Parenting/Life

Surviving the holidays when sharing custody

holidays

Sharing custody of your child(ren) can always be stressful.  Add on the hussle and bussle of the holiday season and the stress levels can skyrocket.  This can be especially true if you and the other parent do not have a positive co-parenting relationship.  Even if there is a great relationship between the 2 parents, sharing custody will always mean that there are times that the child(ren) are not with you and this can make for upset, stress and confusion for the children as well.  Surviving this stress without excessive upset to anyone needs a lot of patience.

I definitely don’t claim to be anything close to an expert in this subject, but having been doing this for 9 years now, I feel I can share a few things that work for me and what doesn’t work for me.

Santa/Gifts

I think typically if you share custody, then you alternate years for who has Christmas eve/Christmas morning.   In my home, regardless of where my son wakes up on Christmas morning, Santa will always have visited our home.  On years that my son arrives to my home in the afternoon on Christmas day, his stocking and gifts from Santa are waiting there for him.  I explain to my son, that Santa knows that he celebrates Christmas in 2 homes so he drops gifts off at both homes.    In the years that I have my son on Christmas Eve/morning, we open our family presents on Christmas Eve day so that he can have time to enjoy playing with them and then Santa gifts on Christmas morning.

Events

Only having my son 1/2 the time, inevitably there are events that we will be invited to that fall on times he is with his father, that he won’t be able to attend.  We are used to this and although neither of us like it, we deal with it.  Of course, depending of the significance of the event, one can always try to negotiate with the other parent  to switch times/days.  Sometimes this can work out or ultimately cause further stress and upset.  Over the years, I have learned what battles to fight and which ones to let go.  I just hate my son missing out on things due to his parental situation.

Advent Calendar

We are not a religious family, but my son still likes to partake in the count down to Christmas with an Advent Calendar.  This one is kind of tough as he isn’t always able to open each window on the correct day.  Sometimes after being at his dad’s for a few days, he has a bunch of little windows to open and subsequently several little chocolates to eat.  It’s definitely not the best scenario and almost feels like it defeats the purpose when he isn’t able to open the windows on the correct days, but I am not going to take away a little tradition that a lot of his other friends partake in.  This year I actually created my own advent calendar and only made it for the actual days that my son is with me.

Traditions in general

This one is the one I have the hardest “surviving”. I would love to be able to have a Christmas Eve tradition and a Christmas morning tradition that we can do every year, but when he spends those days at his dad’s every other year, it’s a little bit difficult. Luckily, there are things like putting up the tree and seeing one of the local Santa parades, and pictures with Santa that we can work our schedule around and make traditions out of those.  We make the best of what we have and enjoy the season the best we can with the time we have.  It’s all about the quality of time we have together not the quantity.

Since we have a set schedule for the holidays, family always knows in advance when we can celebrate together and when we can’t.  It can sometimes make things tricky when we have to worry about the weather for travelling but we keep that in mind too and have contingency plans in place in case the weather decides not to cooperate.

This “sharing” the holidays is definitely not what I signed up for when I became a Mom, but I want my son to grow up enjoying all the love and excitement that the holiday season has to offer and  not having to do without.

Wishing you and yours the happiest and stress-free holiday season!

 

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

The Clouds are Crying, Mommy.

clouds are sad

I was not planning to write a post today but then on the way to dropping my son off to school today, he said something that broke my heart.  It’s a typical rainy and windy fall day here today.  As we were getting in the car, he said “When it rains, it means the clouds are crying Mommy! Why are the clouds so sad?”

In retrospect, we’ve had a lot of death and sickness in our circle of family and friends lately.  We’ve had family members, family of friends, and even pets pass in the past few weeks.  It is also the anniversary of several friends family passing around this time of year.   By this time in my life, I had already been subjected to the death of my twin sister, more than any 8 year old should have to bear so I try to keep the subject of death as far removed from my son as possible.

I tried to explain that sometimes things happen that make the clouds sad.  Crying can help them deal with their emotions.  I tried to use examples of times he was sad and cried to make him understand. And then he said it “Mommy, why are so many sad things happening lately?”  My heart broke into a million pieces.  Keeping my composure was tough.  How was I supposed to respond to this?  I simply asked him what he meant.  As he started listing off a few things, I knew he wasn’t just a baby anymore that I could just pass things over.  He is a boy now and sadly able to comprehend the world around him.

I tried to explain to him that there was no explanation for it.  I tried to explain my superstition of things happening in 3’s.  I tried to explain that there will be times in our life with dark clouds and rain but we have to look for the sun shining behind those clouds.  I am not a overly religious person, but I try to believe that above those dark clouds are our angels up in heaven.  I tried to explain that sometimes our Angels up in Heaven get sad too and this is the result of that.

My explanation seemed to give him some comfort and give him an answer he could understand.  Crying is life helping us deal with our emotions, crying isn’t a bad thing.   So during those dark and gloomy days,  try to look on the other side of the darkness into the brightness ahead.   And when it seems like a multitude of bad things are happening, there will be an end and things will get better.  I want him not to dwell on the bad things life hands us but look for the good instead.

Tonight I will hug him a little tighter and try to focus on good things we have in our life and try to remove those rain clouds from his mind.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

My apology to all the single Moms that came before me.

my-apology

I am a single Mom, and I have been for 8 years now.  It probably took me longer than it should have, but I need to apologize to all the single Moms that have come before me.

Growing up and to this day, I always had my parents together.  My circle of friends did not fit into that statistic of “50% of all marriages end in divorce”.   Single Moms were somewhat of a foreign concept to me until I become one myself.  And truth be told, what I did know or perceived to know about them was not in a kind light.

And when I became I single parent myself, I struggled and still do sometimes struggle with the stigma that is attached to single Moms.  But I have learned so much these past years about what it really takes to be a single Mom and I am in awe of the other Moms out there.  I only have 1 little one to look after and I am astounded sometimes how some Moms manage with 2 or 3 or more.

We don’t let our kids run around with dirty face and clothes, all kids do.  It’s the nature of their beast.  And those kids having complete meltdown in the middle of the grocery store…..they belong to ANY Mom.  Your marital status has NOTHING to do with it.  We love our kids just as much as any other mother and would do anything to protect them.

And truth be told, some of the single Moms that I know are the most organized, hardworking women…..and pardon my language but these ladies have their shit together.

So I need to profusely apologize to all those times I made the assumptions, I agreed with all those stereotypes and down and outright judged you.  Being a single Mom doesn’t make you any less worthy than those Moms that have the house with the white picket fence life.

We have just an amazing life; we just do it a little differently.

DIY · Uncategorized · What I'm Wearing

Back to school in groovy tie-dye style

A few weeks back, we were doing a little shopping and I asked my son if he wanted to pick out a new shirt for back to school.  He looked at me and gave me a huge sigh. For the life of me I didn’t I couldn’t understand his frustration until he said “Mommy, do I HAVE to buy a new shirt for back to school?  Can’t I got back to school as plain old me?” My heart melted.  If he doesn’t want to fuss and muss with back to school wear, so be it.

About a week later, we were discussing crafts and things we wanted to do and he talked about making a tie-dye shirt.  He had made one at camp earlier in the summer but the shirt was already a bit small on him.  (We’ve had a 1 1/2 inch growth spurt since July.)  It sounded like a fun idea and so I headed off to our local Michael’s to pick up supplies.  Luckily for me, the day I went, the shirts were on sale and there were 2 coupons available for me to use on my purchase.  My purchase ended up costing me less than half the regular retail price.

The goods

My son was thrilled when he came home and saw our impending craft.  He immediately decided this was going to be the shirt he wore to back to school.  There were kits with 5 and 10 different colors but I settled for one with 3 for our first attempt.   Next time, I would love to try more colors.

I made sure we wore old clothes that would be okay if they got stained and made sure the floor was well covered with plastic to ensure the mess factor was kept to a minimum.  The instructions were really easy to follow and before you knew it, our shirts were dyed.  They recommend letting the colors cure for 6-8 hours.  We ended up leaving ours overnight.  Mr. Impatient, however, couldn’t wait to see the end product.

Partway thru my shirt

Partway thru his shirt

I swear we were only up for 10 minutes the next morning, when my son asked if we could see our shirts.  I had to rinse the excess color from them and then put them thru the wash but at least we got a sneak peak before I had to throw them in the dryer.  They turned out amazing!!  Definitely not one of my epic Pinterest fails that I have endured before.

Done

We each made one for ourselves and then we used the excess magenta dye and the extra shirt to make a shirt for my son to wear when they have Pink Shirt Day for anti-bullying later on this school year.  I ended up wearing mine that day to a friends bbq and got a ton of compliments.  And of course my son, wore his to back to school.  He LOVED it.

me all done

back to school

It was definitely a fun, inexpensive and easy craft to do with my son.  I am pretty sure we will be adding more of these to our wardrobes.

My son and I love to do all kinds of crafts however, after a few Pinterest fails, I became a little disenchanted.  With winter approaching, I was thinking I would need to start finding some new craft ideas when going outside wasn’t a great option.  I was kind of dreading it to be honest.  This has given me new motivation to find some new fun crafts.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Together Tales – Let’s make reading fun

Disclosure:  Although these items were provided to me, all comments and photos (unless otherwise indicated) are strictly mine.  This post does contain affiliate links.

Books

If your child is anything like mine, they would much rather have a tablet in their hands than an actual book.  He just hasn’t found that real love of reading yet.  But I am working on it.  I have always loved to read but admittedly picking up a book to read in the past few years has been low on my priority list.  I am hoping that my son will find that love of reading and I can push my reading higher up on my list of things to do as an activity that we can do together.   That is why I was thrilled with I was asked by the people at Together Tales asked me if I would take a look at their interactive reading adventure kit.

The kit that we received was called Capes in the Family.  The premise of the kit is that after each chapter is read the child gets to use an app on a tablet/smartphone to play additional games incorporated with the theme of the book.  At the beginning the child receives a telegram to get them started using the app.

Photo provided by Together Tales
Photo provided by Together Tales

My son loved the idea that he could use the app in between chapters and made him actually want to read.  This was a huge plus for me.  Aside from the standard app style games, there is also a scavenger hunt where the child looks for puzzle pieces around your home or wherever you chose based on clues that you input into the app as to where you hid the puzzle pieces.  This was a lot of fun for both my son and myself.  It was something we both got to be involved in.   There was also another activity that was very similar to Pokemon GO.  I had to set 3 local coordinates and then my son had to use the tablet to find said coordinates.  The tablet would indicate if we was getting warmer when he was getting close or colder if he was moving away from the set coordinate.  There are some other great parts included but I don’t want to spoil it for your own adventure.

At the end of the adventure my son gave it the 2 thumbs up and want to try out more of these adventures.  Capes In the Family is currently the only adventure that Together Tales has available but others currently in the works.  I can’t wait to see what kinds of adventures they are.

Jack reading

This is definitely something that I would recommend to anyone who has a reader between the ages of 8-12, especially a reluctant reader.  Incorporating the app is definitely a plus in my mind to help get your child engaged.  If you would like to order your own copy for to Together Tales and enter the discount code ABAHM to get a 15% discount.

You can learn more about Together Tales on their website, Facebook , Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Enjoy!

Travel

Our visit to Clovermead Adventure Farm & contest

Disclosure:  Although tickets for myself and my family were graciously provided to us by Clovermead, all comments, opinions and photos are strictly mine.

Clovermead Bee Farm

Earlier this summer, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Clovermead Adventure Farm located in Alymer, just south west of London, Ontario.  We are always looking for local family friendly places to visit and this definitely fits the bill!

You start your adventure in The Honey Shop, where they have a wonderful selection of honey related products.

Inside Clovermead

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If you head to the back of the shop, you will find they have a tasting bar with samples of different kinds of honey from their own bees and other Ontario bee producers.  I love that you can try before you buy.  There is one called the Sweet Heat that contains chili powder and has become my favorite.  If I hadn’t been able to try it first, I would have probably passed it by.

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I could have spent most of my trip just in the Honey Shop checking out all the amazing products but my little guy was itching to keep going.  Upon entering, you have to make a choice; to head to the “Bee” area of the farm where you can learn all about the Clovermead bees and honey making process from a Bee Keeper or head directly into the Fun Farm.

We chose to hit the Fun Farm firsts.  There are so many different things for kids of all ages (even the adult kids) to explore.  From zip lines, to jumping pillows, to pedal cards, to the playground.

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Scattered throughout the farm you will find all kinds of different animals.  Our favorite, hands down, were the mini goats.  They had some up on the roof of a building where you could use a pulley system to send food up to them.  My son absolutely loved this. He wanted to bring one home with us. Be sure to bring some quarters with you to get some feed for them.

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Goats at Clovermead

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There are also wagon rides available where they take you around the farm and show you all that is available for you to see and do.  We did this quite early and it helped us decide what we wanted to see and do.

After quite a long time playing, we headed over to the Bee area and one of the Bee keepers taught about bees and the honey process.  We even got to let one of the bees crawl on our hands.

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It was such a great day and there is so much for everyone of all ages to enjoy.  We are looking to come back this fall for another visit to partake in their Pumpkin Festival which will include picking your own pumpkins, a corn maze, the apple sling shot and a kid favorite – the Pumpkin Cannon.  To learn more about Clovermead you can visit their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

There are so many great things I could say about Clovermead, but you really need to experience it for yourself to see what I mean.

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

Why we just can’t get enough of the beach.

toes in the sand

Toes in the sand, warm all over, the sound of the waves, what isn’t there to love about the beach?  Correct me if I am wrong, but you don’t often hear people wanting to take cold, arctic vacations do you?

On a whim, we decided to take advantage of the warm weather and head to our local sand and surf.  We’re almost (sadly) halfway through the summer and we haven’t had nearly as many visits I would have liked.  There is just something about enjoying the day at the beach that never gets old with me.

Our essentials:

  • Sunscreen (our beach trip won’t even start without a SPF 60)
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing suits
  • Towels
  • Hats
  • Blanket
  • Foldable chair
  • Water bottles
  • Buckets, shovels and other sandcastle/water toys
  • Snacks

We learned the hard way that if you want to purchase any snacks, be sure to have cash on you.  None of the on site vendors had debit (and I never seem to carry cash).  And if there has been significant rain recently, be sure to check to see that there aren’t any water quality issues.  Nothing worse than going to the beach and not being able to swim.

Within moments of unpacking and getting somewhat settled, my son was heading to the water.  No matter how cold that water was, he was going in.  Sounds good, but if it’s just the two of us, if he goes in I am going in too.  This time luckily the water was quite enjoyable.  We waded out to the sandbar where the water was a bit warmer too.  I think he could have spent hours out there if I’d let him.

When I decided to head out of the water, he was more than happy to start creating his sandcastle masterpiece.  Within a few moments, he had made acquaintances with a little boy from nearby and they had a blast with their creation.

Sandcastle

And I could sit back and relax and just enjoy my surroundings.  Aside from the photos I took, my phone was on silent and put away.  Purely unplugged and enjoying the time together.   My favorite part of the day was when I told my son it was time to reapply the sunscreen, he ran into the water to get himself wet and then rolled in the sand.  That was his version of sunscreen.

Sandy boy

The long, miserable Canadian winters have us taking every advantage of the few summer days we get to enjoy.  At the end of the day, it was hard for either of us to drag ourselves away.  It was only the promise that we would return the next possible day that made it better.

Beach life

If you need to reach me this summer, you might just find me at the beach.

 

Parenting/Life · Uncategorized

#ProjectStandForLove

Lately it seems like I am constantly reading posts from fellow bloggers about how this world has brought them to tears and it breaks my heart.  We are worried about the world that we are having to bring our children up in and what the future holds for them.  Thankfully there are people like Bethanie from The Garcia Diaries, Rah of Wire and Honey and Mandy of The Blue Evelope in this world, that want to make it a better place.  They have come up with the #ProjectStandForLove initiative that I was more that happy to promote and take part in.

Project-Stand-for-Love

In their words …“All you have to do is write a sweet note, deliver it to a friend/neighbor/stranger, and share the act on social media with the hashtag #projectstandforlove! By following these simple steps, you are SPREADING KINDNESS AND LOVE! It’s so easy and it’s life changing!

Yesterday, my son and I decide to try and make our little bit of difference in the world.  We decided that we wanted to show our local firefighters how much we appreciate them putting their lives on the line day in and day out for us.  We decided to bring them some cookies that we could enjoy on their down time.  We arrived at the firehouse and the firefighter that greeted us seemed genuinely shocked and grateful for our little delivery.  To my son’s delight, we were invited in to see the firetrucks.  We were just stepping into the garage when the bells starting ringing that they had a call to go on.  The firefighter was so apologetic that they had to leave and invited us back for another visit anytime.  I am not sure what was more exciting for my son, seeing the fire truck or being there when they actually got a call to go out to!  We hope the firefighters all returned safely from their call.

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Remember, it doesn’t take a lot to show a friend, a neighbor or a complete stranger that there is kindness and love in the world.  If you would like to do your part, print out this note, add your own words of kindness and perform an act of kindness!  It’s that easy to help change the world!