Thursday, June 28, 2012

No Catastrophes Today

I was on the lookout all day for possible accidents, mishaps, catastrophes, or anything else that might go wrong.  For the most part, we had a pretty good day.  It is pretty dang hard trying to keep a very active three year old calm and quiet so nothing hurts her arm.  Cory had to take his parents back up to Malad today to pick up their car so they could go home.  It was sad to see them go.  It's been really nice having them here this past week, and getting to go play with them for a few days.  I think it will be nice for them to get back to their calm and quiet lives, but things sure were different today without them around. 

We started the day by just sitting around playing games and taking our time getting ready.  Phillip had school this morning, so we didn't really have anything to do until about noon when we had to go meet his bus.  It was so cute walking up to meet it.  The kids loved being out of the house, and watching the three of them hold hands to cross the street just melted my heart.  We got up to my mom's house to meet the bus, and were a few minutes early so we went inside to play.  I think my mom has really enjoyed her quiet, but she says she's missing my kids also.  We'll see how long that lasts when she has them back again next week.

Michael and Katelyn were having a hard time today.  Katelyn is such an active little girl and her and Michael are your typical brother and sister.  They fight, they play, they wrestle.. they aren't exactly gentle around each other.  Michael is having a hard time remembering that she is hurt and he can't push her and play with her like he usually does.  He hurt her this morning backing in to her in the playroom, and a few minutes later he tried to fight with her over a toy.  When he tried to push her out of the way at my mom's when they were both trying to play with her singing alphabet toy on her fridge I had to put him in time out to try to help him remember.  Poor little guy, he was having a rough day today.  I think he didn't get much sleep last night, and he was having a hard time holding it all together. 

We came home for lunch and my mom came with us.  The kids ate pretty good, and then when Katelyn went down for her nap I turned a movie on for the older kids and my mom and I sat down to look at pictures so she could decide what pictures she wanted for her new grandkid wall.  She decided which ones she wanted, and we placed the order online.  I figured as long as we were ordering, we would get the pictures we wanted to put up in our house.  I have the hardest time visualizing how things are going to look in my head.  I normally have a pretty good idea, but I'm normally off on the sizing or the spacing or something like that, so today I cut scale sized pieces of paper and arranged them on my bed so we could see what they were going to look like.  The pictures and frames have now been ordered, and within two weeks we should be able to get them up in our living room.  I am so excited to finally have them up.

We ended the day pretty simple.  Katelyn has been asking all week for "strawberry shortcake nails", so that's what we did tonight.  Both her and Lexie wanted them, so we set up camp in the living room again and did the best we could.  They didn't turn out way fabulously, but the girls loved them.  I may have sort of gotten the idea from Lovely Ex's pinterest page.  Shh.. don't tell. 

It was bittersweet putting the kids to bed tonight.  They are always so cute, and I love the way they watch us as we sing songs to each of them after saying family prayer.  I almost cried when Katelyn sang her song along with me, her cute little voice so tired but so sweet.  It's hard knowing tonight is the last night and we have to take them back tomorrow.  The last two weeks has totally flown by, and I'm really going to miss them. 

Cory and I decided that it was probably in our best interest to email Lovely Ex tonight and let her know about Katelyn to reduce the risk of her coming after us with a sharp stick in the parking lot tomorrow.  We sent her the email about ten minutes ago, detailing what happened and everything that we did for her.  Her only response - "Why the hell didn't you let me know right away??!!"  You know, cause she always tells us everything as soon as it happens and we never find out months later when she sends us the bill.  (sense the sarcasm)  I'm not sure what I expected.  Now I'm just worried that she'll have more time to find a more dangerous weapon before meeting us.  So much for getting any sleep tonight. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And The Worst Parent Award Goes To...

You know, I'm starting to think I'm bad luck.  I think I forgot to mention that when we were waiting for the tow truck on Monday I slammed the driver's side door and the side mirror fell off and broke.  It seems like ever since then, everything that can go wrong has.  First there was all the problems with the car.  Then there was the road construction on the way home.  Then there was the power going out at work yesterday.  Today, it was this:

That would be Katelyn.. with a broken collarbone.  We had just finished lunch and the kids were running around playing.  They ran up the stairs and were quiet for a few minutes, and then we heard a loud thud.  Katelyn started crying, which is normal, but then she kept crying.  Normally she'll fall down and get hurt and cry for a second or two, and then she's right back playing.  I went upstairs to see what was going on, and I could hear both Michael and Lexie asking her over and over again if she was ok.  She just kept saying "ow.. ow... ow" and crying.  I walked in the room and she was laying on the floor on top of a blanket and holding her shoulder.  I asked what happened, and Lexie and Michael told me they were playing on the bed and Michael pulled off the blanket Katelyn was sitting on and she fell on the floor.  I picked her up and held her for a minute, we sang a song, she calmed down and stopped crying, and then as soon as I put her down she started crying again.  This is very not normal for her.  She is one of the toughest little girls I've ever seen.  I told Cory to come up and take a look at her, and he tried to move her arm and she started crying harder.  We left Cory's mom and dad with the other kids, and took her to the emergency room. 

I love our hospital.  We walked in and they admitted us right away.  They took her vitals and got her in a room, and almost immediately she fell asleep.  The nurse said that is typical with some kids.  They will cry really hard, and then immediately fall asleep.  We laid her on the bed and she slept while we waited for the doctor.  He came in and gave her a once over but said he didn't want to wake her up until they were ready to do x-rays.  About twenty minutes later, the guy for the x-rays came and got her.  She woke up while I was trying to carry her to the radiology department.  Apparently the way I was holding her was putting pressure on her arm.  We adjusted, got her to the room, and laid her on the table.  They took us back behind the wall out of the way, and we could see the computer.  They took the picture, and I think both Cory and I held our breath.  The picture popped up, and there was no question.  It had snapped.  The radiologist gave her some stickers, and she immediately smiled.  She whimpered a couple more times, but for the most part for the rest of the visit she was our typical happy little girl. 

We went back to the room to wait for the official word from the doctor, and took turns playing games and talking to her.  The doctor came in, told us it was officially broken, and they would be putting her arm in a sling for the next four weeks.  I was picturing this huge uncomfortable thing that would totally take over the whole upper half of her body to try to hold that bone still.  I was pleasantly surprised.  They told us that they used to put kids in these big braces to try to keep them still and then they learned that clavicles are fairly forgiving.  They don't need to set them, they don't need to hold them still.  They will heal, and yes, they will heal crooked, but as she grows the bone will straighten itself out and all the rough edges will dissolve away.  I thought that was pretty cool. 

Almost immediately after we got home Katelyn was already using her arm again.  She can't move it more then just a couple of inches away from her body, but from her elbow down she has full mobility and it definitely hasn't slowed her down at all.  We are struggling a little keeping her arm in the sling because she wants to use it and won't keep it still, but the doctor assured us that it's ok and the sling is there to provide support for her when it does start hurting her.  I guess we'll just have to follow her lead.

I guess if one of the kids had to have a serious injury, this is pretty minor on the scale compared to what it could have been.  I would have preferred an ear infection or strep or something like that where a couple of days on medication and she would feel lots better.  But if a bone had  to break, it could have been a LOT worse.  I am dreading dropping the kids off to Lovely Ex on Friday.  She is going to have a massive fit when she sees her in the sling.  I told Cory we probably need to tell her before so she's at least prepared, and I want to take a police escort with us so she can't come after us.  I know I am probably overreacting, but what can I say?  Crazy people scare the crap out of me. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Happens When Daddy "Fixes" Things

So, if anybody was keeping track, I missed a few days  Not that there was really anything to report.  We did pretty much the same thing every day we were gone, and absolutely LOVED it.  We saw family every single day.  We played with lots of toys.  We went for walks.  We watched movies and took naps (some of us did both at the same time).  We got huckleberry shakes from the Emporium (which I totally wished I would have gotten pictures of).  Michael liked the shakes until he got a huckleberry, and then he didn't like them anymore.  None of the kids totally finished theirs, but they each had quite a bit.  We ran through the sprinklers.  We flipped and wrestled and played and laughed until our stomachs hurt.  We loved it.

One of the things that did happen while we were up there was Cory realized his dad's wifi signal wasn't secure, so he tried to help him fix it.  In the process, he had to reset the modem and it reset all the settings.  He couldn't get them back right so the internet wouldn't work at all.  Because it was the weekend we had to wait until Monday to be able to call customer service and get him back up and running again.  We finally got it running yesterday morning, but then we had to leave to come home.  Therefore, I was not able to update my blog with all the really cool things we weren't doing and all the really cute pictures I didn't take to go along with it.  You didn't miss much.

Our trip home was pretty uneventful for the first three hours.  We left Cory's parent's house about 10:30 in the morning, and drove about two hours before we stopped in Pocatello for lunch.  We had a great lunch, the kids got to run around a little bit, and then we all piled back in the van.  We headed out, and drove for about another half an hour or so, and then at the top of Malad pass (pretty much in the middle of nowhere) Cory suddenly lost all engine function in the van.  He was able to get the car pulled over to the side of the road, turned it off, and then tried to turn it back on again.  It churned a couple of times, but wouldn't catch.  After a few times of that, all it would do is click.  Cory and his dad got out and fiddled under the hood a little bit, waited for it to cool down, and when it didn't make any difference Cory's mom decided maybe we should probably call a tow truck.  The problem was there was no way to get all of us from where we were to where they would tow the vehicle to in one vehicle.  So we had to wait for them to round up another vehicle to transport all of us in.  Cory said that it was surprisingly fast for the tow truck to get there, and I guess looking back it was.  We only spent an hour on the side of the road waiting for them, but an hour in the vehicle in the heat and sun with four little kids (and a little dog) seemed like a really long time. 

The tow truck and their friendly vehicle tagalong got us in to town and dropped us off at a combination Chevron gas station/Burger King restaurant.  Everything we brought was in the van except for my purse.  We went in to the store and staked claim on a corner booth and adjoining table.  I left Cory's mom there with Phillip and took the other three kids "shopping".  We went over to the gas station side and were able to find a legal pad, a pack of pens, a deck of cards, and five dice.  I let each of the kids pick a treat, we each got a drink, and we went back to set up camp.  Each of the kids drew a picture and/or wrote a letter for Cory (under the premise that Daddy was really upset the car broke down and they needed to help cheer him up).  We played go fish.  We ate dinner.  Cory's mom took all but Phillip for a walk outside.  And we had multiple phone calls between the boys at the shop and us.  It was about two hours before the shop even knew what was wrong with the car, let alone how long it was going to take to fix it.

One of the first calls I made (after calling work to let them know I might not be in today) was to my mom.  Phillip's first day of his extended school year was today, and the pick up for the bus was scheduled to be at my mom's house at eight.  I let her know I was concerned about Phillip going to school because it was going to be pretty late by the time we got home (if at all) and I didn't know what to do about it.  I told her we would just play it by ear, and a few minutes later my dad called back and told me that he was willing to come at least get me and the kids so we could get home and get to bed.  I told him we still didn't know what was wrong with the car and I would use that as a last resort but I would call him back. 

About half an hour later the shop determined that the problem was something inside the engine that was stripped and was not turning the gears it was supposed to be turning.  They could put in a generic part, but they didn't come highly recommended and they said it would probably be better in the long run for them to order a genuine GM part that was meant for the van that would last a lot longer.  The problem was, the part wouldn't be there until Wednesday.  That decided it.  I called my dad and asked him if he was really willing to come get us, and he didn't hesitate at all.  He headed up (about a two hour drive) and got there about seven thirty.  When he got there, we realized we had another problem.  He had an SUV with a third row, but there was no way all eight of us (not including my dad) plus all our luggage was going to fit.  Cory's mom had done some calling around and discovered there was a car rental place in Tremonton (about half an hour away) where they could spend the night in a hotel, rent a car in the morning, and then drive down today.  My dad drove them to the shop to pick up all the luggage and then left Cory, the kids, and me at the gas station while he drove them to Tremonton to get checked in. 

By this point, I was exhausted.  It was the kids bedtime, they were beyond exhausted.  Cory had been stressing about the car and stressing about breaking his parent's car and walked from the shop to the gas station and then watched the kids when he got there.  He was exhausted.  We kept the kids entertained with the iPad and DS that Cory had brought back when my dad dropped him off.  We played for about an hour until my dad came back to get us.  And then Phillip pooped.  Yep, I was done.  But being a mom means holding it together until you can let it all go.  I changed him and we got the kids loaded in the car to go home.  We turned on a movie hoping the kids would zone out and go to sleep.  It did keep them entertained, but they did not sleep. 

On the way home, as is traditional in Utah in the summer, they were doing road construction.  Freeway road construction means lane closures.  Multiple lane closures means many added delays to a ride that was taking forever anyway.  We made it to about Centerville and traffic totally stopped.  My dad got off the regular freeway and cut over to Legacy Highway.  It's a slower road, but at least it was moving.  I was VERY grateful when we made it home without any major incidents with the kids.  It was almost three hours past bedtime, and we were all beyond done with the day.  I came in the house, threw the kids in bed really fast, and went straight to bed.  Where I laid there for almost an hour.  Apparently running on adrenaline all day makes it really hard to calm down and go to sleep.  It was almost midnight before we finally got the kids in bed, and almost one by the time I fell asleep.

Needless to say, Phillip did not make it to school today.  I did make it to work, but only because if I didn't go in today I was going to have to go in on Thursday, and I didn't want to do that.  So I made myself get up and go in to work, and then about two hours after I got there the power went out and was out for an hour.  They sent everyone home, and apparently as soon as everyone left the power came back on so they started calling people to come back in.  My boss, her boss, and his boss were all out of the office today, so I came home until I confirm with one of them that I actually need to come back in.  As soon as I got home, Cory left with my car to drive up to Tremonton to pick up his parents.  They were unable to rent a car this morning.  I am listening to the kids in Lexie's room try to coordinate cleaning.  They are doing surprisingly well, but you can tell they are all very emotional.  They have each cried a couple of times.  They calm back down really fast, but today is going to be interesting.  I think I'm going to turn on a movie for them after lunch and we'll all just take a nap. 

Oh!  As one final note, when I got home from work today Cory pulled me upstairs to talk and informed me that the police had stopped by again this morning.  Apparently Lovely Ex called them because she was "scared for the kids" because she hadn't heard from Cory in a week.  Cory informed them that he was following the instructions of our lawyer that were agreed to by her lawyer for this visit to be uninterrupted.  And yes, I realize that uninterrupted just means no visits but our lawyer pointed out that her multi-daily phone calls are unnecessary and they are disrupting the kids and interfering with Cory's time.  She upsets the kids every time she calls.  Her lawyer agreed and said he would inform her that there is to be no more communication for the rest of the visit.  She has still continued to attempt to communicate at least twice a day.  The kids are doing really well with it, but I'm worried Lovely Ex is going to work herself in to a looney bin.  The cops said they couldn't get in the middle of the agreement between our lawyers, but they could see that the kids were just fine and that was all they were responsible for. 

And now, since I have no pictures of anything else to go along with this, and I promised I'd post them, here are our family pictures:

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lovin the Family

It's really sad that I can't remember what happened from day to day without going back and looking at my pictures.  We didn't do a whole lot of anything yesterday.  We did a lot of playing with toys, a lot of playing with relatives, and a LOT of wrestling.  These kids have so much energy it's ridiculous.  We are having a blast just relaxing around the house, spending time with family, and being away from life for a little while.  It's amazing how many of Cory's relatives his kids remember.  I'm sure they don't really specifically remember everyone, but I know they are feeling some familiarity with them.

The kids are having a hard time just "relaxing" so we are trying to find different things for them to do.  They played dress up.  They bounced all over the house on the hippity-hops that Grandma and Grandpa got them for Christmas, they did really old puzzles from when Cory and his siblings were growing up, and they enjoyed having unlimited audiences with all the relatives here. 

It is amazing to me how easily Cory's kids get hurt, but they never seem to get hurt by things that would normally hurt.  They can wrestle and play and chase and do all sorts of active things and get whacked around and bumped on things and all sorts of things.  They will not complain once about getting hurt.  But put Michael and Katelyn in a room together and expect them to play with toys and within five minutes one of them is crying about "so and so hurt me."  It's normally things that are complete accidents, or something where one of them did something to the other and then the other one retaliates and does something and the first one starts crying saying that they are hurt..  It's so odd.  I'm not used to it.  I really feel like sometimes I've missed key parts of parenting multiple kids because Lexie is for the most part an only child when it comes to typical sibling behavior.  I am learning a lot, and I think the kids are getting the idea that we will pay plenty of attention to them when they aren't hurt so they don't need to make as big of a deal about getting hurt. 

We are really looking forward to having a few more days of relaxing up here before we have to head home again.  We are loving having family close and getting to see everyone.  And we are really enjoying having absolutely nothing that we have to do.  The only thing that we wanted to accomplish while we were up here was to get family pictures done, and we got them taken today.  We got some pretty cute ones, and I'm excited to get them printed and framed and up on our walls.  I'll have a few of them in tomorrow's post for everyone to see.  We have to go through all 400 of them and find our favorites.  I am so excited.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And We're Out Of Here

Yesterday was not much of a day.  I missed a lot of what happened in the morning because I had to go in to work for half day.  I was pretty pissy anyway because I had to be there instead of being home with the kids when we only have them for a limited amount of time, but then while I was there we discovered that the program that has been my baby for about the last three years that is supposed to be in it's final stages of testing hasn't been working right for about a month.  Everyone thought someone else was supposed to be verifying that things were working correctly, so as a result no one was checking.  It ended up being a pretty simple fix (simple for me anyway, I have no idea how complicated it was for the programmers).  It sounds like it was just a switch within the programming that was flipped the wrong way, so the facility that we just finished the programming for and were supposed to be testing on was turned to manual post so nothing was posting.  It was kind of frustrating for me.  I know we are so close to this being done, and it's going to be such a blessing to so many departments in our corporation and really speed up the amount of time it takes to get the money where it is supposed to be going.  It set us back a little, but hopefully we can get back on track soon. 

After I got off work, I stopped by the store to pick up a few things that we needed to pack for our trip.  We pretty much had everything we needed of our own to pack for all the kids and didn't need to take any of Lovely Ex's clothes (good thing since most of what she packed was sweaters and sweat suits.  She sent about three t-shirts and one pair of shorts for each kid).  We were only missing some underwear and a pair of jeans for Katelyn.  So I stopped by to pick those up, and got a couple of shirts for Michael and Katelyn to wear for when we attempt to do family pictures.  I got home about half an hour later then I was planning on, and the kids were all itching to get going.  I hurried up and threw everything together, and we got on our way. 

It was pretty cramped quarters for the ride up here.  I felt really bad for Cory's parents.  They let us use their van (drove down to stay a day or so and then drove with us, and then will drive back with us and then drive home a few days later), but they had Cory drive so Cory and I sat up front and they sat in the back with the four kids.  The kids did SO good.  I figured all except Phillip would, because we had the DVD players for them to watch movies on.  I thought for sure Phillip would lose it, but he did amazingly well.  He laughed and played and sang all the way here.  We stopped about halfway at Applebees for dinner and I think we were all a little done being in the car.  By the time we were done getting all the kids to eat I felt like we had fought a war.  The lady in the booth behind us stopped me on our way out and told me that we had a really cute family and all our kids had been really good.  I almost laughed at her, but I just told her thanks and smiled.  I guess if she couldn't tell than maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought.  

We got in about 8:00 and let the kids stay up until a little after nine to play.  We put them to bed at nine and all but Phillip took until 10:00 to fall asleep.  Phillip is sleeping on Cory and my floor in a sleeping bag, and he didn't go to sleep until 11:30.  I anticipated him having a hard time, so I had bought a book light for my kindle and just laid on our bed and read until he fell asleep and then I went to sleep.  Cory let me sleep in until almost 9:30 this morning.  I really hope the kids go to sleep better tonight.  They are having a complete blast playing and hopefully we can wear them out really well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Actually Did Something I Saw On Pinterest

Today was kind of a big day, and it is VERY late considering I have to work tomorrow.  We will run through these as fast as possible.  Today was "I saw it on Pinterest day."  I have a board that I created with things I thought the kids might like that I've been working on for a few months now, ever since we found out we were getting the kids.  I knew we wouldn't have time for all of them, but I figured that once we got the kids here and saw what they were in to we could decide which of the activities we wanted to do with them.  Yesterday, I narrowed it down to the final three, one for each kid.  For Lexie, the Lava Lamp.  For Michael, the Gak.  For Katelyn, Fairies In A Bottle.  We bought everything for it yesterday, and first thing this morning we started the first project. 

I decided to start with the Lava Lamps.  They seemed the easiest, and I figured they would be the quickest to get going so the kids could play with them.  I had bought three water bottles and spent a good majority of last night taking the labels off of two of them (and the majority of the skin off of three of my knuckles.)  I had a middle of the night epiphany, and I woke up thinking PEANUT BUTTER!  Of course, it works on gum, it should work on the stupidly sticky labels on the water bottles.  I rubbed peanut butter all over the last bottle, went after it with one of those plastic dish scrubber things, and five minutes later I had a totally sticky-free water bottle.  So we began the lamps.  Next obstacle, I had mistakenly bought gel food coloring instead of the liquid food coloring.  I did not realize this until after I had the oil and water in the first bottle.  No problem, I thought.  I'll just swirl it around a little and the color will mix.  I ended up with what looked like a strawberry milkshake.  The color blended with the water, but the oil also blended with the water too.  It was a mess.  I panicked for one brief second, and then realized all I had to do was dissolve the gel food coloring in some hot water before I added it to the lava lamp.  I put about three tablespoons of water in a plastic cup with a hefty squirt of food coloring, mixed it around a little, and then added it to a water bottle with the oil and water already in it.  It didn't exactly "mix" with the water right away, but once we put the first Alka Seltzer in it fully mixed and the results were AWESOME.  The kids loved them, and they had a blast putting more and more Alka Seltzer in.  We went through almost a whole full sized box today.  It was a hit. 

The second thing we tried was the Fairies in a Jar.  I was a bit concerned about this one.  The instructions on the web site weren't way clear.  It sounded like a big hassle.  But the picture looked really cool and we already had the glow sticks.  I figured just on the off chance it actually turned out, we would try it.  We bought the big sized baby food jars at the store that had fruit in them and the kids ate the baby food as their fruit last night for dinner.  I figured it was probably about like applesauce, but different kinds of fruit.  The kids loved them.  I was a bit shocked.  Unfortunately, that was the only good thing about this project.  I waited until Katelyn was taking a nap, figuring that if it worked I would have it for her when she woke up, and if it didn't she wouldn't know any different.  Lexie and Michael helped me crack quite a few glow sticks and I set to work attempting to get the glow stuff out of them into the little baby food jar full of water.  My kitchen and myself now glow in the dark.  I managed to get quite a bit of the "stuff" in the jar, but it just sunk to the bottom.  Even when I swirled it around and attempted to get it to float it would just sink to the lowest point of however I was holding the bottle.  We only made the one.  It was not a success.  We were able to surprise Katelyn with several glow in the dark bracelets when she woke up, and the kids all had fun finding all the different places in the house that were dark enough to see them glow.  So it wasn't a complete failure. 

Finally, we made Gak.  I figured this would probably be the most involved, which it was, but it was also the biggest success.  I didn't read the instructions quite right on the first batch, and added the Borax straight to the water/glue mixture in the bowl.  I added the food coloring and attempted to stir, but it was already too thick for me to stir with the spoon.  So I got in there with my hands and really worked it.  It looked like it had been a total failure, but then just as I was about to scrap it, it all started coming together.  It absorbed all the water and turned in to this neat rubbery stretchy texture.  I gave it to the kids to play with, and set off making a pink batch with the correct instructions.  This one was not as successful.  The extra 1/2 cup of water that I mixed the borax in was never fully absorbed, even with me mixing it for an additional half an hour while the kids were playing with the green (which made my hands a REALLY awesome neon pink color).  I eventually pulled all the pieces out of the water and squished them together the best I could.  It turned in to gak, but it's a lot more stiff than the first batch I made.  I'm not sure if I did something wrong the second time, but the first batch was much better in my mind.  The kids loved both batches (as did Cory's mom) and they ended up playing with them for almost an hour.  We put them in a bag to see if they stay soft until tomorrow, and then we'll try playing with them again. 

For the most part, today was a really good day.  The kids had a complete blast, and loved showing off each of their projects to everyone who came over.  Unfortunately, it just wouldn't be a normal day without a little dose of drama from Lovely Ex.  You know how each neighborhood has that one problem house where the cops have to come over and diffuse some tense, loud, obnoxious situation?  Today, that was our house.  About 4:00, Lovely Ex decided that the one thing her kids needed most in the world was to see her, so badly so that she decided to violate the restraining order against her and show up on our doorstep.  I was upstairs when she showed up (googling how to get the neon pink off my hands) so I missed the inital drama, but I figured out quickly what was happening.  Thanks to some quick thinking by my awesome hubby, we were able to get the kids upstairs and in to Lexie's room to play without them having any clue what was going on.  Cory opened the door, politely told her there is a restraining order and she is not allowed to be here, and closed and locked the door.  This prompted what could only be described as a temper tantrum that I have only seen before in extremely spoiled five year olds, and she started screaming her children's names through the door, followed by "Let me see my children!"  Then she began whistling for them, the way people would do for their dogs.  Cory was already on the phone with the cops (it's a good thing he's so level headed, I would have gone straight for the gun) and massive props to our police department, they were here in under five minutes.  They sat out in our driveway and talked to her for about ten minutes, and then came in to talk to Cory.  They got his side of the story and then asked to see the children.  I went upstairs to get them, and the kids came right downstairs and ran straight to Cory.  There was no question in anyone's mind that they were doing just fine.  They laughed and joked around with the officers, talked to them for a minute, and then we sent them back upstairs.  The cops told us that Lovely Ex was having pretty severe detachment issues from being away from the kids, but they could see there was nothing wrong with the kids.  They asked if we would just take the items she brought over for them and then they would tell her she needed to leave and not interfere again with Cory's parent time.  Apparently abandonment issues can by fixed by Teddy Grahams, chocolate, and playdoh. 

On the plus side, we had a couple very interesting interactions with our lawyers office after the incident.  First of all, Lovely Ex's lawyer called our lawyer and apologized on behalf of his client for her not meeting us at the specified pick up location when we got the kids.  He said he doesn't know why she did that but he will advise her that the drop off WILL be at the location five minutes from our house that was specified in court.  Secondly, we were told by the paralegal in our lawyer's office that Cory is entitled to four weeks of parent time with the kids every year, and two of those weeks are to be uninterrupted.  That means if she is right (and we are waiting for confirmation from our lawyer) that we no longer have to answer her phone calls and have her video chat with the kids.  Of course, we will let them when they ask to talk to her, but it will be on their schedule and at their requests and not at hers.  We are really hoping she is right, it would make our time much less dramatic.  But for now, we are leaving town.  We are all packed up and ready to go, and tomorrow as soon as I get off work we will no longer be close enough that she can "drop in" whenever she feels like her kids might need her.  Goodbye Lovely Ex, and good riddance. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Save the Drama For Your Mama

I was bad today.  Although we did quite a few fun things that the kids loved, I took very few pictures.  I missed a good majority of the things that happened.  The morning started out pretty routine.  We got up, did breakfast, got ready, and played for a bit.  I had promised the girls yesterday that we would do their nails today.  I got down my huge bag of nail stuff and we set up camp in the middle of the living room.  We turned on Little Mermaid to help them hold still, and I got to work.  We didn't do anything really majorly difficult, just a color coat with some crackle on top, but they loved it. 

After the movie, we decided to take the kids to McDonald's for lunch.  It was almost 95 degrees outside today, and our little swamp cooler just wasn't cutting it.  My mom had Phillip's sandals at her house from when she had him last week, so I sent Cory up to get them.  He came back with the sandals, and my mom.  She came to lunch with us and enjoyed getting to see the kids, and I enjoyed having her along to socialize with.  Most of the time when I see my mom it's when we are either dropping off or picking up the kids.  It was nice to have some time with her to just talk and catch up. 

After lunch we came home and played again for a bit, and then I got dinner started and ran out to pick up some stuff for some crafts we are doing tomorrow.  I took the girls with me, and right as we walked in to the first store Katelyn slipped on a banana peel and faceplanted in the middle of the floor.  I had such a hard time not laughing. I mean seriously, that stuff happens in the cartoons, not in real life.  She was so tough.  She immediately jumped up saying "I'm fine... I'm fine" and then as I picked her up to make sure she was fine her little face crumbled and she started to cry.  She whacked her side pretty good, and I think she'll have a pretty good bruise.  Poor little thing.  She got over it really fast, and she was a big help as we went shopping.  Lexie would help her read the list, and each item we found Lexie would help Katelyn find it on the list so she could cross it out.  She loved getting to be a big help, and it was fun having her to go shopping with. 

We came home just in time to get dinner out of the oven, and discovered that Cory had set up his drums while we were gone and he was letting the kids play on them.  Each of the kids got a turn to play until my head was ready to explode and we had to stop for dinner.  We are leaving them up and are going to let them play again tomorrow. 

Unfortunately, the night ended on a kind of rough note.  Lovely Ex had sent Cory a request to video chat with the kids today and as we talked schedules the only time that would work was right after dinner.  The kids talked to her for about half an hour, and the last ten minutes Katelyn kind of melted down and was crying for her mom.  Cory ended the video chat and hugged Katelyn for a minute, and within minutes she was happily playing and laughing again.  Lovely Ex was not comfortable with the way Katelyn had acted on the video chat and called Cory and pretty much demanded that he bring her home for the night and she would bring her back tomorrow.  It took Cory 45 minutes and a whole bunch of promises to call her if Katelyn had any further issues, plus Lovely Ex talking to Katelyn a couple of times before she was finally convinced that she was going to be ok.  It frustrates me a little that she doesn't understand that if the kids are having issues being separated from her and spending the night with us (which they totally aren't) it is her fault for denying him visitation for so long and making it such a big deal for them to be away from her.  She made them the famous Pinterest "mind jars" (found here) for them to shake up whenever they missed her, and every time they talk she asks them where their jars are and if they are shaking them lots.  She asks them if they miss her and how much they miss her and tells them she misses them.  Over and over and over. 

I know I'm not the greatest parent by any means, but on the few occasions that Lexie has been away and not with me, when I call I ask her all the fun things she's doing and who she gets to see and what the plans are for tomorrow.  When she does say she misses me I tell her I miss her a lot too and I love her lots and I will see her soon but for now she gets to have fun with (insert name here of whoever she is with).  I don't remind her how long it's going to be and point out that she's missing me and make her think about it.  Also, I know for a fact that this is not the first time Lovely Ex has left them overnight somewhere without her.  She takes them to Mexico frequently and leaves them with her parents, she leaves them with babysitters in California, and I can pretty much guarantee she isn't staying close in case they have "abandonment issues" like she made sure her lawyer pointed out in court before we were allowed to take the kids.  She really frustrates me.  I can understand her worrying about her kids and wanting to make sure they are ok, but when she is constantly interfering or attempting to interfere with what little visitation time Cory gets....that's when the protective wife in me comes out.  It's a good thing I know I'm not allowed to talk to her, because man would I ever give her a piece of my mind.  But, instead I just let it go.  The kids are all asleep in their beds (and sleeping very soundly I might add) and tomorrow we get to have a lot more fun.  There is nothing I can do about it, so instead I just choose to focus on the good moments we get to have each day.  Except for blog time.  That is my time to get it all off my chest.  And lucky you, you all get to enjoy it. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Who's the Biggest Kid?

Today was a very low key day.  We did a whole lot of just hanging around the house and playing.  We started with breakfast of hard boiled eggs mashed up with butter and salt, one of my family's favorites.  As I was going to make it, I opened the fridge and found one of Lexie's bracelets in there.  Katelyn had put it there the night before.  Cory's kids hide stuff EVERYWHERE. The kids all ate really well.  Michael was a little hesitant, like he always is, but he tried one bite, declared it "good" and ate the whole thing.  Katelyn didn't even hesitate. 

After breakfast we cleaned up a little bit, the kids played all over the place, and we just enjoyed being a family.  Lunch time was a big surprise with Michael actually eating a whole peanut butter sandwich, after he nicely informed me that he did not want jam, he wanted honey.  I told him we'd have honey tomorrow, and today we were having jam.  Once we got past that, he had no problems eating his lunch.  After lunch Cory found a couple Chuck the Tonka Truck sets in the closet downstairs that we had set aside for when the kids came and he and Michael assembled both sets while the girls took care of their dolls.  Once the sets were put together the kids took turns letting the trucks go across the sets.  They were surprisingly cool to watch.  They flipped the cars over, around, and upside down as they went through these obstacle courses.  The kids were overjoyed, and eventually we had to put them away as they began to have a hard time taking turns. 

While all the construction was going on, I made all the kids except Phillip matching friendship bracelets from thread they picked out at the store yesterday.  They called themselves "team arrow" and were running around the house, stopping every once in a while to put their hands in to the center and then throw them up in the air shouting "team arrow!"  It was really cute to watch.  It was nice seeing them acting like siblings.  After that was movie time, something Cory's kids had been looking forward to all day.  Something tells me they watch a LOT of TV at home.  We watched Enchanted, one of my favorite movies, but unfortunately I fell asleep and missed a lot of it.  This whole four kids thing is exhausting. 

Cory and I decided that since the kids had eaten really well for breakfast and lunch that we would try something different for dinner, something that wasn't 100% kid food that we knew they would eat well.  It's a family recipe from my mom that is pretty much hamburger and mushroom gravy over rice.  We served it with peas and pears.  Dinner was a bit of an adventure.  Lovely Ex had called to talk to the kids right before we tried to feed them, and it seems like every time she talks to them it reminds them that she's not there and they both have a pretty hard time for about five to ten minutes.  Katelyn had no problems at all, just required some help getting the food to her mouth, but Michael balked just a bit.  He came over to the table and said "I don't like this and this and this" pointing to each thing on his plate.  We told him he had to eat just a little bit of everything, but if he ate it all he could have five cheetos.  He sat there for a few minutes not wanting to eat any of it, but between Cory and I we got him to try one bite of everything.  He decided that he "liked it a little" and ate everything on his plate.  He definitely earned those five cheetos. 

It wasn't much by way of any kind of Fathers' Day celebration for Cory.  I had decided when we found out we were going to have the kids here for it that there was nothing I could give him that would even compete with that.  Plus, as I've documented here quite a few times, I have the tendency to ruin special days anyway.  So I didn't even try.  The kids gave him a rather nice knife with "Dad" engraved on it that he was quite excited about, and my brother brought over his new solid-state hard drive.  He lit up like a little boy when he saw that.  I have myself pretty well convinced that this is exactly the day he wanted.  We'll find some way to celebrate properly once the kids go home.  For now, this is all about him and his kids. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Where Were You Born?

Today was the only day for the whole two weeks we'll have the kids that we wouldn't have my kids with us. We decided to take advantage of the fact that for one brief day we could all fit in one vehicle and take the kids to see where they were born.  They were extremely excited, and kept asking to see "their hospitals".  We started down south with Michael's hospital.  I had never been there before, and it was kinda cool to see.  We couldn't go up to the nursery, but we got to see the lobby of the hospital, walk around a bit, and see a map of where he was born.

After that we went to Carl's Jr for lunch so the kids could get some wiggles out before our next stop.  The plan was to have them eat, play, go to the bathroom, and then we would go on our way to Katelyn's hospital.  It did not work out that way.  We had a great lunch and the kids got to play, but then the bathrooms were BEYOND disgusting so we decided to go somewhere else to find a bathroom. 

Conveniently, Cory thought Cabela's might have a nice bathroom.  And yes, they did.  Plus a lot of other really cool things.  I had never been there before.  It was really kinda cool.  They had real stuffed animals all over the place set up to look like they were in nature.  Like, four different rooms of them.  There was also an aquarium room where you could see all the different kinds of fish.  I got quite a few pictures of the kids excitement, but then unfortuately my battery died and I missed the whole last half of the trip. 

So, after a quick detour home to recharge the camera's batteries (and meet up with Lovely Ex who "convenienty" forgot to pack the kids medication) we were back on the road to Katelyn's hospital.  We walked all over that hospital and saw where she had been born, the meditation room, the fountain, and every other cool place we could find. 

Then we came home for a quick dinner and the drop off of my kids, and then there was just enough time for a show on the computer before bed.  Needless to say, we are all completely exhausted, but man was it ever a fun day. 

Little Lovin' on our Lawyer

Yesterday was our hearing in court on the petition to modify that we filed almost two years ago on Cory and Lovely Ex's joke of a divorce.  It was a biggie.  Our lawyer has really worked his butt off on this one, and he totally came through for us.  Originally, court had been scheduled for mid-April, but true to form, Lovely Ex requested a continuance about a week before because she was "too sick" to travel.  Included in her motion for continuance was a letter from her doctor saying that she was extremely ill and would need about two more months to recover before she would be able to travel.  Our lawyer scheduled a conference call between him, the judge, and Lovely Ex's lawyer to discuss the continuance and the judge agreed that the case be continued, but because one of the main issues in the motion was her denying Cory's parent time with his kids she was ordered to bring the kids with her when she came to court in June.  We were finally going to be allowed to have a full two week visitation with the kids.  He also said that every ruling he made in our case would be back dated to at least the date of the original hearing, but our lawyer said if we have good enough evidence then we should be able to back date it all the way to the date of filing the petition to modify which was two years ago. 

So, Cory and I waited.  And waited,  And planned.  And dreamed.  And tried not to get too excited.  We both know how easily things can change, and that when we are counting on something good and Lovely Ex is involved it is NEVER going to go smoothly.  As the date of court approached, we tried to prepare as much as possible so there wouldn't be any last minute surprises.  We ran in to some complications with both of us being able to take the full two weeks the kids were here off of work.  It has been a year and a half since we saw them, and neither of us wanted to have to leave them to go to work while they were here.  Cory had no problem.  He had the option to work from home when one of the kids got sick, he is salary so if he works any portion of a day he doesn't have to use any PTO, and his boss is very understanding and even encouraged him to take the full amount of time off.  I, on the other hand, don't have the option of working from home to make up hours missed for other things, have to use PTO for any time off work that I miss, and I have a boss who is very work-oriented and prefers to not have her employees take off large chunks of work that they don't have PTO to cover.  I was close, but I was about 10 hours short.  To further the complications, the visit with the kids just happened to come during the time that one of the other two people on my team at work would be leaving the company.  This meant that we would be training a new employee, have two almost brand new employees running the whole department, and my boss hasn't done our job since she became a supervisor almost two years ago and doesn't really remember how to do it.  We handled it the best we could.  We hired and trained our new employee.  I retrained and refreshed my boss's memory.  I left my cell phone number in case there were any emergencies, and I scheduled three days worth of half shifts to come in and make sure things were running smoothly. 

So, on to court day.  Cory and I both woke up feeling pretty good.  No more of the nerves and worries that normally come with court.  We had gotten all the evidence together, met with our lawyer numerous times, he told us we had a very strong case, and all we had to do was get through court and then we could pick up the kids.  We arrived at court and Lovely Ex and her father were already there.  We all went in and sat down, and were joined by Lovely Ex's husband, Shades, and his mother.  They were shortly followed by, who I can only assume based on the strong family resemblance, Shades' brother and either his wife or girlfriend.  Apparently this was a tourist stop on the family vacation.  As soon as court began, our lawyer requested that anyone who was possibly going to be called to testify leave the court room as per the court guidelines, and Shades had to leave.  I was allowed to stay because it wasn't anticipated I would be called to testify.  Our lawyer put Cory on the stand and oh my word I love this boy so much.  He was amazing.  It amazes me every time how thoughtful and careful he is about everything he says.  He remembered exactly what he was supposed to say about every shred of evidence we had.  He kept it together at times when I would have been bawling like a baby.  He got the point across.  Our lawyer said it was going to be very redundant.  We were going to keep saying that he loved his kids and wanted to see them, but he couldn't afford to see them.  So that is exactly what they did.  Over and over again.  Every piece of evidence he had proved without a doubt that Cory was doing everything in his power to see his kids but Lovely Ex was not only not helping him see his kids but she was purposefully keeping his kids from him.  Then it was Lovely Ex's lawyers turn.  About five minutes into his questioning it because apparent that there was a chance I might need to testify, so I was asked to leave the courtroom.  The next four hours were spent outside the courtroom, pacing the halls, watching videos on youtube, sitting on a hard bench, and attempting to have conversations with Shades, who is a brick.  I was never called on to testify, but I was never allowed to return.  The rest of what happened in court is just based on what I heard. 

I got the highlights from Cory and his lawyer.  It sounds like Lovely Ex's lawyer tried his hardest to make it look like Cory was the one to blame for not seeing his kids.  It's pretty hard to do when all the evidence and all the emails show that Lovely Ex would like nothing more than for Cory to just go away and let Shades be the kids' new dad.  He is a good lawyer though, and it sounds like Cory got a little flustered a few times.  I'm sure he didn't do as badly as he thinks he did, but I'm also sure it was very rough to go through.  Then they put Lovely Ex on the stand.  This is the part I was MOST looking forward to in court, and I'm so disappointed I didn't get to watch the train wreck.  We had multiple emails from her where she was speaking badly about Cory and I.  There was one particularly hurtful one where she called me an "obese girl-man," referred to my son as "the retarded one," told Cory how happy the kids are with their new dad and how she hopes the day comes they will never remember him, and told Cory "one side gets the children and check and the other side gets a picture and a bill."  Our lawyer made her read this one out loud to the whole court.  Apparently beyond that she followed her typical pattern and refused to answer any questions stating she "couldn't remember" anything we couldn't prove.  Then her lawyer got his chance to question her.  Cory told me that the judge had to reprimand her lawyer at least three times for leading her.  I don't think she could remember what she was supposed to say, and her lawyer knew they were in trouble.

At the end of our last hearing the judge asked for our lawyers to submit our findings of fact and conclusions of law and he would review them both and make a decision.  That is what I was expecting this time, and that we would have no clue what he was thinking.  Apparently this time he was confident enough to give us a preliminary impression on his judgement.  Cory said the judge is definitely leaning towards at least minimum child support which would be about five hundred dollars less than it is right now (possibly lower if we can get him to impute Lovely Ex's wages since she has a bachelors degree and all), changing extracurricular activities so Cory doesn't have to pay half unless they both agree on the activity before hand (instead of the way it is now where she can put them in whatever she wants and Cory has to pay half), and making Lovely Ex help more with the transportation.  We have two weeks for our lawyer to submit his recommendations on the specific changes we want, and then her lawyer has two weeks to respond to that, and then the judge will make his decision. This is going to be a very long month. 

In one final temper tantrum in Lovely Ex style, she refused to bring the kids to the specified drop off location as her lawyer said she would in court and told us we had to come to a parking lot five minutes away from the house they are staying in, which is half an hour away from us.  Because of rush hour traffic we were eight minutes late getting there and they weren't there.  She refused to answer her phone and finally showed up with the kids 45 minutes later.  The kids both ran up to Cory and were very excited to see him.  He carried them around with him until his arms gave out.  We brought them home and played with them for a few hours and then attempted to put them to bed.  We made the mistake of letting Lovely Ex talk to them right before we put them to bed.  This got them both worked up and it took us almost another hour to get them calmed down and to sleep.  They both slept fabulously, and I am currently listening to them have breakfast in the kitchen with their dad.  It smells like he might have made pancakes (a long time favorite for all of them) and all of them are laughing and playing.  It warms my heart so much to see him so happy.  I know it's bittersweet because they will have to go home at the end of the two weeks, but at least now we have a plan.  We know child support will be reduced, and we know we will be able to see them again soon.  For now, we are just going to enjoy the time we have with them, and apparently eat a lot of pancakes (which by the way, smell REALLY good).