Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We Need A Little Chrismas

There are times I like to pretend that Cory and my first Christmas as a married couple just didn't happen.  It was not one of my shining moments as a wife.  For those of you who were not around at the time, you can read about it by clicking here. It was a very stressful Christmas.  I kind of felt like the pressure was on this Christmas.  It was almost an identical situation.  We had Cory's kids with us, his parents were staying with us, I was attempting to make dinner..  There were multiple times throughout the day that I felt a strange sense of deja vu.  I am very happy to report that this year went MUCH better.

We got up with the kids a little after seven and all headed downstairs to see our loot.  We started with stockings, and Santa had followed my sister's example and stocked them with breakfast.  We prodded and coaxed and finally got all the kids to eat, and set out to open presents.  We had decided to take it easy this year and just get each of the kids three main presents:  something to read, something to play with, and something to wear.  It was a good thing we did, because when Cory's parents came down, they brought presents too.  The kids each had about six presents to open, which was a really good amount, and they really seemed to like everything that they got.  Lexie was really excited about her Monster High doll (even though Cory disagreed with me about getting it.  The things are disgusting, but it was the one thing she said she wanted).  Michael got two different lego sets that he got to put together and spent quite a bit of time playing with.  Katelyn got a princess duplo set and a Hello Kitty purse and hat that sort of matched the set Lexie had gotten also.  Both girls wore their hats and carried their purses the rest of the day.  And Cory's mom hit the jackpot when she was able to find a larger version of the rubber snakes she had gotten Phillip a few years ago.  They have been his favorite toys and quite a few of them have broken.  He was very excited when he saw them in the box, then was scared when he saw the faces and tongues on them, but then warmed up and hasn't put them down since. 

The kids took over the living room with all of their toys, and I began making breakfast for the adults.  I had gotten the stuff to make sticky buns, a pinterest recipe, and I quickly got it together and got it in the oven.  It smelled amazing, way sweet and gooey.  I overcooked it just a bit, so it came out more sticky then it should have, and Cory said it hurt his teeth it was so sweet.  But, his parents and I ate a good portion of it, and I am still calling it a success. 

After breakfast, I got the roast started for dinner and spent some time just hanging out with the family.  Cory helped the kids put all their toys together, and they all had a blast playing.  Finally, it was time for dinner, and I was a little nervous about getting everything together at the same time.  But, the Christmas fairies were on my side and everything turned out GREAT.  I think this is the first major meal that I have done all by myself, and I'm pretty dang proud that it all turned out.  We spent the next two hours getting the kids to eat.  I swear, when we have Cory's kids we spend about 85 percent of our time feeding them and putting them to bed.  It takes them on average an hour and half to two hours to eat any meal, and bedtime takes another hour.  Finally, once they were all done, we got the living room cleaned up a little bit and got everyone to bed. 

It was a pretty relaxing day.  No major catastrophes, and no food poisonings.  I feel like this one can officially be put in the success column.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Visitation

For the first time without a court order, Lovely Ex has provided a visitation with the kids that wasn't a surprise and that we had more than four hours notice on!  For a while I wasn't sure it would actually happen.  The drama all started about a month ago when Cory initially requested the visitation.  It is our year for Christmas, and according to the relocation statue this is one of the holidays she is required to provide transportation for.  She refused to bring them out unless Cory would sign something and provide it to her lawyer stating the kids would be allowed to video chat with her for ten minutes per child every day that the kids were here.  Our lawyer said that was unreasonable, and told us to respond that every other day was more than adequate for the week that they would be here.  She came back with this big huge long email about all the "damage" that had been done to the kids by her not being allowed to talk to them for the two weeks that we had them in June.  Cory responded that he would do his best to have the kids talk to her every day, but he would not be held responsible if it didn't happen.  She replied calling him every name in the book and bringing up all this old garbage that had nothing to do with it.  Cory responded back stating that he would be in the specified drop off location on 12/22 for drop off, and there again for the pick up on 12/30, and cc'd her lawyer.

Then came the next complication.  She told him that there was no way they could be here by 12/22 because Michael's last day of school was 12/21 and they needed to break up the drive, so he could have them on 12/23.  No biggie there, Cory agreed as long as he got to keep them a day later, moving to pick up to 12/31.

Then Lovely Ex got the family involved.  Cory's sister sent him an email that Lovely Ex had sent to her saying that she had gotten sepsis again (which was her reasoning behind not being able to come out for court in April) and that was why she hadn't emailed her the pictures she had requested.  We were pretty sure she was going to try to use that as an excuse to not bring the kids out, but it never turned in to that. 

Finally, about an hour before the scheduled drop off time, Lovely Ex sent Cory an email with a picture of a flat tire saying she had gotten a flat and she wouldn't be able to be there by two, and would let him know when she had an idea of when she'd be able to be there.  Two hours later, she called him saying she'd be there in about an hour.  Half an hour later, she called again and said she was there waiting for him.  So we loaded the carseats in the car, and drove down there to get them.  Of course, the police were there waiting for us.  I appreciate them being there though, she's crazy. 

We did the standard drop off shuffle, loaded their five bags of crap in to our little trunk, and were on our way.  We came home and began unpacking them, and just like every other time I was amazed at what she packed.  This time she sent five coats for each of them, and five pairs of shoes per kid, but only three pairs of pants for each of them.  Each kid had ten shirts, two sweaters, three scarves, and two pairs of gloves.  She also packed a white noise machine, a garbage bag full of Mexican medication, and four of her tank tops (for the kids to sleep with when they miss her).  I feel slightly bad (slightly...) that she packs all this crap, and the kids literally live in pajamas most of the time they are here.  We figure they're warm, they're comfortable, and most of the time we don't go anywhere.

I was talking to Michael while Cory was arranging the trunk, and asked him about the flat tire.  I told him that can be kind of scary, and what did he think of it.  He gave me this really funny look, and said "we didn't get a flat tire, we were at Costco."  I asked him how the drive from California was, and if he was tired of being in the car, and he said they had been at the lake house for three days with all of Lovely Ex's family.  I really wish we could use some of the crap she tells us in court.  Also, it would be really nice to be able to trust her and have a good relationship with her.  And also, I'd like world peace...  I think there may be a better chance of that last one happening. 

Anyway, we have the kids, it's almost Christmas, and we both have the next week and a half off work.  Bring on the fun!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Government Entities and Child Support

It seems that things are never as simple as they seem.  About a month ago, Cory received a rather large package in the mail from the California office of recovery services.  They stated that Lovely Ex had come in to their office and opened a case with them, and they needed some information from him before they could start withholding the child support from his checks.  Cory panicked a little because although we hadn't received the official order, he'd been paying a reduced amount of child support based off of what the judge had said in court back at our hearing on the petition to modify.  The hearing was in June, and by September when we still didn't have an order (mostly because Lovely Ex and her lawyer refused to file their paperwork), our lawyer told us to go ahead and start paying the reduced amount.  We knew the judge was going to lower it, and we knew he was going to back date it at least until April, so we figured if the amount was a bit more than what we thought it was going to be then it would all wash out. 

Cory called our lawyer and asked him to get in touch with the California office and let them know we were waiting for a judgement, and ask if they could hold off on the case for a few more weeks until we could get the judgement.  Our lawyer's paralegal called and had a nice discussion with California, and then called Cory back with quite the little story.  Apparently, Lovely Ex had gone to the California office when Cory began paying reduced child support and told them that the child support amount was the original amount in the divorce decree and Cory hadn't paid any child support in the almost four years they'd been divorced. I don't think she realized that they would send Cory a copy of the paperwork, and I think she thought they would just start withholding money and she'd get a big fat check.  Cory and the paralegal worked to get the office all the proof of all the child support he had paid, and the California office was appalled at what Lovely Ex had tried to do.  They agreed to hold off on the case until we had received the judgement. 

It took about three weeks for us to get a copy of the judgement.  In it, the judge stated that he was definitely in favor of reducing child support, but there were some inconsistencies in just how much he was in favor of reducing it. 

The judgement paperwork is divided in to three sections.  The first section is called the findings of fact.  This is where he details all the facts that are applicable in our case that were considered when he was making his decisions.  This is where he documented the fact that not only was Lovely Ex not providing the kids for the specified visitation, she was willfully keeping the children from seeing Cory.  He also stated that we had provided adequate evidence that given the fact that Cory is paying above the maximum allowed amount for child support, he can't afford to pay for visitation to see his kids.  He stated that the reasons that were in place at the time the divorce papers were signed for Cory paying above the maximum amount of child support were no longer valid, and the extra money that he was paying could be better put to use by making it possible for him to pay for visitation so he can see his kids. 

The second section is the conclusions of law.  This is where he takes those facts in the first section and applies them to the laws that are in place for the requests we are making.  This is where he outlined that unless there is a good reason for Cory to be paying above the maximum child support (which there isn't) the child support should be the maximum allowed amount.  In this section he said the child support should be *the listed amount in the divorce decree that was the maximum amount without imputing Lovely Ex's wages at all*, and listed out the exact amount.  He also stated in this section that Lovely Ex was violating the relocation statue by failing to provide the kids for their visitation.

The last section is called the modifications to the divorce decree.  This is where he takes those facts and those laws and lists out what changes he is approving to have made to the divorce decree.  This is the most important and the most legal section.  He listed all the changes he had already talked about, but then he said the new child support amount should be based on the amount of money Cory was making at the time of relocation, and imputing Lovely Ex's wages at 12.00 an hour, which was great, but it didn't agree with what was in the above section.  Then he also stated that his judgement was back dated to the date of filing the petition to modify, which was December of 2010.  Cory and I weren't sure what to do about the difference in amounts, so we contacted our lawyer.  He said that we just need to submit for clarification, and the judge will rewrite something more clear that we can use as a judgement. 

We figured we were good to go on the bigger of the two amounts, because that's the most it would be, and even at that amount Lovely Ex owed us almost 13,000 dollars.  When our lawyer had talked to the California office, she said they would be in charge of handling the case, but the actual withholding would be done by the Utah office, so Cory had started working on a case with them so it would be all ready to go when we got the judgement.  However, what we didn't realize was instead of opening a new case, they reopened the case that Lovely Ex had when she still lived here, and because we didn't have a new order they were going off the amount that was in the divorce papers.  We received a letter a few days before we received the judgement stating that the case had been activated and they would begin withholding the money with his next paycheck, which was in just three days.  Cory made quite a few phone calls to the Utah office trying to explain to them what was going on, and eventually had to just cancel the case because they couldn't get it straightened out. 

When we got the judgement, Cory sent them a copy and attempted to reopen the case, and they told him that he would need three different cases, one for the child support he owed Lovely Ex, one for the back child support she owed him, and one more for the judgement amount she had against him for the unpaid medical expenses from last time we went to court.  He said they would not net them together, and that he would have to pay her full child support and we would have to wait for her to have some form of income before they would be able to recoup any money from her.  Then came the kicker.  Cory's case worker said that because the amount in the modifications to the divorce decree wasn't specified, it was basically unusable because "they aren't allowed to do math", and they couldn't go off the amount in the other section because it wasn't in the modification section.  Basically he told us the whole judgement was crap, and when they started withholding it would be at the amount in the divorce decree because as far as they were concerned there was no valid court document that was changing that amount.  Cory told them we had submitted for a correction, and could they hold off until it came through.  They told him it was out of their hands because the case had been started in California and they had to do what they were told. 

Luckily, the office in California is recognizing the higher of the two amounts listed in the judgement, and is putting through a case to withhold at that amount.  We have submitted for a clarification, but of course Lovely Ex's lawyer submitted a rebuttal stating that Lovely Ex has never worked and just because she has a bachelor's degree doesn't mean she should be "forced" to work outside of the home.  Apparently she has forgotten the job that she had after Michael was born which is where that amount came from.  Anyway, now we have to fight that out, and then wait (again) for the judge to make his decision.  I'm really hoping this one will come through quickly.  I am so ready to be done with all this child support crap. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It Is Official!

I got the job!  I am so excited.  When I met with the supervisor doing the hiring and her manager on Friday they said that they had to go through the proper channels, but that they had heard nothing but good things about me and I "was even better in person" then they expected.  On my way out of the meeting, the supervisor told me that she was so excited and that my interview was the best interview she'd ever had.  She said she has never had such a good feeling about someone or had someone mesh so well with her team.  She started crying a bit as we were walking out and talking, and I started crying a bit too.  I told her I didn't want to assume anything, but was it definitely official?  She said they still had to go through the proper channels, and I could tell Cory but not to tell anyone else.  I was floating.  I made it up to our floor, walked in the door, and Cory immediately stood up from his desk to look over the wall.  I think he had been on pins and needles the whole time.  I immediately turned around and walked back out the door, and he followed me.  We made it in to the elevator, and as soon as the doors closed I said (slightly hyperventilating) "I got the job!"  We went downstairs and talked about it, and I told him I didn't have the official offer yet, but the supervisor said I could tell him.  I told him all about the meeting and how well it had gone, and hoped for an offer by the end of the day.  It didn't come.

We went home that afternoon and enjoyed the weekend.  I kept telling myself that it would have been rushing things to have an offer by Friday, but by the end of the day Monday they should definitely have something for me.  When I didn't hear anything by the end of Monday I was trying to figure out if maybe I had misinterpreted something.  Maybe I was just so excited that I misunderstood something and it didn't really go as well as I thought it did.  Maybe something had come up during the background and reference checks.  Maybe it was all too good to be true. 

By Tuesday evening I pretty much had prepared myself to get an email or something saying that they decided to go a different way.  It was all too good to be true anyway.  It was the perfect job, and with us getting the perfect judgement from the judge and everything else going so well the perfect job was just too much to hope for.  By this afternoon I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to stay at the job I was at, and I should just make the most of it.  Then my phone rang.

I recognized the name of the recruiter on my caller ID right away.  I had pretty much been stalking him for the last three days, seeing when he was online and not, and debating calling him.  I got butterflies when I answered the phone.  I tried to tell myself that I was not going to cry when he told me I didn't get the job.  I was so busy talking to myself I almost missed when he said "we'd like to offer you the job."  I immediately said "yes!" before he could go any further, and then realized there was more he had to say.  The next item to discuss was my salary.  I told myself that even if it was a lateral move I would still take the job.  It was a great opportunity, and it was a job I knew I was going to love.  The money didn't really matter.  I knew a little bit of a raise would be nice.  I wanted to be able to contribute towards our debts and work on getting things paid off.  I had a general idea of what was the absolute most I could hope for.  I figured I wouldn't get it, but I would be happy with whatever I got.  And then he said the number.  I actually had to ask him to repeat himself.  I thought the phone had glitched or something and I was sure I hadn't heard him right.  He repeated it, and it was more than I could have ever dreamed to hope for.  It was way more than I had ever made at any other job I'd had.  I told him I absolutely accept, he said he'd send me over some paperwork to look over, and we hung up.  I wrote the number down on a sticky note, and sat there and looked at it for a few minutes.

I went downstairs to where Cory was still sitting from lunch with another guy on his team, and as soon as he saw my face he knew I had gotten the offer.  I walked around the table and just held out the sticky note.  I couldn't even talk.  He looked at it and said "Is this what they're going to pay you?"  I nodded.  He thought for a minute and said "I think this is more than what I make."  So we had to come upstairs and check.  Sure enough, my new pay rate was more (by mere cents) than what he was making.  This has all changed with his year end increase coming through, but I am amazed that I'm making almost as much as he does.  If I had stayed with my current department, I would have had to be there for about another ten years to even come close to that. 

The final step was giving my two weeks notice to my boss.  I knew there was no easy way to do it, so I went in to her office, sat down, and told her I had been offered and had accepted the job.  She looked at me and said "I already knew."  Apparently what had taken so long was negotiations over when I would be available to start my new job.  My current supervisor was pushing to keep me through the first few days of year end, and my new supervisor wanted me there and available for training before the person I'm replacing was no longer with the company.  Apparently the deciding factor was the vacation Cory and I have scheduled for while the kids are here (hopefully) for Christmas.  The soonest I would be able to start with my new department if I give a full two weeks notice is December 23rd.  I have the next week and half off which would leave me only three days of the pay period left to train.  I would have loved to have my new salary for while I was off on vacation, but my current manager won and I will begin my new job on January 7th.  This is going to be a long month of trying to train everyone on my team to do everything that I'm the only one who knows how to do it.  But really it's only two and a half weeks of work, a week and a half of vacation, and then three days and I'm done.  I'm nervous, but SUPER excited.