Low Buy Challenge 2021; The Rules

I have decided to do a Low Buy Challenge for 2021. This is my journey..

Please check out my first post explaining the challenge, the why, and what my first steps are here.

These are the rules I intend to follow for the year:

  1. Groceries, cleaning supplies, and person hygiene products do not count against the budget; however, I will buy in bulk and low cost as much as possible. I will buy for what we like/eat, and not for intentions to follow new recipes – the fact is, I don’t ever actually roll around to making anything new. I will utilize sales and price matching to achieve the lowest price possible (also taking into account travel or delivery expenses).
  2. Take out limited to $30 (with tax, tip, and delivery) once per week; with fast food and eating at restaurants being my highest dollar amount in my budget, I have decided to cut down to a more realistic approach. Sometimes my mental health just doesn’t allow for me to cook or even make a can of soup.
  3. Furniture purchases are allowed, but only if necessary; Redoing the house has been something I have been slowly working on since leaving my abusive ex. I just want to make a nice home for us, and that requires furniture that fits both our space and lifestyle. I will buy for our needs and not for our wants.
  4. Make use of my local Buy Nothing group on Facebook; this group has people who are looking for all kinds of things – I will give away anything I don’t need, and use this group to search for things we want and need. (where applicable)
  5. No new books; exception: books belonging to my personal fandoms or new books in series I currently own. I have more than enough that I haven’t read that I am switching over to a digital copy. The only physical copies I am keeping are favourites/fandom related. (This will also remove 2 bookshelves in my home)
  6. If I can’t make at least $50 off an item, donate or trade it; this allows the things in my home to not sit around for long periods – we all know how long it can take to coordinate sales on Facebook marketplace or Kijiji, why go through all that for $15 bucks? Trading is beneficial to both parties, because I can potentially gain something I need.
  7. Developmental/educational toys only; Christmas and Birthdays do not count. During the remainder of the year, only toys that help benefit growth and development will be purchased at no more than $100 a month. This includes craft supplies.
  8. Clothing purchases will be limited; only purchasing for new seasons, or if damaged beyond repair and needs to be replaced.
  9. Subscription services limited to $75 a month or less; for annual subscriptions, I will figure out the monthly cost and factor that in.
  10. $150 for Google Play cards twice a year; I’m an avid Pokémon Go player. This amount will be shared across all accounts, including the kids.
  11. Cancel my second phone line and tablet; high up front cost, but less over time due to only paying on the device tabs and not the monthly bills.
  12. Sort through and donate all clothing we do not wear and linens we do not use; this will cut down on the amount of laundry money needed ($5 a load!) and amount of time we spend doing laundry.

These can be added to if I see fit, but I cannot remove any of these rules.

These rules feel easy enough for me to follow. I would love ideas about how to keep myself accountable though – feel free to leave me some comments below.

Low Buy Challenge 2021; The Challenge

I joined a No Buy 2021 group on Facebook, and have noticed a lot of people doing Low Buy, instead. Basically, you make your own rules but the point is to spend as LITTLE in the year as possible. It is not to save money (although you will), it is to stop supporting consumerism and stop buying stuff just to have it.

This seems much easier for me, especially with some of my mental health issues causing me to spend where/what I shouldn’t. Low buy allows me some freedoms, and also doesn’t immediately set me up for failure.

Being honest, I’m pulling most of my plan out of my ass, however, I also am going through the posts in the group to gain ideas from others. A customized Low Spend challenge.

I am going to start by going through my budget and seeing where I have spent the most money in 2020. I can tell, without looking, it is probably a mix of take out and random miscellaneous purchases. Also, I have a LOT of subscriptions. These things will be cut out or minimalized as much as possible – as long as it is realistic.

Next, I will make a list of all the things I NEED to buy/replace this upcoming year. This list will be mostly bigger ticket items like furniture, wardrobe changes (season or size change), and a vehicle (plan to buy in September). I will stick to this list.

Then I will make a list of all items I can purchase in bulk, such as laundry pods, toilet paper, non-perishables, and cleaning supplies. These items I will shop around for the best price and buy enough to last as long as possible (maybe the year? maybe 6 months?) These will be the first set of items I buy in the new year.

The group I am in has mini challenges each month in that I will actively participate in with an open-mind. January is decluttering your digital world. Unsubscribing to emails that want you to buy things, removing Facebook ads that are geared to your searches, etc. I will spend the month doing this slowly, as to not take over all my time. I tend to get a bit obsessive once I am set on a task.

Lastly, my biggest plan is to declutter my home and take a mental inventory of what I have. I will try and follow the Marie Kondo method to decide what should stay and what should go. Only things of necessity and things that spark joy belong here. More than likely, I won’t force the kids to follow this, but we will all learn better ways to organize our belongings.

This is going to be tough for me, but hopefully it will help me with my overall personal wellness goal for 2021. More on that in a later blog post – watch for that next week!

Please keep an eye out for the next post in this series, which will contain the exact rules I am going to follow for the year. This will be out in the next day or two.

Thank you so much for following along in my journey. I love reading comments, so please let me know below any other things I could do to prepare, and what rules you would follow if you were doing a Low Buy challenge yourself.

Tough Decisions; With Love

A few months ago, I made the decision to keep the girls home, and in distance learning for the school year, because of the pandemic.

I still 100% stand by this, and think if everyone had done this, along with a few other rather simple things (like wear their damn masks, and stick to their household), we wouldn’t be starting a second wave lock-down right now.

However, during the pandemic, which started back in February for us, the mental health of my 10 year old, K, has significantly deteriorated. She is now depressed, has suicidal ideation, and we have a very strained relationship.

Being completely honest, we have had a bit of a strained relationship basically since C came into the picture. She was an only child for 6 years and still hasn’t adjusted well to having a sister. I will not make excuses for that though, like other people have for her. I don’t really believe in this “only child” syndrome thing, that basically excuses children from accepting their siblings. Maybe that is harsh, maybe it isn’t.

A few months ago, I found a notebook of my oldest daughters that threw us all for a loop. She talked about how she wanted to die. She felt like she was a burden to me, to everyone. She felt unloved, worthless, helpless, hopeless. She said she was a germ.

Immediately, I sprang into action. I got her set up with a trauma counsellor. I removed all the additional virtual extracurricular activities off her schedule. I kept her with her in-person Girl Guide’s, and her Big Sister (from the region’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program).

Soon, both of those in-person programs also turned virtual, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t make her feel better. The damage was done.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, my daughter met with my CAS worker (voluntary services; I called them for support and resources during the pandemic) and told her that she “doesn’t feel safe” here, and that she “must move in with her grandmother”. We both thought the wording was odd, and I decided to investigate. Turns out the woman who birthed me has been conspiring with my 10 year old, to get her to move out of my home and into hers. Excuse me? (To clarify, there are NO protection concerns with my children, so they are 100% safe here. In fact, I can close my own file and end partnership at any time.)

When bringing this forward to my “mother”, she responded with hate and malice. Telling me it must kill me to know that my child would rather live with her and has for years. Realistically, isn’t this how all kids are? Kids want to go live with their friends because Susie’s mom bakes every night. Kids want to live with their dads, because every other weekend isn’t enough. Kids want to live with someone else, because they got in trouble. Is that really something to hold over my head? She also berated me on my lack of parenting skills.

Growing up in a toxic environment didn’t give me the parenting skills I required. In fact, I was becoming more and more like my own mother every day. I know this, and have been working with community supports for years to try to get better.

No, I am not blaming my mother, I am simply stating that there is a cycle of abuse, and it is very hard to break the cycle. My mother was abused. I was abused. I have spent the last almost 11 years trying not to follow the same path with my own children.

In fact, the only positive parenting skills I did learn were from my mother’s best friend and her husband. Naturally, I made them the Godparent’s of both my children. I grew up babysitting for them. As a babysitter, you follow the rules set out by the parents to ensure their children are receiving the same care they would get if the parent was home. They gave me many chances when I made mistakes.

As an adult, these two have supported me and my children in many ways. They put our best interests first, and that can’t be said about anyone else in our lives. (No blame or shame to my friends, of course, you have your own lives and families that need to come first)

So naturally, when I called them about K, they immediately offered her a place to go. A place where she can thrive. A place where she is loved unconditionally. A place where she can heal. A place where she has around the clock support and attention. A place where she can get all the things she needs to fill her cup.

Think of parenting as filling a cup. When you send your child off into the world for the first time, you want them to have a full cup. This cup should be filled with love, success, pride, skills, abilities, etc. You spend their entire childhood making decisions that either takes away from their cup or fills it up. Most of the time you don’t get to know what the decision does to their cup, until after you have already made it. That is scary isn’t it? Not knowing if what you are doing will benefit them years down the road? Yikes. Not to mention, this cup is metaphorical. How are you supposed to fill the cup, when you can’t see the cup?

The hardest part of parenting is that there is no rule book. There aren’t any instruction manuals. You cannot unplug and plug back in to fix the glitches. Every decision you make impacts the cup – positive or negative.

Coming back to the pandemic, choosing whether to keep your children home or sending them back to school, impacts their cup. For some kids, staying home filled their cup. For some kids, going to school filled their cup. The issue is the kids weren’t making the decision, the parents were. Some kids had no choice because their parents need to work. Some kids, like mine, had no choice because there was more concern over physical health than mental health.

In my personal opinion, I felt that mental health could be fixed with counselling whereas physical health may not be fixable. (I mean, if you die, you die.. can’t fix that)

This is where I went wrong with K, who is already very emotionally charged and sensitive. She needed to be in-person for school.

At first, she thrived online. She was doing really well. Until she got comfortable. Until I stopped becoming involved in her schooling. She started wasting class time to sit and watch YouTube videos or play games on the laptop all day. Her mid-term report card was her worst one yet out of the 7 years she has been in school already. My regular B-student is now close to failing.

The decision to allow my firstborn child to move out, at just 10, did not come lightly. In fact, you can ask my closest female friend, as she sat on my couch for 24 hours listening to the inner workings of my brain. Poor girl, what a scary place.

At this time, she pointed out that I mentally checked out back in April 2019 when my best friend (and soul mate) passed away. She isn’t wrong, although I hadn’t pinpointed it like she did.

I had lost the joy in parenting. I was giving them their basic needs, of course and there was no neglect. However, it was obligatory parenting only. I was required to feed them, clothe them, clean them.. I was not required to bake cookies, do crafts, etc. In turn, I had given K a parenting role, which I should have never done. I know that. K is a very good helper around the house and with her sister, even if she doesn’t want to. I know now that it was because she was afraid of being in trouble. K was doing more around the house than I was and was even doing more with C than I was.

After many hours of self-realization, I came to the conclusion that I am the one hurting K’s mental health. That I need much more help than I realized. That the once in a while counselling isn’t enough.

I have signed up for parenting classes. I am researching group programs for trauma, abuse, and grief. I have set up times on my phone, where the notifications shut off so I can focus on these things as well as my time with C.

I spent most of my teenage years and all of my adult years hating my mother for giving me away. She didn’t want to deal with me, so she put me in foster home after foster home. Am I doing the same thing? According to my friend, this is different. She is right.

Firstly, I let K make the decision, if she wanted to stay here or if she wanted to go to her Godparents house. She chose to go.

Secondly, I am allowing her to go, because I love her. I love her enough to let her get better in any way she needs – and right now, she needs to be away from me and her sister. Right now, she needs her own space. This is very different than what my mother did to me. My mother gave me away out of convenience.

K will be continuing her trauma counselling, picking up horseback riding lessons, continuing Girl Guides, switching to in-person learning, and many other things. When she moves, she will get the life that I always wanted and hoped for.

Now, this is a temporary situation, at this time. The agreement is to last from January 1st until the end of the school year, and at that time, the 3 adults involved will sit down and make a decision based on her best interests. Of course, she is welcome to come home at this time, however, if she really is thriving up there the way we think she will, then she will stay. She already has friends up there who will have her back and the amount of family she has up there will be wonderful for her. She will have a huge support system in place.

The biggest stipulation of this arrangement is that this isn’t an “I’m mad at mommy, so I am moving out” thing. This is to give her, her best chance. So with that, she has agreed that we need to work on our relationship, as much as I do. While I am taking parenting classes and learning how to rebuild the bond, she must also work at it with me. We will do virtual family counselling sessions. We will communicate daily. We will have virtual movie nights and game nights. We will also see each other roughly once a month.

This was not an easy decision.

I am hurt. I am sad. I feel betrayed.

I am also relieved. Relieved that my daughter has the opportunity for change. Relief that I have the opportunity to change.

I am also happy. Happy that we will not turn out the way my mother and I have turned out. This is our biggest fear, and we get to fix that.

My biggest request is that you give us time to work with our new situation.

Negative comments will not only be deleted, but met with wrath.

Memoirs of a Geisha: Fate vs Free Will

Hey everyone! I just want to start off by saying that this blog is a little different than I normally do, so bear with me. I have been instructed to do a multimedia essay for my final project for English class. So without further ado, here it is! Buckle up, folks.

First, I want to talk about the book, Memoirs of a Geisha by Author Golden, and why I chose it for my project. My mother introduced me to this movie when it first came out in 2005. I was just 16 years old so of course, everything was “lame” including this movie. It took me a solid 6 months of dismissing her rave reviews. Finally, I sat down and watched it. I was mesmerized. The story is absolutely beautiful and compelling.

Once I had realized it was actually based on a novel, that’s when I really hopped on the bandwagon. The book was even better! The movie did a great job capturing the essence of the novel, but the novel – wow. Just wow. Ever since, I have been slightly obsessed with geisha and learning more about them.

The novel speaks volumes about fate and destiny. In fact, the entire culture talks about using an almanac before making any decisions, and you find evidence of that throughout the novel. Today, my job is to convince you that Sayuri acted of her own free will and used self determination and critical decision making skills to get exactly where she wanted to be.

Everyone who reads Memoirs of a Geisha will agree that the writer wants you to believe that Sayuri had a destiny and that all the events in her life were tied to her fate and not her own decisions. Because Memoirs of a Geisha focuses the reader on fate, I will be explaining to you how self determination and free will plays a more critical role in Sayuri’s career, life, and even love. 

I will be looking at four particular moments in Chiyo/Sayuri’s life when the writer explains the event as a moment of fate. The four biggest moments that fate are present that I can prove free will include: Chiyo meeting the Chairman and deciding to become a geisha, Mameha’s plan to get Chiyo adopted by the Okiya, Sayuri betraying Nobu, and the final event where Sayuri meets with the Chairman for the last time where you can see how her own free will has made an impact. 

The first moment I feel that a reader needs to look at when thinking about fate versus free will, is when Chiyo throws herself down by the river and decides to wait for a sign. In doing so, she meets the Chairman for the first time, while he is with two men and a geisha woman, named Izuko, on their way to the theater. Chiyo, being a young girl, with a history of being abused, instantly falls for the kindness of the Chairman and vows to be a geisha like Izuko, the geisha who accompanied the Chairman that day. While some would argue that the Chairman stopping to talk to Chiyo is an act of fate, the outcome defined by the encounter is in fact based on free will. Chiyo made the active decision to do everything in her power to be a geisha. “In that brief encounter with the Chairman, I had changed from a lost girl facing a lifetime of emptiness to a girl with purpose in life.” (pg 113). At the end of their meeting, Chiyo decides to dedicate her life to becoming a geisha and meeting the chairman again. “I would suffer through any training, bear up under any hardship, for a chance to attract the notice of a man like the Chairman again.” (pg 114). 

Chiyo, a maid to the Nitta Okiya has decided to be a geisha – up until this moment she was not interested. She had tried to run away, and was left to take up maid duties instead, to pay off her debt. Running away was her decision. She fell off the roof and was injured, also her decision, as she knew the weather and could feel the roof was slippery – she chose to go anyways. In racking up a medical debt, the natural consequence was that Mother demoted her to maid and took away geisha training – which would have increased her debt even more. “I was a fool to invest so much money in you in the first place. You’re probably the most expensive maid in all of Gion! If I could sell off your bones to pay back some of your debts, why, I’d rip them right out of your body”. (pg. 99) 

A short time later, Mameha calls for Chiyo and they meet in private. The main goal from the very first meeting with Mameha, was always to have Chiyo adopted by the Okiya. Mameha points out to Chiyo that it’s curious that Mother has not adopted Hatsumomo yet, who is older than Mameha. Adoptions typically take place when a geisha is much younger. Chiyo had never thought about it before but knew that Mameha was right – there had to be a reason. “Adopting Hatsumomo would be like releasing the tiger from its cage.” (pg 123) “It certainly would. I’m sure Mrs. Nitta knows perfectly well what sort of adopted daughter Hatsumomo would turn out to be – the sort that finds a way to drive the Mother out.” (pg 123) Mameha, making Chiyo promise to keep their meeting secret, arrived at the okiya to discuss making Chiyo her little sister. Mother was not too pleased but made a bet with Mameha that would actually ensure the adoption of Chiyo, even if she didn’t know it. Mameha was completely convinced that Chiyo could repay her debts before she turned 20, and knowing the Okiya wouldn’t be able to pay double, the only option for them would be to adopt Chiyo to release their debts. Mother: “I’ll offer you double, instead, if you succeed” – Mameha: “But nothing, if I fail” (pg 135) Knowing that she owed an incredible amount to the okiya and the stakes Mameha and Mother had agreed to, Chiyo knew she had no choice but to become the absolute best geisha she could be. Chiyo was in absolute control of her own “destiny”.

Hatsumomo was not worthy of adoption because of her personality and poor choices – however as she takes Pumpkin under her wing as her little sister, it puts her and Chiyo as rivals. Knowing Hatsumomo’s flair for drama and competition, while also knowing how much Pumpkin struggled, Chiyo was helped in many ways. “In any case, Hatsumomo has no more patience than a child […] That, young Chiyo, is the reason Hatsumomo hates you so very much. The Pumpkin girl, I don’t imagine Hatsumomo feels too worried about Mrs. Nitta adopting her” (pg 123). Some would say that Hatsumomo’s behaviour and Pumpkin’s inability to do well is fate, however, that would only make sense, if Chiyo was automatically granted the adoption based on being the last candidate standing, which is not the case. She still has to earn being adopted.

After Sayuri becomes a geisha, Nobu – a client – becomes very interested in becoming her Danna, and tying himself to her. Basically, a geisha becomes the mistress of the danna. Sayuri, not interested in having Nobu as her danna, talks to Mameha about finding someone else. Mameha goes to bat for Sayuri, who ends up with the General. Sayuri tries to explain to Mameha about not wanting Nobu as her danna, but doesn’t explain why truthfully. Mameha and Mother discuss the General, and how he can help the okiya – Mother eventually agrees to him becoming Sayuri’s danna. During the Fall when Sayuri was 18, the General became her danna and Nobu stopped inviting her to parties. (pg 308). This is quite obviously free will, as she is the one who sets the plan in motion.

After meeting with the Chairman at a party, Sayuri learns of Nobu’s whereabouts and finds him to talk to him. Once she finds him, they make amends, allowing Sayuri the ability to get closer to the Chairman once again. “What was more, without Nobu’s patronage, I was no longer invited to Iwamura Electric’s parties, which meant I hardly stood any chance at all of seeing the Chairman.” (pg 308). Again, Sayuri had made the active decision to seek out Nobu to make things right, in hopes of meeting the Chairman again.

As Nobu is business partners with the Chairman, they will not wager against each other in business or pleasure. Knowing that, Sayuri must do something drastic to shake Nobu away, to get closer to the chairman. She attempts to betray him, by sleeping with the Minister, and asking Pumpkin to bring him by to “catch” her in the act. “I want you to find some way of bringing Nobu there and opening the back door we saw earlier, so that… he’ll see us.” (pg 400) In rejecting Nobu, it left Sayuri open to being involved with the Chairman.

After what happened, the Chairman found Sayuri some time later and explained that Sayuri was not destined to become a geisha, so much as he orchestrated the entire thing. The Chairman remembered young Chiyo, and asked Mameha to find her, and make her geisha. He even covered all the costs. He went on to explain that he could not act because Nobu, who he owed his life to, had taken interest. Sayuri explained that she did what she did, for the Chairman and that she hadn’t stopped thinking about him after all these years. The Chairman explains what he had done with Mameha (pg 412-414) in regards to, to ensure young Chiyo would become Geisha; “What I did […], I did because of my feelings for you, Chairman. Every step I have taken in my life since I was a child in Gion, I have taken in hope of bringing myself closer to you.” (pg 416). After this conversation, the Chairman took Sayuri as his mistress until the very day he died. He became her danna and took care of her. 

Sayuri already lived in an Okiya so the chance of her becoming a geisha was significantly higher, despite the fact she tried to run away and had racked up a considerable amount of debt. Having ruined Mameha’s kimono, she already had made herself known by the famous geisha. In Sayuri’s life, love, and career, she made active decisions that lead her from a scared young maid to the Chairman’s mistress until the day he died, as she always wanted – fate had played no part in her life. Leading up to this moment, all the previous events in Sayuri’s life are proven to be self determination.

So, I hope that I was able to convince you that Sayuri’s free will needs all the credit for the events in her life. Now I leave you with this: Do a thorough inventory of your own life and see if you ultimately tied any of your outcomes to fate, when really, you made conscious decisions and worked hard to get you to where you are.

Father’s Day: it’s not about single moms

Hey, while the world is talking about equality, I would like to talk about something that is also important to remember in the month of June.

With Father’s Day coming up, we are about to see a lot of posts regarding single mothers who “play both roles” and feel they deserve to be celebrated.

Firstly, I want to validate your feelings. Single parents absolutely do deserve to be celebrated. (I will add, that ALL parents out there rocking it, deserve to be recognized! Parenting is hard, regardless of relationship status)

Father’s Day isn’t about single parents – or it would be called Single Parents day (which was actually March 21st, by the way). Father’s Day is about the fathers. Biological fathers, step-dads, fathers who have adopted, transgender fathers, fathers from every race and religion, etc. If you identify as male and you have children (one way or another), you are a father and this is YOUR day.

Single mothers have a lot of privilege that fathers do not. There is a lot of community support and financial aid for single mothers, that single fathers struggle to get, or have to fight twice as hard to receive. Single mothers aren’t looked down upon, nearly as much, for being home with their kids while collecting welfare – but if a single father does, that’s all anyone sees. If a woman says “the father isn’t around”, people quickly agree that the father was or is bad in some way. If a father says “the mother isn’t around”, there are so many questions asked – it is an interrogation.

When Mother’s Day rolls around, if a single father says “I play both roles!”, women shut him down saying to wait for his own day. Yet, when Father’s Day rolls around, it seems like every single mother pops out and stakes her claim on this day too.

Mothers and Fathers are not roles, they are titles. Hear me out. A parent is a role. They have specific duties and responsibilities to their children, family, home, etc. All parents have the same role – to educate their children, and raise them to be successful adults with morals and values. It is a parents responsibility to ensure the child is safe, healthy, and well cared for. Loved. “Mother” is a title. “Father” is a title. They are both gender based titles for a parenting role. (Similar to Prince/Princess, Cowboy/Cowgirl, etc)

There are other “responsibilities”, that are basically chores, such as reading bedtime stories, bathing the children, shopping for their clothes, etc. Those are divided up between the parents in the home, whether it’s a single parent household, or a two parent household.

If you’re in a healthy relationship with the mother/father of your child, parenting responsibilities do not change. You are both responsible for safety, education, etc however, the “chores” of parenting are typically split between the two, in whatever way works best for the family. For divorced or separated parents, who co-parent, the “chores” are done under their separate roofs, and each does everything. When you end up single, even if the other parent isn’t around, you still have the responsibilities of a parent. It may not be shared, but your responsibilities haven’t actually changed. Safety, love, food on the table, roof over their head, etc – none of that changes! The amount of “chores” you do might.

Just because you once had a partner who read all the bedtime stories, doesn’t mean you are now that title, on top of your own, once you become single. You are still ONLY a mother or father.

Single mothers need to take a seat, and realize that they already had their day back in May. They were celebrated and it is time for you to allow the Fathers their day.

Before anyone gets truly angry with me: I am a single parent – but I do not play both “mother” AND “father”. I am a female. My title is MOTHER. I do not identify as male so Father’s Day is NOT FOR ME. Just because I am raising them alone does not mean I am both parents. I am and will only ever be a mother. I had my day in May.

To all the fathers: happy Father’s Day. ♥️

How Manipulative MLM Tactics Worked on me (and everyone else!)

This is an extremely transparent story of how I got tricked into not one, but FIVE MLM companies over a decade.

I have been with Norwex, Avon, some CBD oil company, Younique, and Scentsy. Apparently it took me a while to learn a lesson.

With Norwex, it was actually really simple – someone had posted a video about their mop system, and I liked it. Joined to get the starter kit, which came with the mop system and some other stuff I don’t even remember for a cheaper price than just the mop. Haha – that was an easy choice for me, but turns out – Norwex is crap and really weird. Why the hell would you buy clothes to clean your house that you don’t use product with? Self cleaning? I don’t think so, Susan.

Avon, again, easy. I was already buying the products, and sign up was super cheap. So I signed up for $10 bucks, got $300 dollars “credit” to spend, and then spent it ALL in one  order. I had some friends ordering too for a bit, but it was inconsistent.

CBD company was free to join, but no one wanted to buy it. I don’t blame them. Who knows where it was coming from.

Younique? Well, I am sure you all know by know about my blog about Younique. If not, read it here. I joined because I was watching this girl all the time on live having so much fun, talking about her “sisterhood”, and she seemed extremely positive. I will let you read the blog for the rest. She paid for my kit and I had to pay her back when I got paid. (super against the rules!) She said it’s great for single moms! All those manipulation tactics can be read about in the other post.

Scentsy – well, I did that one because I knew how many people LOVED scentsy. Made some friends through it, and definitely sold plenty! It actually wasn’t that horrible. I have a post here about that experience.

The manipulation tactics for most of these companies are simple:

  • wait for significant pay days like Child Tax, Disability payments, and Welfare cheque day to post sales and opportunities
  • advertise a “sisterhood” and sense of belonging
  • fake everything – make people believe you sell more, get paid more, etc
  • “Hey hun! I have been following you for a while and I just LOVE how driven/outspoken/kind/positive you are! You are so amazing, and I have an amazing idea!”

Who do they look for?

  • single or stay at home moms who don’t work
  • military moms who rely on their husbands military pay
  • overweight people who need to try “the best diet shakes ever!”
  • people with terrible skin (for skin products)
  • pregnant women
  • obviously conspiracy theorists, who believe anything
  • etc etc etc

Those are what they look for. You don’t have to be driven, or motivated. You don’t have a following of amazing women. You do not have business experience. You simply have to be in a shitty situation.

That is how they rope you in.

Don’t let it happen to you, like it did to me… 5 times.

Today, I was a mean mom

I was the mean mom today.

I was the mom who followed through with a severe consequence to severe actions.

4.5 days to clean her room.

4.5 days of reminders.

4.5 days arguing about it.

Last night I decided I was done arguing with a 9 year old about what I expect from her, as her mother and an adult.

So today, I was the mean mom.

I decided last night that I don’t have to constantly argue. There doesn’t need to be a fight.

There needs to be a clear expectation and a clear consequence.

Today she woke up at 8 and had breakfast.

The expectation was set that she had until noon to clean her room.

I told her there would be no reminders.

The consequence was set that at noon, whatever wasn’t put away, was going in the garbage.

At 10 am she was twirling around her room.

At 1030 am she was playing with her barbies.

At 11 am she was putting garbage in a pile.

At 1130 am she asked me to have a bath with her sister.

At 1145 am she decided she was going to actually clean her room.

At 12 pm, well, she was not done.

At 12 pm, I went in with a garbage bag and took everything that was on the floor, scattered across her dresser and bed, and tossed it in garbage bags.

Amongst these things were all her barbies and accessories. All her LEGO. All her Pokémon cards. A stack of books. Clothing. Shoes. A computer. Her SIMS games.

Today, I followed through with consequences.

It sucks. It is hard to watch her cry and break as hard as she did. I’m her mother, of course that hurts me.

But maybe next time she will think twice about defying the expectations of cleaning her room.

Today, I may have been the mean but mom, but I gave my child a life long lesson about how to be a successful adult.

Actions have consequences.

I’m okay with being the mean mom, today.

Quarantine Diary #3: Single Parents

First and foremost, as a single parent, I get very heated when it comes to the judgments made upon us, and I do tend to let me emotions get the best of me. I can admit that, but it does NOT change the fact of how hard we really do have it sometimes.

I came across a Facebook post today in a buy and sell group calling out parents who are taking their children to grocery stores during the pandemic. This post specifically stated a 14 year old and an 8 year old. Apparently the parent is in the wrong because the 14 year old is old enough to watch the 8 year old while the parent goes grocery shopping.

Let me quickly break that down before I run my mouth about the entire situation.

How do you know that 14 year old has the mental capacity to babysit? How do you know that those two children can be trusted alone together? How do you know that 8 year old doesn’t have severe behavioural issues and only the parent can keep them in line? What if the older child cannot be without supervision due to drugs or alcohol? How do YOU know anything about that parents situation in general?

How dare ANY of you judge another person and how they have to do things? It’s so easy for all of you to sit behind your screens with all these ideas on how others should be acting, yet what? You sit here running others to the ground. Sounds like you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

As a single mom with two kids and very limited options, I’d like to spit all over every single judgmental thread I see about kids in grocery stores.

Personally, I have to take my kids with me to the grocery store, and I do not have other options. I cannot use Instacart. Click and Collect is not an option for me. I do not have extra money to be paying delivery services or the cost of items at certain (higher priced) stores.

My limited income doesn’t allow for me to keep up with the new world during this pandemic. Sometimes, even before the pandemic, what we eat depends on what is on sale.

Comments are being made about posting in Facebook groups asking for help. Asking strangers to pick up groceries for you. There are even groups who the members will do it for free (just pay the cost of the groceries).

That’s all fine and dandy for some – but many people struggle with asking for help. For some people the anxiety of asking for help might be worse than the anxiety of just braving the grocery store themselves.

Then I see comments about how “everyone has someone”.. excuse me? What credentials do you have to make that bold of a statement? Not everyone has someone. Plenty of people out there are absolutely alone. (I have the credentials to make that statement. My last 3 jobs were in Home Health Care where the only person someone has is the PSW we just cancelled on them for the sixth night in a row due to lack of staff)

You don’t know!

You don’t know why I’m on a limited budget.

It’s because I cannot work, due to the special needs of my two daughters who are in and out of appointments, doctors, counselors, etc.

You don’t know why I can’t use Instacart.

It’s because I cancelled my regular bank account that costs money, and switched to a free online bank that’s doesn’t provide a visa debit card.

It’s because my “credit card” is reloaded by my bank account and is considered prepaid and Instacart does not accept that.

It’s because I have a MasterCard that I cannot afford more than the minimum payment right now, because it takes too long for the payment to post, and when I get money, I need it today, not next week.

You don’t know why Click and Collect doesn’t work for me.

It’s because I don’t drive, I use a bus. Click and Collect would be the exact same thing as me going on the bus to the grocery store to shop myself. We are still exposed.

The fact is that you don’t know shit all about any other person who is in that grocery store with you.

Do you honestly think us single parents WANT to risk our kids lives? Do you think we enjoy it?

I can tell you I sat here for 4 days last week, without a couple essential items, having horrific anxiety about the judgmental people in the aisles of my local No Frills (grocery store).

I see you staring at me and rolling your eyes. I hear the whispers about having my children with me. We all see it. We all hear it.

It’s high time all you judgmental Joanna’s grow up.

The pandemic isn’t the worst thing in the world right now – it’s the crappy people. The people saying crappy things because they are bored at home. Get a damn hobby that doesn’t make another human being want to crawl into a hole and die.

You do not know what your judgments are doing to another person. I have a pretty thick skin and I’m even having breakdowns about leaving my house.

My mother tells me to get the kids out for a walk, at the very least, to keep them from tearing each other apart. How am I supposed to do that when people slow down their cars to glare at me with my children?

In one of the scariest moments of some of our lives, we are too busy treating other people like crap to focus on what is really important. It is time for us to band together as a community. We are the world and we are destroying it, one way or another.

You are a human being, and so is that single parent you are judging. The one who steps out onto her front step with her kids to go grocery shopping and the sunlight hurts her eyes from being cooped up for multiple weeks. The one who is desperate to hear the voice of another adult who lingers around the tomatoes an extra second. The same one who has to be strong and brave for not just herself, but her kids too. These same ones who have no one to help them catch a 5 minute break to be able to collect herself after her kids meltdown for the 76th time about not being able to go to the park that they can see from their bedroom window.

Stop judging other people. We are all on different walks of life and you couldn’t possibly understand another humans situation just by looking at them with their kid in a grocery store.

Enough is enough.

Be kind to one another.

Quarantine Diary #2: Sobriety in Isolation

So far the biggest struggle I am having is the ability to stay sober. I mean, it should be easy, shouldn’t it? I am self-isolating and only going to the grocery store when I absolutely need to, and not going anywhere else. I am conserving money by limiting my take-out and deliveries. So, being sober should be super simple.

Wrong.

In Ontario, they have allowed delivery services like Skip The Dishes and UberEats to offer alcohol with their meals, as well as started allowing alcohol to be purchased as early as 7 am. They have now made it 10x easier to get alcohol!

For me, that changes everything.

I am working twice as hard to stay sober now, because the temptations have now doubled. I can order fish and chips from my favorite restaurant, and it is nothing to add on a beer or two.

Now, my children are home, and I do not have the ability to send them away to their friends or grandparents house for a sleepover. I do not have the ability to visit friends where the amount of eyes on them increases, allowing me to relax a little bit. I do not have the ability to shower without worrying about them fighting or getting into things.

Recovery requires work. You will work at recovery for the rest of your life. Whether you are 30 days or 30 years sober, the temptation never truly goes away. It waits to sneak up on you.

Yes, we have crisis lines available, of course. But, us recovering addicts were also in programs, met with groups, counselors, etc. These are all things we no longer have access to.

We have to listen to people talk about how addicts are a waste in society, how unproductive we are, and more. We have to listen to how unworthy of life we are.

We get sober. We recover. We do better. We become better.

Yet, now we have to hear about how “it is not a big deal” that alcohol is becoming more and more available, and our temptations are becoming harder to subdue, by the same people who called us unworthy.

Addicts cannot win, in any situation it seems. We have been left in the dust by society to fend for ourselves.

But that is the problem, we are really do not have the options we had before, and in turn, some of us won’t make it through this quarantine.

Please, check on your sober/recovering friends and family members. They are trying to be strong and need your support more than ever.

My thoughts on gender equality

I’ve recently started following a public figure who advocates for the rights of true gender equality and she posted a video that was incredibly hard to listen to. It was a man outside an abortion clinic crying and screaming “please don’t kill our baby!” and then shots of him discussing that he took care of her other children and that he wanted to be a dad to this baby. It was incredibly heart breaking. This video and all of her social media really opened my eyes, and of course… I have an opinion! Let’s dive deeper!

Egalitarianism

e·gal·i·tar·i·an
/iˌɡaləˈterēən/
adjective
  1. relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.

Chloe Sunderland (Roma) has been advocating for true gender equality since she was a teenager. She is on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok with thousands of followers. She uses all of her social media platforms to discuss gender equality and how it’s turned from oppressing women to oppressing men. She explains that she has been friends with boys and men since a young age allowing her to see the other side of non-equality. She doesn’t just advocate for men, but also for women too, although most of her videos do discuss men’s rights (or lack thereof). Simply put, she advocates for every single human to be treated fairly.

Some of the biggest points she discusses are parental alienation, consent, and that men should be allowed to have a say in abortions.

The father of her child was abusive and she fled from him with their baby for safety. She makes it very clear that it is not parental alienation if you’re keeping your child legitimately safe. When asked how she can still advocate for men after the abuse and trauma she endured her response is simple: “I was abused by one man, not all men.”

My Thoughts and Opinions

So, for starters, I’d like to state that until stumbling upon this woman, I was completely oblivious to some of the issues that men face, because society has us believing that women are still the oppressed gender. We look at the fact there is the Me Too movement and it is to help empower women. There was a Him Too movement briefly that was meant to bring awareness to fake rape allegations. If you google the movement you can see it started in 2018 and most of the first page is all articles, also from 2018. This movement did not gain the same traction. The Me Too movement for women is still going strong.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the main aspects of what Chloe talks about:

Consent/Rape

You are all aware about consent and how it plays the most important role in sexual relations with another human. Consent is a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Meaning, you have given someone permission to touch you.

Anyone around my age (30) should remember this image:

Its a mans fault. Of cource. Well since Jake too was drunk he ...

Can you tell me what is wrong with it? Okay, I will give you a small hint – they are BOTH drunk so NEITHER of them consented. Oh, that was actually a pretty big hint. Oops.

Growing up, I saw this used in classrooms and on the internet, but I actually never stopped to think about the message behind it. This photo is stating that men rape women, not that people rape people. It states that the woman being raped is more important than if the man is. Technically, neither have given consent, so they are both equally guilty. They are not both equally innocent, however. The alcohol on both their parts does not cancel out the fact they didn’t consent in the right state of mind.

The other part of consent that I have seen discussed on her page is retroactively rescinding consent. What that means is people who have “buyer’s remorse” for a sexual encounter who then state that they were raped.

Let me break that down for you – if you consent to having sex with someone, and then you do not enjoy it (or any other reason, really), you can absolutely change your mind, and ask them to stop, even halfway through the act. However if you do not ask them to stop, or voice your withdrawal of consent, then no, it is not rape after the fact. I hope I made that as clear as possible.

The other part of this is that a lot of women claim they have been raped when they are not. Men spend years in jail to be told it never happened and they are finally believed. They do not receive any form of justice after that. In my opinion, if anyone claims they were raped, and it is determined it was a lie, they need to be jailed. It is not okay to screw with someone’s life to that extent (well, at all).

Abortions

For as long as I can remember, I have heard the phrase “my body, my choice” and for the longest time, I disagreed with that statement. I disagreed for different reasons than what Chloe preaches in her videos.

I personally believe that the “body” you are choosing to abort is not actually your own, therefor “my body, my choice” doesn’t even make sense to me. Anyone who knows me knows that I am 100% against abortions as a form of birth control. That being said, anyone who knows me also knows that I don’t judge people for it, because it really isn’t my business and at the end of the day, it doesn’t impact my life.

However, it does impact the man who got you pregnant, and that is what Chloe talks about. So many women are quick to yell “my body, my choice” when they get pregnant, and do not take the man’s feelings into consideration. Women are not the oppressed gender in this situation, whatsoever. Most women who do not want the baby, do not care if the man does because “it violates my right to carry a child for 9 months that I do not want” yet no one bats an eye at a man who refuses to be involved with a child that he very clearly stated he didn’t want. In fact, women take these men to court and take away their rights to visitation but continue to make them financially support the child, or they award them visitation and then use it against them to get more money, if they do not show up for the access visits.

Why is it acceptable for a woman to use her rights as a way to abort a baby, but a man cannot use his rights to get to keep it? At what point as a society did we determine that women were superior to men? Didn’t we spend an entire lifetime trying to tell the world that men were not superior? Didn’t we scream “gender equality!” for years? Now all we have done is flipped the power to the opposite gender. How is that gender equality?

Here is how I BELIEVE it should be in regards to abortion:

  • abortions require the signature of both the biological parents – DNA tests required to confirm parentage (there is a non-invasive method for DNA as early as 7 weeks)
  • If one parent does not consent to the abortion, the pregnancy continues, and the child is given to that parent; the parent who did not want the child signs over all rights and is no longer financially or legally responsible. (The child at 18 may choose to contact the other parent, and that is up to the parent what they want to do)
  • abortions allowed if you were raped, however a positive rape kit must be present; for men who were raped, this means that if he wants an abortion, his request trumps the woman’s, and vice versa (this also allows for more rapists to end up behind bars, because a lot of victims do not report)

Remember, these are just my own opinions and while I have others, those are the basics of how I would change the laws, if it were up to me. Please don’t come at me about “what if”, because I can assure you, I have thought of every scenario, and have an idea for what I think about handling it.

Parental Alienation

There is really only one thing to say to this… Alienating the other parent for no proper legal reason (such as safety concerns, alcohol/drug abuse, etc) makes you a shitty person. Chloe is right about that.

Before anyone jumps down my throat, let me tell you two stories, about the father’s of my children.

The father of my oldest child (we will call him Daddy #1) is not someone I hate, dislike, or even disrespect. My daughter is getting old enough now to vocalize the fact she remembers her dad and the confusion she has about him. I will explain the situation to you, the same as I did to her.

Daddy #1 is 10 years older than me. He didn’t work a fancy job, or even work a great many number of hours. He did work, however. He very rarely called in, was promoted to assistant manager after only a year, and he was mostly on time every day (it really depended on who was working before him lol). We met at this work. We split up at the end of summer in 2009 and I got pregnant a month and a half later. The day after my 20th birthday, a guy I knew from school offered to come hang out with me. He brought alcohol but he was clearly already intoxicated. I will spare the details. I did not consent. I screamed “no”. He didn’t stop. Two weeks later, after a night out at the bar, I met up with Bob and we slept together. It was a comfort measure for me; I tried to erase the trauma from two weeks previous. A month later, I was pregnant. I told Daddy #1 exactly what had happened, and left it up to him to decide if he wanted a paternity test. I told him he had no obligation to be involved if he didn’t want to. We argued a couple times about the situation, but I do not fault him. It was confusing for both of us. He decided against the paternity test and stepped up to be her father anyways. Commendable.

When she was born, he lived 5 hours away in another city. I had moved towards the end of my pregnancy back to my home town. He consented to it and we were determined to come up with a plan to make that work. He told me to go ahead and name her, not to worry about him being in the delivery room, to focus on having the baby and being with my mom. He was aware that pregnancy was not predictable and that he might not make it to the delivery room and didn’t want to stress me out. Commendable.

I named her after a mix of his mother, my mother/aunt/myself (we all share a middle name), my grandmother and her godmother. He seemed pleased with the name and never once threw a fit about her taking my last name. Commendable.

After she was born, we made the trips to each other equally for a while – I would say . Anytime my mother was heading that way to visit her friends, we would catch a ride and stay with Daddy #1. Anytime he had the extra money to make the trip down to us, he would stay with us. At one point he moved down to where we were for quite a while, and he saw K quite often – multiple times a week. The only thing I really ever had to discuss with him was the fact he came over smelling strongly of marijuana and it bothered me. After that I moved to where he was for a little bit, before I moved to Cambridge to pursue a relationship and to get out of the small town we originally met. (There were a lot of issues in that town and with that town).

I made it clear in all my relationships that I will not shut down this avenue for my daughter, and if the only thing stopping him from visiting is a place to stay, he could sleep on my couch. After I had K, I dated 3 people before C’s dad. The first was a guy I went to school with and I ended up breaking up with him while visiting K’s dad, because he decided to make a production about me being there, instead of in town for his birthday. K was less than a year old when this happened. Sorry, my kid seeing her dad comes first. I did not and do not feel bad about ending this relationship, even now. The following two relationships were with lesbian women. They were very defensive. Both continuously questioned my sexuality. Both had issues with our family dynamic – because yes, that is what it was. We may not have been together, but we were a family to K. That being said, he also got into a relationship with a woman and she was very insecure with our relationship as parents, as well. It was actually a nightmare, to be honest. We were the type of parents who cared about each other for the sake of our child. We didn’t talk smack about each other. We kept our private issues to ourselves.

He always made sure, from day one, that child support was paid on the 1st of the month. If he was going to be late for any reason (usually because of the way his pay cheque and bills fell during a couple months of the year) he let me know well in advance. He never left me high and dry. EVER. In fact, I could call him anytime and he would transfer extra money (loan) whenever I needed it, or he would grab diapers, wipes, or formula and tell me not to worry about it. He was very good at making sure K was taken care of, and that included making sure I was too. In fact, he was amazing with me on holidays. One mother’s day he gave me a Playstation 3 to watch movies on, and play games. He once gave me a laptop just because mine died. We were taken care of.

We of course had some issues, but at this point, I just refuse to drag him through the dirt over it – especially because he gave in, to most of the demands in the end. (For example, K being baptized – he did not want that)

Around the time I got with C’s Dad, the visits had been few and far between with Daddy #1 and K. Eventually we sat down to discuss his lack of visitation. I wasn’t able to do any of the travel at that point, and it was entirely up to him, so I was quite lax with the whole thing. But it was affecting K quite severely. She was acting out at school and at home. It was time to sit down with him and decide the best course of action. I gave him 2 choices in the end.

  1. Come around more often/be more present in her life
  2. waive is rights and allow C’s dad to adopt her

I was under the impression that adoption was the only way out of the situation because a court would still make him pay child support even if I said I didn’t want it.

After a while of discussions, he decided for K’s best interest, it would be best to walk away. He couldn’t make the trip any more than he was, and I didn’t have the means to make the trip either. We were both struggling at that point, financially. I will always respect his decision to take her best interest into consideration. I took him off child support immediately.

Now that brings us to Daddy #2 – C’s dad. I am not going to get into full details, but it was a whirlwind relationship. We got together at the end of July 2015, I got pregnant in September, we moved in together in November. Very fast. He was extremely abusive, although I didn’t realize all the red flags in the beginning. There were all types of abuse involved in the relationship. He threatened me into naming her exactly what he wanted. I got to spell it how I wanted. That’s it. He once got angry at me and forced me to put her down on the bed at 2 weeks old, spit in my face, and then refused to let me touch her for several hours. The whole relationship was traumatic, and I felt stuck for a very long time. He was charged with 3 sexual crimes against a minor from when he was 15 years old. He was acquitted and you can read the judges thoughts here. (TLDR: he wanted to convict him). I finally fled the city and moved with my kids elsewhere. I told him where, and let him believe he was giving me permission. He knows what city I am in, but nothing else.

Now, we had issues with his inability to care for the kids for a very long time. I demanded his mother supervise him, and she lied and said she would, but didn’t. He is an alcoholic and drug addict, plus the fact of him being charged. I didn’t exactly know or understand my rights to keeping them safe. So I tried to let them have a relationship despite those things, because I thought I had to. After I started realizing what my rights were, I exercised them. So his last time seeing his child was December 24th, 2018 for a total of 3 hours.

At the end of January, 2019, K started having mental breakdowns about Daddy #2. She didn’t understand why he lied to her, didn’t want to hang out with her, didn’t love her, etc. Keep in mind, this is not her biological father, but she chose to see him as a father figure. Also keep in mind, I didn’t talk shit about him to the kiddos. I let them make up their own mind – again, because I thought I had to. These breakdowns were based on her own thoughts and opinions. I had to call a crisis line for her twice. So I told him he wasn’t allowed to see them for a while. C was starting to misbehave worse at home too, because he refused to be on the same page as me, with her. So I halted visitation with both kids for their mental health.

Contact dwindled. He messaged me last March 24 2019, and I moved March 31st. On April 22nd, 2019, my best friend passed away. I called him, out of habit, and he didn’t ask about the kids. In fact, he only talked about himself and how my best friend hated him. I did not hear from him again until January 6 2020. He messaged me on Google Hangouts to demand to see the girls and he threatened me with court if I wasn’t willing to discuss it. I ignored the message. Two weeks later he messaged again, and stated he tried every number he knew and that he was waiting for a response. I did not respond.

I choose to keep my kids safe, and I will not be allowing visitation of any kind. I will be settling it in court. He has not paid child support since the beginning of March. In fact, I don’t even want his money, I just want him to go away. The girls are clearly better off.

So as you can see, I have two very different situations, and in both, I did everything I could (even against my better judgment) to try and allow relationships with my kids and their biological father’s. Neither of which are parental alienation. I never believed Daddy #2 to be capable or responsible enough to be a parent without me, but I wanted her, so I chose to keep her.

If you are in a situation where your children are truly in jeopardy of any kind, and you choose to keep them safe, that is not parental alienation. However if you cancel visits due to missing child support payments, jealousy, or anger.. that is in fact parental alienation, and that is NOT okay.

Conclusion

I truly believe that equal rights needs to mean equal rights for all. It does not mean giving one gender or the other more power, freedom, or rights than the other. Even though it is probably not something I will see in my lifetime, I do hope one day, that men and women will be seen as equal, on all levels.

I need it to be clear here that while I am new to the whole egalitarian scene, I am not against it in any way. I truly believe that women are no longer the oppressed gender, especially now after really taking a look into all of Chloe’s social media, reading the comments, looking at articles, etc. I really suggest you check her out and start looking into it yourself.

I would love to continue to look at this further and continue to discuss it on my blog, as my research progresses. I urge my readers to reach out to me – both genders – and let me know some of the issues you face as a man or woman based solely on your gender.