Sunday, December 28, 2014

Big Changes

Well, I did get an A in Statistics. If I had it to do over again, I would rather get a B than allow a single course to so thoroughly consume my life for three months. But it's over, and so is my time at college, for now. I'm taking an online course over the winter break, and I expect to have my A.S. degree in hand by the end of January. I took the state Civil Service exam, and scored 88 in one category and 90 in the other, so I'm pretty happy. I hope that after the holidays I'll start getting calls for interviews.

Meanwhile, we traveled out to see the children's dad. It was a far better experience than I had anticipated, and some of my frustration with the distance is mitigated now that I've seen how conducive the environment of this particular facility is to family visitation. It was very clean as prisons go, the entry process was low-key and not particularly invasive, and the visits are done in a large cafeteria, with a playroom for small children and vending machines that serve all sorts of snacks and lunch-type meals. You can't take money in, but you can buy a vending card that gets loaded before entry, and the kids were able to have a relatively normal experience, all things considered. The visiting hours are long, nearly 7 hours on visiting days, and they had board games available for families to play.

We found an Orthodox church only a few miles away, and the hotel we stayed in was much nicer than I expected for the low price. On top of that, there's a fun center in the nearest major town with very reasonable prices, and the area is patchworked with state parks and outdoor activities. When the weather is warmer, we will be able to go camping overnight rather than spending money on a hotel, and that will be very helpful. It will also make the visits more of a family experience, not just focused on the prison, which is exactly what I had wanted. I'm hoping that over the next three years, we can establish a relationship with the small church there and get to know the area well enough that the children feel some sense of community connection aside from the prison visits. The long visiting hours mean that we can plan activities for the morning and then visit in the afternoon, so the Princess doesn't get too worn out, and then still make it home in time for a tolerable bedtime if we leave directly from the prison. As she gets older we'll be able to spend longer chunks of time there. Her limit right now is about two hours.

Christmas was wonderful, more so I think since the boys were able to see their dad first. Little Bear in particular is very tactile, and it seemed to me that he really needed to physically touch and see his dad to believe that he was still in existence. We planned to go away for New Year's, but I changed my mind. We all need a break from deadlines for a little bit. The boys are in aftercare now, and depending on my schedule that may soon include before care, so time at home is going to be at a premium very soon. My parents are very likely moving soon as well, and I'm not sure how that will affect us. So many things depend on so many other things. We shall see what happens over the next several weeks. Hopefully whatever happens won't be too terrible.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Deep Breath

I'm trying to stay optimistic since the semester is halfway over. I think I can still get an A even in Statistics; the last course I need for my degree is being offered over the winter break, so I pushed it off until then. I would not be able to keep up with all the homework otherwise. I feel like I barely get to talk to the kids any more.

The Princess is solidly into the terrible 3's. Why they call it the terrible 2's, I have no idea. 3's are far worse. She gets exponentially cuter, whinier, and more demanding with each passing day. All the kids are growing up so fast.

Their dad has been permanently placed, about 5 hours away. The paperwork came and went for getting the kids on his visiting list, so hopefully that will happen soon. We're all starting Hep B vaccinations since it is highly recommended. Apparently Hep B is rampant in the prison system.

Meanwhile, Cub Scouts has turned out to be a really wonderful experience, for me as well as the boys. It hadn't occurred to me that interacting with other parents might be good for me too. I've always had a lot of trouble with peer interactions, and although college has been helpful, there isn't much opportunity for true personal interaction there. Basically, college has made me capable of looking strangers in the eye if necessary, and speaking up in front of them without having a panic attack. Important, but far from enough. Last weekend we attended the annual Scout Fall Festival for our Council, which is free to new Scouts. It's expensive otherwise, so I figured we should take advantage of it being free this year. It was an absolutely fantastic experience, and I'll be more than happy to pay the cost of attending in the future now that I know what to expect. The day was cold, but beautiful, and the fall colors were at their peak. At some point about halfway through the day, I realized that I was talking and laughing with other people my own age, even MALE people my own age, without feeling awkward or out of place or self-conscious. I was feeling like a person who actually had an equal right to be there, not just an outsider who should probably keep her mouth shut lest she say something embarrassing. Something changed in me right then. I'm not sure what it was, but it was healthy. Almost like it was the last step on my path to becoming mentally an adult as well as nominally. I'll always remember it as one of the defining moments of my life. Funny how those moments tend to be so small and invisible from the outside, isn't it?

My parents don't expect to be moved for another few months, so we're hoping the new buyer will allow us to rent one of the units for a low price until the end of the school year, so the boys can finish it out in the district. One of the units has significant water damage and can't be rented for a decent amount until it's repaired. We could certainly manage that for a few months, if the buyer is willing.

I need to start my job search in earnest soon. I've put in two applications so far, but only because they were opportunities I didn't want to pass up. I need to start the real process soon. I'm dreading it and looking forward to it at the same time. I can't wait to start working; it's the searching part that I hate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Scouts! Yikes!

So the boys have been wanting to join Cub Scouts for a while now. We have a troop that meets very locally, and several of their schoolmates are in it. Tonight we got our application approved, and I'm pretty excited. I hope it helps us to build some good strong ties in the community. The acting leader of the troop knows our church and is a member of the "sister" church with whom we participated in an outdoor Pan-Orthodox service the last two spring seasons. It's a small world, in a good way.

My sisters and I have been talking about moving plans if my parents sell their house. I'm very worried because we can't afford to stay in the district, and I hate the prospect of leaving it just when we are starting to put real roots down. I need people I can feel connected to. I feel like I've been floating out there alone on a life raft my whole life, and now that it's finally changing, I'm getting shifted to another ocean. I desperately want to stay in the district. It's hard to get motivated to look for any other alternative. I can apply for low-income housing, but the approval might take a while and it's only available in the next district. Still, we'd be close enough to keep in touch here. More and more I feel drawn to that option.

This is the last semester for my Associate's Degree, and it's not going easy. I'm really liking the course in Social Welfare Policy, and thinking I may go in a policy research/analysis direction with my Bachelor's rather than a casework direction. The ASL club has been going much better, and I'm starting to feel confident that it will continue after I graduate. We have new officers who are very committed and involved. The workload is really heavy, though. I feel like I can't even afford the time it takes to drive places sometimes. But I'm taking my favorite course of all, and that helps. Earth and Space Science. I love it. I've always been fascinated by geology. If travel wasn't an issue, I'd aim to be a geologist.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer 2

So, a few days before the end of Summer 1 my caseworker called me. The campus caseworker, not the county one, they never do anything. She informed me that if I took both my Summer 2 courses online I would lose my child care subsidy. Oops. So I had to drop one of my courses and sign up at the last minute for a classroom course. I wound up with Macroeconomics. NOT what I wanted. It's like math and politics all mixed up together with a whole bunch of graphs. And if you remember how much I hate MLA format? Well, I feel the same way about graphs.

Actually, it's not too bad, now that I'm in the middle of it. The professor is passionate about teaching it, and not in a traditional way. He teaches from the standpoint of international business and a global economy, which means there is a lot of talk about foreign policy and trade. He explained some of the graphs, but shuns them for the most part. He made us all watch IOUSA, and the exam we took today was all essay questions. I know this makes many of my classmates cringe. It makes me appreciate my mom's good teaching in making us read, write, and summarize, and my family's passion for politics. Although I didn't understand any of the concepts when I started the class, I think I grasped enough to answer adequately.

Shortly after the class began, I was looking for Simon Baker movies to watch and came across Margin Call. I rented it on Amazon and watched it over the weekend. I'm dying to ask the professor how accurate he thinks it is. I have a feeling he might scoff at the idea of learning economics through entertainment, though, and not without good reason. I'm also dying to know what he thinks of the recent escalations in the Gaza strip, but he's been mum. Also for good reason, no doubt. Personally, my sympathies are with the Palestinians. They've been kicked around, lied to, and bullied long enough. The fact that they are Muslim in no way makes that okay. The Israelis have acted no better.

We each were told to choose a foreign country and find out all we can about its culture and economy. I chose Turkey. Not sure why. It just seemed like a good choice. I'm looking forward to the rest of the class. It might not be a subject I wanted to learn about, but knowledge is always useful, and at least it's outside the textbook.

The Princess has been potty-training. It's going fantastic - at home. She has repeatedly told me, in very clear terms, that she does NOT want to tell the teachers when she needs to potty. Only mommy. And according to the teachers, "She's a woman of her word." *sigh* I guess I'll be doing a lot of laundry for a while. I'm saving on diapers, though! That's about $40 every month.

We were finally able to get cards to the children's dad. He's been in the state penitentiary in the next county for a while, and they don't allow minors to visit because he is there temporarily. Yesterday we got an envelope from him. He drew pictures for the kids, but didn't actually write much, and he jotted down some screwed-up existential nonsense on the back, probably for my benefit. It made me angry, although I didn't say so. The kids want to hear from him, not get some pencil drawings. Maybe he feels he has nothing good to say, but still. They were happy, though. So I may just be over-thinking it.

I've decided to keep a journal of their activities for him to have. Just little snippets about their day and their behaviors, the kinds of things he can't see in a photo or hear in a phone conversation. By the way, he's called them once. ONCE. In six months. For about 60 seconds each. But I'm doing this for them, not for him. I want to hold on to any connection he may still feel with them, so that they don't feel like strangers when he gets out. Whiz Kid will be 13. Little Bear will be 11. At the earliest. That's going to be a very hard bridge to cross. I think they are most afraid of him never coming out. I'm afraid of him coming out the same person he went in.

I've started reading to the kids at night from the Kindle. It's great. Since it's backlit, I can leave the lights off and it provides a sort of night light. This Kindle has been one of the best family items I could have gotten. I'm thinking of purchasing a Bible to it, since late evening/night is really the only family time we have, and I need the lights out so they fall asleep. It used to seem silly to me to have a digital Bible, but I'm rethinking that.

This weekend we are going to a BBQ and fireworks with their godparents. I can't wait. We're so blessed to have met these people.

Monday, June 2, 2014


I started the summer semester last week. It's a lot of fun. I'm taking Public Speaking in the classroom, with the same Communications professor I had last summer. We have an interesting class; it includes a ballet dancer, lacrosse athlete, and a guy from Romania who looks roughly 35-40 and whose accent is very hard for me to follow. Our professor made us all give a little speech about ourselves on the 2nd day that included a favorite (or least favorite) song, and our favorite movie or TV show (of course I said Jericho). The Romanian guy said that he does not watch movies or TV because he thinks they are terrible things that ruin your ability to think - or something to that effect. I nearly laughed out loud. It reminded me of what I'd said at the end of my last post.

Yesterday we had our annual Pan-Orthodox service at a state park in Delaware. Members of three parishes attended: ours, a Ukrainian parish, and a Greek parish. It was a beautiful day, and I got to take pictures of Little Bear serving. I don't like taking photos in the church; it seems disrespectful and disruptive. But the outdoor service provided the perfect opportunity. And for once, I didn't have to spend half the service keeping the Princess quiet. She played on the playground only yards away from the pavilion and I could see her just fine. So did many of the other young children. I took pictures of the boys with their best friends, because they all wore similar shirts; it was great! Last year our service got rained out with a summer storm at the very end. This year, the worst we got was sunburn. I should have worn my big garden hat, but I was too busy trying to remember the bazillion other things you have to bring when you have three kids and only yourself, lol. I refused to bring the Kindle, because I knew the temptation to let them use it would be too great and I wanted them to spend time with other people, as well as reinforce the idea that worship is worship no matter where it takes place.

The thing I look forward to most about leaving school and leaving my parent's house is being able to give the kids alternatives to electronic entertainment. They desperately need a place where they can play without being hounded about when the mess will be cleaned up, and I need to be able to devote my brain to whatever needs to be done with them instead of constantly worrying over due dates. I never thought I would let them spend so much time on electronics, but as long as we're here we have no realistic alternative. There just isn't anything else they can do that doesn't create a problem for someone. They can't even learn to ride bikes; the driveway is too broken, and too dangerous with the amount of traffic in and out and the visual barriers. I would have to take them somewhere else to teach them, and I don't have the time for that. My mom refuses to allow any plastic play equipment because she doesn't like the way it looks, so that pretty much rules out any play equipment. Yes, kids used to have no play equipment. They also had plenty of other things to keep busy with, including farm chores, a whole lot more of the outdoors to explore than we do, and often a community of friends to play with them and keep an eye on them. That isn't the world we live in here, and it's stupid to pretend we can create it through wishful thinking.

They'll be in summer camp again this year, and Little Bear is starting to do very well at swimming. I was hoping to sign up for swimming lessons, but the only lessons they offer for adults are very early and very late. Nothing during the day when I don't have the children in tow. So I guess that's out for now, just like Martial Arts. I tried that too, thinking I could do it with the boys. But the program requires 3 nights a week, and that's out of the question. For now, I'm just going to do parent-child swim lessons with the Princess, so she can get independent early on. Whiz Kid has always protested against the lessons, so I've decided not to sign him up for any more at this point. He really dislikes swimming.

I got A's again from the spring, so my 4.0 is still intact, although there was one close call. Here's hoping it survives the summer too!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Joyous Pascha

I know, I'm totally not sticking to my conviction that I was going to be increasingly absent here. Whatever.

This year I decided to take the kids to the midnight Pascha (Easter) service at church. I tossed around a few ideas on how to work it out. My mom was willing to let me leave the Princess at home to sleep, but I didn't want her up at her usual 4-5:30. I also knew that we couldn't sleep in here, as a family, even if she did. And I just got a credit limit raise on my card. So I decided to rent a hotel room near the church. Did I mention our church is a 45 minute drive? Well, now you know.

It went well, and I think I'll make a habit out of that if we don't end up moving closer to the church in future. However, if I ever again find out the day before that I'm getting my feminine curse, I'll know to stay home. Plus Whiz Kid was coming down with a nasty sinus infection that got progressively worse overnight. He now has an ear infection. So although I'm very glad we went (especially after seeing how many parish members showed up, including all the parents of young children), I think I'll be wiser in future. The kids all said they were glad to have been there, even Whiz Kid. Little Bear slept through the entire 3-hour service, and the Princess through most of it. It was a beautiful ceremony and I hope I can enjoy it better the next time, without the splitting headache.

In the morning we stayed until checkout time and the plan was to attend the reading of the Gospels at 1PM, then have an early dinner with the boys' godfather and his family. But I was in so much pain by about 12:30 that I had to go home and lay down. Little Bear was terribly disappointed, since he just began serving in the altar and was bent on being part of the Gospel service. I felt so bad. We were able to meet for dinner later (lots of Advil later), and it was good. But I do hope next year we are in good health.

More and more these days I feel like the people of our parish are my family. I feel more at home there than I ever did here, and more comfortable with them than with most of my kin. My mom made a comment recently about the economic trouble in our country, implying that she's concerned for what will happen "when the check stops" and all the welfare recipients come out of the cities to loot our homes. I could hardly bite my tongue enough to hide my disgust. She has her good points, but understanding people - as individuals or en masse - has never been one of them. Apparently understanding government strategy isn't either. The "checks" aren't going to stop until nearly everything else has, because the powers that be aren't about to risk mass rioting by starving people for whom there is no work. Nobody can really predict what crises we will be faced with during our lifetimes, but one thing I know for sure: in the event of some kind of upheaval, my mom is NOT the person I would want at my shoulder. She still trusts all the wrong people, and looks for enemies in the wrong places. None of her friends - the people she views as "us" - are people I would want as allies. I don't believe any of them are capable of laying aside their egos long enough to actually identify and combat a common enemy somewhere other than the radio and internet. The pen is mightier than the sword, until your enemy is standing over you with one. Besides, it isn't their pens I would worry about since half of them can't form a cohesive argument OR a properly structured sentence!!! Bad grammar and poor logic aside, I doubt a single one of them would sacrifice anything dear to them for the sake of principles. On the other hand, I think many of the people she views as "them" are the people we would find at our shoulders in a crisis, provided my mom didn't chase them off with religious and political invective first. Ugh.

The people I'd want to be with are the people of my parish. They're intelligent AND perceptive (it takes both). They know how to lay aside differences for a common cause; they do it at every service. Multiple languages can be heard in the fellowship hall, and some of them hardly speak English at all, but they meet every week or more to worship. Most of them have not been swallowed by the American culture of entertainment, so they still know how to reason. They also know how to sacrifice; it's no small thing to emigrate from your homeland and start over. These are the people I'd want to be "in the trenches" with. I'd trust them with my life.    

Friday, April 11, 2014


I recently signed up for Amazon Prime. I really like it. I've discovered that it is counter-productive for me to attempt sleep before my parents go to bed, and I can't study with the lights out. So I've been reading or watching video on my Kindle (another awesome deal brought to you by Craigslist) for the two hours or so in between putting the kiddos down and being able to go to bed myself. It acts as a sort of night-light for the boys, and I can make better use of that time than laying there fuming about all the sleep I'm losing.

I watched the first season of Under the Dome, and had mixed reactions. Then I watched Seasons 1 & 2 of Grimm. It took a while for me to get into it; I kept watching because I was fascinated by the ways the rewrote the fairy tales for modern times, since that relates to the English course I'm taking this semester. It really grew on me, and I can't wait for Season 3 to go Prime.

Movies are something I have a hard time watching many of. I'm pretty picky. So it didn't take me long to exhaust what few movies actually interested me from the listings. And this was all after I'd already gotten tired of reading for a while and decided I should probably not buy any more books until my next installment of student loans. SO I tried a few different TV shows, most of which I didn't get through the pilots on, let alone go beyond.

Then I started watching Jericho.

I cannot imagine what the producers were thinking to let this show end. I was hooked from the beginning. For one thing, I'm madly in love with Jake Green. *blush* Skeet Ulrich is by far my favorite actor ever (he reminds me a lot of Mark, and I'm sure a counselor could have a heyday with that lol), plus I love the character; it's one that resonates deeply with me. On top of that, the story is one that I think is very relevant to our current political climate. I suspect one of the reasons it ended prematurely was the fact that it hits a little too close to home. I'm watching it for the second time now and loving every minute of it. I'll buy it on DVD when I can't get in on Prime any more.

I've been thinking a lot about the reasons why I love this particular show and this particular actor so much. After all, my personality scores show that synthesizing and analyzing are what I do best. For one thing, I think this show more than any I've seen before demonstrates the ways in which people change unexpectedly under extreme pressure. It doesn't try to pretend that the good guys always step up to the challenge, or conversely that the bad guys suddenly find a conscience when the chips are down. I feel it does an excellent job of showing the diversity of human nature and of human reactions, both on an individual and a social level. And although Jake Green is my favorite character, the one I respect the most is Major Beck from Season 2. Not many people can be Jake Green. He possesses a combination of instinct, perception, endurance and experience that is rarely to be found in one person. Anyone, however, can be Major Beck. His commitment to doing right is single-minded, but not close-minded. As long as he believes that following orders is the right thing to do, he does it and allows nothing to steer him aside, not even personal feelings. But he also pays attention, and when too many things don't add up he investigates. When his investigation turns up evidence that his side is not in the right, he doesn't close off his mind and go blindly forward. Instead he takes a stand, knowing that to do so puts him at serious personal risk, and consistently does what he is convinced is morally right regardless of what his superiors say.

This country needs a lot more Major Becks. I can think of a couple: Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden. Probably others. But nowhere nearly enough.

As for Jake Green's character, I had a less-than-flattering epiphany about my obsession with him. Not only does the actor remind me somewhat of Mark, and of one of my brothers (for different reasons), but the character is very much the sort of person I always perceived Mark to be. I think it's why I didn't mind him having secrets for a long time. I took for granted that there were things he wouldn't tell me; I thought that was mysterious and that if I didn't want him to lie, I just needed to not ask questions. Eventually I realized that there was no mystery, only bullshit, and that he lied about everything whether I questioned him or not. If he was talking, he was lying. It's rather upsetting to see how much I could misjudge someone. I cried a few times while watching the show because it was so hard to think about how I'd seen him 15 years ago vs. how I see him now.

Anyway, it's a fantastic show. I hope they bring it back. If you haven't seen it yet, you should.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Absence makes the heart grow fonder (or just forgetful)

So, I've been away awhile. And I'm thinking I'll probably stay away. The nice thing about the internet is that you get to come here and dump all your problems in cyberspace for whoever wants to sift through and offer you some advice, and when you've unloaded them all the idea is to go back to your real life. And that's what I've been doing.

Not that all my problems are unloaded. But compared to last year, I'm a different person. My depression is periodic, not constant. I have nights when I DO sleep, and days when I CAN breathe, and that's a big step forward. I think it has something to do with Mark being out of my life. He's been in jail since the beginning of the year and isn't likely to be out for a long time. His mom has gradually dropped off the radar, and even though I resent both of them for not being in the children's lives, I am personally so much better off without either of them.

The change that surprises me the most is a recent and sudden realization that I'm occasionally attracted to men I meet. That must have something to do with being removed from Mark as well, and something to do with finally discovering the missing link in my diet. Apparently, it was B vitamins and C. My mom often gives me articles about various health problems, and a couple of months ago it was about chronic fatigue and some doctor who was treating it with a combination of B and C vitamins. She bought a B complex and I started taking it, and drinking Emergen-C packets every other day, and voila! Normality! At long last! Whatever it is has allowed my hormones to reset again in several ways, lowering my stress, increasing my metabolism, and apparently, giving me a sex drive again. For what that's worth.

I'm not sure if it bothers me or not. I have no intention of getting involved in another relationship any time soon, because I have young children, and the anxiety of bringing someone new into their life is not worth any of the possible good outcomes. So on the one hand, I feel I could really do without this. On the other hand, I know it's directly tied to the overall improvement in my health, which I wouldn't want to give up. So, I guess I shouldn't be sorry.

Last week I had a bit of a mental meltdown when I finally had to accept that applying for transfer scholarships was a bad idea. It's recently become clear that I will not be able to go on for a bachelor's degree while living with my parents. Without being free to set my own priorities and schedule, it simply will not be possible to get the grades I want. I refuse to give up two years of my life and take out loans in order to get Cs, when I know under different circumstances I could get As. At the same time, if I go part time and work part time, I am ineligible for scholarships, making that a non-option.

The college hosted a Human Services fair, and I was talking to CYS and learned that they hire people with associate degrees in Social Work as aides with the potential to move up, because experience is still more valuable than a degree in that field. I felt a bit better after that, and in talking to my KEYS supervisor I learned that such is the case with almost any field of social work right now. She also told me that I will be in a better position in the workforce at the end of 2016 if I have an associate degree and 2 years' experience under my belt, than with a bachelor's and no experience.

So I guess it will all be for the better after all. Many social service fields offer tuition reimbursement, so I can go on with my schooling when the kids are older and more self-sufficient. Meanwhile, I will be putting the boys in school aftercare this fall, because I am simply not able to spend enough time at the campus right now to study adequately. I hate the idea of them being away all day, but that's what I get for falling in love with a liar. Things could be much worse, and this certainly isn't the first ideal I've had to lay aside. We'll survive.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snow Days... and Days..

Maybe we didn't have a White Christmas, but there's been plenty of the white stuff before and after around here. Yesterday was the beginning of the Spring semester, and morning classes went ahead despite the winter storm warning from 10AM forward. The regular schools were canceled, and so was day care, but I didn't want to miss my first class. And even though it took me 3 hours to get home (normal commute at that time would be around 20 minutes), I am glad I didn't miss the information our professor shared. It was essential. Unfortunately, she made it clear she expects us to show up with our books at the next class; and since the bookstore was closed when I got to it after class was dismissed, and remains closed (along with the rest of the campus) today, I don't see how that will be possible. Not to mention the last of the book allowance has STILL not been posted to my account as of today; and if my receipt is dated prior to the posting date, the money will be withdrawn again. Ugh. I think I will just try to get there early, hope there isn't the huge crowd typical for the first day of classes, and purchase only the books for that class until my allowance comes through. Maybe she will be understanding of the delay.

Little Bear has been having issues at school. I finally emailed his teacher since he refused to say what was wrong. She said he had just been generally more disruptive and inattentive the past week, and it was getting out of hand. She wanted him to do a writing assignment at recess, and he says he didn't know what to write; the end of it was, he refused to write it and refuses to go back to school. Since Whiz Kid had the same teacher for 1st grade, I know her pretty well and I'm confident that her expectations are reasonable and fair. I kept him home Friday since it was going to be a long weekend, hoping he would feel better after the holiday. But that didn't work out.

The next two days have been snow days, so he hasn't had to go back yet. I'm worried about tomorrow though. I know this has to do with his dad, but he refuses to discuss it. His counselor thinks that he's reached his limit of what he can hear about he father, and feels guilty for being angry, so he's looking for other reasons to be angry. He's been lashing out viciously at Whiz Kid for mocking him, and even though Whiz Kid totally brings it on himself, it's still not acceptable to attack your brother like a wild animal. We had a talk the other night that seems to have improved his overall attitude, but hasn't changed his mind about going back to school. Ugh.

Whiz Kid turned 9 this weekend. This I'm sure contributes to Little Bear's issues, since he feels like his brother is always being celebrated and fawned over. The in-laws and ex-dad contribute to this, which angers me. But it is what it is. Anyhow, the children's godmother and her husband took us all to see "Frozen" in celebration. It was great. I highly recommend it. Several people in the ex-fundamentalist homeschooling circle have pointed out its recognition of the harm done by being told you must repress your emotions, be a facade dictated by others; in short, reject who you were created to be in favor of what someone else decided God meant to create you to be. I can SOOOOO relate to those feelings. And I still relate to the feeling of needing a place to stretch my wings and find out who I am away from all the people who can't handle seeing that I don't fit the niche they had me in.

Lately my mom has started bringing the dog into he room at night so he doesn't bark. I've been wanting them to do that for a long time, since no amount of vitamins or energy boosters can make up for the lack of sleep that creature occasions. And today, for the first time in months at least, I actually feel like I have energy! And I can remember things I need to do! Whoohoo! It's great to know that I can NOT drink coffee in the morning if I want. And that I will make it through the day if I forget my supplement. I think this semester will be much easier than previous ones if they continue to keep him in.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Skylander Comparisons: or, How does this kid perceive things?!

Little Bear loves Skylanders. He has fought hard about my decision to get rid of them. Since my major complaint is the level of violence in the game, I recently realized that he wants to play with the figurines in his hands a lot more than he wants to play with them in the virtual world of the game. So I decided to let him keep the figures he likes, but we will still get rid of the game.

Of course, now he wants me to go right on collecting the figures for him. No way. I think they are creepy and a waste of money, and I'm not pinching and scraping on our slimmer than slim budget to buy things I hate. However, when we saw their dad last week, he told them he had bought the new Skylanders Swap Force collection for them. (By collection, he meant starter pack, and apparently even that was a lie.) So once again I found myself trying to make up his deficiency with something I didn't even want them to have in the first place. I tried to convince them to buy Disney Infinity figures, but the stocks are pretty slim and the only single-pack figures we could find in stock are ones we already have. We can't afford the triple packs right now. So he begged and begged and finally I told him he could pick his favorite Swap Force character instead (it was cheaper, after all). He did, and convinced his brother to pick another one so the two of them could battle. The second choice was not available, and they settled on a character called "Zoo Lou." Whiz Kid chose the Legendary version. (Yes, they make multiple versions of the same characters. It's a shameless ripoff and yet we fall for it anyway.)

On the way home, Little Bear said that he didn't really like the Legendary Zoo Lou. He would have preferred the other one. The Legendary, he said, was creepy. I asked him how one could be creepier than the other. His answer? The Legendary guy has hair. That freaks him out.

???? The "hair" is actually a sort of ponytail on top of the figure's head, which in fact the standard character also has. It's just not as obvious. Of course I busted up laughing, and he didn't like that. But I can't help wondering what goes through his little 7-year-old head, to look at a ferocious little toothy figurine swinging a mace and decide the ponytail makes it creepy. Lol!

Monday, January 6, 2014

So that's how it is

Well, I guess my questions have been answered since the police showed up at my FIL's house and arrested my ex for armed robbery. They say they have him on camera. Whiz Kid is devastated, and I feel so inadequate to comfort him. Anything I can say just sounds pathetic. What he wants is a respectable father, and his father refuses to be either. Apparently there are charges pending from a couple of other things as well, and I'm not sure whether I feel more like crying or burning him in effigy.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year

My post is a bit late, I know, but I heard from my ex on New Year's Eve that he wanted to see us this week, so I waited until after that. We had a lot of fun New Year's Eve; we visited a family from church whose boys are best friends with my boys, and we didn't quite make it until midnight, but it sorta counted since we arrived home at midnight and I had to wake them up to get them inside. I think they were too sleepy to notice the fireworks though.

New Year's Day was a chill-out sort of day, and then the boys went back to school. Just in time for a snowstorm that shut the schools down yesterday. I still managed to get my work in on time for the online course I'm taking, and then my ex said he was ready to meet with us at his mom's. We headed over. It was alright as far as his behavior. He's obviously not clean and sober, but he wasn't behaving irrationally. He's about the same as he was the first 9 years or so of our marriage. He looks relatively healthy, and his injuries are pretty much healed except that hair won't grow on the scars, so they are rather prominent. He was driving a car he claimed was his, and wearing all new clothes and shoes. Oh, and a gun. Yep. Isn't that lovely.

As a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment who also chooses not to own a firearm, I'm not sure how to handle this development. The first thing I did was tell him he had no business with it, then completely ignore it the rest of the evening. The kids didn't notice, and from their standpoint I think the evening went very well. He was his old self, and they don't know that this has bad as well as good implications.

Today I ran a background check on him through a source rated reliable by some accredited business magazine, and found nothing I didn't already know about or expect. Just traffic and controlled substance or alcohol related issues, lying to law enforcement about his identity, and a disorderly conduct. Nothing that would make me say "Oh no, this person shouldn't be anywhere near a gun" if the person in question was a stranger. At the same time, I know that he shouldn't be anywhere near a gun. I can't help wondering if it's how he obtained all those new clothes, or if he actually saved that much money from his settlement. And I'm very concerned about future visits. Last night he did not seem irrational or threatening, but that isn't any guarantee of his behavior in the future. I can tell him I'm not comfortable with him having a weapon when we meet, but that's meaningless since he can conceal it, and there's nothing I can do about it. I can tell the police that I don't think he should be carrying a weapon, but that's overstepping what I feel are important civil boundaries, with just my word that he's unstable and has a history of petty theft and suspicion of burglary. I can tell them it's unregistered (I know that without asking), but there are many arguments for not registering firearms that I still consider to be good arguments (Nazi Germany, anyone?). I just personally feel that I would do so if I had one. Besides, if he did register it that wouldn't make me feel any better, so it's not a solution to the problem. I'm not sure what the laws are in PA but I'm almost positive nothing on his record so far would prevent his registering a firearm.

Interestingly, the background check said nothing about his ever owning the property he's been claiming to own since before we were married, but refused to ever let me go into or see any paperwork for. Neither did any liens show up, tax or otherwise; yet he's been claiming tax liens and property taxes and mortgage payments since before Whiz Kid was born as an excuse for much-needed paychecks suddenly disappearing. I have suspected for some time that he lied about owning that house, but seeing proof of it was still maddening. Everything he's ever told me about anything is probably a lie. There is no way he could ever do anything to make me want a relationship with him again, after all of this.

Ugh. I think I will email my divorce attorney and hope she doesn't mind giving advice from her retirement. Assuming she still has the same email address. I hate to end the visits again indefinitely, but I don't see any other way.