Friday, August 29, 2008

I am NOT blogging about....

Out of deference to a couple of people whom I have been emailing about those little girls, I am NOT going tell you that I found out that this piece of shit mother has another child as well. A little boy, just a year old (meaning that he and A are not quite a year apart), who is also going to be placed with this same foster mom. He has been with a family member up to this point, but suddenly they decided it was too much work and and have said they don't want him. This also goes back to my raving yesterday: how in God's name did they decide they wanted him but not the other two? Oh, yeah. Different family, different dad.

And also out of deference to those same people, I am not going to tell you that B actually let me touch her hair this morning, and tapped me on the leg when I left. I of course had to bestow kisses to A and my sweet little Owen, and both of them needed prolific hugs, but somehow that oh-so-casual tap on the leg was just as sweet to me. I am not going to tell you that Jacquie and I picked out a pair of shoes last night for A, and the sweetest little outfit for B, when we were shopping last night, nor am I going to tell you that I have already gone through some of Owen's old clothes and rooted out just a few things for Little Boy, C, who will be starting at the daycare on Monday.

I will tell you, however, that Foster Mom, T, is considering adopting the three of them. From what I understand, it is likely at this point that they will be separated; there are few families who want to adopt three kids, two of which are not yet potty trained. But T. wants them, all of them-and if there is ANY justice on the world, she will get them. She has tried to adopt several different fosters over the years, but has always been denied for one reason or another-at the last minute, a willing (if not particularly able!) family member has popped up, or the state has decided to give mom one more chance...but let hope that in this instance, things go right and T gets them.

And that's really all I am not going to blog about today. I had a meeting in another town for work this morning to go over some changes to their policies, and it was actually quite fun. The Marketing Director is about 60 years old, and did this really funny skit involving an eagle costume, a stainless steel egg timer, and a flashlight, and then we all went out for lunch. Consequently, I am in the midst of a carbohydrate induced coma, and my creative juices are all being used to digest my lunch. Keep good thoughts in your head for T and those three babies; C is supposed to be dropped off tonight, so they will have the long weekend to start adjusting, and I will get to meet him on Tuesday. I will be sure to not blog about him, too.

P.S. I love you, XBOX!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

There Will Be Time...

Talk about a knife to the heart; that little girl? The one about which I wrote on Monday? We'll call her A. Now when I drop Owen off at daycare, she comes running up to me to be picked up. Also, this morning when I was kissing Owen goodbye, she cried out, "Me, too! Hug!' and I had to go back in and give her a kiss and a hug. Her sister, whom I will call B, has the most beautiful brown, nappy hair I have ever seen in my life, and gorgeous brown eyes, and the sweetest, most delicate pierced earlobes you can imagine, finally smiled at me today, and told me that she snapped her pants up all by herself.

Yesterday, Jacquie was making some toast and I was wiping Owen's disgusting nose and B, who is, I think, 4, was kind of wistfully looking at us and said, "My mom never feeds me." And I did not stop to think that she was talking about her mom, not her foster mom, so I was kind of teasing her saying, "Oh, she never feeds you? Never, ever? I don't believe that for a minute!" She looked hurt, and only later did it occur to me that maybe her mom really DIDN'T feed her. She certainly doesn't look undernourished now, but they have been with their foster mom for about 6 months, so the most obvious affects would have been alleviated with good care.

I have found out a little bit more, too, not about the circumstances of them being taken away but what has happened in the ensuing months. Parental rights are in the process of being terminated, which has to be done before the children can be adopted. Mom is fighting the termination-but for only one child. She only wants B; she has said, "I won't fight the termination for A if you will let me keep B," as if A is some sort of bargaining tool. T, the foster mom, said that the fact that she actually suggested such a thing is simply more proof that she is unfit, and helps the termination proceedings greatly.

I keep thinking about this, in fact am obsessing about it a little bit. I cannot imagine how a parent can choose one child over another. I cannot imagine looking at my four children and saying, "Okay, I want you and you, but you other two have to go." The damage that would do to ALL of the children would be lifelong and devastating. In trying in vain to understand this, I thought back to my very, very worst moments of hating my ex-husband SO much that if I saw him on the street I probably would have run him over without a second thought. I thought of my sweet Sam, who looks EXACTLY like his dad save hair and eye color, and cannot imagine taking out my hatred of his father on him. It just-I don't get it. How can anyone, no matter what water is under the bridge, no matter what heinous things have occurred at the hands of the father, hate the child (I am not talking about the products of rape or incest, as that is a different situation and one in which I think abortion makes complete sense)? God, I am not naive; I know that things like this happen all too regularly. Mom makes poor decisions and sometimes doesn't even know who the father is, then chooses to continue the pregnancy for whatever reasons, and then? Abandonment and heartbreak for the kids follow. I don't get it, I really don't.

And I don't WANT to get it. I want exactly what I have: four kids from three different fathers (which isn't as careless as it sounds, believe me!), four kids whom I adore and cherish in their own right. Regardless of who donated the sperm, they all share a common thread and that is ME. How can I love one more? I abhor Sam's dad and I love Owen's-but I could no more pick one of them than I could cut off one of my arms.

Either Dingo or JT commented on my earlier post (sorry, too lazy to go back and check the comments to see which one, plus hey, who couldn't use a little shout-out?) about how maybe it is time for a career change, and mentioned something about Social Work and advocacy, and yes, I have thought about it. I went back to college at age 30 and Social Work was my ultimate goal. However, I found that going to school full-time (which I HAD to do in order to qualify for financial aid) and working full-time and being the single mom of three was too much for me, and I made the choice to stop going after three semesters. I know, I know, lots of other single moms go on to get their degree, my dear April being one of them, but at that time in my life, it just wasn't something that I felt like I could do. And now, with a toddler at home again, I know that until he starts school I can't even think about it. Not if I want to be the kind of a mom I AM.

However, it isn't just about the whole getting a degree thing-it's about knowing that right now, my focus has GOT to be on my own kids. I can feel for and want to help and get angry on behalf of the millions of neglected and unwanted kids in the world. I can (and often do, until I have to force myself to go on a media hiatus or plug my ears and sing Jesus Loves Me if someone starts talking about it) cry over the terrible things that happen on a daily basis, I can rant and rave about how we are a nation who does not give a fuck about our kids but would much rather fund a war to help a country who doesn't want help anyway. I can expend a ton of emotional and physical energy on trying to fix this problem, but at this point in time, I can't do anything tangible to help. I cannot sacrifice my children to attain some lofty goal of curing society's ills. Because if all of my focus is on saving the world, who will save my children?

I leave you with this poem. A poem that in the dead of night has given me the strength to go on when I have questioned and wondered what happened to all of my dreams and ambitions. When I have been crying and heartbroken because this is not what I imagined my life to be, this poem has reminded me that having children is only temporary, and there is time. Time to enjoy and love and cherish and raise kids who will have an impact on the world, and time, later to make my own.

There Will Be Time
There is time still
for sitting in cafes in Paris
sipping wine.
Time still
for going to meet
the guru.
There is time still.
Now I am caring for eternity.
Carrying bodies soft with sleep
to beds of flowered
quilts and pillows.
Answering cries deep out of
nighttime fears.
Buckling shoes.
Opening doors.
My soul now is dwelling in
the house of tomorrow.
Tomorrow there will be time
for long leisurely conversations,
for poems to write,
and dances to perform.
Time still.
So I surrender now
to them and this,
knowing it is they
who will teach me
how to do it all.

Peggy O'Mara

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In Which I Step Away From The Edge

April tagged me for a 10 Things meme awhile back, and I obviously haven't gotten to it yet; I joked, because I just finished my 100 Things post a little while back and surely there aren't 10 MORE things about me? Still-since I find myself endlessly fascinating and believe in my heart-of-hearts that you do, too, I will do this one as well.

1. If I won the lottery, I will be the first person to admit that you bet your ass it would change me. I believe I would become much more generous and kind, for one thing; I know SO many people whom I would like to help, but can't due to my own lack of resources. And as much as I love my job, you can also bet that I would not be working full-time any longer. I have hear some people say that they would help out their family, but nah, I wouldn't. I WOULD put some money is a trust fund for my sister's kids, but I wouldn't be paying off mortgages or giving anyone a lump sum. Too much water under the bridge. I would, perhaps, pay for a family vacation, so long as I wasn't expected to go.

2. The word "anywho" or any derivative thereof? Makes me want to barf. Come on, people, not only is that not even a real word, but it makes you sound illiterate and ignorant. And it isn't cute, either, or funny. Much like my use of profanity, I am sure. :)

3. I see kids sucking on their mittens in the winter and it makes me get chills and hurts my teeth. Even right now as I am typing this, I have the mental image of a kid sucking on a mitten and it hurts. I have no legitimate reason for this, it just makes me cringe.

4. Women who say things like, " I don't know, I will have to talk to my husband first" when confronted with making a decisions I can understand if you are making a huge purchase or deciding to take gramps off of life support, but otherwise? Grow a sac already and stop being such a pussy. You women give other women a bad rep.

5. Even though I love God and try to do what He tells me to do (often kicking and screaming all the way), church bores me out of my mind. I find it very nearly impossible to feel close to the Big Guy when I am nodding off and wondering if the couple in front of me did the wild thing last night or why-oh-why doesn't that parent stop the booger-eating-kid from crawling under all of the pews? I used to love the Assemblies of God church because even though it was kind of strange and sometimes freaky, it was NEVER boring.

6. Consequently, even though we talk about God and pray every night and live a pretty "good" life, I have a hard time telling my kids they HAVE to go to church. Because if I tell them they have to go, then I also have to go, and-well.

7. Mr. Lady invited me to a potluck awhile back, and I am still in fucking awe at how she described me. The woman is a freaking genius. I like to hear how other people think of me (unless it is negative, because then I will write them off and pretend I never knew who they were. Because I am that good. And does sarcasm and self-denigration come across in the written word?), because very often they have an insight I don't, and it is pretty cool to see.

8. I got a new button there on the right side of the page. I am hoping that it will help fund my trip to BlogHer next year, but I have only made something like, oh, 4 cents. Still, I am hoping to be able to go and meet April. I already told her my two criteria: we have to share a room and I will not clean up puke if she gets all liquored up and sick.

9. I finally pulled my bed out for the first time since the CSG incident; despite the irrationality of my fears, they were still there. But then the big old Harley jumped up on the bed next to, and armed with the dog and the pepper spray and the two bats and the phone and my cigarettes in case I needed to have a quick puff or ten to calm my nerves, I was able to sleep.

10. Despite my intelligence, I am sometimes really, really slow on the uptake. This morning, looking across the street at the cops washing their cars (because they don't have anything better to do, like walk over here and give me the fucking paperwork for the Last Call Trace, but that is a story for another post entirely), I noticed that there were two big black signs on the garbage Dumpster that said, "POLICE." I puzzled over that one because why would they need to mark the dumpster? Is it really likely that someone is going to sneak off with the dumpster in the middle of the night, which would require the police to do a yard-to-yard search in the daylight and they would recognize the dumpster because it is marked? But then I realized that they were the magnetic signs that were taken off of the police car while they were washing it.

There you have it; another 10 things that surely you could not have lived without knowing about me. I had three or four other posts in mind, and they are sort of percolating in the old brain today and may or may not show up another day. For today, for this moment, I am still looking over the edge, and these silly little things somehow keep me from jumping (metaphorically speaking, guys, don't call the loony bin just yet). The small things, indeed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Black Abyss Beckons

Another self-pity kind of day here, and I am trying really, really hard to pull myself out of it. Taken as a whole, I have a pretty good life, and I know that. All of the kids are healthy and happy, school started without incident yesterday (nobody missed the bus or forgot their backpacks or anything of that ilk), we got the dog we wanted and Eli also got another pup, we have great friends, I love my job...the list goes on. So I hate it when even though I can acknowledge how many really great things I DO have in my life, I still sometimes feel like I am just too tired and beaten down to keep moving forward. Today is one of those days.

Steve and I got into a huge fight last night. Huge. One of the biggest ones we have had. See, he was complaining about how 15% of his check is now being garnished because of some student loans that he has never paid. And I laughed; inadvertently, without meaning to cause a fight, I laughed. Because I make half of what he does, there are five of us and I don't get any financial help from anyone but him, and 25% of each of my checks is currently being garnished because of a bill of my ex-husband's. In addition, I do not have a mother who packs my lunch every day, buys groceries for me, helps me out when I am short because I spend too much money on crap, etc...So yeah, I laughed, because he was trying to play this sympathy card that just doesn't work for me. He also complained about the fact that he has to pay the car payment-which we agreed to in lieu of child support, as it benefited us both more to do it that way than to have him ordered to pay child support. I made a comment to the effect of him really getting off easy, at which point he blew. Totally and completely blew.

And while my rational mind kind of understands why he might feel like he is being shafted, I guess I really don't. Using the Child Support Calculator for my state, his actual ordered support would be $415, plus he would also be ordered to provide his medical insurance, approximately 85% of medical costs not covered by insurance, as well ad 85% of the daycare for Owen. Adding it all up, it comes to $705 a month. So yeah, just looking at the the numbers on paper, I would have to say that he is getting off easy, financially. Add to this the fact that he has purchased a case of diapers three times in over two years, bought clothes one time (and actually, his sister bought the clothes, he just picked them out), and paid part of one doctor bill when Owen had to go get allergy tested at 8 months old. The bill which was still almost $500 AFTER insurance, the bill I am still making payments on because he paid less than $100. So, yeah, I would say that financially, he IS getting the better end of the deal.

He also brought up the fact that he has to ask permission every time he want to take Owen, that I won't let him have Owen overnight unless he is staying somewhere with a family member, he "never" gets to see Owen, and maybe he should take me to court to get custody. And that just broke my heart and made me angry both. He hasn't stopped to think that the REASON I put the no-overnight-limits on his visits is because last time he had the kids-my other three included-overnight while my dad was in the ICU in another town, he got totally fucking drunk and some really, really awful things happened. I don't let him take him overnight because I don't trust him to not drink, or have his PO stop by the house and do a search and maybe arrest him, or pass out and leave Owen running around with no supervision or care. In addition, Steve can see Owen pretty much whenever he wants to on his days off; 90% of the time he chooses to ignore the opportunity to spend time with Owen and instead goes and visits his family or goes four wheeling or whatever it is that he does. And God knows I understand the need/desire to have time to do what you want to do, but don't then tell me that I am not letting you see your son. Just-don't.

I don't have the energy for this kind of hassle. I just don't. And I am so angry and hurt that he is only thinking in terms of money, as if he should be considered some fucking hero for shelling out $465 a month. In the meantime, in addition to the things I provide for Owen on a financial level like, oh, diapers and food and daycare and clothes and such, I provide everything for that baby. Everything. I am the one who gets up with him, who takes him TO the doctor, who nurses him when he is ill, who is in the process of disciplining him and potty training him. What I get are comments like this: "Why doesn't he know his colors yet?" instead of, "How nice that you have taught him to say thank you every time you give him something, or say please every time he asks for something." I get the, "He is two, shouldn't he be potty trained by now?" instead of "Wow, he is sleeping in a big boy bed and drinking out of a real cup!" And yet he isn't there to help, or to be part of the process, through choices of his own.

I think one of the things that made Steve the angriest last night was that after a point, I said, "I am not going to fight with you about Owen anymore. I am just NOT, because it only hurts Owen in the the long run. If you don't agree with the way things are, then you can take me to court and I can explain to the judge why you can't be trusted. And I can have child Support Services order child Support from you and I can make the car payment myself. But I am not going to let you try to make me feel guilty or responsible for your poor choices." For him, part of the fun is getting a reaction out of me, and when that stopped happening (to my credit, I think I only called him a a fucking dick once before I calmed down!), what was the use?

I still went to bed in tears last night, though, and today don't really feel much better. It shouldn't have to always be a battle. I shouldn't have to explain to a nearly 40 year old man that these are natural consequences to his choices, nor should I have to explain that his child support-be it in the form of making the car payment or a cash payment-is not about him giving something to me, but about him helping to support this child. I should not have to question my decisions or my parenting or the choices I have made, because he clearly doesn't have what it takes. And on a far deeper level, I should NOT have to be doing this alone, but due to the fact that he woke up one day-quite literally-and decided he no longer wanted to be in a relationship with me, I AM. I told you all I am whiny today, but it isn't fair, and it fucking sucks. I just feel myself being sucked back into a depression again, and I am trying desperately to pull myself out of it-because I hate self-pity, and I know that there is nothing I can do or say to make Steve have a different attitude. Nothing.

So. Always something, right?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Not Just a Crush

I fell in love this morning; completely, totally, head-over-heels in love. This isn't just a passing infatuation or a school-girl crush, but the real thing. And it is not with a male, but a female, which totally goes against the grain for me. Just totally. But this girl, oh. If you could SEE her, you would know exactly what I am talking about, and the line would be forming to become the object of her affections.

The problem? She is 18 months old. Jacquie (daycare provider/close friend extraordinaire) has a new family, though it isn't a family in the "traditional" sense of the word. Mom is actually not mom, but a foster mom, so "her" children come and go fairly regularly. Right now she has a 5week old baby who is going to be adopted by a family member, and they are just waiting for said family member to be fingerprinted and have a background check so she isn't going to be there long. And then there are two little girls, sisters, one black and one white, and it was the youngest one with whom I fell in love. She isn't especially pretty, but very compelling. And I was talking to her, telling her how pretty she is and just talking like you do to little ones, and she ran up to me and lifted her arms toward me, asking to be picked up. Of course I did, and she just grabbed on and laid her little head on my shoulders as if she belonged to. I stood there and held her with Owen looking on in disgust, crying-because how can anyone give his up? How can anyone deny this little girl (and her sister, who is as cute as cute can be, but also much more standoffish; she has reason to be wary of adults, I am sure!) the love and caring she so deserves, and obviously craves?

I can't pretend to know anything about their circumstances, or why they were taken from their mother and are now in foster care hoping to get adopted. But I have been around long enough to know that for parental rights to have been terminated, things had to have been pretty bad. They have been with this foster mom for about 6 months or so, which is GOOD ( I know this mom, and she is SO great!), but it just sucks that their little lives have already been in such turmoil.

God, I want her. Them. I know myself well enough to know that for a million and one reasons, it is neither possible nor practical, and that it is at this point in my life not even something I should be thinking about, wistfully or otherwise. I am also self-aware enough to know that I am a caretaker and I want to save everyone, and that my emotions were heightened this morning by the fact that school started and not one of my kids needed me to go in with them-they are outgrowing me, and of course that is bittersweet. So yeah, I am not stupid, I understand about transference and the desire to replace the children growing away with younger ones in order to feel loved and needed. I also know that I am struggling with the knowledge that Owen is, in fact, the last child I will ever have. So many different things combined this morning to contribute to this feeling!

It is strange, though, to be so drawn to a child, and equally strange to have one so drawn to me. I don't as a rule enjoy other people's children, and though I talk to them when I drop Owen off, it is NOT in my nature to want to pick them up. In fact, Owen has been going there for over a year and I can say with certainty that I have never picked up a single child there. So this little chickadee has something special, and I hope there is someone out there who sees her and her sister and falls in love just like I did. I hope there is someone out there who takes one look and decides to move heaven and earth to get these girls, to give the baby some love and to help that haunted, distrustful look to fade from the older one's eyes. I hope....

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Fat Cop is in Trouble!

Before you read any further, please know that it was a false alarm. We think.

We have replaced both dogs that were stolen, with the dog about which I blogged yesterday (though I found out two rather annoying traits about Harley-she has no compunction about walking up to Owen and very delicately taking whatever type of food he might be holding in his hand, AND this morning Owen pooed on the floor we are beginning potty training thankyouverymuch and before I could get the cleaner she had cleaned it up for me. With her tongue) and the 6-ish month old mutt that Eli procured. My baby is an inside dog, mostly, and his little girl is an outside dog, mostly. Sweet little thing, quiet, already fetches, good dog. So last night at about 11:30, she started barking. It started out sporadically, and I thought, "Oh, great, we have a barker!" but then increased in both volume and urgency until it made me nervous; keep in mind that until then I had not heard a single peep out of her. Not even a whine. So by that time my baby was up and pacing and whining, Hannah was up, and we were creeping around our house with our bats and pepper spray like crazy-ass Ninjas. Then we both saw a flash of light that looked like a flashlight, so I said to hell with it and called the cops. They were already in the area so even while I was still on the phone with dispatch, the first car arrived, and within minutes two more had gotten there.

Turns out it was my neighbor coming home from work late. It was his dome light that Hannah and I both saw, and the poor man was just getting out of his car when the cop came and spotlighted him and ran his plates and stuff (that'll teach him to not trade in his car on something different, as we all knew the old car!). They very thoroughly checked everything out, and did not at all make me feel like an idiot. Also, one of the guys responding actually knew what was going on, so I didn't have to go through the whole story again. The other one with him did not-he has been on vacation and was told a little bit about it as they were responding to the call, but did not know any more than the basics. So we were talking and I told him that I was really reluctant to call and report anything after the last contact I had with the police when I got the threatening call, and BOTH their ears perked right up. "WHAT threatening call?" they both said, so I told them about the verbal threat AND the hang-up, and how the policeman who came to "take my report" was such an ass, and on and on. The one guy listened very closely, asked me when he came to the office and what he looked like and which car he drives, etc...(I hope it doesn't count against me that I said ,"Well, he isn't as old as I am but isn't as young as you guys, he is tall and fat and looks stupid..") And then the one said, "Well, I am the shift supervisor and this WILL be addressed. He never even made a report on this and since this is an ongoing investigation, EVERYTHING needs to be put on a report." He also 'fessed up and said that the reason he didn't know anything about the situation was because he got back from vacation and didn't read the back reports like they are supposed to-he gets major brownie points for honesty and accepting responsibility.

Sorry-I digress. Turns out that talking to the phone company is NOT, in fact, my responsibility (even though I did find out yesterday that there is a way to do it, for a fee, and the trace is forwarded to law enforcement), that Fat Fuck should have gone right to the phone company and apprised them of the sitch, as well as given me paperwork to fill out that would authorize my phone records to be turned over to the police. That's it. No song and dance, no major courtroom drama (and who, I might ask, is the one who watches too much TV? Not me, that is for damn sure!) debating the legality of it, just-paperwork. Young Cop said that even if the phone company policy requires a subpoena, it is just more paperwork. They are going to be bringing by some forms for me to fill out today, and will beef up patrols again in the 'hood over the weekend just in case it WAS CSG. Both assured me, though, that our area is still being patrolled more regularly than in the past, they are just going to up it a little more.

And hey guys, I might talk all tough on the blog, and I know I was all like, "I am not going to call the cops for anything anymore because they don't do anything," and I think it was Mr. Lady who told me to suck it up or something to that effect, and I listened. Because you are all right, it is foolish and stupid of me to take one bad experience with one ignorant policeman and let it make me refuse to call. It does me nor my kids any good to take the old-West attitude that I can do it myself. I can't; I am tough and mean and could maybe, just maybe kick some ass if necessary, but in this case? I cannot defend my entire family on my own, and I am no longer going to feel too embarrassed or foolish or hysterical to call the police if I need to. With any luck, I won't need to again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Topicless Post

I got a new bra. Well, I got a new to me bra-so yeah, I am so wearing someone else's undergarments. But she JUST bought it, after having been fitted for it and everything, got it home and wore it once and couldn't stand it. So she washed it and passed it on to me. I am glad-I love it. I am wearing a white t-shirt today and damn, my boobs look GOOD, if I do say so myself. I HATE shopping for bras-I always end up in tears because nothing ever fits right, or they are old-lady bras, whatever. So this one I got is wonderful; I love it. It FITS! So I go look online and of course the ONE bra that I have found that I REALLY like costs $50.00. Life is so not fair.

And speaking of boobs and life being unfair: if I won the lottery, one of the first things I would do would be to make an appointment to get a reduction. Seriously. But I have never, ever once heard a man complain because his junk is too big. Or that he would just lop off a couple of inches if he could afford to. God has a freaky-ass sense of humor.

I have a Bad-Mom confession today, too. I let Owen get in the shower with me this morning because I thought he probably needed a bath; the stench emanating off of his sagging-to-his-knees diaper and the pear juice in his hair from his after-dinner snack last night had nothing to do with it-I just thought it was time. Since the last time I clearly remember giving him a bath was Monday night. So I get out of the shower and give him the detachable shower head to play with while I towel off and grab his shampoo. No shampoo. It is ALWAYS in the same place so I can just grab it off the counter. Gone. So was furiously looking around, searching for the damn $9.00 a bottle shampoo, nowhere. And then I remembered that I packed it in the bag for Steve to take with him when he took Owen. Last week. So this toddler has been IN a bath, he just hasn't been, you know, WASHED in going on a week. I suck. I slathered him with sweet lotion and pretended he was French before taking him to daycare. And after work I will have to find the damn shampoo.

Just reading the paper and found out that a kid was shot in Tennessee at school-some kind of a dispute between two young boys that ended up with one of them dead. This shit? It pisses me off. It scares me. It makes me wonder why kids think that it is okay to resolve a problem using a fucking gun. And while I hold the child responsible-and yes, a 14 year old is a child, sorry!-I also can't help but question what kind of parents the killer might have in order to instill in him the belief that shooting someone is acceptable and reasonable. No, it isn't their fault, but isn't there some culpability there? I don't know the answer to that. This just disgusts me to no end. I look at my 14 year old and cannot imagine killing a person being in his thought processes- I can't imagine that it would seem to him a reasonable thing to do. One if his former friends? Yeah-I can totally see it. Totally. In fact, this particular former friend scares the shit out of me-at 14. There is a REASON he is no longer welcome at our house. Anyway, I look at his lifestyle, HIS parents, and he comes from your typical two-parent, fairly affluent though not rich family, the kind of family that looks really great from the outside, but...I just don't know. It boggles the mind.

My 14 year old has Freshman Orientation tomorrow, and then all three kids start school on Monday. I seriously can't wait. Because the fighting and bickering and pestering is totally out.of.control.

There you go; just some little tidbits to start the day. No drama, no major happenings, other than that I found a way to get the calls traced so will go over the the phone company and cop shop later this afternoon or tomorrow morning, depending on my schedule. Yes, I am TOTALLY doing their job-do you think I can get a little sumpin' sumpin' for it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We Got Her!

It's a good day; the interview last night was a resounding success, and we got to bring the dog home with us. She is called Harley (which I think is a stupid name for a dog, plus Steve's dog is called Hallie so it is slightly confusing, but since it has been her name for years, I don't guess we can change it), and is absolutely gorgeous. She is a purebred Yellow Lab, and even has the papers to prove it, though she can't have babies and has never been shown, so they don't mean anything to US. What does matter is that she is exactly what I have been looking for since I had to put my other dog down. Beauty is as beauty does-her looks are just a bonus. What I was looking for is an older, already-house-trained, used to kids and cats, mellow dog-and here she is.

For those who don't know, there was a legitimate reason for having our other dog put down. She was a very beloved family pet, a stunning and good-natured lab/retriever mix, whom we had had since she was 6 months old. She did everything with is, went everywhere possible with us, slept in or on someones bed every night...until Owen came along. She didn't much care for him, didn't much care for the extra attention he was getting, even though we thought we gave her extra love to make up for it. We never left them alone together, especially after Owen started crawling, because while I still wouldn't call her at all aggressive, she made clear her dislike of him. And one day she bit him. It all happened so fast that I am even now not sure what exactly transpired; we were all there in the living room, Owen was crawling across the floor, and next thing was her snarling and biting. She got him right by the eye and mouth, punctured the skin, and bruised his head up pretty badly, and we are grateful to this day that it wasn't worse. He healed quickly, with no scarring or anything, and he still has his eye-good enough. But even though it was an isolated incident, and she was very aware that she had fucked up, I couldn't keep her around. Nor could I in good conscience give her to someone I knew, because anyone who might want her also had kids. And if I had taken her to the pound, I would have been forced to be honest and disclose why we had to get rid of her, at which point they would just put her down, no questions asked. I know that in bigger places it isn't the first option, but here, where we have such limited space and no funding, biters don't get placed. Anyway, THAT is why I had to make the decision I did, and even though I was royally pissed at her for biting the baby, I was still devastated. The kids were devastated. All of us stood outside the Animal Control truck and sobbed as Maya jumped in the back eagerly, thinking she was going for a ride.

We got Ellie, you all know, hoping that she would become a family pet, but she didn't. Instead, she had puppies and seemed perfectly content to just hang out in the back yard. She did not ever really warm up to us, and had she not been taken, I would not have kept her. I would have found someone who had no kids and no spouse and a LOT of time to devote to just her. So I was sad that she hadn't ever really progressed beyond letting us pet her; she didn't play at all, hated being in the house, and basically just tolerated her.

But now he have a dog. A real pet, who immediately walked into the house and headed for the back door to go pee, then came back in, sniffed around and paced for a little while, then flopped onto the living room floor as if she had always been there. She slept quietly most of the night, getting up only a few times to walk into the boys' room and check things out there. When she needed to pee at 4:30 this morning, she woke me up by licking my hand, and when it was time for me to get up for work, there she was, excited to be up and around with me. This is what our home has been missing-the thump of a tail on the floor, the friendly little nudge when it is time to get up, the exuberant licks of someone happy to see us. We have been missing the live rug that we get to put our feet on in the winter, and the friend who will jump right in the water after us when we go swimming. We see Steve's dog a lot, and she is also part of the family, but this one? She is ours. Mine.

So yeah-you guys must have put out some powerful energy because we got her, and I am so, so thrilled.

***I forgot to add that her previous owner told us that as a rule, she doesn't bark. So if she DOES, we had better get up and investigate WHY because there is a reason. In response to THOPGood, too, this sweetie is not sleeping outside. Period. The added safety factor for us is nice, but also? No way am I tkaing a change on CSG hurting her. Nope.***

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If God IS There...

Yeah, yeah, another double post. But we have an "interview" tonight with a lady about a dog. She is an 8 year old Golden Lab, already spayed and registered, LOVES kids (which is why she is getting rid of her, she no longer has kids at home and the dog is suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome), ignores cats, is completely housebroken and is used to sleeping outside in a doghouse. I want this dog. This is exactly what I am looking for in a dog. And while i am not averse to still getting another puppy for Eli, I want this dog for ME.

So: cross your fingers, say a prayer, send me some of your good juju, whatever, that I get this dog. That I pass the interview with flying colors and she bows down and says, "YES! You are the owner I have been looking for!" I am NOT going to mention that our most recent dogs got ripped off-not going to mess with the Karma. I AM going to give her the Sad Story (which actually IS sad) about how we had to have our beloved family dog put down because she bit the baby; I may even be able to squeeze out a few tears. I heard that some people get all tenderhearted and gooey when they see tears, even though it has never worked for ME. I really want this.

Wish me luck. And tell me, despite the fact that our other dogs got stolen and that we have this CSG around who might possibly harm said dog, and the fact that I will give her table scraps and let her sleep on my bed (as soon as I GET a bed), would YOU give me a dog? Would I pass YOUR interview?

Home Alone-Kind Of

I had to spend my first night at home with just the younger boys last night. Ever since the first CSG incident, I have managed to make sure at least one of the older kids were at home, thinking that if I am, in fact, the target, that CSG would be less likely to make another appearance if he knew I wasn't entirely alone. However, due to a couple of different things that cropped up, both Hannah and Eli were gone overnight so it was just myself, my 9 year old, and the 2 year old. To say that it was a bad night is a gross understatement, yet we made it through. Who needs sleep, right? Certainly not THIS mama, and whether I need it or not is irrelevant; I think I can safely assume that the resumption of normal activities for the kids will result in far more sleepless nights. Nothing happened, obviously, and for that I am grateful; it is the being worried that something will that has me completely fucked up. See, at least if one of the older kids is home, I have some additional help-not so much in fending off CSG, but in making sure the little boys are safe. We have a plan or two in place in case something happens, and both of those plans pretty much rely on an extra set of adult (or at least teen) hands in order for them to work.

I did try to make other arrangements last night in order to have a bit more peace of mind. I called Steve and asked him if the younger boys and I could stay the night at his house, but that obviously did not happen. In one conversation, I was reminded forcibly that he has no obligation to me, that I am a shitty parent for allowing both kids to be gone at the same time, and that I am a pussy for being afraid. Talk about lovely. I know he has no obligation to me, emotional or otherwise, but silly me, the way things have been going the last few months, I thought that I had some good basis for thinking that things were changing. Apparently I was wrong. This doesn't crush me, as even though things have been getting better I have not allowed myself the real luxury of hope, but it does still hurt. He made a couple of comments about how it was unreasonable for me to expect HIM to be put out when there is no reason I can't make one of the older kids stay home in order to make me feel safe, that it isn't his responsibility. And while I didn't SAY it, what I was thinking was, "Oh, right, I forgot, it IS the responsibility of my 14 and 15 year old children to protect us. Right."

The thing is, he is RIGHT. It isn't his responsibility, nor is it Jacquie's, nor is it my kids'. No, the responsibility rests solely on ME, as the only adult in the household. And I can bitch and moan about how much it sucks, and I can lay blame on him for being cold and uncaring, but it ISN'T his problem. It is MINE. The thing about it all is that I now feel completely isolated on this now. Two weeks ago, I was under the mistaken impression that the cops gave a fuck, but I was wrong about that. Now this one other avenue of support has been taken away from me, and while there is still Jacquie and Jim, of course, who do their drive-bys late at night to make sure all is well, this can only go on for so long. My neighbors-well. Their reaction (or lack of) the night it happened, and after subsequent events, shows me that while they talk a good talk, when push comes to shove they are SO not there. I AM alone in this, and it fucking sucks. I know now that to call the police is futile unless there is actually someone physically breaking in to my house-the phone calls, the missing dogs, the tampered mail-totally not taken seriously.

And this is another thing that totally bites, that for the first time in a long time I feel like I NEED a man. Isn't it stupid and insane to feel safer with someone with testicles around? Like Steve pointed out, it sure didn't help the wife of the man who was killed to have a man around; the killer just took him out first (did I mention that he was only hit TWICE with a bat? Sheee-it!) and then beat the shit out of her. I don't know why it is, but even having Eli around helps-but it ISN'T his job.

I am just feeling a little crazy, and am trying to get myself MAD so that the fear does not paralyze me. I know that I can't keep my kids home with me in order to keep me safe; it isn't healthy for any of us, because it is piling adult responsibility on kids' shoulders. And I want them to be able to resume their normal lives-but I would be lying out my ass if I didn't say that every second they are gone, I am worried until they get back home. I don't know. I just feel like I have hit a wall here, and I don't know where to go from here!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another Inch Taller

My 14 year old son came back from his dad's with an elecrtic shaver and an additional inch of height. He now towers over me by an amazing-yet-disgusting 8 inches. 8. I can see my authority over him waning with every inch he grows, and fear that soon he will be ordering me around as if I am his personal servant. Of course, there is still the fear factor, which I will continue to take advantage of as long as I can. I am not sure I am prepared to be the mother of teen boys; I have gotten him several rather graphic sex-ed books (not graphic in the sense of porn, that is a whole different post that I am not even close to writing about yet!) that seemed to pretty clearly and correctly explain different things, and I offered to go over anything with him if needed-this was last year, and he very politely and shamefacedly declined-and God help me, I was a little bit GLAD. We have talked about such things as condoms and STD's and a variety of other things, but I can't help worrying about what he might ask me, or worse, how I might respond. Yikes.

I went home on break to see how the boys were faring (just this once, Eli stayed home with both Owen and Sam; tomorrow will be back to daycare like normal but O. was really, really missing his big brother!), and while I was there a friend on his stopped by. His name is J., and is one of those huge, lurking boys whose nose and feet are HUGE. He is tall and gangly and has that clumsy, goofy look of a boy who just doesn't know what to do with himself. I can't quite decide whether I like this boy or not, and his shirt today just left me more in the dark. It said, "Viagra is for pussies." Which, okay, that is funny, and I understand the appeal to a 14 year old boy. But still. What was his mom thinking? J. has spent a lot of time at the house, and he isn't a bad kid by any means-I think part of the reason I am not sure I like him is because he is so huge. He also says some things about what kind of a driver he is going to be, and the kinds of girls he is going to date, and while part of me thinks, "Keep dreaming, big guy," the other part hopes that his attitudes don't rub off on Eli. I know well that boys of that age are basically just a walking touch-guy hormone, and I am not naive enough to think that my Eli is any different, but it is still a little daunting to think that he is like J. That he has the same idea about life and women and fast cars and, let's face it, says things like pussy and lusts over young girls.

So I am feeling a little strange, and slightly out of my league. I know I have posted about this before, but it bears repeating that at this point, and because of our circumstances, Eli is well aware of the consequences of sex, and knows that even if she tells him he doesn't need to wear a condom, he should. He has been raised solely by me for over 14 years now, and he knows how hard it is-he doesn't want to become the kind of father his dad and step-dad have been. He doesn't want his own kids to grow up feeling the way he has about his dad, and he doesn't want them to have so many struggles. These are GOOD things for him to learn and know about himself, though for his sake I might wish the lessons had been less difficult for him.

And he is still a 14 year old boy; there are lots of years ahead of him, where he is going to be exposed to a plethora of different ideas and feelings and people. I could be in for a lot of trouble, it is too soon to tell. I just hope I can be the kind of mom he NEEDS when he starts having things crop up that he doesn't know how to deal with. I hope he keeps his strong mindset and opinions. I hope-well. I hope we make it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bling of a Different Sort

Sorry for double posting, but I have to share with you what I got in the mail today. A box with two adorable winter outfits for Owen from Gymboree, and some New Balance shoes for him (which I thought ironic given the subject of my last two emails to both April and Liz about that very company!), plus some really, really nice jewelry. Including a beautiful ring, delicate and feminine, that says "mommy," which I am already wearing and hoping that she didn't include it by accident, it is that pretty. I am wearing it on the finger I wore a wedding band on in a different life, and I imagine that it is the closest I am ever going to come to having a ring on that finger.

Anyway, thank you, FreedomFirst. This woman was one of my friends on the online community I got forced out of for being a loudmouth bitch (I know, that is really quite surprising, isn't it?), and when I git the boot, she was still my friend. We have exchanged emails, and she reads my blog and we keep up-and even though we don't always agree about politics OR religion, I consider her a good friend, and I think she does me. This gift came at a perfect time, when I just very much needed something sweet and kind to make me smile.

Wally Lamb, who is one of my favorite authors, wrote in She's Come Undone, "Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love." My best-friend-even-though-she-doesn't-know-it, Anne Lamott, said something along the lines of needing God with skin on, and when she prays that, she always runs into or meets up with someone who is serving God through their selves, even if they don't know it. And this is what this gift means to me-that everyone in my life is reaching out to give me their love, be it through the mail or email or phone calls, or comments on the blog. That instead of questioning and wondering why people like me so much, I should just say an enormous, heartfelt thank you and accept it.

The End of My Rope-Complete with Breaking News

I am at the end of my rope today, I truly am. And I don't know what to do about it, so what do I do? I blog. Which doesn't solve anything, it doesn't CHANGE anything, but somehow it helps to be able to talk about my life with people. To put it all down on paper (so to speak), which helps me mentally process things. It doesn't always result in a viable solution, it isn't the answer to any problems, but it does help.

So this is why I am at the end of my rope today. I had my first threatening phone call early this morning, from who I can only assume is CSG. I was, for a change, sleeping deeply and well, and the phone rang at 2:30. I keep the phone right by my head, on the arm of the couch, so it woke me up immediately. The Caller ID said "Private," but I answered it because Hannah and Eli's dad's number also comes up as Private, and I was worried that something might have happened that his dad needed to reach me; we all know that middle-of-the-night phone calls are never a good thing, right?

It wasn't his dad. Instead, it was man who asked, "Is this Eli's mom?" Still befuddled and frightened, I said yes-thinking that perhaps something terrible had happened and it was someone from a hospital or police station-and then this man said, "You are going down." It sounds innocuous here, doesn't it? But it wasn't. It isn't. Instead, it just adds to my already existing terror. Hannah woke up when she heard me asking, "Who IS this?" and when I very vehemently said, "I am reporting this call to the police," but I lied to her; I said, "Oh, I think it was one of Eli's friends playing a prank." I didn't want her to lay awake the rest of the night and worry-I am perfectly capable of doing that myself, thank you very much. And it is possible that it was one of Eli's friends-you know, if one of the suddenly had a very dramatic voice change over the summer. I think I would recognize his friends' voices, though, even taking into account puberty. No, what it felt like is a warning; "yeah, bitch, not only do I know where you live but I know your kids' names, too."

I have left a message with the detective, and am waiting for him to call me back; the cynical part of me says (and knows) that I will have to fill out a police report, make a log of any other strange phone calls etc...but basically, there isn't anything they can really do. So we will still have to wait, to wonder. In the meantime, while we are waiting and wondering, I am too afraid to even let the kids play in the backyard anymore because it is right next to the alley. They have to go out and dump the garbage as a team, and the back part hasn't been mowed since we got back from vacation because I don't want ANY of us out there that long, day or night. I am still sleeping on the couch because for some reason, I am too afraid to actually pull the bed out. The kids are finally sleeping in a bedroom-all three who are home right now in one bed-but we have to leave both the hall light and the kitchen light on, and still we don't feel safe.

I want to move. I want to pack up and find another house, one where the threat might still exist but where at least we would feel safer. This isn't an option (see my many, many posts about this issue!), but it is what I want to do. If I had my way, I would pack up in the middle of the night and just disappear, which is of course not a reasonable thing to do, either. I just don't know what to do anymore, and I am just-I am tired. I will update this after the detective calls back to let you know what kind of drivel he comes up with.

****Update: Apparently our detective is off today. They sent some fucking screwball Keystone Cop to my house-despite the fact that I told the dispatcher to please have him come to my office (which, incidentally, is right across the motherfucking street) because I DID NOT WANT MY KIDS TO KNOW. and you know what HE said? I have to call the phone company and try to get the number. Even though THEY are the ones supposedly investigating this, I have to try to call the company. Which I just did, only to be told that due to Privacy issues, they are unable to provide me with a phone number because if it is marked "Private" it is Unlisted and Unpublished at the Customer Request. Which I knew, but since I am apparently supposed to be doing the job of the police department, I had to try it. Then, this fat fucker did not even know ANYTHING about what has been going on. Nothing. So I got mad and said that maybe the department should get it together so that ALL the officers at least have a general idea what is going on, because I am really getting tired of having to go through the whole story with a new officer every time something happens. He said the condescending, "Now, ma'am, you need to calm down, we really need to have some leads before we can DO anything..." and had I been able to, I might have reached over the desk, grabbed his gun and shot him in the head with it. Not only am I pissed, I feel like it doesn't do any fucking good to even call and report anything anymore.***

Thursday, August 14, 2008

NOT Because....

WTF? I was just sitting here at my desk, you know, working? Hard? And I just happened to check my reader to see if any of you slackers had written anything new today (but clearly you are all just as busily working as I should be). And what do I see under the "Top Recommendations" but MY Blog. Mine. The one with my name on it. I don't know how this happens, if it is just a randomly generated list that comes up based on the other sites I read, but hot damn. That is pretty cool. Plus I clicked on the details thing and it shows I have 24 subscribers. Which is also pretty cool. Thanks, guys, for being such faithful readers! This is almost as good as bling. Which is a word that STILL makes me laugh.

April was blogging this morning about the small things, the things we have to be happy about in order to stave off depression, and hey, this would be one for me. That 24 people I didn't know before are reading my stuff. That 24 people in places all over the world have my blog in their reader. That maybe, just maybe, I might make a difference in 24 people's live, no matter how small a difference that might be.

Another small thing is that school starts in 11 days; this makes me happy not because the kids will stop fighting 24/7 and instead only fight 16/7 because they will be away from each other the other 8 hours. Not because I will have my lunch hour all to myself again every day. Not because it is a whole brand new year with limitless possibilities. No, none of that-but because I get to buy school supplies. I love school supplies-the smell (and taste, but don't ask) of paste and new pencils, the way the fresh loose-leaf paper looks in a brand new plastic-smelling binder, the way ball-point ink looks on said fresh paper. The pointy ends of new crayons, the smell of freshly-sharpened pencils...aah, ambrosia. Nothing screams "geek" quite so loudly or as lovely as pocket protectors and calculators...yeah, I love school supplies.

Small things indeed, but I got three letters this week, three LONG, wonderful, newsy letters as well as a card that simply says "I don't tell you often enough how grateful I am that we are friends. I love you, and I believe in you." So not only do I get to get up on Saturday morning and drink my coffee and re-read thoroughly these wonderful letters, but I also get to carve some time (I sincerely hope!) out in which to get out the good paper and pen and write back. There is little I would rather spend my time on than this; for me, writing letters to people I love is therapy, much like journaling and, now, blogging.

I get my boy Eli back on Saturday; he has been with his dad (he and Hannah no longer visit at the same time, due to the fighting I mentioned above) for two weeks, and I will be glad to have him back. Not because I have missed him, or feel better when all of the kids are around, or any of that sentimental shit, but because Owen has missed him so terribly that it is killing me. NOT because I am at all tenderhearted or really give a rip but because when he gets chastised, hurts himself, or doesn't want to go to bed, he very pathetically cries, "Eli, Eli..." and tears roll down his fat little cheeks. Perhaps with Eli home, we will all rest easier AND I can cook dinner in relative peace.

Yeah, it is the small things, and I will take them where I can get them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Some Bling (a word that makes me laugh out loud)

Kick Ass Blogger Award

Do you guys see that award up there? Yeah. nice, isn't it? I have been coveting it-I really have. Partly because I like to have a little profanity every now and again, but mostly because it means that someone likes me. The person who bestowed this honor on me is one of my favorites, and has been from very nearly the beginning. You know, the kind of person who is fucking amazing and also a little intimidating and the one whose blogroll you frequently check to see if you have made it up there yet, because then it means you have "arrived?" Yeah. That one. So a heartfelt thank you goes out to Tara over at If Mom Says Okay. I love this blog; I love this woman.

I read and like so many blogs that I assumed it would be easy to pick five to give this to, but I am finding it much more difficult than I thought. However, there were three that immediately popped into my head, so here goes.

1. If you guys have not yet been there, please check out XBox4NappyRash. He is one of the first blogs I started reading, partly because he has cartoon sperm on his page-THAT is cool, no doubt. He and his wife are struggling with infertility, and he has written about the trials and problems and processes with a self-deprecating humor that is...well. Here is a choice example of his writing:

"Now, let me take a minute to gash my wrists and grab the salt shaker. I've insanely and inanely rambled on before about how I believe we are being mocked by nature. Well, these little froggy horny green bastards were not satisfied in deafening us with their incessant copulation and production of masses of frog spawn, but now it seems that they are playing happy families too."
And this is just one bit; you will have to go visit to get the full effect. This man's writing is excellent, excellent enough that he conveys exactly how much this is taking a toll on him, his wife, their mental health, their relationship. He made me cry today, which God knows isn't an easy thing for anyone to do, and for that alone, he deserves this award. Thank you, XBox, for sharing your parts (and ET's, too!) with all of us. You truly ARE kick ass, and I love you.

2. Ian over at Single Parent Dad is my next recipient. I actually haven't been reading him long, just a few months, but I really like him. I like the fact that he is just like the rest of us single moms, only without breasts. I hope. The circumstances behind his single parenthood are different, but the feelings are similar, and sometimes underneath the matter of fact tone, I can almost hear confusion and pain-and again, humor. I don't wish PAIN on anyone, but I love that there are so many of us who are just getting through it all one day at a time, and sharing these different little tidbits of our lives with one another, and muddling through as best as we can. Also, the fact that there is joy and beauty and comfort in the midst of it all-that is pretty powerful stuff.

3. yeah, totally...right? Sully Sullivan is probably the funniest blogger out there. If you are looking for the same kind of sensitive-yet-manly content that you will find in the above two, DON'T go here. This man is capable of being vulnerable and insecure, which I love in a guy-but I have only seen one post indicating this, and he deleted it almost immediately. Which for some reason made the rest of his blog even funnier. He rant and raves some, which I also love, and has these really great links to time-wasting sites, does some funny polls, and basically gives me a good belly laugh every time he posts. He does not have any awards on his site as of yet, but I suspect he just doesn't put them up-and that is okay with me, because he is STILL a Kick Ass Blogger whether he has the button up or not.

This is where it gets a little dicey for me, because there are so many great ones out there, and so many of the people I love to read have already gotten this one. Therefore, I am going to break the rules just a smidgen and post the other two next week. For you three manly men above, you are now supposed to go pick up your award here, and make your choices. Congrats to all of you-you have added something huge to my life, and I thank you.

I have also updated my blogroll; check it out, there are a few new faves on there. And if you aren't on there and think you should be, let me know. I sometimes forget.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Crime Update

I have some really great bling that I received from two different awesome bloggers, and I said I was going to post them today but I am not. The bloggers who gave me the awards are too great to just do a cursory post on, as are the people to whom I want to pass on the award. So now all I can say is, "This week, I promise." Which is actually a little odd for me, as I have been coveting one in particular...but I just don't have "it" today, whatever "it" is.

I found out some information about the murder the occurred here last week, information which is extremely disturbing on a variety of levels. I heard this from a very reliable "source," too, as in from a friend of the victim, so I think this is pretty accurate. Do you guys want to know what the connection was? None. Absolutely none. Neither the husband nor his young wife knew this guy, nor does the wife remember ever having SEEN him before. After the guy had taken her husband out of commission and while he was attempting to rape her, the young wife cried out, "Why are you doing this?" And his reply? "No reason, I just felt like killing someone." She managed to get to the phone somehow, though no one at this point knows how, or if he had already taken off when she called; it all happened relatively quickly.

In light of our experience with CSG, I cannot help but let my thoughts flutter around the idea that the two are one and the same. This is something I have studiously avoided contemplating, shoving those fleeting thoughts away as quickly as they float to the surface; it seems pointless and counterproductive, because then I freak out. I have four kids who believe wholeheartedly that I can keep them safe-freaking out is not an option for me.

Still, in the dark of the night, the thoughts come and I can't succeed in keeping them at bay. It seems worse now, because there are some similarities that seem too close to be ignored. I think I blogged briefly about this, but tried to pass it off as something I wasn't really concerned about-I was lying out my ass, because yeah-there are some fucking insane similarities. Description of the guy? Remarkably similar, including height, weight, facial hair, clothing, and race. Basic MO? Also the same. They are calling our situation with CSG an "Interrupted Home Invasion," and the murder was also a Home Invasion. There are-I don't know. I just don't know.

I would love to be able to say that my rational mind says that it couldn't be the same guy. That it is all just some freaky coincidence. That surely he would not kill someone in the wee hours of Sunday morning and then find time to come to my house and steal my dogs and go through my mailbox. That it would stand to reason that if it WAS the same guy, he would not have run away from our house, but would have stayed there and killed us all. But then again I think of things like this: that the element of surprise was on our side that night, because he was expecting to walk into a sleeping house and instead my daughter turned into Xena and came rushing in-surely that was not expected. I think of things like with the young couple-they were both asleep and he incapacitated the husband, leaving his wife with no real defense. What if he had the same plans for my kid? My daughter? To get me and the baby out of the way before moving on to the next victim? Or perhaps I WAS the victim and had Hannah not intervened, they would have walked into the house in the morning to find me dead.

And this is where it gets really, really fucked up. I know that it is irrelevant now, and that we should just be grateful that for whatever reasons, CSG is laying low at the moment. We have done all we can do regarding beefed up security, including THE greatest motion lights known to man-they are very nearly blinding, lighting up the entire back yard from the wall to the alley, and in the front they illuminate not just MY porch and yard, but part of the neighbor's as well. I love my lights. My lights are almost orgasm-causing. No one has complained yet, but if they do, I am going to tell them to bite my ass-because if perhaps one neighbor had bothered to venture outside while my daughter was screaming, maybe we wouldn't need the lights.

So I haven't been sleeping well, all things considered, and I just want it to be over. I have my days where I don't even really think about it much, there have been nights where we all sleep well and have no problems, and it is getting better daily. Especially for the kids, who will NOT be told this new information about the murder. For me, I think so much of my own fears have to do with the fact that it is something I have no control over-something totally random, something that couldn't have been prevented with prior knowledge. Someone once said something about how it sounded like I had feelings of guilt, and yeah, to that commenter, you are right. Of course there is a feeling of guilt, or rather was: I left the door unlocked. I let the kids sleep outside. I...but you know, I think about the murder victims, and I don't feel anything toward them other than deep sadness. No blame; they could have been sitting in the living room naked with all the lights on and the doors open performing oral sex on the neighbor's dog and they would still not be to blame. The cold hard reality is that random bad shit happens, and it is beyond our control. And it sucks, guys, it really sucks.

There is my rant for the day. It is daylight, of course, and totally easy to tell myself how ridiculous I am being for even considering that it was the same guy. It is different at night, and I just hope that I have more success at keeping the thoughts out of my head than I did last night.

As a funny aside, did any of you read my SPAM comment from a couple of posts ago? I don't know how old Marion Bishop got through the hoops to leave the comment, but I went ahead and published it because it totally made me laugh out loud. I visited the site she mentioned, and damn, am I tempted. Come on-wouldn't that be a SEXY look for me?

Monday, August 11, 2008

But I Can Dream...Can't I?

When I was home for lunch, the FedEx guy stopped at our house with the backpacks that C. ordered for the kids from L.L. Bean; they have been awaiting their arrival all last week, even though it was impossible for them to have arrived before today. They are wonderful, beautiful backpacks; Sam's is not only monogrammed but also has wheels that light up when rolled, and he was also the recipient of a really neat clip-on light set. Hannah and Eli both opted for plaid, one in pink and the other in brown, and they got a smaller knapsack to go along with. Like I said, they are beautiful, another extremely generous gift from C. Sam has been waiting anxiously to send his thank-you note (yes, I still insist that thank yous be not only spoken but written as well), and finished it for me to send off today. He does not normally warm up so immediately to people-he is a great performer and fakes it well, but few people earn his genuine love. C. and D. have clearly passed the test, as his card ends with, "I think you are the coolest people ever." It is so much fun to see my kids fall in love with people I love so much-we have been so blessed in that arena that I truly do not have the words to fully convey that. I just know that there are a lot of people who love my kids as much as they love me, and wherever they go, the kids have a safety net; that is a very, very powerful thing.

The arrival of the backpacks is just another reminder that school is to begin in two weeks. I can register both Hannah and Eli online (with hope, there will not need to be any schedule changes!), and this will be taken care of this week, and I think I register Sam on Thursday. Both H. and E. are in high school this year, and it is both exciting and scary for me to realize how quickly they are growing up. Physically, they have both towered over me for several years; I found out last night that Hannah is also almost as strong as me, and I know Eli could seriously kick my ass were he wont to do (let's hope he never reads my blog, or any shred of fear my threats might instill will be long gone). Even Sam, who still only hits 54 pounds after a full meal and with ALL his clothes on, is also very much taller this year than last. Such a damn cliche, but the time goes by too fast, and they grow so much, that the mind boggles.

I have to go to Boise to pick Eli up next Saturday; we dropped him off in Pendleton on our way home from vacation last weekend, and his dad is flying him back in to Boise. I think I am going to take the other three kids with me and get some school shopping done there. The mall there is really nice, and has a few stores the kids really like that we don't have in the town we normally have to go to. Also, even though we have had our vacation and all, it will be the last time we really get to just hang put and be together having fun before school starts. I mean, we are almost always TOGETHER-but when school starts, there are sports and homework and tutoring and all of the other things that make up the schedule-which leaves a lot less time to just be a family and remember that we do kind of like one another.

Ugh, though. The fact that both the older kids are going to be in high school is financially frightening. I shudder to think of what their fees are going to be, and since ALL of them have grown up so much, we are looking at everything new-from socks and undies on up. We did get a few things for the vacation that also doubled as Back-to-School clothes, so that helps. Still-jeans for all, new shoes for all, etc...sigh, I think that for me, one of the hardest parts of being a single parent is still the lack of money; no child support from either ex, and it gets really hard sometimes to make ends meet-especially when things like SCHOOL come up. Also, H. and E. will both be in Driver's Ed. during the school year, though at different times, and that-well. That creates a LOT of burdens, financially and otherwise!

But I am not going to stress about it too much today. There isn't anything I can do about it anyway, and we will get what we need, even if it is one outfit at a time for each. That is one thing I have learned, that we don't HAVE to buy the whole wardrobe right now, and the kids are usually pretty good about a new pair of jeans and a couple shirts to start, along with their shoes and socks and stuff. I know they want more, I know they want me to shop at the cool places, and I would like that as well-but we also know THAT can't be changed, so we deal.

I will complain here for just a minute, though. Yeah, I know we just got back from vacation; I know I also had four no-kid days back in April. But would you all think I am terribly selfish for wanting one ALONE night before school starts? I would love to head to a hotel ALONE and have total solitude, from lunch to dinner to bedtime to coffee and a book in the morning all by myself. Ah...I can dream, right?

P.S. Thanks for the gifts, to those who gave them to me; I will be posting about them tomorrow!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Letter to Myself at 18

Thanks to Amanda over at Shamelessly Sassy for this idea! If you have a few minutes, go over and read her post from yesterday; it is kick ass!

Dear Kori,

Grab a cup of coffee (though I don't think you have started drinking it just yet-but you will, believe me!), find a comfy spot to sit, and make sure you won't be disturbed for a little while. I have some things I would like to tell you, it might take awhile.

I look at you now, thinking that you are so dumb and unattractive and worthless, and I want to hug you and tell you that it isn't true. You are none of the above, and I wish there was something I could do to make you believe it now. Your friends, mom, other people tell you it is true, but maybe it will mean more coming from your future self-I don't know. But while of course you have some weight issues (and you will always struggle, I hate to tell you), you are NOT the disgusting slob that you see in the mirror. Now granted, there IS more you could be doing-but you are not unlovable. You know that "family therapist" you and mom and Fat Phil are going to? Pretty soon the therapist is going to get tired of listening to the two of them argue and fight with you sitting in the middle, and she is going to see that maybe YOU can still be helped. You will start seeing her alone-listen to her. Let her help you. Get the chip off your shoulder and start realizing that while you may not be a total loser, you are still pretty fucked up. It is a start, sweetie.

Very soon, you are going to meet the person who will be your first boyfriend. You will meet him at a party where you discover the liberating feeling of being drunk and being the person you always wanted to be. You will lose your virginity to this young man, and you will also have imbibed 3/4 a bottle of champagne before doing so. You will also find that while sex isn't that great (don't blame him-he tried. It is supposed to hurt, dumbass!), alcohol IS, and so begins a pattern of men and alcohol that will fuel you through the next years.

You are going to meet four men who will change your life irrevocably. I won't tell you their names, because you have to be on the lookout for them on your own and make your own decisions. One of them will give you two lovely children, but you will only be married for 18 months or so, and you will not be married again until about 5 years later. It will be hard, raising two small children before you are even close to being raised yourself. If you get the idea out of your head that marriage is supposed to be easy, you two could maybe make it work out-I don't have the answer to this one.

Another of the men will give you a child that you won't be able to keep. You will fall for the gorgeous eyes and the sexy voice and the nice ass, but that is really all there is to him. Well, not true-he is very talented and smart and could do a lot of great things, but he lacks motivation and will never go any further than 60 miles from where he grew up. He will also get you pregnant and then tell you that it isn't his problem. You are going to choose adoption for this baby, and your sister will adopt-but the moment she introduces you to someone not as her sister but as her baby's birth mother, your relationship with her will be irrevocably changed. You will never again be close to her, and when you hit my age, you will no longer be speaking to one another.

You are going to drink a lot after Baby #3; it will be in many ways the beginning of the end for you. You will marry a man who is the typical "bad boy," but try to keep in mind when you meet him that there is nothing exciting about it at all; he is just another criminal who is very, very good at covering it up and saying what you want to hear. You will have a child with this man, you will get sober because of this man, and you will eventually tell him that he cannot be part of your life anymore. He will very nearly destroy you emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially, and take away what little faith left you have in men. I cannot tell you if you will ever recover completely from this-I haven't yet, though daily progress is made.

You are going to fall in love with someone almost 7 years after getting sober-and he will be "the one." He will be the one to give you an unexpected mid-life baby-try to be happy from the get go, because he is one delicious little baby. This man is going to show you that there is a difference between fucking and making love, and you will learn that it really is different when you love someone. It MEANS something. He is going to challenge you to grow and change, to examine yourself and your thought processes and your belief systems, and he isn't even going to know that he is doing it. He is going to make you laugh, and he is also going to make you cry. I wish I could tell you that you are going to finally get your "happily ever after," but I don't have the answer to that one. It doesn't look like it from where I stand, but then again, neither is all lost.

And I imagine you are sitting there with your long-cold cup of coffee, wondering why in the hell the only things I have to tell you are about drinking and men; you must be thinking, "Jesus Christ, is all I do drink and fuck? There has to be something more!" And yes, there is. There is so much more. However, where I am now in my life is in large part due to the choices I made when I was drinking. Because of the abuse and neglect and craziness of growing up the way we did, I went off the deep end and tried to fill the holes inside myself by drinking and using drugs and men in order to avoid having to deal with any of the shit. I turned my back on all opportunities for help, both intentionally and because I just couldn't see them for what they were. And I tell you this because you don't have to. You still have a whole lifetime ahead of you, and you can choose differently. You CAN go to college; you don't have to be a 36 year old single mother. The choice is yours, and it is not one I envy. I love my life the way it is now; I have worked really hard to get here, and even though it isn't perfect, it is beautiful and full and I have learned that perfect is the most ridiculous word possible to apply to this thing we call life. There is no such thing. You have to decide for yourself what YOU want, and knowing what you now know about your future, you have the chance to change it. I can't change it now, and I don't think I would want to.

And a few things that have nothing to do with men: when you find out from a friend that Angie's dad died, follow the impulse to call her. She will become your best and only real friend for years, she will love you through a lot of shit, and you are not going to have nearly enough time with her. Be a better friend-for a variety of reasons, you are at times not going to be a very good friend to her, and when she dies, you can't take it back or make up for it. Don't have regrets; take ALL your kids to see her, call her more often, and when email arrives on the scene, use it. There will be money problems but find a way-this is important. And when she DOES die, be open to all of the beautiful things and people you are going to meet-and love them not because Angie did, but because you do. This is also important.

On June 23, 2008, when a guy in a white pickup is roaming your neighborhood, get his license plate number and call the police. Listen to your gut and don't let the neighbor play down your fears-sometimes it isn't paranoia. Also, start locking your doors and don't let the kids sleep outside anymore after that day. Just trust me on this one-you will save everyone in your life a lot of fear and heartbreak and terror.

And yes, it is a cliche, but time goes by really, really fast. Money or a husband or a Jaguar are not the be-all, end all of existence-stop looking for happiness in other things and people, and find it in yourself. You don't have much time when you look at the big picture. Try to remember that you get to be in charge of your own life from now on. You can learn how to love and forgive mom, even though it doesn't seem like it right now. You can learn to take the past and use it to help you grow and change, or you can mire yourself down in it and use it for an excuse-you choose. Also, remember what I said at the very beginning of this? About how you look to yourself in the mirror? Please remember that you are not the only person in the world who sees different than what is there-give people a chance, no matter what their outside circumstances appear to be. People are amazing, lovely creatures, and we need them, honey. WE can't make it alone, and if you learn that now, you will be so much better off. Last, I love you-I did not do a very good job of doing that when I was there, but now I can-through you. Love yourself-nurture yourself-and be both your worst critic (when NECESSARY) and your most avid supporter. Life is good-don't forget that.


Kori at 36

P.S. when your sister want to highlight your hair? Don't let her.

P.P.S. One really, really great thing to look forward to? You never ever have to eat meatloaf again. Never.