My Life as a Movie

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I’m quite impressionable.  I pay attention to people-their actions, mannerisms, facial expressions, if they are quiet or loud, smiling or frowning, pleasant to be around, or obnoxious.  I listen to what people say, too.  Are they foul-mouthed, eloquent, down-to-earth, kind, rude, or just plain detached?  I find it takes all kinds.

As I watch and listen, without fail I compare my own actions and words to theirs. I know how I want to be as a human in this world, but how do I really measure up?  I’m drawn to earthy, real, authentic, and inherently happy people.  I hope that I fit in with them, as I take their lead.  I want to be true to myself, to love myself as I am, at my age, with my looks, my body, to pursue my ideals and hopes and dreams no matter if they are anyone else’s.

Sometimes I contemplate the details of what I see and hear, and I find myself fading into a movie scene.  The genius of Ed Sheeran is playing in the background, I’ll Be Loving You.  I’m driving along the 101 Rincon with the windows down, hair blowing in the breeze, sun shining brightly on the ocean, reflecting pure blue as deep as the water itself.

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My tiny house is in tow, migrating from the last location in the hills, getting ready for winter.  Once I reach my destination on the beach I’ll set up home, start a fire, get the soup on, and hunker down for the night.  I’m alone, but I’m okay with that…or so I tell myself.  After all, I’ve been alone for years.

The fire is warm as I relax in my chair and listen to the waves.

Flashbacks come one after another. Golden-blond little girl sitting on the bathroom counter while Dad shaves before work; 12-year-old 8th grader, shy, closed off, wearing khaki long skirts and army boots just hoping to stay in the background yet somehow be noticed by the cute boy playing soccer on the field; pregnant sophomore, isolated, walking around the block in the dark at night so no one will see her as she gets exercise for the baby she will give to another family; crazy in college, drinking way too much yet graduating with honors, many boyfriends, feeling sick, wanting to die; 25 and in recovery; married at 30, pregnant again in the best of times, hopeful for all that is to come; 8 years later, divorced and starting over; single mom, strong, resilient, working out to You Tube videos and reading books on parenting teenagers.

The waves provide solace.  My tiny house sits tucked in its space, glowing lamplight and grinning. I push the flashbacks aside and grab my guitar. Immediately the mood changes. I switch to Miranda and sing the Airstream Song.

“Mom!  Mom!! What’s for dinner?  Guess what happened at school today, so much drama…”

I’m quite impressionable, but I also want to leave a good impression, to be the example. It’s important, critical even.  So, taking the happy lead from my observations I answer,

“Spaghetti, and tell me all about it.”

I love movies, and it’s sad when the good ones end.  Luckily, there are more to come.

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

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Crying “Uncle!”

According to Wikipedia: The Roman Empire theory says, Roman children, when beset by a bully, would be forced to say the Latin phrase, “Patrue, mi Patruissimo,” or, “Uncle, my best Uncle,” in order to surrender and be freed.

Common, Kid, just do what I do, and you’ll be fine.

I’ve learned over these single parenting years, especially, not to be ashamed when I hit a brick wall.  I mean, everyone hits them…that place where, left to our own devices, no clear path presents itself.  I usually have to hit the same wall a few times, no, maybe several times, befor I cry “Uncle!”

“Patrue, mi Patruissimo!”

As my daughter approaches her teen years, I find myself continually perplexed by my parenting inconsistencies.  One minute things are fabulous, and I’m sledding smoothly down the hills of Mt. Pinos, the next minute Mt. Everest shows up, and I lack any sort of mountain climbing skills.  Yesterday I was singing “Riser” by Derks Bentley, and today I’m a Yahoo News headline: Single mom drowns in a sea of tween drama.

I can be calm, cool, and collected, and in ten seconds switch to screaming, ranting Mommy Dearest.

All it takes is one trigger, one button push, one hot spot (and I don’t mean AT & T).

Whoa, Nelly, I didn’t ask for this!

I’ve also learned through various trials that, typically, it’s what I’m doing that is the biggest part of the problem. I whole-heartedly believe in looking in the mirror. No, I’m not taking full blame for every attitudinal tantrum or smart remark made by my pre-teen, but I am willingly admitting that when I step outside myself and take a deep breath, I usually mitigate the situation.

I’m the adult. I’m the one who’s lived the life, been a kid, been an adolescent, teenager, 20-something, etc, etc, etc.  I have the experiences of decades to remind me of the turmoil and trials that pervade these developing years.  Sure, I can tout, “Well, that’s just the way it is.  We’ll get through it.   We all survive and turn out okay.”  Fairly true, but as y’all probably know by now, that’s not my style.

Case in point…with horses in training, the more you force them to do something they don’t want to do, the more they plain and simple will not do it.  Sound familiar?  See any correlation?  On the contrary…as soon as a horse believes that what you’d like him to do is actually his idea in the first place, it happens.  Sure, it might take more than one try, one baby step at a time (usually it does), but it does indeed happen and in a much nicer fashion than, “I said do this!  Do it now, dag-gummit!”

Now you’re gettin’ it.  Good job!

Not that my daughter should be compared to a horse (although, I don’t think she’d mind, knowing how much she loves them), but I am at a place where I’m asking myself, “What on earth am I thinking?  Why am I acting like this?  What can I do to change myself and to help us both along?”

I’ve been so frustrated trying to make my kid do what I want her to do (basically, I want her to do things just like me, duh), with ZERO REWARD, instead of looking for a different path.  Brick walls abound, and I am humbled by the ever-present realization that my way is not the only way or the necessary way, and her way may be different but equally worthy and sufficient for success.

So, I am embarking on some parenting research to help me cope with my own insecurities and fear and to help guide me through these unchartered waters.

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook today by Ian Leighton, a renowned horse trainer, which says this:

I wonder what it is about some people that find unpleasantness rewarding.
I can’t think of an animal that thinks that way.

I do not find unpleasantness rewarding, and I know that my kiddo doesn’t either.  I will not settle for things “just being” because of her age and my inexperience as a pre-teen parent.

I ordered book on Amazon called Wise Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens by Laura S. Kastner.  Her parenting techniques go along with the “Mindfulness” movement.  I reviewed the book and scanned the intro, and it completely hit home.  When I read the following statistic, As of 2010 more than nine million families with children under the age of eighteen were being maintained by single mothers, I knew this person had done her research and was going to address things from a real world perspective-not a glorified, shiny, “quick fix” perspective.  Not only will I have the book for reference, but there is an online community to reach out to for support through the author’s website, entitled the same.

We will see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, I already feel hopeful by taking this step.  And, I have faith that while there will be ups and downs, they will certainly be better than hitting brick walls.

Mom may not always get it right, but she’ll always love you.

Have any of you had to cry “Uncle!” with your kids?  If so, what measures did you take at that point to encourage positive change?  Please share!

Life is short…too short not to chuckle about the journey, so c’mon, give it a try. Oh, and thanks, Google, for the awesome photos!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

More Than Surviving

I just received a new follower to my blog, and when the notice came to my inbox, I admit I was super pleased!  My little blog is still alive and kicking even though I’ve neglected it in the worst of ways for the past three months.  Oh, my gosh, and WordPress has changed things, too.  At first I shuddered, but now I appreciate how easy it is to maneuver!

In addition to the other fall festivities, I moved Chief to a new home where I can spend more time with him!

This was my first harvest working in my new role as a vineyard technician, and thus, my first harvest running what is affectionately called “The Sugar Shack” where we test all of the grapes for their acid and sugar levels prior to being picked.  Yes…ALL OF THE GRAPES, covering approximately 1,600 acres plus of fruit over 12 ranches, traversing the rows via quads and trucks to pick and crush bucket-fulls by the dozens each day for two solid months.  And, with record breaking heat, many of those days were spent in triple digit temps-unheard of for the Central Coast.

I never get tired of harvest.  Ever.

In conjunction with harvest, this year my daughter joined AYSO soccer for the first time as a newbie U-12.  One of my dearest barn buddies offered to coach her team and take her to practices, so how on earth could I say “No”???  Every single Saturday from August through November I played the soccer mom role, and also ended up being the steadfast snack bar gal before several games, as no other parent stepped up to help.  Maycee LOVED playing soccer, and while I LOVED that she LOVED it, the season seemed never-ending, and lord knows I was one tired mom.

First-time soccer kid!

Through this busy-ness I realized something very important, however.  No longer was I simply surviving my life.  No longer was I so exhausted (at least not 24/7) that I couldn’t enjoy the harvest or enjoy the Saturday soccer games.  Once upon an earlier time, say about five years ago, this was not the case.  I often began each morning dreading the hours ahead, sometimes feeling as if my feet were made of lead, and putting one in front of the other appeared fruitless for the catastrophes to come.

Harvest was a blast being in and around all of the hustle and bustle for the first time, and soccer was a budding new experience (for both me and Maycee).  Balance was fleeting during the past few months, but as the dust settled, the balance returned.

Patience.

In a chaotic world in a country that thrives on instant gratification, the history of my single mom years has proven that patience and perseverance are key.  The old addage, “Good things happen to those who wait.” rings true.  Sure, rough things happen, as well.  But, this is the seesaw of living.  Keeping the faith when the mountain seems insurmountable is crucial.  I know, and we all know, that life can change on a dime.  Never once did self-pity project me forward into positive outcome.

I took this photo while I was filling my car with gas.  Here these ducks were, waiting patiently.  Not sure for what, but, nonetheless….

I’m a single mother.  I’ve been a single mom since 2008.  I didn’t want to be a single mom.  I didn’t choose this path, but it was laid before me.  In the beginning I fought it, about a third of the way in (to present) I truly surrendered.  Now I look back and feel gratitude for the struggle, for the scary moments, for the strength that came from nowhere, for each piece arrived me here today.  Those who helped me along the way gave me hope and heart not only for my own situation but for humanity.

When it feels like you’re hitting a wall, all it means is you need to change direction.

And, to those who said, “You can’t do this (to many different this’s)!” I retorted, “Yes, I can!”  I did and I will.

So, thank you to all who read here and to my latest follower who inspired me to share once again.

Remember: life is short, and time is a-wastin’, so give a chuckle and don’t give up!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

Pop Tarts & Coffee

I guess I could have titled this post “Candy & Soda Pop”, too.

Hiya, All!

I have a post waiting in the wings (actually, on my laptop waiting to be moved to a flash drive so I can put it on here) that explains where I’ve been the past couple of months.

To preface, I have been diligently scouting the vineyards as we inch closer and closer to harvest.  This job change has been the best thing I could have asked for and received at this juncture in my life.  Being outside on a regular basis and in and amongst nature has fulfilled me in a way I never could have imagined had the Universe suggested it personally many moons ago.

My “office”.

But, on top of being one busy single mom working two physically demanding (at times) jobs, I’ve had quite a few thoughts rolling through my mind that I figured I would share just because I can.

For instance, Maycee is growing up too fast.  TOO FAST.  She is testing make-up as soon as I turn my back, she prefers “laying out” to building sand castles on the beach.  She would rather stay home during summer break than go to the B & G Club and play “kiddie” games.  And, she is asking me way too many grown-uppy questions that make me want to crawl into a rabbit hole, even though I woman-up and answer them because it’s important to be open about these things.  Oh, and let’s not forget Instagramming and the fact that she receives requests from boys that were “just friends” last year in good ol’ 5th grade who now would like her to QUOTE-UNQUOTE date them because they will be entering 6th grade soon.  You know what that means?  If you do, please message me because I don’t see the difference from two months of summer, darn it.

Okay, the good news I’ve been pondering related to the previous paragraph is this: my budding pre-teen has informed me she is grateful her mom has had a crappy life when it comes to men! Ha!  Not that she is glad her mom endured a lot of heartache, but she IS glad I’ve shared everything from my past (to a degree) with her so that she knows not to make the same mistakes.  Back pedal, back pedal, back pedal.  Truth be told, I am an open book for a reason, and the reason is crystal clear based upon these rapidly developing situations.  She also has informed me that she thinks “dating” in grade school is “stupid” (agreed), and while she likes boys, she is not interested in following this peer-pressure-induced concept.

*Proud mom smiles.*

That’s right, honey, you just focus on your horse and all those ribbons!

Speaking of my crappy love-life, in a mind-blowing weak moment back in late spring I decided to re-open my Match account.  What was I thinking?!?!?!  Two years later, two years older, and one short-haircut into newfound freedom here’s what I’ve experienced: tragic humiliation with a capital HHHHHH.  Let me be clear that if it were not for the wonderful [married] male friends I have who prove that decent men exist on the planet, I would lose complete faith in the opposite sex.   Stomach-curdling only partially describes many of the profiles I’ve read.

Jimbob, 45-year-old man seeking 22-year old woman.  I’m athletic and toned and work out 8 days a week, consume 100 calories a day, and only drink to oblivion once in a while.  I’m not interested in a NSA (No Sex Allowed) relationship, so if that’s you-do not message me.  Oh, and speaking of messaging, because I am the most awesomest man on the planet, I’d rather we just meet in person and skip the messaging because if you are anything less than a Taylor Swift look-a-like, you are not worthy of my time.  Thanks, and best of luck, 40-something, short-haired single working mom-you’ll need it!

Match.com stinks.  Totally stinks. Half-way through my esteem-busting 3-month membership I stopped looking.  I had to remind myself of the definition of insanity…”Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”

My Match.com profile pic. Nope, no resemblance to Taylor. Shoot! Well, just bring me another Pop Tart, then!

 

SWM+Online Dating=Insanity.

Ahhhhh, back to my new old self, again.

Let’s focus on the actual love of my life.

You guessed it.

Chieeeeeef!

Yes, I have been loving my horse.   Loving, loving, loving!  I’ve taken to singing songs while I ride.   I think Chief likes it.  He seems to walk in time.  One of my favorite songs to sing is to the tune of Macho Man, only I sing Macho Chief.  You can hear me now, right?  “Ma-cho, ma-cho, Chief….You’ve got-ta be….a Macho Chief!”  Maycee is mortified when I do this, only making it that much sweeter.

We went horse camping and rode trails up rocks and the edge of mountains, and along (dry) riverbeds.  My kiddo and I are riding together, even.  TOGETHER.  Without discourse.  It has been exhilarating, and I have so much gratitude for the two horses we were given and for the riding journey we are traveling.  It is mind-boggling-at the very least- considering from where we came over the last several years.

I’ll be heading up Maycee’s 4-H Horse group this year, too.  Say what?! I know, I know…I don’t have enough on my plate, really.  And, the kid will be starting AYSO for the first time in August.  4-H leader and a soccer mom?  Goodie!  Maybe I’ll learn to referee the games just so I can wear one of the bright yellow referee outfits.  Hmmmm, that sounds like a grrrrreat idea!

So, I’m back in writing action for a little while in between bug hunting, checking grapes,  mucking stalls, and trying to get a little summer beach action.  Once harvest arrives, I will disappear again, but for now, I’m going to enjoy hitting the keys, eating Pop Tarts, and drinking coffee.

After all, I know I don’t have to worry about getting a date.

[Wink!]

Single and content. See that lady behind me? All I’m missing is the umbrella!

Life is short, folks, so be happy, sing a song, and don’t blink lest your 2-year-old becomes a soon-to-be 6th grader.

Love, hugs, and chuckles!

XOXO,

SWM

Getting honest about being single

On a trail ride with my friend (I’m in the rear). Freedom!

I’m coming up on a year since I made the decision to cut out dating from my life.  The resolution came after disappointment upon disappointment and the impending feeling that what I was hoping to find just may not exist-for me.  I know it exists “in general”, but perhaps it is not in my particular 52-card deck to find.

I had taken “breaks” from dating before….so what was going to be different about this time?

I accepted my fate.  I was tired, truly tired, of hoping, looking, and wondering.

I let go.

And, I meant it.

What happened afterwards has become the year of change for me.  Not bulldozing, gonna be no matter what I want kind of change, but directly intentional, freeing change.

I became able to focus more of my energy on me, my behavior, my goals, my dreams, and how all of that plays into raising up a strong, independent young girl, my daughter.  In doing so I’ve had moments of implicit euphoria.  Feelings of, “Oh, my gosh, so THIS is what happiness, honest to goodness, deep down from the bottom of my tummy happiness feels like!”

I had forgotten.  I had really forgotten the purity of joy that comes from being free.  I felt it when I moved away from home, I felt it when I got sober, I felt it the day my daughter was born, and I feel it now.

Choosing to eliminate this sore spot from my life opened up new doors.  No longer did I need to save a part of myself for someone who didn’t exist, someone who didn’t care, someone who didn’t love or even like me for me.

I embraced my bed covers!  I embraced snuggling up with my dog!  I embraced going to bed early and not feeling “guilty” if I was too tired for anything else!  I embraced not having to finagle a sitter for Maycee just so I could have some “alone time” with Mr. Wrong!  I embraced the simplicity of only answering to myself!  I embraced knowing that I could handle everything on my own-I had been for years-why did I think a partner would make any of this better?!

And, this year, I took on working harder than ever BECAUSE I could….because I had the time….and I acquired not one, but TWO, horses. ME-on a single mom’s budget.  I changed career paths and seized the opportunity to grow and learn.  I focused every extra moment on the stability of my child’s lifepath, and she’s soaring into the blue sky amongst the clouds today. I worked down my debt and have been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Breathe….breathe.

Most of all, however, I realized my own self-worth.  How low had I set my price tag towards the end of my dating career….and for what? For whom?  Why?  Short hair, long hair, blue jeans, make-up, no make-up, dirt under the nails, or painted pretty-we are ALL beautiful and deserving of respect.  We have value.  I have value.

And, now, I am me.  I am free.  I am at peace.  And, with all of that….if I’m truly honest, which I am, I do still hope to find a romantic love one day.  A hand-holder, a gentle soul, funny, down to earth, genuine.  But, maybe I better re-phrase that…I hope he finds me because I will no longer be searching.

I will know when he does.  I will know it’s right.  I will feel calm, relaxed, and undoubtedly certain.  There will be no need to compromise.  He will be the one.

In the meanwhile, this current deck of cards is dealing a full house, and I’m really blown away with the hand!

Blessings abundant, and gratitude swells.

Readers, if you are currently in the dating conundrum, I suggest letting it go.  I suggest loving yourself and finding freedom in just being you. Explore, believe in yourself, take advantage of new opportunities. Being single is quite different from being alone.

Life is short…let your wings take you high!

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XOXO,

Kasey

For me and for her

It is a fact that hurtful words and actions can have a lasting impact on a person just as much, if not more so, than empowering words and behavior.  If this weren’t the case, I don’t think the campaign against bullying would be at the forefront of media attention and such a focus across school campuses today.

Honestly, my gut (and not a 10-year study) tells me that very few of us grew up evading even small amounts of persecution in some form or another, sneaking through high school hallways without mean looks or derogatory comments.  A greater majority of us dealt with a lot of negativity, even abuse, when truths be told.

And, as women, we grew up under additional pressures, if I may be so bold as to say, that included fitting within certain molds for body, hair, and face type, style, behavior, career paths, and more.  We learned to scrutinize over fitting in and becoming what was expected from our families, our friends, society, and certainly, the opposite sex.

When I decided to divorce, I explained to my ex how un-attractive I felt, and I questioned him as to why he never seemed to want to be with me any more (physically).  His response I have never forgotten, and I think, moreover, I have never quite gotten past to a degree: “Maybe if you hadn’t cut your hair.”

Yep.  That simple (not).  Cutting my hair made me unattractive to my spouse. Cutting my hair because I had a baby in tow that awakened numerous times in the night day after day, and I was too tired to deal with fashion faux-paux’s, lessened his libido. His baby, too, mind you! Ya, well, I know that it wasn’t my hair that was the problem.  But, nonetheless, the comment has stuck with me for over seven years.

Until now.  No more sticking.  Little by little these negative pieces are being tossed and replaced by new positive pieces. With my daughter’s telescope in full view of my choices, I’ve made many changes in how I do things since that conversation.  And a couple of days ago, I added one more change…

I’m here to tell you today, that I WANT MY HAIR CUT OFF!
Hello, Happy Me!

With every step I take, or every haircut I get, I do so knowing that my own empowerment gives power to my daughter.

There are NO MOLDS to fill that aren’t meant to be broken.  Make the positive overshadow the negative, and a whole world of possibility stands ready.

Life is short, so lop of any unwanted locks, break the mold, and while you’re sweeping away the pieces, give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

“Don’t tell on her, Mom!”

This past Monday my kiddo turned eleven. ELEVEN.  We had one of the biggest turnouts for Maycee’s typical “at home” party (held on Sunday) we’ve ever had, including all five of her besties, Grandma and Grandpa, her dad, and a few of our closest barn friends.

The entire time I felt as if I was having an out-of-body experience.  The laughter was different, the girls were quiet and reserved (much more than we grown-ups!), the excitement of balloons and games and eating cake lower key.  In fact, this year Maycee wanted ICE CREAM CAKE-a totally new experience for both of us!  There were no big messes to clean up-each person being old enough now to throw away their trash and help out. I guess you could say it was “easy”.

I quietly observed my daughter during the hours we celebrated.  I saw my little girl, my baby, enjoying herself-being a pre-teen with her besties.  After the cake eating was done, wanting to take her posse to the park and have free time, I had to let her go.  This is what healthy kids do-they leave the nest, explore, figure things out; I know this even though in the moment I want to have my toddler back with her messy fingers and littler friends who only eat frosting and throw napkins on the floor.

She’s eleven.

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Last night after I picked Maycee up from The Club (where she goes during winter break while I’m at Job #1) we went out to the barn to do Job #2. I finished all the stall mucking and dumping and loaded the hay trailer for the morning when she told me that one of the staff members there was sharing about her experiences as a teen mom in an abusive relationship.  She apparently gave Maycee and a couple of other girls some pretty graphic details of what she endured, and Maycee was relaying this conversation now to me.

I felt the hairs rise on my back. I felt a lump form in my throat.  I felt anger well up within me as the protective Mother Bear came out of its cave. Why would this lady tell my kid these things?!  What on earth kind of discussion had been forming to lead to this?!  Who thinks it’s appropriate to talk to 5th graders about their own personal issues to this degree?!

I asked Maycee.  She said, “I don’t know.  I think we were talking about bullying.”  She could sense the irritation not-so-well hidden in my inquiry.  “She always talks to us about stuff, Mom.  She says things like, ‘See….this is why you do well in school and stick with the kids who are good.’  Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”

She’s eleven.

I wanted to be mad.  I wanted to call up the Boys and Girls Club of America and yell at the director and tell her this is not okay with me.  Her staff needs to keep their tales of woe to themselves.  These are kids for goodness’ sake! They are supposed to be playing and having fun, not listening to tragedy.

But, I had to make Mama Bear go back in her cave.  It wasn’t the woman’s story that bothered me at all.  I have my own history I’ve had to share with Maycee along similar lines, so there is no judgement.  It was knowing that the older my daughter gets, the more she is going to be exposed without my claws there to protect her.

Kids, eleven or twelve…may not get lessons such as these from their own family.  Some moms and dads don’t sit down and talk with their children as frankly as I do with Maycee.  Perhaps a young adolescent girl might hear this woman’s story, and it will be the catalyst that sticks in her mind when faced with a similar situation.  She will decide against settling for worse and go for better.

As much as it bothered me that Maycee was hearing unpleasant details about a staff member’s journey, I had to respect her plea.  “Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”  Because she wants to know. She wants to hear.  She wants to experience and feel beyond what I tell her, beyond what she learns in school, beyond what is nice, beyond what I allow her to view on the TV in our home.

I need to keep reminding myself and pay attention to my own fleeting sense of control. I didn’t tell on the woman; instead, in my heart, I thanked her for caring.

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Maycee is eleven.

After the party ended and her friends went home, Maycee said she had “the best birthday”.  My heart warmed, but a part of me still was feeling contemplative.

I know we are in movement, a time of wide transition, and I guess this mom is starting to dig her nails in, trying to hold back the hands of time.  Partly because I miss the Elmo birthday decorations and partly because I know of the potential abuse within the big, big world.

Neither cause should stifle Maycee’s ability to blossom, and I will always be there to celebrate with pizza and [ice cream] cake.  Always.

Readers, if you have children, have you had trouble with letting go?

Remember, life is short, so eat ice cream cake, and give a chuckle.

XOXO,

SWM