Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to me, Merry Christmas to me-e-e-e...

Last night small snow flurries started; this morning we woke to a brilliant if thin and threadbare blanket of white. Now, true to Texas form, it is nearly noon and the snow is nearly gone save where the shadows of trees and houses shield scattered scraps from the sun.

Almost white Christmas and only partly blue - I suspect PMS and killer cramps are making me a mite bluer than I would be otherwise (apologies to my male readership!) Being divorced sucks, but not so much as being angry all the time.

Whenever I mentally realize I am feeling blue, I simply start singing (with as much over the top drama as possible):

"I-I-ll have a (huh-a-huh-a) Bluuuuuuuue (ahoo-ahoo-ahoo-a) Chrristmasssssss (a-wah) without youuuuuuu ...." (aside: "Not really babe...")

This always makes me giggle. Then I can segue into a full out impersonation of an Elvis impersonator impersonating Elvis - my favorite is Kurt Russell at the end of 3000 Miles to Graceland while the credits roll. The King himself never really rang my bell - I suppose I was born too late for that particular bit of hysteria - but Russell dressed up in sequined white snapping his fingers and doing the boogie while crooning sappy love lyrics is just - fine, girlfriend.

Under the Dome is classic Stephen King. The last few books were a bit - I dunno - off. Maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind when Lisey's Story and Duma Key came out, but they seemed to be lacking, somehow.

Reading this immediately after reading The Stand, however, makes me appreciate just how much fun King can be. I'm about halfway through (Yes, I stayed up and started it at midnight last night!) and I'm transfixed.

I'm about ready to do a full on King immersion, and go back to the store for copies of It and Needful Things.

Well, time to clean this house and fix a big Christmas brunch. The big kids are at X's, playing joyfully with the Wii, with mad games of Connect Four and Toss-A-Cross thrown in at intervals. V loved her charm bracelet, and it fit perfectly so she won't lose it. C was ecstatic over his Nintendo DS, and both were alarmingly delighted with the BB guns.

D is so happy with his toys - we picked out just the right things this year, and he was big enough to rip his own packages apart so that was fun. I think he liked the train track and little magnetic cars the best - he hollered "Mom! A 'Chooo'!" (He calls trains 'chooos'.)

I am starting my ten AC/Helium articles after dinner, when D takes a nap - we'll see how I do for the first day of my new program. I'll be tracking my progress on the Hack Writers Blog.

Merry Christmas to me-e-e-e-eeeee.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Divorced and alone... but making it.

Ouch. Finally getting a bit of a lonesome twinge, even though I kept telling everyone I was cool with it being holidays and all alone. Wahhhh.

OK, all better! (Amazing how a public wahhh can always help. You just can hear the "awww poooor baby' from all your friends.)

I'm expecting the last installment of gifts tomorrow by USPS and UPS (the mailman is shorter than me, has shaggy blond hair to his shoulders and a maniacal grin (I'm fairly sure he's high). The man in Brown is taller and cleaner cut but slightly morose despite the season. No idea why you need to know this, but if I think it, then you have to listen to it. Why they can't ship anything Fed-Ex I don't know - HE is a tad older, but bald in that hot way like Patrick Stewart and is a scuba instructor who spends a lot of time down by the coast... okay, okay, I'll stop already...)

Almost Christmas Eve! Only half an hour left. I was unable to keep myself from reading Divine Misdemeanors cover to cover, so bought myself the latest Stephen King - Under the Dome - which has no blurb or jacket copy so I have zero idea what it is about and am stubbornly refusing to look up online so I can have the fun of reading it totally unprepared. The only way I am keeping myself away from it until Christmas is by re-reading The Stand - I found the unabridged copy in hardcover and excellent condition for about $6, which pleased me no end.

Almost done with everything I promised by year end - just three articles to write tomorrow, one short web page, five little review edits and I am golden. Woohoo!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Divorced at Christmastime but it's OK!

I've been a bad blogger! I'm trying to get things ready for Christmas, finish up outstanding projects promised by Christmas, and set up my game plan for 2010 - which starts Christmas Day. I've decided to see if I can concentrate hard on Helium for three months and find out if I can basically support myself. I rather think I can.

Christmas this year will be just us, I suppose. My extended family has other plans (S&BIL are going to South Padre, for one). We bought a little live Norway Pine and set it up over at X's, and he and the kids decorated it. All the gifts are at his apartment as well, awaiting wrapping.

He and I will have to have a wrapping extravaganza one night, and then Christmas morning I'll get up early and drive the kids over there to open their gifts. I managed to work my ass off and was lucky enough to be handed some good opportunities in November, so Christmas will be pretty sweet for my three munchkins... the loot includes:

A Wii for everyone - I said it has to live at X's house so D won't get into it
A Nintendo DS for C - this will come in handy when he is here and V is at her dad's
A charm bracelet for V - a NICE charm bracelet with enamel charms (and a serious price tag)
BB guns for V and C - they have to live at X's also; that way he is in charge of target practice
Stuffed horse for V - since I can't get her a live one, this will have to do
Early present: live kitten for C (I snagged it from the neighbors' - they have 30 and won't notice)
13 board games, bought off Amazon for ridiculously low prices and shipped free (cool!)
3 puzzles (they LOVE puzzles)
Assorted other stuff I can't remember

And, for baby D on his first big Christmas:

A kit of big Legos
A police car
A fire truck
A train with a track
A helicopter (can you tell the kid is crazy about 'Things that GO?'
A set of metal pans for his cook station
A magnetic set of letters that plug into a base that says the name of each letter out loud
A big doodle pad (the kind you write on and then it erases with a slider bar)
An Etchasketch (OMG it was too funny. Story below)
Color Wonder set (best invention ever - markers only work on special paper)
Huge homemade framed magnetic chalkboard X and I made from bare wood and special paint

Other stuff I can't remember... I got V the 7th Harry Potter book and C the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid early so they could read them over Christmas break. I bought myself Divine Misdemeanors (The latest Laurell K Hamilton book from the Merry Gentry series).

I also picked up some nice gifts online for four of my dearest Helium friends I have known for nearly 2 years now; figuring out what to get them was a challenge, but I think I did OK. (Not really used to having friends...)

Oh! The story about the Etchasketch. We were all at Hobby Lobby getting supplies for V's last school project of the year - she had to build a log cabin to conclude the Little House on the Prairie segment, and at the checkout D was getting restless. One of the big kids handed him this little miniature Etchasketch (you know, the red frame with the two knobs you can draw pictures with by twiddling the knobs... then you shake it upside down to erase it?) - anyway, Duncan was fascinated.

Time to leave; I stuck it back on the shelf. X herded kids to car while I paid and when I got to car D was in hysterics. All the way home. After we got home. When I put him to bed. When he woke up at 3 am. He wailed and wailed and did his little hands like he was turning knobs. It was the most pitiful thing you ever saw.

So last night I went back to Hobby Lobby - the big kids were at X's, but I still had D with me. I got some weird looks from other customers and was watched closely by staff as I sidled around to the rack, snagged one of the Etchasketches behind my back with one hand, danced my way up to the checkout and turned my back on cashier, proffering the toy surereptitiously while glancing back with an apologetic grin over my shoulder.

She just laughed. "I am getting that you don't want him to see this?" she said, whisking it under the counter, zapping it with the handheld scanner and wrapping it in two bags.

I set D on the floor and pinned him to the checkout counter with a knee while I stuffed the package in my purse and swiped my debit card. "You got that right," I said, scooping the wriggling toddler back onto my hip and heading out the door.

I hope the little squirt likes it as much as he thinks he will! I thought he was too little for it, but I guess he can twiddle and shake it... I couldn't believe how adamant he was and how long he stayed upset over it!

Back to work for me... Here's hoping every one else's Christmas preparations are going smoothly!

Oh... the kitten's name is Merrybell. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Should Divorced Parents use Their Ex as a Threat?



Especially when it is an hour past bedtime for the fourth night in a row, and they STILL keep getting out of bed to tell you stuff like:

"Mom, did you know how Dumbledore dies?" (which V knows because she pretended she had to go to the bathroom and surreptitiously snuck her book in with her)

"Mom, I'm hot" (C)

"Mom, I'm cold" (C after I turn on his fan)

"Mom, D is making noise and I can't sleep" (V, after singing loudly to herself and being reprimanded)

"Mom, I need a drink" "So? You have four bottles of water on your desk" "But Mom, they aren't COLD..." (C and V, within mere seconds of each-other)

"Mom, I confess, C and I were playing rock/ scissor/ paper and ran back to our rooms when we heard you coming, but we promise to be good now and go to bed and not get up again" (which would mean a LOT more if this isn't the same thing I've heard on average 7 times per night for the past 4 nights)

So I do what I promised not to do, and say,

"Get up ONE more time, and I'm calling your FATHER!!!!"

Yeah, I know I said I wouldn't, but oh well... I'm sure X does the same thing, right?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Divorced and Kids in Turmoil... and a Burrito

Whew. I want it to be 8:00. Like, NOW.

V keeps misbehaving and instantly apologizing, so it's hard to work up a head of steam to yell at her. At least she's not screaming and stomping around - I think talking to the school counselor calmed her down a lot.

C hates me. Says his life is ruined, and nothing will ever get better, and there's no use to anything. I keep trying to get a hold of his school counselor, but she's always too busy - I need to bust in her office and insist she talk to me and put C on her roster of kids who might need to talk to someone besides their mom who they HATE.

D is a pill as always, and has developed the unnerving habit of taking off running full tilt after snagging something he's not supposed to have - if I chase him he falls and bonks his head. Lil' squirt. He's the one bright spot some days.

In the meantime, I'm a little ticked at X. The vehicle situation is sticky. The Caddy is dead - I can get it to go round the block, but that is it. Clean title, I keep telling him to trade it in and he can buy himself a clunker, but he has no money or job, except little hundred dollars here and there, weeks apart (no clue how he plans to make his rent.)

Agreement was, I pay the Suburban bill, I keep the Suburban. Seems like he takes kids to school and ends up keeping it all day. Now, I agree, he needs it to take kids to school, but for $400 a month plus insurance I should get some freaking babysitting time thrown in. As soon as he gets the rest of the furniture moved I'm going to point that out to him.

If he wants to drive it, fine - but the deal now is he takes kids to school, picks them up, keeps them for a few hours after school and half days on weekends, AND watches D for a few hours a day so I can get some extra work done since D often no longer naps. I think that's fair since he isn't working most days, so I can only assume he's sitting around watching TV and eating sunflower seeds. (<--- notice bitter, mean comment for those who missed it)

I'm aggravated tonight, mostly because I wanted a flipping burrito and couldn't go get one. X would go get me one if I asked, but I don't want to ask him to get me a burrito, I want to go get my own flipping burrito. Yes, I realize that this is self defeatist behavior. Bite me.

I wonder if I have stuff in the kitchen to MAKE a burrito. Then I could have a burrito... I would still hold stubbornly on to being mad though. Like, it's the principle of the thing... right?

There we go, says Self Help Guru Pretender. You managed to snark your way to a smile.

You know she's in denial, retorts Inner Psychotherapist. Her snark is a classic avoidance technique which she is using as an excuse not to deal with-

(Self Help Guru Pretender and I smother Inner Psychotherapist with a burrito.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Divorced Mom and Plumbing

Lovely. I gave the kids all a shower, and halfway through the tub quits draining. A little later, I hear squealing from V's room - all that water drained under her floor, so all down one wall of her bedroom is now soaked.

Stupid me, I assume the problem is contained to that half of the house, and run a load of laundry. That doesn't drain into V's room - it drains into the FRONT half of the house. The kitchen, dining room and living area end up half swamped before I come back into the front half of the house and realize what happened (silly me was in back room, checking on water damage there.)

Now I'm scared to flush a toilet, wash a dish or anything else until morning, when landlord will get a very unhappy phone call.

Ugh. Called X, just out of habit, then realized he doesn't live here... so my plumbing isn't really his problem. (<---- that is SO NOT a double entendre...) He offered to come over, but there's really nothing he can do for me. (<---- again, minds out of the gutter, people!)

Sigh. NOT a happy camper tonight.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dealing with Depression

I write self help. Isn't that ironic? Somehow I stumbled into the niche, and probably a solid third of what I do is self help... but I can't seem to get my own self together and keep staring down this gun barrel of depression. I'm a self help guru pretender...

I know in my head why I had to get divorced - I even know in my heart is was the right thing to do, but... I'm struggling with loneliness. It's awful - the kids go to bed and I feel four walls close in; tears well up and I just want to bawl. How pathetic is that?

I cook myself something to eat and curl up and watch TV and keep telling myself one more episode of HOUSE and I'll get back to work. I stare at the screen, write four paragraphs and feel exhausted.

I know that it's depression. I know some of the things I should be trying to do to combat it, but I just don't have the energy. I would love some pharmaceuticals right about now. How pathetic is THAT.

Everyone tells me how strong and amazing I am, but I don't feel that way. They don't see me when I am curled on my side in the little twin bed, hands tucked under my pillow and eyes squeezed shut, trying to will myself to sleep so my brain will just STOP.

I'm just in a dark mood - it will get better, right? Tell me, oh self help guru pretender....

(self help guru pretender) What was one good thing that happened today?

(me) I dunno.

(self help guru pretender) (sternly) NOW. Answer me. What was one good thing that happened today??

(me) Um. Baby D played with me, we danced around and around and had a fun time with the silly song on TV.

(self help guru pretender) And how did that make you feel?

(me) (grin) Good.

Self help guru pretender is AWESOME.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Crash

Whew. I took too much time off over Thanksgiving and scrambled to catch up; plus the weather turned nasty which means it's migraine city around here.

X has been great - he is moving this week into his own place (which is VERY nice, a single story 2/1 apartment with all appliances and a living room big enough for the pit couch). He has a little job today (which he won't get paid for til Friday) so I am fronting him the cash to get his water turned on since it turned out it wasn't included after all.

I always insisted no child under 12 needs a cell phone. I totally reneged and bought V and C TracFones - cheapo $10 ones with a $20 card that lasts 3 months. I got a good deal - any minutes I buy on the phone for life are doubled. They have games, too, that don't use airtime.

I even let them take them to school in their backpacks as a show of trust that they will be responsible. I bought the TracFones because V goes to Dallas on the bus today - her first big long road trip, and I am paralyzed with fear. AND of course it is sleeting. Creepers.

I couldn't tell her she couldn't go, though. She was so proud of making the cut for choir. I will be on pins and needles all day, though. She looked so pretty this morning - I figured out how to braid the front of her hair on both sides, then band it so the rest fell down in waves with loose part. It's very nice and grown up looking.

C is just ecstatic he has a phone with GAMES.

D had a cough and fever yesterday night, so I was worried- I souped him up on Tylenol and kept pushing fluids, tho, and he ended up sleeping all afternoon. The fever never came back, the cough stopped, and all he has now is a little runny nose - he slept through last night without a peep, though he didn't go down till eleven since he slept all day.

I have a migraine again today. I had one a few nights back when the front first started building miles from here, and the kids wouldn't stop chasing the baby and making him SCREAM... I had invited X over for dinner (homemade chicken wings!) and he ended up taking the older ones back to his place. I still didn't get a lot done, but at least D quit squealing!

I have managed to bulge the disc in my lower back again... which made me walk funny... which wrenched my bad knee... which hurt so bad I hunched up... which threw my UPPER back out of whack... now I walk like HOUSE due to the knee, ache all across my lower back and feel like there is a butcher knife buried between my shoulder-blades. Oh, joy. AND the migraine.

BUT, I'm not too blue. D is feeling so much better, and I was worried about him, so having him almost well already is a great boost! Of course, when he is sick is is such a snuggle bunny... I don't ever want him ill, of course, but it's the only time he likes to cuddle, he's sooo independent. I got lots of hugs and curl up in my lap time yesterday.

GOT to get work done today - helplessly behind now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner with Family and Ex-Husband

Well, we got through it. I crashed yesterday, too tired to do anything after getting ready for my sister and bro-in-law (S&B) to come down today. Got the little house looking nice and shiny-o, the X watched the kids while I went shopping.

When I got back, I said without even thinking "Here, brown this ground chuck - I'm making us some tacos!" - and X started doing it but was very quiet and kept rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. I realized what I had done and felt bad - we have always cooked together, and I just said what I did without thinking.

"Hey," I said, "You don't have to feel obligated to stay or to cook - I mean, if you want to go home, that's OK. I should have asked you if you wanted to stay and eat tacos instead of assuming."

He looked hugely relieved, and said, "I don't want to seem mean... I just really want to go home - I think I'm going to just go to bed."

He went home, and I finished cooking dinner. He called right as we were done eating, and said again he didn't want us to think he was being mean. I apologized again, too, saying I felt like I had taken him for granted, and I shouldn't have done that. I said I understood he needed rest (neither of us sleep too well in an empty bed after all these years). He's very depressed.

It's awkward, sometimes.

Today he wasn't sure he should come over, and when he did get here he went in D's room and played with him. I just let it be. I knew he felt out of place. I don't know how to help that...

We did have a fun dinner; we all sat down together and it wasn't awkward at all. We laughed and ate the scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner and had a great time. After we were done, though, he felt uncomfortable again and went on home. He's supposed to pick up the kids in a bit so they can spend the night and I can get some work done.

I do worry about X - he was doing great for a few days, but I think he wasn't that busy this weekend and everything kind of hit home for him. I know yesterday I couldn't seem to focus, finally gave up and sat in the recliner and watched like six TV shows I had DVRd.

It's still all so surreal. Maybe after we finally get the last load of stuff out of the old house and he gets settled in things will be better.

Christmas will be harder, I think. S&B going out of town, so it will be just us - guess X will come over and watch kids open presents and we'll eat.

Rain and cold moving in - I think it's going to be a long, dreary winter.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

First Post Divorce Thanksgiving

(I know the divorce isn't 'final' yet, but for the sake of simplicity I'm just referring to myself as divorced.)

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and it's weird being divorced on a holiday. I opted not to do a big thing on Thanksgiving Day; X is packing for his own move and my sister is coming in Saturday so I will cook then. I told X he is welcome to come by - he was kind of unsure, but then he and my sister never quite saw eye to eye.

I said "You have to eat at some point - may as well eat turkey with your kids," and he said "Yeah, that's true..." I asked if he thought my sister would be rude or hateful, and he shook his head. I know he's embarrassed. I don't even want to think what HIS family will say about ME.

Oh well. I'm spending tomorrow writing, and might pick up a load or two from the old house and bring it over - all my books (2 1/2 bookshelves!) are still over there.

Side note - I really, really wish that the teensy gold ants would have shown up before I moved all my stuff in - spraying now is gonna be a pain. They instantly appear from nowhere if a crumb gets dropped - I opened my lovely chocolate orange to give the kids a slice, and set it on my desk - in minutes it was covered with ants and I swear I had seen not ONE all day.

I'm finding it hard (A) to ask X for help and (B) not to ask X for help. It just feels weird. How much do I let him help and how much do I try to do on my own? I mean, hooking up the stove (had to change the plug out) was beyond my ken, and paying $100 or more to have an electrician do it seemed ridiculous when X could do it in 15 minutes.

I've decided to let him do stuff like that - it's for the kids, right? - but I know I can't be too dependent. Another tightrope to walk. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm Getting Divorced...

... and I have three kids. What do I do? How do I make this easier? Will it get easier?

I can do this. I know I can. The question is, can I do it right? I figure it's one day at a time from here. Divorce is new and shaky ground, and a path I never thought I'd end up taking. Here I am, though, so it's time to put one foot in front of the other.

I moved this past weekend, into a little house I picked out myself. I signed the lease myself. I paid the deposit myself. I got the utilities turned on, myself. Granted, I had financial support from some very good friends, but the point is I didn't just ask for a divorce and then sit there like a lump. I did something about it.

I moved out.

And took the kids with me.

We are managing to keep it civil, X and I. I'm pretty proud of that. It's not a hateful divorce, where we are using the kids against each other; we decided from the start that they have to be the #1 priority. That means not fighting and making them any more upset than they already are.

So far, so good.

If we can keep it up, I think we'll be OK. It all depends on if we can hold our shit together independently - we may have been all of 24 when we married eleven years ago, but neither of us had ever really had to stand on our own two feet. Now it's sink or swim time.

The kids are taking it better than I thought - V (who I expected to be a drama queen) cried hard for a minute or two; but she had seen it coming and rallied fast, asking natural questions like could she keep her cat and where were we going to live.

C was a different story. I had been terrified he would widen his eyes so no tears would fall out, hug his arms around himself and run away to his room, holding it all in so as not to be any trouble. Instead he broke down completely, sobbing for nearly two hours untill he fell asleep; as hard as it was to see him like that, I was relieved as I sat and rocked him.

D is too little to understand - he's used to 'Da-ee' working funny hours and being around intermittently, so it's not having as hard an impact on him.

The morning after we told the kids they seemed almost normal, and since then there has been some minor acting out but nothing too bad. They've had a few stomachaches. I'm trying to be lenient in some cases but still draw a line at very bad behavior, and if their tummy hurts I sit with them and rub their back.

Now that we are fairly moved into our little 3 bed 1-1/2 bath, we have the Thanksgiving holiday to get settled in. I let each of the kids have a bedroom and turned the living area into a studio for myself with a bed, desk, chair and TV.

V has the 1/2 bath, which is why I am not altogether certain why she just spilled half a bottle of bright lavender nail polish on the carpet (good-bye, deposit). No, wait - she just came in and glory be - she got it up. Baby-wipes are wonderful things. Nail polish now relegated to vinyl-floored bathroom.

C has the room with the high up windows, which led to hilarity when he inadvertently locked the door and exited the room, pulling the door shut behind him. I had to boost him up and let him crawl in and leap to the floor inside, which he did with amazing alacrity. Adventure!

V and C made a pact to take turns sleeping at 'Dad's house' so he won't be lonely. So far it seems to be working out well. D is sleeping remarkably well here - of course, still being in his crib, having the same stuffed animals and hearing the same music station playing on his TV softly makes it feel natural and homey to him.

All my stuff is still in horrific disarray, but I have a massive project to finish and then there's Thanksgiving - so I figure I'll get to sorting it all out in December. I've very nearly made all the money I need for December already, so I will be able to focus on paying back my debts and socking back a cushion before I face my CPA with evidence of my procrastination.

Divorce sucks... but not as bad as staying together and ending up full of hate, bitterness and anger would have. I think I pulled the plug just in time. I just hope X hangs in there and does OK so the kids have him to look up to.