Where Has the Time Gone?

In about a week and a half, on September 2nd, my youngest will turn 3 years old. It seems like it was just yesterday that I brought Blake home from the hospital, scared and clueless about how to take care of a baby boy.

I can still remember sitting down to dinner that first night and holding him in my arms and thinking how happy I was to have him and his older sister in my life. At that moment, my life seemed perfect.

The 2nd is also a big day for someone else…Mikala.  It’s her first day of third grade. But how can that possibly be?

I still remember her first day of school, and how excited and nervous we all were to send her on her way. Prior to her first day, we took her to her school, where she met her future classmates and teacher. Us parents were informed of what to expect the following day. But nothing the teachers or principal said could reassure me that my baby would be okay without me.

When she stepped on that bus for the first time to head off to school, I swear a piece of my heart broke free. My baby girl, my beautiful baby girl, was finally venturing out into the world that I had tried to protect her from from the moment she was born. I had to trust her teacher and others in her school to take care of her and protect as though she were their daughter. I had to relinquish control, and that was extremely hard for me.

It’s no secret to those that know me that things haven’t been easy for me for awhile now. Life has been far from perfect. But through it all, my kids have been that one constant. They’re always there with smiles, hugs and laughs. Whenever I feel like crying, they’re there to brighten my day and remind that things could be a heck of a lot worse.

So as Blake turns 3, and Mikala starts third grade, I hope they both realize how much I love them and how proud of them I am. I could not ask for two more beautiful children, and I’m thankful that I was given the change to be their mother.

Mikala and Blake, I love you two more than you could ever know.

Funny Stories About My Kids

Whenever I sit down to write a blog post, I try desperately to find something really funny to say, but who the hell am I kidding? I’m not some comedic genius filled with profound insight and an ability to make everyone laugh. It’s just not me, and I’ve come to accept that. Don’t get me wrong, if any of you have some magical dust that you could sprinkle on me that would make everyone laugh at my jokes, great. Let me know.

Now my kids, on the other hand, are a completely different story. They’re incredibly funny, and I’m not just saying that because they’re my kids. They seriously are. My dad’s wittiness skipped me and was passed onto them.

So today, I’m going to regal you with a couple of stories about these two because, well, I can. I’m their momma and extremely proud of them, so if you don’t like reading stories about kids, GO AWAY!

The first stories I’m going to share with you are about my 8-year-old daughter. I love her to pieces, but she is seriously the most warped child I have ever met. I don’t mean that she walks around looking for mice or whatever to roast on a spicket. I mean, she finds things funny at her age that most adults don’t find amusing. Just ask my mom.

Ms. Thing also has the knack for cracking jokes that leave the rest of us looking at her, wondering where the hell it came from. We then, usually, start laughing to the point we have tears in our eyes and the need to pee.

So sit back and enjoy!

Story number 1: Just a couple of weeks ago, my mom, dad, Mini Me and I all went to New Hampshire to visit my brother and his boy toy. So we decided we’d go to the park not too far from the mall. As we driving through Dover Point to get there, we passed a cemetery, which inspired my daughter to say, “Oh look, a dead zone.”

The truck got real quiet while we stared at her and then we just started laughing. She looked at us, all straight faced and said, “What did I say?”

Now that may sound like a really corny joke to all of you, but you have to remember, she’s only eight, and the timing was perfect.

Story number 2: About a year and a half after my son’s birth my daughter came up to me and asked if we could return her brother to CVS. (At the time I was standing in my mom’s kitchen chatting with her about nothing.) My mom and I just looked at each other, trying to figure out where the conversation was headed because, when it comes to my daughter, there’s just no telling.

I finally asked my daughter, “Why do you want to return your brother to CVS?”

And I will NEVER forget her response or her logic. “Since that’s the place that you bought the white stick to pee on so you could get pregnant, that’s where he came from. So we should be able to return him.”

I was stunned. I’ve always been amazed by the way a child’s mind works. The way they connect ideas is amazing to me, so the fact that she thought I got pregnant from a pregnancy test from CVS cracks me up.

Of course, I returned with, “Well, we could try. But I think that return policy expired 30 days after he was born.”

The last two stories are much shorter and have to do with my son.

Story number 3: Over the past six months, my son’s vocabulary has flourished, and I’m a bit ashamed to say that some of his new words aren’t appropriate.

I have a horrible potty mouth when I drop or spill things. Usually “son of a bitch” comes out. Well, Mr. Smarty Pants figured out quite easily how to say it, so one day, he accidentally spilled some juice or milk on the kitchen floor. He looked at it and said “Oh, son of a bitch.”

I tried really hard not to laugh, but the look on his face after he said it was priceless, so I, of course, couldn’t control my laughter.

From that day on, I’ve really had to watch what I say around him because he has no problem with swear words.

Story number 4: I, like a lot of moms these days, attempted to breast feed my son. Long story short, I made it about two weeks before the doctor’s said to me it was best if I stopped because I wasn’t producing enough milk to feed the little monster. Ever since then, though, he’s been a bit obsessed with my chest, which according to other mom’s that I’ve talked to is pretty normal.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the floor, playing with his trains with him. He looked at me, patted me on the boob and said, “Lake likes yo boobs.” (Lake is how he refers to himself since his first name is Blake.)

When he said that, I could not stop laughing. So I guess that’s a good sign that he’s going to be a boob man when he’s older.

Where Would I Be Without My Parents?

Tonight, I was sorting through some old writing of mine, and I came across a poem that my dad wrote to me when I was 15, called “Lapsing Years.”
At that time, he and I were constantly at each other’s throats. More often than not, the words we said to each other were laced with anger, and on my part, sometimes hate. Rarely did I say “I love you.” I was so angry at the world and everyone in it, and there were parts of me that wanted to wound him — to make him feel the pain I was feeling and couldn’t express.

Despite all the crap I put my parents through, especially my dad, they loved me, even when they probably shouldn’t have. When I read what my dad wrote to me, I can feel the love hidden within his words — the love that never wavered.

As I sit here tonight, thinking about those turbulent teenage years, I’m more thankful than ever that they never gave up on me. They held me up and kept me going when I didn’t want to — when I wanted to curl up in a ball and let the darkness consume me. Had they not done that, I wouldn’t be here today.

I’m also thankful that my dad gave me the same love that he has for the written word. He’s one of the most talented writers I know, and I hope that I turn out as half as good at him. The one thing I wish is that he would share his writing with others, so they could experience what I already know.

In closing, here’s a special message for my mom and dad:

Mom and dad, if you read this, please know that I am grateful for everything that you have given me since you brought me into this world. You’ve sacrificed so much, and I feel like I’ve given so little in return. I’ve been difficult to deal with, and we don’t always see eye to eye. I know the past couple of years have been especially trying for me, and for you both, as well, but you’ve stuck by me, yet again, and have seen me through the rough times. Thank you and I love you both! ~Nikki

Life’s Lessons

I’ve learned many things over the past 26, almost, 27 years. I thought it would be nice to share some of what I’ve learned with all of you.

1- No one is entitled to anything in life. If you want something in life, you better be prepared to work hard, and often, to get it. We all are dealt unfair hands in life, but that doesn’t mean we’re entitled to things because of our hardships. Normal people aren’t giving everything on a silver platter. We work hard every day of our lives to make things happen. Don’t think you’re exempt from hard work.

2- You create your own destiny. Yes, I believe parts of our lives are already planned out for us, but I also believe we have free will and are the ones responsible for making things happen. You can’t expect others to make your dreams a reality. Yes, you’ll meet people over the course of your life that may help you, but you have to also help yourself. Nothing comes free.

3- There are genuinely nice people out there who are willing to help you. Not everyone in this world has ulterior motives. Yes, there are people out there that are only concerned for themselves and what they can get from others. They are users. But there are also people out there that want to do good things for others and make a difference. Don’t be so blind and jaded that you can’t see those people. You may miss out on someone who was meant to be in your life.

4- No one is perfect. No one! You may think you are, but you’re not. We all have flaws. None of us are cut from a perfect mold. Those that think they are perfect and have no faults are exhibiting how imperfect they are by their way of thinking.

5- You control how you view life. Negative things happen around us, and to us, all the time. You can choose to let that negative energy impact our lives, or you can choose to be positive in spite of it all. You can choose to see the silver lining in all situations. You are responsible for your personal outlook on life. Don’t place blame on others when you have the ability to change how you see things.

6- Some people are only meant to be in your life for a certain amount of time. At some points in your life, you’ll encounter people that are only meant to be there for a short time. They mean the world to you, but aren’t meant to be a part of your life forever. It’s up to you to discover the reason for that person’s appearance in your life.

7- Forgiveness is not impossible. I’ve dealt with some fairly trying and traumatic experiences in my life. Some of those experiences made it very hard for me to trust people. For a long time, I swore I could never forgive the people that hurt me, but as I grew older I realized that I could. Time did heal my wounds. I will never forget what happened to me, but I can forgive the people that were involved.

8- Life isn’t easy. It’s downright hard. Life isn’t some straight road with no bumps. In fact, life is a road filled with bumps, curves and huge obstacles. If you remain calm and positive, you can make it through to the other side. Sometimes, you may need to take a detour, but in the end, you’ll get to the point where we’re supposed to be at. I’m living proof of that.

9- Life really is more beautiful through the eyes of a child. As a young teenager, I hated my life. I hated all the experiences that I had to deal with. When I gave birth to my daughter, things started to make more sense. Life became beautiful again. I learned how to appreciate everything going on around me and to not take things for granted.

This is just a small list of things that I’ve learned. What are some of your greatest lessons?

Things That Make Me Smile and Laugh

The stress level in our country seems to be at an all time high as of late. With the economy on a roller coaster ride that isn’t fun for anyone, we are all faced with the possibility that our way of life as we know it is about to change, whether we;re ready for it or not.

Many of us read the news reports on the economy every day, praying that a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. There of those of us, myself included, who are not taking the situation with the economy lightly. We are trying to prepare as much as possible for the worst-case scenario.

We are stockpiling food. We’re stockpiling the essentials, like toilet paper, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc. We are trying to set money aside to cover house payments and other bills. We’re making plans to plant a garden. We’re raising chickens for meat and eggs. We’re gathering recipes that can be made with food on hand. We’re making lists of canning supplies needed to can the food we grow. Our every waking moment seems to be filled with preparations for what tomorrow may bring.

By focusing so much attention on preparations, some of us start to lose sight of the things in life that make us happy, that make us smile and laugh. If we stop paying attention to those things, then we start to lose our hope. We start to see only the negatives.

Yes, no matter what the economy dishes out to us, our lives are forever changed, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying the simplest things around us that bring us joy. In fact, it’s more important now than ever before to focus on those positive things. By doing so, you can give yourself the extra push to make it through the hard times.

For me, there’s several things that put a smile on my face and make me ‘bust a gut’ laughing. Here they are:

1- Without a doubt, my kids are at the top of the list for the things that can make me smile or laugh. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, they can put a smile on this face of mine. They can make my heart swell with love. They can make me laugh like no one else can.

2- My friends and family are also on this list. I know there’s always something that we can talk about that will make me chuckle and think about fun times that we’ve shared.

3- There are two radio stations that I listen to that ALWAYS make me laugh. The Q Morning Show, on Q 97.9, and Matty in the Morning, on KISS 108 FM, are always saying something that sends me into a fit of laughs. Each station has a playful banter that is funny and heartwarming, because you get the feeling, when listening to them, that they honestly like each other. I also feel these two stations have a strong appreciation for their listeners, unlike some other stations I know of.

4- Bob Marley is one of the funniest men in the comedy industry next to Jeff Dunham. Both of these men can make me laugh to the point I almost cry. Bob Marley is a native Mainer, so there’s a devotion I have for him that I have for no other comedian. I can listen to his CDs and relate to most of what he says. When I hear him talk, I think of my dad. Neither my dad or I have escaped the Maine accent. To hear Bob speak with it makes us smile and realize we’re aren’t alone in our quirkiness.

5- Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of the best comedy movies of all time. It’s one of my go-to movies when I need a laugh. In fact, as a child, my brother and I use to run around the house, clicking my mom’s craft boxes together like King Arthur and his crew did with the coconuts.

6- If I need a quick pick me up, music always helps. When I need that reprieve, I play songs that inspire me and give me hope that a brighter tomorrow is still possible.

7- Spring is another smile-maker. When I see a blue sky, hear birds chirping outside and smell the newly grown flowers, I feel a sense of peace and a oneness with nature. It helps to clear my head of any negativity that might be holding my hostage. I take a deep breath and it all seems to just fade away.

These are just a few of the things that help me get through the tough times. What are yours?

For those that have never seen the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that I spoke of, here you go.

Why Following Your Dream is Okay

When you were a child, did you ever have a dream for yourself? I did. I think most people do. I may have shied away from the truth of my dream for a very long time, but no matter where my life took me, and the circumstances I faced, my dream burned deep within me. It was just waiting for the right moment to burst forth and take shape and burn bright. I had no control over when that would happen though.

Unlike many of my peers, I chose a different path to take with my life. At sixteen, I was not out partying, doing drugs, getting drunk. I had a few boyfriends, but nothing serious. I was depressed though and became very sick. I fell behind in school. When I was able to go back, I just didn’t care to. I had been through so much at the hands of my fellow classmates that I just wanted to escape it all. I wanted to put that part of my life behind me and face forward. I didn’t want the burden of that time in my life to rest on my shoulders anymore. I knew if I stuck it out, there was a very good chance that I would not make it.

With the love and support of my parents, I withdrew myself from high school with the promise that I would get my GED, keep my job and get my license. All of which I did. Deep down in their hearts, they knew my decision was the best one that I could make for me. Yes, some people criticized them for allowing me to withdraw, I’m sure, but when it came down to it, keeping their daughter alive was their goal, not getting the approval of other parents.

I met the man that I would marry at fourteen for a brief five minutes, but it wasn’t until I was seventeen that we started talking. Shortly after the New Year, in 2002, I gave birth to my daughter, Mikala. My life changed profoundly from the moment I found out I was pregnant with her and it has continued to since her birth.

Many people assume that once you become a parent, your right to follow any dreams that you have becomes null and void. Because of the actions of some parents, who forget they have a responsibility to their children, other parents that want to be successful and be somebody face judgment and ridicule that is often unfair.

Over the past few seasons of American Idol, I’ve seen more and more parents audition and make it through. To me, that is inspiring. They don’t seem like bad parents. They seem like parents that want to make a better life for their children, to give them all that they can in life. Are they wrong for choosing this path? No, I don’t believe so.

I believe each of these contestants is setting an example for generations to come. I believe they are showing that it’s okay to dream. It is okay to chase after what you want in life as long as you don’t forget your children, as long as you continue to be responsible for them.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the chance to see my dream begin to grow and become a fire burning inside of me. I can feel the heat of that dream every day. It doesn’t dissipate when I go to sleep at night. It doesn’t dissipate no matter what I do. My mind is always searching for food for that dream, for that fire. Water does not douse it. Nothing does. If someone implies my dream won’t come true, the fire surges forth and grows in intensity.

Had I not had certain inspirations in my life at certain times, I don’t believe that fire would have grown when it did. It took precise moments in time to influence me. Those moments will forever be etched in my mind. To those that gave me inspiration, I’m forever grateful.

I’ve been able to see my dream come intro fruition. It has been a stressful road at times, but one that I would not change for anything. I believe everything that has happened, has happened at the exact moment it was supposed to. As I sit here, I’ve had some unique experiences with my writing. I’ve seen articles published. I’ve had friends ask me to write things for their sites. I’ve liveblogged a television show that ultimately played a huge factor in achieving my dream.

Yes, I’m a mom of two, beautiful children, but I’m not going to turn my back on my dream. I’m going to keep working at it. I’m going to continue to better myself. I’m going to set a positive example for my children that with a lot of hard work, dedication and tenacity, they can achieve their dreams too.

I want my children to see me as not only their mom, but as a role model, someone to look up to and aspire to be like. I don’t want them to be afraid of following their heart. As long as they aren’t hurting me, our family or others, then I want them to be confident and believe in themselves and reach for the stars.

If you are a parent, and have a dream burning inside of you, you need to listen to it. At the same time though, you need to remember your kids. You can’t forget the role they have in your life and the role you have in theirs. Being successful at your dream does not mean you are a bad parent. You can make things happen if you want them to. Don’t let others beat you down and make you feel like you are making a bad choice. Stay true to yourself and always believe.

I’m Not a Failure, I’m a Success!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.-Mark Twain

When you have a dream, one of the most discouraging things that you can face is that your loved ones, the people closest to you, don’t believe in the dreams that you have. Instead, they try and convince you that they know what is best for you, when in reality they haven’t really taken the time to see the person you’ve become and the things in life that you actually need.

When you ask for the support of those you care about, it can be hard for them to accept the things you feel you need to do with your life. Oftentimes, their fears are projected on to you. I’ve chosen not to let the fears of others deter me from the course my life has taken. It’s a scary ride, and I have no idea where it will turn out, but I’m enjoying the journey.

Some people may sit back and judge me because I dropped out of school. (I did pass my GED test with some of the highest scores in the state and I wrote an amazing essay that garnered me some recognition, but these seem to be things that others overlook.

People may think my leaving school was a cop out, when in reality I was preserving myself for things yet to come. I wanted to live, and in order to do that, I needed to move my life towards a different direction, a course less-traveled and often more uncertain than the ones we are told take while in school. Even so, after I took that initial step, I didn’t look back. I kept moving forward to a destination that I didn’t know of, but looked forward to.

As a teenager, I faced many obstacles and experiences, some of which could have destroyed me. Instead, I found strength within myself to let those obstacles empower me. I didn’t sit back on the sidelines and let my life leave me behind. I took hold of the reins and directed my life in the direction that I wanted it to go.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve used my writing as a way to express things that I’m feeling inside, things that hurt me and need to be set free. During my turbulent teenage years, my writing was often dark and void of happiness. Now, things I write are filled with love, warmth and joy. I’ve learned how to appreciate everything around me no matter insignificant it may seem to others. These discoveries are reflected in everything that I write.

Even though writing was a huge part of my life, it took giving birth to my daughter to really push me towards a career that involved sharing my thoughts, feelings and experiences with others. When I finally realized where my life was headed, I was filled with excitement. Before then, my dream of writing was nothing more than a dream. It was something that I never thought I’d succeed at. Now, I feel that it’s attainable. It’s within my reach.

Aside from my dream of writing, another dream I had was to be able to work from home. Those that choose to work from home face many misconceptions about what that means. Some people look at my choice to as a sign of weakness that I’m afraid to be around others. Yes, I’ve been burned by co-workers, but my decision to work from home was based on entirely different reasons. Just because I’ve chosen a less conventional way of living doesn’t mean that I’m any less successful than those around me.

Even knowing the things I do, I still wish that people could see that the decisions I’ve made have not been out of weakness, but have been out of strength and a belief in myself that I can do anything that I set my mind to.

I am not a weak. I am strong. I don’t let the hard times in life keep me down for long. I regroup, stand back up and face another day.

I am not a coward. Yes, I may be scared of the uncertainties in my life, but I don’t let it stop me from reaching for what I want.

I do have self-confidence. It is quiet, but is there. I believe in my talents and in me.

I’m not a bad mom. I may not be perfect, but I never claimed I was. My kids have food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads and parents that love them.

You don’t have to be proud of me, but I wish you would be because I’m proud of myself and all that I’ve done with my life. I’m proud that I believe in myself and my talent so much that I will reach for it, even though they are no guarantees in life. I’m proud of the person I’ve become. I’m happy. My life is not perfect, but whose is? I don’t need you to tell me how to live my life. I need you to support the decisions that I make. I need you to believe that I’m smart enough to know what is good for me and my family. I want you to know that any decision I make is also made in hopes of giving my children a better life.

I will not stop dreaming. I will not give up, so believe in my dream like I do. I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder why I didn’t do more with it. I want to know that I gave it everything I could. I want to know that if things don’t turn out the way I want, that at least I didn’t let fears hold me back. I want to set an example for my kids. I want them to see that their mother believed in herself and reached for dreams. I want my kids to do the same thing.

See me as the woman I’ve become and not as the girl I once was. I’m not a failure. I’m a success. Had I not made the choices that I did in my life, I would not be able to write these words and stand fast in my belief that I can do anything.