long. I know this because I am on the housing assistance waiting list for my city, and I am family 3,578 on it. Funding for such crucial assistance is at an all-time low and only getting worse as the economy worsens and the government continues to make huge slashing cuts to any and all types of assistance. Many single mothers face homelessness on a regular basis because of the complete lack of affordable housing in this country. Our children are our future, and the government is letting most of them slip through the cracks in poverty. Many mothers spend upwards of 75-80% of their monthly income on housing. Affordable housing should be no more than 30% of monthly income. With so much of their income going to housing, there is little money left for other bills and food. Any emergency, no matter how slight, can send a single mother led family into an unrecoverable tailspin that leaves her family homeless. Many single mothers are forced to choose between paying rent or buying food or medicine. 

     Many mothers also face serious legal problems due to their ex's. Many single mothers face regular court battles over child support and custody issues. Many of us also face financial issues in court as well. Since there is little money for necessities, things like debt goes by the wayside and the next thing you know, you have been sued for repayment of if we are ignoring the debt just for the fun of it.... if we had more money, we would take care of debt, or better yet, not accumulate debt.

     I know I am working towards a better future for myself and my sons by going to college, but I truly wonder sometimes whether it is worth it or not. I face so much financial hardship that I wonder if college is truly worth it. I am losing so much money by not being able to work a regular type of job while in college. I have to work a work schedule around my sons, what they need and want to do, and my class schedule. I also need to be able to sleep and do homework somewhere in there. I frequently end up sacrificing sleep to accomplish everything. My sons rarely see me and if they do, I am generally trying to do homework, clean house, cook and supervise their homework all at the same time. Will this ever get better? I know God is supposed to be there helping me with the things He feels I need help with... but where is He? I rarely see him in all the things that I do. I am in desperate need of a miracle, especially a financial one, but I know it won't happen because I never see Him provide one. I am losing faith in myself, my goals and dreams, and worst of all, in God sometimes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Heavy Stuff

Have any of you ever had to worry about whether you would have a roof over your head every night or wonder where your next meal would come from? If you have, then you know just how scary that is. 

I have.... my boys and I were homeless for 2 years. 2 whole years.... and we still sit on the edge of being precariously housed because my rent is anything but affordable. According to federal guidelines, affordable rent should be no more than 30% of your monthly income. Yes, I said rent is actually about 80% of my income and if my rent goes up, which the slumlords that own this dump are trying to do, my rent will be 90% of my income...... 90%...... that pretty much means that I would be able to pay rent, and have about 50 bucks left over..... and *that* is if my child support actually comes in at the amount it is supposed to be...... and that does not happen often.... so in reality, my rent would be over 100% of my income if child support doesn't show up in the amount it is supposed to every month. And before you start thinking 'Well if you would get a job, you could afford a place to live', I do have a job. It is a crappy low wage job that is seasonal for summer. It is all that is available to me as a full time college student and single mother. I get financial aid, but that only goes so far and does not last very long at all. Jobs in my area are scarce and those that are available make even less than my low wage paying job. For me to make a living wage that is enough to pay all my bills on time each month, I need to make at least $15-20 dollars an hour. Yeah, that isn't happening, and this is the low end of a living wage for my area.

Now I know most of you don't really care about this tucked up in your safe and comfy homes you aren't worried about losing, and that is fine. We all bury our heads in the sand when it comes to facing the state of our society today. The reason I bring this up is not for pity or sympathy, but to talk about a prevalent problem in today's society ....  HOMELESSNESS

Homelessness is becoming more common every day. And before you say, "Yeah, but all the homeless are just a bunch of men with drug and alcohol addictions and they live on the streets because they like it, and stay there because all they care about is their next fix instead of finding a job and a house", reread my beginning paragraph. For those of you that know me well, you know I don't even smoke, much less drink and do drugs..... so right there I am breaking your preconceived notions of homelessness. According to HUD (Housing and Urban Development, a governmental agency) the homeless rate is skyrocketing and the largest contributor to that is small families, many of which are single parents, and of those single parent families, a vast majority of them are mother-led households. Here is a link to the HUD website and the section on homelessness

Homelessness is a serious problem with many contributing factors and no easy, set solution. Every homeless person or family has their own unique story and situation and there is no single band-aid that will fix every situation. Most of the 'new' homeless are small families, frequently single parent households, and a great many of them are only homeless because of a crisis or situation. The crisis is some kind of financial crunch.... many people live paycheck to paycheck and are 1 paycheck away from a crisis.... you have a car break down, a medical problem, anything unexpected, and the next things you know, you are facing a major problem.... you have no extra money and must use rent money to fix the crisis, and then, all of a sudden, you are facing homelessness. A great part of this is structural issues that the government and society put in place and approve of. Low wage jobs that pay the minimum wage are a big culprit. Minimum wage is not a living wage at all. By 'living wage', I mean a wage that allows a family or person to live reasonably, pay all their bills every month without deciding what bills will I skip this month to pay the bills I skipped last month, and not face poverty. Minimum wage keeps people in poverty. Here is a chart for the poverty level guidelines for 2011. Where do you fall? I know where I fall for a family of 3..... at about 85% below the poverty level. Here is a chart of one type of poverty level assessments.  
Here is another poverty chart, this one is a little easier to read and understand. I know just how far below the poverty line my family lives, and I know I am not the only family that faces this issue. Minimum wage in the state of Colorado is $7.36/hr. Working 40 hours a week at $7.36 is $294.40 a week, BEFORE TAXES. This translates into $883.20 a month, again, BEFORE TAXES. If you multiply the monthly pay by 12 months, you make $10,598.40 a year. After taxes, you might bring home $700 a month.... do you know what most rents for a 2 bedroom apartment are? $625 for a crappy little one in a bad area and without a washer and dryer, so you have to pay for doing laundry. Now tell me, where is this right? The poverty level for one person is living at or below $10,890; for a family of 2, $14,710; for a family of 3, $18,530; for a family of 4, $22,350. And each of these is a year. So making minimum wage pays $10,598.40... already, just one person working minimum wage is below the federal poverty level, and it just gets worse as the family size goes up. Where is this right in the world?

Another structural issue is the complete lack of affordable housing in the U.S. Subsidies for affordable housing programs have steadily been cut to almost nothing since President Reagan began slashing funding for the poor and impoverished. Every president since then has pretty much continued the slashing of funding to assistance programs. And these programs also include programs for Vets, so it isn't just 'welfare mommas' being hurt. And as for welfare.... Welfare is a joke meant to keep people well below the poverty line and unable to climb out of poverty. The TANF payment for a family of 3 is $207 a month. Where is that even enough money to buy groceries with, much less pay rent and meet any other expenses? Not only is that payment ridiculous, but there are so many restrictions on it that it isn't even funny! If you need TANF, you have to sell your car and have a piece of crap worth less than $2,000! Where in the world is it stated that if you need temporary assistance, you must own a piece of crap car or no car at all? So say you have a decent car, worth, oh $12,000 and it is paid off and completely yours. If you face a financial crisis and need temporary aid in the form of TANF, you must literally sell that car, even tho it is completely paid off and either have no car or one that is worth less than $2,000, which means it is very likely to be unreliable. How is this right, and how are you supposed to get out of the system if you are forced to buy a piece of junk that is likely unreliable and get rid of your decent car that works just fine? And this is just one example of how the system is designed to keep people in poverty.

Now, homelessness itself. Say you have a small family of 4, husband, wife, 2 kids, 1 boy, 1 girl, oh, and a dog and cat. Did you know that if you lose your residence and try to stay in an emergency shelter, there is a good chance your family would get turned away because there are no beds available due to funding cuts and shortages? And if you are fortunate enough to be able to stay in the shelter, despite being married, your family is going to be broken up. Men are not allowed to stay on the same side of the shelter as women and children. Men have to stay on a separate side of the shelter and are not allowed to be anywhere near their wives and children, doesn't matter how long you have been married, you aren't given a choice in the matter. If your son is a teenager, he is forced to stay on the men's side of the shelter despite still being a child and terrified. What about your pets and belongings? Nope, not allowed to have them either. Pets are strictly forbidden and personal belongings are not allowed due to space issues. A shelter is nothing but beds, and they are twin bunk beds or cots in most locations. What few belongings you may be allowed to bring in are likely to be stolen while you try to sleep. Shelters are very noisy since they are just open rooms with rows of beds crammed in together as tightly as possible. The programs out there to help the homeless have severe restrictions in place like no pets, you must do this, you must do that, we expect this, we expect that. Some of the restrictions and expectations are understandable. Things like no drugs and looking for a job are reasonable. The people may have become homeless through no direct fault of their own, but they do need to take personal responsibility and do something to try and get out of the situation. Yes, I know I have already stated that many structural issues are designed to keep people from succeeding, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and be the one who does get out.

Now what should we as a society do about this? What I have discussed is just basic things, I haven't even gone into the humiliation and stigma that are associated and forced on people living in poverty and or homelessness. That is a whole other can of worms that I don't even want to get into, except that society needs to readjust its thinking on poverty and homelessness and do something about the attitude society as a whole has about this serious problem. The biggest and most important thing we can do is change our attitudes and views on poverty and homelessness. We need to see it as something that needs assistance instead of scorn and degradation.  The next thing that needs to be done is to overhaul the welfare system and readjust guidelines to compensate for inflation and price increases. Yes, I realize that I am dreaming on this one, but it is the truth. Another thing that needs to be done is adjust the minimum wage up and compensate for all the inflation over the years. By doing that, we would maybe come close to a living wage. The government needs to stop cutting funds for crucial survival and assistance programs and increase funding. Maybe if they cut their ridiculous salaries, stop taking those salaries after they leave office, and actually pay the taxes like the lower classes pay, there would be enough funding to actually help people. Oh, and lets not forget cutting things like oil and corn subsidies as well as making corporations actually pay reasonable taxes and stop allowing corporations outrageous tax breaks. You want to cut welfare? Then cut the corporate welfare this country supports. Another big thing that needs to be done is stop giving the wealthy of our country massive tax breaks. Make them pay reasonable taxes and you might actually have a little money to fund survival and assistance programs that are desperately needed, especially in today's economy.

Ok, I think I may have ranted enough. This is a topic near a dear to my heart. I want to help the single parents that find themselves in these untenable situations, especially when it is caused by structural issues beyond their control.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I know I haven't been here in a while, but life has been busy. I have been sick with respiratory crud all semester and playing catch up on all my classwork because of that. 

I found out during Spring Break that I have to graduate with my Bachelor's of Sociology by Dec 2011 or I will lose one of my scholarships. And of course this scholarship is my most substantial one. If I do not graduate by Dec 2011, I would lose about $6000 is scholarship funding. OUCH! I don't know about anyone else, but I can't afford to lose that kind of financial aid, so I will graduate on December 16, 2011. I only have 18 credits left to complete my Bachelor's, so I will take 8 credits during the summer, and then 13 in the fall. AND I WILL BE DONE!!!!!!! That is, until I start Grad School in January. =) I submitted my graduation paperwork on Tuesday and then on Wednesday I submitted the application to the Sociology masters program at UCCS. There should be no problem with me being accepted. My overall GPA is 3.59 and my Sociology GPA is 3.443. Pretty damn good if I do say so myself. 

In other news, my family has acquired 2 male baby guinea pigs, and man they are super cute but high maintenance! Sam, our youngest one, is about 5 months old, and a suicide jumper. He managed to jump out of K's hands and break his back left leg. =(  Guinea pigs are very social (hence us having two of them) and poor Sam has to be isolated in a smaller cage so that he doesn't run and play while his leg hopefully heals. He may end having it amputated, depends on how it is healing when we go back to the vet's office in late April for another xray. He is not a happy guinea pig, but then neither is Merlin, our second one who is about 7 months old. He is in the big cage and by himself and very sad. They are both as cute and cuddly as can be. Poor Sam can't even be held much because the movement messes with his leg and makes him hurt despite the pain medicine and anti-inflammatory he takes daily. =( 

Spring is slowly creeping into town here. We have had several days of gorgeous mild spring weather, then WHOOSH! winter comes roaring back in again with cold, dreary and rainy/sleety/icy/snowy days that let us know that Winter is NOT done with the Rockies yet. Spring Break for the boys and I was a beautiful week of 50 & 60 degree days with plenty of sunshine. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and went a few places around here while we could enjoy the weather and time together. Right after Spring Break ended, in came winter again. I am very grateful that winter waited until Spring Break ended. =) 

I am going to post an awesome video... Duran Duran has released a new totally AWESOME cd after who knows how many years, and man, they are still rocking and still gorgeous! I love the new cd, 'All You Need Is Now'. This is the title track and it is fantastic! Way to go Duran Duran! 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ummm, Yeah, Life with a Teenage Boy......

As y'all know, I have a 14 year old teenage son.....ummm, yeah, that makes life interesting for sure. Why do teenagers have to be so challenging? My poor son, K, is in many ways the typical teenager, but in many ways, he is not. He is a deeply traumatized young man with serious trust issues and no self esteem at all. I know that part of this comes from being the child of a nasty, nasty divorce that was very ugly. While I am not solely responsible for this, I know I played and still play a part in the way things happened. K and I argued, as usual, a great deal today. 

It seems that no matter what I do or say will ever be good enough for him and that he will never believe me no matter what I say. He thinks and says on a regular basis that I should just get rid of him. K thinks and tells me frequently that I do not love him or want him, and to go ahead and get rid of him if he causes me that much stress and worry. Today's argument was a doozy. He told me that he fears of becoming just like either one of his parents. And believe me, the view he has of me and his dad are less than pretty. He fears thinking just like either one of us. K has sadly reached a point that if the courts forced him to choose who he had to live with, he would choose neither one of us.  He talks of suicide every so often and seems to think that I the only reason I would ever miss him if something happened to him and he were no longer around would be because of the free labor he provides. This is complete and total bullshit, but no matter how hard I argue or what I say, he will not change his view on this. Why does he not realize just how much I love him? He hears I love you at least 2 or 3 times I day from me, and I try to show him how much he means to me, but I know I don't always succeed. Am I really that bad at parenting that my children feel unloved and like an unwanted burden? 

I know that K sees how hard I fight to make sure he is taken care of, especially when it comes to the boys' dad. Their dad is less than willing to take care of his sons financially and I had to literally force him thru the courts and the state to pay child support on a regular and consistent basis. I had to get his paychecks garnished in order to make him take care of his sons. Would someone please tell me why this was wrong? K seems to think it was wrong and that the only reason I keep him and his brother is to keep taking money from their dad. This of course being what they hear from their dad and his wife all the damn time. As if I only cared about the money and not the boys. It is not so much the money I care about... I do care about it, but only in that he takes care of the boys as they deserve and need. I do not understand why this is wrong and how someone can be that way about their children. 

I have no idea how to handle or deal with the great amounts of negativity and resentment K holds bottled up inside him. I have thought of counseling, but he is not too fond of counselors and does not trust them. This 14 year boy holds enough anger and resentment inside him to power a city. How do I go about defusing all this before it turns into hatred and total apathy? I worry so much about him and I have no idea what to do. I feel completely helpless and incompetent.... I really don't like feeling that way about my sons. I do my best to spend what free time I can with the boys, but this is not always a possibility, but I do try. Will I ever be enough of a parent or the parent the boys need? Will my sons ever grow up to be decent men? 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reliving the Past and Hoping For a Better Future

Life is a mystery to me.... It is scary, fun, treacherous, wild, sentimental, painful, joyful, happy, sad, and everything in between. Looking back on the life that I have had, I know I am very privileged to have such a wonderful family that loves me despite my rebellious ways that includes a polar opposite point of view on most political and social issues. To say I am the black (well red since I am a redhead) sheep that marches to a completely different drum is putting it mildly. 

My younger life, while rebellious and challenging (*snort* Somehow I think this is putting a sugar coating on that) was full of many family members and friends that did their best to guide me in the right direction... fat lot of good that did me.... As a young adult, I chose to do whatever the hell I wanted, and instead of listening to people that really did love me, I made the biggest mistake ever in my life..... I got married to a jerk that never loved me for who I was and only saw me as "I will settle for her til someone better comes along". Granted, I got two beautiful sons out of the fiasco that was supposed to be my marriage, but I wasted way too much time on a jerk that didn't deserve my love. I gave him my youth and best years, and that is what I regret. I don't regret the boys at all, but I do regret wasting all those years on the jerk. He never treated me with respect or love, and I was too young, stupid and naive to realize it. 

Of course if I hadn't wasted so much time on someone who didn't deserve me, I wouldn't be who and where I am today.... so that is the conundrum isn't it. I am mostly ok and partly comfortable with who I am today and I know I wouldn't be where I am now if it hadn't been for the fires I have been thru. I take the lessons I learned from that fiasco very seriously... almost too seriously maybe, since I refuse to allow myself to ever get involved in that kind of relationship again. You see, I have been thinking about this lately thanks to my dear friend Divorced Diva. She has a wonderful blog that chronicles the way her marriage fell apart and how she bounced back from it. To me, she is amazing.... her marriage ended as badly as mine did, but she bounced back so much faster and is able to date again. How is that possible? Her posts are really making me think on why haven't I been able to bounce back in a social way like that. I know everyone is different, but still, I wonder why. 

I am really questioning myself on why am I unwilling or unable to trust men again in the capacity of relationships and dating. I haven't completely figured out why yet. I do know that my ex really did a number on me psychologically, and he did it on purpose.... his ultimate goal was to destroy me in every way possible, emotionally, mentally and financially. He succeeded financially and came very very close on the other two.... there is nothing like being told repeatedly that the courts are going to order psych testing on me because I was unstable and an unfit mother that would have her children taken away forever. And this was because I had the audacity to be angry and cry over his affair and the way he went about letting me know about the other woman and that he was leaving. This was just one of the things that the jerk did to me... I do not know if I really want to go into all the horrid and gory details, but I wonder if it will help me? I do know that after everything my ex did to me and everything he continues to do to this day, almost 4 years after the divorce, that I am not willing to become involved.

I know that all the anger, rage, frustration, betrayal and everything else I felt in regards to the divorce and the jerk fueled my desire to make something of myself.... I tell you, the one way to get me to do something and do it well is to tell me I am failure and that I will never amount to anything at all. I heard that repeatedly from the ex as divorce proceedings took place and for a long time after it was over. Even now he makes snide innuendos to the kids and others that I am still a failure and that I cannot survive on my own. I do not care what he says to others, but that kind of talk should never be said to the children involved, and yet, there he is, saying shit like that to our sons. He doesn't care that it is tearing them up, all he cares about is causing trouble for me. Maybe he is jealous of the successes I have accomplished without him, or maybe he is just a nasty, petty, childish jerk that has to hurt others to feel good about himself. Since I know the jerk and how he thinks and behaves, I am willing to bet that it is both of those as well as other things that are wrong in his head. It doesn't matter, except he keeps hurting the boys.

Anywoo, back on track here, I fueled all the rage and emotions into college and graduated Magna cum Laude with my AA in 5 semesters and with 3 scholarships to get me thru UCCS, the local four year university. Between the boys, classes, homework, jobs, and life in general, I had little time to really think and process everything that had happened. Maybe that is what I am starting to do now.... really process and deal with all the pent up emotions that revolved around the ex, his affair(s?), the divorce and the way he continues to behave in regards to our sons. I do know that it is very hard to heal when the wounds keep getting the scabs ripped off with the current actions of the ex and the female he was involved with and married within months of the divorce. Maybe once I fully work thru the morass of hurt and negativity regarding it all I will be ready to be more social. I also know that forgiving is important, but I am not sure I am in a place where I can do that yet. Every time I start making progress, bam! the ex does something truly heinous that amazes me with just how low he keeps sinking. When that happens, I lose a lot of ground that has been gained. 

I think that it is interesting that all this is starting to really bother me now. The end of March marks 4 years since the divorce.... why is this still bothering me? I am just as busy now as I was in the past 4 years, if anything, more so because UCCS is more challenging than the community college was. Why is the ultimate question, isn't it? The even bigger question is, how do I deal with it all in a constructive manner? Do I start blogging about it like my friend Divorced Diva? I don't know. I am not sure if I am willing to spread all that negativity around. There is so much hurt and anger still associated with the whole mess that I don't know if I want to put it out here... that stuff is pretty toxic and I really hate feeling like that toxic train-wreck friend that everyone has but avoids. I already feel that way with many of my friends, and I think I even lost a few Facebook friends because I seem to be toxic (maybe I was just too annoying for them, I don't know). All I know is that I seem to have already lost a few people that I genuinely like, and I am worried I will lose other friends. But then again, if they aren't willing to stick around thru the nasty stuff, are they really my friends in the first place? But the other side says why should they have to put up with a perpetual train-wreck?

Ultimately I have to do what I think is best for me. But what that is yet, I do not know. I know I will continue on with the way things are because I won't jeopardize my boys or my education. So however I deal with all this will have to take into consideration everything I do. This is going to be a really hard journey.... but as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step...... and a flat tire, an overheated radiator, and a broken pair of heels. Altho I do admit that I would not be wearing heels, I would be wearing comfy sneakers.... I never ever wear heels. =)

I think this is enough for one post.... this is starting to wear on me and I don't know that I want to think anymore about this tonight.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the week and that y'all stay warm and safe with the extreme weather happening this week. Those of y'all facing the storm have my prayers and thoughts for safety, warmth, and a quick end to the storm with as little damage as possible.

These babies are too precious and have to be shared, so I am sharing them here. Maybe they will help me realize how precious life is and encourage me to get a handle on my inner battles so that I can enjoy the preciousness of life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Classes for Spring!

My first week of classes has gone well so far. I have attended all of my classes but one, and that one is a one day a week class on Monday afternoons, and since Monday was MLK Jr Day, there were no classes. So far it looks like my classes are going to be interesting.... some more interesting than others. My Modern Sociological Theory is going to be a lot less interesting than any of my other ones, but hey, it is theory, and that can be rather boring. 

My Urban Politics class is going to be an absolute blast.... the teacher is awesome and was the first and only woman elected as mayor here in Colorado Springs, and she was mayor for I think two terms. She is a fascinating lady.... she only teaches the class once a year in the spring, so I got lucky cuz this class is going to be awesome. This year is an election year for the city with 6 city council seats open and a new format for the way a mayor now works, who is also up for election. I get to go to a city council meeting and a mayoral or city councilman candidate forum as part of the class.... this is going to be fun! The class will have some of the various candidates for the two races as guest speakers. And the good part? No textbook! 

My Race and Gender class is going to be interesting too.... the professor is a riot. She is looney in a good way and seems to be a lot of fun. And what is really cool is that for the final paper and presentation, groups get to analyze the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. How cool is that??? We get to pick our groups, and the professor will pick what sociological view and theory we will use. 

My Special Topics: The Sociology of Homelessness class promises to be interesting too. We can either do a 7-12 page research paper or do a community service project where we go out and work for at least 15 hours during the semester in some community outreach program that works directly with the homeless here in town and then write a 5-7 page paper on our experiences and what we learned. I am doing the community service project, and I think it is going to be very interesting. We will also have numerous guest speakers that promises to be interesting.

My Class, Stratification & Power class will be interesting too. We will talk about the various classes here in the U.S. and the thought is out there that we have a caste system very similar to India, but more flexible. Gives my brain food for thought. Most people consider themselves middle class, even if they are far above or below that income bracket and level of wealth. 

The only one I haven't attended yet, which is the Monday afternoon class, is my Intro to Social Psychology class. I have a friend that took it this past fall semester and she says it is s great class and that I will enjoy it. I am sure she is right, so it looks like this semester is going to be a good one, even if it does get intense as the semester moves forward.

Now on to other topics. The infection in my tooth and jaw is getting much better and the big lump of infection on my jaw is getting smaller and isn't as noticeable as it was. I was on two different antibiotics, amoxicillin and clindamycin. I finished the amoxicillin yesterday and another two days for the other one. Hopefully all the antibiotics will knock the infection out and convince it to leave me alone.

N, my 12 year old, made me grin like a loon last night and feel very loved. I know I am loved by my boys, but sometimes, the little gestures really bring it home for me. He was worried that I had not really gotten anything for Christmas, so last night when we were at the store, he used some of his Christmas money and bought me a stuffed Mickey Mouse that is holding a heart that says 'Hug'. He wanted me to have a present, so he, on his own accord, decided to get me one. Sometimes, I am just blown away by the love my kids have for me. I am so blessed to have such wonderful boys! 

Here is a picture of my Mickey Mouse

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Life Keeps Moving Forward

Life just inexorably keeps moving forward, whether we want it to or not, and whether we are ready for it to or not. With that in mind, I look forward to mine moving on at the moment. Spring classes start on Tuesday morning, and I am looking forward to sitting in class and learning new stuff. I am taking 18 credits this spring, mainly Sociology classes. I am almost done with my Political Science minor... only need one more class for that, and I will be taking that this spring, then that is done and I can take more Women's Studies classes and more Sociology classes. My semester is going to be nuts.... 

My classes this semester are Urban Politics (Interesting) , Modern Sociological Theory (BORING), Intro to Social Psychology (Interesting), Special Topics in Sociology: Homelessness (Very Interesting), Class, Stratification & Power (Could be Boring or Interesting, don't know yet), and Gender & Race Theory (Don't know about this yet either). I hope the classes aren't too horrendous with papers galore that will kill me.... my fall semester had way too many papers to write, so I am hoping this one isn't too bad, but who am I kidding..... will probably have a million papers to write. *SIGH*

Other things that have been going on lately... I had to have a bad tooth pulled... one of my back left molars broke and got badly infected and spread to my jaw and under my chin. Pulling the tooth helped, but the infection is still there and the antibiotics I am taking are massive and seem to be helping since it is looking a little better. I also found out that I am now also allergic to Vicodin.... which is weird because I used to be able to take it. My poor jaw is still hurting a great deal and still badly swollen and disfigured. I hate being in pain and especially ugly... I am getting all sorts of looks and questions about what happened to my face.  

*BANGS HEAD ON DESK* Why did I think it was a good idea to have kids???? WHY?????
They turn into teenagers and do nothing but argue and fight with you...... GAW!!!!! *sigh* Oh that is right... I wasn't thinking when I 'got' them...... *smacks self in the forehead* 
K is giving me grief on I don't even know what anymore.... I get grief from him so often that I just kind of zone out at times because it is always something....and generally it is me.... even if I didn't do anything. *Sigh*

My shower is screwed up and does not get proper water temperatures or pressure.... the bathroom has gone thru 6 valve stems in just over a year. That is unbelievable... most valve stems last at least 20 years once installed. I have had 6 break or in general not work at all since we moved here..... so the maintenance guy is going to tear out my shower walls and replace some pipes and put in a new something or other that will have yet a different valve stem on it. Hopefully this will fix the water issues... but it is going to take all week to do it since there are other apartments that need work done.... soooooo, for the next week, my bathroom is going to be in a shambles, and we will be lucky if we get to take showers at all for the next day or so. The good news is that I was told about a different complex not far from here that is nicer than here and that is fairly affordable. I will try to look into it tomorrow.... here's praying that I can find a better place to live that is affordable for my meager joke of a budget. 

I hope everyone has a great week this week and that you smile and laugh at least a few times a day. I hope you are blessed with the happy, unexpected good stuff that makes your life worthwhile.

Now, on to the picture for the post..... tonight I feel like posting the precious. I hope it reminds you just how precious the gift of life is.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Moe's New Shoes & World Domination

If I had known that my dog Moe was going to be such a wealth of blog material, I might have named this blog something a little different... maybe The Blog of Moe.... but that isn't what I named it. I will however continue to use Moe for fodder as long as he continues to be so darn funny. 

Moe's New Shoes

Moe is a puppy, and his little paws are very tender and sensitive to the extreme cold and snow that frequently happens in this area. With the storm we had over New Year's, Moe ended up with frozen paws that hurt him so badly that he just limped and whimpered when I had to take him out every so often. He would rotate thru his four paws because they all hurt from the extremely cold temperatures outside. Well, it isn't a good thing to have hurt paws and puppy messes on your kitchen floor thanks to the temperatures, so I decided that Moe needed little snow booties or shoes. Yes, you can get those here in Colorado and other states that have extreme winters. Even sled dogs in Alaska during the Iditarod use some type of major heavy duty shoes. So I had to buy Moe some, and oh my gosh, they are expensive! Anyhoo, I had to buy the basic little booties for Moe and they are so tiny! He is full grown and has little paws, so he ended up with XXS shoes. These shoes have a rubber hard plastic sole with little treadmarks for traction and they go up over his paws up to his first joint and close with a velcro strap that wraps around his leg right below the joint.

We went to a store called Wag N' Wash and obviously had Moe with us for trying shoes on him. OMG! Trying those shoes on was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time! We started with XS, and they ended up being too big and he was having a very hard time walking in the shoes while in the store. He sat there and let me put the shoes on him and he looks at me with that "WTF did I do to deserve this Mommy??" look in his eyes and then when he was walking, it was more of a hopping thing.... he didn't want to put his back paws on the floor, so he kept hopping from one back foot to the other and meanwhile his front paws are barely touching the ground and limping which just contributed to the hopping thing. He was shuffle-hopping around the store and the shoes kept slipping because they were too big, so I tried the XXS size, which did fit better, but poor Moe was still hopping and while he is doing this funny hop-limp-shuffle, he kept leaning his head down to his various paws trying to pull at the velcro to get them off.  The whole experience lasted about 15-20 minutes. Moe gradually got over the hopping walk and while still walking funny, began to walk a little more normally when he started playing with other dogs in the store.

I left the booties on Moe for the walk outside to the truck and the ride home. When I got poor Moe inside, he sprawled on the livingroom floor and tried to chew on the velcro and ribbed top. He just laid there on my lap with this pitiful look on his face and wouldn't do anything. I finally got him to walk around the livingroom in the shoes and he starts the whole hopping/chewing on velcro thing all over again. He was rotating thru all four paws again in trying to not put his feet down on the floor. He wouldn't even play with his brand new toys that he got that afternoon while wearing the shoes. 

I finally took pity on poor Moe and took the shoes off, and zoom! there he went! Moe was so excited about getting the shoes off that he took off and ran all over the livingroom making sure he still had all four feet. Once he ran for a minute or two, he laid down on the floor and licked all four of his paws while glaring at me. Even now, a day after the shoes, he still walks all funny/hoppy-like each time we put the shoes on him to go out. We are in the middle of another snowstorm, so the ground has been super cold, and poor Moe has been hopping outside with his new shoes. I tell y'all, I have not seen anything this funny in a while. Moe is such a funny puppy. 

World Domination

My oldest son, K, came into my bedroom yesterday evening and said he needed to learn how to do a coup d'etat. I looked up from my laptop and said "What did you just say K?" He looks at me with *that* look in his eyes that every single parent of teenagers interprets to mean "I am going to say something that is going to make fun of you and I have no problem laughing at you". Yes, fellow parents, you know exactly what look I mean. Yes, *that* look. K looks at me (with that look) again and once more says, "I need to learn how to do a coup d'etat" I looked fully at him and said, "But K, that is a military coup that is very bloody and violent that takes thousands of lives and replaces a legit government with a military government". This was particularly distressing to me on this day because I had just finished watching a depressing movie in class the other day about the Pinochet military coup of 1973 in Chile. K gives me *that* look a third time and says "I know that Mommy", so I asked him why he wanted to learn how to do a coup d'etat. He laughs and says because it is a chess move that involves the King and wiping out the majority of your opponents pieces. My jaw hit the floor and I just stared at him and finally got over my dumbfoundedness and just had to laugh. K, the stinker, really had me going there for a minute and he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. He knows I am clueless about chess and took great delight in tormenting me with letting me think he had plans for world domination. Kids, ya gotta love them... otherwise we would kill them entirely too easily and often. 

And now something to warm up the cold and snowy night.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Not Much is Happening, Except Life.

Life has been busy this week... I started my Winter Break class on Tuesday and haven't had much time to do much of anything. My class is interesting... it promises to be an easy A for me, which is always a good thing since I will be busting my butt the entire spring semester with a full 18 credits. Well, actually it is 21 credits since the winter break class is considered part of the spring semester. I am cramming a 16 week course into 2 weeks of class every day, but the professor has abbreviated the class and it is an easy topic. Latin American Politics thru Film. 

Yeah, I know kind of a joke class, but it is rather interesting. There is a lot to it despite the easy aspect of it. We take a lot of notes on film and on various things on Latin America and then we watch a movie that relates to the lecture and nightly textbook reading. So far I have watched 4 movies - one each day in class. The first movie was really graphic and violent, Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, which was about the Aztec Nation and the beginning of the Conquest by the Conquistadors. This movie was very intense, very graphic and extremely violent. 

The second movie, while still intense wasn't nearly as graphic. It was a much younger Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons movie called The Mission. This one was about the argument between Spain and Portugal over a small area located where Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay come together at a spectacular set of waterfalls called Iguaza Falls. They play Jesuit priests that are trying to save a tribe from Portugal and the slave trading it engaged in by kidnapping and selling the indigenous people. As with all things related to the Conquest of Latin America, this did not end well for the Jesuits and natives.

The third movie was a depressing one called Missing that was about the coup in Chile by Pinochet in 1973. This movie is a true story about a young liberal reporter living in Chile at the time of the violent military coup who asks too many questions and then disappears after coup soldiers arrest him. The main point of the movie was that the American Embassy and Consulate did nothing to help find the missing young man and other missing American citizens. He was never found, and was rumored to be executed. And yet, the American officials did nothing about it, and was rumored to have assisted in making the coup take place.

Today's movie was about drugs, Mexico & the U.S. The movie was Traffic with Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas. It was a good movie with a very surprising twist to it.... CZJ ends up being married to a drug lord in CA that works with a big drug cartel in Mexico and takes over the business when her husband is arrested and put on trial. Her involvement really surprised me... CZJ even went so far as to order a hit on the main witness against her husband, and makes sure the witness dies.

So I get to watch a daily movie and read a short textbook and write what is essentially a modified book report every night on the daily movie and I get an A for the class. Each of the film scriptings, as the professor calls them, is worth 20 point and I, of course, end getting 19 points on all of them. *Shrugs* easy stuff. 

Now the professor... he is something else.... possibly close to 50, more likely in his late 40's, and about as loony as they come..... I am almost 100% positive that he is a medicinal marijuana user and possibly a drinker. He is absent-minded and often smells of marijuana. I have had him for 2 other political science classes, which is one of my minors, and he is very easy to confuse. I do believe he is rather sexist, but he manages to not be obvious about it in class. He is absent-minded and always says funny little things that don't always make sense unless you know what he is talking about.... comments about tv shows and movies that 90% of the young'uns in my class don't get, but me being the age that I am, totally get it and end up snickering in class, which of course the professor sees, so he knows I am not as young as the babies. Oh well....he grins at me when I snicker at his little jokes, so I guess I won't get into trouble.

So all in all, this week has been busy and I am enjoying going back to class for the moment.... except for the whole "wake up and be in class by 8 am" aspect of it. Really not a morning person at all. I have to set my alarm starting at 4:15, and it goes off every 15 minutes until 5:15, when I finally drag myself out of bed.... and it goes off til 5:45 just in case I still manage to sleep thru the numerous rooster crowings that I use as a my alarm on my cell phone. Yeah, rooster crowings.... the only thing obnoxious enough to drag me out of bed in the mornings. I really hate getting up before 1 pm.... anything earlier than 1 pm is uncivilized, in my humble opinion anyway.

I wish this was in my bed at night.... would be a great reason to sleep in, I think.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reflecting on the Old, Hoping for the New

This post is serious and full of my religious beliefs and references to God. If this makes you uncomfortable, then please feel free to skip this and come back for another post. I do however hope you will read it anyway and maybe see things a little differently.

So an old year has left us and a new one has joined us. I think for this new year, I am going to try and change my attitude and outlook. 2010 was a really tough year for me. I really think God is trying to teach me something. I just wish I could figure out what it is that He wants me to learn. I know He wants me to learn patience, but that one is nothing new. 

2010 was full of hurt, heartbreak that I had for my children, unbelievable stresses, sickness and even emergency surgery for me. I hate dwelling on the negative, but it is so hard to not do that. I am generally an upbeat and positive person, but this year that has been really hard for me. And 2010 was better than 2009 and 2008. God has kept challenging me in so many ways that I just don't know what to do and how to handle it any more. On more than one occasion I was driven to my knees in frustration and tears with little respite. As soon as something started looking up in one place, somewhere else went out of balance and downhill.

So for 2011, I am going to try and see things from a different perspective. I am going to look at things as a learning and growing opportunity. I will ask myself "what does God want me to learn from this?". I will also ask the questions "What is today's purpose in my journey thru life? Is it an important purpose? Is it irrelevant? Is it simply joy or sadness? What is the reason and purpose God has placed this person in my path?" I am going to try and take things more in stride and not let them get to me as much as things have the past year. This will be very hard to do since I am a very reactive person. I have the unfortunate tendency to react before I think, and that gets me in a lot of trouble. I want to spend more time thinking "what does God want me to learn from this" instead of blowing up and losing what little hold on my temper that I have. 

This is going to be very hard for me, and I am sure I will have setbacks along the way. I know my limits, and I am hoping that I will be able to either stretch the limits or resolve things before reaching those limits. I know that I am going to struggle with this, and I guess I am just going to have to learn how to pray more than I already do. Making total mental adjustments like this is hard, but I really feel this is what I need to do for my own benefit as well as for the benefit of my sons. They deserve a mom who can look at things in a more positive manner so that they can learn how to see things in a more positive light themselves. I love my sons and really want them to have better opportunities for growth, and I feel this is one way to give them that. But first, they need to see me grow, and I need the growth for my own sanity, peace of mind, and maturity. 

I really hope I am able to do some growing this year. I hope I am able to grow for myself and and more in the way that God wants me to, whatever way that is. I hope and pray I am able to discover His purpose and meaning for each day. I think this will be an amazing yet challenging journey for me to undertake. The path looks mighty scary, but I think I will be ok.

I hope y'all are able to reach your own personal goals whatever they may be. I hope y'all enjoy every sunrise and sunset you are given. I hope that the really important dreams for the next year come true for y'all. I hope y'all know that you are very important and very loved by those that have been blessed with having y'all in their lives. I hope that y'all are blessed by those important people in your lives. And most of all, I hope you are able to smile every day despite whatever you face. I hope that someone's hug, touch of the hand, or smile will make all the difference you need in your life.

This song seems appropriate somehow for this post. I love Lady Antebellum, and this song just speaks volumes to me, as if God were smacking me upside the head to get my attention. I hope it says something to y'all as well.