Sunday, October 19, 2014

Finances
The Consequences of Cyber Snooping

A recent study commissioned by consumer electronics website Retrevo.com revealed some very interesting information about love in the modern technological age: Many couples don't trust each other.

Specifically, the study found that more than 1/3 of young adults and married couples had viewed their significant others' text messages or emails without their knowledge. This statistic is relatively unsurprising given the proliferation of high-speed Internet, smartphones and social networking sites. With just a few furtive clicks or glances at a screen, a person can easily discover critical and highly personal information about their spouse or partner. Gone are the days of the private investigator, or the need to rifle through bills or letters.

While the news is filled with salacious stories of cheaters caught in the act via texts or email, what about divorce? Are former spouses able to legally spy on one another in order to gain the upper hand in divorce proceedings?

It is indisputable that emails, correspondence from social networking sites, text messages and computer files can all serve as extremely valuable evidence in a divorce. For example, MySpace photos of a former spouse posing with a new car or motorcycle can quickly debunk any claims that they are too broke to pay alimony. Similarly, text messages may establish that a former spouse failed to abide by the terms of a child custody agreement by traveling out of state.

Despite the inherent value of this type of evidence in divorce proceedings, it must be obtained in the proper manner. The state of Georgia does not treat cyber snooping lightly and has very strict laws in place. In fact, a divorcing spouse who fails to abide by these rules can face civil liability and even criminal charges.

Georgia Law Prohibits Unauthorized Access to Computer Information

The Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act was passed by the state legislature in 1991 in order to counteract the growing threat of computer crime in both the public and private sectors. The act covers five specific computer crimes that encompass a wide range of criminal activity:

- Computer theft
- Computer trespass
- Computer invasion of privacy
- Computer forgery
- Computer password disclosure

Computer trespass and computer invasion of privacy typically merit the most discussion in the context of divorce and cyber snooping.

Computer trespass


According to Georgia Statute Section 16-9-93(b), a person is guilty of computer trespass if they use a computer without the permission of the owner and with the intent to:

- Delete or remove data, either temporarily or permanently
- Obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the use of a computer program of data
- Alter, damage or cause the malfunction of a computer, computer program or computer network

Most spouses commit computer trespass via the first point, destroying or removing data without authorization from their former spouse. For example, if you secretly use a former spouse's password to access and print otherwise confidential financial files, you will have committed computer trespass. It is of no consequence whether you were just guessing about the password or if the data was stored in a file that was not password protected. The critical issue is whether data was intentionally removed from the computer or other electronic device without permission from your former spouse.

Computer Invasion of Privacy


According to Georgia Statute 16-9-93(c), a person is guilty of computer invasion of privacy if they use a computer with the intent of gaining unauthorized access to the following types of information:

- Employment information
- Medical information
- Salary information
- Credit information
- Any other financial or personal data

Computer invasion of privacy can be committed in any number of situations. For example, if you are somehow able to read the online correspondence of your former spouse from an account that that is only accessible via a work computer and later use this information in divorce litigation, you will have committed computer invasion of privacy. It doesn't matter if the account information was accidentally left open, or if you only glanced it. The critical question is whether sensitive, confidential information was intentionally examined without permission from your former spouse.

The Penalties of Computer Trespass and Computer Invasion of Privacy


Those who commit computer trespass and computer invasion of privacy face fairly harsh consequences. In terms of civil penalties, a former spouse injured by either of these crimes can sue for the damages sustained and for the costs of bringing the lawsuit. In terms of criminal penalties, the accused may face a fine of up to $50,000, imprisonment of up to 15 years, or both. While it is likely that the most severe punishment would be reserved for more serious offenders, a defendant would still have to deal with undesirable consequences, including the possibility of a permanent criminal record.

It is also important to note that under Georgia law, the trial court has the authority to "conduct all legal proceedings in such a way as to protect the secrecy and security of any computer, computer network, data or computer program." This means that even if a person faces no civil liability or criminal charges, any improper evidence could still be excluded by the judge in divorce proceedings.

The best way to avoid charges for computer trespass and computer invasion of privacy in your divorce is simple: If you former spouse did not grant you permission to view the information in question (i.e. you have no password) or did not grant you permission to use an electronic device, you should avoid it altogether. It doesn't matter how valuable or scandalous the information may prove to be.

The only situation in which this type of information may conceivably be used in divorce proceedings is if it was obtained from a jointly shared computer or account, or by your attorney via the discovery process.

If you have questions about the types of information that can be used in your divorce, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney. Don’t risk making a serious mistake.

Article provided by The Siemon Law Firm. Visit us at www.siemonlawfirm.com

Keywords: adultery, infidelity, cheating
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My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 8/15

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”

~ Dr. Seuss
8/15/2012 9:25:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
New Segment Starting Soon
After talking with a local couponer, I decided to try my luck at it. By no means am I an extreme couponer. But I do try to find good deals, and the main goal is to cut my bill down. I know that the deals I find may or may not work for everyone. Plus you most likely will either have to have the coupon or be willing to print it in order for this segment to work for you. However, I wanted to share some of the awesome deals I can find.

The Deal of the Week segment will showcase one or two outstanding deals that I have found that week, as well as where the coupon(s) used came from (if applicable). For the most part I am going to try and only showcase deals from stores that are national such as Target or Walmart. I'm pretty sure just between the two stores I will be able to find at least 1 deal a week that I can show everyone a great snag. :-)

So keep on the look out for some awesome deals!


7/30/2012 3:21:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 7/23

We make our own happiness, therefore only we can dictate how happy we are. 
~ Chelsea O'Neill
7/23/2012 3:34:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 7/18

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”
~ Albert Einstein
7/18/2012 7:43:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 7/16


“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”
~ Robert Frost
7/16/2012 9:29:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 6/13

God has granted us free will. 
So do you ever wonder if he looks down at you and says 
'You CHOSE to do that?!?!'

~ Chelsea O'Neill
6/13/2012 12:05:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Progression

I know that I have repeated said that I am going to write more, but this time I promise it's true. I've had so much going on in the last month. Temperence & I went to visit my parents. While we were there we got to have a mini-family reunion with my brothers, there respected other halves, & my parents. Plus Uncle Matt got to meet Temperence. Uncle Josh (ISU) & Aunt Charlene (DMACC) both graduated from college!

After we got back, we had the fun time of breaking bad habits (such as going to bed without anyone else in the room), and getting back into the normal routine. Overall it went very well. Temperence is back in the groove of things, and routines have resumed. So here is to keeping up to date in the blog and having more for all my readers to read. :-)
6/13/2012 12:05:00 PM
Martini Mom
Change of Address
Martini Mom has moved into her new digs at Freetime, Ltd. I'm still unpacking and hanging the artwork, so please ignore the minor organizational chaos at the new cyber-house. Please swing by for an informal house warming and check out the new digs. BYOB.

(In case you missed my last post, I've decided to close up shop at Martini Mom. Read the bloggy eulogy if you're interested in the whys, and then come party at the new space.)
6/12/2012 12:55:00 PM
Martini Mom
Eulogy
She served me well for many years, but it's time to shut the ol' girl down. This will be Martini Mom's final post.

While a "single mom blog" was never what I intended this space to be, it is certainly where it laid down its roots and flourished. And I am no longer single.

In fact, I'm engaged, which I'm now realizing that I neglected to announce here. So, hey everyone: Martini Mom and The Man are getting MAAAAAR-ried. (Please say that last part in your best Oprah voice.)

Sure, I could morph a single mom blog into a not-single mom blog. Plenty of formerly single moms have done it before me. But, meh. This place reeks of my old life. It was a pretty great old life, don't get me wrong. But I'm ready to bid it a fond farewell and leap unencumbered into my even greater new life.

Plus, martini mom? That's a pretty dumb moniker for someone who can't remember the last time she laid eyes on a martini, let alone drank one. Also, there's this weird Martini Mom & Devil Spawn thing happening that I'm pretty sure I don't want to be even accidentally associated with.

But don't worry: I've been hard at work on a new blog that's almost ready for prime time. There will be less martini. And, I suspect, even a little less mom. But more other stuff. More awesome other stuff. And this time, you even get to call me by my real name. (It's Kellee, by the way.)

So long, Martini Mom. I'll see you in the next life.

(I'll post a link to the next life here, when it's ready, so that I can see YOU in the next life too. It wouldn't be the same without you.)




5/29/2012 8:13:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 4/22
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

 ~ Dr. Seuss ~
4/22/2012 9:28:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 4/20
Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.

~ Maria Robinson ~
4/20/2012 6:34:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 4/17
Imperfection is beauty; madness is genius. And it's better to be absolutely ridiculous, than absolutely boring!
~ Marilyn Monroe ~
4/17/2012 7:47:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
Daily Thoughts - 4/16
So I decided to create a new segment in my blog. I am going to call it Daily Thoughts. I chose that because each post is going to be a: quote, saying, Bible verse, rhyme, basically whatever it is that I come across (or write myself) that I want to share with my readers. Hope you enjoy this weeks Daily Thoughts.

Dear Life,

I have a COMPLETE GRASP on the fact that YOU R NOT FAIR....
So please, QUIT TEACHING ME THAT LESSON!

~ Anonymous ~
4/16/2012 11:29:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
Update: Moving & More

WOW! I've been slacking. I've had so much going on with the move, and then unpacking. I just have not had time to get on and write. But I plan on changing that. So without further ado:

So as I stated before we moved to a new place, which I love. On a positive, I get to reorganize and redecorate anything we decide to change. Unfortunately I still have sooo much to do. It can seem daunting. I swear the boxes seem to multiply at night. My goal is to have everything unpacked before Temp and I go on our next trip to visit Papa and Grandma.

The family is doing well. Temperence is up to 8 teeth. She is 2 foot 7 inches tall. She is growing up so fast. She has a big personality, and is not afraid to speak her mind. Hmm...wonder where she got that from. LOL!

As I said, we are going to visit my parents again soon. I'm so excited. We will get to see Aunt Charlene and Uncle Josh graduate college, be there for Grandma's birthday, as well as getting to see friends and family. Plus Temperence will get to see her Uncle Matt in person for the first time.
4/14/2012 3:51:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Moving and Such

 So it has been a little while since I have posted. Not because I am neglecting, but because I just have so many things to do. We are moving March 10 to a bigger place and I have begun the long process of packing up our current apartment. I figured it would go much easier since I have Temperence to try to do around 5 boxes a day (more if I can). That way I get more packing done, but still give Temperence time.

It is definitely easier in some aspects than our last move, but harder in others. Temperence is older now, so she isn't sleeping as often as she did before. So we have to have time to spend with Temperence as well.

Temperence has officially gotten her 5th tooth. She is a bundle of energy that has a wonderful and big personality. Although when she is in a bad mood, beware! LOL! She definitely lets you know her feelings.

I hope to write more as I can. But until the move is complete, I cannot guarantee how often the posts will be, but I will try my best to keep up with them.
2/18/2012 10:57:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
Daxter Review
daxter review banner


This week’s game is exclusive to the PSP. Daxter is a platform game that gives Daxter (from Jak & Daxter) a chance to shine. He is a once human, now ottsel character. Realizing that he needs to help his chance of survival and to save Jack, Daxter decides to get a job as a pest exterminator. 

Ironically, Daxter takes his job seriously. He also uses it to help him explore parts of Haven City, and to help find clues that will lead him to Jak. Daxter is soon in for more excitement than he realizes as he fights the ongoing invasion of metal bugs.

 You have two weapons of choice. One is a flimsy bug swatter and the other is a spray gun. Throughout the levels, you are able to pick up various upgrades for your weapons. There are various checkpoints throughout the game. So there is no worrying about starting over when you die. Plus not only are there auto saves, but you can save your game at anytime.

daxter gameplay image 1

There are two wonderful features of the game. One is the built in Wi-Fi that enables you to compete head-to-head with other players in the many multiplayer combat arena challenges. The other is the ability to use a USB connection to sync up with the PS2 to unlock drivers, vehicles, and graphics for Jak X: Combat Racing, and secret features in Daxter.

Daxter for the PSP is a must have. It brings back the old school platform style of gaming to the PSP. It has easy controls and top notch graphics as you play outdoor missions. There are detailed trees, running water, awesome plant life, and so much more! In my opinion, Daxter is one of those games that every PSP gamer should try out. Not to mention the sound effects are magnificent, and the game has a wonderful soundtrack as well.

The gameplay itself is a platform style that brings back the old school style of gaming. There are lots of things to collect throughout the game alongside of the mini-games and Bug Combat that keep you coming back for more. So if you’re a PSP owner, you simply cannot go wrong with Daxter!

daxter gameplay image 2


PROS: Graphics are gorgeous. Music and sound is magnificent. Plenty of lasting appeal.
CONS: Has some slight control and camera issues  


GRAPHICS:   4.25     SOUND:   4.25     CONTROL:   3.75    LASTING APPEAL:   4.25
OVERALL FUN FACTOR:  4.25


          Genre:          Platform                                                    Number of Players:          1 (Up to 24 online)
          Rating:         E10+ (Everyone 10+)                               Also Available On:           Playstation Portable




1/26/2012 8:27:00 AM
Martini Mom
One year. No new clothes. For realz.
There's no denying that we are a society of rampant consumers, gobbling up more and more disposable goods, chewing on them ever so briefly until the luster just begins to wears off, before spitting them into the trash like chewing gum that's lost its flavor. We are insatiable in our lust for the bigger, faster, shinier versions of the things we already own; proclaiming our "need" for the new iWhatever because ours is white and the new model is black. We waste valuable resources to manufacture New, while the dumps overflow with perfectly functioning Old.

Frankly, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

At least, I'm ashamed of myself. Which is why I've decided to conduct a little experiment to see what will happen if I restrict myself from buying any new clothes for an entire year.

One year. No new clothes. No new jewelry. No new shoes. No new accessories. 


Here are the rules (and, ahem, the exceptions):

  1. New means new. Thrift store finds are still acceptable. 
  2. As are homemade items.
  3. And gifts.
  4. Though lobbying for gifts is not.
  5. Replacing an item that has bitten the dust is okay, so long as I first try to replace it with something that already exists in my closest or, failing that, try to find it second hand. If both these fail, I let myself off the hook for that particular item and can buy a new replacement. So, for example, if the heel breaks off my favorite pair of black Mary Janes, I will "replace" them with one of the other several pairs of black heels already in my closet, even though (gasp!) none of the others have an ankle strap. I know. The horror.
  6. If the need arises for an item I don't currently own, I can buy new so long as I first attempt to find it used. For example, I have no snow gear. Should we get hit with another snow storm, I can buy myself some damn boots. 
  7. Should I need replacement underwear, I am allowed to buy new. Period.
  8. Bras count as underwear.
  9. Impractical lingerie does not.
  10. I will post everything I buy here, so you can call me a cheater.
To be clear, it's not purchasing needed items that I find problematic (hence the "exceptions" at rules #5 and #6). Nor do I find anything at all distasteful about the occasional frivolous treat. It's the reflexive purchasing, the (literally) buying into planned obsolescence, the "occasional" frivolous treat that happens so often as to no longer be a treat but a habit, the confusion of the meaning of want with the meaning of need

Mindful consumption. 

That's what this challenge is about. (Also? Less laundry.) 

Effective now – actually, retroactive to January 1 – the pledge is on! Here's hoping none of my friends throw a fancy party worthy of a new dress until 2013!
1/24/2012 10:00:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
RooGoo Twisted Towers
RooGoo Twisted Towers Banner

This week’s review is all about the shapes. RooGoo Twisted Towers takes the concept of putting the shapes in the correct shape hole to a whole new level by tying in a storyline and some villains.

RooGoo Twisted Towers is set on the planet Roo. On Roo, an evil prince is ruling with the power of magical meteors. Roo was once a place where many creatures lived happily, but it all changed when some Roogoos corrupted the magical meteors and became the evil Meemoos. The object of the game is to save the planet from the Meemoos and restorie the Planet Roo to its former glory.



Each level your goal is to guide the magical meteors down to the planet Roo. Each level becomes more difficult as you progress including: additional flipping platforms, reversing pieces, accelerating speeds, and longer levels. The game consists of over 100 levels, however you easily get the idea within the first level – drop the shape into the corresponding area.

The controls are very simple, which makes it easy to pick up on. The main controls are the B and Z button that are used to move the land mass left or right while guiding the meteors to their correct areas.

 

I love the bright and colorful designs. They even have cute teddy bear like creatures. The puzzle and level graphics are very basic and simple. The sound is light and cute, however just like the gameplay, the sound gets repetitive very quickly.

Overall RooGoo Twisted Towers adds a new view to the puzzle genre, but lacks the exciting addictive nature of great puzzle games. The gameplay and sound are very repetitive and after the first level, you have pretty much seen the entire game.

PROS: Easy Controls. Lots of Levels.
CONS: Repetitive gameplay and sound.

GRAPHICS:   3.75     SOUND:   3.75     CONTROL:   4.0     LASTING APPEAL:   2.5
OVERALL FUN FACTOR:  3.5


Genre:                     Puzzle                                                                        Number of Players:   1-2
Rating:                    E (Everyone)                                                             Also Available On: Nintendo Wii, DS, PC, and
Xbox 360





**Review based on the  Nintendo Wii Version
1/18/2012 11:30:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
2 Weeks and Counting

Well 2 weeks have passed in our the new year of 2012. Today I have started working towards a new goal of slowly boxing up our apartment. In March, we will be moving to a new place - a bigger place, and I'm so excited. Temperence has loved going with us to look at new places. It's so cute to watch her when we enter to see the floor plans. All that empty space. She looks at us, as if to ask permission, and we nod. Then off she goes to wonder around and look.

I have started working on my resolutions. I've already read 7 books and am finishing up my 8th. So I may change that one later in the year depending on how it goes. I go through spurts where I want to read a lot, and then go through times where I don't really read at all. So I'm waiting to decide on whether to change my goal.

Dieting started along with the new year. Overall I have kept to the diet pretty well, giving myself a total of 1680 calories for each day. Although I have had 1 or 2 days where I have indulged a little. But to me that is part of dieting, if you don't treat yourself you wont last. Or at least for me it doesn't seem to. I break and never finish. The last time I dieted successfully I gave myself rewards so to speak. Days off to eat things I normally could not.

Designs have been slow going, especially with so much to do right now. But I have not given up on them. I decided although I still want to create more birth announcements, I also want to add more to my other areas such as graduations, weddings, and invitations.

Writing has been slow going. This is my first post of the new year for my blog, and I am hoping to make it a weekly thing. So crossing my fingers to see if it works. LOL! I also have become an Examiner on the Video Games topic for Examiner.com. I have one article so far: 7 Life Lessons from Video Games. Although I plan on adding more soon.

Temperence is getting so big and has started to become more vocal in her demands. She talks up a storm, and one of her newest phrases that she consistently says lately is 'Oh No!' It's so cute. We taught her to show her age when asked 'How old are you?' She has impressed many people with it, although she can get a head of herself and start clapping before answering. (She likes hearing clapping and 'Yay Temperence' when she answers.)
1/14/2012 11:46:00 AM
Martini Mom
Christmas in January
This is something of a belated post, obviously. But had I published it prior to Christmas as originally intended, I wouldn't have been able to tell you about the Christmas surprise. So there. Poor time management for the win!

Every year since we split, I've gotten the The Ex a Christmas gift.

I don't mean that I assist The Kid in getting his dad a Christmas gift (though I do that too). I mean I get my ex-husband a Christmas gift. From me. Every. Single. Year.

It's nothing big or fancy or, God forbid, personal. It's just a book. And not even a passive aggressive book carefully selected to point out one of his personal flaws that I think needs fixing. Just a book I honestly think he might enjoy. Over the years, I've introduced him to Tom Robbins, Douglas Adams, Orson Scott Card, Charles Bukowski, and non-fiction that isn't about World War II.

The gift-giving wasn't an intentional decision. It just sort of happened the first couple of years after we split, mostly out of habit I guess. But I kept it up, because I realized a few things:

  1. It stops – even if only momentarily – whatever disagreement we might be having.  The book is a tangible reminder (just as much for me as for him) that I don't think he's a total douche bag, despite indications I may have given to the contrary. For a minute every 25th of December, we smile at each other and mean it. 

  2. It's nice for The Kid to see. When The Ex and I split, I was fiercely adamant that The Kid never have to deal with our shit. We've been pretty successful there, but "not dealing with our shit" is a pretty low bar. I think it's nice for The Kid to see us go beyond that, even to the point of being (gasp!) genuinely nice to each other.

  3. It makes me dislike The Ex less. As far as divorced parents go, we actually get along pretty well. But we do argue, and sometimes it can get pretty ugly – and those ugly parts make up the bulk of our interactions. (Because when things are going well, we don't actually talk a whole lot. There's no reason to, beyond the standard pleasantries during pick-up and drop-off.) So the ugly times – the arguments about child support and video games and whether or not Gatorade and crackers "counts" as dinner – become the only times we spend any real time together. That can leave me with the perception that The Ex is more of a douche than he really is (see point #1). But picking out a gift for him forces me to think about him as a person, not just my ex-husband. And it is SO much easier to show empathy, compassion, and patience to a person than to a former spouse.
It's been therapeutic for me over the years – an annual detox of sorts, serving as a reset button that wipes the slate (mostly) clean. Christmas certainly isn't the only time we're nice to one another, but it is – for me, anyway – a clear reminder to step back from whatever anger might have built up over the year and to forgive, as well as I can.

This year's ritual came with an extra surprise: for the first time, The Ex returned the favor gave me a gift. A thoughtful gift, even: a book that is right up my alley and that I'm excited to read.

While it never bothered me in the past that he didn't reciprocate (gift exchanging former spouses are hardly the norm, after all), I have to admit that it was nice to receive as well as give this time around. Not for the book itself (though that's nice too), but because of what it symbolizes. This is a forced relationship he and I are in. It's not one that we would choose to continue were it not for the benefit of our son. But since it is for the benefit of our son, we WILL be civilized, respectful, and friendly.

And books, it turns out, make excellent peace pipes. Especially when they're puff-puff-passed back.
1/13/2012 1:47:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
2012 New Year's Resolutions

After a look back upon my 2011 New Year's Resolutions, I started to think about what type of goals I was going to set for the coming year. I want goals that are subject to pass or fail. but at the same time not something so easy as 'I want to lose weight'. Then losing just one pound would qualify as completing the goal.

I wanted to set realistic goals that I feel I can accomplish and are not outrageous, but at the same time will challenge me in order to complete the goal. As a friend of mine stated, New Year's Resolutions are about one's self. So my goals are for me alone.They include:


  1. Take 4,000 Pictures - Last year I took around 3,000 photos. So I feel this is a very obtainable goal, while still giving me a small challenge in order to complete it.
  2. Read 40 Books - I've always been a reader. I'm also a fast reader, or rather faster than most. So I feel this is a very realistic goal to set for myself, while still having time for other things.
  3. Create 36 New Designs - Last year I was unable to complete the task of 27 designs, but I feel as long as I push myself each month, this is a very realistic goal.That as long as I do not procrastinate, that I can complete this, and hopefully sell more design as well. After all, any designs completed will not only improve my skill, but will also add to my portfolio.
  4. Lose 40 Pounds - My goal is to lose the rest of the baby weight, and a little more. I know this will be attainable, as long as I push myself and eat healthier. These past few months I have done a good job of keeping the weight off that I lost, but my eating habits have not been the healthiest. I think with some adjustments, this will not only make me healthier but happier with myself. 
  5. 140 Blog Posts - This year I plan on posting more often to my blog. During 2011, I posted around 70 posts. But there were plenty of times when I neglected writing. I am hoping to improve and make my posts more frequent, as well as boost the number of posts altogether.
  6. Spend as much time with Friends and Family as possible! - I love my family and friends. I have a beautiful daughter who means the world to me. A boyfriend who loves me. Family and Friends that are there for me. I want to spend as much time with them as possible, after all we only live once and life is short. So spending it with the people I care about is definitely the right way to go. 

2012 will be a new year. A time for reflection and work. A time to become a better me. Here's hoping to completion of all goals, and a happier, healthier lifestyle. Plus by accomplishing my goals, I feel I will set a good example for my daughter, and of course be a healthier and happier me.
12/28/2011 10:49:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
2011 New Years Resolutions
After reading an article about how a friend of mine's New Year's Resolutions went, it got me thinking. I had sent a few goals myself. I had to go back and look to see what happened in terms of whether I had met my goals.

Take 900 Pictures - Completed
This one I am happy to report I not only succeeded but went well above and beyond. When I set this goal, I was sure it would be very hard for me to complete, but this year I have taken around 3,000 photos. I have gotten use of a variety of cameras, including my new one I received for Christmas last year. Of course, I also had a great muse - my beautiful daughter Temperence.

Create 27 New Designs - Incomplete
Unfortunately I was a slacker in this category this year. I only created a total of 13 new designs. I could go on and on with excuses for this New Year's Resolution, but it all comes down to procrastination. I just kept putting it off to do other things, thinking I would get around to it later.

Write More - Completed
Another goal I am happy to report I have done wonderfully with. Although I have been a little slack in my own blog. I have written for a variety of sites over the year and have over 115 articles/posts this year. I've written a variety of different topics mainly tied between my blog and various gaming industry articles for a few different sites.

Lose All Baby Weight - Incomplete
To be honest, I did not do as well as I had hoped this year. I had wanted to get all the baby weight off, and if possible lose even more. However I did lose and keep off 20 pounds from the baby weight I had gained. It's been an up and down battle when it came to the weight loss, as I had multiple periods of being unable to exercise.

So with this year heading to a close, I have to say overall I am proud of what I have accomplished. I wish I would have gotten more designs completed, but it just shows me that I need to quit putting things to the side to do later.
12/27/2011 3:10:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Letters to Temperence: My Joy


Dearest Temperence,

Every day you grow up just a little bit more. You've accomplished so many things this past year and I am so blessed to get to see them. I love you so much, and am so proud of you. Your personality soars and anyone who meets you tells me about what a cute baby you are, and how you have such a bright and happy attitude.

Lately you have started to talk more and more. Although most is still baby talk, it is fun to watch you walk around talking away. You get into what you are saying, showing multiple expressions and various volumes.

Although night time is difficult, you still make me smile. If I am trying to get you back to sleep, you will snuggle into me and look up at me to smile. Sometimes it's even smiling in your sleep.

I will always cherish these wonderful days of watching you learn and grow. I am so blessed to have you in my life, and I thank God everyday for giving you to me. I hope that you will one day understand just how much you mean to me, and that I am here for you when ever you need me.

I love you.

Mommy
12/15/2011 10:42:00 PM
Martini Mom
Excerpt from a love story, nerd edition
From a Gmail chat, circa 2008

Me: "He argued with me over every single piece of data... er... datum, I guess."

The Man: "I love that you know the singular form of data."

And then they lived happily ever after.

It's the small things, people.
12/13/2011 3:41:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Sudoku Rules
Xbox Live Arcade has every genre of game you can think of to play. So finding Sudoku on XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) is no surprise. In fact, there are two: Buku Sudoku and Sudoku X (Indie Game*). They both bring all the fun and variety from the pen and paper-based puzzle game to Xbox Live.

Sudoku is a very simple strategy/puzzle game. The game consists of 81 squares in a 9 x 9 grid. It has 3 very simple rules:
1.     Each row contains 9 squares, and each square in each row can contain one of the numbers from 1-9. However, each number should only appear once in that row.
2.     Again, each column has 9 squares, and each one should also contain all of the numbers 1-9. Each appearing only once in the column.
3.     Finally, you will notice that each puzzle has a darker 3 x 3 grid of 9 squares (creating 9 of these 3 x 3 grids). Each of these 9 squares should also contain the numbers 1-9. (Each appearing once, just as before.)

So in a nutshell, the numbers 1-9 should appear once in each row, column, and 3x 3 square grid. The difficulty changes by the amount of numbers you are given in the beginning of the game. The more spaces to fill, typically the harder the puzzle will be.

Buku Sudoku is a great version of Sudoku. The original version contains 1200 puzzles, with many other puzzle packs to download to add additional gameplay. The cost is currently 800 Microsoft points. Buku Sudoku also features the ability to play with 1-4 players offline, 2-4 players for co-op, 1-8 online, and 2-4 online co-op.

Multiplayer games include Co-op, Head-to-Head, or Team Battle where completing a line, row, or square will remove numbers from your opponent’s board! However the multiplayer games do not add any new gameplay. Not to mention it allows beginners to play 6x6 grids or for an extra challenge to Sudoku masters the 12x12 grid!

Sudoku X is less harsh on the wallet for the game. It contains an unlimited amount of puzzles all for the current low price of 80 Microsoft points. It does not however feature multiplayer. It is a single player game.

All and all if you love number puzzles of just Sudoku in general then these are the games for you. So grab a control and give yourself some brain candy.


Buku Sudoku Pros: Multiplayer and Co-op modes. Lots of downloadable content. Easy controls.
Buku Sudoku Cons: Have to pay for additional puzzles.

GRAPHICS:   3.0      SOUND:   3.0     CONTROL:   4.0        LASTING APPEAL:   3.5
OVERALL FUN FACTOR:   3.5

Sudoku Pros: Unlimited puzzle boards. Cheap purchase.
Sudoku Cons: No Multiplayer



 * = Indie games are created by users. Thus they are not rated and reviewed by rating boards.

12/9/2011 7:11:00 PM
Martini Mom
Truth in advertising
"Yes," says the Okie in the dining room. "This is an accurate depiction of what everybody in Oklahoma looks like."

"That's how we get around there."

"Twirling."

"Trough the air."

"Under our hat-copters."


12/9/2011 2:39:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
Letters to Temperence: Now You're 1

 
Dear Temperence,

This past year has been amazing. I have watched you slowly become more and more independent. You have learned to walk, crawl, talk, and so much more. Every day is a new joy, and blessing that you are in my life.

You are a very happy little girl, showing joy over so many things. I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by. You went from this little bundle of joy that loved staying curled into Mommy, and turned into a very active little toddler.

This week you turned the big 1. We celebrated with Grandma and Papa. Opening gifts, going out to eat, eating cake, and we went to the park. It was wonderful. You loved playing around and exploring at the park, and even went down the slide by yourself. (Of course we had someone at the top of the slide to help you get ready, and at the bottom of the slide to catch you.)

I have been so blessed to get to stay home with you and watch you grow. You have definitely kept me on my toes. Every day is a new adventure for you, and you constantly are on the move. Your personality shines through every day, and you have surprised me with all the things you have accomplished in such a short amount of time.

As you have become more mobile and active, you have slimmed down. You’re weighing in at 19 pounds, 15 ounces, and are 29.5 inches long. Each day your legs are gaining more strength, and you have even gotten your first two teeth!

I want you to know that I will always be there for you. You are my heart. I love you so much, and I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. I will always be there for you, and if you ever need anything all you have to do is ask.

Love,

Mommy


11/11/2011 8:03:00 AM
Martini Mom
Boobs for Babes: Giving a big FU to the big C
Nearly 14 years ago, my mom and one of her coworkers were diagnosed with breast cancer within a month of one another. The two women shared an oncologist, similar prognosis, and nearly identical treatment plans. Both underwent radiation, chemotherapy, and radical mastectomies. And both were given a clean bill of health at the same time. But today, my mom is alive and Carmen is not.

Carmen's cancer came back, metastasized to her brain. Multiple surgeries and endless treatments later, Carmen's husband and daughter watched her slip away. Her daughter was less than 10-years-old when Carmen died. She had spent years of her young life watching her mother's losing battle.

That's some fucked up shit right there.

But it's hardly a unique story. It's estimated that about 12% of women (approximately 1 in 8) will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. The diagnosis comes with a 22.8% mortality rate. Along with my mom, my aunt has been forced to undergo the boobie knife. So has my great-uncle. (That's right. My great-uncle.) My cousin was diagnosed shortly after her youngest child was born.

That's some more fucked up shit right there.

I don't like fucked up shit, so when fellow West-Seattlite, Joslin Bernard, asked me to help promote Babes for Boobs, I was more than happy to do so. Joslin, along with her sister Darci, founded Babes for Boobs in honor of their mother, a breast cancer survivor. They gathered together a group of Northwest women in 2010 - most of whom have been affected by breast cancer in some way - to create a 2011 calendar with the help of photographer, Derek Johnson. They're currently busy with production of their second calendar (2012, obviously) - again partnering with Johnson - which will be available in time for the holiday season.

A couple teasers/out takes:

Model Shannon, photographed by Derek Johnson

Model Joslin, photographed by Derek Johnson
To support the cause and give a big middle finger to breast cancer, "like" Babes for Boobs' Facebook page, share with your friends, and keep your eyes peeled for calendar purchase information. You're definitely going to want these beautiful babes and their beautiful boobs hanging on your wall.

11/5/2011 10:00:00 AM
Martini Mom
Bad omen
My lip balm smells like Suzie.

Suzie was a doll I had when I was very young. She was one of those plastic dolls you could fill with water and then squeeze to make her pee. My mom used her as a potty-training tool for me. I would fill Suzie with water, say "Suzie pee pee!", walk her to the toilet to do her business, and then reward her with an M&M (which I would eat for her). I loved Suzie and her magical ability to land candy in my mouth.

Since she was so water-friendly, Suzie often joined me in tub for bath time, where she was encouraged to pee on my head and rinse the shampoo from my hair. The only problem was that, while Suzie's body was hollow plastic, her head was not-hollow plastic.

I don't know exactly what her brains were made of, but after years of deep-water diving, Suzie began to take on an odd smell. I was old enough to know that the foul scent meant something had gone horribly wrong, but I was young enough to not be in the least bit grossed out by it. I did my best to keep the stench hidden from my mom, whom I was certain would do unspeakable things to Suzie should she be made aware of the situation.

Eventually, though, she got a whiff. Assuming it was Suzie's clothing causing the odor, my mom stripped her of her offensive wardrobe and I quickly shoved naked - and still stinky - Suzie into my pillow case under the guise of keeping her warm while her clothes her washed.

After that close call, I had one final glorious week with Suzie before my mom discovered that it was her, not her clothing, that was so noxious. With disgust spread over her face, she yanked Suzie's head from her torso and exposed the lumps of black mildew filling her skull. I never saw poor Suzie again.

Probably not a good sign that my lip balm smells like her.


11/4/2011 4:18:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Tomb Raider: Guardian of Light


This week’s review is another action/adventure. I personally am a big fan of the Tomb Raider series, so when they brought the new Tomb Raider: Guardian of Light arcade game out, I had to have it. Although it is Tomb Raider game, and there is no denying it, it is very different than all other Tomb Raider games to date. 

The most significant change is the game structure has been reworked to allow 2 players. In solo mode, there are plenty of things to explore in your exploration, lots of puzzle solving, and of course combat. However, teaming up with a friend to play gives you a whole new set of challenges. Only working together and combining abilities will you solve puzzles that are different from the single player puzzles, so there are two different experiences of gameplay. Due to the differences in gameplay, there is no ability to change from 1 player to 2 player in a single game, although all of your equipment will. 



The beginning and ending of the story seem rather cheap to me, as they use comic book style scenes instead of animation. To me the introduction and ending are suppose to draw you in and the comic book style just does not cut it to me. It misses those important touches that animation could have added to the story.

To play you use your right stick to aim, and the right trigger to fire. She can move around with the left stick while shooting, but cannot really dart about. You also have the ability to lay down bombs and remotely detonate them.

Guardian of Light has 14 vast levels to play that contain hidden areas, collectable gems, of course tombs. The tombs vary in style from musty, vine-covered tombs to volcanic tombs with bubbling lava and falling rocks. Each level is well designed, and has great graphics. The environments are intricately detailed due to this it is easier to notice the faults that would otherwise go unnoticed.



Each stage has an addition option for players called the Challenge Tombs. If you solve the puzzle, these challenges will offer up valuable relics and artifacts that will help equip your character and enhance their skills. There are also many Reward challenges in each level that will grant items as well.


Tomb Raider: Guardian of Light is a great action adventure game. The co-op is superb and one of the best co-op experiences I have played in a while, although it would have been even better if they gave an online co-op option. Overall it is a great addition to the Tomb Raider franchise.



Pros: Enticing challenges and puzzles. Great Co-op game play. Lots of extra challenges to add to gameplay.
Cons: No Online Co-op. Storyline and dialog could use more work.


GRAPHICS:   4.5     SOUND:   3.5     CONTROL:   4.0         LASTING APPEAL:   4.0
OVERALL FUN FACTOR:  4.0




          Genre:           Action, Adventure                              Number of Players:   1-2
          Rating:          T (Teen)                                              Also Available On: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC,
                                                                                             iPad, iPhone




Review based on Xbox 360 Arcade version.
11/4/2011 10:25:00 AM
My Little Baby Luck
Pregnancy & Motherhood 101: The Beginning & Hyperemesis Gravidarum
It's amazing how much you learn during pregnancy as well as once you become a mother. There are so many things that I never knew about. I remember growing up and hearing horror stories from my Mom and Aunts (It was their way to prevent me from wanting to have a baby.), although I wasn't in a rush anyway. But back to the point at hand, there are soo many things that no one ever mentions about pregnancy and raising kids. For instance, there are tons of different conditions or side effects of pregnancy that many women are unaware of. So I decided that I would start letting others know about things I have found out about through my pregnancy and as a mom. I guess I should start at the beginning:

I happened to be one of the lucky ones. I knew right away when I was pregnant, finding out at 4 weeks along. At 6 weeks, things started to change for me. Morning sickness, although I find that to be funny as you can get sick any time of the day, started to affect me. Not just a little but a lot. If I moved to quickly in the morning, I would get sick. When I ate, I would get sick. Even drinking water, I would get sick. I was going to the doctor weekly because they were prescribing medication for anti-nausea.

During week 8, I went to my doctor's appointment and it showed I had lost around 5 pounds. While I was there, I got very light headed and almost passed out. They had me sit down, and was given something to drink and some crackers to eat. After a little while, they decided I needed to go to the hospital. So I was taken to the emergency room.

After waiting for my turn, I was given fluids. They also gave me a new medication to try for anti-nausea. The doctor also gave me some of this medication in my IV, as well as a diagnoses. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which caused me to become dehydrated.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness. It is usually encountered during the 1st trimester, and usually starts to go away after week 14 (when/after the high levels of HCG start to subside). Unfortunately for me, this did not start to subside until during my 6th month. (Although I did have morning sickness during the entire pregnancy.)

During the course of my experience with  hyperemesis gravidarum, I was given 4 different types of medication. Finally finding a medication that would work with the 4th attempt. (I was lucky as they would have fitted me with a device that would require an injection once a week if it wouldn't have worked.)

I lost over 20 pounds before I finally started gaining weight. During my 1st trimester and the beginning half of my 2nd trimester I was put as being a high risk pregnancy. It makes you very worried, and of course you're told not to stress a lot. So it's very difficult. During my 18th week, I went in for an extensive ultrasound where they checked the condition of the baby. They looked at all the organs and the heart to make sure she was developing correctly and we found out it was a girl that day. (Due to the ultrasound pic, I had it confirmed at my next appointment at my clinic.)

Overall my experience with hyperemesis gravidarum was not fun, but as I think back about it I know things could have been a lot worse. There are some women who have the complication that end up in the hospital for their entire pregnancy from it. Or have to get the device where they get injections 1 a week with the medication. So even though it was very difficult to go through, I know it could have been worse.

If you have any questions about hyperemesis gravidarum, just ask. If I can answer them from my experience than I will. I also recommend talking to your doctor or midwife about it.
11/3/2011 2:48:00 PM
My Little Baby Luck
Overlord Minions Review

Overlord fans unite. Giblet, Blaze, Stench, and Zap are back in a whole new Overlord game designed exclusively for the Nintendo DS. Each minion has its own unique powers, and it is your job to navigate a series of levels by solving puzzles, fighting foes, and of course obeying the Overlord. So test your skills in the action puzzle game Overlord Minions.

Overlord Minions is a completely touch-screen controlled game. There are two actions for the game: taping and swiping. Unfortunately this creates a problem, because controlling the minions with the stylus tends to work well only part of the time. Most of the time, the controls are just frustrating. A good example of this is during fight scenes in tight spaces. As you tap your stylus, you struggle to get your minions to hit switches or enemies. The inconsistency for non-moving actions only works part of the time, but mainly you get stuck tapping and swiping your DS screen. Sometimes even to do the simplest task.


Unfortunately this issue only gets worse as you progress in the game. During boss battles you may have to go between minions to fight, having one minion throw an item and another switching to throw fireballs at the right moment to light it on fire. However, due to inaccuracy you end up having the minions do something you do not want them to do.

The graphics are extraordinary, but they are done well for DS images. The benefit of the cartoon aspect is that the cartoon graphics are fun for all ages. Unfortunately the sound is slightly repetitive, but the music does add a sense of drama to the game.

 

Overall, Overlord Minions had a great storyline however the inaccuracy of the gameplay lost the potential the game could have had. If the controls were tweaked, even just a little bit, it would improve the game. Any fans of the Overlord Games will enjoy the new experience on the DS, while keeping the Overlord sense of humor and clever elements of the series. Unfortunately, Overlord Minions could have been a lot better.

PROS: Good storyline. Good humor.

CONS: Frustrating & inaccurate controls. Save points.


GRAPHICS:   4.0      SOUND:   3.0     CONTROL:   1.5        LASTING APPEAL:   3.0
OVERALL FUN FACTOR:  3.0


               Genre:               Puzzle, Action, Strategy                                               Number of Players:   1
               Rating:              E (Everyone)                                                                Also Available On: Nintendo DS




10/27/2011 10:52:00 AM
Martini Mom
A hungry child can't wait: Ask 5 for 5

Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5
Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography

Thank you Martini Mom and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.

A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 

At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.

The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.


When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?



My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."




Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.

That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support, healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:

  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at ask5for5@gmail.com if you're interested in participating this week.

A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.

Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.


p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!
 
9/21/2011 10:00:00 AM
Martini Mom
He's one
The minutes defy their 60-second confines. The swollen hours haltingly circle the clock.

Tick.

And then, some days later: Tock.

The days stretch like taffy from one fleeting slumber to the next.

Until one morning you wake up and, rather suddenly and completely without warning, he's one. Somehow the plodding individual moments of 365 torpid days have coalesced into a year that raced past in a heartbeat.

In the blink of an eye.

In the change of a diaper.

He's one.


8/29/2011 2:20:00 PM
Martini Mom
Wishing it all away
The Man took a long weekend to go to Dallas and visit his girls. He was gone for five days. For three of those days, The Kid was also gone, which left me to handle The Baby all by my lonesome. Naturally, The Baby saw fit to develop a fever and become a never-sleeper.

As luck would have it, I also had a fair amount of editing work to complete during The Manless days. And then, just to make things extra challenging, I was offered the community manager position with a Seattle startup. It's part-time, work from home, and a great opportunity, so I was thrilled. I might have even jumped up and down a little. But I agreed to start working right away and, on top of my other part-time, work from home, great opportunity editing job, I was also a bit overwhelmed.

And because I was on solo duty with The Baby, it was all too obvious just how much easier this would be if The Baby was just a little older. Old enough to know not to eat dead flies; old enough to not stick his fingers in outlets; old enough to not try to dive head-first into the toilet. Maybe even, gasp!, old enough to be in school for part of the day.

If only he was just a little older...

I lamented this too when I realized that I was almost going to have a weekend to myself. One that, before The Baby, would've meant I could go out with girl friends, read a book, order take out that The Man doesn't like, stay up late watching a movie that The Man doesn't want to see, and sleep diagonally across the bed. All. Night. Long.

"If only he was a little older," I thought, "I could send him to my mom's for the weekend and I could have one of those weekends."

If only he was just a little older...

Normally I have a very strict policy against such thoughts. I don't like to spend any amount of time wishing away my baby's baby years - years that I'll be no doubt wishing for as soon as they're over.

But last weekend, amidst the fever-induced screeching and the refusals of sleep and the foiling of a movie night and the working until 4 in the morning; between the constant tugging of little fists on my jeans and the chubby arms extending in anticipation of ascension; through my bleary eyes and utter exhaustion, I wished - hard - for him to be just a little older.
8/11/2011 7:45:00 PM
Martini Mom
...ain't nothing but mammals

Late last week, with the sun finally shining in Seattle, I took The Kid and The Baby for an outing. We were gone for hours - longer than I'd expected - and we all got hungry. The food court sated The Kid and I but The Baby needed to nurse, so we wandered off to find a relatively quiet spot where The Kid could run around while I tended to The Baby. We found a play area with a bench nearby and settled in.

Now, since we were in public (and my bench was situated adjacent to a fairly well-used path), I pulled a blankey out of the diaper bag to drape over one shoulder and cover The Baby's head as he nursed. I'm perfectly comfortable with my boob hanging out, but it tends to be frowned upon. I was trying to be polite. But The Baby HATES any sort of nursing cover. After several attempts to nurse discreetly, I gave up and put the blanket back in the diaper bag. I figured I gave it a shot, I tried, and who the hell cares, anyway? He's a baby + he's hungry + I'm his mom = boob. Plain and simple. I'm far more interested in keeping him comfortable while he nurses than forcing his head under a blanket in order to keep total strangers comfortable.

Plus, we were at the zoo. And I ask you: what more appropriate place for a mammal to nurse her young than the zoo?

One young couple, tattooed and pierced, smiled comfortably at me when their toddler shouted, "THAT BABY EAT FROM HIM'S MAMA!" But the slightly older couple behind them, wearing polo shirts tucked into their Dockers and completely devoid of anything so interesting as permanent body ink, scowled briefly before apparently finding something reeeeally interesting on the ground to stare at.

Honestly, I wish I'd had a camera to record the reaction trends by demographic:
  • Suburban-looking minivan types (admittedly, a subjective measure): Disgust mixed with embarrassment
  • Men (except for that one whose toddler called me out): "What? No. Huh-uh. I didn't see anything. Nothing at all. Hey, bushes! Look at these bushes. These are amazing bushes! I will never look at anything ever again because these bushes are the most fascinating things on the planet. A woman breastfeeding? No, honey, I didn't even notice because I was looking over here at these bushes which are nothing at all like boobs."
  • Teenagers (of the female variety): "Oh. Em. Gee. Dubya. Tee. Eff."
  • Teenagers (of the male variety): "Boobs! But ew. But boobs! But ew."
  • Preteens (of either variety): a level of mortified embarrassment that only exists in the puberty-afflicted.
  • Kids: totally cool with it, every one of 'em.
It's almost as if we're born with enough common sense to understand that eating is a basic necessity, even for babies, even from boobies... and then taught to believe otherwise as we age. Wouldn't you agree?

This marks the end of World Breastfeeding Week, and I did my part by continuing to nurse my baby wherever and whenever he needed, despite dirty looks. You can read my ranty breastfeeding post from 2009 - one of the most popular posts on this blog OF ALL TIME - here.
8/7/2011 12:44:00 AM
Martini Mom
Perfectionist, paralyzed
I am a planner, a trait that usually serves me well. I'm also a perfectionist, which is another trait that usually serves me well. But when you put those two things together, you end up with a plan that's never quite good enough. And if your plan's not good enough, it certainly can't be acted upon, right?

And now you know why my house is in the state it's in.

It was something of a fixer-upper when I bought it, and I had some grand plans. I also had a baby. And then a divorce. And then the limited income (and even more limited time) of a working single mom. And as the years marched by my something of a fixer-upper turned more and more into a regular ol' fixer-upper. Nothing major. Nothing structurally unsound. (Except, possibly, the front porch. And the rotting garage. And I'm pretty sure there's some rot in the bathroom floor.) There are so many things to be done, but I don't know where to start because I can't start on one project before I figure out precisely how it will affect all the other projects and I can't start on anything before I know precisely how I'm going to accomplish every single related task and I can't make a small decision now because what if I discover that it affects a larger decision down the road and maybe I should've gone with black instead of copper and oh my god somebody make me stop.

It doesn't have to be this hard. I should just pick something and start. It doesn't have to be the "right" thing (especially since it all needs to be done so anything on the list is a "right" thing). And yet, I'm stuck. I sit and ponder, hem and haw, pick something, change my mind, pick something else, and never actually get around to starting anything. Gah!

Until it finally occurred to me that this is no different than the writer's block that comes at the beginning of a project. Not the "I don't have a damn thing to say" writer's block (in which case I generally opt to say nothing and go to the park instead where, inevitably, I find something to talk about), but the block that comes from knowing what you want to say and not knowing howto say it; the one that comes from staring at that intimidating blinking curser poised at the beginning of a blank document. The beginning is way too hard, way too stressful, waaaaay too much pressure. At the beginning, you have to have some idea of what path you're on, some idea of whether you should turn left or right when you come to the fork in the road. But the middle? The end? Those are easy. You've already forked.

I'm TERRIBLE at beginning new writing projects, which is why I always end them first. Or middle them.

I launch straight into what usually becomes the third paragraph or even the conclusion. And I launch into the middle of that paragraph, not bothering to worry about the proper introduction to my thought. In fact, I often launch into the middle of whatever sentence I'm writing. Almost always, the first thing I write in a new article is an ellipsis:
"...which, incidentally, is severely lacking in bacon."
Which, more than likely, will become the middle of a sentence in the middle of a paragraph in the middle of the article. And that works great.

So why not with my projects too?

With that in mind, I've given up deciding where it makes the most sense to start, and I'm just diving in. Starting today, it's one step at a time, one decision at a time, one piece of one project at a time. To begin, I purchased a piece of artwork for The Baby's room with only a vague idea of how to coordinate it with the rest of the decor. I have no idea what complementary artwork will surround it. And, as it turns out, I'm okay with that. It's one step closer to checking off "Finish the Nursery."

Flying Elephant, by cocodeparis

This is the (finally!) beginning of good things.

8/3/2011 4:50:00 PM
Martini Mom
Comparison shopping
I have had many conversations with The Ex about food as relates to our son. Many, many conversations. During the first couple of years after we split up, the primary message was this: Remember to feed The Kid.

Because he had a habit of forgetting that minor detail. Often.

Eventually The Ex got remarried. And while I have had plenty of issues with his new wife, it hasn't been all bad. Thanks to her influence, my child now gets three meals a day when he stays with his dad. But he also still gets a lot of processed food heavy on the high fructose corn syrup.

And this, I fear, is not going to change. Nutrition is one area where The Ex and I are in complete disagreement (I'm a whole foods kind of gal and he thinks all that healthy food talk is hippie bullshit). And I have to be okay with that. Much as I'd like to, I don't get to dictate The Ex's grocery selections.

Instead of fretting (much) about things I can't control, I fret about the things I can. In this case, that means I spend a fair amount of time teaching The Kid about good food choices. Lately we've been talking about "real" food vs. "fake" food. I've had him read labels of various food options to see that a) some "foods" contain very little food, and b) many foods that appear to be healthy are actually full of sugars and preservatives. Last week we conducted a little experiment and compared the ingredients of some "real food" foods with their "fake food" counterparts. Here's what we found.

The maple syrup in our fridge: 100% pure organic maple syrup

Mrs. Butterworth's Thick and Rich Syrup: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum, molasses, potasium sorbate (preservative), sodium hexametaphosphate, citric acid, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors

The wheat cider bread in our pantry: course whole wheat flour, apple cider, wheat berries, unbleached white flour, filtered water, sesame seeds, honey, molasses, sea salt, yeast

Orowheat 100% Whole Wheat Bread: whole wheat flour, water, sugar, wheat gluten, yeast, extract of raisins, salt, wheat bran, cracked wheat, molasses, soybean oil, calcium propionate (preservative), sodium stearoyl lactylate, mono- and diglycerides, calcium sulfate, honey, soy lecithin, azodicarbonamide

The sliced ham in our fridge: ham, salt

Oscar Meyer Deli Fresh Honey Ham: ham, water, honey, salt, sodium lactate, sugar, sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrate

The lemonade in our fridge: water, lemon juice, organic evaporated cane juice

Lemonade flavored Capri-Sun: water, sugar, lemon juice concentrate, citric acid, potassium citrate, natural flavor, vitamin e acetate

The peanut butter in our fridge: organic dry roasted peanuts

Jif Creamy Peanut Butter: roasted peanuts, sugar, molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, salt

...and now I have a kid who will absentmindedly read the list of ingredients on the cereal box while he munches away at breakfast. My job here is done.

The Kid and I have been up to a lot of hippie bullshit these days. We're currently half-way through a week-long carbon cleanse and blogging about it at Green Legume. Pop over if you're interested.

8/1/2011 1:27:00 AM
Martini Mom
10 posts for 10 years: Day 10
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. This one is a more recent post than the ones I've been reposting. The older posts were reflections on what a magical little boy he was. This one is stands as testament to the magical little man he's become. Enjoy.

ABOUT A BOY
(Originally published 11.11.10)

He stumbles into the kitchen, arms loaded with an assortment of action figures, video games, and a teetering pile of books. I look over from the dinner I'm preparing, startled by the commotion. A shy smile plays across his small face. "We can set up a table outside and sell these to people who walk by," he suggests quietly, hopefully.

I suggest a local upcoming toy swap for the video games; a trip to the used bookstore for a trade on the books. These, I know, will grant him a better return on his items than a yard sale. But, no, he insists. He doesn't want to trade for new toys, new games, new books. He wants to earn money. He wants to earn money to give to me. He wants to help pay the mortgage, buy the groceries. "I am a part of this family. I am a part of this house," he proclaims. "I want to help."

I gaze at him, amazed. My eyes drip tears into the cooking pasta. I can't speak, so I wrap my arms around him and mumble unintelligible love into his ear.

I try to gently talk him out of the yard sale all night, careful not to hurt his feelings with what might appear to be an unappreciative refusal of his offer. I try to guide him into other, more appropriate ways he can help: cutting back on wasted food by eating what's on his plate without complaint, calming my stress levels by picking up after himself, remembering to turn out the lights when he leaves a room.

But The Kid is determined. "This is my mission," he tells me."This is the only way I know how to help. And I'll be bummed if no one buys this stuff, or if I can't make enough money, because I do not want to fail you."

How do I tell him that the pile of possessions he's volunteered to sell represents so much more than the $2 he's likely to earn at a yard sale? How do I tell him that I can't possibly accept his earnest offer? How do I tell him how much the gesture is appreciated? How do I tell him how proud I am of him? How do I tell him how much he warms, and simultaneously breaks, my heart?

As many of you already know, I lost my job yesterday. I work(ed) for a small company; one with little in the way of benefits. I was completing month three of my unpaid maternity leave, scheduled to return to work in early December. The Boss called yesterday and told me not to bother coming back. He's decided that the woman I trained to cover my position in my absence is a better fit for the company, and sees this as "an opportunity for a smooth transition." There are many things I could say about the circumstances surrounding my termination, but I won't

Because this post isn't about me. It isn't about my lost job, or my former boss, or my financial worries and woes, or how in god's name I'm going to get by. This post is about the miraculous little boy who lives at the end of my hallway. The one who continually surprises and impresses and humbles me. The one who has given me so much more than I deserve in this life. This post is about him.

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - you're already here, silly!
7/25/2011 12:38:00 AM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day nine
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

COMPLIMENT?
(Originally published 3.13.09)

"Mom, I wish you would grow out your hair like it was when I was little."

"How's that?"

"It was way longer. I liked it better."

"How come?"

"It made you look prettier."

"Really?"

"Yeah, because it covered up all of the freckles on your back."

"I see."

"And when you would lean forward, it would cover up the freckles on your face."

"Uh huh."

"I mean, you're still pretty. You're just A LOT prettier without all those freckles."

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - you're already here, silly!
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/23/2011 12:28:00 AM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day eight
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

MY SON IS IN LOVE WITH AN OLDER MAN
(Originally published 7.17.09)

The Kid is madly, head over heels in love. With my boy friend.

He was, I think, 3-1/2 when they met. The Man came by the house for a visit, and The Kid was immediately all smiles and desperately wanted to invite him into his play. Too shy to ask The Man directly, his timid whisper landed in my ear instead.

"Will he play with me?"

We were working on overcoming The Kid's shyness, and so I gently encouraged him to ask The Man himself. The Kid meandered around the subject, passively describing his games, waiting for The Man to ask to play. When that didn't pan out, he mustered all his courage, glanced hopefully at The Man, and pondered: "I wonder who can play with me..."

The Man took the bait.

They spent the evening playing some sort of chase game with an imaginary bear. They built a mock campfire from Easter grass. They ran up and down the hallway with imaginary guns, The Kid making some sort of respectable explosion noises and The Man, ever the pacifist, "bloop bloop bloop"ing along behind him. (Because his gun only shot blueberries. Duh.) When I tried to play along, The Kid made it perfectly clear that my presence was not particularly desirable.

Later that night, nearing bedtime, the three of us gathered on The Kid's bed. The Man and I chatted while The Kid ricocheted between us. One over exuberant lunge went awry and sent The Kid's head on a collision course with the foot board, and I wasn't close enough to save him. I had one horrified second to imagine the sound of the impending thud before The Man's hand appeared, casually even, and gently directed The Kid's noggin into safer waters.

It had been a sudden movement on The Kid's part; one that shouldn't have given non-parental types a chance to react. And yet The Man anticipated it with the same ease as did I, already attuned to my child's spastic movement patterns.

I won't lie: I fell a little harder for him in that moment, with that single simple gesture.


Four years later, The Kid still reminisces about playing the bear game and cracks himself up describing The Man's Monty Python-esque displays of terror. It was love at first sight for him too.

After that fist night, The Kid started talking about The Man as if he was part of our family. And the more he saw of The Man (which really was not a lot) the clearer it became that The Man was leaving a gentle but persistent impression on my little one's heart. He started including The Man in his bedtime love fest: "I love mommy and daddy and all my grandmas and grandpa and The Man and Uncle Moose." When we made Christmas ornaments for family gifts, he saved the best ones for The Man. And there were smaller, odder things too. He pointed out every white Prius he saw, because that's what The Man drives. And he always noticed when The Man got a hair cut.

As sweet as this was, it was also troubling. He and The Man only hung out a few times, but The Kid was hooked. And The Man and I were not dating. We were in love, and I have to imagine that part of The Kid's reaction to The Man was actually a reaction to the changes he saw in me when I was around The Man. But we were not dating. And I had to continually explain to The Kid that we were not going to get married.

But still The Kid insisted that every other guy I dated was only a boy friend that I liked a lot, but that I didn't love. Not like I loved The Man.

And he was right. Little shit.

When things came back together for The Man and me, I was nervous about telling The Kid. I didn't want him to get his hopes up when I wasn't even sure that I should be getting mine up. But I never got the chance to tell him. He figured it out for himself. And he was elated. He began referring to The Man as his Second Best Dad.

With The Man about to move in with us, we've done a lot of talking about a lot of things. Of course, at the top of my list of concerns is how a new man in the house will affect my boy. My boy who is already - and has always been - so attached. So we've talked about expectations and about what we want these relationships to look like; what I want, what The Man wants, what The Kid wants, even what The Ex wants. But really I only have one question.

Will The Man ever be able to love my son as much as my son loves him?

I think I already know the answer to that question. It's in all the little things he's done over the years, even from this distance. So many little things, so many little ways.

Like how sincerely he shared my enthusiasm when I proudly announced that The Kid was really getting this whole reading thing; how disappointed he was to not be able to witness it himself.

Like happily attending The Kid's soccer game, even though it interrupted one of our all too short visits, and shouting his encouragement from the sidelines; like taking The Kid out back afterward to kick the ball around some more.

Like wishing he was around to teach The Kid to play guitar.

Like two nights ago, when he obsessively scoured Craig's List for sold out Social Distortion tickets for The Kid.

Or like at the end of the concert conversation, when he signed off with this: "I love you. Please tell The Kid I love him too."

I won't lie: I fell a little harder for him in that moment, with that single simple gesture. Again. And so did The Kid.

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - you're already here, silly!
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/21/2011 11:50:00 PM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day seven
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING
(Originally published 4.30.07)

There are all sorts of parents and doctors and child development experts (and even more people who've never raised a child or gone to med school or studied child psychology) who will tell you that the quickest way to break a child of any given undesirable behavior is to ignore it. By this, of course, they don't mean that if your child has taken to lighting small animals on fire, you should simply turn away and wait patiently for the phase to pass. In that example the proper reaction is obviously to grab the nearest fire extinguisher and repeatedly beat your child about the head with it. And then call a fireman to rescue the flaming cat.

If, however, your child believes - as they all do at some point - that the best way to ask for a piece of candy at the grocery store is to throw his small body on the floor and howl, and then kick over an entire Cheese-It display, and then dangle limply from your arms as you try to force him to stand on spaghetti legs, and then scream in terror as you drag him out of the store making every other shopper wonder if you've not just snatched him from the cart of his rightful mother - well then, in this case you should ignore the little brat's behavior and continue on with your shopping as if nothing were amiss. Within a few minutes time, they all agree, your child will realize that he has nothing to gain from his behavior, and he'll suddenly stand up straight, adopt a proper English accent, and invite you to join him for a spot of tea and crumpets.

These people have never been exposed to the likes of my child.

At about 6 months, The Kid (then known as The Infant, naturally) abruptly decided that he no longer liked sleeping in his crib, but would instead prefer to spend his nights being perpetually rocked in the comfort of his mother's arms. Many, many, many long nights ensued of repeatedly rocking The Infant to sleep, gingerly positioning him in his crib, and delicately creeping out the door - only to have him start awake and launch into wails of abandonment. After buckets of tears (his and mine), shrieks of frustration (his and mine), a string of sleepless nights (his and mine) and dreams filled with candy canes and gum drops (his soundly sleeping father), I decided in exhausted desperation that I was ready to do the unthinkable: let The Infant cry it out. The crying-it-out is supposed to last for a couple hours at most before the offending baby either gives up or falls asleep from the exhaustion of having just cried for two hours. But those babies are wussies. The Infant obstinately dug in his heels and cried - nay, SCREAMED - for 9 hours straight, and he only stopped after the 9 because by then it was morning and I had to get him up to take him to daycare. And that was just the first night.

If he was that good at 6 months, I'm sure you can imagine what's come with 5 years of diligent practice. The boy is a temper tantrum genius. Thankfully, they don't come as often at 5 as they did at 3, but every once in a while he'll whip one out, dust it off, and give it a leisurely spin around the block just to make sure he's still got it. Tonight is one such night and so I sit, fuming silently in the dining room whilst my child fumes far less silently in his bedroom. It will ebb and flow, but it will last all night, and, much like a kidney stone, no amount of ignoring it will help it pass any more quickly.

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - you're already here, silly!
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/20/2011 5:02:00 PM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day six
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

WHAT A GIRL WANTS
(Originally published 8.13.07)

Depending on his mood, The Kid is sometimes for and sometimes against the idea of a step-dad (or, as he refers to it, an "X-dad"). He brought the topic up last night as I was tucking him in, and requested that I not add a step-dad into the mix any time soon because he already has "a mom, a dad, and an x-mom and that's already too much." I assured him that there are no step-dads anywhere on the horizon. He got very thoughtful for a moment and then decided that a step-dad would be acceptable - fun, even - under very specific conditions. It seems that there are certain qualities any step-dad candidate should possess and, really, The Kid's not too far off base:

"He should have a heart." At first I thought The Kid had turned sentimental, but then he followed up with this: "And eyeballs. And a chin, because I saw a guy at the fair with no chin, and he was weird."

"He should be kind of skinny, and he shouldn't be too tall because then it's too hard to kiss him. And I know one thing: you like to kiss."

"He should not do wars. That's an important one. You should write that one down. And he should not punch or be mean. Or yell. Because then he'd be like this: 'HELOOOOOO!!!' all the time. And that would be weird. And then when the guy says 'you can kiss your wife now,' he'd be like 'OOOOOOOOKAAAAAAAY!!' and everyone in the church would be like 'What's that guy's problem?'."

The Kid cracked himself up with that one, and we both giggled for a while at the idea of living with someone who shouted everything he said.

"He should not snore. I don't want to have to listen to that through the walls at night." I didn't think it appropriate to point out that there are much worse things for children to hear through the walls of their parents' bedrooms.

As for interests and hobbies, The Kid was full of suggestions:

"He should be able to sing, or play guitar or something. And he should like to play with us and laugh with us and be funny. He should know how to read, especially bed-time stories. He should like to cook with us when we have our cooking nights. And he should be smart and know things that we don't know and then teach them to us."

And - with a wisdom beyond his years - this is what he ended with:

"But mostly, he should just make you feel happy. So go on dates with him before you marry him to make sure he's a good one for you."

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - you're already here, silly!
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/19/2011 5:04:00 PM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day Five
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

LITTLE LADIES' MAN
(Originally published 1.08.06)

Some of my friends like to tell me that my son's a little girly. While I agree that he's certainly in touch with his feminine side, it takes only one quick peek inside his toy box to see he's also very much in touch with his truck-driving, gun-shooting, sword-wielding, super hero masculine side. So I gently correct "girly" to "well-rounded."

Yesterday required some birthday shopping for a girlfriend of mine, and I had no choice but to drag The Kid along. Generally, he actually kind of likes shopping and usually provides a surprisingly accurate second opinion. We headed into a funky little secondhand shop to browse around and The Kid spotted a very retro little boy's tee that he described as "SO COOL." And he was SO RIGHT, I had to buy it for him. We then made our way to another funky little shop, where The Kid picked out a bracelet for Birthday Girl. He immediately pointed to the one he liked best, and after carefully surveying the other bracelets and ear rings in the display, I had to admit he was right. As I was paying for the bracelet, the store owner commented on his good taste and obvious predilection for shopping, and I started to think that maybe my friends are right. Maybe he is "girly".

Then I turned around to find that he'd discovered a Venus de Milo statue, and was casually cupping her breasts.

Uh huh. Girly my ass.

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - you're already here, silly!
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
Photo by Chadica
7/18/2011 4:15:00 PM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day four
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

SARCASM BEYOND HIS YEARS
Originally published 1.13.08

"Why don't I hear you brushing your teeth?"

"Probably because you're not listening hard enough."

I pop my head into the bathroom to find that not only is The Kid brushing his teeth, but he already has his pj's on and has gone to the bathroom (but forgotten to flush, as usual). "Oh," I say. "Sorry."

"The point isn't to brush loud anyway, Mom. You don't kill cavities with noise, you know."

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - you're already here, silly!
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/17/2011 11:56:00 PM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day three
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

A MOTHER'S DAY POEM
(Originally published 5.10.09)

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You look like sugar in a bowl
But I would not eat you cause I know you're my mom

Love,
The Kid

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - you're already here, silly!
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/17/2011 12:45:00 AM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day two
In honor of The Kid's 10th birthday, I am republishing some of my favorite Kid-related posts. Ten posts for ten years. Enjoy.

LOOK AT YOU GO
(Originally published 4.12.09)

Just a week ago your dad sent me a text with video of you riding your bike. For years, you've been terrified of the thing, convinced that you'd crash and scrape your face off on the pavement. I partly blame this on your father who bought you the bike when you were four, when it was clearly WAY too big for you, and who took you out riding once, for about 15 minutes, before giving up and telling you that you weren't much of a bike rider.

But the truth is, you've always been a timid, cautious child - enough that I'd begun to think you'd spend the rest of your life hanging back, waiting in the wings. I've tried over and over to explain to you that crashing is part of learning; part of life. But to you, crashing was part of embarrassing falls and bleeding knees and you wanted no part of it, thank you very much.

And now look at you go.

When your dad dropped you off that day, you were so proud of yourself. "I know how to ride a bike!" you yelled as you ran across the yard. "I decided I was going to ride that bike, and I did. I did!" You'd spent three days with your grandparents, and in the last 20 minutes of the last day, you'd learned to ride a bike and your first 2-wheeled scooter (an early birthday present from Grandma).

You spent most of the next day giving me repeated heart attacks as you rode scooters with your best friend. He's had his scooter (and his bike) for at least a year, and you had to fight to keep up with him. I watched anxiously from the dining room window as he taught you to jump over the cracks in the sidewalk, terrified that you were moments from splitting open your chin but elated that you were really going for it. You were awkward and wobbly and completely uncoordinated, and you were having the time of your life.

I walked you both up to the park that afternoon so you could have a little more room and more interesting things on which to kill yourselves. You jumped off curbs and raced around mossy corners and fell over and over and over again. And aside from that one spill with a particularly ground-shaking elbow landing, you just grinned and answered my concerned glances with a shrug and a casual "Falling is part of learning, Mom."

There is no better gift than proof that you've actually been listening to me.

As I write this today, you are zipping up and down the block on your bike. You have discovered that standing while you pedal makes you go faster, and when you're tired you slowly ride around dangling one hand casually at your hip. You still tend to over-correct when you find yourself about to ride into something, quickly jerking the handlebars and landing yourself, hard, on the sidewalk as a result. There was a time such a thing would've been enough for you to heave that bike into the garage and not even look at it again for six months. But now you stop just long enough for me to acknowledge the severity of your wounds and wipe the snot bubbles from your nose before returning with angry determination to show that bike who's boss.

And though I still cringe with every waver, every near miss, every scraped and bloodied patch of skin, I am so proud of the way you've thrown yourself into this with a fearless tenacity usually reserved solely for arguments involving bedtime.

I think I'll never forget that first vision of you riding, your jagged steering zig-zagging you down the sidewalk and through the neighbor's flowerbeds, your helmet slightly askew because I hadn't correctly adjusted the straps. And I will never in a million years forget the sound of your small voice proudly calling to me, "Mom! Mom! Look at me go!"

Yes, love. I'm watching. Look at you go.


Relive them all:
  1. Day One - video of a 5-year-old Kid covering Nirvana
  2. Day Two - you're already here, silly!
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/15/2011 2:53:00 PM
Martini Mom
Ten posts for ten years: Day one
And just like that, he's ten.

Ten.

An entire decade under his belt.

TEN!

I've been sitting here for over an hour trying to write a suitably profound post; one that will convey the precise mix of emotions I'm feeling; one that will eloquently describe the beautiful chaos of being a mother, of being his mother.

But so far all I've got is this: TEN!

And that simply will not cut it. I'm not sure anything I'm capable of writing can cut it. So I've decided, instead, to resurrect some of my favorite Kid-related posts and republish one a day for the next ten days.

Ten posts for ten years.

Starting with this one, my all-time favorite, originally published in April of 2007 when The Kid was just 5-years-old:

HELLO COBAIN, COME ON IN

The Kid's always been a bit of a rocker.

As an infant, he was rocked to sleep several times a day to the tune of Ryan Adams. By two, he'd discovered the Flaming Lips and their robots. Next, the Beastie Boys put in a brief appearance, thanks to the influence of a neighbor kid. The following year, he couldn't get enough of Modest Mouse. For the past year or so, he's been overcome with his first true rock band obsession in the form of The Vines. Most recently, Rage Against the Machine has gotten a lot of play, ever since The Kid heard "Sleep Now in the Fire" on the radio. And now the inevitable has happened: he's discovered Nirvana. And when I say "discovered," what I really mean is "listens to the band every night - over... and over... and over... - much as his father did during the entire last decade of the 20th century."

His dad burned The Kid a custom-made Nirvana cd - made up of mostly b-sides and rarities, as is the Seattle way - and we've spent the past few weeks "practicing" after dinner. Since everyone knows girls can't be rock stars, my role is generally relegated to "dancer" or "member of the audience," though I'm occasionally permitted to play back-up guitar or drums. Mostly, though, I consult on lyrics. And guess who is equal parts mortified and impressed to find that Mommy - someone who's not only too old to be cool, but also a girl - has not only heard of Nirvana, but actually KNOWS ALL THE WORDS to the songs!?


He's got himself an impressive scream. Sings a series of mostly unintelligible lyrics (did I hear something about a raw potato?). And he plays his guitar like a lefty. Who better, then, to follow in the footsteps of Cobain?

Only with less heroin. And even less Courtney Love.

Relive them all:
  1. Day One - you're already here, silly!
  2. Day Two - learning to fall
  3. Day Three - a Mother's Day poem
  4. Day Four - sarcasm
  5. Day Five - little ladies' man
  6. Day Six - desirable mate traits, according to The Kid
  7. Day Seven - on temper tantrums and kidney stones
  8. Day Eight - on dude love
  9. Day Nine - on haircuts and freckles
  10. Day Ten - about a boy little man
7/14/2011 1:13:00 AM
  
 

Xmas with Ex

I gotta give it to my ex. He Is willing to let me pick which week I have the kids for Christmas, and he's willing to spend Christmas Eve and Day with us at my house rather than split up the kids. WHen does this happen?!!! ANd yet I feel relief on his part, too. We might not enjoy being together, but at least we don't have to miss the greatest moments with our kids. Most importants, our kids don't have to miss either of us.

Of course, my boyfriend HATES this. I can't really blame him. Who wants their girlfriend hanging out with their ex on major holidays? But I finally convinced him to relent by saying., "Please don't take my kids away from me at Christmas." And I meant it.

12/13/2011 4:10:00 PM

Playdate with Ex

It's weird having your ex over when a playdate (including the other mom) is at your house. But it works. Let me explain: Son desperately wants a playdate with a new friend. He's having some trouble with friends right now, so I feel this is important. Ex-hubby agrees, but it's his weekend with the kids and he's flown out from across the country. So I say, Why not just have everyone over at my house? We agree.

Other Mom shows up at my house with kids. SHe looks at both of us a bit confused. She knows I'm divorced, and she's a serious Catholic. Why on earth would we be hanging out? Has she gotten herself into some weird relationship?

Yet the conversation flows and everyone has fun. You can count on ex to be a charmer. A flake sometimes but always a charmer.

Other Mom sees me on Monday and I broach the subject so she's not embarrassed. SHe's relieved. "Why did you ever get divorced in the first place? You get along so well."

Glad she didn't see the flask in my pocket.

10/22/2011 4:09:00 PM

Babysitters and Barf!

Slowly I am getting my list of babysitters together. I started by begging the neighborhood moms. Who knew that 13 years old were so useful? They don't drive, date or have lives. They play with the kids and they are fairly cheap.

Of course, my oldest ended up getting sick on some food he had eaten earlier that day, so I felt terrible. And of course the babysitter couldn't get hold of me on my cell phone.

But she took care of it. There was nothing to clean up, anhd I had a really fun night out.

I fight between that guilt, however, and regaining my freedom. Does the guilt ever go away? I guess it does when the kids grow up.

9/20/2011 4:07:00 PM

Nanny is GONE!!!

Nanny is gone, and I'm the one who misses her. I can't believe it. Toward the end, I started calling her my wife, and that's when I realized how much I relied on her. The kids miss her, but they're really excited about the new afternoon 'nanny' (read babysitter). They won't be for long, because New Nanny is much stricter than Nanny.

What will I do without Nanny? I can't go out at night. I don't have a team of babysitter. I can hardly get groceries.

How do Real Moms do this?

7/21/2011 4:08:00 PM

Life without Nanny

Everyone thinks I'm lucky because I have a live-in nanny. And it's true - I am. Until that nanny realizes she will leave soon and starts to mentally check out. Then I get nothing but 'tude and lack of help. I pay the girl for 45 hours of work per week, but I only ask for about 18 hours in practice. She used to think she had a cushy life, but now she rolls her eyes when I asked for extra time or last-minute stuff.

Even my ex noticed it this weekend when he came to visit the kids. He gets use of the minivan when he does. It's part of our divorce agreement. Unfortunately, that leaves nanny with no car for the weekend, but he's still happy to take her places or drop off and pick up. Yet he gives her the car for 2 hours ostensibly to drop off her friend - and she doesn't. She goofs off and then is pissed when he can't do the extra work to drop off.

Seriously? I run a household and work, and you're rolling your eyes at me? I cook a full meal every night when I would prefer to simply eat a bowl of cereal while the kids have chicken nuggets. I fill the gas tank every week, even when I know all the gas is gone because of trips to the mall.

So I'm looking forward to the transition, but it also means I will have no nanny at all. Just after school help. And that is terrifying. I realize that millions of single moms do this, but I'm worried. My parents don't live nearby to help. What happens if something happens to me in the middle of the night? How will I keep up such a complicated life? Who will I talk to? Heck, how will I get groceries without being driven insane?

I don't know. But I do know that I don't need sass on top of stress.
 

6/21/2011 1:47:00 PM

The Band-Aid Rips Off Again

If I haven't blogged it's because I've been joyfully settling the family - that is, my kids and I - into our new house. It couldn't be more beautiful or the neighbors more friendly.

I don't know if its the house, television or a friend whose parents are divorcing, but suddenly my oldest son (age 8) is berrating his father and I to get back together. Apparently, it started the last weekend his father came out for a visit. Then last night he stomed out to see me, computer in hand with dad on Skype, asking why we don't get back together. Then he burst out crying.

He asked if it was him. He said that now he and his brother were easier to 'deal with' so maybe it would be easier on us and we could stay married. He announced it was unnatural for moms and dads not to be together. He talked about the importance of giving each other second chances. When I suggested I could marry another nice man, he went crazy and said he only wanted his dad.

And then he burst into tears and sobbed in my arms.

My heart simply broke.

Until he mentioned what dad had said the previous weekend. Apparently dad said I didn't 'hear' him. Dad also apparently said that I neglected his brother as a baby by refusing the check his diaper and leaving it on too long.

That's when the Mama Bear in me went crazy.

What on earth could my ex be thinking saying such false and disgusting things about me?  Who is the parent who has 100% physical custody, after all, taking care of the kids every second of every day?

My ex called back after we calmed down my son and got him into bed. Ex assured me that nothing like that was said (except the 'hearing' thing) and that he hoped his actions showed that he thought the world of me as a mother and would never do anything to interfere with my relationship with the kids.

Yeah, I thought, he fucking better not because I will destroy him if I have to.

Then ex talked about what a great job we've done to be amicable for our kids sake, working together to parent even when it's uncomfortable. I softened. He's right. Why would he blow that up?

This morning, ex sent another nice note reiterating that he would never to anything to harm our co-parenting relationship. He said he had hurt me enough, made terrible mistake which reflected on his own insecurities - not me. It was very nice.

But my heart is still broken.

It's another reminder that I will never truly be able to trust my ex, that there is always a risk he will try to take the kids or poisen them against me. That my kids are becoming old enough to realize the bitter scar on our family and the obvious fact that, in our world of suburban families, we are generally the only ones who don't have a father. That I risk warping my kids the way my parents' divorce warped me. That my sons will have trouble accepting the fact I may remarry someday. That marrying someone for my own happiness may mean sacrificing their happiness.

So in the mist of this joyful new house, the band-aid is ripped off and the deep wound is bleeding again. Will it ever stop?

5/5/2011 2:44:00 PM

It's Too Easy to Judge Others' Divorce

Apparently time makes you forget your own pain of divorce, something akin to childbirth. I know this because I made a huge mistake with a friend I care deeply about, and I feel terrible. He received an 18 page declaration from his ex that was full of nasty, emotional vomit - and he was hurt.

But did I take the time to validate and synpathize? No. I told him it was all legal strategy and meant nothing. That is largely true. She's clearly trying to pain an unfairly harsh picture to the court in order to create a bias in her favor. However, the doesn't make it hurt any less especially when you've given your heart and soul to this person for 20 years.

Fate had me quickly eating crow. The home I am attempting to buy may not happen, and all because of a landlord who does want his cashcow to leave. He's been taking advantage of me to the point that my priest encouraged me to stop him. I think the worst part if that his attitude is patronize and entitled - much like the ex-wife's -- as if I owe this guy anything more then the terms of my lease. All the while I have been furious, afraid and even obsessed - for no seriously good reason. If this deal falls through, I can always find another house when things have calmed down - right? My mind says that, but my heart screams for vengence.

So I apologized to my friend for not being senitive, and I have had to re-learn a painful lesson. Everyone is different, and everyone's stage of divorce is different. Be senstive and caring in your guidance.

3/7/2011 7:13:00 AM

Achieving the American Dream on My Own

So I may be a slacker on my blog, but that's only because I am buying a house.

Yes, a house of my own!

Divorced women understand that this is a momentous occasion. There is real significance in the fact I qualify for a loan all by myself, and can actually pay it. It means I have brokwn through the financial chaos of divorce and created genuine stability for myself and my children.

And the house will be MINE, all MINE! For the rest of my life if I choose. I get to decide every aspect of how I want to decorate it. No more compromising. No more agreeing to add in stupid guy furniture to my beautiful mix of modern and antique asian furniture (remember that scene "When Harry Met Sally"?). I can finally buy that flowing glass-art chandelier that I love but which my ex detested.

It's about fulfilling my own dreams just because they are my dreams without any compromise.

Of course, I am thinking ahead. I got an extra bedroom in case I have guests.  Or really, in case I ever marry someone with children. His children will need at least one bedroom, right?

That's part of my dreams, too.

2/24/2011 11:17:00 AM

Being 'the provider'

Divorce and dating again makes me realize how lucky women are in many ways. Some women will call me crazy, or anti-feminist, but the reality is that we are the only gender that has something of a choice about whether to work or raise children. Heck, some women do neither.

I always worked when I was married and had children, and I even earned as much money as my then-husband when I worked part time. Ironically, I think that bothered him greatly. I always knew, however, that I had the option to stop working. True, we would have to significantly downsize our lifestyle, but the choice was there. No man would consider not working, and if he did then society would consider him a loser.

Divorce ends that choice for women, and I don't necessarily see how that is good for women as a whole. Obviously divorce is an important option for women who are abused, mistreated and betrayed. Once you're divorced, however, you MUST work. Even worse, you MUST earn enough to pay the mortgage and everything else. If you don't, there is no one to back you up.

Suddenly this lack of choice locks up your world. You can't take the risk of changing jobs in case the new job doesn't work out or you lose your health insurance. You chastise yourself for taking a vacation when you know you need to pile up some savings - just in case.

This is intense stress for women like me who have always had the choice to work, and it frequently leaves me staring at the ceiling when I am supposed to be sleeping. Yet it has also created a new appreciation for men, for their bearing such stress and expectation since birth and also for their willingness to be 'the provider' at all cost.

My own financial and professional independence is not harmed in this acknowledgement. Contrary to what feminists might argue, appreciating the traditional man's burden only proves my own freedom to take it - and freedom to not want it.

1/6/2011 4:39:00 PM

Holidays Confirm Decision to Divorce

Maybe too much time togethert is a bad thing, but I have always seen the holidays confirm people's decisions to get a divorce. Certainly the incredible spike in traffic to DoOver.com since Thanksgiving may be a real indicator. But I'm still not convinced people are making the right decision. Let's start with the reality that the holidays are wacky and chaotic; you can't make real-life decisions under those conditions.

However, if you are seriously contemplating divorce, ask yourself these questions:

1) Will a divorce truly solve your problems?
This sounds obvious, but not when you dig into the underlying reasons for unhappiness. The major reason I see for divorce these days is money, money, money. Quite honestly, I see a lot of housewives upset that their husbands aren't making bank like they used to. They assume he is lazy or making bad decisions, but they can't really know because they aren't out there in the market. They have no real idea of just how bad this recession is.

Girlfriends: You ain't going to find a better deal than what you have now. Everyone is in trouble. If you are that attached to money and detached from economic reality, then the problem isn't him - it's you.

2) Do you truly understand what will happen as a result of divorce?
Again, I see too many women watching the "Real Housewives" or discussing stories of how so-and-so made out with tons of alimony and the house.

Reality: 77 percent of divorcing women go below the poverty line because of their divorce. The typical amount of child support I see averages around $1,000 per month. That assumes he's paying. Alimony generally isn't granted anymore. If you think you and the kids can live on $1,000 per month, you can have your own reality show.

Oh that assumes you get the kids.  Courts these days want the father to continue the relationship with their children. That means 50 percent custody. It means spending Christmas Day desperately alone while your kids rip open the presents with their father and his hot new girlfriend.

Are you really prepared for that?

3) Do you understand that you will never truly escape your ex-husband?

Divorce does not mean you are 100 percent free of your ex. Quite the contrary. Month after month you will beg him to pay his child support while you sweat the mortgage payment. You will see him at restaurants, at your kids' school, at the grocery store, and everywhere else in town for the rest of your life. Your kids' friends will continue to call you by your married name.

Can you deal with this maturely? Can you figure out a way to cordially say hello whle passing your ex in the frozen food section?

These are just the beginnings of problems that are caused by divorce. People who have never been through divorce simply can't imagine the consequences, but try anyway.  If necessary, try a trial separation and see how fun it would be.

Finally, make sure you can look yourself in the mirror and your kids in the eye and say that you have done everything in your power to save your family. If you can do that, and you can handle these questions, only then should you consider divorce.

12/27/2010 11:01:00 AM
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