PLEASE NOTE:
These are NOT my photos.  I could never take photos this good.
These are from one of the parents, at the school, who is an amazing artist.  And I am so grateful for his talents.

She's got spirit, yes she does. She's got spirit, how about you?

She’s got spirit, yes she does. She’s got spirit, how about you?

My beautiful baby girl.

My beautiful baby girl.

2015 - 2016 Cheer Team.

2015 – 2016 Cheer Team.

Doing what she loves to do.

Doing what she loves to do.

Getting to do this with one of her oldest and closest friends. Icing.

Getting to do this with one of her oldest and closest friends. Icing.

Being part of this group, she's found her niche.

Being part of this group, she’s found her niche.

When I was growing up there were no actual cheerleaders in my schools. Ever. We just didn’t have them. Not when I was in Jr. High, in Saudi because of the skimpiness of the outfits. Never would have been appropriate. Then at Willy we didn’t have them either, because every student was required to be on an actual sports team. Or find a suitable alternative, like volunteering at a local horse ranch; which was equally physically demanding. Ask me how I know. LoL

Thus for me all cheerleader-related knowledge was learned from TV and the movies. Not very realistic, to say the least. I held a notion that cheerleading was a cop-out for doing actual sports. That the girls who choose to do cheerleading were doing so, because they were not capable of the physical work of athletics. I was lead to believe that cheerleaders were ditzy. That was until Bronwyn came into my life – and as she grew up, desired to be a cheerleader.

I did all that I could to redirect her desires into more socially acceptable, actual sporting, real activities. I was fighting a force of nature. Needless to say, I did not win.

My youngest daughter was going to be a cheerleader. Period.

I thought that she would grow out of this along the way. Grow bored with it. Realize that it was just a fluffy alternative.

Nope.

Here we are and my baby girl is on the high school cheer-leading squad.

And here I am being taught that every believe I held about cheer-leading and the girls who choose this, was wrong. Dead wrong.

Cheer-leading is an actual sport. A very physically demanding sport. These girls are as much athletes as the boys and girls that they cheer for, out on the football team. I watch as my daughter limps into a warm shower each night after practice, to ease her sore muscles. She uses all of them. I witness her deftly apply an ace bandage to her left ankle, each day before a game-night, because of the extra strain it takes, when she lifts her childhood playmate, up and over her head.

Did I say that these girls were ditsy? Oh I apologize now. Watching my the expression on Bronwyn’s face, I know that her brain is working over-time, when she is holding Abby up in the air. Concentrating and adjusting her body, to accommodate her teammate’s body, so as not to allow any harm to come to her. Also, these girls are required to maintain a 3.0 or better, to even participate. That’s above the 2.5 for other athletes. Their coach’s rules, not the school’s. These are the smartest girls you’ll meet in the school.

She has found her niche, my Baby Girl. And I’m so proud to watch her jumping, yelling, and encouraging her schoolmates, in their endeavors. On and Off, of the field. She is blossoming into a very out-going young lady, and it is because of her love for cheer-leading.

She’s come a long way from the little girl, who just stood on the sidelines, during the game.

She's come a long way from the little girl, who just stood on the sidelines, during the game.

She’s come a long way from the little girl, who just stood on the sidelines, during the game.

I really am not sure how to post this. I mean, my head understands that they are going to keep growing up. That really is the purpose of it all, right? Yet, my heart keeps wanting to make them slow-the-fuck-down, on this whole ‘growing up’ thing.
Today they went to the beach.
By.
Themselves!

(*shock*)
((*sob*))
(((*sigh*)))

They knew that I had a client today in Cocoa Beach. They wanted to go to the beach. They wanted me to just give them a lift there and then go assist my client. They acted as if this were the most normal thing in the world to do.

((((***sighhhhhhh***)))))

My Baby Girls.... all growing up and shit.

My Baby Girls…. all growing up and shit.

image

Stuffed Eggplant

So I’m trying this.  Posting a photo from my phone, with the app thing.

I got a new cookbook, called Going With the Grain.  I have been wanting to do more with whole grains.  The ones that people rarely eat anymore.  The ones that Nature gave us, to keep us healthy.  Like quinoa, barley, and faro.

So I made a roasted dinner tonight. I already made some veggie patties with quinoa.  I made extra quinoa, and then found this recipe in my book, so I knew what I wanted to do with the eggplant I had bought. I thought I would just roast the chunks,  like I usually do.  But this was even better.

I had some peppers so I stuffed those with rice for the kids.  Let’s bed honest, they are eating more variety, but eggplant is pushing the boundaries.  LoL

I kept up my Roasted theme and did up my roasted red potatoes, which are tossed in dijon mustard and herbs de Provence.  The kids love them.  Add a salad and it’s dinner.

Oh and it was yummy. 🙂

I found this on FaceBook. A dear friend of mine, who only has sons, was commenting about coaches who use the phrase, “Like a girl.”. Which she felt was insulting to her sons. She is an amazing person, yet this is one thing that we see differently. Unlike her, I am raising both genders of humans. I have to see it from both sides. So while the feminist in me, the one who was for a great many years, only raising one gender, Girls… is thrilled that there is this empowering video of girls and women talking about the phrase.

I stop.

I stop being thrilled when I realize that my son is also hearing these same messages. He is effected as well. Differently. Yet, still effected. He is hearing a message that girls are better in some fashion. Which is exactly what we have been doing to girls for so long, that it has brought about this problem to begin with.

So I say: Take gender out of it. Just erase “like a girl”, or “like a boy”.

Let’s rephrase it to be, “Like You.”

You. A person walking, running, throwing, hitting, playing, talking, thinking, being…. You…. on the planet.

Let You be perfect…. regardless of gender.

I am so grateful for my friends. I’m telling you there is nothing, that a good long talk with my besties, can’t be solved in my world. Thank you to Elise and Tim for loving me so well.

So I gotta admit that allowing my children to go and live with their father for a week was hard. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I did NOT have a good night on Thursday night. I wallowed in my shit for hours and hours.

As I sat on the plane to Sac on Friday night I tried to figure out, Why. Yes, I was in a total over-thinking mood, all weekend. Poor Tim and Elise. They do put up with a lot from me, and how I am. I can be real mood-killer.

So, Why would it bother me so much to have the children with Barry this past weekend? When in factual light he and I had already agreed that, he would keep the children not only during his weekend, but also on Sunday, and Monday nights, while I was in CA visiting with Elise and Tim. This was only adding 2 nights on, 1 onto each end. Which again, shouldn’t have bothered me; and normally wouldn’t.

So WHY did it bother me so much?

Context.

Before Barry pulled his “Hyde-personality” and “let’s-pick-a-fight”, routine on Thursday morning, I was fine with the kids over at his home for 4 days. Had he asked me to keep them an extra day, as something nice for him; like when he wanted to take them to the beach for 4 days over the summer… I would have said: “Sure. Why not. That would be great. Easier on the kids. I wouldn’t worry about them being home for a few hours on Tuesday night when I arrived home late from the airport.”

But that is not how it went down.

Instead, it was “I’m going to take you to court and sue you for joint-custody of the kids. 50 / 50 so I don’t have to pay any child support. You’re keeping the kids away from me.”

Other than him taking me to court, nothing is further from the truth. Which I pointed out to him, in a conversation about how I don’t enforce our current agreement to the letter. Ever. AND HE AGREED WITH ME.

So why the drama?

Context.

When its me just being nice to him, he doesn’t like it. Why doesn’t he?
I am not him. I won’t speak for him.
I have my theories. Elise has her’s. Tim has his. I have mine. The gal in the check-out line at the Publix has her’s. Every one has their opinion.
Opinions are like assholes, every one has one. And they all stink.

When it comes down to it, I like to be in control. When Barry pushes my buttons this way, bullies me into doing something; I don’t like it. Even if it was something that I was going to do anyways. Its the fact that he bullied me into it. That I felt threatened, and scared of him, once again. Like I was backed into a corner; and did whatever I could, to keep him from hurting me worse, than he was already doing. I followed the ‘fear’ line of thinking. And I let it drag me right down the rabbit-hole on Thursday night.

Hook – Line – and Sinker.

So for the last few weeks the Ex and I have been having productive, even kind, conversations with one another. Speaking on the phone mainly, and once even in public. At one point he asked about my friend, whose health isn’t the best right now. I asked about Rhonda, and her health. I even went so far as to offer to skip one of Russell’s games so that Rhonda could come and see him play baseball. Knowing that Rhonda wouldn’t come and see him play, if I was there. I really thought that perhaps we had turned a corner and that this relationship with Barry could be a good one.

I should have been more cautious. I should have been more aware of what I was leading myself into.

This morning Barry informs me that as soon as he can, he’s going to take me back to court and sue for the custody of the kids. He’s going to take them away from me, because I’m not letting Daphne come and live with him.

This lead to an arguement.

He agreed with me, when I said, “This is why I shouldn’t be nice to you. This is what it gets me.”
He said, “I was being nice to you too. But you say one thing to me, then write crappy stuff about me on that Blog of yours.”

I do, but not always. I have on occasion written nice things about him, and how I am happy to see us working together. He said that I never write anything nice. I asked him if he had read it. HE said, “No. But I hear about it.”
Me: “Then you shouldn’t listen to rumor. You should go and get the facts for yourself, instead of relying on someone else’s lies.”
He didn’t have anything to say for that.

Ulitmately this was about Daphne.

I can see it for what it is now. I can see his worry about her. I have the same worries. He can’t control her cutting, or solve her depression, by moving her out of the enviroment that gives her stability and forces her to heal. Does he really think that allowing her to just “Up and Move to Dad’s” is going to solve this?

I can see her not liking how I hold her accountable for her actions. Her words. I can see her wanting to have something “easier”, and that she thinks she will get that from Barry. He claims that he can hold her accountable. That he can monitor. Be on top of her. Make her have study hall. Make her tell him, wherever she is. Make her give up her phone, and allow him to read what is on there. Yet, he hasn’t done any of these things in the last 2 years. Not on a consistant basis. Not every day.

Because it is hard. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort. He did not show that effort when he lived at home. He has not shown that effort since the divorce. Buying the kids whatever they want, is not being a parent. Feeding them junk food, because they don’t want to eat what you cooked, is not being a parent. Being a parent means making some choices for your kids, that they are not going to like; but are what they need to do. Even if its hard.

I spoke about some of the things like this. He just sat there. He just sat there and stared at me like I grew 3 heads or something. Then he started in on how he was going to take me to court if I didn’t let Daphne move in with him.

I know in my heart that if I let Daphne move in with Barry – she won’t be around this time next year.

Okay so I know that things are up in the Universe because the Ex and I are getting along. Or maybe its just my attitude. Or this way in which I am trying to be a better person. I have a few relationships that I know need some working on. The one with the Ex-husband, is one of those. So I am trying to be kinder. Nicer.

I start with things like asking about his girlfriend. I know that Rhonda is not going anywhere. She is a part of his life, and therefore a part of my kids’ lives. So we might as well get along. I can start by just asking about her health. She has fought cancer in the last couple of years, and so I want to acknowledge that. To be kind about her. Ask about her. I don’t think I will be taking her a casserole any time soon. But this is a start.

Talking last night with Barry on the phone I even went so far as to offer to skip Russell’s baseball game on Thursday night. I know that Rhonda would like to see him play, but that she won’t go if I’m there. I can’t say that she doesn’t like me, because I cannot assume what she likes, and doesn’t. I can only say that she feels uncomfortable around me, because she did the one time that we met.

With regards to his payment of things for the kids. He’s making an effort. I appreciate when he sends the Child Support, but I don’t rely on it for the payment of any actual household bills. I would like to see him reimburse me for things like all of the back-to-school stuff, but I know that without a steady job, that makes it hard. I won’t go into him not working, as that has always been a sore subject between us. I have faith that when he has the money, he will do right by me.

We even talked about that issue, and are making a list of the funds each of us has paid out, on the children’s behalf since August. He regaled me with the stories of the latest clown-like proceedings for Pop’s probate. I told him my advice, and then told him, “I should just shut up. Its not my place to get involved. We always had that agreement, you would deal with your family, and I would deal with mine.” I even went onto reassure him, after he was talking about his brother and the situation that this puts him into. “Pop trusted you to do the right thing. I have faith that you will make good decisions there.”

When it comes to the kids I think that it is better there. He wants to see them more, and so I try to create situations that will allow that. He tells me that I need to go and do things for myself, and so I try not to feel badly about asking him to watch his own children. I’m trying when it comes to that. I feel like he’s still trying to buy their love, instead of giving them the structure that they need. So long as I’m around to provide that to them most of the time, it should work out in the long run.

We communicate well on each of the children’s needs and behaviors. He seems to be more interested in listening to how they are doing, rather than pointing out to me how I am getting it wrong. Like study hall, and food choices. He even agrees with me that Daphne should have to be responsible for the repairs of her phone. That my forcing her to pay for half of them, and allowing her to make the choices on how its repaired, is fair.

WoW! Right? He agreed with me.

So I like to think that perhaps this newer way of looking at my life is going to be a great thing for everyone. Even for my Ex-husband, whom I told today, “Hey! You know what? You aren’t bad as an ex-husband. You’re pretty good.”
Ex: “Yeah, I’ve heard that from a few gals.”
Me: “Wait, you mean I’m not your only ex-wife.”

We both laughed.

It goes back to when we were engaged, and my father that that Barry had an ex-wife. Barry and I decided not to get married in the church. I was no longer a practicing Catholic, and he wasn’t much of anything. Daddy thought that the reason we weren’t getting married in the church was because that Barry had already been married once. LoL

Seriously, I would give him a recommendation, as an Ex-husband.