Friday, November 4, 2016

My kids are perfect...but only on social media.

     I don’t make it a habit to tell all of my personal business on social media. I am pretty much an open book but you can’t read my Facebook feed and tell my mood from day to day.  I make it a point to keep family and friends updated about The Joes accomplishments via social media. Much of my family lives at least 30 minutes away from us and few are able to attend their events. Facebook is a convenient way to let the world know what they’re doing and why I am especially proud of them at any given moment. I do not have a nefarious plan to trick the world into believing my children are perfect. It would just seem so if you take a gander at any of my social media pages.

     The reality is that I have children who are naughty and nice teenagers. I actually have thought of divorce on more than one occasion. For years, I was embarrassed by the fact that I had to deal with a son who was disrespectful or a daughter with mood swings. Listening to parenting stories of more seasoned parents, I would know that they would never put up with that type of behavior. For a long time, it was my secret shame. I raced to the school countless times to address behavioral issues at school. I begged kids at night to pack their bags and set their clothes out so that they would be on time only to arrive to school late the next morning. The lone car in the drop off line. I threatened to take phones. I stopped cooking dinner because no one would wash dishes. I did all of this in secret. One day, I confided in my then beautician/now friend that my son was out of control. I went on to detail the saga of the moment and instead of being met with judgment, I was met with understanding. She, too, had an imperfect child. And she was willing to share. 

     I began to open to up to other mothers about what I was going through. Not only that, I started to talk to mothers with young sons about mistakes I had made with The Biggest Joe when he was struggling. These things in the past may have embarrassed me but now I see that they may help another mother to be a better parent than I was. I talk to my sister almost daily about my household. Sometimes The Joes drive me crazy and it benefits them that I speak with a sane person before addressing concerns with them. She is usually very calm and logical and gives great insight. The Biggest Joe may still be living because of his aunt’s interventions.  I talk to my Aunt Debbie, who is the most patient person I know, because she always shares words of wisdom and encouragement and love.  I have so many friends who are moms. Each one has something to offer.  Every mom I come in contact with teaches me something. I am ever grateful for all of the moms in my life. I am developing countless skills that help to foster greater relationships with The Joes because it’s never too late to be a better parent.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Public Opinion Matters

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Parents: Quit telling your kids that it doesn't matter if people like them. It does. It really does. As parents, we want to raise children who are independent. We want them to be free thinkers. We want them to be comfortable being themselves. We want them to know that they will be loved and accepted in spite of their shortcomings. We tell them not to listen to those dissenting opinions and we promote their autonomy. These are all important lessons to learn but the lesson to ignore the voices that dislike you has to be tempered with wisdom and the ability to be introspective and to examine ones own self and behaviors. Most children are unable to do this without help. They need to be taught.  They need to learn that what people think about them is very important. They need to learn why.
     I have been away from my blog for quite some time. My life has been crazy. I have a 17 year old nephew living with me who lives in "I don't care what people think" land. I had not been responsible for his upbringing until 2 years ago when his mother (my sister) died. His mother truly existed in a state of not caring what others thought. This was the cause of many relationship issues in her life. She was estranged from most of her family for most of her adult life. She was brash and rude and dismissive. She said whatever came to mind regardless of how it would be received. She never considered the tone of her message. She simply didn't care what people thought. Her son inherited this from her and it has caused many problems in my home and at school. 
     I currently live in a home with a child who does what he wants and says what he wants. He does not do chores. He won't even clean up after himself. He refuses to show respect and has told me on multiple occasions that he doesn't respect me. He doesn't do well in school. He failed a class last year that required him to attend summer school. His punishment was to get up in the mornings every day during the summer and read so that he will be better prepared for his senior year and to take the ACT or SAT. I explained all of that to him. He called me "f*cking stupid". He did not get up 1 morning this summer to read. Literally. And ironically. This is his norm. When I found out that he had all Fs so far this year (his senior year), I told him that he would no longer be allowed to come home after school and lay around. I told him that I would be locking the door until 5:30 PM and that he needed to go to the library to complete the work he had been neglecting. He called me a "dumb b*tch".  He tells me often that he doesn't care what I think. He doesn't care what the principals think. He doesn't care what the teachers think. Not only does he say these things, but he shows it in his actions. His parents did him a disservice. He believes that the opinions of others mean nothing to him. 
      I have tried to explain to him, in the last two years, that the opinions of other people are very important. In every aspect of our lives, we need people to have favorable opinions of us. When you are a student who has worked very hard in a class and have a 59 percent at the end of the semester. You hope that you have a teacher who thinks that you worked really hard. That you are respectful. That you are a person deserving of favor. You hope that the teacher thinks of you and gives you a D because they know that you deserve it because of all the effort you have made. When you are a jackass in class, and sleep, and don't complete work on time, your teacher thinks very little of giving you that extra point. They feel in no way obligated to give you the benefit of the doubt. And in this case, you don't deserve it. In a work environment, you will not get a raise or a promotion if your supervisor thinks poorly of you or your work. You will not be able to maintain interpersonal relationships if no one likes you because you are rude and nasty. None of this has registered with him. It is sad that he will enter adulthood with this mindset.
     Everyone in the world is not going to like your child. I am not even suggesting that we teach our children to be likeable because that can be problematic.  I am suggesting that we teach them to be good people. To care about people and to care about their feelings. To show basic human respect. To be humble and grateful. To work hard at whatever you do. To accept love. To accept correction. And to realize that everyday is a new day to start over when none of these things have fallen into place on the previous day.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Treadmill Workout #1

Treadmill reading after 30 minutes
     I'm beginning to get my life schedule back on track. This includes going to the gym and bringing the kids.
      The biggest Joe has recently finished Marching Band and the littlest Joe finished an awesome soccer season and cross country. She did the sports simultaneously and I am pretty proud of the work she put into both. The are both conditioning for indoor track now and she is also starting basketball. They are both working out like crazy to stay fit/get fit for their respective sports. My niece and nephew do not play sports but voiced an interest in going to the gym. Everyone in the house got a gym membership. My niece has set some fitness goals for herself so I came up with some treadmill workouts that challenge her and myself as well.

I like this workout because it makes running at a faster pace a lot less intimidating for a slower runner like myself.  This is a 30 minute treadmill workout that combines walking and running. The speed for the walking should be faster than a stroll but slow enough that you are cooling down from your run. The run should be a challenging pace.

Treadmill Workout #1
5 minutes walking on 4.5
5 minutes running on 7.0
4 minutes walking on 4.5
4 minutes running on 7.0
3 minutes walking on 4.5
3 minutes running on 7.0
2 minutes walking on 4.5
2 minutes running on 7.0
1 minutes walking on 4.5
1 minutes running on 7.0

Saturday, December 20, 2014


My sister died 2 months ago. We had a strained relationship. I didn’t like her choices. I didn’t like her actions. I didn’t like the way she treated my oldest nephew. But through all of the problems we had, I still loved her. And on my birthday, every year, she sent me a message saying that she loved me. Some years, I wondered why she would not apologize for all that she had done. I wanted an apology, not a happy birthday. Sometimes I just responded with a quick “Love you too, Missy”. I knew that anything more between us would be unhealthy. Through it all, I loved her, even when I could not like her.
When she died, she left 5 children. I have a terrific relationship with her oldest adult child, whom she did not raise. I did not know her other 4 children. Her oldest two children are now living with me and The Joes. I am getting to know them and I am finding that they are very interesting humans. I have been angry at my sister for so many years and now through her passing, she has blessed me with two more children to love.
My household is grieving. The children are grieving the loss of their mother. They will be consumed with what ifs for a long time. They will miss their personal relationships with her and they will wonder what could have been. My children did not know my sister well. They have, however, lost their lives as they knew them. They have to make changes to allow for their cousins. They are sharing rooms and there is less money for frivolities. They are adjusting to the changes. They are all getting along. They talk to each other and laugh with and at each other. And they fight with each other as most siblings do. I am grieving the loss of my sister and any potential for change or growth or reconciliation.
During this time, I have found that we are resilient. We are a team. And we have the greatest support system ever. I am super nervous about having 4 teenagers in my home. They outnumber me!!! But I feel blessed that God sent them to me and allowed them to be a part of my life. All four of them!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Needles but no knives...

The syringes they used.
The needle was crucial!!!

I went to see my OB/GYN on September 30th. She felt the cysts and thought that one felt different from the other. I was elated to know that I’m not just paranoid. Another human who happens to be a medical professional could also feel the difference. She referred me to a surgeon. I saw the surgeon October 6th. He explained to me that he can aspirate the cysts. Aspirating the cyst involves taking a humongous needle, sticking it into the mass and drawing out the fluid inside. First he made marks on my breast to show where the needle should go. He then numbed my breast with Lidocaine. I hate needles but this was bearable. After this, he took a much larger needle and stuck it into the cyst. I could not watch this because I hate needles. The insertion of the needle was a bit uncomfortable. The syringe was full of a brownish liquid after the aspiration. It was super gross. The doctor explained that the fluid would be sent to a lab. I will follow up with him in about 2 weeks to see if they have grown back.

I feel absolutely amazing. There are no lumps in my breast anymore. The pain and pressure that I was feeling in my breast is gone. It was sore after the aspiration but I think that’s natural after having a gigantic needle stuck in it several times. I am happy that my voice was heard and that the professionals in my circle acted according to my concerns. In two weeks I am certain that this will all be over!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Searching for a yoga home...

I’m currently on a mission to find a yoga home. It’s kinda like finding a church home. You want to go somewhere that teaches in a way that is beneficial to your body and mind. You also want to go somewhere that is open and accepting of all people. I am specifically looking for a yoga home that feels comfortable to me. Cleveland Yoga offered 30 days of yoga for $40. Of course, I had to try them. How could you pass up such a deal? They also have showers there which would be great for early morning yoga before work!!!!I signed up at the Uptown location. I went on a Sunday with one of the residents who works at the clinic where I am employed. When we arrived, no one greeted us. There were three individuals sitting at the front desk. Noone greeted us. We told them that we wanted to pay for the month. One young lady stood and addressed us. The other young lady and the male who were sitting at the desk did not speak to us at all.  I decided to go on and try out the class. The instructor at this first class was also an instructor for the HIV+ ladies who are patients in the clinic where I work. When she worked with our patients, she never assisted the patients or did any corrections. I assumed that this was her style of teaching. I found that it was not.  During this class, she corrected and adjusted many of the yogis. Almost everyone, except us.  I was disappointed. The ladies from our clinic are all beginners and could have benefited from someone helping them do the poses correctly. When we left the class, my friend asked what I thought of it. I told her that I was not happy with the experience. She shared that she was not either. I ended up taking a lot of classes. I can honestly say that I really liked one instructor. His name is Ezra. I attended a morning class. I told my friend to attend a class of his and she too was sold. We love him. I did not love Cleveland Yoga though. No one there is friendly. No one speaks to you. Well, one time, one woman spoke to me. She was pretty nice. Generally, there was not a welcoming feel there. I’m a social worker looking to spend my meager social work salary somewhere that I feel is warm and welcoming and supportive of my practice. This just was not the place for me. I live in Lake County. Cleveland Yoga is close to my job. I am now going to try yoga close to my home. I will be taking my talents to Harmony Yoga Studios in downtown Willoughby. I have taken a class there in the past and liked it so I will give it a shot and let you know how it works out...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Boobie Update...

What I imagine is happening inside my body...

     My OB/GYN told me not to worry about the lumps in my breast. She said that they are just cysts and that I can relax. While I don't believe that I am a hypochondriac, I have yet to relax. I can feel these lumps through my bras. I touch them all day long. Sometimes, they are painful. Once a day, I wonder if someone made a mistake and if I am dying. I am still frightened that I may have tiny little cancer cells invading my body. My OB/GYN has never felt the lumps. I found them and was immediately sent for a mammogram/ ultrasound. I have an appointment scheduled with my OB/GYN for next week. I am excited for her to finally feel them and to hear what she has to say about them. There has been a positive to come out of this. I discussed the lumps with my daughter who is still young and explained how I found them. I also let her touch them and explained that if she ever felt anything like this in her own breasts to let me or her MD know. 
     I personally have no desire to live forever but I want to make the most of this one lifetime I have been given. I need to see my children grow into adulthood and I need to be a grandma. I need to stay alive for a while. I am not really handling this well. I'm currently praying for peace. 
     Boobs!!! Ugh!!!!!