Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School

I have never been more happy to see my children march off back to school! This Summer has been great in so many ways, but in others, it has been so not for me.

I always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom ... always. Until I had Sage and realized that the day to day routine of staying home solely to care for your child was actually a LOT harder than going to work. I missed Sage from the moment I dropped her off at daycare until the moment I picked her up. I was torn because I missed so many milestones by being away from her for 10 hours per day. However, those 10 hours per day were what it took to reclaim my sanity after those evenings that were strained.

The days that I managed to eek out over the last three years with Sage, where it was just her and I at home during the day were some of the best. It made me resent going to work more and more. When I was laid off and almost immediately decided that I would not go back to work right away, it was those days that I had visions of. I wasn't thinking too clearly, obviously!

Sage and I together are great. Sage and I with her sister all Summer, not so great. I don't know what it is about her sister, but she's like crack to Sage. She gets her all wound up ... they trash my house and they bicker at each other constantly. It was a never ending battle from the time they woke up until the time they went to bed. And in all fairness, she's not just like that with her sister. She's like that when anyone else comes into the house. She's almost passive and calm when she is alone with me, but add anyone else to the mix and it's like a nuclear reaction.

I now understand all of the mothers who so cheerfully exclaim that their children have gone back to school. I never really got it until this Summer.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


The state of Maryland has changed the rules in recent years determining the cut-off date for a child to enter Kindergarten. Previously the date was December 31st, however in the last several years they have moved the date to September 1st. There is a 45 day grace period given for children who pass a standardized test to allow them early admittance.

I have HUGE issues with this new regulation since it will have Sage starting Kindergarten 3 months prior to her turning 6 years old. That Board of Education will allow no deviance to their new ruling and I have been fighting with them for over a year. Yes, my child isn't even 4 years old yet, but she is extremely intelligent and was considered advanced in her daycare center. They placed her with children a year older than her and she was still more mature and smarter than most in her classroom.

In my opinion, keeping her out of Kindergarten as a 5 year old will hold her back. She will know the things they are already teaching by then and will be bored. She craves knowledge. I feel it is a disservice to her to not allow her entry into Kindergarten because of where her birthday falls if she shows the maturity and the skills they are looking for in a child entering the school system.

Her brother is a perfect example. His birthday falls 10 days prior to hers and he entered Kindergarten under the previous administration regulations. He entered college before he ever stepped foot into high school. He is in a federally funded advanced learning program at Frostburg State University during the summer. He started doing college level work prior to entering his Freshman year in high school.

It has been said by many that Sage is more intelligent than he was at her age. I'm not unrealistic when it comes to educating a child. I do believe that there are arguments both ways and that there are many children who would benefit from having that additional year home prior to entering school.

But having such stringent rules can also hinder some children. I believe with all of my heart, that many of the children who have issues in school, develope those issues out of boredom. Many of these issues start in early childhood education when they are not challenged. I know that often the root cause of many issues lie elsewhere, but it cannot be denied that some stem from sheer boedom.

The only solution available to me is to homeschool Sage the year I feel she should be entering Kindergarten. She will need to pass the standardized testing for Kindergarten curriculum and I will then present that papework to the Board of Education with the recommendation that she advance to the 1st grade. With that in hand, she will be able to enter the school system as a 1st grader the year that she would enter the Kindergarten based on the new regulations.

The only issue I now have is keeping her from getting bored and not melting down into the deepest pit of despair when her sister goes to school this year and she cannot. Who knows? Maybe I'll start the Kindergarten curriculum with her this year, just prior to her turning 4 years old. I believe that she is ready for it. I do not know if I am!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Swimming Like a Big Girl

Or so she thinks.

Coming into the Summer, Sage had a huge fear of swimming pools and water. Last year, without my knowledge, my brother took her to a friends house to get into the pool. He had her, his two children and my my niece. Because my niece was 15 at the time, he figured Sage would be okay with her in the pool. She was on a floatie and was very wary of the water. Somewhere along the line, someone wasn't paying the best attention, and she was knocked off of the floatie.

It terrified her.

The first two attempts to get her into my parents pool were unsuccessful this year. The third time, she got in on a floatie while clinging to her grandmother. She repeated this a couple of times but would not give up the floatie or the person she was hanging on.

I was a little worried about our trip to Tennessee. Ten days on the lake with a child afraid of water was going to be difficult.

Fortunately, it wasn't an issue. The first day in the water she was in a life vest and a toddler floatie that she could sit in. She was nervous at first, but she eventually started to relax and have fun.

After the first day, she wouldn't use the floatie. There was no giving up the life jacket, which wasn't allowed anyway. She still clung to people throughout the week, but she was in love with the water and splashed around in wild abandon. She hung out on the dock with her sister making monkey faces at me.

She had a blast playing in the water with everyone ...

Mostly with her MawMaw

Also, with her Aunt Linda

And her cousin and sister ...

By the end of the week, she was letting go and "swimming like a big girl." She would go from one person to the next, giggling and splashing.

She won't get into the pool without her life jacket, but she now loves the water and is trying harder and harder to swim. She splashes around with the other kids and has a blast. In doing so, she is turning this into one of the best summers I have ever had.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes ...

I've been all about changes lately. My desire to delve back into a community that I miss is only one of those changes.

You see, about two months ago, I was laid-off from my employer of 9 1/2 years; from an industry that I have worked in for 20+ years. The thing is, I wasn't overly distraught about the fact. I was very, and I mean very, briefly upset because I thought, "holy fuck, how are we going to make it?" That lasted about 2 hours and then I was okay with it. Unemployment benefits while I am looking for/deciding on a new career, almost cover what I was left with after paying for childcare expenses, gas and lunches. In fact, I'm saving money because I don't have to pay daycare expenses for an additional child for the summer.

The lay-off allowed me to take my first real vacation in 10 years. The girls and I went with my parents to Tennessee and spent 10 glorious days lakefront with nothing but water and the surrounding mountain range. The time spent there is what cemented my desire, my need, to get back into the pagan community. I don't know what it was about the mountainside, or the lake, that made me miss it so much. But it did.

This was my view every morning as I sat outside while everyone bustled around. It had a calming effect on me. During those mornings, I thought about the things that I want to do with my life. I made a promise to myself that I won't go back into the workforce as a mindless drone, answering to people who have no interest in anything other than what I can do to make them money. My previous boss, for lack of a better word, was interested in my photography talents but was unwilling to pay anything additional for my services beyond my regular wage. He wanted me to photograph things during our normal working hours for the company that I worked for.

I've wanted to start my own photography business since my pregnancy with Sage, and have taken the first steps in doing so. I've photographed a few babies and a christening. I've made arrangements with one of my boys football coach to not only shoot all of the JV football games that he will be playing in, but the Varsity games as well. I'm starting slowly and with what I am comfortable with and will build from there.

It's part of changing, and growing. Actually becoming the person that I want to be instead of only thinking of the person that I want to be.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


That word holds so much for me lately. I have always been the "mother," but only in the last five years have I actually been so. Before it was I who took care of transient friends and boyfriends, who all too often, needed a mother more than partner.

Somehow in the process of transitioning into the real deal, I lost a little of myself along the way. A part of myself that before then had been a big part of my life. I lost my way spiritually as my friends started to move on. My spirituality was such a huge part of my life. For several years, it often seemed to define who I was, as I was actively involved in a grassroots national organization with the sole purpose of bringing about education to those who misunderstood earth-cenetered religions.

I am not Christian. I have never claimed to be so and have had an aversion to organizd religion in any form since my childhood. I don't know if it was exposure to Holy Rollers as a child ... or having my Mormon cousin come spend the summers with my family only to make a beeline to the refrigerator for her annual consumption of enough sweet iced-tea to make up for an entire year. It was most likely the "I'm right and everyone else is wrong" attitude that it seemed most "religious" people I knew had. I don't like the concept of original sin.

I was always searching and never really knew where to fit in. I was drawn to nature and I could feel a divine spark in everything. In my mid-twenties, I happened across a book that would change me forever. It was a book about the craft, about paganism, and I devoured it. So many of things in this book called to me and fell in line with the things that I believed but had never said outloud. It was that one single book that started my journey and led to some of the most amazing friendships that I have ever had.

When my significant other and I first started dating, I was still active in the pagan community. But somewhere along the way, that activity waned as life got busy in other areas. It didn't help that his mother is avidly reborn and was often distrustful of anyone caring for his boys as well as she had done. She looked for faults in everything and I just wasn't looking for any battles in my newly formed family. For the first time in my life, I didn't feel safe being me and being vocal about my beliefs. At that time, a part of me slowly faded into the back of my mind and stayed there ... safe from judgement.

As fulfilling as my life is, I'm not entirely present in it because I haven't pursued my spiritual practices. I haven't been in tune with nature or myself. I've decided to dip my toe back into the community that I have missed so much. I can no longer deny the part of myself that has been slumbering and refuse to any longer. I know I will have my battles to wage and that people will decide that I am "going to hell." They will no longer see the person that I am, see me as kind and good, but will see me as something else. They won't see that I am the same person that they have always known. But I'm ready for it. I can no longer deny a part of who I am to make others feel more comfortable in my own home ... my life.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

All Grown Up

I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. I had a follow up appointment that got me out of work early that afternoon and was just walking in the door as my mother called. I could barely understand her but I did understand that my sister was in labor and I needed to get to the hospital. I had one phone call to make before I left, to our father, and that phone call took so long that I was late for her birth.

She was only minutes old when I first saw and held her. She was the most amazing little creature I had ever seen and I promised her that I would always watch over her and make sure that nothing ever happened to her.

When she went for her physical for kindergarten, an intern found a heart murmur. It meant open heart surgery to close a hole in her heart that was the size of a half dollar. I think it was the most terrifying thing I have ever had to deal with. When I saw her in the recovery room after her surgery, it was only a matter of minutes before I had to excuse myself so she wouldn't see me cry.

She's all grown up now. She turned sixteen in April. SIXTEEN! I'm so old! And in May, I got to photograph her on her way to the prom. Prom. As in she is old enough to date and go to formal dances and drive.

Other than taking photographs of Sage, I think taking her photos in her prom gown have been one of the most rewarding times I have held my camera. She was absolutely stunning and I was so proud to call her my niece.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

And she's back ...

When we first took custody of her, she was a troubled five year old that was desperate for attention and would do whatever it took to get it. She is his daughter. It took almost a year to get her to realize that her bad behavior would not get her the attention that she desired. It was a year of many, many time-outs and I think my first grey hair. It was a year full of crying fits, mostly on her part, that led to the realization that good behavior was going to get her the attention desired and that the bad behaviors would only get her a time-out on the stairs. I don't know why it ended up being the stairs that worked. My guess is that it was because it was so close the rest of the family, but still removed from us. The ability to hear us, but not see us. It eventually worked and she was (is) the most precious little girl.

Two and half years later, her father was sent to prison and three and half months later her absent mother appeared to tell me that I had no rights, she wasn't my child, she was taking her from me. It wreaked total havoc on her, myself and her siblings. Her mother took her to her grandparents house where she was to live with her. She stuck around for a couple of months and allowed me to get her on the weekends.

Once her mother started to disappear for weeks at a time, the behavior started to worsen again. When her mother would come home, she would literally beg me to tell her how to discipline her own child. I had to laugh, and secretly cry. She had no idea what she was doing to her own child, and honestly did not care. She is a selfish woman. She has four children, that live in three different homes, none of them with her. I asked several times for her to return her to me but she is immature and uses her as a pawn.

A year ago, she moved to another state and occasionally came to visit her children in their various locations. Even though she has no desire to raise any of her children herself, she is also high on the power she holds, among other things, over where her children reside. The behavior worsened over the last year and has come full circle. Her grandparents were at their wits end and were insisting that they were forcing her mother to take her when she got out of school. That was not an option.

Memorial Day weekend her father went to pick her up for the weekend and informed her grandparents that she would not be returning. Her mother had not been seen or heard from in over two months. There had been sightings of her in the area, she just felt no need to see or care for her children.

My heart breaks for her while she frustrates me to no end. She has become sneaky and steals. She likes to do things to her sister and then quickly apologizes and says "it was an accident." I know she needs a firm, but loving person to steer her right but this time around I cannot focus solely on healing her. I cannot allow her to pick at and hurt her little sister in her bid for attention. So the battles have become more frequent and more exhausting. I often feel as if I am fighting a battle I cannot win. I know it is a fight worth fighting but I don't know for how long I can fight the good fight without completely losing my mind.

She went to visit her grandparents on Sunday. She was returned home at 8:30pm and had not been fed since breakfast. Her father asked if she had seen her mother and she said no. He asked if her mother knew she was gone, and again the answer was the expected no. What was not expected was the statement that followed ... "she doesn't care about me." She is nine years old and it dawned on her, at that instant, that her mother truly doesn't care where she is or how she is being cared for. I had to make a hasty retreat so she wouldn't see me crying for her, see my heart breaking. Yet, twenty minutes later she was getting a time-out for knocking her little sister down. I have become a yo-yo. I go from caring and nurturing to heal her emotional scars and ten seconds later, I'm the evil step-mother from hell and she wants to go home to the grandparents that don't want her.

Please tell me that it won't be another year of this ... if so, I may have to start hitting the bottle.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Boy is Graduating

It's been a long, long road this year but he did it. At 7:00PM this evening, he will walk on stage to receive his diploma.

I don't write about the boys much because they are teens and I don't want to embarrass them. But I can't help it today. I'm proud. It's been a rough couple of years and he only needed one class to graduate. This was his third time taking the class and it was a close call. He had absolutely no interest in Environmental Science and it seemed that no matter how many times he took it, he was just not going to pass. He did this time, when the pressure was on, and that is what counts.

I'm concerned about whether he is ready for the big world of being an adult and having responsibility. As much as I have tried to instill a sense of being responsible into he and his brother, there are outside influences that undermine many of the lessons I try to teach them and I fear they have left him completely unprepared for what is in store for him.

Tonight is his time to shine and tomorrow he leaves for his senior trip. Upon his return, he will be entering the workforce since he has chosen not to go to college or technical school. I hope he is ready for what awaits him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Am I Doing Wrong?

I know that the "three's" are considered the new "two's," but for some reason I can't help but think I'm doing it all wrong. It seems that my days are filled with not being able to please my child one iota.

Sage has an ginormous streak of stubborn mixed with a plethora of will and she does not seem to grasp the concept that she cannot have her way all of the time. Every little thing turns into a Oscar winning performance with her, in the category of collosal meltdowns and tantrums. She blatantly ignores requests for her to do things and defies demands after she has worn my patience thinner than I ever thought possible. If she is asked to pick up her toys, she pulls more out and makes a larger mess or runs in the other direction. When she is told it is bathtime, she promptly tells me that she doesn't feel like it and then screams bloody murder all the way up the stairs. She has started making things up to get out of bedtime, with her favorite being "I have to go potty."

Her teachers at daycare love her. They tell me how well behaved she is and that she always listens and does what is requested of her. It's like she is a different child the minute she enters the building. Upon exiting, let the games begin. I just don't get it. I don't give in to her demands, but not doing so leads to screams and growls (yes ... growls) and complete pandimonium. She will make herself physically ill with her theatrics and will go on for hours if she does not get what she wants.

People keep telling me she will grow out of it, but I'm not so sure. I've wondered to myself recently what the youngest age of a child ever sent to military school is! I can't imagine her ever being a follower and know that she will always be strong and independent, but it's got to give somewhere. She teeters from being sweet and loving to being a little tyrant as soon as she doesn't get her way. The past comparisons to dictators is no joke. She could break the best (meaning worst) of them any day.

I'm at a loss on how to discipline her to get her over the top reactions to cease. Timeouts do not work. They only fuel her rage at not getting what she wants to begin with and end with her a desperate, clingy mess that is sobbing in my lap. Taking things from her doesn't work because she honestly just does not care! I'm working on a board to hang up for a reward system for good behavior and am hanging by the thinnest of threads of hope that this. will. work. If it doesn't, I think I'm just going to the doctor and asking to be committed to the closest psychiatric facility because I'm doing to lose my damned mind.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Sage has been waking up in the middle of dreams recently. The first few moments that she is awake, she is still walking in dreamland and it usually results in side splitting laughter.

Saturday morning, her father woke her up. She sat straight up in bed.

Sage: "Do NOT throw snowballs at the monkey."
Daddy: "Sage, baby, I think you are dreaming."
Me: snicker, snicker
Sage: turns with wide eyes, pointing at the window "There are MONKEYS in the yard."
Me: "Do they look like Boots or Curious George?"
Daddy: "There aren't any monkeys, you are dreaming."
Sage: pointing at her Daddy "Don't YOU chase those monkeys."

I completely lost all composure and he was speechless.

Ten seconds later ...

Sage: "Mommy, can I watch Mickey Mouse?"

I think she's a keeper.