Monday, September 15, 2014

Divorced Moms column: This single mom's version of hell? The dreaded homework packet

No joke, the number one reason I was dreading the start of a new school year? Homework! In all honesty, I hate homework! And today, I am learning to put up boundaries and say no to busy work. Does that make me a bad mom? Well if it does, too bad. My latest on Divorced Moms.

This Single Mom's Version Of Hell? The Dreaded Homework Packet
by Lizzy Smith                     
September 16, 2014
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Fotolia_52595551_XS.jpgSince school started several weeks ago, I’ve quickly come to loathe Mondays because that’s the day Siena, my third grader, comes home with her work for the week. And every time I review what needs to be done, I want to cry. I don't let Siena see my reaction but it's getting harder and harder for me to hide it. For the most part, it takes us about two hours per night (for a nine year old) to get through it all. I say "us" because there is no way she can do it all on her own.

There is a list of ten spelling words (which last week included antenna and antennae) plus five bonus words to memorize, another ten vocabulary words that I often have never heard of, 20 sentences to write, four pages of daily math pages, 30 minutes of reading, and additional worksheets that boggle my mind. Plus each Monday she must make flashcards of each vocabulary and spelling word to take with her to school the next day so the kids can work on them in class, too. The whole thing is utterly overwhelming for Siena and it breaks my heart.

Growing up, I was a good student and graduated from college and built a career. How I managed to do this without spending ridiculous hours doing worksheets and mounds of busy work I’ll never know. Because it appears these days, the mindset is that children won’t learn much unless they spend almost as much time at home working on assignments as they do during the school day. And in the younger grades, all that homework means that the parents are doing it right alongside them. Bonding? Hell no. Maybe I shouldn’t care and just send Siena to her room to do it all on her own but I don’t. Yet offering all that help isn’t always that easy because the math assignments make me want to bash my head into a wall. Case in point: Siena is working on rounding numbers. She can round every single number without a problem. But, wait, that’s not good enough. She has to map out how she got to that rounded number. I have no idea how to help her do it and she doesn’t get it either. So instead of getting perfect scores on her math tests, she’s nearly failing them.

Thanks to homework, our evenings have become dreadful. I too often ignore my 14 year old because I can’t spend hours with my younger daughter, make dinner, do dishes, put laundry away and actually talk to anyone else. As for the daughter I spend almost every minute with, it isn’t helping either. Siena too often goes to be tired and frustrated because there is no break for her. She is mentally exhausted.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tales from the (Mormon) dating trenches: Goodbye Quasi Lover

Sex and Mormons. It's an interesting mix, especially in the dating world among the devout or "one day want to be devout again, just maybe not now because I'm dating and don't know how to be celibate when dating." From my experience, there are two options when it comes to Mormons and sex, especially among men. There are those who won't have sex prior to getting married again. They want sex all the time, think about it endlessly, and act out in really odd ways because of it. They can't have normal relationships because they are afraid of the whole sex thing. And then there are those who have had sex so if they've had sex with one, they're doomed so might as well have sex with everyone. Honesty and decency is gone because, well, might as well have serial sex with lots because why not? Normal dating in Mormonville is nearly impossible (which is why avoid dating them altogether, by I digress.)

But when one is somewhat new to the dating scene, especially too many women I know who are trusting and who want a physical connection, it is too easy to assume that a decent Mormon guy is on the same page. Making that assumption is a very dangerous mistake. I've dated a bit here in Mormonville and let me tell you, honesty, decency, sex and Mormon guys just don't mix well. So as I share Abby's story, here's the lesson learned from it all: Sex is not a commitment. Assume every guy is screwing around with others so until you have "that talk" assume nothing. And, above all else, be true to yourself. Don't give of yourself until you've vetted your guy out a bit. Or, if you don't, just be prepared, sex is just sex. If that's ok with you, then go for it. If it isn't, proceed with great caution. What gets me, though, is how ordinary, boring and banal many of these guys are. And having met Chuck, I can attest that average is a very good word for him. Yet he obviously fashions himself a ladies' man. Ok, well I suppose above all else, feed that ego! Ok, here is the story from Abby....

Abby, met "Chuck" on LDS Planet. The dated a few times and she was smitten. After several dates, they had a night of passionate lovemaking. He told her that he had really awful sex in his marriage, that he had an affair while married but ended it and stayed with his wife, his entire marriage he was emotionally beaten down, and that he had slept with no one else since his marriage ended. Actually his wife had been his one and only lover, then the woman he had the affair with and then... Abby.

Hmmm.... I am so skeptical of what anyone says. In the Mormon church, men who hold the priesthood and have gone through the Mormon temple to receive their endowments most likely are excommunicated if they have sex outside of marriage. And Chuck is still very much a Mormon guy even if he doesn't go to church as often as he might if he was married. The church is still important to him, so he says. I asked Abby if Chuck felt, well, anything "big" like "Oh my gosh wow that was the best sex ever!" or "I'm stunned, I can't believe I just had sex outside of marriage I am now going to be in BIG trouble with the church" or "Ok sex means something big to me so what is this relationship" or ...

Abby said no. And I thought "guy's a liar. Be very cautious."

Silence for the next two days. Abby called Chuck. They had sex again. But the periods of sex followed by days of silence and no real dates on the horizon were just not good. Abby was confused and hurt. And then Chuck asked her for a real date on a Tuesday. He also told her that he wanted their relationship to be special. While they didn't have a committed relationship per se (it was just too soon), they had a Quasi Relationship. (Seriously, WTF. This guy had so many Bright Red Crimson Flags that I didn't know where to begin.)

Abby and Chuck met up really late on Tuesday night and he forgot his wallet at home. They got in his truck and drove back to his house. Abby waited while he went inside. And then his phone started lighting up again and again. She glanced down. Oh my, there were some major sexts there. Turns out, Chuck was having sex with at least one other woman and there was the proof. Chuck got back in the car, popped in some gum and was ready to go for a great makeout session and who knows what else? But Abby was done. "Chuck, I saw your texts and you are not a good or honest guy. I don't want to ever see you again." (If that had been me, I would have texted the girl back and said something like "hey, I'm having sex with Chuck, too, and we are on a date. Don't worry I'm going to dump his sorry ass in about 2 minutes and he's all yours. Get yourself checked for STDs because me thinks there's more of us out there being played by this deuchebag.")

Chuck was stunned. Dang, men like this hate to be called out. "If that's the way you want it," I finally stammered. Abby got out of his car and that was that. Still, she was hurt. She wrote a letter and gave it to me. She said I could publish. Here it is:

Dear Quasi Lover,

When it comes to us, we have one man being sexually gratified and one woman feeling discarded. One woman made "quasi" love to a man she was crazy about with honest good intentions.

Chuck: After our first night of lovemaking, I asked you what we had. You said that we had a quasi relationship. You made it clear that this wasn't a committed monogamous relationship. It was neither. It was just what was. (Eloquent!) Gee how I wish I had heard those words before we exchanged the most intimate form of love. I drove to your house that evening knowing full well what would happen and at that moment, if I had known what we had was only a "quasi" relationship, I would have turned my truck around. After making love for two hours, you defined it all in one word: quasi. Seemingly, apparently, but not really.

I should not let the past dictate my current decisions. I want a man who wants me sexually and I didn't want the one time fuck. I want a lover who only wants me, my body, who wants to make love again and again. I realize now that I'll never get what I want, what's most important to me, by jumping into bed with a man and just simply trusting him. Giving the man all the intimacy he wants without any of the commitment is just a one-time fuck. And I feel used. I was used. By you.

If we could only going back to enjoying a jar of pickles. To go back to the beginning before things were ruined by sex too soon. Lesson learned the hard way. I want this "quasi" cycle to end with you. Today I am making a commitment to myself: I commit to myself to never again have just sex again. It's pointless in the end and a lot like taking a hit of cocaine. I would never want to feel this pain again. I want to be free of past hurts that drive and justify. Never again.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Divorced Moms: Domestic Abuse & The Ray Rice Story: Inside the Mind of a Victim

Domestic abuse. Sigh. There's a topic that makes me want to cry. Ray and Janay Rice are the latest classic example of abuse, victim mentality, and media mayhem. How and why victims stay with their abusers and how they can possible defend the behavior is complex and varied. It makes no sense to the onlooker but yet it happens every single day. My take via Divorced Moms.

Domestic Abuse & The Ray Rice Story: Inside The Mind Of A Victim
by Lizzy Smith                    
September 11, 2014
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So Baltimore Ravens football star Ray Rice knocks his wife, Janay, unconscious in an elevator. When the door opens, he drags her limp body out of it. While the released video does not include audio, the Associated Press claims that a higher quality version shows the couple screaming obscenities at each other and Janay spitting on Ray before he punches her. The NFL suspended Ray indefinitely. End of a football career? Could be.

And where is Janay in all of this? She’s defending her husband. On Instagram, she wrote: "To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific (sic)." And "no one knows the pain that the media & unwanted opinions from the public has caused my family. [We will] continue to grow & show the world what real love is."

In March, a grand jury indicted Ray on a third-degree aggravated assault charge. A simple assault charge against Janay for attacking Ray was dropped. The two were married the day after the incident occurred (that’s no typo!). A few months later, they spoke to reporters at a press conference.

"I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night," Janay said. "I love Ray, and I know that he will continue to prove himself to not only you all, but the community, and I know he will gain your respect back in due time.”

As I watch and read about this story and talk about it with friends, their comments have ranged from, “Why the hell is she staying?” to “Well she did spit on him…” to “I don’t feel sorry for her. He’s hit her before and she stays so she deserves it.” Having lived and escaped an abusive marriage myself, my feelings are different. I feel deep sorrow. Because no one ever aspires to finding a husband or boyfriend that will beat her. No, it happens on accident and all too often, when it does, the victim feels defensive of anyone who criticizes her mate and powerless to leave him. It’s a very strange position to find yourself in, trust me. And it makes no sense to the onlooker, either.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Myeloma News: New drug may help treat anemia for those with chronic illnesses (like myeloma)

For my myeloma readers. My latest on One more potential breakthrough in treating myeloma, hooray! Progress, big and small, is great. Now crossing fingers that I get approved to attend the ASH conference in December to learn more.

Study: New drug may help treat anemia for those with chronic illnesses (including myeloma)

Study: New drug may help treat anemia for those with chronic illnesses (including myeloma)


We multiple myeloma patients know anemia all too well—that feeling of extreme fatigue and exhaustion when doing mundane chores, like going grocery shopping or putting laundry away, is often a struggle. When I was severely anemic, simply climbing up the few short steps from my bedroom to the kitchen left me winded and dizzy. It was an awful, debilitating feeling. The reason for feeling this way is because our bodies aren’t producing enough red blood cells to do its job properly. With myeloma, our bone marrow can’t produce new healthy red blood cells so simply increasing our iron levels isn’t a fix (like it would be in an otherwise healthier person). This type of anemia is called “anemia of inflammation.” And currently, the only way to alleviate it is to address its underlying cause, the cancer. (Of course, we all still want to treat our cancer, but finding other ways to address our symptoms is a good thing!)

But new a new option for treating “anemia of inflammation” may be on its way. It doesn’t mean this treatment will “fix” or treat the myeloma, but it may help with the anemia part of it.

An experimental drug designed to help regulate the blood’s iron supply shows promise as a viable first treatment for anemia of inflammation, according to results from the first human study of the treatment published online in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Divorced Moms column: I miss my dad! How sometimes 'moving on' just isn't an option

My latest on Divorced Moms. This one makes me sad.

I Miss My Dad! How Sometimes 'Moving On' Just Isn't An Option
by Lizzy Smith                    
September 08, 2014
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My 14 year old daughter, Morgan, and I got into a huge argument a few nights ago. She accused me of being an endless nag. I accused her of being a self-entitled, spoiled, ungrateful child. And it just went downhill from there. Until she started sobbing, “Mom, I just want a dad. I miss my dad so much. It hurts.” And it was that gut-wrenching sob that no mom ever likes to hear.
My heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. Does anything hurt a divorced mom more than those words? I’m not sure anything quickly comes to mind. I started crying. I talked her into sleeping with me that night and she did. We stayed up way too late talking, and this was good.
“You have no idea how badly I wish things were different, honey. I wish I could change it but I can’t. I wish I had made a better choice when picking men. I am so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault. I just miss him,” she said.
I know. I see it in her eyes. It’s been really intense lately, those memories of Daddy. While she saw the horrific fights and felt the effects of living in in an alcoholic home, Daddy was the fun one. He expected nothing of substance from any of the children, like doing homework and chores around the house. He was always about fun, going fishing and to Sea World, staying up late, and throwing family parties.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The importance of support and my latest take via Divorced Moms

Today's column has everything for the myeloma community, divorced moms, community, and single mom community!

So it's been four days since catching the flu and I still can't kick it. I eat. My stomach hates me for it. I get up an run and errand. I don't like that either. I can't stop sneezing. I really jinxed myself on this one. The night before I got sick, I told my mom, "It's been three months since I've been sick. This is amazing." As soon as I said it, I knew I made a mistake. When I went to bed, I thought that the worst thing that could happen would be for me to get the stomach flu the next day, which is the same day as my big interview. And guess what? I got the stomach flu the next day, the same day as my big interview. Geez, thanks Stars Up There!

So about the interview. Huntsman has developed a new drug to help stop the side effects from Velcade, like low platelet counts. There is a company in Florida that produces health segments for news programs. They produce, bundle them, sell them to news channels big and small. This is one of them. When my segment will be complete (shouldn't be too long) and who will use it, we will see. But I will keep you posted! There's lots more on my latest Divorced Moms column below. Tomorrow, Jenny and I give a presentation at BYU about myeloma. Community outreach is good.

(Side note: Today is Siena's birthday. She is nine years old. We are going to her favorite restaurant, Tipenyaki, for a late lunch, then having the family over for cake. Her party is on Friday. I am taking five of her besties to get manis/pedis/hair/makeup done and then to dinner. Cute.)

Happy Sunday and happy reading my latest Divorced Moms column about the importance of a support structure. I know all too well we can't got it alone. We need family, friends, neighbors... whatever it takes! (And they need us! Reciprocation is good.)

5 Tips For Creating Your Single Mom Support Structure
by Lizzy Smith                    
September 05, 2014
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As single moms, it’s imperative that we have a good support group around us. Whether it’s a paid nanny, neighbors, church members, a close friend who lives nearby or, thank goodness for me, family-- that support structure is critical in navigating life solo.
So last week, I was asked to do filming for a pre-taped news segment. I woke up Wednesday morning excited and ready for the interview. Except I didn’t feel so great. I somehow managed to get dressed (yay--I picked out what I was going to wear the night prior), and do my hair and makeup. And that’s when I realized that I was getting sick. Not just “I think I might have a sore throat coming on” either. Rather, I felt dizzy and fuzzy, that awful feeling of vertigo. I was hot and clammy. I needed help and I needed it now.

A few texts later, I had the neighbors picking up my children so I could get some extra rest before I had to leave. Except I soon realized that I wasn’t capable of driving myself. I rang my dad and he drove me to the filming while I slept during the drive up. While we were getting off the freeway, I saw a billboard for hamburgers. I thought I was going to be sick. This was not a good sign.
I met up with the film crew. They had the perfect spot for the interview—it was a short walk up a trail overlooking the mountains and standing directly in the sun. I somehow made it up to that spot and while they were setting up, I had to sit on the ground. My whole world was going dark. When I stood up, I almost fainted.
“I can’t do this. I’m so sorry. Can we find some shade and maybe I can sit down while we do the interview?” I asked.

We switched to a much better area where I felt a nice breeze. Relief. I almost wanted to kiss someone but I didn't have the energy. I ran off to the bathroom twice to throw up while they set up. Not one of my better moments, to be sure. I sat down, did the interview perfectly on just one try (or at least that’s what they said!), and then we had to film me doing “stuff” for filler. I had to walk up and down stairs (I seriously hardly remember it because everything was black—I can’t believe I didn’t pass out), walk into a building and open the door, and sit on a bench while using my phone. During that last segment, I started texting myself “please hurry I think I’m dying.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Divorced Moms column: 10 Ways To Stay Cozy During Cooler Temps

My latest on Divorced Moms. Hard to believe that summer is nearly over. Dang, it's still hot outside and, yes, today I am melting. I'm actually looking forward to the change in season.

10 Ways To Stay Cozy During Cooler Temps
by Lizzy Smith
September 01, 2014
Cooler temps are on their way. So how does this divorced mom plan to stay cozy in the months ahead? I’ve already started getting ready!
  1. Heated Mattress Pad. There are few things better than getting into a warm bed. I have always used an electric blanket but one day I went to get a facial and my esthetician had a heated mattress pad and I fell in love with it. I bought one for me and one for my daughter. The heat is awesome—it’s more subtle than a heated blanket and it doesn’t feel as heavy or suffocating to me. I highly recommend one. I purchased my on Amazon for under $50.
  2. Epsom Salts and Essential Oils. 
One of the most relaxing ways to call it a night is with a hot bath. I love to read a good book, soak in some soothing scents, and get warm. So my bath routine includes a big scoop of Epsom salts along with several drops of essential oils into my bath water. My favorites are lavender, lemon, and grapefruit. They are incredibly calming to my stressed out soul. I get my salts at Walmart for just a few dollars a bag. I use Doterra oils ( because I have yet to find higher quality, more deliciously smelling options anywhere else.
  3. Diffuser. 
While I’m writing about scents, I also diffuse those same essential oils in my bedroom right before going to bed. Yum!

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