In single parenting, organization is key


I have taken a hiatus from this and my other blog because, quite simply, there wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. I used to be highly organized, and in some parts of our lives, I still am; but that organization fell apart a bit last March and I’ve only just recovered.

In the last month, I renegotiated our tenancy, worked on a few translations and one narration, helped out a friend in her business (although that was unremunerated, for love of friendship), tried to give Darling Daughter a last hurrah for summer vacation (which she has patiently spent tagging along with me as I ran around, looking for support to help us pay some bills, rent, etc. – this has been one heck of a difficult year!), and planned lessons for the two community college courses I was going to be teaching (and which were to be our salvation, at least for the Fall semester) which I only days ago found out were cancelled because of low enrollment. I had been feeling completely unproductive, as though I’d been running around without truly accomplishing anything or even living, but writing down this list of recent accomplishments has helped me to see that I’ve been truly busy…no wonder I feel so tired!

It’s the single parent’s lot, to feel like we are constantly running out of gas, out of energy. However, it wasn’t always like this for me. With a bit of creative organization – and very few deviations from The Master Plan – all of us Maddies can not only feel that we accomplish what we need to do, but also have a little bit of free time, to blog, or take a nice, long bath!

Two parent families do not have it easy nowadays, but, with two adults there is a division of labor that is simply not available to single parent households. Where two parent families can schedule and do things in parallel, a single parent is almost always forced to do the same things sequentially. This implies more time spent driving to and from appointments, more time spent at appointments (even if you have the luxury of scheduling appointments for ALL of your kids on the same day, at the same place), more time spent documenting, planning and scheduling…well, if you’re a Maddie (a Mommy and Daddy in one), you know what I’m talking about; if you’re not a Maddie, well, you get the picture. Essentially, being a single parent means most things take longer than for most two parent families. This is why success in single parenting boils down to one key element: organization.

The next few posts in this blog will be about organizing your life and planning in advance for unpredictable, improbable – but not impossible – situations.

Galanolefki – Unveiling the New Maddie Flops’ International Collection


Hello to all!

We have just decided on our first true flip flop design collection! It’s called the International Collection, inspired by the flags, foods, and fun of the countries of our world! Just because DD (Darling Daughter) and I can’t travel as much as we’d both like doesn’t mean we can’t give our feet a treat…and, now, so can you!

The first country that inspired us is Greece; so we started the galanolefki or kianolefki line. The former has been inspiring DD for a while now, thanks to myths and adventure tales both ancient and new, photos from my pre-DD trip to Greece, and, of course, all shades of DD’s favourite colour: blue – from ultramarine to azure to turquoise!

So, here’s a peek at what DD has designed and made so far, what we’re fondly calling the galanolefki (the “blue-white”) line, inspired by Greece’s flag:

Inspired by the galanolefki

If you feel inspired to order a pair, please shoot us an e-mail at theoriginalmaddie@gmail.com, include details such as colour palette you’d like (or, if you’d like one of these, simply “galanolefki” in the subject line will do!), size and quantity, and how to send you a PayPal invoice for your review. Remember that this is a 10-year-old’s cottage industry, her first entrepreneurial foray, but she is quick to fulfil orders – with a 48 hour turnaround time!

Wishing you Peaceful Parenting,

The Original Maddie! 🙂

DD (Darling Daughter) Is AWEsome!


I am in complete and utter awe of DD (Darling Daughter)! Ever since she’s been around, I cannot help but be inspired by her and grateful to the gods, God, the Universe for their gift to me. She’s always been perfectly her own age yet an old soul at the same time.

I remember when she was 2.5 or so, she got into the driver’s seat of the car and wouldn’t get out. When I finally managed to move her into the car seat, her huffy words to me were, “When I’m grown, you’re sitting in the car seat!” I loved her fierce, but moderated, display of independent spirit!

And when she was 5 years old, the Electra Complex showed itself quite clearly again (remember, as a Maddie, DD did not have a father for whom to compete with me, so that it manifested vis a vis my profession is pretty telling!). I was teaching at Salem State College (now “University”) at the time and had to bring her with me to one class meeting, as I had no care. Until that time, she had come with me on occasion to the high school where I taught, and she even “co-taught” a 10 week Spanish course with me at her preschool. But, I didn’t even think about that as we drove up to the campus and I set up for class. My expectation was that she would sit at a student desk and draw, colour, or read. Her expectation proved to be quite different. She kept coming up to the front, trying to help out, and I kept sending her back to the student desk, rebuffing her gently (I thought)…after all, my college students were paying for my expertise as a professor; I couldn’t have them taught by a 5 year old! So, I didn’t understand at all why my DD was smoking mad as we wrapped up and got back into the car to drive home. Indeed, she was so angry as she climbed into her car seat that she couldn’t speak to me or even look me in the eye. Perplexed, I sat in the driver’s seat and, looking at her in the rearview mirror, asked, “What’s the matter, ciccina?” Finally, she mustered a clenched answer: “When I’m a grown up, Salem State is going to want me and not you!” It was all I could do not to laugh out loud, so serious was she. But I smiled and answered, “I’m sure that will be true very, very soon, my love!”

Truer words were never spoken, for every day I realise just how talented DD really is…and I’m constantly amazed that I made her! And so far, I haven’t wrecked her…that’s the best part, the testament to the one tenet I had established for myself as a parent in the early days of my pregnancy: as long as I can see her for who she is, and not for whom I want/wish her to be, and as long as I don’t ruin the core of her, I’ll have done a good job as a parent, and, especially, a Maddie. We’ve almost made it through ten years and I think I can breathe a sigh of relief about her on the cusp of pre-teendom; I think I can honestly say I’ve been a good (not great, for I’ve had my moments, let me tell you!) parent so far, through all the ups and downs (and I pat myself on the back – because, after all, who else is going to pat me on the back?!).

DD is talented at all things creative and athletic: swimming, viola, drawing, dancing, story telling. Her drawing in particular has always attracted attention. Indeed, at age 3, she drew a picture of herself, my mother (a huge influence in our lives) and me – shown at right – that was pdg (pretty darn good)! 

Now age 10, her drawing has matured as well as her entire Self and, as you can see from the above Salem State anecdote, I’ve learned to consistently involve her even in my professional activities. She has seen me writing posts for this Maddie endeavour; she has waited patiently for dinner as I carved out my thoughts from beginning to end, read other blogs, researched a topic, or set up the Facebook page, Twitter account and e-mail, etc. I thought, then, it would be fun to do this Maddie thing together, since, after all, we are in life together! She’s recently become interested in drawing animé, so I’ve asked her to create her animé imagining of a Maddie, a mommy and daddy in one, that fits for both single moms and single dads – an “everyMaddie,” if you will.

I was breathless when I saw her first sketch, following the instructions in her “How to Draw Animé” book but drawn freehand, nonetheless. Here it is:

DD has a light hand when sketching so this is a bit hard to see…hopefully you can all make it out!

I am so in AWE of my AWEsome DD that I just had to share…and invite YOU to share YOUR OWN experiences of jaw-dropping, I-don’t-deserve-such-a-great-kid-but-thanks-GOD/UNIVERSE, AWEfilled and AWEinspiring moments with your DKs (Darling Kids)!

Looking forward to reading your stories, until then,

I wish you all Peaceful Parenting,

The Original Maddie 🙂

Baby Steps Into the World of Business with FABULOUS Flip Flops!


It’s time to dispel the doom and gloom of the last couple of posts (and the last – and probably next – month of our lives) and think and act pro-actively! Here’s our offering for taking positive next steps, thanks to DD (Darling Daughter)! (What would I ever have done without her in my life, my gift from God?!)

DD’s first business: selling custom-designed flip flops. INTRODUCTORY PRICE: USD $3.00 plus shipping and handling, payable via PayPal. Send e-mail with specifications to theoriginalmaddie@gmail.com! Support a young entrepreneur and her community!

DD (Darling Daughter) has a dramatic flair and, now that she’s 10 and we’re having some financial difficulties, she has decided that it’s time for her to engage in commerce. Of course, she wanted to do the traditional lemonade stand. Unfortunately, as a Maddie fighting to grow my start up in a tough economy and an industry that keeps undercutting prices (translation and interpreting/language services) while still preserving some quality of life (read as “carving out time to chauffer DD to playdates, the library, etc. and actually have a conversation with her from time to time”), a lemonade stand is too labor and time-intensive for me!

So, thanks to the many compliments we have gotten on the flip flops she made for herself and for me, together, we have come up with a different plan: designing and making pretty flip flops!

So, having identified that there is a potential market, the first step in teaching my daughter about the nuts-and-bolts of business then was this question: “How much do we need to pay for the materials?”

We immediately got to work sourcing the flip flops to use as a base for her designs and found fantastic wholesalers with a high-quality product. We did the same for the water balloons she uses to make the flops pretty.

She added the cost of the two together and then I asked her the next logical question: “Is it enough to charge customers just for the cost of materials?” Her answer was initially yes, but, after some reflection, she realized that the time it took her to make them was not being compensated. So, we came to a very simple formula: materials cost + time = retail price.

Then, of course, the next big question: “How much money will you be able to keep after you pay your Maddie back for the materials?” A discussion on profit, and, more importantly, what to do with the profit, ensued. She decided she would save the money she got to keep in order to pay for dance classes (she is really talented and loves dance and her school is both good and not super-expensive, but dance is currently high on our budget chopping block) and for next year’s school E-Camp.

But, the old hippie-born-out-of-her-time in me couldn’t help but add, “And how about giving back to your community?” She decided (with my prodding) that she would keep half of her profits and donate the other half  to a local charity, Pantry of  Hope, a local food bank in our community. (Yes, I do firmly believe in a “market globally, act locally” type of ethical business…and I’m pretty sure – though my own business hasn’t proven it yet – that that’s the way to grow a solid business. And, yes, I’m pretty sure my activist days are over but I believe in handing the torch to the next generation.)

We’ve worked things a bit backwards, however: we have a product (the pretty flip flops) that she can make independently of me, sources for materials, a designer/assembler (DD herself). What we do NOT have is a name! Can any of you help us out? We have had to rule out FunFlopz/FunFlops, Neosquash (an expression she and her friend from school made up at school), and a few others because a quick Google search determined we would be infringing at the very least on first use and, at worst, trademarks, etc.

Please comment with your ideas for a business/website/product name; rate this post; and, of course, follow The Maddie Files! (Even better, please be our first guest blogger!)

What should DD name her flip flop design business/website? Please help!

Wishing all of you Peaceful Parenting!

The Original Maddie 🙂

PS DD is selling these FABULOUS, CUSTOM-DESIGNED flip flops for the low INTRODUCTORY price of USD $3.00 per pair (plus shipping/handling via US Mail), for our WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter friends!

If you’d like to order a pair of the FABULOUS flip-flops, and support a young entrepreneur and her community, please send an e-mail to theoriginalmaddie@gmail.com or to everymom99@gmail.com. Please write “Flip flop order” in the Subject line. Also include: your flip flop size, color preference, and any preference in balloon color(s)!

Payment accepted via PayPal.

Success


“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ever since I knew my DC (Darling Child) was on its way, I have too often felt a lack of success: I couldn’t extend my maternity leave; I earned only enough on my return to pay for infant care (thank goodness my own mother could help me pick up the slack, letting us live and eat with her, rent- and board-free – in spite of the fact that she, herself, was renting); I couldn’t leave the “real” teaching job (in favor of picking up my former, highly successful interpreting career again) I had finally decided to take – even though it had become quite challenging in terms of my relationship with higher-ups – because I felt I had to be “responsible;” I was “not re-hired” from that real job – after five and a half years – and went back to editing on a contract basis for a textbook developer, only to discover that much had changed in those five and half years and no one really cared what the client wanted (I was vindicated when the publisher-client finally pulled the project from the developer – a mere two weeks before the bound book date, which is sacred in publishing; no, I am not a Cassandra!); something I did seemed to stymie my DC’s desire, at 15 months, to potty train – and delay it until the summer before my DC entered kindergarten; when we moved to a nearby city,  I didn’t transfer my DC to a new school immediately in first grade, in spite of the fact that, as an experienced educator and a parent, I knew her first grade teacher – and principal (I talked to both, and sent endless notes) – were not covering the curriculum (neither the one mandated by the state nor the one they advertised)…consequently, when she transferred from that private school to the public school in our new neighborhood, we discovered she was at least a full semester behind in math. I was making work/career missteps and parenting missteps left and right….and feeling miserable!

I got back on an even keel for a few years – another five as a matter of fact. But, now, find myself back there, feeling unsuccessful no matter how hard I try. That is, I was until I happened to pick up a copy of Tony Robbins’ Unlimited Power (I’m at the point where I’ll even read what I avoided reading/buying into in the 1980s, as the Robbins phenomenon was actually happening) and read the above quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I used to “laugh often and much;” it’s time to allow myself to do that again, to see humor in everyday situations – perhaps it’s time to start watching “I Love Lucy” episodes on Hulu or Netflix again, like we used to occasionally. For some strange (to me) reason, I do have “the respect of intelligent people” and I also have “the affection of children,” in spite of having turned into Monster Mother on two all-too-memorable and still-guilt-producing occasions. Heck, I even have the affection of the random dogs we meet on the street and the cat who likes to escape from the apartment upstairs and spray all over only my things in the small hallway leading to my apartment door. So, my heart must be pure, although sometimes my surface behaviors belie its goodness. Also for some strange (again, to me) reason, I have “earned the appreciation” and, in some cases, even friendship, of fellow parents, single and married, and have even “endured the betrayal of false friends” (that is, at that ill-fated first teaching job, my confidante/mentor/fellow teacher and my department head, the two people I trusted most, turned out to be frenemies).

I always “appreciate beauty” and I have always managed to find “the best in others,” even when they themselves could not. As a teacher, even at that first job, my students over the last ten years have always let me know that I did manage to accomplish my mission of sowing the seeds of self-confidence, love of self, and, in consequence, love of learning for the heck of it; and, I haven’t changed what is essential to my DC’s heart, soul, personhood – in spite of myself! So that takes care of the “leave the world a bit better…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”

By this measure, I am richer than Croesus, richer than any soul on Earth deserves to be. I am humbled and grateful on this first Sunday of Summer!

Please, especially if you have been feeling down lately, measure yourself by Emerson’s standard; I am sure that, like me, you will see that you far exceed the measure (and if you don’t, well – what are you waiting for?! Start laughing, loving, appreciating…take action!)! Then, feel free to share with us your own experiences and thoughts on success, as a parent, as a human being!

Until next time, I wish you

Peaceful Parenting!

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