Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
The day is nearing when my Girl Child will legally no longer be a child, but an actual adult (at least by legal definition, but no matter how mature an 18 year old is, I still kind of feel like they are big kids)
I don’t really know how to feel about such a big moment~ and while I’m not sure I’m ready for my baby to technically a grown up, I know it’s coming anyway.
As we were talking about her wishes for her upcoming big birthday, I realized that a dream we had for a very long time is not going to be happening.
When my Girl Child was around 12, she came up with the crazy scheme that we should try to travel to and explore all 50 states before she turned 18. I love crazy schemes it and this one was fantastic~ I was on board immediately.
Plan A of the motor home and 6 months of free time was out of my range, as was plan B featuring 4 months and a camper van. But plan C, which involved loading up my old Volvo and driving across the southwest quarter of the country for 5 weeks... that I was able to pull off, and it was awesome. The states on the west coast of the US are huge and the lines on our map show the 7 states we drove through covering almost ¼ of the country.
Stage 2 took us across the Pacific Northwest, and a few more states were under our belts.
Stage 3 to hit the east coast was planned, and by the Girl herself, but sadly, despite the amazing budgeting and organizational skills at play, other unpleasant expenses took the money saved for that adventure. Life happened, time passed, but sadly, the east coast trip didn't fit in.
Stage 3.5 I planned a route through the northern states, but this time, moving happened, and then life continued, and we used our resources and time on other adventures.
While I was figuring out logistics of life, she got closer and closer to 18.
Now, she will be there in a few weeks, and it’s pretty clear that we are not going to be able to make it all 50 states before then. When I asked her about it, she says simply “Yeah, but that’s OK, we went to a couple of different countries instead.”
I love that kid, and her spirit.
Sometimes dreams do have to die in order for new dreams to take their places.
We have had trips with friends, trips to see family, trips to familiar places and far off trips to see the world.
As I type, my Girl Child and her lifelong friend are planning their adventure to Europe for early next year. They already bought their tickets, with money they earned, and are planning the whole thing themselves. They are incredible and competent young people, and their excitement is contagious.
She’s been juggling and hustling, working several jobs to save while taking classes. She’s making her mama proud.
So, while I’m still sort of grieving the death of our 50 States dream, I’m trusting and believing that other dreams will sprout and grow. I may not get to go traveling cross country as a solo mama with my 2 kids and a tent anymore, but I will definitely still be going traveling. I’m sure that a good many adventures will still be with my kids and hope that maybe somehow I will still find a way to see those states.
I would love to take My Girl Child on a grand adventure for her big birthday, but I know that with her busy teen life full of goals and dreams and responsibilities of her own, and my own, the timing may be hard.
Whatever happens, I know that the seeds of adventure have been planted, and even when some dreams get detoured, detained, or even die, we will be dreaming new dreams in no time.
Are you scheming or dreaming any dreams with your family? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. :-)
I feel like I write a lot about gratitude these days, because, well….. life is pretty amazing.
Lest I accidentally portray any false reality on social media, I will be very clear in saying that my life very far from perfection and I have problems like everyone else~ I make mistakes, I yell, I have bangs that won’t cooperate and point out in all directions like it's 1985, not to mention my animals and children that don't necessarily cooperate either. I spill coffee, burn dinner and sometimes even slip on dog poop. On occasion, I cuss aloud and offend people.
But overall, life is pretty awesome, and the more I think about it, the more that awesomeness seems to grow.
For this Thankful Thursday, I wanted to bring back some journal prompts I wrote and shared a couple of years ago.
But then, I also wanted to sketch flowers on the edges, and it got late and I had a bunch of scanner / technology issues, so, now it's a Thankful Friday post instead.
Anyhoo....Since most of us are probably going to be spending more time than usual with our offspring over the holiday break, and there's the actual holidays to deal with too...well...it might be a good idea to spend a few minutes focusing on what you're grateful for in regards to these people.
I find that warm and fuzzy feelings are a good preventative for the potential flipping out that too many celebrations can inspire.
You can download the journal page here. It's free and no opt in required. I recommend printing it on colored paper, because life is better in color, and please share with a friend if you like it.
Since I'm feeling in a reflective-ishy mood, I decided to go ahead and answer the questions myself too~ The questions and my answers are below.
Hope you enjoy!
*************** Giving Thanks Journal Prompts****************************
What is one gift your children have taught you about yourself?
From birth my kids taught me that I have some fiercely protective mama bear style instincts, and in general, they’ve taught me to trust my heart.
Some areas where I followed my heart, even though it went against the mainstream, like free form homeschooling (funschooling) were kind of a chance, but they paid off because the kids had wonderful childhoods and grew into amazing, happy and engaged young people who still like to learn.
Oh yeah, they also taught me that theories are a lot easier than reality (like the one I had about never yelling at your kids…...yeah...that didn’t exactly work out. Bwahahahaha!)
What are some awesome things that your children bring into your life on a daily basis?
Laughter, for sure. They are really funny people.
And dreams~ they continually impress me with their dreaming and scheming and inspire me to keep going with my own.
What is your favorite thing about being a parent?
Watching little humans grow and change is amazing. Getting to be a part of helping them develop as individual people making their path in and figuring out the world is altogether awesome.
They’re also a lot of fun to hang out with, and have given me countless hours of entertainment with their antics.
What is something your parents taught you that you are grateful for?
My mom taught me how do wonders with whatever money you had, and to make it work for you.
My dad taught me the importance of adventures.
Who can you call when the going gets tough, and you just want to curl up in a ball or are about to start spewing flames out of your eyeballs?
I have a couple of wonderful wise woman friends, and a really great partner, who have always been willing to open their ears to listen to my woes when I needed it.
I do realize though that it’s important to watch it with this because sometimes when you start complaining though, you get on a roll and if a grumbling fest goes on too long, I think it makes things worse.
It's a fine line, I guess~ you gotta let it out, but if you get stuck in a negative mode, then that just keeps whatever was annoying you in the forefront of your brain. I usually feel a lot better when I get on with life.
Parenting is a lot of work sometimes. What’s something nice you can do for yourself to replenish your resources today? (**Bonus Tip~ Thinking about it is nice, but it only really helps if you actually DO IT.)
I started today with very little in the way of resources to offer, which is not such a fun place to be.
But, I got to go for a walk with a friend and my dogs. It was sunny and the autumn leaves were amazing. The visit was much too short, but also much better than no visit at all, and sunshine on my shoulders certainly makes me happy.
I came home and ate chocolate peanut m & ms, and I'm making soup in bit, which I may just eat in bed.
I also wore plaid leggings and fuzzy socks all day.
Not exactly a trip to the spa, but good stuff nonetheless.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope you download the Happy Thoughts Journal Questions for yourself, and if you enjoyed this post, please head over to like it on Facebook, and tell a friend. We could all use more Happy in life.
Enjoy the weekend!
No matter how much I try to avoid listening to the news, some things you just can’t manage to not hear about. Things like school shootings, or the recent attacks in Paris.
It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s going on in the world, but my heart is tender, and I just can’t deal with large scale bad news, which seems to be the majority of what the media is spewing most of the time.
I’d rather focus on things that I can actually do something about, and get busy doing it than allow myself to be bombarded with negativity, sadness and pain.
But sometimes, there is awful news that I have no way of improving, and I can’t not know that it’s happened in my world.
So, when my Facebook wall became flooded with pictures of Paris and prayers, wishes, and blessings heading towards the people there last Friday, I had to see what happened.
It didn’t take much reading to see that it was bad...really bad.
And it wasn’t just in Paris, although that was the most surprising. It was also Beirut and Baghdad as well. Perhaps because those are places we think of as being at war~ not places we think of going on romantic trips to so we can look at art and eat bread and cheese~ perhaps that is why their tragedies did not get as much shock.
But they matter just as much.
I don’t even know what to think, let alone what to say to my kids about this, because at their ages, they will hear too. In the past, I’ve used the Mister Rogers quote about looking for the helpers, and that is always a place to start, although at some point, analytical people want solutions.
But how can anyone understand such madness?
My immediate and most instinctual thought while trying to process, is the same thing I feel today~ surely and strongly in my heart~ that is this:
They’re not going to win.
Whatever they are trying to do, or accomplish~ it’s not going to work this way.
I was watching a clip of Kid President at the World Domination Summit last year, and they were talking about what to do with haters, because we all know that they’re gonna hate.
they’re gonna hug.
These angry people with guns may have struck fear and spread their own pain. They surely have broken hearts, but they will never break all of the spirits they are trying to crush. They will never change of the minds of the people of the world who believe in love and freedom and laughter.
Whatever happened to them in their lives to make them haters, in the end, a-holes never win. Because there will always still be good people in the world who will band together and stand strong and they will carry the people who are too broken to stand and they will not let go.
And that is what I ended up telling my kids.
In the face of a-holes committing such tragedies, the one thing I know is that in the end, they won’t fricking win. Love will always win.
Driving downtown with my Boy Child, we noticed that on this day, one of the seedy hotels with the weekly room rates on the sign and the cars with broken windows in the parking lot also had two police cars with their lights on as well. The officers were on the balcony looking into a room with the door open and a well weathered plastic children’s slide out front.
In the middle of the parking lot, where at one time there was a swimming pool that had long been since filled in, and more recently housed garbage, graffiti and discarded drug paraphernalia was an area fenced in with chain link containing some semi neglected raised garden beds and more large plastic kid toys.
Reminders that little children are living there.
The Boy and I had just been talking about community, the importance of having your People, and how glad we are for the ones we have.
There had been a time years ago, when I first realized I’d be getting a divorce, my first instinct was to flee and escape this place~ to move away to somewhere new and sunny near a beach. To start anew.
In preparation to be a single mom and primary breadwinner, I talked to a financial planner around that time, courtesy of a free program at one of my jobs. In the midst of questions about budgets and expenses, she offhandedly told me that when her own child became a teen, she cut her work hours back so she could be home when he and his friends got out of school. While it cost her financially, both in lost income and the astonishing amount of food required to feed teenage boys, she wanted them to have a place to go to hang out where someone was home and cared.
Later in the conversation, she went on to mention that she’s witnessed people in times of big life change, adding more change, and that it was like buying themselves more problems that they couldn’t afford, when they already had plenty of free ones.
That bit of life advice came from a place I wasn’t expecting, but it sure made me think. Reality hit and I knew that I didn’t have the resources in place to make a big move happen.
I also realized that even though I hadn’t been all that keen about moving to this area 13 years ago, an amazing community of people grew up all around us and we became a part of it. My kids and I were known and loved and safe.
And it’s come into play over and over again.
When we sold our home, a friend rented me her wonderful house surrounded by fruit trees. It was a great place for starting over. I knew she was giving me a good deal on rent, but I hadn’t realized how good until she needed her house back and I went to look for a new place to live.
Finding another new home was harder than I anticipated, and unfortunately, we had to be out of one before we found the next one. Fortunately though, another friend had agreed to rent her small cottage to us in the interim.
No application, we just agreed on a price and she and her husband let all of us, and our dogs move into their little mother in law unit.
We spent almost 8 weeks living in that transitional situation~ It was safe, a happy place, and even cute, but the house was teeny, quite a long drive to get anyplace and probably the biggest dismay for my teens was that the wifi service was often iffy.
Even after our time in Nicaragua last summer, and the perspective we gained, still.. having four full sized people and two dogs in a small studio house was a challenge.
But nowhere near the challenge it would have been without community and resources.I really don’t know how I would have managed.
A few years ago, I remember learning of a project to create a playground and garden at one of the scary hotels in town. Volunteers worked there during after school hours, tutoring kids and attempting to create a nice place. They were looking for people to help provide transportation for kids and their parents living there to evening school events, which they could otherwise not be a part of since most of them had no running car, and public transportation doesn’t run in the evenings around here.
While the slides and toys are visible signs that little kids were being raised there, which is sad enough, I hadn’t yet made the obvious conclusion that since poverty doesn’t take time outs for elementary school years, and isn’t usually remedied that quickly, there’s a good chance that school aged children would be living there as well.
The reality of childhood in a place like that is harsh for anyone, but if you have to go to school where other kids know about it….that seems even worse.
When multiplied into a monthly cost, the weekly rate posted on the sign in front of the sketchy motel was not much less than we were paying for our cute little cottage in the olive orchard.
But without friends to rent from, and a running car to get back and forth, that never would have been an option. And then there’s our pets.
Renting with dogs is limited and deposits are prohibitively expensive. I guess that’s one way sweet family pets end up in the animal shelter, and everyone knows that many of them won’t make it out alive.
I can’t imagine telling my kids we were getting rid of our dogs. Even though they limited our options of homes, I knew I’d figure something out eventually, so thankfully, that was never really a consideration. Our pack would stay together.
Our cat, who came to us a feral kitten and is quite possibly mentally challenged due to a lack of diversity in the gene pool (spay and neuter your pets, please!) was able to stay in our old house while we were in transition, which was another huge blessing. He joined in us as soon as we found our long term lodging but was safe in a familiar place in the mean time.
During the whole ordeal, which could have been a really difficult time, we were wrapped up in love and support and surrounded by good people, living things and good food growing right outside our door.
If it weren’t for friends, we would have either had to get rid of our pets, or be homeless. It could have been a devastating time, but instead, it was just a bit annoying~ all because of the blessing of Community~ we have our People.
When I see the families outside of the hotel, I wonder about their their stories~ where is their community and what happened to their People?
And I thank God and the Universe for mine.
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This November started with clouds and a bit of rain~ it finally felt like autumn. A perfect Day of the Dead. Every November 1st, I like to spend a bit of time remembering my loved ones who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge~ telling stories, laughing, keeping their memories alive.
Some years, my kids and I will sit by the grave of a relative or pet, light a candle and share a meal while we share our favorite recollections. This year, the Girl Child was bombarded with studying as she had worked and had friends over most of the weekend, and the Boy Child still had friends lingering from our Halloween festivities the night before. While the kids that aren’t mine are very nice people and generally welcome, for me, Dia De Los Muertos is both a sacred and a private affair.
So, after my Dear Partner and I had hit up the post Halloween sales at Michaels and World Market, we grabbed a candle and Chinese take out and headed to the graveyard where my Grandparents and my Step Dad are buried. While he never met any of them in real life, he has certainly heard stories, and it seemed appropriate that he be along for this.
As the sun went down and the clouds rolled in, I ate chow mein and reflected on the impact each of these people had on my life.
My Grandparents were a pivotal part of my youth~ I spent countless hours of my youth in their home playing pirates and watching cartoons with my older brother. Every childhood vacation that I recall was a road trip with them. I always felt like I was the Apple of my Grandmother’s eye~ she was both proud of and protective of me. As I told my Dear Partner, I cannot remember a single instance in my life when I actually felt as if my Grandparent's were truly disappointed in me. Even when I blew it and completely messed up and they knew about it~ they still always loved me and I knew that for sure. In fact, the idea of their knowing that I messed up was a bigger deterrent than any actual consequences that could come from my mischief.
My Step Dad was a different story. He came into the lives of semi angry young teens and wrestled and strong armed well meaning attempts to be an authority figure we were not looking for and sometimes actively rebelled against. It was not an easy job. It wasn’t really until I was grown and a parent that I could really appreciate my Step Dad efforts. I may not have agreed with all of his methods or actions, but I can acknowledge that he was trying his best and I know without a doubt that he loved me, my brother and our mom. Their divorce was an unpleasant affair, even though I was grown and had long been out of the house. It still fragmented our family and sort of made it feel my kids now had Grandpa Who Must Not Be Named. His funeral was hard, but I’m glad that my kids and I went. I’m even more glad that we went to see him in the hospital before he died.
I’m also glad I got to share more memories of these important people with my Sweetheart.
Along with remembering, the first of November is the start of so many other things I enjoy.
It’s the kick off of National Novel Writing Month, and while I have absolutely no desire to attempt writing a novel, I do like the idea of a self imposed writing goal of trying to type at least 50,000 words in the next 30 days. Perhaps I will make up for some of the many weeks I posted nothing on my blog this year?
(Disclaimer~ the challenge of NanoWrimo is more about quantity than quality, so bear with me….that’s over 1600 words a day!! That may be a little ambitious, as I’m rambling galore right now, and I’m not even to 600 words... In any case, I can’t promise thorough editing, but will attempt some~ and while my writing may be a bit disjointed, I promise not to post every single bit of long winded, incoherent nonsense I come up with.)
November is also Art Every Day Month, and I am liking the idea of being on board with that challenge too. Today, I worked on coloring a skull mask for Dia De Los Muertos, but in general, I’m liking the idea of trying to tie at least some of my daily art making in with my attempt at being not hectic at Christmas, and do some holiday gift making.
Speaking of holidays, Halloween in our new home felt just right. Each kid had a gaggle of friends to stay the night and roam the neighborhood~ all of us so happy to be in our own space where we could have friends over and be within walking distance to civilization.
The Grown Ups had a few friends to chat and laugh and tell stories with as well. We carved pumpkins, had chili and corn muffins, cupcakes and pizza and ate at least as much candy as we handed out to trick or treaters. I stayed up late chomping chocolate and watching Doctor Who in bed while the individual packs of teenagers were guffawing loudly in their rooms into the early hours of the morning.
It was mellow, fun and happy and felt just like a holiday at home should~ a great way to kick off the upcoming season of celebrations.
At right around half my daily word count goal, that’s all I really have to say. As in most things, some is better than none, right?.
Happy November! Wish me luck!
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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