Before ever having a child, there was one tradition I knew I wanted to do.  It was to start a Christmas Ornament Box for every child I have.

Every year, I think of something “special” that happened, a big moment for the child.  I then find a Christmas ornament that matches that moment, put a little card with it marked with the year and explain why that moment was chosen, and put it all in a plastic bin.

When the child moves out of the home and has their own tree to decorate, they are presented with the Christmas ornament box.

It is a way to help fill their tree with meaningful things, and hopefully they will see it as something wonderful to look back on.

This year, HJ now has 4 ornaments in his Christmas Ornament box.  The first ornament I included was this one…

il_570xN.107969791It is a duplicate of his “baby’s first Christmas” ornament.  I had ordered it on etsy, and asked the person that made it to leave off the “baby’s first Christmas” on one of them.

The second ornament is a University of Northern Iowa ornament.  That is the year we moved from Des Moines to Cedar Falls.

The third is a wooden truck that matches the trucks in HJ’s bedroom.  This is to remind us of moving into our first official house and the transition to his big boy bedroom.

This year’s ornament was tough to pin down.  I feel like there were so many memories I wanted to remember and pass onto him.  Then I came across a blue fish ornament.  For months we worked on getting rid of the binky (pacifier), and it all led up to this moment.  I knew I had to get the fish ornament for the ornament box this year.

I am excited to continue this tradition and add meaningful ornaments for HJ to use on his own tree someday.

What traditions have you started with your family?

Our child support case has officially been submitted for interstate referral.  What does this all mean??

Since February, I stopped receiving payments.  The state had to put a few legal things in place before being able to move forward.  These steps included:

suspending his Iowa licenses.  Typically when the state does this, they begin receiving payment.  However, if the person has moved out-of-state (such as our case), this does not have any impact on them.

-Put a lien on his property.  The state did this.  And, about 2 months back, I received a notice that his house had been put into foreclosure.  I was eligible to receive money from the sale of his house after the bank got their money back.  The problem?  He still owed $106,000 on a $110, 000 mortgage.  The house will not sell for what he still owes on it.  So I kept my $75 in filing fees and did not pursue (after speaking with a lawyer for advice).

-levied his accounts.  This actually did result in them taking $500 from his account.  He called me very unhappy and told me he would no longer be using his accounts, but his money would now go into his girlfriends accounts.  The state can not levy her accounts.

Once that was all in place, I received a letter from the child support office allowing me to submit a non-disclosure on our case.  This makes it so the state HE is living in will not have or pass along information on HJ and me.  He will not know our address, our city, it even keeps HJ’s real name off all forms, just his initials.  I DID pursue this, because I feel better without the deadbeat knowing our exact whereabouts.

Once I submitted that form, it was approved by a judge.

Our case worker called to let me know and then went through the next steps with me.  She submitted our case to the state of Nevada.  They have 60 days to acknowledge they received the info, and then they have 4 months after that to put things into place.  Yes, about 6 months total.

Then, since HE does not have a job, I am unlikely to see anything.  The state of Nevada does not require deadbeats to look for employment.  They will also adjust his payments based on the fact that he has no income and has 2 other children.  The support payments are likely to come out to lower than $5/month.

After reading other posts on people’s issues with child support offices, I feel lucky.  I usually call, and my case worker immediately answers.  She answers my questions, listens to my concerns, and will explain all of the steps thoroughly.  I received a new case worker since being switched to interstate (thank goodness, the old case worker was a grump) and she has been an amazing resource.

 

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I thought I would post about what I am thankful for.  You know, like everyone else in the blogging world.  What can I say, I am a follower.

First and most obvious…

I am thankful for my son.  Always.  He is my everything.  I often think of how blessed I am because he is in my life.  He is this amazing little guy who shows compassion and has quite the sense of humor.  I love how his facial expressions always tell what he is thinking.  He has made me a better person.  He makes me want to be an even better person.

I am thankful for my family.  For my parents, who offer me help whenever I need it.  They take HJ so I can have “me time” and gain back some sanity.  They support me.  For my sister and brother-in -law who always offer advice and words of wisdom.  For my niece and nephew, who always make me smile.  And watching how much HJ loves all of them, it is priceless.

For HJ being able to know his great-grandparents. He loves playing with them.  I always hope he can remember the wonderful love they have for him.

For my friends.  I have the most amazing friends.  They are hilarious, sweet and gorgeous.  They can always make me smile.  They are always there for me.

For having a warm roof over our heads.  A car to take us places.  A fridge stocked with food.  The list could go on and on.

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I will be back next week!

Time has been flying by!  I just realized I haven’t even posted about Halloween!

I had the cutest little puppy that wanted candy.

Every year, we have gone out with my friend since Kindergarten and this year was no different.  We went to their house on Halloween, got the costumes off, loaded up the wagon…

Made some apple cider with cinnamon schnapps (for the adults).  And started hitting up some houses.

HJ got scared once due to a realistic and frightening decoration at a house, but overall had a blast.

He woke up the next morning asking me to open up candy, and I realized I needed to learn a few more hiding places.

 

I feel like I have hit a decorating lull.  After moving in, I had project after project to complete.  And lately?  Nothing.  Ugh.  My creative side is going stir crazy.

I feel like the only incomplete area now are HJ’s bedroom and my bedroom.  Neither of us have “furniture sets”, just random pieces thrown in the room.  So I have been dream shopping online and love the sleek and contemporary look of these platform bedroom sets .  Gorgeous, huh?

For HJ’s room, I love bunk beds.  I always wanted one growing up.  What kid doesn’t?

I have officially added “bedroom sets” to our SOMEDAY wish list.  Who knows, the powerball is pretty big this week!

“You know you’re a good mom, right?”

My friend asked me this while have a heart to heart over the phone.  I feel as if this conversation would have had more of a resolve over a glass of wine sitting on couches.

My eyes welled up with tears.

It’s not that I don’t think I am a good mom.  I worry that I am not enough.

I worry that HJ needs more than just me.

What if I am not enough to give him all he needs?  All that he deserves?  What if I can’t do this alone?

Most of the time, I love being a mom, but there are times, when I haven’t had a break in months, and I crack.  When I feel like I am not enough.  When I need a break, but there is no one to give me one.

I don’t get nights off.  When I finally do (I have had four so far this year…4 nights off in 11 months), I feel guilty.  I feel like I am being a bad parent.  And then I don’t enjoy it. I worry the whole time about what he is doing.  About what I am missing.  And everything I should be doing instead.  What needs to be done the next day, and how I shouldn’t stay up late.  I can’t live in the moment.

And then I think, I am not enough.  He deserves more.

So I don’t do something on my own for months and months at a time.

I know I should take me time.  And I might be more likely to if I knew people who were doing stuff.  But all of my friends are married, so they go on date nights when they get a night off.  I don’t have people to call to say that I need a night off.  And I don’t ask, because then I feel guilty.

I feel like I am talking in circles…

But, what if I can’t do it alone?  What if I am not enough?

“She may come across as hard to get, but that’s because she’s been through a few things, seen a few things.  Been there, done that.  She’s cold, yes.  But only because she once cared for someone who failed to care for her.  She built a fortress to protect her heart from further damage.  You told her you’re different, but she won’t believe it until you prove it.  Words don’t mean a thing.  Actions are everything.”

I went a little overboard for HJ’s first birthday.  Even his second birthday that I promised to keep low-key became a time-consuming event.  For his 3rd birthday, I told myself not to make it a big deal.  Keep it small.  He recently had his fisher-price playdate where he received NUMEROUS toys, so we definitely didn’t need any more.

There were moments where I called about kid’s birthday parties to some local places, but ultimately decided he may have more fun doing those things when he is a bit older.  And that way, I can save some money.

So ya know what?  I actually stood by my word and kept it simple this year.  I didn’t even make the cake!

HJ’s birthday was on Sunday, but we had a small party on Saturday evening.  His cousins, aunt, uncle, nana, papa and 2 friends went to Chuck E. Cheeses.

It was a mad house in there, so I rarely even saw anyone we were with as I chased HJ around.

After eating pizza and playing games, HJ was more than ready to go home and have some cake.

I ordered his cake from a local grocery store (see, I didn’t do anything!)

and he was so excited to blow out his candles…all 3 of them!

He opened presents from his cousins (and he LOVES hungry, hungry hippo).

And went to bed as a 2-year-old…

And woke up to this…

As a smiley 3-year-old.

He had a yummy breakfast at nana and papa’s, where they let him open his presents.  After playing a while, we went to his annual birthday lunch spot where he gets a special treat.

Birthday night was spent eating more cake…

And opening his presents from mom.

He was one happy and tired little boy!

I love that it was a relaxing weekend for me, because I didn’t worry myself with party preparations.

I can’t believe my baby is 3 years old!

 

HJ’s birthday giveaway winner is Becky!  Becky will get her choice of an 8×10 print from the Etsy shop, Pretty Prints.

Also, Christina from Pretty Prints has offered all of you a 15% discount on all items in her shop by using the code singlemama.  This code is valid thru Sunday, November 11.  SHOP AWAY!

My sweet baby boy turned 3 yesterday.  I can’t believe it.  It has been 3 years since my precious boy changed my life.  The best 3 years of my life.

To help celebrate, I have a special gift for one of you.

A few weeks back, I contacted Christina from Pretty Prints on Etsy.  I told her about a quote I wanted in a print, and she made a custom print that I fell head over heels for.

How cute is that?

Her store is full of beautiful prints.

And she wants to give one of my lovely followers a free 8×10 print!

Who wouldn’t want one of these amazing prints?

And since I know you will all be able to find something you like in her store…

She has agreed to give you all 15% off your order by using the code singlemama.

So treat yourself or start some early Christmas shopping!

The winner will be announced on Thursday morning, November 8th.  To be a part of the drawing, leave a comment and make sure you follow singlemamalife!

Meet Alex…

He is one of my favorite people.  His mom and me are great friends, and he is just 6 weeks older than HJ.

We even had a double baby shower together…

Oh pregnant bellies!

When Courtney was 28 weeks pregnant, little baby Alex was diagnosed with a condition called Agenesis Corpus Callosum. Have you ever heard of that?  I hadn’t either, which is why I want to help spread awareness!

With this diagnosis,  Courtney and her husband reached out to a group called NODCC, or National Organization for Disorders of the Corpus Callosum.  Here is some info from there website to help explain that the diagnosis means:

The corpus callosum (call o sum) is the largest connective pathway in a human brain. It is made of more than 200 million nerve fibers that connect the left and right sides (hemispheres) of the brain.

If we cut a brain in half down the middle, we would also cut through the fibers of the corpus callosum. When looking at the middle side of one half of the brain, for example, in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the corpus callosum looks like a cross-section of a mushroom cap at the center of the brain.

Each hemisphere of the brain is specialized to control movement and feeling in the opposite half of the body, and each hemisphere specializes in processing certain types of information (such as language or spatial patterns). Thus, to coordinate movement or to think about complex information, the hemispheres must communicate with each other. The corpus callosum is the main connector that allows that communication.

In a typical infant brain, the corpus callosum develops between 12 to 16 weeks after conception (near the end of the first trimester). While the entire structure develops prior to birth, the fibers of the corpus callosum continue to become more and more effective and efficient on into adolescence. By the time a child is approximately 12 years of age, the corpus callosum functions essentially as it will in adulthood, allowing rapid interaction between the two sides of the brain. From this age on (and typically earlier) as the corpus callosum becomes increasingly functional in their typically developing peers, children with ACC appear to fall behind developmentally because the corpus callosum is absent.

Physically, complete ACC is a condition that does not change. It will not get worse. Since the corpus callosum is already absent, it cannot regenerate or degenerate. Likewise, in partial ACC and hypoplasia, once the infant’s brain is developed, no new callosal fibers will emerge.

In that sense, disorders of the corpus callosum are conditions one must “learn to live with” rather than “hope to recover from.” Long-term challenges are associated with malformation of the corpus callosum, but this in no way suggests that individuals with DCC cannot lead productive and meaningful lives.

• Behavioral Characteristics Related to DCC
This is an overview of the behavioral characteristics which are often evident in individuals with DCC.

  • Delays in attaining developmental milestones (for example, walking, talking,reading). Delays may range from very subtle to highly significant.
  • Clumsiness and poor motor coordination, particularly on skills that require coordination of left and right hands and feet (for example, swimming, bike riding, tying shoes, driving).
  • Atypical sensitivity to particular sensory cues (for example, food textures, certain types of touch) but often with a high tolerance to pain.
  • Difficulties on multidimensional tasks, such as using language in social situations (for example, jokes, metaphors), appropriate motor responses to visual information (for example, stepping on others’ toes, handwriting runs off the page), and the use of complex reasoning, creativity and problem solving (for example, coping with math and science requirements in middle school and high school, budgeting).
  • Challenges with social interactions due to difficulty imagining potential consequences of behavior, being insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, and misunderstanding social cues (for example, being vulnerable to suggestion, gullible, and not recognizing emotions communicated by tone of voice).
  • Mental and social processing problems become more apparent with age, with problems particularly evident from junior high school into adulthood.
  • Limited insight into their own behavior, social problems, and mental challenges.

These symptoms occur in various combinations and severity. In many cases, they are attributed incorrectly to one or more of the following: personality traits, poor parenting, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Nonverbal Learning Disability, specific learning disabilities, or psychiatric disorders. It is critical to note that these alternative conditions are diagnosed through behavioral observation. In contrast, DCC is a definite structural abnormality of the brain diagnosed by an MRI. These alternative behavioral diagnoses may, in some cases, represent a reasonable description of the behavior of a person with DCC. However, they misrepresent the cause of the behavior.

I know, it’s a lot of medical jargon.  But you know what is absolutely incredible?  Little Alex is 3 years old and has met milestone after milestone.  He is an amazing, silly little boy.
And while Alex’s family knows they may have a few challenges down the road, they know how blessed each and every day is with this little miracle.

That is why they want to help give back to the NODCC, the organization that has helped to support them!  Click here to see their fundraising site and learn how you can help the NODCC.  If you can, please share this post with everyone you know.  If nothing else, it will help to spread awareness!