Stepping Into Independence

Independence. Everyone has to go through it sometime or another. Now, it’s kiddo’s turn. And I’m petrified! Kiddo’s a pre-teen who will be 12 in a couple of months. He’s been asking for more independence – to walk to school alone, a cell phone and an alarm clock.

So far, I think I’ve done pretty well with the adjustment. Err, maybe not. We’ve been working on this since last May. Kiddo’s still not walking to school alone, though we’ve got it to 60% alone. At first, it meant dropping him off at the corner closest to the school and watching him cross. Then it was the corner before that (which was a straight shot to the school so I could still watch him). Slowly, we ended up around the corner.

The school sits at an intersection and from our house, it is a zig-zag pattern. And we live in the South Bronx. Don’t get me wrong – it has improved a great deal and there’s a bigger police presence than ever. But, I’m realistic. I know where I live.

With guidelines on how to walk on his own, plus using it as a way to modify his behavior positively (ie if he screws up, I walk him all the way to school; devastating to a pre-teen), I’ve been a big girl mature mom and let him go. Independence is a PITA, but it’s a part of growing up. Only I’m the one feeling the growing pains. Sigh. On to the alarm clock.

Parenting: Credit Where Credit is Due

Parenting is a very tough job. Parenting while in a relationship and feeling alone as a parent is even tougher. Everyone knows that, right? Nope. There are people out there who have no idea what it is like. There are some men out there who don’t acknowledge everything a mother does for her child. One man who used to be that way is Austin Blood.

In his post about the chaos of fatherhood, Austin had the courage to admit that he used to be one of those men (like my son’s father) who left parenting to the mom (more like ran away screaming) and continued on his merry way. Austin scored bigger points with me by acknowledging how amazing his ex-wife was (and is) as a mother. His words had a profound affect on me as I read his post during my lunch yesterday.

As I sit here writing while kiddo sleeps, my eyes tearing, I feel Austin’s appreciation. For roughly 10 years, I felt alone as a parent – running around doing everything to make sure kiddo had everything he needed. Sure, kiddo’s father pitched in sometimes, but I held the reins (had to or things wouldn’t get done). After 10 years of feeling like a single mom, I made myself one by breaking up with kiddo’s father.

For the last 3 years, kiddo’s father has been like Austin – having to figure things out on his own without “the blissful days of yore” of having me around to do everything. When he’s on kiddo time, my ex has to figure out pick-ups (we’re affected by the school bus strike here), meals, homework…EVERYTHING. And after 3 years, kiddo’s father isn’t willing to say how amazing I am as a mother to his son. I hear it from my family, friends and co-workers. But, not from kiddo’s father. In fact, I had to tell him a few weeks ago (via text because sometimes we just don’t talk ) that he should be thankful for the mother kiddo has because I’m a damned good mom! But, Austin said it for him.

Thank you Austin, for being man enough, adult enough to give us moms the thanks we deserve. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Raising a Book Critic: Advice to Writers

Happy first Tuesday in January readers!  Today’s bit of advice to writers comes from kiddo. Kiddo’s full of surprises this morning. One was his critique of a kid’s book. As I’m sitting at my home computer desk, trying to keep my eyes open (yes, I know it’s 8:30am), I’m reflecting on his critique without naming the book here out of respect for the writer.

Add raising a book critic to my resume. I’ve been encouraging kiddo to read more (indeed, my tweeps know all about that). And since he was up and dressed early this morning, I egged him on to read before school. Except, I chose a book that he didn’t like after 20 pages. I asked him what he thought was going on with the book. Here is his advice to writers.

Get to the point. With a great cover that had me interested in reading the book, I thought kiddo would go for it. I was wrong. He told me it was the 7th book in a series. Kiddo was bored with the recap of the previous books. He was waiting for the book to get interesting. He kept trying to read it and now he won’t look at it.

Keep it simple. Kiddo didn’t understand the point of the story because he was too busy being annoyed by the backstory. He didn’t like all the previous history. Yes, it might important for the writer’s vision for the book, but without writing for the readers, especially kids, it’s very hard to reel them into the story.

Improve your writing or else. The writing didn’t work for him. Kiddo said he wouldn’t finish the book. And he’s not. It doesn’t matter how much I sweet talk him, cajole him or threaten to Gangnam Style at his school – he’s not having it. And I’m pretty sure that if he saw another book by the author, he wouldn’t think twice about rejecting it.

Writing is a tough gig. Being critiqued is even harder. You spend so much of your time making it perfect only to have a pipsqueak (like kiddo) tell you it’s not good enough. And it will sting. But, it will also help you become a better writer. I’m not saying that bending over backwards is necessary, but knowing who your target reader is important when you’re writing for that reader. If you follow the steps above, you’ll have a dedicated reader sharing his favorite books with his pals. Have a great Tuesday!

 

 

 

Christmas Day 2012

Christmas Day 2012 was a good one. It can be put into the books as a mellow and enjoyable holiday. Kiddo’s happy with his goodies and I’m just happy being in my new purple jammies (thanks to my dad’s gal pal) writing this post. And not only am I enjoying this quiet time, I’m also ecstatic that I’m on a staycation.  A full week off from the dayjob just to be home with kiddo and take time to rest. This is sweet.

I didn’t have a long list for Christmas. All I wanted was to get kiddo his gifts, time off from the dayjob (after six months of probation – I sorely needed the break) and time with family. I got all of those things plus a few more with the two new writing jobs I have now.

I’m tired right now, but so excited. Deep, deep down. lol I’m excited about the blessing of Christmas, excited about the possibilities of the future and excited about 2013. I’ve come a long way this year and am ready for my next adventure. I plan on taking that adventure after resting on my staycation.

Merry Belated Christmas!

Christmas Day 2012 008

Brave: A Movie Review

Kiddo and I had the chance to watch “Brave” last night. Yet another Disney hit (at least in our house). I’ve always been a Disney movie fan – my favorite movie is STILL “Beauty & The Beast”.

Brave is the amazing story of Merida, a Scottish princess who routinely challenges the norm of royal life (according to her mother Queen Eleanor). Merida has the issues of any teenage girl – learning responsibility, a mom who talks at her about her royal duties (mine was washing dishes, which I still hate!) and generally annoyed at not having a say in her future goals.

With great graphics and color, Disney took kiddo and I to Scotland. I loved Merida’s character right away; someone wanting to make her own decisions rather than having them made for her as Queen Eleanor (played by Emma Thompson) would do. Throw in a legend into the mix and here’s yet another movie I’d like to add into my dvd collection.

Even better? Kiddo began repeating lines from the movie copying the Scottish accent. We give “Brave” five stars!

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Writing Goals Set and Met

The end of November and beginning of December have found me meeting some of my writing goals. Some were posted here long ago and others not. Here’s a list of my accomplishments so far:

  1. Bought my domain name.
  2. Applied & accepted a position with a media company.
  3. Applied & accepted a blogging job blending my mental health experience and writing. (So excited!)
  4. Established a better sleep routine, which allows me to get up early to write.

One last major thing for me to do this month is to set up hosting for my domain name and get my websites transferred over. It was the last hurdle for me to really declare myself a writer. Besides writing (and thinking about writing) all of the time, I still struggled with just buying my domain name. Seriously, it was all in my head. My hope is to have everything done on my new website (which will remain nameless for now) by the end of the first quarter of 2013. If I could do this, I can do anything. lol

Happy Tuesday!

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Black Friday – Not for Me

As the Black Friday commercials stream on my television, radio and computer, I’m still confounded as to the point of this weird-to-me tradition. Yes, I find it strange that people would get up in the middle of the night to go shopping just to save some money.  Especially since the last few years of Black Friday literally became Black Friday when people began dying due to stampedes at the door.

I only heard about Black Friday for the first time in 2007 from a friendly co-worker at the time. She asked me how early I’d be up shopping for Black Friday. I, a native New Yorker, had NEVER heard of it.  She was nice enough to tell me what it was about sharing some of her Black Friday tips. As soon as she told me that she got up at 2am to go shopping, I knew that Black Friday was out for me. I wouldn’t get up that early except to get on a plane for vacation.

This year, I decided to do some research on this so-called holiday. Doing a Google search for “where did black friday come from?’ brought me the usual Wikipedia page, but led me to others.  In the Mental Floss archives, the start date  of the actual day is unclear, though it has roots in the early 19th Century. Wow, day-after Thanksgiving holiday madness way back then? That’s crazy to me.

And it also seems that pr companies were hard at work in the eighties to put a positive spin on Black Friday by pushing around the new meaning of the day writing “getting in the black” as a way for retailers to recoup sales lost on Thanksgiving (when people traditionally did NOT do any shopping). Back then, people let themselves be knocked into tryptophan food comas.

On News Blaze, I found a list of various “Black Fridays” full of tragic stories and events from stock market crashes to battles to natural disasters to the assassination of John F. Kennedy (d. 1963). After reading that list, I feel okay with NOT being comfortable with Black Friday as a positive shopping holiday.

Once again, the madness is here and even madder than before as stores are opening Thanksgiving night. Black Friday is not even here yet and already I’m over it. Please be safe out there and remember that Thanksgiving isn’t about holiday sales, but about spending time with family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Feel free to share your thoughts about Black Friday in the comments.

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Enter the Ice Hockey Mom

So this past weekend was my official coming out as an ice hockey mom. And I failed….badly.
My sleep-deprived brain needed coffee, so I went to Dunkin where I parked myself with my breakfast. And here I thought, “Kiddo’s on time and on the ice. I’m good.” NOT!
By the time I went back to the ice to cheer from the sidelines (more like raise my coffee as a salute), the kid was dehydrated after two water breaks. He was SO upset with me and I was SO upset with myself for failing my kid on the first day.
I was relieved though. After he drank some of his Gatorade, he smiled and went back to practice. Seems like I’m forgiven….until my next screw-up!

Signed,

Ice Hockey Rookie

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Thoughts on Stupid Sandy

Yes, this hurricane is stupid. Hurricane Sandy has wreaked havoc on the Eastern Seaboard causing death, homelessness and hardship for so many. I’m very fortunate that I’m not one of them. I’m very grateful to be in  my little section of the Bronx spending the week with my son while I wait for his school to open again.

In the meantime, I’ve been watching news reports (nauseated by them) and following updates on Twitter. So many things have come up in the wake of Hurricane Sandy so I wanted to share brief thoughts on the following:

Hoaxes – Seriously people have nothing better to do than to add to the anxiety, fear and suffering for those affected by the hurricane. Note: There are no sharks in the waters or 3 feet of water in the NY Stock exchange (that guy lost his job) or people posing as Con Ed workers to loot from people.

Tasteless Sales – Brands like American Apparel, Gap, etc coming out with “Sandy” sales. Hello brands, how about putting sales that will benefit the people affected by the disaster? Like, donating shipping fees to the Red Cross or Salvation Army? Just a suggestion.  (Note: Other brands have stepped up to provide free showers, food, charging stations, etc. THANK YOU!!!)

Looting and fighting at the pumps – I’ve mixed feelings about this. But as a mental health professional, my view is that people are desperate and scared. It does not excuse this behavior, but may explain it. Scared about where they will sleep, when they will eat and when life will get back to normal. Which leads me to the ING Marathon.

NYC ING Marathon – I’ve got VERY mixed feelings about the race going on. It is supposed to thread through some of the most devastated parts of NYC especially in Staten Island and Manhattan. Manpower and supplies are allocated to work the marathon route while people go without food and power. On the flipside, the marathon is televised widely, which can bring more attention to the disaster efforts and bring more help by way of donation. As a therapist, I can understand why Bloomberg wants this to happen – a sense of normalcy does help the healing process. However, I understand the need to focus on disaster relief efforts. People are scared and in need – what will this race do to help? I’m still unsure of how I feel. (Note: As of 5:18pm, the ING Marathon has been CANCELLED as announced by ABC News at 5pm).

Last thoughts, Sandy has brought out some of the worst in people, but it also brings out the best in people. Stories of heroism, sacrifice and neighbors helping neighbors. As a New Yorker, I feel proud to be here and know that we’re made of tough stuff, but we also can’t do it without the help and generosity of others.

I’m praying for everyone on the Eastern Seaboard affected by Hurricane Sandy. Please help. Give your money, supplies or time to help those affected by Sandy.

For more information please visit:

Red Cross

NYC Volunteer Sign-up

New Jersey Office of Emergency Management

NJ Hurricane Sandy Information Center

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Hurricane Sandy, birthday thoughts and other tidbits

First off, I’d like to thank the first responders and emergency staff who braved dangerously high winds to help others. I’d also like to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo for keeping their cool during this difficult time.

Hurricane Sandy hit us here last night. And I’m very happy to say that in my neck of the South Bronx, I had no damage or power loss. However, other New Yorkers (residents from New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut) weren’t so lucky. My family is in different places around the city, but thank goodness everyone is okay.

I’ve been a bit stir-crazy sitting at home with kiddo, but since there’s power, I’ve been hanging out with kiddo. It’s been months since I’ve had any real time off since starting my job in May. So, I’m trying hard to make the best of it. And eating tons of leftovers from my early birthday party celebration on Saturday (my birthday was yesterday).

So here are my survival tips on how to stay sane during a hurricane:

Get organized and put all exposed objects away. Kiddo and I put away anything that could have hurt us. We also got the candles ready in case we lost power.

Get the board games out. Kiddo and I love board games like Sorry, Guess Who and Scrabble so we took them out. We played a few rounds of games. (I didn’t time this well. We were bored right away). Extra Tip: Keep the television or video games going until the power goes out (if it does).

Charge cell phones and computers. I don’t have a landline so I needed a way to keep in touch.  My phone and computer were both charged and ready to go.

Make sure there’s enough food and water. Since I had a party on Saturday, I had this covered, but I made sure to fill up the bathtub in case I lost water pressure.

Think positive thoughts. Whether or not you believe in a higher power, positive thinking helps reduce anxiety and stress.  I was very anxious being alone with kiddo for such a big storm. I needed a place to put this nervous energy so I kept thinking good thoughts and prayed. (I also limited the amount of news I watched because it increased my worrying.)

Be sure to plan what your next steps might be after the storm passes. After making sure that kiddo and I were okay, I decided to check on my neighbors after going to the local store. Thank goodness everyone was okay. (My neighbors looked at me funny – not a NY thing; my neighbors are funny that way. lol)

Overall, I can count many blessings that we’re okay. I can’t say the same for others as the news reports have shown. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. All I know is that we’ll all be okay.

Blessings!

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