Hard Christmases

Have you ever sat alone and thought about the past, and thought about the present, and wondered when it all got so hard? We’re weeks away from Christmas, and I feel like crying. This adulting thing is so much harder on single moms than you could ever imagine.

I’m working my ass off, literally. I’m clocking between 70-80 hours a week, at less than $10/hour. I’m paying the bills alone, and it’s killing me. And now, looming just over the horizon, is Christmas. I’ve got kids expecting presents, as they should. How in the world am I supposed to pull extra money out of thin air to afford gifts? I WANT to buy the gifts, but how? My kids are all older, as any of you have already read. I can’t get away with little stuff anymore. How in the world am I gonna pull this off?

 

Most of the Christmases we’ve celebrated before weren’t just in my court. My first husband always worked, and made pretty good money. When the kids were little, we always made sure they had plenty of gifts, even if they weren’t pricey. After we were divorced, my grandmother helped me so much. Then, I was with my second husband. We didn’t make much money either, but at least we tried. Now….it’s just me.

I’m praying for the strength and wisdom to get through this holiday on my own.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and enjoyed every moment that you could with your loved ones. I spent my evening with three of the 4 Stewart Kids, and I’m missing my fourth. I hope he’s safe and happy, wherever he is.

Happy Thanksgiving

Me, Cassie and Ryan

Q & A with the Queen of Nickie-isms

**I found this in my memories on facebook, and decided to ask her the same questions again, so I enclosed those answers as well** 

(originally posted in November 2016) WITHOUT prompting ask your spouse these questions and write EXACTLY what they say. The outcome can be hilarious. (In the spirit of facebook, I asked my questions to the queen of Nickie-isms)
•What is something I always say?
(November, 2016) “the F word!”
(November, 2017) “Take the dogs out.“
•What makes me happy?
(November, 2016) “a clean house”
(November, 2017) “well behaved children and a clean house”
•What makes me sad?
(November, 2016) “um…you’re not exactly sad often. I guess losing a family member. You cried a lot when Grandma died.”
(November, 2017) “I don’t know. You’re usually never sad.”
•How tall am I?
(November, 2016) “um…probably about 5 foot?”
(November, 2017) “I don’t know. About 5’6? Maybe an inch or two off?” (I’m 5’5 ½”)
•What’s my favorite thing to do?
(November, 2016) “watch Netflix?”
(November, 2017) “watch Hulu”
•What do I do when you’re not around?
(November, 2016) “Usually when I’m not around, you’re at work.”
(November, 2017) “Work.”
•If I become famous, what will it be for?
(November, 2016) “You could be a penguin breeder or something?”
(November, 2017) “You could be a famous doctor!”
•What makes you proud of me?”
(November, 2016) “When you’re happy and content. Because when you’re happy and content, I’m proud that you’re not going to beat the crap out of somebody.”
(November, 2017) “Your existence?”
•What is my favorite food?
(November, 2016) “pizza. that was an easy one.”
(November, 2017) “Normally its pizza”
•What is my favorite restaurant?
(November, 2016) “um….Wendy’s, I think. You never really told me.”
(November, 2017) “Um…I don’t know.”
•Where is my favorite place to visit?
(November, 2016) “Aldi’s? You go there often!”
(November, 2017) “Work? That’s where you usually are…”
•If I could go anywhere, where would it be?
(November, 2016) “to bed!”
(November, 2017) “Hawaii? South Carolina?”
•How do I annoy you?
(November, 2016) “When you put a song on REPEAT!”
(November, 2017) “Repeatedly telling me to do something I’ve already done!”
•What is my favorite movie?
(November, 2016) “Cinderella? I know its a Disney movie!”
(November, 2017) “I don’t know. Happy Feet? Racing Stripes?” (I hate those movies, for the record!)
•Who is my celebrity crush?
(November, 2016) “I don’t remember. Tom Bergeron? Jimmy Fallon? I don’t know!”
(November, 2017) “This is a joke answer because I have no idea: Johnny Depp”
•You get a phone call that I am in trouble, who am I with?
(November, 2016) “Probably someone that kidnapped you?”
(November, 2017) “Um…the police?”

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Work, work, work, work, work….

I haven’t written on my blog in almost a month! Holy cow do I work too much! Have I told you what I do for a living yet? Have I mentioned how much I love my job?

Ok, I work with individuals with developmental disabilities. Specifically, I work with men, and its an amazing job. The pay sucks, but the rewards are good for the soul. I highly recommend this field, if you’re job hunting. Mind you, the very idea terrified me when I first applied, but I wasn’t prepared for the reality at all. I love my job. I love going to work. I’m usually 30-45 minutes early! I’m the first one to volunteer for overtime, and I probably work almost 60 hours a week.

(Click the photo below to see the company that I work for…)

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How many of you can honesty say that you absolutely love your job, and love going to work? If you do, please….tell me what YOU do for a living! I’d love to hear about it! 

Coworkers were floating this around Facebook (although, I did not for personal reasons) but the meaning is touching, so I decided to share it here:

I don’t remember the exact moment my life was changed by someone with a developmental disability. The memories seem far away, blurry, as if they don’t belong to me. But this is what happens after you’ve been working with kids or adults with developmental disabilities for years. You change.
They don’t tell you that when you’re filling out your application. Instead, they tell you about the hours, the health benefits, the 401(k) plan, the programs and the strategies. But they don’t tell you about the fact if you do it right, you’ll never be the same.
They don’t tell you it will be the most amazing job you’ve ever had. On other days, it can be the worst. They can’t describe on paper the emotional toll it will take on you. They can’t tell you there may come a time where you find you’re more comfortable surrounded by people with developmental disabilities than you are with the general population. They don’t tell you you’ll come to love them, and there will be days when you feel more at home when you’re at work than when you’re at home, sitting on your couch. But it happens.
They don’t tell you about the negative reactions you may face when you’re out in the community with someone with a developmental disability. That there are people on this earth who still think it’s OK to say the R-word. That people stare. Adults will stare. You will want to say something, anything, to these people to make them see. But at the end of the day, your hands will be tied because some things, as you learn quickly, can’t be explained with something as simple as words. They can only be felt. And most of the time, until someone has had their own experience with someone with a developmental disability, they just won’t understand.
They train you in CPR and first aid, but they can’t tell you what it feels like to have to use it. They don’t tell you what it is like to learn someone is sick and nothing can be done. They can’t explain the way it feels when you work with someone for years and then one day they die.
They can’t explain the bond direct service personnel develop with the people they are supporting. I know what it’s like to have a conversation with someone who has been labeled non-verbal or low-functioning. After working with someone for awhile, you develop a bond so strong they can just give you a look and you know exactly what it means, what they want and what they’re feeling. And most of the time, all it boils down to is they want to be heard, listened to and included. Loved.
When you apply for this job, they do tell you you’ll be working to teach life skills. But what they don’t tell you is while you’re teaching someone, they’ll also be teaching you. They have taught me it’s OK to forgive myself when I have a bad day. There’s always tomorrow and a mess-up here and there doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. They have taught me to slow down, to ponder, to take the time to just look around and take in this beautiful world and all of the simple joys we are blessed to encounter every day.
So when did I change? I realize now there wasn’t one pivotal moment. Instead, it was a million little moments, each important in their own way, that when added together changed me. And I’m grateful for each one.
A coworker shared this.

September 30, 1971

I want to wish my ex-husband, Rob, a happy 46th birthday. We’ve been divorced for 14 years, but I still consider him one of my best friends. He’s a good dad, a good man, and a good friend and I wish him all the happiness in the world.

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Rockin’ Out

So, who has been getting into this rock painting phenomenon? If you haven’t heard 5db2d0e406d8062c9c283f0e5ca611f3--a-rock-painted-rocksabout this, let me give you a quick explanation. Different towns across the country have begun painting rocks (just normal rocks you find anywhere). Here’s the lowdown:

1. Find a rock.
2. Paint the rock (Pinterest and Google has a lot of great ideas)
3. Put a tag on the back of rock with instructions and your unique #. (Mine is #MonkRocks) Your unique hashtag makes it easy for you to follow your rock. (glue it then spray with a clear coat of Mod Podge to seal front and back of rock). It’s about $3 a can at Pat Catans or Walmart. (We’ve written our hashtag and everything with a sharpie, so don’t think you have to print out custom labels or anything like that!)
4. Take a picture of rock and post on (your town’s facebook page; trust me, I’m sure they have one) with a hint of where it’s hidden.
5. If you find a rock, post a picture and include the artists hash tag in the post so the artist can follow their rock, then re-hide it again for someone else to find.
6. HAVE FUN 

(Those instructions were courtesy of Ann Weisent-Page, from her Knox County Ohio Rocks page on Facebook)19399793_1742909605738157_4339511131298441639_n

So, you and/or your children spend some quality time together painting rocks. How could that be bad? And then, you and/or your children go out into the fresh air and hide the rocks somewhere in public. In my town, the various parks are popular hiding spots. While you’re out, you can also hunt for other people’s painted rocks. Basically, it’s like a year-long Easter egg hunt…..for kids of all ages.

You down?

I bought acrylic paint and some cheap paint brushes. Each bottle of paint was $0.95, and the package of brushes was a buck. Cheap entertainment, for the most part. I just love how it gets kids OUT of the house and has nothing to do with video games!! (Can I get an amen??)

Here’s some pics of Nichole and Tessa getting down and dirty painting their rocks…