Raising HK

This isn’t what I thought parenting would be like. I imagined myself with my daughter, HK, playing dress up and having tea parties, going shopping and hosting birthday parties together. I imagined my love for Halloween would be shared with her and we’d both have a blast planning our costumes- we’d both be very girly versions of whatever. I thought that her childhood would be filled with cuddles on the sofa watching movies, baking together and all of those other common mother-daughter bonding experiences. I was excited to be a better mother than the one before me and I had so many future plans for us both. During my pregnancy, I was sure that I’d been carrying a boy for the last nine months, but when she came kicking and screaming into this world I was so glad that I’d had a girl after all!

But, I never thought that she’d be kicking and screaming her whole way through childhood.

By age two or three, I was court-ordered to give equal time to her biological father. But, he instead let her spend that time with his parents. On alternating weeks, she lived with them from Sunday to Sunday. I noticed that she wasn’t hitting all of her milestones that toddlers should. The word “No” was unacceptable to her and when spoken to her, she would get worked up and hold her breath until she turned blue. Inevitably, I’d give in every time. I wondered why it seemed like I was having a harder time with parenting than other parents. With advice from family, I was reassured that it was just the “terrible twos” lasting longer and she’d grow out of it. Her pediatrician didn’t seem to worry, either. But, I suspected that more was going on during the time she spent with her grandparents. Upon more investigation, which was hard to do given that her grandparents and I weren’t on the best of terms most of the time due to my disagreements of how they were raising her during their time, I found out that she, indeed, was being spoiled rotten over there. It was likely to be the reason she developed these behavior problems, I thought.

By age four she was a full fledged “tomboy” and seemed to have a limitless supply of energy. It was getting her into trouble at school by the time she entered Kindergarten. She was looking forward to this time for a long while and she couldn’t wait to ride the school bus like the big kids. I hoped that Kindergarten would bring much needed challenge and structure to her life as her boredom was often the culprit of her bad behavior. But, Kindergarten was a nightmare and I took her out two months in. Her teachers would call every other day requesting that I pick her up because of yet, another accident. She received bad marks constantly and within just a few weeks, already had one trip to the Principal’s office for a paddling. Her teacher complained that she was very often disruptive to the class and that she didn’t follow directions. During a meeting that I scheduled with the guidance counselor, I was told that she may just not be ready for school yet and to wait another year. I was truly devastated and I felt hopeless and worried for my daughter’s future. This is when I knew that we needed help and that it couldn’t be just me being an incompetent parent. Something is wrong, here.

Upon entering Kindergarten in August of that year, I had finally gotten her biological father on board with a better custody arrangement. He agreed to visitation with her on weekends while she was in school and promised that she would be spending less time with his parents. We hoped that this would help her behavior by limiting the homes she went back and forth to and creating a more strict and structured environment for her. After her fallout from Kindergarten, we agreed that we would spend this time working on her issues so that she, hopefully, would be in a better condition to successfully complete Kindergarten that following year. We also agreed that she’d spend that following summer with him on the condition that she not be in the care of her grandparents without his presence. He was happy to agree, because even he saw the difference that spending time with them made on her at this point. I wasn’t entirely sure if letting her spend the summer with him would be helpful or not, but I’ve always tried to keep him present in HK’s life, given that we were never married and don’t live together. I was also desperate for a break, myself.

HK’s issues are not all clearly defined, as they changed somewhat over the course of time. Some of her consistent problems include failure to potty train, defiant behavior (less so now that she’s older), constant lying, destruction of anything she can get her hands on, and self-esteem issues. She has barely gone a day without some sort of “accident”. She wets the bed every night and has numerous accidents throughout the day. I have tried everything- taking the pull-ups away, punishment, positive reinforcement, ignoring it altogether, and making her clean up herself and her bedding when it happens. On one occasion, she cut the family dog’s ear with scissors. On several occasions she’s cut her own hair. This has come in steady occurrences always following her privilege to keep scissors being reinstated. If left alone for any significant amount of time in the mornings, for example- getting up before I do and not waking me, she will destroy everything in sight. This has occurred even at the age of six, almost seven years old. Her lying is completely out of control- she will tell you that she’s had no accidents, even when the evidence is clear to everyone, including herself. She loses her belongings constantly and often fails to bring what is needed to school. She forgets directions almost immediately and then fails to carry them out successfully, even simple ones. Lately, she has been exhibiting some worrying behavior related to self-esteem. She often says things like, “I can’t do anything right.” and “I’m not smart.” She struggles with everyday responsibilities that a child of her age should be able to accomplish like brushing her teeth and hair and dressing herself properly. She often complains that she can’t find what she’s looking for, even though it is in plain sight. She is always very messy and even with reminders, seems to forget to bathe appropriately. I am now convinced that her “tomboyishness” is not just as simple as that, like I once thought, because she is very much a “girly-girl” in many ways. I believe it’s rather, her struggling to keep clean and neat and understanding why this is important. I often see other girls her age that she plays outside with regularly in cute outfits and having their hair up in pony-tails or with bows in them and they’re playing in the dirt right along with her! So, it’s not that these other girls are any less of a “tomboy” than she, but that they have a better understanding of what it means to keep themselves in order. Not like HK, who regularly comes home with missing bows and her clothes ripped, dirty, and hanging off of herself. This is just HK. She has no problem sleeping in the filth that she left behind on her bed from the previous night and will often “sneak” underwear during the night and leave herself with none in the morning. This often results in not getting to school on time and she has admitted that she uses this to her advantage because she doesn’t want to go to school. So, it would seem that the desire to go to school every day is diminishing. Through what she has conveyed to me, she seems to be bored at school pretty often. This leads to bad behavior. Her patience level is not that of a typical (almost) seven-year-old. She gives up on tasks almost immediately and cries in frustration when she can’t figure something out, even with help and guidance. This is often something very simple like tying her shoes or cleaning up her room. Going out with her is a very rare occasion. As much as I want to take her with me everywhere I go, she makes this impossible. Along with her accidents and impulsiveness, being away from home is just more stressful than it’s worth. I know that this makes her unhappy, but I feel that my hands are tied. I, too, would like to get out more!

Currently, since gaining full physical custody and moving out-of-state, she has improved somewhat. The new environment (and better rated schools) and being away from her grandparents has seemed to help. Serious accidents at school have stopped and she has gained some independence, like playing outside with friends from the neighborhood. She has started Kindergarten again and this time she doesn’t seem to be getting in as much trouble as before. The accidents overall have seemed to lessen on some days, but it’s still a nightmare on most. At home she is still in constant trouble and this is wreaking havoc on the entire family, most notably my relationship with my Fiance and his relationship with her. On most days, I question whether it’s worth it to even get out of bed. I don’t sleep well due to stress and this makes it hard for us to get up and get to school on time. I long for a good night’s sleep.

Recently, HK was accepted for Medicaid. Right thereafter, I quickly made an appointment with a therapist. She has been tested for ADD/ADHD and has been seen by someone qualified to examine her behaviors and, hopefully, provide some insight into what is causing her problems. The therapist says that she does exhibit some behaviors indicative of ADD or ADHD and other, more troublesome behaviors that we are looking into as well. I desperately want her to be a happy and healthy girl. That girl needs a happy and healthy mother, too. This is dragging the both of us down.

Raising this child is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It is also the most rewarding. Though it is nothing like what I expected it to be, I still have so many plans for us! There are many shopping trips, birthday parties, fashion shows, movie nights, and outings in our future and I can’t wait to experience it with her! For those of you who are also struggling with this, does your child/children experience any of these issues? Have you found a way to lessen or resolve them? I have thought for quite some time now that HK may have ADD/ADHD, but have been resistant to medication. We’re all so desperate now, including her, for some relief. If her therapist diagnoses her with this, I’m open to medication now. I can tell that she knows how limited she is and we all hate that for her, probably no one more than she. She’s such a beautiful, talented child and I wish more people could see that.

HK

Waiting to see the therapist for the first time.

Bounty Moms

You know those women and their children that you see on Bounty paper towel commercials?

Well, they suck.

Show me a mother who smiles adoringly as her child creates a mess and then calmly walks over to clean it up, with yet, another smile plastered on her face. I’m a mother- a real one. And, when there is a mess to clean up, there are no smiles, just scowls. There is also probably a good amount of screaming and stomping. Yes, from me.

Let’s be real, here.

BMW for Sale

An over-priced BMW

BMW for Sale: $10,000

I had a nice, paid-off, 2004 Jeep Liberty. It was rugged, but sporty. It hauled my dog, my kid, my stuff, and myself and it never complained. I called it my Trusty Jeep. It was good to me. But, one day, after I’d packed all of my belongings worth packing into this Trusty Jeep and moved to the beach in Florida, got myself a gorgeous apartment and an equally gorgeous Fiance who held down a good paying job, I thought to myself that I was ready for an upgrade to match my life upgrade. And what came to mind? A BMW. It’s beautiful, it’s sleek, it’s comfortable, and it’s luxurious with it’s leather seats and all it’s powerful functions. I was ready.

I found the one that I wanted and I went to the dealership that had it. Oh, and look! They advertise “guaranteed financing”, too! There it was parked out front being showcased- in all it’s beauty, just waiting for me to take the driver’s seat. I did. It purred happily as I turned it over. It wanted me- I wanted it. A perfect match!

The only sticker price I saw was “$399 DOWN” Well, I wasn’t going to be putting just $399 down. I had a bigger chunk of change to lay down on this baby. $4000 to be exact. I thought that surely it’d be mine. I was right, but not without stipulation. Two hours later and my Fiance and I were sitting in front of a guy that didn’t exactly scream “professional” to me. But, hey- look at where we’re at. It was the BMW that I wanted and it so happened to be here. Guaranteed financing, right? What more could I expect?

Three hours later and I still haven’t found out the price of the car. I was asked how much I’d like to put down and then the financing would be done for me, automatically and “in-house”. I expected to pay around $6-7,000, so any financing that could be done, I’d take it. I planned to pay the rest off in a couple of months anyway. As the numbers were thrown at me, and I mean more like hurled into my face, we were appalled at what we heard.

$4000 down, plus the APR, plus dealer fees…you’re getting a good deal here, folks. Your payments will only be $400 a month.

WHAT? And, when my Fiance asked the salesman to slow down, that he didn’t understand, the guy said in a mocking tone,”Well, numbers are numbers. It’s simple math. ” Obviously, we were offended and ready to walk out on the deal.

“So, the total price of the car is…?”

11,210.08

I was disappointed. Every other BMW we’d looked at were all within the same $7,000 or less price range. So, he adjusted our payments down to $350. I still wasn’t satisfied. But, we’d been there 6 hours…we’d been told to wait, wait, and wait. It was now dark and my six-year-old was begging for food. I’d sold the Trusty Jeep the day before for the cost of my down payment on this new car. I had to drive off of the lot in something. I figured with it’s leather seats and perfect exterior it may be worth almost that. And, the salesman promised to knock off some of the interest when we came back in a couple of months to pay it off. This was all in a I-don’t-believe-you-tone. The whole process, actually was shocking. We had to practically beg for that car.

In retrospect, I realize now what kind of place we had been shopping at. A lady I spoke to while I was there mentioned her multiple prior repossessions. Thinking back, I should have known. The only kind of customer they serve there are the kind with bad credit and not much cash to throw down. I don’t think those people even realize what “APR” means. We were promised around 18%- which is high. But, I thought that the salesman’s promise of knocking off the interest when we came to pay it off was the key to not paying those finance charges. I was very wrong.

My Fiance said, “If it’s the one you want, let’s just buy it. It’s worth it if you really like it. We can afford it.”

As we signed our paperwork, we were handed one that said “ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF PURCHASE OF VEHICLE CONTAINING PAST DUE STARTER INTERRUPT AND/OR ELECTRONIC TRACKING (GPS) DEVICE AS CONDITION OF SALE”

This was the last straw. There was NO WAY I was going to be tracked everywhere I go and then allow someone to keep my car from starting and leave me stranded somewhere if there was a mistake in payment. But, the salesman assured me that the car did NOT have a starter interrupter, only a location device. I wasn’t happy with this, but again, I decided to deal with it for a couple of months until the car was paid off.

The salesman promised us that he would fix a few minor, miscellaneous problems with the car free of charge. So, we paid him and drove off- almost. There I am, in the drivers seat, feeling down and like I might be making a mistake, when I start the car and turn the headlights on. We’d been there so long that it was now dark. One of the headlights was out! $11,000 for this car and the headlight is out? Luckily, they agreed to replace it, but we had to go get it ourselves.

Thirty minutes later and I’m finally on the road in my new, pretty BMW. But, wait. That’s not the end of my story. The day I bought that car, I was upside down. Fast forward one month. The first payment is due and my Fiance found two oil leaks and I found a problem with the sun roof. I reluctantly spend the $350 and chaulk it up to “only a couple of months”. I asked the lady taking my payment when the issues with the car can be fixed. She tells me that we will be responsible for 50% of the cost of repairs. Excuse me, lady? So, they’re going to rip me off for the total price of the car and then do it again on the issues that were promised to be fixed? I call the salesman directly. He says he remembers promising us this, but that our warranty of 30 days has expired. Then he puts my Fiance on hold for ten minutes and never comes back to the phone or calls us back. The lady taking payments apologizes for him later.

Fast forward to one month after that, present day. (Hello, there!) I get a call with the salesman on the other line. He says that my first payment fell through and that I now owe the first month, plus this one. Worst of all, it’s due on the same day as my rent. Yay. I’ve had it with these people, now. They sell me an over priced car and now they claim that I owe them almost $1,000. Hell no. I investigate the credit card payment failure. I tell them that the mistake on the first payment happened because I was using an old credit card that was still registered in my home state. It was thought to be fraud, so the money was disputed and taken back. Okay, so I make another payment using my check card. The next morning I’m called again and told that this payment was rejected by the owner of the dealership and that he will not accept any more payments from me until I come in with the full amount due. I opt to tell him about my experience thus far.

When I tell him about the issues that haven’t been fixed, he asks, “Did you get it in writing?” Then I proceed to tell him about how his salesman has been very unprofessional. (He unprofessionally calls afterward asking how he had been unprofessional.) I’m done. SO DONE. In an attempt to sever ties with this company, I ask if I can bring the car back and swap it out for a different one on their lot that’s cheaper. I tell him that I will bring extra money and pay for the swapped car in full, using the $4,000 down payment I’d already made on my BMW. He refuses. I ask him if he can lower the total price of the car since him and I both know that he took advantage of me and ripped me off. He refuses and says that I have until Tuesday to pay.

After this unsuccessful phone call, I read over my contract to find many discrepancies. The vehicle was equipped with a starter interrupter and my APR rate is actually 28%. The total price of the car will be $13,000, not $11,000. The salesman had an opportunity to fill in what he promised us he would fix the day of the sale on one of the pages in our contract, but skipped right over it. So, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General’s office. I also called my grandmother for her advice. She’s helped me out of many legal situations before and she’s always been a constant in my ever changing life. She advises me to hire a lawyer to stop the illegal repossession or she will offer him $5,000 cash and call it even. I opt for the lawyer because I don’t want to let this asshole win.

I unknowingly signed a contract waiving my right to go to court. Arbitration is all that I am legally allowed to do and the lawyer needed will cost at least $2,000 just for his services. I would likely have to become current and then make my car payments in the meantime. So, I decide to offer him the $5,000 first. He refuses and then says that because I’ve threatened him with legal action he will be coming to repossess my car. So, I offer him a $6,000 certified cashier’s check. He accepts. The total cost of the car has now cost me $10,000. I know he didn’t pay a penny over $4,500 for it to begin with and it’s not worth any more than $7,000.

It’s settled now, but that asshole ultimately won. I’m taking a $3,000 loss on the car and he gets to keep running his shady business as usual. I’ll never buy another car from a dealership like that ever again. On a happier note, I left a bad review for his company in every spot on the internet that I could find.

Getting out of the Sugar Bowl for Good

Sugar-Lips

Being a Sugar Baby isn’t something that I’ve talked about much, but as I was inspired from a recent article that I read (photos below), I thought that now may be the time.

I used to be a Sugar Baby.

No, it’s not glamorous. No, it won’t make you rich. No, it won’t make you beautiful.

But, for me, it was a means to an end. Sure, some say that it was what made them successful. Well, maybe I wasn’t pretty enough. Instead, I became resented, envied, looked down upon, and down-right hated for it. Now, for you, it may be different. You may be loved, looked up to, envied, and inspiring. But, for me, that just wasn’t the case.

Now, everyone’s circumstances are different. If you feel that it’s right for you, go for it. Just realize the possible consequences. However, my story goes something like this:

Five years ago, I was in a financial pinch. My daughter was just one year old. I had recently separated from her father. I was a young, single mom living in my mother’s house and living off my family’s dime with no job and no education.

I met a man who was a well-known Professor at a very, very prestigious University.  I spent the summer with him in exchange for financial assistance. The details of our relationship, I’ll keep private, as they are all different in some way. They each, however, all come down to the same negotiation: time=money. Whatever you choose to do during your time is your business.

Now, we’ll fast-forward four years. I’ve been a Sugar Baby now for that long. It’s made and broken some relationships. I am now better educated and employed. During my few, but genuine attempts to date, some men couldn’t fathom my “employment”, let alone even begin to understand it. So, in time, I withdrew from dating all together. I truly thought that I was better off alone. I spent many nights hating who I was, but I spent far more learning to accept myself  and learning from my mistakes.

It wasn’t until meeting my Fiance that I remembered what it was like truly being in love. I hadn’t felt it since being with my daughter’s father at the very young age of sixteen. Faking it for all of those years made me quite cynical of love. Even though I knew the odds were against us, I loved him indescribably, so I  gave it a real chance. I even told him all about my “employment”. We are now engaged to be married, though it didn’t come without many disagreements and sleepless nights. He felt unworthy of my love because, to him, I was sharing it with another man. Though, the “dating” meant nothing to me compared to the loved we shared, he had a very valid argument.

It’s a heart-wrenching ordeal when you choose to be with another person over the one you’ve committed to- regardless of what that encounter entails. Somehow, it just feels wrong. It does if you’re in love, at least, And, of course, this only applies to those who are monogamous. I am that..

So, my advice is this:

Coming from a seasoned Sugar Baby, please do think long and hard whether this lifestyle and decision is right for you. It’s caused me a lot of hardship with my family and loved ones. In fact, it has ended most of my relationships with them. Truthfully, it has ended almost all of them. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

Remember that the most important thing in life are the ones you love, even if they don’t share the same belief.

I have since decided to end this chapter of my life. I have been working on being more independent- financially and emotionally. It’s not been easy, but I believe it’s for the best for myself and my family. There will always be those who oppose you and your decisions, but they are yours and yours only, to make. Do what you feel is best for yourself and those you love. No one knows better than you what is best for you.

If you decide that sugar dating is a viable option for you, do it. Just know what may be to come of that decision. It very may well be what gets you out of the darkness and brings you back into the light.

It was for me.

Or, it may very well be what ruins you.

It was that for me, too.

sugar7

sugar4

sugar6

WTB: Green Thumb

flowers_celsoiaMy mother was born with a green thumb. No, not literally, but she can grow and harvest just about anything. She’s also a great cook, a spectacular painter, and super crafty. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m adopted, because I don’t think I’ve received a single gene of hers. My father and brother are also artists, somewhat. They can both draw very well.

See? I must be adopted.

I can’t paint, draw, grow things, or cook. The only thing I’ve managed to keep alive is my kid and these days she pretty much takes care of herself.

I desperately wanted some color around me, so I bought some very colorful and extotic looking flowers. Celsoia? I don’t know- that’s what it says on the tag. They need 6+ hours of daily sun and need to be watered every 2-3 days. I’ve kept them on my porch in the shade and they’ve done well. I’m really bad about over-watering, but I’ve made sure not to do this with these. This is what they looked like when I bought them:

celosia

Pretty, huh? Well, not for long. A strong storm came through and blew my beautiful flowers over. They were quite soaked and wilted the next day. I suspect it’s from too much water and nowhere for it to drain?

celosia2

My mother suggested I put them in the sun, but repot them first with gravel at the bottom so the plant could drain any excess water because I’d had them in this green, plastic pot that you see above which didn’t have any holes. So out they went into the sun. Later that evening, I came home to this:

celosia3

Does anyone have a green thumb they can lend me? Because I’m stumped. I have no idea what I did wrong. The only thing that’s still living is my Sago Palm and that’s only because I don’t have to do much with it. Maybe I should cut my losses and just get a cactus??? (-.-)

Soccer Practice

HK, being 5, needs a good outlet for her energy. We’ve decided that she’ll play soccer this year for the local youth team. She’s very excited! Practice makes perfect, right? Her and my boyfriend, K, went outside for a little soccer lesson.

Korey_soccer ball

 

HK

Uh oh, on the roof it went!

Korey

Is that a soccer ball on my head?

HK_squint

Who’s soccer ball is it, anyway?

Korey & HK_soccerball

[last night] It’s late, I’m trying to post a blog, but

my kitty wants attention and he wants it now.

Buddha & I

This is Karma:

Karma

This is Buddha:

Buddha

Karma & Buddha

Recycling Baby Food Jars into Outdoor Candeliers

Jessica LeAnn:

Here is a post from my other blog about recycling and re-purposing old things to make something new! Check it out :)

Originally posted on Refurbish This:

Up-cycle Baby Food Jars

Up-cycle Baby Food Jars

Finding new purposes for old things is not only economic, but rewarding when you get to enjoy your new creation. This photo is from Casasugar.com on how to recycle old baby food jars. Isn’t it pretty? It’s such a practical use for something that most people (including me) would throw out.

Supplies:

  • 10-12 spare glass jars (mason jars, baby food, jam)
  • Circular gridded cooling rack
  • Thick and thin gauge wire
  • Beaded chain and locking links
  • 1 large S hook
  • 10-12 small S hooks
  • Wire cutters
  • Sand or small pebbles
  • 10-12 tea lights

Here’s how, fromEcologue:

  1. Wash all your recycled materials.
  2. Turn over your cooling rack, and at its center cross two lengths of the thick wire, looping their ends through the feet on the rack and twisting them to secure them.
  3. Attach the large S hook by twisting the wire at the point where the…

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