On being poor.

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I have been meaning to read the book Hand to Mouth for a while – but you know, daily life can be such a grind sometimes so at the end of so many long days the idea of reading a book about the poverty hustle just did not sound relaxing to me. So there it sat for over a month next to my bed. Just lookin’ all cute and wanting to be read. Until I finally picked it up. And let me tell you, this author is hilarious. HILARIOUS. She delivers some straight up shitty news – but made me laugh at the same time. Something I can really admire.

If you have lived in poverty, or have been poor, or broke (all very different things) then this will be some solidarity for your soul. If you haven’t, well I would recommend even more highly that you give it a read. It is reminiscent of Barbara Erhenreich’s Nickel and Dimed – except it’s written from firsthand experience. And it’s funny (and heartbreaking) as hell. I devoured this book in less than three hours total. So worth my time and a conversation so worthy of more airtime in the U.S. if you ask me.

5 ways I’m making 2016 my year.

single mom success

So, here’s an idea that has been tumbling around my head. I’ve been feeling like life is just a little too “full” at times. When I think about the things there are too much of in my life, I came up with these: the internet, driving, overeating, up to the moment (bad) news, social media. So I decided I would try to take all of these things down a notch… Here are my 5 ways to make 2016 my year:

  1. Fast from the internet. No internet in the morning before work. And one one regular day per week completely away from the internet.
  2. Fast from driving. I already do this at least one day per week and want to keep it going. I love our easy breezy days when we don’t get in the car.
  3. Fast from food. I’ve heard about fasting one day per week and I’ve been intrigued. I don’t think I’m up for that quite yet – but I can do away with eating after dinner.
  4. Fast from constant exposure to headlines. No more headlines in my inbox, Facebook or scrolling for the latest in Twitter.
  5. Fast from Facebook. I just joined a few months ago and I’ve given it a good go. There are things I like about it but I pretty much always feel gross after being on there. Strongly considering deleting my account.

Of all the strollers to choose from…

single mom stroller

On my list of things we could not have lived without: we have a Maclaren Triumph and we have loved it daily for nearly 3 years. It’s similar to this one: http://amzn.to/1zacjge except ours is an older model – probably 2009 or so. It’s super sturdy, the fabric is really durable, washable and not cheap looking/feeling – and I really love the sunshade. At first I thought the sunshade was weird but it’s actually a brilliant design – it’s so adjustable you can shade your baby’s face no matter where the sun is shining. It’s a great stroller for sleeping too – reclines pretty far back (plus the awesomely adjustable sunshade helps with sleeping). It’s light, has a decent basket underneath. And folds up very compactly for travel.

It’s a little pricey if you buy it new, but you might be able get one free or cheap through your local parenting network or on Freecycle or Craigslist.

Our stroller turned out to be a very important part of our lives over the last few years. It has traveled all over, hauled a ton of groceries and all the leaves sticks and rocks we collect when out and about and has been a great tool for keeping me in shape, too! In hindsight this is the only stroller we really needed though we started with the carseat adapted type and had a jogging/hiking stroller also at one point. The only thing that it might leave you wanting is a cup holder or storage/organizer near the handle bars. But you could always get one of these:  http://amzn.to/1tVhXBD

I love that it was a hand-me-down that has probably carried at least four children around town. I love that we have been able to use it from 6 months to 3 years (though we use it less and less so all the time hence this “ode to stroller”). Happy strolling! I’d love to hear your favorites, too.

What kids need…

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Wow. This interview is worth a read if you have a moment. I love her confidence in young people and I can’t wait to get my hands on her book. This is the kind of stuff I think about all the time – how to allow my child to learn without so much interference, how to raise a child who questions things, how to trust my child to find his own interests and how to see a child’s needs and wants so clearly. If you’ve been reading here for a while you know one of my favorite books about child development is Nurtureshock. I’m also a fan of The Parenting Passageway and of Teacher Tom. I think a lot of the ideas contained in those places tie in really well together – and in addition to having so much support from the research – they just make intuitive sense to me.

I was thrilled to find a preschool that is very much like the place Teacher Tom has created up in Seattle. My child is in the hands of very like-minded people who are so conscious about how they talk with kids. It’s amazing to witness and I just love seeing my child thrive in those new relationships and with all the raw materials they have on hand. I wrote about our transition to a new preschool recently and I am here to say that it could not be going better. Our last preschool was absolutely wonderful, we have very intimate and ongoing relationships with the teachers and other families from there. And I couldn’t have dreamed up a place better than our new school. So glad to have these people and experiences in our lives. As a single parent I have to say I love the joy, laughter, support and just plain connection we have gained through preschool. I can’t imagine life without these people. I know not all kids thrive in preschool situations – but I’m feeling glad this is a trait we’ve inherited in the cards we have been dealt. Feeling really grateful and satisfied in the present moment.

 

A full plate.

single mom survival

Oh yeah. I can eat all that.

Wow, I sometimes feel like my plate is just so full. Piles of the good stuff for sure. But sprinkled with some stuff that is damn hard to chew. And no I don’t have more room for your stuff or your stuff or your stuff but…uh…oh…ok yeah just pile it on there I guess go ahead. Um ok yeah I can eat all that no prob. Some days it feels like a soggy paper plate holding all that weight. And sometimes days like that come in long blocks.

Amidst all this I keep finding out that more and more moms I know are on antidepressants. More power to everyone! Right on. I just had no idea how widely used these tools were in my circle. It got me thinking – is that a secret trick to being a happy mom? To rolling with the punches over and over again as a single mom? And if so, should I try it?

I don’t know what the answer is and though I do like the idea of a magic pill. I just think though that the things that get me down are situational and not brain chemical. Bills upon bills, being so busy, not getting a break. All three of those things seem to point to money. I think my magic pill will be money and I look forward to the day my prescription is filled.

The lone wolf single mama.

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I would not have described my pre-baby self as “lone wolf.” I’m sure deep down I was sliiiightly more introvert than extrovert…but I LOVED being out and about and social. Talking to strangers was one of my favorite things. Still is – though I have a little less energy for it these days. But motherhood – single motherhood – kind of forced me into a bit of a lone wolf life. At least from bedtime to sunrise. It was a big shock at first to be home all night every night. To not set a foot outside, not feel the evening air on my skin, not be in the night world of only adults. I’ve adjusted to this new normal though. Hell I was tired and could barely fathom going out alone in the evening anyway. Nights became my time to get work done and to read read read and watch lots of movies and TV. I made a living at night and learned to make it my “me time,” too.

After so long though, it has become wearying. I feel like I’ve lost the ability to talk normally to adults. I’m too animated, too loud, too shy, not aloof enough, too foot-in-mouth awkward. I feel good with toddlers but awkward with adults. (Luckily I find it comical). I am getting more and more practice lately since I have a sitter almost one night per week. It’s good. It still feels imbalanced but I’m playing my “long game” as a friend and I like to say.

Happy Love Day.

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How did I get so lucky to have a kid who shoves all the Valentine’s he got at preschool into my pockets because he wants them to be for me? Who asks me to put music on for a dance party and then dances all over the house – if I dare stop dancing for a minute to stir dinner on the stove – he grabs me and says “dance with me!!!” Who asks me “do you wanna kiss?” I say yes and get one kiss. Who then asks me “do you want alllll the kisses?” I say yes and I get 29 kisses all over my face. Who climbs into my bed in the morning for a good snuggle. It’s just too good.

How did I get so lucky that I have a friend who picked out flowers with my kid to give to me for Valentine’s Day? A friend who brings over burritos, oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies and a six pack of Baby Daddy beer to cheer me on and make me laugh? A friend who does hundreds of dollars of work on my computer in exchange for just a bowl of pasta? A friend who will say in so many words “I want you and your son to be a real part my life.” A friend who is the closest thing my child has to another mother – so priceless. It’s just so good.

I’m not really sure what this holiday is supposed to be about but I’m feeling really lucky in love today.

Escape artist: links to look at.

single mom vacation

Do different foods give you a little escape from reality? I saw a pile of red/orange mangoes at the grocery store – and I felt like I was transported to another place. That place would be an all expenses paid tropical vacation. Oh yeah. Got me thinking about how I can escape on my budget and here is what I came up with…

First, pick up those mangoes and make this lovely fruit salad with mint.

Then I’ll be staying up late, forgetting my own woes and diving into this book. (Hope she’s as good a writer as she is an actress!)

You know what a friend cracked open and handed me the other day and made me instantly feel like I was lounging on the beach? Coconut LaCroix.

One place I used to daydream, solve my problems, solve the worlds problems and see the most beautiful and unexpected things – was my bicycle. It’s been years since my last bike was stolen but I’d like to have that feeling again. What’s your place for that?

And this one isn’t so much of an escape, but a friend highly recommended it. Have you heard about “It’s OK Not To Share?” Tell me your thoughts!

I hope you get an escape this weekend – either real or imagined!