Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

Nae:  If I fall asleep, wake me up at midnight.

Cory:  Why?

Nae:  If the world ends, I want to be awake for it.

Cory:  The Mayan calendar doesn't end until November of 2012, so if it does end it isn't going to be right away.

Nae (thinking back to working all day yesterday on my credit report and disputing various items):  Well, at least if the world ends I'll have a good credit score when it does.

Cory:  *chokes on his drink and almost sprays the room in diet coke*


Happy New Year everyone!  Hope this year brings you everything you deserve!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Birthday Adventures

It's a well-known fact that I have an amazing ability for ruining special days.  Birthdays, Christmas, Fathers' Day...  it doesn't matter what the occasion is, I can find some way to do something to make it.. not special.  I don't do it on purpose, it just seems to be a gift that I have.  Cory's birthday this year was no exception. 

Every year Cory has taken the week between Christmas and New Years off work. This year, because of circumstances that were only partially my fault, we weren't able to do that.  After some deliberation, we decided to just take off his birthday and have two four day weekends in a row.  I knew he didn't want much for his birthday.  Mae Mae gave us an iPad for Christmas, he got a new computer in the summer that was part of his birthday, and he found some really good deals on some games that he wanted in the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  All he really wanted was some time to relax before we both have to face some really crazy stressful stuff next week at work.  Somehow, even with his expectations being so low anyway, I found a way to ruin the day.  What can I say, I'm just THAT talented.

It all started with the stuff that is going on with our respective exes.  Cory got a call from his lawyer's receptionist of the week saying that he had received some paperwork from Lovely Ex's lawyer that we had to meet about and respond to, and he wanted to set up a meeting.  So, since we had the day off anyway, Cory made an appointment for his birthday.  That triggered my memory that I still have a few outstanding responsibilities I need to take care of in regards to my case with Delinquent Ex's debt they are trying to make me pay for.  I needed some documentation from the bank that my dad had to get, and I figured since we were going to the lawyer's office anyway we could get the stuff that morning and we could give it to him then.  So, my dad and I made plans to meet at the bank as soon as it opened to get the documents I needed.  So, scratch sleeping in late since we don't have the kids off his birthday wish list.

Then, since we were already at the bank, I figured I would open a bank account for Lexie.  She had WAY more money than I am comfortable with an eight year old having in a box in her room.  I had been wanting to open one for awhile, but since we normally work the hours the bank is open it is something I hadn't gotten around to.  Also, we wanted to talk to the bank about a couple of other things that had come up that we wanted to make sure we were making the best decisions on.  In the end, we ended up spending two hours at the bank working with three different people to get everything situated.  After that, we had to go to my parents' house to print out some documents.  Scratch relaxing around the house and not having to do anything off the list. 

At this point, we were both starving.  Cory had been up late the night before, and I'm not really a morning person anyway, so we hadn't gotten up early enough to eat breakfast before heading to the bank.  We weren't planning on it taking too long, so we were just going to grab something after we were done, but "after we were done" had turned in to lunch time.  Since we were at my parents' house anyway, we invited them to come to lunch with us.  We had a really nice time visiting with them.  I love my parents SO much, and I love that they love my husband.  Getting to spend time with them other then dropping off/picking up the kids is so nice.  We had a nice meal, and then came home to work on the "to-do" list we had gotten at the bank. 

A few weeks ago we talked to the bank about the possibility of us getting a home loan so we could buy a house.  I was very NOT happy to find out that quite a few of the debts that Delinquent Ex and I had when we were married were still negatively affecting my credit.  They have been paid off for years, but quite a few of them had not updated.  While we were at the bank they counseled us to get on the credit bureau's websites and run my credit and dispute each item individually.  It was actually surprisingly easy to do, but I am NOT the smartest person when it comes to computers so it made me quite frustrated.  When I am frustrated, I tend to get rather.. snippy.  I snapped at Cory a few times while he was trying to help me.  Do I know how to show my gratitude or what?  Scratch making him feel special and loved off his birthday wish list.

By this point, Cory had quite a headache.  Apparently being up late, waking up early, not eating for half the day, and being snapped at by your wife can give you a headache.  Who knew?  We decided to take a nap to make the headache go away.  In the midst of all the fun of playing around on the internet with my credit report, Mae Mae brought over some gift certificates for dinner for a restaurant that my parents really like.  It was more then we would spend on one meal, and I hate having gift cards with just a bit left on them, so I called them and invited them to dinner with us.  Luckily, they hadn't had enough of us yet and agreed to meet us for dinner.  Unfortunately, I had to wake Cory up from his nap for us to go to dinner.  We all enjoyed some good steaks and amazing company, and once again we enjoyed eating with my parents and catching up with them.  I'm very grateful they were able to provide Cory with some bright spots in the nightmare of the day I created for him.

I'm so lucky that I have a husband who, in spite of all my craziness and uncanny ability to destroy good situations, still seems to love me.  We have so much fun together, and I honestly can't imagine a better match for me.  It amazes me all the time all the things we have in common and how unbelievably lucky I am not only that we found each other, but that we love each other so much.  He is everything I ever dared to hope for, and he is things I couldn't have ever imagined I would be lucky enough to have.  He is my soul, and he is the greatest gift I could ever want.  Maybe someday I will figure out how to give him a day that is as special as he deserves for being as great as he is.  But, at least at this point, I'm lucky he loves me anyway.  Happy birthday baby, I love you SO much. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our First Christmas: Take 2

I have a hard time with last Christmas being our first Christmas as a married couple/new family.  It was a really rough Christmas for many reasons.  Cory and I came home at nine o'clock Christmas Eve night after spending a full 24 hours in the car driving to California and back to pick up his kids.  Lexie got home half an hour before we did from spending two weeks in Michigan with Mae Mae, and she was not used to having to share attention or behave like a decent child, not to mention the two additional siblings in the household that she wasn't used to having around.  Michael and Katelyn weren't used to any of us after not spending any real time with us in almost a year.  Finally, Cory's parents were in town and our normally quiet house was stuffed to capacity.  I was an emotional, overstimulated wreck, and Christmas ended with me locking myself in my room after a massive unprovoked temper tantrum and Cory sleeping on the couch too afraid to come talk to me.  It was not pleasant. 

So, I made a decision.  Last Christmas, we were all in survival mode.  We did the bare minimum that was required for a Christmas celebration, and it wasn't what I wanted to remember as our first Christmas.  So this year we had a take two, our first chance for a quiet Christmas with just our family and a chance to really develop some traditions and experience Christmas in our own way.  It was still far from perfect.  We are learning how to combine families and traditions while avoiding the crazy meltdowns that come with the holidays. 

We had Mae Mae over for opening the presents and dinner.  I figured since she had provided the kids with most of the presents they would be most excited about, it was only fair that she should get to see them open them.  Phillip got quite a few chunky motorized vehicles that make noises or spin tires and things like that.  He refers to them as "trucks" and is very happy sitting in the middle of the floor making them all drive.  It's the first time I've seen him appropriately play with toys instead of just picking them up and banging them on things, and I've also caught him a few times saying "car... vroom, vroom" or "trucks... go!"  He is loving having more advanced toys to play with, and while I'm sure they won't survive too many "phil-i-canes" they seem to be holding up pretty well for the most part.

Lexie had her first real "tween" Christmas, getting only one toy - a hideous doll that drinks and eats and then messes her diaper which will end up in the garbage at the earliest opportunity - and all of her other gifts were things I would not have bought if I was doing the shopping for her.  She did get quite a few books and DS games, which she loves, but her two BIG presents she got were a baby pink full-sized real guitar (complete with a Taylor Swift music book so she can play her songs once she learns to play) and a VERY nice cherry wood vanity with a fabric covered stool and a tri-fold mirror.  After dropping the guitar on our hardwood floor seconds after opening it, we had quite the discussion about how these were very grown up gifts and she needed to show us that she could be responsible for them or we would take them away. 

Lexie's room has been a sore spot in our house for quite some time.  She has STUFF all over the floor constantly, and quite a few things in her room have been broken (including her last DS) because she doesn't take care of them.  I have known for a few weeks that in order for her to keep it clean we had to do a massive de-junk and get rid of most of the stuff in her room.  Since she had stuff she got for Christmas that she wanted to put in there, I figured that would be as good of a time as any to get her room good and clean.  What I had imagined as a two hour job turned in to almost six hours, two full bags of garbage, and four stuffed bags of things she has outgrown that are going to D.I.  We also boxed up a lot of stuff we are hanging on to for Katelyn when she comes to visit, but it will  no longer be stored in Lexie's room.  Unfortunately, while this was all happening, I left Cory alone to entertain Mae Mae and cook dinner by himself.  Luckily, I have an awesome husband who loves me anyway even though I have this amazing knack for ruining days that should be special (see this post to refresh your memory on how I gave him such an amazing Fathers' Day).

We did manage to get the room clean, and found good homes in her room for the guitar and the vanity.  She has actually kept the room clean, even with playing in it for the rest of the day.  Everything has a home now, and there are very few things in there that have the ability to make a mess.  Hopefully she can keep it that way.  I know she will be a lot happier not having to live in a mess all the time. 

All in all, it was a much calmer, quieter Christmas this year.  We were able to spend some good time together as a family, we cooked some amazing food, and we are all enjoying having some good time off of work and school where we can all relax and just enjoy being together.  Who knows, maybe next year we'll finally get it right.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Visitation: It Sucks

I have been fighting with Delinquent Ex for a few months now on his visitation rights when it comes to the kids..  It hasn't been going well.  I have been going through multiple bouts of depression and anger in trying to deal with it.  It's something I haven't been able to or wanted to talk about, but I felt the need to get it out so that I can begin to deal with everything that's going on.  Cory's lawyer in his case with Lovely Ex led me to believe that I had a very solid case and that Delinquent Ex had screwed up so bad that no judge would have any problem seeing that he wasn't fit to be a good father and didn't deserve to see his kids.  As a result, I went in to court feeling confident that this would be over soon and I didn't have to worry about it.  Wrong...

I was held in contempt for denying him his rights to see his kids, and lectured by the judge on my actions in "prolonging the reintroduction that he was entitled to."  The judge stayed my contempt and gave me a chance to redeem myself by allowing Delinquent Ex to see Lexie three times in a month and a half and then having a review hearing to see if I had been compliant with her orders.  We were able to get them supervised by a therapist, but the judge allowed Delinquent Ex to choose the therapist.  The six weeks that followed that initial court hearing were some of the hardest weeks I have had to face.  Delinquent Ex and I fought over EVERYTHING.  The orders were at least the way I understood them that Delinquent Ex was to pick three therapists from our list of preferred providers and I got to pick the final one out of those three.  He interpreted it as he got to pick any three therapists and I had to pick one of them.  He picked three drug court therapists who also happened to deal with children.  Therapists who would be on his side, and that worked frequently with the therapists he was dealing with at his rehab center.  One therapist was a block and a half from his apartment, was very friendly with his therapist, and was willing to give him a discount because of his "special circumstances".  The other two therapists were at least 45 minutes away from our house.  Also, not one of them was covered under our insurance. 

I fought him on what I believed he had agreed to in court, trying to get him to pick a therapist that was covered under our insurance, or trying to get him to pick an actual child psychologist instead of a drug court therapist.  We went back and forth and round and round.  Finally, out of fear of me getting in trouble with the judge again, I agreed to take Lexie to see the one therapist out of the three that was actually a valid option.  I made this decision a week before court.  As a result, Lexie has all three of her visits with her dad in three days.  That first visit was hard on everybody.  Lexie started crying before we even walked in to the therapist's office.  I had attempted to prepare her, but all I had to say was "he's already in there" and she completely broke down.  It was at that point that I realized how hard this has really been on her.  All three of us spent a good fifteen minutes in the waiting room crying before we were able to meet with the therapist. 

We made a plan to have alternating visits, one week with the therapist and the next week just Delinquent Ex and Lexie by themselves.  Tonight is their first visitation together without the therapist.  I have been nervous about it all week, playing in my head all the different things that could go wrong.  They took the train downtown to watch a movie, and watching her get on that train with her dad knowing that I couldn't protect her and she doesn't really know him very well was rough.  It took everything in me to not break down right there on the platform as I watched the train pull away.  It was a good few minutes in the car before I was able to leave, and I really think if I could have followed the train, I would have.

I got a text about an hour ago that Mae Mae picked her up, and she was tired but she said she had a good time.  She is spending the night with her tonight, and I'll see her tomorrow.  I'm relieved to know that it went well, but I think it's still going to be a long while if ever before I am completely comfortable with her seeing him.  I would love nothing more than to build a protective bubble around her and keep her safe from everything evil in the world.  I know I have to let her experience life on her own, but couldn't it have at least waited a few more years?  I'm not ready for this.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Who Knew Nerves Were So Tricky?

I have really crappy teeth.  I'm not sure if it's genetics, or because I don't get enough calcium, or what it is, but I get cavities very easily.  As a result, I have always hated going to the dentist.  I have a dentist right now that is probably the best dentist I've ever had.  He is nice, his technicians are gentle, everyone there is really friendly, and he does AMAZING work.  He has filled quite a few of my cavities now, and all of them have been fairly easy to handle.  I was beginning to think I was crazy for hating the dentist for as long as I did.  Yesterday I had a very massive wake up call as to where my hatred came from.  It had nothing to do with the dentist, it's my stupid mouth. 

It's been about a year and half since I had a cavity, so I've only had to go to the dentist for cleanings and upkeep.  About two months ago, however, I started noticing a sensitive spot on one of my back teeth on my left side.  It hurt to eat anything with sugar or salt on it, and it would send shooting pain down my jaw when I hit it a certain way with my toothbrush.  I knew it was a cavity.  It came as no surprise when my dentist confirmed it at my last cleaning.  We scheduled the appointment, and he told me we had caught it early and it was very small so it should be that big of a deal to fill.  Oh, silly dentist.  Little did you know...

We got to the dentist about three.  He had scheduled us for a half an hour appointment, and I was looking forward to getting home early and having time to relax instead of the normal hustle and bustle of typical work days.  They got me right in, and the dentist came in with his torture device numbing shots.  This has always been the worst part for me.  I HATE needles.  He warned me before he stuck me, like he always does, and worked the numbing stuff in there for a good twenty seconds making sure he had gotten it in really well.  He left for about fifteen minutes while it did it's magic, and then came back and got ready to work.  His assistant stuck the little air wand in my mouth, and oh my word it hurt!  The air across my cavity felt like someone was jabbing me with a stick.  I jumped, and put my hand up to stop them.  I wasn't numb at all, at least not where my cavity was.  The entire front of my face and my tongue felt like they had swollen to three times their normal size.  So, back came the needle again.  Once again, I felt it go in and felt him moving it around in my jaw to work it in there.

The technician and I began talking about random stuff the way they do.  Personally I think they just like to watch people try to talk with a numb mouth.  I started playing around with my gums around my tooth and realized they still weren't numb.  I told her I didn't think it had worked.  She said "not that I don't believe you, but let me try something."  She took her sharp metal tool, and  poked me in the gums.  Sure enough, still not numb.  She called the dentist in again, and he came at me again with that dang needle.  I felt it go in again, and this time he was in there for a good 45 seconds making sure that it was going where it was supposed to go.  He left, and the technician and I started talking again.  He came back fifteen minutes later, and for one brief second I considered lying and telling him that I was numb.  But, I'm a sucker when it comes to pain, and I knew I'd end up punching him in the side of the face or something as soon as he came at me with his drill.

I honestly believe at this point the dentist was ready to pull out a big hammer like they do in cartoons and just knock me unconscious.  I couldn't understand what was up with my stupid mouth, not to mention I was shaking like crazy.  I had some sort of reaction to the anesthetic, and my jaw, my arms, and my legs were all shaking like I was possessed.  I could not get them to hold still.  He came in and told me they were bringing in the "big guns" and if this didn't work they were going to have to send me home because there is a limit in how much they are able to give me.  This new one was a shot he gave me in the gums right below my tooth and it would penetrate through bone and make me numb.  Sure, Doc, let's give that a try.  He gave me the shot, and when he came back I told him I still wasn't numb.  I still had feeling in my cheek, my jaw, and the gums down below my tooth.  He said he wanted to check, and poked me again with his sharp little metal thing.  I didn't feel a thing.  Apparently it worked right where it was supposed to.  The stupid cavity took seven minutes to fill.

By the time we got home I was numb from my eye socket to my throat and my ear to the tip of my nose.  I couldn't talk, I couldn't eat, and I couldn't open my mouth.  My jaw was so sore from having all those needles injected in it and having to hold it open that I still wasn't able to open it all the way today.  Lexie had to sing herself her goodnight song last night, and she was very relieved I was at least able to talk today.  So, now I know.  If I ever have a cavity on that side of my mouth again I'm just going to have them knock me out.  It's easier for everyone that way.   

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Girlfriend

The visitation battle continues.  More details to come at a later date.  I just wanted to take a minute and get out some feelings that I have right now. 

One of the major showstoppers for me in regards to Delinquent Ex seeing the kids is the girlfriend.  They have been friends for years.  They used together when they were younger, before me and before the kids.  They began dating about a year after Delinquent Ex and I separated.  I really tried to keep an open mind about her.  I attempted to be nice to her.  I quieted the uneasy feeling I had whenever she was around the kids.  But, I couldn't help it.  I didn't know why, but I didn't like her.  It didn't become apparent why for about a year. 

Delinquent Ex started using again about a year and a half after we separated, six months after they started seeing each other.  He went to rehab and got clean, and his mom allowed him to move back in with her when he was done.  But, he continued to see the girlfriend.  I knew it was only a matter of time.  Sure enough, two months after completing rehab, he moved in with her.  It was only about a month after that when the two of them went on a massive drug-fueled crime spree that ended with him in jail and her in court ordered rehab. 

As we've gone through the reintroduction process, the girlfriend has continued to come up.   He wants her to be reintroduced to the kids as soon as possible.  They have been together four years and have a very committed relationship.  She's going to be in his life for quite a while and it's important that she gets to know the kids too.  It was addressed in court, and I almost threw up when the judge said she agreed.  I looked to my lawyer for help, and all she could say was it was probably for the best.  At least now while Lexie was still seeing the therapist we had a better chance of catching if there was a problem then later down the road when the therapist wasn't involved.  I could see the reasoning behind it, but I could not calm down the feeling in my stomach.  This was not right, I couldn't let my kids be around this thing with the pink hair that he was dating.  She was dirty.  She was evil.  I could tell.  But, we made arrangements for her to be at the next therapy appointment.  It was only three days away. 

For the next two days a good majority of my thoughts were focused on how to protect Lexie from the girlfriend.  I couldn't sleep.  I could barely eat.  I was a wreck.  It was more then I could handle.  I needed something to happen.  Then I got the phone call.  Delinquent Ex and the girlfriend had been fighting a lot lately, and she was really having a hard time with him becoming involved in his kids lives again.  She wasn't ready.  He gave her an ultimatum.  She either needed to step up and be responsible or she needed to leave.  He left, and when he came back she and all her stuff were gone.  I'm a teensy tiny bit horrified to say that I was ecstatic to hear the news.  I am so grateful that there is someone more powerful than me looking out for my little girl.  When I failed to be able to protect her, He stepped in and took care of it for me. 

We continue to work through the rest of the issues, but at least now the girlfriend is out of the picture.  Hopefully this will mean good things as Delinquent Ex continues to fight to stay clean.  I think it'll be a lot easier with her out of the picture.  I don't even want to think about what it's going to do to Lexie if he disappears again.  I don't think either one of us has the strength to go through this again. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Singing Is The New Talking

Phillip has always loved music.  Since he was a very little boy, music has always been the quickest way to calm him down.  No matter what he was doing, if he heard music start to play he would stop what he was doing and sit quietly for at least a few seconds and listen to the music.  It should have come as no surprise that his first form of communication was singing.  It started a few months ago.  We would hear him down in the playroom or running around the living room singing a song.  He would have no idea what he was saying, but he knew the words and the tune.  At first, it was the simple nursery rhyme songs they would sing in school.  He would run around in circles singing "The Wheels On The Bus" for hours.  He would pound on anything he could find while singing "Jingle Bells".  He would grunt out "Happy Birthday To You" always singing it "dear Phi-llip".  Then, about a month ago, we had a breakthrough.

I was singing him his night time song, a song that my parents used to sing to us when we were little kids, and I got something stuck in my throat in the middle of a line.  I stopped to clear my throat, and he picked up right where I left off, like he had been singing it his whole life.  I sang it to him about five times that night just to see if it would keep happening.  Then, we started trying other songs.  He's picky about when and where he'll do it, but it's one of the few things we can consistently connect with him on.  I had to attempt to get it on video.  Unfortunately, Phillip is very wary of the camera.  As soon as it comes out, he'll just look at it with this dazed expression on his face.  He won't smile, he won't laugh, and he certainly won't sing.  So, I was finally able to get this video.  It's really dark.  It was taken in his room at bedtime, the one time he'll consistently sing with me, and parts of it are kind of quiet, but my baby boy is singing his good night song.  He is getting so good, and I can't wait to see what's next.