Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Interview with ME

I am actually quite thrilled with this particular meme, partly because it is one that I haven't seen before and partly because I like the kinds of meme's that actually require me to think. In three minutes I could come up with some smart-ass answer to all of these, and that would be that-but I really like to have some questions that require me to actually contemplate the answers. So a special thanks to Kerrie over at Life at Number 14 for both the idea and the questions.

1. If you could have one wish granted for 2009, what would it be..??

Only one? That really isn't fair, I have to say. There are so many things I would like to see happen, so many people I want to wish good things for...How about if I just say that I wish for every single person I love to have the kind of year they absolutely need, want, and deserve?

2. What do you find the best thing about being a sole parent..??

I am glad you didn't specify "one best thing" on this one, because there are many. For one thing, I really enjoy knowing where my money is going. I might not have enough 90% of the time, but at least I know that our very basic needs are going to be taken care of. I also really enjoy being able to cook what WE like for meals, as opposed to things we will tolerate in order to please the Great God Husband. It has also been really, really neat to get to forge new traditions with each other, and to learn how to simply enjoy each other for who we are. Those are things none of us had when I was married, so they are all the more special now. We were all so sick and dysfunctional that we spend the majority of our time trying to please The Man, and the pieces of us that were blighted by that behaviour (and his abuse, let's not forget) are just now beginning to bloom again.

3. ...and the most difficult..??

Everything else.

No, there are many facets to this one, for sure. From a strictly parental standpoint, I would have to say the fact that I am IT. I am the one the kids come to for support, guidance, love, money, things, as well as the one they take it out on when they are pissed about something. I am also operating one one income, which is hard. ALL of the discipline falls to me, and I am the only driver in the house as well so the taxiing to and from different things is on me. When one of the younger kids is ill, I have to stay home from work, and every medical-related thing is mine as well. I also have a hard time with not having the emotional support and backup when making tough decisions or going through struggles. I see sometimes these couples who just have that knowledge and certainty that the other one is going to be there to reinforce decisions and help with the follow-through, and I don't have that. From a purely personal standpoint, I miss having someone to sleep with at night. The dogs just aren't the same, and if they were, well, I think that is illegal.

4. What is the one vice you have that you could never give up..??

Oh fer shiz. Is drinking a gallon of coffee while smoking AND having sex-with a dessert plate balanced on my stomach as well-considered a VICE?

5. Where or when do you feel most at peace..??

It sounds silly and probably IS, but when the bills are all paid and there is food in the fridge/cupboard. When I can snuggle up on the couch at night with my book or my Gameboy or my journal and listen to the kids breathe, giggle, snuggle in their own beds. When I am with someone who doesn't look at me as if I have grow two heads when I tell them how much I truly, deeply, passionately love my kids. When I feel just the smallest sense of how sacred and beautiful life really is, that there is just the one life and I better just live it.

So there you have it, my very own interview! How cool is that? If you would like to play along, post a comment saying "Interview me!" and I will send you some questions. Make sure I have your email address, though.

Happy New Year to all of you, and may it be a blessed, safe, and joyous year for all of you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Post About Excess

I want to talk about excess here for a minute. We went to a birthday party for Steve's niece last night; she will be turning a year old tomorrow ( a YEAR. Yes, that is important to embed in your minds. One. Year. Old.). the family always has parties at a local pizza joint, so the venue was no big thing; however, we usually go in the back and sit at a couple of long tables they have back there. Last night, we were directed upstairs to the banquet room where there were, I kid you not, at least 50 people there. For a first birthday party.

*** I will freely admit here that part of my annoyance is petty and ridiculous; the only reason anyone came to Owen's first birthday party was because we had it at the same time as Steve's mom's 60th birthday, and only a couple of people brought Owen gifts. No one in the family save Steve's parents came to Owen's 2nd birthday party, and they bought him two cheap outfits from Kings and a couple of balls. So to sit there and watch the baby rip open these really expensive toys and clothes and such, surrounded by such a huge number of people, kind of made me see green for a minute (I am over it now, as I am well aware that Owen has a whole lot of things that this baby is NEVER going to have that have nothing to do with material shit and who shows up at a party).***

Anyway, there were games and gifts and balloons and cake and ice cream and more gifts, and all the while I was looking around thinking two things. 1. Is this really necessary? and 2. Good thing the baby isn't going to remember this party, because she will totally expect this every year if she did. Am I the only one who thinks this is just a little ridiculous? I am all for celebrating birthdays, don't get me wrong, and of course we buy gifts and have a family party. However, that whole renting-a-banquet-room-to-accommodate-everyone-thing just seems nuts to me.

While we were there (and continuing on with the whole theme of excess), I was talking to another of Steve's sisters (she has two kids, one boy who is 8 and they recently adopted a little girl the same age, or close to) about the holidays at their house, and she was just livid. Apparently, the kids were not impressed with their gifts from mom, dad, or Santa, and threw a couple of them away and then threw the brand new Wii on the floor and broke it. Can you believe that shit? Come ON, if they didn't want the damn Wii they could have given it to us; really. I have several different thoughts about this as well. One is that this is not the first time either of them have done something like this. Two years ago when camping, the boy broke his Gameboy (and who lets a kid bring their portable DVD player and a Gameboy camping?) and then told MY kids, "It doesn't matter, my mom will buy me a new one, and I didn't like this color anyway." And then he took a steak knife and sliced the upholstery on the seats in their $50,000 camp trailer because the DVD player was skipping. This kid is a menace, and now that they have adopted the little girl, they are BOTH like that. So mom gets all bent out of shape and hurt and angry when they pull something like this, but at the same time really does nothing to prevent it from happening. I shudder to think of the pain those two are going to have to go through when they get into Jr. high, when their shitty attitude and sense of entitlement are going to have people running away from them in disgust.

I just don't understand the mentality of some parents; I mean, really, can they not SEE that nobody really likes their kids (not the baby; despite the ginormous party, I think her mom and dad have enough sense to make sure that she is well-balanced)? They are cute kids, sure, and somewhere under the spoiled rotten mess they are surely sweet, but even adults (meaning other adults, not JUST me) have a hard time being around them. I don't get it.

However, it makes me grateful that my kids are NOT like that. Don't get me wrong-they can be real jerks sometimes, and lately Sam has been on a kick of pestering everyone in the house to the point of needing to run for fear of being grievously harmed, and they all get shitty attitudes at times. We are far from perfect, nor are we even close. However, it would never occur to my kids to throw brand new toys away, or break them simply because they don't like the color, and it would never even cross their minds to pick up a knife and slash the upholstery on a piece of furniture. First of all, the things that they have are pretty important to them, they have generally had to wait to get whatever it might be, so they tend to take pretty good care of them. Second, if they did something like that, they know well that they will experience the Wrath of Mom, and it won't be pretty.

And selfishly, there is this as well. Here I am, doing it alone and having done it alone for quite some time, and yet my kids are the ones that people-other adults and kids alike-genuinely enjoy being around. Go figure. Kind of warms the cockles of your heart, doesn't it?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Wrap-Up

I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps you would like to hear about the fact that the kids were so excited by the sheer number of gifts under the tree that they were up and down all night wondering, "Is it time to get up yet?" We are talking at 2:00 a.m., again at 4:30, and finally at 5:45. Apparently at some point I had told them that I would NOT get out of bed before 6:00; I heard them all wake, and Steve kept poking me, and the very second the clock ticked over to 6:00, Eli popped up and sang, "Merry Christmas, it's time to get up!" Just to be naughty, then, I made them ALL wait in the bedroom while I went out and started to coffee and stood outside having a veeeeerry leisurely smoke while the dog went potty. The absolute amazement when they walked out into the living room was definitely a sight to see.

Maybe instead you would like to know that after we got done setting the "Santa" gifts out under the tree on Christmas Eve, I sat there and cried like a baby, completely at a loss for words. Or that even later that afternoon when April called me, I was still in a daze and could not form a coherent sentence to save my life. The things sent were nothing short of a miracle; there were toys (to the person who sent the Nerf dart guns: you will be pleased to know that the boys have delighted in shooting darts at this snowman we have hanging on the wall, laughing hysterically every time they hit it because then it appears as if he has a tiny orange penis. Perhaps I should be more strict about stuff like that, but since I thought it was funny as well, hard to do. We are a simple family, easily amused), there were games (dude. Man Bites Dog is THE funniest game in the world, hands down. As is Scattergories, because I read so much and am so nerdy that I kick.ass. at. it.), there was jewelry...the list goes on.

So a special, huge, heartfelt thanks goes out to Mr. Lady AND to April for ensuring that we had such a wonderful Christmas. I believe it was Mr. Lady's idea, and she harnessed her powers for good to convince people I don't even know to send us things. April was, I think, sort of the liaison as well, since she knows me so well. I am not sure how many of you want to remain anonymous, so perhaps I won't mention any other names, but thank you all, so much. Also, there are many who I couldn't name if I tried, as there were no names provided. So thank you for the lovely earrings, and the gift cards, and the necklace for Hannah with the beautiful star on it. Thank you for the tent, and the BOOKS (how did you know that Calvin and Hobbes AND Ripley's Believe It Or Not would be huge hits at my house?), and the yummy foot scrub stuff that makes my feet look so pretty. Thank you for the marshmallow shooters and the Nerf football and the Frisbee, for the aforementioned Nerf dart guns and the Iron Man Robot. The trucks and cars for Owen, the really neat puzzles for him, the t-shirts for Eli and the Tommy Hilfiger boxer shorts ( he told me to specifically mention those, because he said he feels like a real man when he wears them), the journal and the cross-stitch kit for Hannah. Thank you SO much for the gift cards and, yes, the money, because for the first time in a long time we have a full fridge. April and someone else helped pay for Sam's spiffy new glasses (which are SO cute, and thank you Jebus he can SEE!), someone else some new clothes for Hanna, and in fact all the kids got new clothes AND shoes. Sam got the coveted Easy Bake Oven, and all of it-ALL of it-was paid for by all of you.

I know I have missed a lot of you, left a lot of you out, and please forgive me. Please forgive me for being, still, so stunned and grateful at the generosity of strangers, the willingness of people to organize this whole event and make sure we were taken car of. And yes, taken care of in the material sense, but also on a much more fundamental level than that. The simple act of gifts sent nurtured my spirit, that part of me which has seen a lot of the really unsavory aspects o human nature over the last year. Thank you all for reminding me that for every really, really crappy, lowlife human being out there, there are ten to make up for it. Thank you for making my family and I feel so loved and yes, special, cherished, pampered. I truly don't have any more words now than when I started, so please, accept this as the genuine thank you it is.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Post

In a few short hours, my kids and I will be in church with Janet and Rob; their church is a simple one, with old wooden pews that have been burnished with years of sliding into them, standing up, kneeling. It will be dark outside, so the sun can't shine in through the stained glass windows, but there will be candles and the secret smell of people congregating to celebrate this season. We will pray and sing, and I will go to the front and kneel to have that smooth, sweet wafer placed on my tongue, and I will stay there for a moment with my head bowed in gratitude and humility.

Tonight we will be at Steve's, and we will eat dinner-we have a tradition now, of smoked pork chops and snack foods and, of course, milk and cookies-and watch a Christmas movie of some sort before the kids are all reluctantly tucked into bed. Tonight, too, I will be able to set out presents; presents sent to us by people I don't even know and people whom I know and love, all because of this crazy blogging thing I started a year or so ago. There will be the coveted Easy Bake Oven for Sam from Santa, complete with an apron that Jacquie decorated for him and several additional mixes-paid for with gift cards sent by some of you. There will be candy, and stocking stuffers, and gifts under the tree in amounts they have quite literally never seen before. I truly do not have the words to let every one of you know how thankful I am for all of you-the surprise and wonder on all the kids' faces has been a sight to see, and I wish every one of you would be able to be there to see what you have given them. Given us.

It isn't about the presents; it is about people who have reached out and showed us love and support. People who have, in my opinion, gone out of their way to be of service to someone else. To us. Not because they feel sorry for us, not because they pity us, but because they simply want to make it better for us this year. I know some of my readers don't believe in God or a Higher Power of any kind, and that is okay-but to me, this is evidence that God works in my life. You can't know how much of a relief it has been to not have to have the constant, gnawing worry about money always there. You can't know just how huge it has been to be able to take time off for the ongoing situation with Hannah and have to count the financial cost; you can't know how overwhelmed and grateful I feel for the fact that this huge group of people has made it so I can clearly concentrate on being there for my family in the midst of the turmoil and uncertainty of things.

And tonight, I will say a prayer for every one of you. That your holiday will be as blessed and full as mine will be, that you go to bed feeling peace and joy and wonder. That you will rest in the knowledge that there are a lot of really, really good people out there, and that you are not alone. I will pray for certain ones of you to have a moment or two of true grace, for others to have blessed, much needed solitude, for one in particular to have really great, impregnating-type sex. I pray for the babies growing in several of you right now, and for the kids some of you already have. And for each one of you, I pray for you to feel just the tiniest bit of what I am feeling today, and know that you are loved.

And this? THIS is for April.
Happy Holidays!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Party Is Over

One more hurdle over with; the office dinner last night is over, and I managed to get through it relatively unscathed. There was one awkward moment when the boss' wife said, "So are we expecting another person?" after the rest of us had congregated, but I just laughed and said, "Heavens no!" and that was that. The food was good, although there was way too much of it (which you will not often hear me say), and the company was also good. I like that part of it, the talking around the table and keeping it light; what I DON'T like is the cozy atmosphere afterward where someone might get me cornered and ask me things I don't want to answer. It is funny; everyone in the office KNOWS about the ongoing situation with Hannah, but I have tried very hard to not let my true emotions come out. Have to maintain the image of being okay, have to make sure the boss knows that I am truly dedicated to the job and am not going to let the outside issues affect my performance (which I have been, but I fake it well). Amber, the receptionist, is the only one who knows how I REALLY feel, partly because she reads the blog and partly because she is nice; she doesn't ignore the crying in the cubicle, and I don't have to feel embarrassed about tearing up in front of her if she asks how we are doing. I was thinking, too, that it is a blessing to have at least one person who will not shy away or cringe when I answer, "No, we are not okay" when asked; that is such a freeing thing. It doesn't CHANGE anything, but it is nice not to pretend all of the time.

Anyway, I skipped the whole going to the boss' house afterward, using the excuse that I did not want to leave Eli home with the little boys too long. While under most circumstances that would be true, I also knew that Owen would be in bed at just after 8:00, so I was stretching the truth a little bit. I think that is a truth-stretching with which I can live, though. When I got home, Owen was waiting in bed for me to come sing to him, and Sam was all sleepy and curled up on the floor waiting to say goodnight, and I would much rather be there than at a party.

I feel very calm and quiet inside today. We still have all of this stuff going on, of course, and after the new year we will have to jump right back in to the reality of trial dates and counseling appointments, we will have to deal with this situation head on again, but for now it feels really nice to not have that looming over our heads. So far as another income goes, there are a couple of possibilities out there, and while again that doesn't solve the problems right this minute, it does bode well for the future. What I like is not feeling so stuck; I always feel better after I have taken action of some sort, even if it doesn't GO anywhere or turns out to have been a wrong choice.

And today is my 200th post; shouldn't there be some sort of fanfare, some waving of flags or a celebration of some sort? Hm. Perhaps I will go in the back and get another cup of coffee and a chocolate cookie and call it good.

P.S. I have gotten requests from a few of you to follow me on Twitter, and I wanted to let you know that I am not simply ignoring you or declining. Instead, what has happened is that I cannot remember my password and, okay, I never could figure out the whole thing. So there. I still adore all of you just as much, I just haven't had the time or the inclination to retrieve my passwird and try it again. That is also why I quit Plurking; I only lasted two days and felt like was trying to read the dictionary while on crack.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Schmonday

It is a beautiful afternoon here, with the snow still soft and deep, not yet marred by wind and leaves and garbage and dog shit. I went home for lunch and the boys were gleefully gearing up for an afternoon out of doors, carrying empty laundry-soap buckets with which to make perfect squares for their forts. They have all been cleaning furiously today, without being asked, in preparation for Christmas Day, which makes me smile. Of course, their method of cleaning involves putting things wherever they can find room, which in our tiny house is no small feat. It will inevitable involve cries of "Where is my other red shoe?" and "Why are there packages of Ramen in the toy box?" but I am going to make a concerted effort to NOT get angry with them when I can't find something. They are working really hard, and are obviously proud of themselves, and I am just going to try my hardest to make sure they continue to feel that sense of accomplishment. I also do not want to upset the balance so that I might end up doing most of it myself-so I am not being completely altruistic here, in case any of you were under the mistaken impression that I might be. I am just lazy, really.

Funny, I just had to call one of our companies in the Pacific Northwest to make a change on a policy, and they are closed due to weather conditions. A week ago I would have laughed and thought, "Oh, what, they got an inch?" but my friend in Seattle emailed me photos this morning and they are getting totally hammered with snow as well. Going back to the being lazy thing, this actually makes me happy-this company in particular is not one of my favorite ones to deal with, so I can actually put it off for a few days without feeling guilty; cool beans.

Get this: a woman called the office to tell me blah blah blah I just can't afford to pay the insurance right now (this is the same woman who, about two weeks ago, called to say, "I JUST got in an accident, is there any way you can start up my insurance again effective today?" Um, no. Illegal, baby, plus perhaps you should have figured in the cost of insurance before you bought a 2008 Dodge Pickup? Just sayin'.), but I know for a fact that yesterday she went to town and bought a Playstation 3 for her son for Christmas. These people are friends, or rather friends-once-removed (their son and Eli are best friends, have been for several years), so that's how I know this-and it drives me crazy. Eli spends a lot of time at their house and gets jealous of M. because he has everything-the Guitar Hero thing, PS2 and now PS3, all of the newest and latest clothes/styles/whatever; what he doesn't see is the nasty underneath like no insurance and worrying all of the time about their home getting foreclosed on. I understand about wanting your kids to have nice things, but not at the expense of regular bills being paid. I don't understand that kind of mentality, I really don't.

My company party is tonight; we are going to a local place for dinner and, I think, have our little gift exchange, and then we are supposed to congregate at the boss' house for games and such. I don't mind so much the dinner part-we will all be sitting at one big table, so my alone-ness won't be so obvious. However, I am really, really dreading doing the game thing. We always play games that need teams, and it feels like grade school where I know I am going to be the last one picked for a team. I hate the whole "cozy up on the couch with your partner" thing, I hate the casual kisses and the goddamned hand-holding. Yes, yes, we are spending time with Steve over the holiday, and yes, I am grateful and all of that, but it still sucks to show up at a company party alone. And I swear, if the server this year says ,"Where is your date?" like the one last year did, I might run out of the room screaming.

Otherwise, I have nothing else to report-and with all that has been happening here the last few months, it is almost nice to have nothing new to say.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Bonus of a Sunday Post

The stomach bug that Owen had has ripped through our entire house like wildfire; Sam was stricken Friday night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning, then Eli came home form his friend's house sicker than sick. By Saturday evening I had it as well (and it is the true measure of friendship that we were shopping with Jacquie and Hannah and her boys, and Jacquie patiently waited outside the bathroom for me to make sure I hadn't vomited up a vital stomach organ. Also, on the way home, she had to pull over once so I could barf on the side of the road; I didn't even get the truck door closed before spewing everywhere, so she and all the kids had to hear it. Believe me, all barriers are down now. It struck me, though, that I haven't had to have someone pull the car over so I could puke since I quit drinking-a bonus even in the midst of shit. Literally). then, early this morning, Hannah got it as well.

The best thing about this bug is that it is relatively short lived. I am fine now, as are all the boys, and I think Hannah is fine, just tired. We are at Jacquie's as I write this doing some Christmas baking; cookie dough is chilling, we have peanut clusters and chocolate-covered spoons hardening, and fudge is next on the list. It has been years since I have done any kind of holiday baking; I can't remember why I ever stopped, unless it has something to do with all these kids and no money. To be in the house of a friend and be very companionable baking together is really, really neat.

Sam finally had his eye appointment yesterday; poor kid, he can only see about 8 inches in front of him, so I am amazed that he is still doing well in school. We get to pick up his glasses on the day after Christmas, and Sam is completely thrilled with the prospect of it. Steve's mom had Owen and Sam all day yesterday, so she is actually the one who helped him pick out the glasses; I told her what I DIDN'T want for him, and they came up with some round metal ones; he says he looks like Harry Potter, which is funny to even imagine. I feel like shit that his eyes were SO bad, though. I have had the money saved for the exam but didn't have enough for the lenses and such, which is why it has taken so long. Still, the fact is that this kid has been basically half-blind for several months now, and here I am yelling at him for sitting so close to the TV. I have ALSO been yelling t him because he acts like he doesn't hear me half the time, but the eye doctor told Linda that Sam has been using his ears to help him make up for the things he can't see; therefore, when he hasn't heard me, it is probably because he has been focusing on listening to the TV to make up for the stuff he can't see. Odd. Anyway, Sam is excited, which is good, and thinks that the glasses are part of his Christmas present, which is also good.

Another good thing: we were all still gone when Steve got home from work, so he went over to his mom's and picked up both Owen and Sam and took them to his sister's house. His nephew just got back from a mission, so there was a big family thing going on-dinner and visiting and candy making, and I know it really meant a lot to Sam to be included. Even better than the chance to go was when they got home and Steve was telling me how GOOD they both were; I could see Sam visibly puff up with pride when Steve was so complimentary toward him. So no, Steve isn't his dad, and never will be, but he can give Sam some of that attention he so desperately needs, and for that I am grateful.

There is much to be grateful for today. I am grateful for the snow, for the smell of chocolate cooking, for the fact that I am no longer sick so I can eat large amounts of it. I am grateful for the help of those who have made this Christmas be one of hope and joy instead of fear and worry and sadness. Someone recently said to me that she hopes I can feel the joy of the human spirit; along with the lovely sentiment came a door-hanging that says, "Believe in the magic of Christmas." and I think I am, I do. There is an entire blog post just waiting for Christmas to be over before it can be written, but for the moment, none of this wonderful stuff, feelings, events have been MY doing, and I am so grateful.

And speaking of gratitude, I won a Hot Blogger Calendar from Mama Smurf and can I just say a heartfelt "Day-ummmm." Because I thought BusyDad was hot, but Mr. December? Whew. I would like for him to sugar MY cookies, I tell you. Just sayin.'

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Friday and Class is OVER!

What a day I had yesterday! Owen woke up throwing up about 4:00 in the morning, and basically did not stop until last night. Poor little guy had projectile bodily fluids coming out of every possible orifice all day long. In between bouts of throwing up (which would also trigger a diaper explosion; poor thing, his bum was just raw yesterday), he dozed, or would even get up and play for a little while, and in the meantime I did laundry (Okay, so I know he is only 2.5, but is there a reason that he just can't hit the goddamned puke bucket? Even when I help him, he still gets it everywhere) and dishes and whatever it is that people who are home all day do. We have piles-literally-of clean laundry that just doesn't get folded, so I made a dent in that at least-progress is good, however little.

Jacquie came over to be with Owen so the older kids and I could make it to the graduation ceremony of the class. It was open to families, so Sam was able to go with us and have dinner, etc... I am really, really glad it is over, for a variety of reasons. All of the kids stood up and did a little speech they had written on a virtue, and let me tell you, the ones Hannah and Eli did totally kicked ass. Of course I would say that. being their mom, but I would have thought so even had I not birthed them. I will admit that since the majority of the other kids in the class are barely literate, maybe it wasn't so hard, but the two of them really did shine (and to be fair, another young woman who has been coming to the class alone as neither of her parents give a shit did an excellent job; she wrote a poem that was lovely). So we heard those, dutifully clapped, got our certificates (okay, I will admit to a certain amount of secret glee when we all got the fancy certificates saying that we passed the class. Even though we couldn't really NOT pass.), and were out of there by about 7:30. The head lady of the class, the one to whom I sent the email, actually gave me a partial refund for the fees, and all the facilitators gave all of us a big hug. Which isn't necessarily something I felt comfortable with, but meh, whatever. So I got money back, a certificate, AND got felt up by a group of women-almost sounds like some porn movie, doesn't it?

I digress. After the class we had all this extra time (frankly, I wasn't quite ready to go home and deal with the O.) so we drove around a looked at Christmas lights while playing holiday music. This used to be our tradition when it was just the four of us, after the separation from the ex; we would fill in the long evening hours when we weren't sure what to do with ourselves by driving around and looking at lights. It has since become a tradition of sorts, and last night was really the first time so far that I have felt the spirit of Christmas move me. I mean, it hasn't been terrible like I was worried about, FAR from it, but I haven't really felt that excitement I am used to feeling. However, last night as we were driving around and looking at the displays and planning the menu for the day, I felt it start to trickle in. Still there today, too, and I feel grateful. I am truly getting every single thing I want, in fact I already HAVE-I will be spending it with some of the most important people in my life, I get to cook a lovely meal, and we will have enough , so I can just sit back and enjoy as many moments as I can. It feels real to me, finally.

I went to tuck Sam in last night, though, and I found him crying; it just broke my heart. I know the holidays in general are a little hard on him-he hears Steve and I talking about when he will pick Owen up to go eat with his family, and he hears Hannah and Eli talking to their dad, and I know he misses the one huge thing that is missing in his life. He still can't quite articulate it other than to say how much he HATES his dad, but I know the problem isn't that he hates his dad, it is that he misses him so much that it hurts. I hate it because I can't fix it for him, either. I can and do provide positive males to hang around, he has a group of people who love him totally and completely, but none of them are his father. I did the only thing I could think of to do, which was to talk about this recipe that just he and I are making to take to Steve's on Christmas Eve for dessert(flour less chocolate cupcakes with a dollop of whipped cream in the middle), and to rub his sharp little shoulder blades and sing to him. God, it just isn't enough, but it is what I can do. Talk about feeling helpless and inadequate. I know that most of the time he does pretty okay; birthdays and holidays are the worst, but it still hurts me to know that all I can really do is help him weather the storm.

Still, all in all, it is a good day. I came in this morning to find an email from someone I had been thinking about and worried about, someone I care about a lot, so that was both a pleasure AND a relief. It isn't snowing here but it is a LOT warmer than it has been, a whopping 22 degrees. We get to go to a neighboring town tomorrow to get the fixings for our feast, and for the moment, I am feeling pretty contented. thanks to all of you who have helped me get here, on a lot of different levels.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Decision is Made

It has just occurred to me that I am coming up on 200 posts. That just seems little bit crazy to me. It is funny, I was just looking through the archives and remembered how excited I would get when I would get 6 comments. Like, 6 comments was a really, really good day! I have to just shake my head and laugh at myself now. I mean, it isn't like I have 80 comments like SOME (ahem, you know who you are...and I still like you anyway!), or get interviewed for newspapers (ahem again) but still-I have a ***following***! Yep, makes you chuckle out loud, doesn't it?

A lot of people in my real life don't "get" the whole blogging thing, and I don't know that it can be explained. For me, so much of my life has revolved around writing, around trying to make my thoughts into words so as to make them REAL, that for me this seems a reasonable offshoot of that. The fact that people READ me just makes it all the better.

Due a rather strange series of seemingly unrelated conversations-from the comments made here and in my day to day life-I have made some decisions regarding this whole writing/blogging thing. Don't worry, I am not going to do a bunk and just disappear, nor am I moving to another location and not telling any of you where I am. It isn't anything less than what I am doing now; instead, it is more. Or has the potential to be. You all know about my money issues, and while things are looking up so that I can put off getting a second job immediately, I have got to find a way to get more money coming in. This seems like such a no-brainer to many people, but the long-term ramifications of taking on another job are far-reaching in terms of, "Who will raise my kids?" and it isn't a decision easily made. I find it nearly impossible to contemplate making my 16 year old daughter have the added responsibility of taking care of her younger siblings three or four nights a week, and I would have to work at least that often to make any appreciable financial difference. Also, I would be unable to continue to be the kind of mom I AM if I am gone. While I can't go so far as to say "I have thought of little else!" in the last month or so, the thoughts have been circling around in my mind on some level nearly all of the time.

Then, in the space of a few weeks, some of you made the comment about writing for pay (paraphrasing, okay?), along with some suggestions, and then several people in my everyday life have made comments about how much they like my writing, how good I am, and that I should be doing it part-time. Honestly, I kind of blew them off, all of them, because that icky, self-conscious little me was all like, "No way could I ever do something like THAT! I am not good enough!" As usual, the voice sounds like my mom. So I have thought about this, too, a lot...

And I realize that not only CAN I do it, I HAVE done it. I had an article published in a (little-known) Attachment Parenting magazine. My college (and that was mere years ago, I was 32) English Professor took ALL of my essays to use for examples of "The Perfect Paper." This isn't to say I see myself as perfect, not by any means. But what I am, at the risk of sounding cocky, is good. I have gone through some of my old posts and some of them really stand out to me as, "Wow." Of course, others make me cringe and want to delete delete delete, but those I just put down as part of the process.

So that is what my decision is; I am just going to grab life by the balls and start writing. I have begun to write about the ongoing situation with Hannah, using different parts of different posts, pieces from my journal, etc...and when I get it all wrapped up and ready it will be submitted to a magazine I know and love. I already own the Writer's Digest for 2008 (can you say GEEK?), which is an invaluable resource. In short, I am going to begin doing seriously something I have wanted and needed to do for a long time.

I know that the likelihood of me becoming wealthy is non-existent-and that is okay. I know that writing is hard, painstaking, frustrating work, but that is also okay (I am not exactly a paragon of NON-Laziness, but I am also no stranger to hard work. So, meh). I just think that maybe desperation has been leading me to this place of doing what I really, really want to do, physically need to do, yearn for. And if I happen to make enough to pay the occasional bills sometimes? All the better.

So that is the decision for the day. I have been carrying it around for a little while, not wanting to really say much to anyone or for God's sake on my BLOG, because you might laugh at me or think it is silly. But then today, saying it out loud, I think, "Yes. This is exactly right."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bling and a Meme

Look at that; isn't she a beauty? Mama Smurf over at My Life gave this to me, and this is actually how she put it:
"...cuz I have a soft spot for a gal that tells it like it is. And I just have a soft spot for this chic in general. Life has dealt her some pretty low blows but she always comes out pointing at the shiny spot on a rusty old dilapidated Lincoln."

So of course there are rules, the first being that I have to tell you all ten honest things about me. Like her, my life is pretty much an open book so this might be a little bit difficult, but here goes.

1. I recently found out that there are several people in my real day-to-day life who read my blog. Including a couple of family members and a co-worker (Hi, Amber!). The honesty part of this is that now I am finding myself censoring a little bit more than I normally would for fear of hurting someone's feelings or maybe giving them some insight into me that I really don't want them to have. At the same time, I don't want them to stop reading, so there is a conundrum for sure there.

2. I hate those holiday letters I get in the mail from people every year. I find them pretentious and usually based on a small grain of truth, with a large helping of "let's twist this around to make us look as good as possible" thrown in. I know that the intentions are good, or at least I like to assume they are because I believe that most people ARE well-intended, but please. Also, it is offensive to me that they are addressed, "Dear Friends and Family..." At least take the time to write my name at the top, okay? Whenever I get them, I feel like mooing, just one more cow in the cattle drive of life.

3. I have all of these great plans for Christmas dinner, right? I think I mentioned something about prime rib? All that is well and good, and I love to cook, but I have the slightest bit of a problem focusing. In that I inevitably burn to a crisp two out of five sheets of cookies, usually because I am reading. I also habitually burn grilled cheese sandwiches because I am, you know, reading. And forget they are cooking. At one point, I was cursing my seeming inability to make a golden-brown grilled cheese and Eli said, "That's okay, mom, I LIKE the taste of burned!"

4. Sometimes the fact that I have these four kids is truly the only reason I get up in the mornings. I don't want to kill myself, nor do I want to die in some freak accident, but there are some days when it just seems like too much effort. Another conundrum is that one of my biggest fears-the kind that wakes me up in the middle of the night sweating-is dying while my kids are young, when they still need me so much. Is it any wonder I sound so crazy half of the time?

5. I like the smell of roses, but I hate the smell of rose perfume. It reminds me of those scary ladies at church with their powdery, wrinkled skin and their long, gnarled fingers that seemed like they were going to claw my eyes out instead of pinching my cheeks. It smells like death to me, and even though I have mostly gotten over my fear of those ladies, the smell still freaks me out, big time.

6. I don't think I would mind living above a mortuary because I don't think that dead bodies are scary at all. They are just there. However, there is a bell that rings, really loudly, every time someone brings a body in, day or night. I can hear that bell both at my house AND at the office if it is quiet and it makes me flinch every time.

7. I love to read almost more than anything. We will rent movies or get our Netflix ones, and they will sometimes be ones I really thought I wanted to see, but I always end up reading through most of the movie. and then I annoy the shit out of the kids by saying, "Now, why is so and so doing that?" "Who is that person?" I don't know why I do this, but I always have. One time in third grade I got grounded for reading too much, I kid you not. My mom said I could watch TV instead-which even then made no sense to me whatsoever.

8. I have a hard time spending money. I mean, beyond the obvious in that I never have a lot TO spend. There is part of me that is really, really tight-fisted; I am sure that there is some psychological explanation for it that has to do with the feast-or-famine mentality, but I just know that even if I HAVE it, it is like pulling teeth to get me to part with it. However (another conundrum), I am generous and like to buy things for other people; maybe it is just spending money on things for myself that I have a hard time with.

9. I really don't like to gamble. One time I spent something like 4 hours playing the PENNY slots at a reservation with my then-mother -in-law. I think that has something to do with #8 up there. Plus all of the lights and the smoke and the odd people that come out of the woodwork bother me some.

10. It has never once occurred to me to censor what the kids have read. I don't actually own any "bad" books" other than my Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb ones (and the ones that are really sexy get given back to Jacquie as soon as I am done with them, usually), but even so, I am sure they have read some that are not really very appropriate. At the same time, one of the biggest advantages I have seen to this is that they have read things far beyond their years and have been exposed to all sorts of new things. For instance, on my (one of my) shelf I have a book by Annie Dillard sitting next to The Writer's Presence (a college textbook) which is right by the book of essays by Barbara Kingsolver which is underneath Steinbeck. Eli has read Hemingway, and all of them know who George Eliot and Georgia O'Keefe are. I don't think that can ever be a bad thing.

So there you go. Not very exciting, is it? And I know I am supposed to pass this on to other Bloggers, but you know, I am just not going to. Take it if you want it, because I think they are fun to do, and pass it on if you want to. I would love to see some of you tell me one honest thing about yourself in the comment sections, but if not? Meh, whatever.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I just got back to the office after going to the arraignment for CF (the acronym is courtesy of April, BTW), and there were no real surprises in that he pled Not Guilty. However, he has been formally charged now with FOUR felonies instead of three, and three of the four are The Big Ones, while the last is a "minor" one. My guess is that the 4th charge is there simply to be thrown away, and the more severe charges are there to be pled down, but we shall see. A preliminary hearing has been set for January 12th, and a trial date for January 28th. At this point, of course, we don't know if it will go to trial or not, but we have to prepare as if it will. After this, I don't know what we need to do, and will call the Prosecutor tomorrow to find out.

I sort of crept in and sat at the back, right next to the aisle; up until the very end they didn't know I was there. Actually, I am not sure if the prosecutor or the defense attorney even knew, but CF sure did. He sort of sauntered out of the little box and down the aisle, and then he saw me. Our eyes met, even, and he immediately hung his head and walked a lot less cockily. Which was my point. I needed him to see that I was there, and that I was pissed, and that there is no way we are going to let this go. Not a chance in hell. Mission accomplished. All in all, I was only over to the courthouse for 15 minutes or so, but I feel like big things were accomplished in that 15 minutes. Plus I am giving myself major bonus points for exercising restraint; I did NOT glare, I did not flip him off, I simply looked at him and raised my eyebrows. That's it.

And now we move on and wait to see what happens next. In the meantime, as I have said a thousand times before, life just keeps going on, and we take it as it comes. Friday was a little hectic and crazy with me having to run to the school and pick up a very ill Sam, then take him in to see Janet as well. After work was the AA Christmas party, so the kids all stayed at Jacquie's while we went. I had been bitching some because it started so early this year (6:00!), which makes it a little hard to get everything together when you don't' get off until 5:00, but in retrospect I was glad. I had picked up the kids and we were home by 9:30, which was really quite nice.

Saturday, we went with Steve to a neighboring town to have dinner and see a huge display of lights that is up every year. It is at the base of one of the mountains, and it was bitterly cold, but well worth it. From the top of the drive, it looks and sounds like a carnival with all of the lights dancing and the music playing. I can't quite describe it, other than completely garish and loud and, dare I say it, almost tacky, yet absolutely perfect. It is very hard to be all "Bah Humbug" when you have a two year old who got to see Santa for the first time in memory, and see all the different lights and dioramas, or a nine year old who notices every little detail, or a 16 year old who still wants to hang out with the family, or a man who is just so handsome that you want to eat him up. Really. There was also a CAMEL there, which strikes me as hilarious, yet equally fitting to the whole mood of the place. We were given both candy canes and carrots by Santa, so were able to feed the camel. I had never seen one up close and was surprised at both how huge he was, as well as how strangely beautiful. Are any of you totally screaming "Hick!" by now?

The rest of the weekend was also good, albeit quiet. I spent a lot of time on Sunday making plans for the Christmas deal, including making sure Eli gets to go spend time with my dad and making the arrangements for that. I won't say that I have gone so far as to be EXCITED about it all, but I am getting there, slowly but surely. Thanks to all of you who are helping with that, too. I sure feel a lot less alone these days, which is no small thing.

And today? A good day so far. Breathing room again so far as CF goes, the prospect of snow, the beginning of the first parties at the daycare tonight. These small things are what cobble together the ability to handle (somewhat) the big things, so I am grateful for them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In My Hand I Have....

I have in my hand a copy of the Restraining Order against The Bad Man. This was not procured without effort, believe me, beginning with phone calls on Monday and continuing on into today. The first person I talked to this morning accused me of being over dramatic, causing more problems than I was helping, and also said that I really need to look into counseling for my entire family (which, BTW, is on my list of annoyances because the damn counseling people have not yet called me back. They are next on my list of people to call asking what the fuck is going on. Just sayin'.). Because it just isn't good for me to be so angry, and that it is not helpful to my family for me to feel like this. Um, yeah. So I am supposed to be all nice and let's pray for the son-of-a-bitch, right? Because THAT empowers all of us and makes them feel like they are moving forward. Sure. More like "You are supposed to forgive him and pray for good things to happen to him, so just lay down on the floor and be the doormat for everyone in your life."

I understand about forgiveness, I do, but I am SO not there yet. So any of you remember Terry Anderson, who was a prisoner of war in, I don't know, the 70's or something? Some reporter asked him if he had forgiven his captors, and his reply was, "It is commanded by God that I forgive them; it is my bounden duty. and I will forgive them, just not today." That is basically how I feel. Let's get through this first, let's work through all of the legal issues and see him receive some kind of punishment, let's get our entire family through this immediate crisis, and then we can sit down and talk forgiveness. But not today.

So, we move forward a step at a time. I get to return to both my AA meetings (and I am sure it is petty and wrong, but I almost hope he shows up because now I have the legal stuff to PROVE he can't be there. I would so love to see them revoke his bail), which is such a relief on SO many levels. Hannah will feel a little safer with a copy in her pocket (so to speak), because then she will have her power back to an extent. The nest thing is getting in touch with the counselor, and that can move forward as well.

And life DOES go on. It has been a really, really strange week for me, this horrible situation counteracted by some of the most amazing things...I can't say as it evens out, because that negates the seriousness of the situation (and Janet, in her infinite wisdom, has said very haughtily that "Anyone who says this isn't HUGE should be forced to sit next to Hannah and watch her cry and shake when she sees him."). It is like, however, God is sitting up there saying, "Okay, I love you, and since I can't fix this thing with The Bad Man, what I can do is send these people who are going to help you with the other things you need. So you let ME deal with those things, and you concentrate your energy on Hannah and what needs done there." I have varied daily, hourly, with such swinging emotions, highs and lows, and I just keep getting that same little small voice that says, "Now SHOO; this is My stuff, you go on and worry about that one thing. I got this covered." Believe me, this a hard one for me to take, but the voice is insistent enough that I keep listening. Imagine that.

So we made it through the concert with no pierced eardrums, although unfortunately none of the kids fell down so that hope was dashed. Steve had taken Owen to look at Christmas lights while we were gone, and then all of us were in bed on time. All in all, it wasn't as bad as I anticipated-although now Sam has decided he wants to play the violin all through high school. Because, you know, it might culminate in a trip to DISNEYLAND! Funny kid, though hey, if that's what it takes to keep him interested, great. There is another concert in February-perhaps there will be more action then.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Random Snippet Day

Should I be slightly concerned that when I called the elementary in the neighboring town to talk to someone for work, the secretary recognized my voice? I didn't even have to tell her who was calling. She used to work at the elementary here when Hannah and Eli went there, but moved to the other one about two years ago. Perhaps that means I used to call the school a lot, what do you think? We had some problems with a few things back in the day, and I think that anyone who saw me coming or heard my name on the phone would cringe. Not so this woman; she told me, "Oh, you were always so much fun to visit with! And I loved your kids!" She talks so that you can actually see the exclamation points after sentences like that. I think it is because her husband is a pharmacist; I mean, if I had a husband, and he was a pharmacist, I am pretty sure I could find a way to be happy all of the time. That said, I really like her, even though I am pretty sure she used to be a cheerleader AND she is still beautiful.

My mom called last night and invited herself, her "gentleman friend," and my grandma to my house for Christmas. Apparently after, oh, 6-ish years she has realized that every time she asks us to spend Christmas in the bar with her and a few dozen of her closest (drunkest) pals , I am going to say no. Go figure. I found it a little bit odd that she would feel free to just invite herself over, but at the same time, it will be good. She is even going to send me the funds with which to purchase the food to make the meal, which is quite thoughtful as well as necessary if she wants something fancier than cheeseburgers. I think-since it isn't MY money-I am going to try a prime rib. We'll see. It is funny, though, that last week, Eli was saying, "Why can't we just have Christmas dinner at home? We haven't been at our house to eat in years." Which is quite true-I don't really care to cook a feast for just the five of us, and we have always had invites to other places. So this year, we are going to have a feast of my making (and I am not really exaggerating to say that I am, in fact, a damn good cook!), with the kids all pitching in, and I am strangely excited about it. My mom and I have a very conflicted relationship, and I have experienced a lot of repressed anger toward her since this stuff with Hannah has come up, so I think that it will be good to have this one day where we can all just be together. She won't be drinking, either, which makes her much easier to deal with.

Sam has his first orchestra concert tonight, for which he is really excited. Me, not so much. I mean, I love him, more than I can say, and I am thrilled to see him learning (albeit slowly and painfully) to play the violin and all of that, I really am. However, I hate those concerts. The auditorium is always too cold, and there are those parents who stand in the aisles and snap photos like they are doing a shoot for GQ even though they tell us all at the beginning that they will provide "photo ops" at the end of the concert and to please not take them during....and there are also the inevitable screamers, those children whose parents let them run up and down the aisles (BTW, I have very judiciously made other arrangements for Owen, she says self-righteously). My only hope for the evening is that one of the kids forgets the whole "don't lock your knees" spiel and falls over. And I hope it isn't mine. I know, I know, I am the world's worst mom-but only because I say it out loud.

My office is about three doors down from a bar, and several days last week I would walk from my car to the office and encounter a puddle of frozen puke. It got to be kind of like a lily-pad of puke in all of these random places because every day there was a new puddle. That is bad enough, but worse is the fact that I think it is the same guy based on what it looks like, and I think he should change his diet.

So there you have it-just a few of the random things going on in my brain today. I thought we all might need a bit of lightening of the mood on my dark blog....but also because I know nothing new yet, and because life keeps moving on.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Beam of Light

Happy Monday! I just got off of the phone with the prosecutor, and I will toot my own horn here by saying that I was very calm and reasonable, prefacing the conversation with, "I have a few questions that I hope you can answer for me...." and proceeded to tell him what had transpired on Friday. Without yelling or crying, which is HUGE (for me). He was noticeably upset, and is going to try to figure out who dropped the ball and why. The big hope is that he will be able to set a hearing to revoke bail, but no one really believes that will happen. Instead, the best case scenario is that he can make sure the order is much more specific and anything from this point on will count against him. This is what I appreciate about the prosecutor: he was very honest and said, "I will do what I can in between court cases, but you will most likely not hear from me until later this afternoon or first thing in the morning." I like the honesty, even if it isn't what I want to hear. Because I want answers NOW, damn it!

So I made that call first thing this morning, and a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders just for having talked to him. I have little faith in the justice system, and I do not like having to rely on them for much of anything, but at the same time, it is all I have. As much as I would LIKE to, I cannot take matters into my own hands, and I can't fix this. I have no control over the outcome, so instead just have to do what I need to do, stay as informed as I can, and try to be the best advocate for Hannah that I can.

In other ways, though, it was a good weekend, and I feel like I am stronger today than I have been in a little while. Steve and I talked about Christmas and it looks like we are ALL going to be together, which will be really, really nice. In the past we have stayed over on Christmas Eve and opened presents together in the morning, but I wasn't sure what it would be like this year with all that has gone on between he and I. So I will get to have all of my kids around me this year, which is what I need and want. The kids were asking me last night what I wanted for Christmas, and I said, rather wistfully, that I just wanted to be with the people I love, with them and with Steve, and not an hour later Steve brought Owen home and we talked about it-is that God working again? I don't know, but I just feel incredibly blessed and grateful, for this, of course, but for a thousand more things that I can't write about at the moment.

I know I will have more bad days, I know that the road with Hannah and the whole court thing and all the other ramification is going to be a hard, long one, but for the first time it feels like that little beam of light isn't wavering as much. I wouldn't go so far as to call it hope, not yet, but at least I can see a little bit now.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is There Justice?

It isn't quite the end of the weekend and I don't know what is in store for the rest of the day so I can't really call this a weekend recap. Instead, I will just say that it has been a very eventful weekend thus far.

It turns out that not only did The Bad Mad get out of jail without us being notified, but he ALSO showed up at the AA meeting on Friday night. Jacquie and I had been planning on going to the meeting together and then coming back here and we were all going to stay the night, but plans changed and I ended up having a night out with Steve and stayed the night with HIM. At the time, I struggled with a little bit of guilt, because I felt like I was totally dissing Jacquie because a better offer came along, but now what I am is grateful. It was highly unusual for Steve to want to spend an entire evening with me AND a night, especially because he actually had to take the night off of work from his second job to make the invite, and I wanted to take advantage of his kindness-God knows when and if it might happen again! Anyway, I now feel as if that was God working in my life, making sure I did not show up at the meeting and find The Bad Man there. It was bad enough for poor Jacquie; her husband was also there, and he basically had to hold her back and prevent her from doing something rash-and I would have been right there with her, I think.

She said the the worst thing was walking in the door and seeing him come around the corner into the kitchen, hearing the laughter in the other room behind him. He said, "Oh, hi!" to her, as if he either thought she didn't know or, perhaps, thought she wouldn't care, and she felt like it was a slap in the face to all of us. The laughter in the background, the fact that he was out and living his life as if nothing had happened, well, needless to say it made her angry.

She and Jim duly called the police (and not me, because they didn't want to ruin my evening out, which I respect and love them for), and apparently the order from court on Wednesday hasn't gone through yet, and until he is actually served with the order, there isn't anything illegal about what he is doing. It feels to me like a big fuck you, though, because he was sitting right there in the courtroom when the judge and the prosecutor were talking about it. The police made a report as well, which was good, even though it may not change anything, and when I called the Sheriff's office on Saturday morning, they told me the same thing-that even though there wasn't anything technically illegal about it, they would like me to report anything else like this that might happen over the weekend, and they would make a report on it.

Still and all, nothing to be done until Monday morning, and I will call the prosecutor's office first thing to find out what the hell is going on. I feel angry and betrayed by this so-called "justice" system, because three weeks in it feels like they are already dropping balls-it makes me worried about the outcome, and whether or not the small sense of security I had about The Bad Man ultimately doing time is, in fact, something I should feel. Still, it's all I have at the moment, and I am just going to try to get through it all day by day.

We opted NOT to tell Hannah about any of this until tomorrow, because for the first time in three weeks she has shown signs of rejoining "life," so to speak. On Friday, she went to stay the night with a friend, and that was the first time she has shown a willingness to be with someone other than out little circle of people. We also went to a neighboring town yesterday with Jacquie, her son, and the friend Hannah stayed with, and the girls wandered off in the mall and Target alone, and that is progress. I don't want to ruin that, but will instead tell her tomorrow after school that he is out, and with hope the new order will have com through as well. It IS lying by omission, which I don't necessarily condone, but I think in this case it is okay.

With luck and hope, I will know more tomorrow. Until then, I am just going to get through this day in as peaceful a manner as possible.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Email I Actually Sent

Head Lady of The Class~

First, I need to apologize for having been so long in getting to you, as well as for not calling you last night when we opted to stay home. As you can imagine, there has been a lot going on with our little family in the last three weeks, and we had court on Wednesday, so the current situation has consumed the majority of our time and energy. Last night, feeling the way I felt, the last thing I needed to do was go to class and face more conflict, and that is what I felt would happen.

At this point, I highly doubt that we will be returning. As you and I discussed, there have been a lot of really great things about the class; we have learned a lot of useful things that we have begun to implement in our daily lives, and for that I am grateful and will continue to be so. However, the problems and concerns that I had which may seem minor to other people are now outweighing the good things.

I understand that each one of us, as participants in the class and as instructors, is coming from different places in our lives. However, I take offense to N.'s comments such as “The most important person in a child’s life is his father,” “Kids can’t succeed without a two parent home,” and other less obvious but no less offensive things. In some cases, that is true; I get that. However, to paint every one of us dreaded single parents with the same brush is both wrong and completely insensitive. I appreciate and respect all that Nancy has accomplished in her life, and know that she means well. However, it is extremely bothersome to me that she feels comfortable standing up in front of a room full of struggling parents to point out everything we are doing wrong, without at the same time offering practical suggestions other than to eat dinner with your kids and pray. I am sorry, but most of our problems go far deeper than that. I am also concerned with Nancy’s implication that God is the only answer and that if the kids don’t believe in him, they are doomed. While I have not heard this personally, Eli has expressed both anger and confusion with regards to her comments to that effect. While I personally DO believe that we need to rely on something greater than ourselves and am in complete agreement with Nancy in that regard, I do not like her to preach to my kids. This could be addressed simply by being rephrased: “In my life, I have found my faith to be my greatest strength, but that doesn't work for everyone,” rather than “You have to believe in….”

In addition, I am still unable to accept the excuse for JA’s behavior at the last class as being a personal issue that had nothing to do with me. I understand completely how when things happen it is hard to separate them from your job. However, in a setting like that, where she is portrayed as being a professional, her behavior was and is inexcusable. I know that if I got in the face and pointed my finger at one of my clients, I would be fired, with no questions asked. Furthermore, I did and will continue to stand up for both of my children and Ronda in that my daughter was simply asking the question that was on every teen’s mind: “What happens if we fail?” I encourage my children-all of them-to ask questions rather than wander aimlessly around and try to figure it out as they go along; for JA to have behaved the way she did simply gave all of the kids in the room the feeling that it isn’t, in fact, okay to ask questions. That is not the message I want my kids to learn.

The kids and I may choose to go to the last two classes, if for no other reason than to prove a point. However, if we decide not to, I will let you know beforehand.

I thank you very much for your support and desire to listen to my concerns. I respect what you are trying to do, and feel better now about using some of you as a resource should the need arise. I had high hopes for the class and feel sad that we didn’t get as much out of it as I had expected, but will not negate the fact that the things we DID learn have made a difference already.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, via email or otherwise. Thank you again for taking the time to listen and to help me process my thoughts.



Thursday, December 4, 2008

And Now My Own Update

As most of you know by now (thank you again to my lovely April for updating the blog for me; you know I love you, right?), Hannah did not have to testify yesterday-thank you to whomever was Up There watching out for that sweet girl! It was very, very bizarre, I tell you that, the whole thing. It was like some kind of auction, with bidding and negotiations and a lot of back-and forth until a reasonable agreement was reached by all.

So this is where it stands now: In exchange for reduced bail (so he will most likely be getting out today or tomorrow), he agreed to waive the preliminary hearing, as well as agreed that when he is bound over to District Court, there will be a third felony charge as well (we were originally told there would be three charges, but for some reason they only charged him with the two; after talking with Hannah the prosecutor said there should, in fact, be three). He is on house arrest, only able to go to work and home, but as an added layer of protection there will be a No Contact Order in place that applies to all five of us. I was quite impressed with the fact that even though he is supposed to be only at work or home, the judge specified that the Monday and Friday AA meetings were "mine," as well as addressed his supporters in the courtroom by saying, very sternly, "I would not expect to hear of any kind of retaliation against the victim's mother, nor of any kind of third-party contact. There will be no messages relayed to her through the plaintiff via any of you." I thought his gesture was very kind, and there was one person in particular there whom could really cause problems-with any luck, this isn't going to happen now. (As an aside, I would hope that after having gone to the particular meeting for 6+ years, those people know me well enough to know that once I am not duty-bound to be on my best behavior, they had probably best keep their mouths shut. Just sayin').

He will go to his plea hearing in District Court on the 15th, at which he will likely plead Not Guilty. They will then set a trial date, but even HIS attorney is not anticipating it going to trial. Basically, for him to waive the hearing is a good thing for us for many reasons, not the least of which is that he is basically agreeing that there is probably enough evidence to bind him over to District, which is in effect an admission of guilt. There are whole lot of other steps that will need to be taken between the arraignment and the trial, even if a plea agreement is reached, and though I know the basics, I don't have the energy right this minute to go into it all. Instead, as things occur, I will update you all then.

The best part of this all was that Hannah didn't have to testify; we weren't thrilled about the whole getting out of jail issue, but in the long run, I think it was the best decision. Steve, Janet, Hannah, Jim and I all kind of conferred together and discussed it, and it feels like the right decision to all of us, as well as to the Prosecutor. With hope and just a little bit more luck, my girl will not have to testify at all, and wouldn't that be a blessing?

I did not go back to work yesterday afternoon, I was just-done. Even though I can ill afford it, it felt like the right decision for Hannah and I to just hang together and kind of process things. We went to have a snack, and by then the boys were home from school, and then we gathered up and went to Jacquie and Jim's house for pizza and cake for Hannah's birthday. It was lovely; they are so much like part of our family that it felt like a cozy warm blanket for us to be there. We ate too much and laughed a lot and had this oh-so-great chocolate ice cream cake that Jacquie had baked for Hannah, and it was a really good ending to the day. I think that even though the hearing was on her birthday, the good memories from the day are going to overshadow the bad ones, and what more could I ask for?

More, more, there is SO much more-feelings and perceptions and all sorts of different things, but I am just not up to it. I don't know if it is simply that now we really DO have a lull, the next worst thing is over with, whatever, but I am dragging. Physically, emotionally, mentally, financially, I am broke for the moment. I know that each one of you deserve a public thank you, and a huge smack on the lips, but please accept right now that all I have to offer is a simple, heartfelt thank you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Update (from April)

Kori called me today after court. Hannah did NOT have to testify (yay!), but in return, they had to agree to allow for a lower bail so he will be out tomorrow. Thankfully, he's on house arrest, and is only allowed to go to work, and he's not to go anywhere near Kori or her family.

I was most pleased to hear that the judge specifically ordered him to stay away from the AA meetings that Kori attends so she still has a safe place. There were some others from those meetings there, and the judge also told them they were not to even discuss the case with Kori, and there is to be no retaliation against the family.

Steve and other friends came to support Hannah, and after I talked to her, they were all going to go out and celebrate Hannah's birthday.

Hannah handled herself beautifully. She cried when he walked near them, but after, she was back to being angry, which Kori and I think is a good thing for her to be.

There is still a possibility she will have to testify if it goes to trial, but we're hoping that there's a plea bargain instead. No more will be known until the 15th, the next court date.

I don't want to go into much detail about our conversation, because I have a feeling that Kori will need her space back tomorrow to process everything, but we knew that a lot of people were thinking of her today and wanted to at least give you an idea of their day.

From the bottom of MY heart, I thank you all for the love and support you've shown her throughout this ordeal. I've told her to just keep thinking of all the people that are behind her. Thanks to all the readers out there, that's quite a lot.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Emergency Double Post

Notice the time? 4:15 on Tuesday afternoon. I just got off the phone with the prosecutor's office and they are, in fact, going to go ahead with the preliminary hearing tomorrow. This, despite the fact that I was told with surety yesterday that it would NOT be tomorrow. We are to show up at the courthouse at 12:45 tomorrow having had absolutely no preparation-but if the prosecutor has time, she might be able to call me and talk to me for a few minutes in the morning. The hearing is set for 1:00, but we might not actually get IN then, so instead I was told to come prepared to spend the afternoon there, just in case. It looks as if Hannah is actually going to have to testify tomorrow as well, which is not what I either expected or was led to believe.

This is tomorrow; do you guys know what tomorrow is? Tomorrow is Hannah's 16th birthday. So instead of getting to be all excited and carefree, planning her first "date" and getting all giddy with her friends, she will be taken out of school and have to face her molester. Instead of getting to have this one day be etched in her memory as one of those "perfect" days, the memory will always have negative connotations for her. And that? That.Fucking.Sucks.

I have begun to rally the forces. Jacquie's husband Jim will be there, and Steve will try to be, and Janet, and of course, me. We can't get her through this, but we can damn sure be there next to her, holding her hand and looking that filthy bastard in the eye. We can, combined, give her the strength to face him and plow right through her fear and find her anger. and with any luck at all, I will not be arrested for attempted murder. Perhaps the forces are not going to be there just for her.

So pray for justice, please, and for mercy and gentleness for Hannah. Please pray that something good will happen tomorrow to somehow outweigh this horrible event. Please pray that her really pissed off warrior princess persona will come out in full force, because she is there, and I need for everyone else to see that as well. I don't know if I will be back in the office tomorrow or not, but I am going to give April the keys to the blog so that if I DON'T show up by Thursday, she can let you all know what is going on, and how much my bail is going to be. (I am only kidding there-my kids need me too much for some fucker to cause me to lose my temper bad enough to be arrested. I hope.). But in the meantime, please pray to whatever you believe in for this to be okay.


Getting Nailed is NOT as Fun As I Thought

I think I just bent over and got nailed up the ass by the universe, I really do. With no foreplay, either. Although perhaps the awful things that have occurred in our lives the past year were, in fact, some sort of extended foreplay designed to get me prepared for the ultimate in ass fucking? I don't know; all I know is that it hurts.

The hits keep coming, folks. I am sure some of you remember when the whole wage garnishment thing came about, and I had to deal with 25% of my check being garnished to pay one of the ex's many creditors, right? And you remember that I have a friend who was willing and able to help me out on a monthly basis until it was paid off in order to keep my bills paid? Well, due to shitty circumstances in her own life, she cannot do that anymore; I understand completely, of course, and I hate that SHE feels so terrible about it, but it was a blow for me (and yes, she knows that, I am not telling tales out of school here). And now I don't know what to do. I talked before about Christmas and now I'm all like, well to hell with that, I have to worry about paying my bills.

****There are those who have helped out, and I want to say thank you, but I can't use it for Christmas now. Which I know was the intention. So I need for all of you to email me because I don't have all of your email addresses and I feel like shit for not using it as it was intended, and owe you apologies.*****

So what I need now from you all are suggestions. I am back to having to do the second job thing, and I need some ideas. Babysitting someone else's kids in my home is NOT an option; neither is housecleaning (I don't even clean my own fucking house) nor a paper route. So if you guys can keep your minds open for me and send some ideas my way, I would appreciate it. Keep in mind that I have neither computer nor Internet at home (though my dad may be working on a PC for me), also. I had thought about some kind of writing gig, but then I remembered that I have no contacts, no network there, and that most of the time, you are thrilled to be "published," and payment is rarely an option. So I kicked that one out the door ASAP. Anyway, please let me know if you have some thoughts on that.

I am not sure how the housing thing is going to work out, either. I am afraid that I may have to give up my place on the list, which fucking sucks. And no, this isn't the emotions talking, this is something I have been thinking about from every angle there is and this is the one that makes sense. With all of this other stuff going on, the newly-urgent money situation and the ton of extra time I am already taking off of work to deal with the stuff going on with Hannah, as well as additional expenses associated with that, there is just no way I can afford even a slight increase in rent and utilities. Another dream, gone.

I haven't talked to the kids about this yet, about the whole Christmas thing or the housing thing or the second job thing. I am going to talk with Steve tonight about taking Owen for Christmas because even though we have always all spent it together, Steve has already gotten Owen a ton of stuff and I am so NOT going to make the older kids watch him open stuff while all they have are their stockings filled with, you know, stocking stuffer shit.

I spent a long time on the phone last night with April, and that was lovely and just what I needed. I felt strong last night, but this morning, I realize that what I really am is just done. So many times in my life I have prided myself on having the ability to pick myself up off the ground, brush off the dust, and keep moving. However, I am not sure I can do that this time. It has been too much, this whole long year, and I think maybe it is time to just accept that this is what life really is about. It isn't going to get any better; instead, it is a pile of shit with some really, really beautiful moments thrown in, and maybe it is time I accepted that those moments are really all there is. I don't mean that in the sense that I am going to whack myself because life is shit (besides, April has told me quite simply that I cannot leave HER alone, so there you go!), but in the sense that-well. Just that life is shit, and I have to take those moments because that's all I get.