Monday, December 28, 2009

Might as well JUMP

Although sometimes I might feel like taking a leap from a tall building, today is not the today. I'm actually feeling pretty good today. My son's SUV wouldn't start, so he and his friend did the responsible thing, and they retrieved his friend's jumper cables and started the Ford. Then they took off to the gas station (in my son's Ford) and, yep, the car died again and wouldn't start. There they sat at the gas station.

So they saw another friend drive by, called him, he stopped, and he also had jumper cables ... but he couldn't get the SUV to start. He left them at the gas station. My son called me wondering what to do next, whether to call a tow truck or what ...

I was on my way home and just told them to wait it out. I would be there shortly. When I got there, I took at look at my son's battery (and decided it looked pretty rough and we just needed to get it started so we could make it to Firestone and have it replaced). I cleaned it off, we hooked it up, and we jumped his SUV. The boys followed me to Firestone where we left the vehicle.

So why am I in a good mood when my son's Ford is now in the shop and it's going to cost me some money?

1. My son needed me. I helped him.
2. He and his friend thought it was funny that I was the one to help them.
3. I know how to jump a car.
4. My son knows how to jump a car.
5. I actually have jumped two cars in the past month.
6. I learned a lesson. Time to buy my son his own set of jumper cables.
7. Better car trouble now than when he leaves for college next week.
8. I feel empowered when I do things on my own.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fixing Stuff

I now know where my screwdriver is, and I actually used it this morning. I own my home and there's no one here but me to fix things. My kids don't know how to do it, and although my stepfather can fix anything, he doesn't live close by and he's recovering from surgery still, so I've found the hammer, the screwdrivers (there's two types if you didn't know ... one is called a Phillips and it has a kind of "star" top and the other is a flathead screwdriver with, well, a flathead). Now, there may be others, but if you are a single mom with your own home, you probably just need these two. This morning I had to use the Phillips screwdriver to tighten up loose doorknobs. How sad is it that I am so proud of myself that I am blogging about it, but everytime I can do anything on my own, for myself, by myself ... it's all good.

What are other things that are helpful for single mom homeowners to have and/or know about?
1. Air filters for your heat/air system. These should be changed about 4 times per year.
2. Someone to do your yard/rake your leaves. It's worth it.
3. Extension cords.
4. Hammer & nails.
5. Deadbolt locks on all your doors.
6. Extra batteries and a flashlight.
7. Lightbulbs.
8. Jumper cables.
9. "No Soliciting" signs at your front door.
10. A friend who knows how to fix things. That would really help.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Top 10 Lists

Top 10 Things I Don’t Like To Hear From My Children

1. You don’t know my life.
2. I’m thinking about getting a tattoo.
3. Change the channel.
4. What’s for dinner?
5. I hate you.
6. Leave me alone.
7. Do I have to go?
8. I’m busy.
9. Something’s wrong with my phone.
10. I’m spending the night at dad’s.

Top 10 Things I Like to Hear From My Children

1. Let’s go to the Sonic.
2. Listen to this, mom.
3. I love you.
4. Where are you?
5. Read this for me.
6. I need your help.
7. Let’s watch a movie.
8. Name your Top 10 favorite (Fill in the blank … it’s a game we play)
9. I can’t wait for Christmas.
10. Why do you keep calling? Don’t worry. I’m fine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Letting Go

I’ve talked in this blog about how much my daughter reminds me of myself and some of things we have in common, but I’ve yet to share some of those same things about my son. I haven’t written about him that much not because we are not close because we are, not because I am not extremely proud of him because I am and not because we don’t share funny moments because we do … I actually haven’t written that much about him, yet, because I understand that he doesn’t really want me to “talk” about him.

So when I blog about him, it may be rarely … But it’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I will respect his wishes to a point. At the same time, he’s part of my life and I’m blogging about my life as a single mom so there you have it.

I probably understand him better than he thinks I do. I understand his feelings of frustration when I remind him one too many times to “get the oil changed in his car” and many, many, many other things. I love to remind him to do stuff. I can’t help myself for some reason to keep reminding him of the things that I think he needs to do. He also can’t help but take an attitude with me when I keep doing it. My mom still reminds me of things over and over again. What is it with us? When someone asks me too many questions, I start feeling like I can’t breathe … and I just want to run for cover. So, I know his frustration with me.

I also understand his need to move away from home again. He’s been living at home for several months, and he’s ready to move on and live with friends in his own place. He thinks I would rather have him home, a little more under my control, and maybe he’s right. It’s hard to let go. However, kids need to grow up … learn to get fend for themselves, do their own laundry and find their own way. I understand that, I do, in a real sense, and I want that for him because he wants it. But I’m his mom and I worry so much. Unless you are parent, you can never understand the burden of worry that takes over your life when you have children.

When he was away at school last year, he took care of himself and he was just fine. He can survive without me. What happens to me when I’m around my mom, and to him when he’s around me, is that we resort to letting our moms take care of us because we know that’s the place where they are most comfortable.

He’s moving away soon, and I’ve noticed he’s been in a really good mood, and I’ve just been feeling more and more anxious and upset. He’s having no trouble letting go, and I’m holding on obsessively.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I am a Snooze Button

Every night, without fail, my daughter texts me and reminds to wake her up in the morning, just in case I might forget after 16 years of waking her up every single morning.

She wants to get up when I get up so she can take a shower, finish some homework, get to school early or whatever (now she wants to get up but actually getting up is a different story ... The reality is that she can actually sleep a little later because I have to be at work almost an hour earlier than she needs to be at school but nonetheless … )

So, each morning, at 6:30 a.m. sharp … I either call her on her cell phone or go downstairs and wake her up personally. Usually, I have to hit the stairs because somehow, for some reason, the child doesn’t ever hear her phone when it happens to be me calling. And then, without fail, she ways, “Wake me up in 15 minutes …”

So I obey her and dutifully watch the clock while putting on my makeup, and then I trudge downstairs again at the appropriate time and tell her “it’s been 15 minutes.” What do you think she says then? You got it. “Wake me up at 7.” And, because I’ve become a mindless, compliant robotic idiot at this point … I do what I am told.

At 7, when I am finally awake and starting to get annoyed but, of course, still obedient and still making the trip as a human alarm clock, she says, “Wake me up when you leave.”

And finally, for the thousandth time, the final alarm goes off … “I’m leaving!” and I walk out the door.

Why do I do this? I can’t explain it. I guess it’s because I love her, and if I’m meeting one little need in her life ... Even though it’s completely unfair to me and I’m not sure if it’s even appreciated ... I will just continue to do it. There will come a day, not very far from now, where she won’t live in my home and won’t need me as much and maybe, just a little bit, I will miss the fact that she did need me every morning these past few years.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Money Woes and Nos

My children have grown up as "haves" rather than "have nots." I'm not saying I'm proud of that or not proud of that. It's just a fact. However, to keep it real, they have always attended public schools, spent some time volunteering and they know that not everyone in their family is vacationing at Disney World each year. Most of their friends come from well-to-do families and they are just used to wearing nice clothes, driving decent vehicles, going on vacations, and eating out when they feel like it. My daughter took dance and gymnastics, and my son played all the sports he wanted. Money was not an issue; they did what they wanted. I never said "no" to them very much. Let me say this, however, that they are good kids. They don't get in much trouble, they make good grades, and they are polite and friendly.

Now, the point of this blog is that after the divorce, I had to rethink "money." I've looked for ways to save ... eat out less often, buy generic brands (usually you can save $2 per item on things like dishwater detergent ... I never knew that before), bought fewer new clothes, and just actually think about money more often. It's sad that at my age, 46, I'm just now starting to rethink my spending habits. I was spoiled because I had a good job (as did my ex) and we just didn't worry about money. Let me tell you ... that's not a good thing. It should always be in the back of your mind.

Although my kids are now older, they have finally had to hear the word "no" from me when it comes to spending. They both had to get part-time jobs to help with their spending habits, but that is a good thing. I hope they learn before I did how to save before you spend, don't buy what you don't need, and to wear that sweater one more season.

Now, time to think about paying for college for two!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Bingo

My family has a tradition. Instead of exchanging gifts, we all buy lots of small gifts (usually stuff like movies, candles, frames, CDs, whatever, you get it) and then we play Bingo and as you get a "Bingo" you get to go pick a gift from the "bed of gifts" ... my bed covered with gifts. The original idea behind this was to save money and add an new tradition to Christmas Eve.

Now, the first part didn't work. I spend way more money on Bingo gifts than I did when we just drew names. My mom probably spends hundreds of dollars because she makes sure everyone has gifts in Bingo particular to their likes and needs. She always has a movie she knows I want or stuff from Bath & Body Works (I love that stuff!) and CDs for my kids and whatever for my brothers.

However, the second part worked like a charm. Christmas Bingo is a tradition in my family like no other. We have to do it; everyone loves it; and I know of others who have heard about our tradition and have taken it on as their own. My kids probably actually like Bingo better than opening gifts on Christmas morning. It's just more fun ... it's like shopping for free. And, there's so much stuff you don't want or need. It's an extravagance, but sometimes you just need that.

My stepdad is so funny. He always brings a big sack to carry all his loot home. He's like Santa in reverse. My mom is the Bingo caller. Sometimes we take turns. Also, sometimes my mom asks trivia questions to break up the "Bingo." However, I personally hate that. She doesn't ask simple trivia questions like "Who is the current American Idol champ?" or "Angelina Jolie is in a long-term partnership with what famous actor?" I like pop culture trivia. No, she caters to the boys. And her trivia is stuff like "Who was named the MVP in Super Bowl V?" Who knows that stuff? I will tell you who ... my brothers! It's irritating. I always lose in her trivia contests. So mom, if you ever read this, give me a break and give me some pop culture triva so I can win!

If you are ever looking for a fun, new tradition to begin with your family ... try Christmas Bingo. It's great for all ages. And not hard to learn. lol

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Life of Mediocrity

My usually sweet, always passionate and highly sensitive daughter told me last night that she didn't want to live a "life of medocrity," well, like her mother. She implied that while I may be content worrying about bills and money and my job and the simple things in life in general ... she wants more than that. She wants the big city, the bright lights, the fame, the fortune, the beautiful and intelligent people, something more than our town has to offer. Something more than I, or possibly anyone she currently knows, can give her. She has a need that we just can't fulfill. She wants something intangible, and it's hard for her to know just what it is ... or where to find it.

Her desires make me want to laugh and cry at the same time. She reminds me so much of myself at her age. I would write in my diary that I didn't want to live the life of my stay-at-home mother, that I wouldn't be satisfied with just being, just taking care of kids and a husband, spending my days reading cookbooks, ordering from an Avon catalog and gossiping with those who would listen. I wanted to move away, and back in the day, I wanted to be a flight attendant, and then later, a journalist. My daughter wants to be a rock and roll journalist (and really, she's an awesome writer, and I believe, her dream is more than just a dream, it is attainable for someone like her ... someone with real talent and drive).

Now, I'm a realist and it's hard to explain to my beautiful daughter, the dreamer, that sometimes life just happens and you make the best of things and you learn to live and love the life you have, not the life you once desired. Things don't always turn out the way we planned, but that doesn't mean it's not good. We can't judge other people's choices, and we all make choices that are the best for us. My mom actually followed her heart's desire as she wanted to be a mom and a wife ... I just didn't know that. And, she was ... and is ... a good mom. What I wanted changed, and it is still changing.

My desire for my daughter is a life fulfilled and, of course, not a life of mediocrity.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Leaves and more leaves

Back in the days of yore, when I was a married woman, I never worried about leaves. Somehow, some way, they just disappeared year after year. The beautiful oak trees in my yard bloomed in the spring and shaded my home in the summer and the leaves magically disappeared in the fall. I guess I knew they fell. I knew that logically they fell. I just never really, really thought about it.

Those days are over. Now my aching back and the dozens of bags of leaves that line my driveway every single week are proof that the leaves don't rake or bag themselves. I've recruited my brother and even paid him, but it doesn't stop the leaves. My son has helped. Even my daughter has bagged leaves. Still they come.

Last week, my brother brought his super duper leaf blower to my house (mine died this year of course) and blew the leaves into amazingly neat piles. There is actually a method and a science to leaf blowing. Now the piles await. No one wants to bag leaves.

The point here is that this is probably the absolutely the one and only thing I miss about being married. Not having to worry about those stupid leaves. I do miss that.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Stepdad Has Cancer?

My stepdad, hands down, is the toughest person I know. He's 74 years old, but he's not really. He seems so so much younger. If you need something fixed, a reason to laugh or someone to take care of you (or someone else) ... he's the guy to call. He's also one of the most entertaining people you could ever meet ... seriously mesmerizing. He could tell a story about taking his shoe off and you might laugh 'til you cry. He's got stories from his childhood about his brothers, his dad, his mom, his classmates and his Army buddies. His dad was a tough old bird who just made him tougher so some of his stories make you want to cry because there are children in this world that do, and did, have a rough go of it. My son wants to write a book about my stepdad and somebody should because his story needs to be told. Actually, his stories need to be told. Maybe occasionally I will tell some of them here.

But today, I just want to say that he has lung cancer. About eight weeks after he had open heart surgery, he had lung surgery to remove a cancerous portion of his lung. It looks good like they may have gotten it all, but now he is suffering in severe pain because of a collapsed lung, an air bubble and other complications. He also is going through chemo and radiation. I haven't seen him in several months, and I remember the last time I saw him before his surgery. He was out walking around his neighborhood ... shirtless and tanned with a wide-brimmed hat on ... looking healthy and happy, and he said he was ready. He just wanted that cancer "out." I know he is now pale, sickly and has lost 45 pounds. I know he is in pain and suffering and it will be hard at Thanksgiving to see him and not worry. However, he is strong. I am anxious for one year from now when this is behind him and he is healthy and telling this story to people and we're rolling on the floor because he's actually making it hilarious.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Daughter Doesn't Listen To Me

I was a journalism major in college. I wanted to move to NYC after college, work for Cosmopolitan magazine, run with the beautiful people (I wouldn't fit in mind you, but maybe I would just kinda know them) and just live on the edge. But life gets in the way, and I didn't have any money so I took a job as a secretary at an advertising agency in Little Rock, Arkansas, got married, had a baby and there you have it. The only thing I did do that was even remotely a part of my dream was visit New York City (and that was only recently).

Now, I've never, not once, advised my daughter to be a journalism major, but that is exactly what she wants to do. She's on the school newspaper staff this year during her junior year. She kind of has a plan for her life. She has a deep love, and an unbelieveable knowledge of music far and wide from Dylan to Adam Lambert ... she knows about them all. It's really amazing and I am not just saying that, she really has a gift. She also is a talented writer, really creative. Her dream is to combine both of her loves and work, some day, for Rolling Stone magazine .... or something like that. She has a plan. She's looking for the right college with the right program and the right internship. No, I'm not helping her. She's on her own because it's really not my dream for her, it's her dream for her.

When she first joined the newspaper staff, I thought she should join the yearbook staff. No. When she joined the newspaper staff (first year), she told me she wanted to ask her teacher if she could have a music column (not many, if any, students get a column of their own) and I gave her my really brilliant motherly advice, "Don't rock the boat. Do as your told. Work hard and good things will come your way. Blah blah blah." Well, guess what. She didn't listen to me. She went straight to her teacher and told her what she wanted to do, pitched her column idea ... and now she has a column all her own called "For the Record" about classic rock musicians. And it's good.

I should know that you never get anywhere in this world by playing it safe. The most successful people take chances. They put themselves out there. They usually are risk takers. I think she's going to do just fine.

Read her column "For the Record" at

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where is the best Margarita?

I don't know, but I'm on a mission to find out. For many years, I didn't drink a drop. I don't want to go into the whys of that, but it's not because I am an alcoholic or anything like that. Let's just say I made a choice. Now, I've made a different choice, and I choose to drink occasionally. And, the one drink I really like is the Margarita (we'll talk about wine in a different blog). I've decided to try to find the best Margarita no matter where I go. So, I'ved tried Margaritas on the West Coast including San Diego and Seattle, and I've tried them on the East Coast including Boston. I've even tried a Margarita in Topeka, Kansas. So far, the best Margarita is at Senior Tequila in Little Rock. Having said that, I'm open to suggestions on where to find the best Margarita in the United States. I'm going to keep looking.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

If anyone can tell me, really, why "Cash for Clunkers" is a good a idea — I want to know. I know it has bailed out the auto industry ... I understand that. But, to me, it is a meaningless temporary fix from the government ... I mean the taxpayers ... until the cash cow runs dry. I don't get it. Here are the problems with it as I see it:
1. It allows people that probably don't need or can't afford a new car to buy one.
2. It crushes — literally — perfectly good automobiles that are usually bought by low-income families that need a car, or high school and college students. These groups can't afford new cars, so where are they going to get the used cars? The used cars that are available will be newer and more expensive.
3. It hurts the auto parts industry and your local mechanic. They made money providing parts to help people fix older cars and for providing services.
4. It costs a bunch of money from you and me.

I think Pres. Obama is a man in a hurry, and the items on his agenda are being pushed through with little thought to the repercussions or fallout. Congress and the president need to slow down, take a deep breath and think things through.

Monday, July 27, 2009

American Idol Tour Review

My daughter and I are huge American Idol fans, and we have watched faithfully since Season 1. However, this season had our attention more than ever — because the eventual winner, Kris Allen, was from our home state and because of Adam Lambert. My daughter is obsessed with Adam. And, I guess I'm not far behind.

My daughter and I attended the American Idol concert in Verizon Arena in North Little Rock on July 25. I'm not going to go over every little detail but I will say it was better than I expected. My daughter and I attended one of the tour shows after Season 5, and I felt like I was at a high school talent show. It was really amateurish. This show had people (and pianos) rising from below the stage, personalized clothing, some choreography and an actual light show. It was a much more professional production.

Michael Sarver, Megan Joy, Scott Macintyre, Lil Rounds did as well as expected. There were no huge mess ups and I felt like they sounded the same as on TV. However, their smaller voices were no match for the big arena and the loud music. Anoop Desai actually did pretty well; I enjoyed his version of "Always On My Mind." To me, Matt Giraud was the biggest surprise — he was awesome. He can really dance, his voice carried and he reminded me of Jerry Lee Lewis when playing the piano.

I was a little disappointed in Allison Iraheta. Her electric guitar playing was a little silly; and she's no Ann (or Nancy) Wilson. Also, her stage presence was lacking and she jumped around the stage in a frenetic and awkward manner. I actually enjoyed Danny Gokey; his voice was clear and he can dance ... a little. He knows how to get the crowd fired up and gave a little speech (preach).

The crowd in North Little Rock cheered heavily for all the contestants — it was a warm welcome, and I was proud of my fellow Arkansans.

The crowd went crazy when Adam Lambert hit the stage, and he definitely knows how to work it (and the microphone). It was exactly as I expected — big (and amazing) voice, big style and big star power. My daughter and I loved it. The acts before him really paled in comparison — Adam really, I mean really, owned the night. Adam is a star (as in celebrity and stage presence star) and I hope his album will catapult him into the big leagues with other famous rock acts.

Adam got big applause, but when Kris came out — it was deafening. I had to plug my ears. Think about Adam's performance and then think about what might be the exact opposite — that was Kris. Dimmed lights, just him behind a instrument, smooth sound, very low key. The audience loved his style. I enjoyed it, but I would still give the evening to Adam. Having said that, I'm very proud of Kris and all that he has accomplished.

Afterwards, my daughter wanted to wait and meet the idols — I was anxious myself to see if they can work the crowd. Well, Megan, Lil and Anoop didn't make the rounds and didn't sign autographs. If anyone should be making fans and friends, it might be those three. Danny was really engaging, talked to everyone, posed for photos, actually spoke personally to my daughter. Michael — same thing. Very thankful, friendly. Spoke to everyone and signed lots of autographs. Allison — not so much. She hurried down the line with her head down, not posing for photos and not speaking directly to anyone. Matt spoke to everyone, signed autographs, even sang a little for those who requested it – he took time for everyone. He was probably the most engaged.

Adam was mobbed, but he posed for photos, signed tons of autographs and actually had a conversation with my star-struck daughter. She was thrilled. I was thrilled for her. He looks so young, tall and very glam in person. He LOOKS like a star — lots of charisma. (Just a side note — he's the tallest by far. My daughter is 5 feet, eight inches and she was taller than everyone else expect maybe Matt.)

Kris needs a little help with his crowd skills. He walked down the barricade signing autographs and saying thank you, however he rarely looked up or engaged anyone in conversation. It was a little disappointing especially since this was his hometown crowd.

And, final note on that, after all the Idols walked down the barricade signing autographs, etc., they mostly walked hurriedly back standing about 10 feet back from the crowd and waving. Adam stepped back up to the barricade and shook or touched hands on his way back. He was the only one that did that. I think he showed lots of class, and he knows how to make fans and work the crowd.

All in all, it was a fun evening. I did it for my daughter, and I hope she will always remember that evening with her mom.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My First Blog

My name is Kelly. I am a single mom with two teenagers. I have a full-time job, and a home to maintain. I’m busy. I have two brothers who are both married and live in the same town as I do. I have a mother who makes me laugh with her addiction to QVC and all things Republican. I have a stepfather who can "spin a yarn" like no other. He has a story for every occasion and the great part about it is that they are all true. He's been in bar fights from Florida to California and worked in the prison system in California. He's always been the tough guy.

With this blog, I am going to comment on things about my life that either make me happy, make me think or make me laugh. Maybe it's my kids (who are both hilarious), my friends (not as hilarious), my family (again, hilarious) or something in the news (you gotta laugh or you will cry). Maybe it's my struggles with decluttering my life or maybe it's my daughter's love of music or my son's love of sports. Whatever it is, maybe you can find something in your life you can share with me. Let's laugh (or maybe just vent) together.