The GingerBeard Man

micromanaging the homework like whoa

I will come right out and admit that I have not had to do this in the past. My oldest two kids handled their shit. Period. Once they started the sixth grade, I didn’t have to check on their homework or remind them to do it. They took responsibility for it and they knew that their grades were important for college so they did their best. My third kid was a little less enthused in middle school, but still kept her grades in the A-Cs and now that she is starting high school, she is all A/B and really working hard. Flash forward to my youngest kid and man, I am not enjoying the micromanaging that The GingerBeard Man and I are having to do in order to keep her on track.
I check the grades online daily. I email teachers about missing assignments and bad grades to ask for stuff she can work on at home to improve her knowledge of the subject matter. I am printing up and even creating worksheets for her to practice at home. I have subscribed to all of the classes Remind App notifications that are available. It’s ridiculous. Are other parents doing this? Is this normal? Like I am having to memorize where all the damn states are in order for her to? And the capitals? I don’t want to memorize the capitals again. Stahp.
And forget bribing this kid. Forget. It. Here’s the thing about my youngest daughter: she doesn’t care about losing privileges… she doesn’t care SO MUCH that it makes me think it might be related to the years of being in foster care and not having anything. Which then makes me feel terrible. But you can tell this girl that she will lose her electronics, her free time, her time with friends, sleepovers, fun trips places… she doesn’t care. She will hand it all over and dig her heels in. The look in her eyes is like two birds in your face. It’s super frustrating.
She is also Queen of The Excuses. My teacher didn’t show me that. I actually don’t have to do that homework. It’s not due until next week. Nevermind that I am showing her the email from her teacher that says something to the effect of ‘we covered this in class today, here is the homework for it, it’s due tomorrow.’ Her newest excuse is that she shouldn’t even be in middle school because she didn’t pass one of her standardized tests last year. Forget that the one she didn’t pass was math, which she has a 96 in right now and we are talking about science.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I feel her pain. Homework is absolute balls. But is also has to be done and I am not going to sit by while she flunks the sixth grade because she just doesn’t feel like doing anything. I just wish so much that she cared. Like I can get past the needing endless help if she actually cared about learning. Or cared about making good grades. She doesn’t care at all. She is just trying to check the box next to completed so she can move on with her day. Making good grades is just not important to her. It’s so effing frustrating.
I seriously sometimes have a little fantasy daydream that she is standing tall and poised on a stage as a young adult, wearing her cap and gown thanking her father and I for pushing her to do well in school. And I sit back in my seat and dab my eyes and think “it was all worth it.”

almost time…

This past weekend, my daughter and I packed all of the stuff she is taking to college and then we laid down on her bed together and created an amazon wish list for all of the random stuff she’d love to receive in the mail while she is there. Washi tape, post it notes, index cards, relatively healthy snacks, mint tea… As we were working on that, The GingerBeard Man brought us a tray of chips and queso he had made. We snacked and clicked “add to list” and chatted about our upcoming trip to Minnesota. A few hours later, we were done and I went off to do my normal Sunday chores. I packed lunchboxes and did laundry and mopped the floors. It was just a normal weekend.
Yesterday I woke up riddled with anxiety. I couldn’t take enough deep breaths. I just walked around work taking deep breath after deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. Trying to figure out why they were buzzing so much. I hadn’t slept well the night before and I was so distracted that morning making breakfast and packing lunches for the little girls that one of them asked me if I was ok. In response to a message from The GingerBeard Man asking how my day was going, I admitted that I felt really anxious and I wasn’t sure why. He responded with “your daughter is moving away in two days.”
Today I woke up with some different feelings. I am still super anxious, but I am also so very emotional. Thinking about anything makes tears sting my eyes. I’ve had a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat since I opened my eyes this morning. Today, I can see more clearly how much moving my daughter away to college is affecting me. I can tell that any thought process about her in any way is making me teary eyed.
It doesn’t change the fact that I am so happy for her and even more proud of her. But my very logical thought processes about all of this are failing to convince my heart today. Today all I can seem to do is worry about her and think about how much I will miss her.

On Podcasts…

So, I realize I am entering the world of podcasts very late in the game… I occasionally might listen to a book on tape while I am driving, but I’ve pretty much always been more of a music in the car kind of gal. Several months ago, The GingerBeard Man made the comment that he likes to listen to sports podcasts while he commutes and I thought to myself “There are still podcasts? Like, those are still a thing?”  And oh my gosh, they are totally still a thing.
Oddly enough, not long after that conversation, Heather Armstrong took a step back from Dooce and announced that she and John Bray were doing the podcast Manic Rambling Spiral. I’ll admit I was annoyed that Heather had the audacity to leave me high in dry with one of my near daily reads. But, a few weeks later, she mentioned something about a podcast they had done and curiosity got the better of me.  Having never listened to any podcasts, I didn’t even know that my iphone had a handy built in podcast app. After a little bit of fumbling around, I managed to get it going. I can’t remember which episode I started with but it didn’t take long for me to roll back to episode one and listed through all of them. Here’s the thing, I will admit that I didn’t think I would like listening to Heather talk. This makes me an asshole, but her blog (which I really enjoy) is sometimes written in an all caps kind of way that made me think she would be kind of annoying to listen to in person. I will readily admit how wrong I was. Heather is actually pretty great to listen to. She is funny and well spoken and oddly enough, I felt like after a few episodes that I wanted to be friends with her. John Bray is also adorable. I wish he would stop using the R when he introduces himself but that’s just me.
I’ve made it through all of their available podcasts now and I look forward to the new ones coming out each week. The first few episodes felt a little like John interviewing Heather, but that faded into more of a comfortable chatting between the two and it’s super nice. They are both single parents right now, which I have some pretty extensive history with so I find many of the topics relatable both that way and just as a parent in general. I’ve even written in a few times and frankly I have to keep myself from becoming this crazy fan who writes in every single week with my opinion and feelings about each topic.
When I ran out of MRS episodes to listen to, I started listening to Modern Love, which The Social Chick recommended to me. Each Modern Love episode is read by a different celebrity and each essay is a completely different take on a story of “love, loss, and redemption.” While I cannot always relate to these, the stories are so very well written and narrated that I find myself completely entranced and often in tears. They are heartwarming or sad or both and I thoroughly enjoy them.
This foray into podcasts sent me off in search of more. I read a bunch of buzzfeed lists (I like buzzfeed, sue me) and added several different types of recommended podcasts to my feed. Limetown had some pretty good reviews and so I sped through that in about a week of commuting. It was ok. I also listened to the first episode of True Murder, which I enjoyed. But my current favorite is Call Your Girlfriend. I absolutely love listening to Ann and Aminatou chatting away, often over a bottle of wine. I feel like I am hanging out with two chicks who are way cooler than me, but I still love listening to their take on things. I have to admit that I enjoy starting things at the beginning so I am still listening to episodes from 2014, but even dated as they are, I really enjoy them.
It’s funny how just a few months ago, I wasn’t even remotely interested in listening to a podcast and the last few weeks, I’ve been wondering if Tales From The Chicks should do one… So tell me, what podcasts am I missing out on, readers? I have a new addiction that needs feeding!

“Why didn’t they want me?”

I forget, more often than not, how much of a big deal being adopted is.
A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that I am not adopted, nor have I ever known anyone who was. And while I try to be aware of how that feels for my daughter, I realize I am not hyper aware of it. In fact, I look at our life and I think, this is a good life. Compared to my childhood, you’ve got it made, kid.
There is something they have been saying on Manic Ramblings that has really stuck with me the last few weeks, they call comparing your life situation to someone else’s The Pain Olympics. I have no idea if they coined this phrase or if it’s been around forever and I’ve just never heard of it before, but I frequently think about it when it comes to comparing life situations.
My daughter only knows her own life. She doesn’t know my childhood, she doesn’t know any of the struggles I have endured, she doesn’t know the lives of the kids in foster care wishing they were adopted. She only knows her own life. And her life, recently, has been difficult for her emotionally.
I’m going to interrupt myself briefly to just say HOLY HELL, the last few months have been such a whirlwind. There have been major changes and major events that I haven’t had even the tiniest bit of time to write about here. Frankly, with the exception of everything I was preparing myself to emotionally go through, I was expecting for my life to slow down, get a little easier, and run more smoothly with the halving of my kiddos… That has not been the case. It was like these small areas were cleaned out and a bunch of drama jumped in to fill them up.
A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter and I had a big fight. I am a Taurus. I am a redhead. I am the oldest child. I was a single mother for more than ten years. So to say that I am a stubborn control freak is an understatement. I live and die by it. I do not like not getting my way, I do not like being told no, I do not like losing. I am The Mom, that’s it. End of story. So when my youngest daughter decided that she was going to 100% defy me, well I was just not even having that. And since I am physically not capable of forcing her to do anything, we spent about two hours fighting. And while I am all of the things mentioned above, my daughter is a fiery Latina with a strong sense of wanting to be in charge of making her own choices, something that was denied to her for most of her life. So, needless to say, this argument didn’t go well.
It began with me telling her she was going to spend the day at day camp and we needed to get ready to go now, she refused. Maybe it was the refusal or the defiance afterwards, but it made me dig my heels in. It wasn’t long afterwards that the tears began as she resolutely held on to her absolute refusal to comply. There was a period of ugliness here where she went down the road of threatening to call CPS on me (something I don’t think your everyday parent hears as much as parents of a child who has spent time in foster care do), she’d lie to them she said, tell them I was abusing her so she didn’t have to live with me any more. Why did I even adopt her, she asked. She wishes I had never adopted her, she hates me, she continued. Any seasoned parent has spent time being told they are hated but it doesn’t lessen the blow any. Why didn’t I adopt some other kid so she could stay with her real family.
This is where we got down into the nuts and bolts of it. This is where she really showed me her pain in all it furious glory. Why didn’t her real family want her? What was wrong with her? Why did all of her sisters get adopted together (two sets of two sisters, adopted by two different families) while none of them took her? Why couldn’t we adopt one of her siblings so she wouldn’t be alone. If her mom is off of drugs now, why can’t she go live with her? Surely, they would all be able to understand her better than we could, because they are her blood.
Now I can usually hold it together pretty well, but this just plain broke my heart. And all I could do was hug her and cry. And while I could answer all of those questions, it won’t fix any of her pain. There is no right answer for that. And so we cried and I hugged her and told her I loved her. And completely and totally exhausted from the entire ordeal, I let her stay home and I left for work. Once I had pulled myself together enough to, I called The GingerBeard Man and relayed the details of what had went down. And can I just tell you right now how much I love this man? This man who joined my family and embraced all four of these daughters that he didn’t know, this man who chose to be their father even though he had never for one day been a father… What does he say to me in response having heard all of this?
We can do better.”
It wasn’t the coddling response I admittedly had thought I would get, one where he would tell me I was the best mother who had ever mothered. It was the honest response of someone who loves that little girl. Who saw past the drama, hurt feelings, and charged emotions of the previous few hours and put any defensive notions to rest immediately, deciding instead to focus on the true issue here. The fact that our little girl is hurt and she needs us to help her with that hurt. And we can do better.

a random list…

I have lost an entire load of laundry in the last week. Does this happen to other parents? It happens occasionally in my home. I think it is because the girls don’t care who’s laundry they have. They just take it and stick it somewhere to keep me from griping at them for not putting their clothes away. A few weeks later, I will stumble across some items I’m missing and upon further digging, discover the entire missing load. In this case, I am very much looking forward to that happening as I am missing two pairs of jeans and I’ve been wearing this pair for three days straight…

The movers came! The movers came! All four thousand, one hundred and fifty pounds of stuff that we moved into the storage room is now packed into wooden crates and on it’s way to Connecticut!

The second I walked out of my bedroom this morning, I started my little mental zen chant I’m ok with the house being messy. I’m ok with the dishes not being done. I’m ok with the table being covered in random stuff. I’m ok with the house being messy. The GingerBeard Man and I discussed this at our anniversary dinner last night. We are accepting the mess around us right now in this time of chaos because trying to tackle it with all the stuff going on is a nearly impossible task, and one that takes the time we want to spend with the two older girls away from us. So for now I am ok with the house being messy.

I found my everyday bra this morning. I thought it was part of the missing laundry. It wasn’t. But I am glad to have it back.

I googled “stress sweating” after being a sweaty mess the last week or so. I couldn’t figure it out. During the whole drive to IKEA this past weekend, I was just dumping sweat. At work, I’m sweaty… even at home. So I finally stopped and asked myself what had changed lately and the only thing I could think of was that I have been super stressed out. Sure enough, The Internet confirms: We have two types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine. When we get stressed, the larger apocrine glands – mainly in the armpits and groin – produce sweat. Stressful situations also cause our heart rate to increase, and encourage hormones and adrenaline to flood the body, causing additional sweat from our eccrine glands.

When I told Youngest Daughter yesterday that it was The GingerBeard Man and my anniversary, she asked what we were going to do to celebrate. As he had not told me yet, I said I didn’t know. She excitedly blurted “you should have a water balloon fight!”

I have like four lists right now on my desk. One for all of the things I need to finish at work before I leave in one week for Connecticut. One for all of the things I want to do before I leave regarding home stuff (ha!). One for all of the stuff my oldest daughter needs to do prior to moving. And one for all of the things I want to remember to pack.

Second Oldest Daughter left for Spain yesterday. She sent me a text at 6:30 this morning to tell me she was drinking moscato in Spain. I couldn’t possibly be more jealous.

Chicken Week 2.0

My oldest daughter loves chicken more than any other protein. So when I was making the grocery list for this week, since she is staying with us, I asked her to tell me a bunch of dinners she’d like to have. She chose things like Chicken Caesar Wraps, Chicken Sliders on Hawaiian rolls, Caprese Chicken and Chicken & Mushrooms… This didn’t surprise me or The GingerBeard Man, as these were frequently what she wanted to eat when she still lived at home.
Next week is her last full week here before we hit the road to Connecticut. This morning, I sent her a text and asked her what her dinner preferences were for next week. Her response was “Chicken Week 2.0”.
So I am scrolling through recipes on pinterest and hellofresh, trying to pick the last few chicken meals I will make for this girl before she heads off and has to make all of her meals herself.
When my kids were little and I was a crazy busy single mom, I rarely cooked anything that didn’t come out of the freezer and get popped into the oven. My life revolved around convenience and frankly, I didn’t really know how to cook. It wasn’t until they were neared to their teenage years that I was afforded the luxury of caring about what we ate and learning to cook things that were mostly good for us. It was even later that I realized that they needed to learn those same things and started having them help me in the kitchen and eventually cook meals for the family on their own.
It’s one of the things that I am the most proud of. I have raised children that can cook. And not just dinners that go from the freezer into the oven, but with the use of real, fresh ingredients. And not only can they cook, but they appreciate so much eating food that is good for them. And not good for them too! lol We aren’t the kind of family that ignores the awesomeness that is Famous Amos cookies 😉

Selling the house & buying a new one…

Night before last, The GingerBeard Man and I were having a chat and once again visited the idea of selling the house and moving. We’ve discussed this a few times now but haven’t actually done much more than check out zillow and consider whether we should move the two remaining girls from their school or let them stay there.
There are two towns we’ve been considering. One is the town where I work and where both girls attend school. It is about fifteen miles away from our current home, in the opposite direction of the way The GingerBeard Man’s job. The other town is about twenty miles away, but towards where he works. The town where my job and the girls’ schools are is pretty small, it boasts less than a thousand people. The other town is a little bigger with a population of twelve thousand. Initially we were considering the bigger town. The girls are entering their first year of middle and high school, so it’s a good time to move them. But as a kid, I was moved every few years from school to school and I have such a hard time putting them through that.
The GingerBeard Man said that he thinks we should move into the smaller town. That the girls would both be able to walk to school, to activities, around the town itself and so could we. If we wanted to go grab a drink, we could. If we needed something from the grocery store, it’s right down the road. I think he sometimes misses the convenience of living in the city. He made a huge lifestyle change moving from a large city into the very small, very spread out, very country town that we currently live in.
So now, we are considering our options. The first step will be to get the house on the market. No small feat and not one that we are really prepared for right now. Not only have neither of us ever sold a home before, but the house has been in what can only be considered a constant state of disarray for the last few weeks. My oldest daughter has moved back home with her three cats and while almost all of her stuff has went into storage, I now have someone living in the living room. My second oldest daughter has started working on clearing out her room and packing all of her stuff for the move to Minnesota in a few months so that entire side of the house looks like a tornado has come through it. Oh and she is on a ten day trip to DC right now, so it’s probably not going to be cleaned any time soon. Unless I do it. And I probably will, lol.
I’ve just decided to put almost everything on hold until after the trip to Connecticut. Once that trip is done, I will reassess and see what our next steps are. Otherwise it just feels like we are fighting a losing battle against the house. And for what? In three months, it will just be us and the two younger girls with plenty of time to do everything we need or want to do. So for now, patience and planning.

Thursday of Veggie Week

Ok, so I totally dropped the ball on getting this posted last week.
Is anyone getting tired of hearing how busy I am all the time yet? 😉

Thursday was the final day of my short veggies week and the pièce de résistance was The Big Vegan Bowl.
I had a Green Monster for breakfast and leftover falafel for lunch, both were good but when I got home and started prepping dinner I was excited.
This meal takes a little bit of prep work, but luckily Youngest Daughter was having one of those moments where she wants to help make dinner so I let her prep some of the veggies…
We used spinach, shaved carrots, lightly sauteed purple cabbage, sweet potatoes, chick peas, quinoa, avocado and hummus. I forgot the hemp hearts, which I have but just forgot to add. AndThe GingerBeard Man added some siracha and sour cream to his because that’s how he eats literally everything.
This meal was by far my favorite. So much so that while we were eating, The GingerBeard Man and I kept asking each other why we don’t eat this every week… or every night. Because it tasted fantastic and it was super filling and you can feel great about all of the ingredients.
Now, here we are, making our grocery list for next week and The GingerBeard Man asked me for the recipe because he wants to buy enough stuff to make The Big Vegan Bowl for dinner every day next week. I told him I’d be down with having it for lunch every day next week too. It’s just that good. And even if you aren’t interested in being meat free, add some salmon or chicken to it and walk away knowing that you ate something that was super healthy.

ps. I feel like I have to tell you that while the Oh She Glows falafel recipe was fine, I think I will probably go back to using my go to recipe for falafels as they are so good and hold together really well. I usually bake mine in the oven instead of making them in the crock pot, but the combination of ingredients here is yummy!

*photo credit: Oh She Glows

Wednesday of Veggie week

*disclaimer – I am totally eating a donut as I type this… and it isn’t even a great donut, it’s totally subpar. And I’m eating the last bite right now. Damn you, donut.

Tuesday night I got home and I made the Oh She Glows Burrito Bowl which was super yummy. There was enough left over for three lunchboxes. The Gingerbeard Man and I each took one for lunch on Wednesday and he took the last one for lunch today.

Wednesday morning I had the Happy Digestion Smoothie sans parsley because I bought four bunches of cilantro instead of two cilantro and two parsley. And people, I know the difference. I don’t know what happened.

For dinner, we had falafels and cucumber salad with some warm naan bread. The falafel flavors were great but the consistency didn’t exactly hold together well. The cucumber salad was yummy but I had to skip the red onions because: kids…

I will post Thursdays food later but I wanted to mention here that I do feel great (donut and chocolate cake aside), but when I went to start my grocery list for next week I was immediately like ugh, so much work. Not necessarily the cooking part, I don’t mind that. More the planning part. Picking meals, making sure I can tweak them to be kid and husband friendly and then the list and the shopping and the prep and the cooking. I’m probably just being a whiny pants because we have been so busy with all of the end of school year stuff… but when The GingerBeard Man said he had already started the grocery list I was like YAAAAAAAAAAAAAS. So next week will probably not be a great healthy week in my household. In fact, it will probably be the junk foodiest week ever since the kids are free from prison school… but stay tuned because I anticipate once the craziness of moving two daughters across the country has commenced, I will probably take it on again 🙂

A week of Oh She Glows

I have been fully uninspired lately when it comes to food.
So much so, that I have broken some of my very basic food rules… things like making canned cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Which I don’t even consider to actually be a food. But I rationalize it by saying that at least I am making the kids breakfast, right? I’m a good mom, right?
I am chalking this up to the crazy busy schedule we have had lately, as well as the hustle and bustle of preparing to move both older girls out of state and all of the visiting we have been doing on account of that. I’ve been not allowing my anxiety to give me a hard time when I spend an entire day crafting with my older daughter and not cleaning my house because in like six weeks, she won’t be here any more. I’ll clean when she is gone.
I keep telling myself that come fall, we can hit the reset button and get back to normal. Or rather, get to whatever our new normal will be with only four of us at home. Even thinking about that raises my blood pressure. What will this new family dynamic be?
As with all times of stress it seems, I have gained some weight that I’d like to kick and I don’t feel like I have any energy. So I was thinking about how to make some changes. I know a big thing I need to do kick is coffee. I usually quit drinking coffee during the summer anyway because I live in Texas and it’s super hot here which doesn’t exactly make me want to sip on a hot beverage. I also need to get my regular eating back on track. I made a Stouffer’s lasagna and frozen pre-sliced garlic bread for dinner last night. Sure I sauteed some broccoli to go with it, but still.
Anyway, I started doing some googling and ended up on The Queen of The Green Monster‘s page, Oh She Glows. Deeply rooted in my soul is the knowledge that I should be eating vegan and avoiding all sugar and flour. I know it the same way I know that beer is no good for me, but I still pop open a Guinness on the regular and sip it’s foamy bad for me goodness. Because it’s freaking great.
When The GingerBeard Man and I met, I was a “pescatarian” who avoided just about all dairy products. But you know, the thing is, it’s hard to maintain that lifestyle when you share a home with people who don’t. And you have four daughters. And you work full time. Like I just got tired of always making a different dinner for me and making dinner for everyone else. I’m sorry, I’m gonna just say it though, cooking dinner every night is balls. It just is. I don’t roll up on my house at 6pm and think wooooo! Dinner making time! It’s more of a Jesus, can I put on my pajamas, ditch this bra, and watch netflix now? The day is long and when you get home on those nights where you splurged and grabbed a pizza, you feel like you won the relaxing lottery.
But we can’t have pizza every night…. wait… can we? No. Dang it. No.
Well in an effort to eat better next week and in an attempt to kick my 32 ounces of coffee every day, I pulled a bunch of recipes from Oh She Glows and I am hoping that the green smoothie mornings and veggie laden days will help me feel better. I’m adding chicken to just about everything to appease The GingerBeard Man and keep my daughters from starving to death since one of them thinks she is allergic to anything green, but other than that I am anticipating a lovely week of clean eating. I know there will be that whopper of a headache from the coffee withdrawals, but I’ll manage.