Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I was going to post a really long blog, detailing all the ways people are lacking in manners these days, but since the last two blogs were kind of long, I'll make this one a lot shorter than originally intended.

I have this (odd, to some people, apparently) belief that everyone should use proper manners. I'm not talking about which fork to use or where your napkin goes when eating... I'm just asking for more than what the general public has deemed necessary.

Manners are much more than "please" and "thank you". You can blame how you were raised (or, really, how you WEREN'T raised), but your actions, good & bad, are made by you, and you alone. As a child, it IS your parents' responsibility to raise you to have manners, but once you become an adult, you're on your own.

So, with that in mind, here are just a few rules of society that will help you get further in life (job, school, friends, SOs, etc):
1. "Yes, please" and "no, thank you" are proper answers when asked questions by your elders; even better if you use them with everyone you come across.
2. Hold doors open for those behind you; say thank you to those who hold the door open for you.
3. Leave yourself extra time to get to & from places (like work &/or appointments). That way, there is no need to speed, cut people off, tailgate, and otherwise make other drivers mad at you. Road rage is not a good look on anyone.
4. When you call someone (whether it's a home phone, a cell phone, or a place of business), leave a brief message; clearly stating who you are, whom you're calling, and the best way/time/number to call you back. Don't keep calling back; one message will do.
5. Periodically ask your family (parents, siblings, kids, SOs, etc) what you can do that would make their lives a little bit easier. Bonus points if you already know, and just do them without asking.

I know this is a very short list, but I mostly posted this so that you pay more attention to others in your life; whether you like them or not, &/or know them well or not at all... I totally believe in Karma, and even if you don't, doing nice things for people & using your manners could very well completely change a person's outlook.

Realistic Advice For Teenage Girls

Borrowed from "Backwoods Mom", and adapted just a little, to coordinate with my own philosophies about life:

Because naive parenting leads to unprepared teenagers...

Nobody really looks like that. Stop trying to achieve the impossible.
That eighty dollar pair of jeans looks exactly the same as that thirty dollar pair of jeans.
Tattoos are permanent... PERMANENT!
In ten years you will be nothing like the person you are today. I know you don't believe me. But please try not to embarrass the future you.
Having a baby as a teenager is fun for about six minutes. And then all your friends get tired of holding the baby and slowly drift away, back to their silly, teenager lives. Yours is now over.
Learn how to swing a hammer, change your own oil, and flip a breaker (to name a few).
It does not hurt him when you say, “NO”. He will not explode and die (as he may try to convince you).
Do not text pictures of your body to anyone. I can’t even begin to explain how this cheapens you.
If you wear makeup, it should be worn so that it looks like it’s not being worn.
You will remember your "first time" your entire life. Make sure he’s worth remembering.
Do not post Facebook pictures of yourself scantily dressed in your bathroom mirror. Everyone hates it (except those creepy boys).
If you must, when you're legal, a two drink limit keeps things in perspective.
Learn to cook.
You do not have to be tomorrow who you were yesterday.
If you have to look in the mirror more than twice a day, you are spending too much time on your looks.
There is a fine line between sexy and sleazy. If you don’t know what the line is, you are probably sleazy.
Relying on your looks will only last until the first pregnancy. Plan, & SAVE, for college.
Showing your cleavage is not what attracts him. He knows what’s in there and his imagination is even more generous than your proportions. Cover yourself a bit…
Wear comfortable shoes.
Nobody noticed that zit until you pinched the crap out of it. Smile, they will only notice your gleam.
Sometimes lust feels like love. Identify the difference as soon as possible and you will have fewer regrets.
If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to know you are doing it, don’t do it.
Jeans and a t-shirt always wins.
Playing stupid only makes you look stupid.
He is not going to change. No, he’s not. Stop arguing. You can’t fix him.
Peer pressure is no excuse for stupidity.
If he says the words, “But, if you loved me you would…” run the other direction. Don’t walk, run. (As a counter-argument, if he loved you, he wouldn't...)
There will be moments later in life when you wonder what the Hell you were thinking back then. At each pivotal moment of your teenage years, ask yourself whether this could be one of them.

There is, of course, much more I could add, but for now, I will only say one more thing: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pay attention to what your children, especially your teenage daughters, are doing online & out in public...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Out, One In... Sort Of

Most of you are aware of our... shall we call them "issues"... with GamerBoy. Since Ace & I got together (the summer before GamerBoy turned 9yo), he's been a pain in our sides. We originally thought it was just your typical "dad's dating again" behaviors, but over the years, with his "beloved mama's" assistance, he's gotten worse. She has done everything she can think of to screw up those kids' (GamerBoy, as well as his sister, Squeeks) relationship with their father, and any hope of a normal stepparent relationship with me.

She pushed & prodded Ace excessively to reduce his parenting time (he originally had 48% time), moved 2 hours away (to try to push this issue more - didn't work; we just had it reconfigured), she told the kids time & again that their father was behind on his child support (impossible with a real job - 17yrs now - which has a payroll department), that we owe her money for this/that/the other thing, that we live in a mobile home (WTF?!?), that I'm trying to take over being their mom (um, no thanks!), that they don't have to listen to me or follow the rules in this house because I'm not their "real" mom, that our relationship won't last, and a thousand other mean/disrespectful things; most of them downright lies.

We've dealt with it, and them, by being honest; sometimes brutally so (which sometimes included "making her look bad" - her words). You can't lie to your kids about something regarding yourself when your ex-other-half knows better... She's gone through men like she has a revolving door and always tells the kids it's a broken loyalty or -trust issue (now evident in Squeeks' "relationships" with boys -- ugh); she stretches the truth on her personal website as well as that of another (where she has a side job) regarding her experiences with animals; she told the kids that not only did she graduate high school, but that she did so with honors (truth: she dropped out at age 14, got her GED at the age of 32, tried unsuccessfully multiple times - she supposedly has social phobias, but her career is dog-trainer - to go to college, & finally stopped trying about 5 years ago); when she moved them to the base of the mountain (2 hours away, 6 or 7 years ago), she decided GamerBoy needed only her love to heal his ADHD -- no more counseling & no more medication... cold turkey from both. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the gist.

Personally, I started stepping away from parenting them when GamerBoy was about 12. They, of course, still were required to obey the house rules and do chores when they came over, but I decided that if they didn't want me to act like a mom to them, I wouldn't. By the time GamerBoy was 15 (which is also when he got his own room, & the girls started sharing one), THAT was seriously biting them both in the booty -- they WANTED me to do some "mom" things for them... like their laundry, help with homework, take them shopping, etc. Sorry, kids; I'm not your mother (hehehe). I'll be honest; letting Ace take care of all their parent needs in our house was excruciating in one way (let's just say: we have "differing" parenting techniques), but such a relief at the same time. I had only one kid - Princess - to worry about.

By the time GamerBoy was 16, he was being talked to (read: LECTURED) at both houses about getting a job, getting a driver's license, being more responsible, etc... He was also reminded that 18yo was not far away and if his negative behaviors continued once he was an adult, he would no longer be welcome in our home (we found out recently that he'd been told that same things at his mama's since about then, too; she was telling us, however, that everything was hunky-dory over there, and the blame was placed on our house/rules for his misbehavior). Unfortunately, the responsibility did not come... Once he finally turned 18 (back in December of last year), he still did not have a job, he still did not have a driver's license, and he had decided (since he was "an adult") that he no longer had to help out with daily chores. He also stayed up 'til 2 or 3am, tried to sleep late (we don't allow that, here; sorry), and stayed in his room THE WHOLE DAY; only coming out to eat, use the restroom, or demand things from us.

This was when Ace said, & repeated over the next few months, "We only feel obligated to allow you to continue to come over here -- leeching off of us -- until you graduate. Once you are done with high school, if these behaviors continue, you will no longer be welcome in our home. It is your choice, and your choice alone." We started making plans to move Squeeks into his room; giving the girls their own rooms (finally). GamerBoy's biggest argument: "Well, what if I decide I want to come over?" My response: "What do you need a bedroom for if you're actually coming over to visit?," (knowing full-well he's used the term "visit" for coming over to leech our internet, electricity, food, & water since he turned 18; he's not actually "visiting" with anyone). "What if I want to spend the night, then?," he asked. "There's floor space in both your sisters' rooms."

Fast forward to Sunday evening, June 12th. GamerBoy decided he would join his sister for "a couple of days" of our parenting time with her. By Tuesday, his attitude (only changing for the worse) had Ace's blood pressure up quite a bit more than usual, and we had boxes stacked in our living room with closet organizer parts for both girls' rooms, so I asked him when he was going home. He said, "Well, I don't know... I was thinking of staying for a bit. I did say up to a week." "No, you didn't. You asked if you could stay for a couple days; that's two, maybe three. Time's up." In a huff, he called his mother to see if she would mind if he rode the train with Squeeks the following day (she has a Wednesday night training class she's working with her mother) & come home; he got off the phone and told us that she said she required a 48 hour or more notice for him to come home (WTF?!?!).

This threw our plans for a huge loop, but what were we supposed to do? We weren't going to boot him with nowhere to go for a couple days! So, we started working on Princess' closet organizer. That meant clearing out her closet, removing all the wood & the rod, repairing/filling holes, priming, & painting any areas that weren't already light teal (three walls are light teal, one is white); that took a full day. Next came the install of the new unit; that took another day. During these two days, I was also trying to work some of the time... but that made the rest of the week pass by fast.

By the time I got home from work on Friday, it was after 5p. GamerBoy was finishing packing up his things (clothes, shoes, new - grad gift - computer, some personal effects from his room, etc), and loading it all into the 4Runner. Ace was taking him back to mama's for the last time. When he returned, he was (of course) upset; basically feeling a combination of "empty nest," "I just threw my son under the bus," and "Wahoo!" I fully believe in tough love; there's no need to coddle our children to the point that they feel no sense of responsibility for themselves, their actions, & the well-being of others. You are only setting them up for failure when real life bites them in the butt.
Mama is learning THAT lesson as we speak...

The next day, we got to work clearing out & cleaning that bedroom. The old closet rod & boards were pulled, holes were repaired, priming was done. I washed all the walls, and Ace removed the light fixture. EVERYTHING got painted -- white walls got a new coat, ceiling was done, baseboards were done, window sill, and Squeeks new decorative wall went from red (GamerBoy's color choice) to a pretty, deep, grape-ish purple. The new closet organizer went in, and was stocked with Squeeks' things. By the end of the day, were were done with painting the room... and Ace was feeling a bit better about things. Sunday was Father's Day; not much work was done on Squeeks' room. Princess walked (as she has many other times) in the "Pride Parade" with Mimi & her church friends. We had burgers for dinner... a nice, pretty quiet (successful) Father's Day.

Monday, I had another long-ish day at work, and when I returned, Squeeks was priming her old bed frame (we'd been holding on to it for just this occasion). I put my things away and went to help her, then we started on the purple (same as the wall), while Ace sanded and primed the rails. With dry-time, it took the three of us about 3 hours to get the bed finished... then it had to dry, of course. We let it sit for a few days to let the paint harden. In the meantime, we set up a mattress & box spring, and had her put her old bedding set on it (the set that is for the other half of the bunk in Princess' room) until we could get her one that matched the new scheme. Poor Ace... he'd been hoping we could "get away" with just putting Squeeks' stuff in GamerBoy's old room! Silly Papa.

Later that evening, Ace told me that GamerBoy had called... to wish him a "belated Happy Father's Day", and grill him about computer stuff ("Papa's I.T. Service..."). I held my tongue, but seriously?!?! HOW DO YOU FORGET?!?! Argh... typical behavior for this manchild. Ace no longer felt guilty for kicking him out. During the rest of that week, Ace got Squeeks' computer up & running (& made some tweaks & updates). We also found time to celebrate my birthday, and there were trips to Target, Freddy's, BedBath&Beyond, and a few others -- we basically got her new bedding & accessories in mostly the dark purple color of her wall, but some black & white, too.

The following Friday, Princess left for an overnight to the beach with Mimi before they headed to Canada (Quebec - Tadoussac - Quebec), and on Saturday, I had my birthday barbecue (see previous post). After another long Monday work day for me, we took Squeeks down to S&G's then headed to the beach house for a few days. OMG... seriously needed that - a vacation from Ace's vacation (& a nice three days off of my work). We basically ate out at some places we hadn't tried yet, stopped at a few of our regular shops for goodies to take home, walked on the beach with the dogs, read, slept, and did a bit of shopping/meandering at the outlet stores.

Once we returned, and Squeeks was brought home, her attitude went completely downhill... so instead of returning to us for a couple more days after working for her mother on Saturday, Ace told her to just stay with her mom; we were tired of her mouth (among her whining: "D*** NEVER does ANYthing for me!!" Um, really?!? So, that wasn't me that busted my butt helping clean, paint, & shop for YOUR room?!?! She's turning into her brother... argh). This gave us an unexpected couple of days kid-free; we were kinda thrown for a loop. We decided to get caught up on house chores and errands, and tried a new local restaurant. Independence Day was quiet (except for the bang-whizzes from our neighbors); first time EVER we've not had kids.

Princess & Mimi returned home that night, but no way was I going to even attempt to drive all the way to the airport to pick them up; I settled for meeting them at Mimi's house. By the time they returned from the airport, it was 11p... we were all tired. Got Princess home & settled in her (now clean & organized - my doing) room, and she had a good sleep-in the following day. She even did all her laundry before I got home from work! Now, all we need is for T&D to let us know when they're coming to pick up the bunk bed so we can repaint GamerBoy's frame for Princess (no need for a bunk anymore; although, we may give at least one, if not both, girls a trundle for when friends sleep over) and some artwork for Squeeks' walls (we're on the hunt -- anyone want to paint something?)!