Wednesday, April 2nd 2014
In the Armpits of the Angels

Life around here is… kinda going WELL.

House: getting cleaner and more organized and less cluttered every day. Thank you FlyLady. I resisted you forEVER. I surrender all. Gladly.

Car: DIFFERENT!  YAY! Got an amazing offer on previous Marital Vehicle and into a cute little used SUV that is very me.

Kids: Tall. Why are they so TALL?

Pets: Mostly good. Duke broke his neck but is doing okay. It’s a long story.

Money: Thank God for Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University. I was halfway through it when the regular lateness of ex provided legally mandated funds kicked into overdrive. The kids got self conscious about taking lunches filled with foil packets. (“But we’re out of baggies. And you can’t EAT baggies, so I”m not going to buy them.” Tough lesson.) And learning what it really means to know and trust that your provider in this world… is God. And fortunately for us, God is bigger than any one person or set of decisions. THIS has been my favorite part to see play out.

I’m still not social. So people I barely knew or didn’t know at all suddenly started accosting me and asking if they could give me extra food. They didn’t know my circumstances. It was simply more convenient for them – for a variety of reasons – to unload food on  me. Thank you, God.  A neighbor who was moving cleaned out her pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. Brought it all over. She thought it was silly that I have this many kids and don’t really drink. There would have been a fully stocked liquor cabinet to go with it all, if I’d only agreed to help carry the bottles.

My sweet little quiet street turned into chaos when the same neighbor’s home hosted an estate sale. Two different days were perfect for throwing stuff on the lawn and trying to sell everything I could. Thank you, God!

Another day a woman walked past me at work, reversed, asked if I liked garlic bread. And then she gave me THREE huge loaves.

Later that day someone asked if I would please take a candle off her hands. I’m really picky about candle scents. And you can’t eat candles. But I agreed and had to laugh at the scent. “Angel Wings.”

Have you ever wondered what Angel Wings smell like? Sort of musty. And a little bit berry. As I drifted off to sleep that night I thought about how under angels’ wings is exactly where we’ve been. Held closely, tightly, sheltered and protected and loved. 

The bills were all paid on time. Thanks to the divine provision given to us by strangers. And the money made through impromptu garage sales. And extremely tight budgeting. I’m taking on every odd job that comes my way and fired and hired a new attorney. No borrowing necessary. God is GOOD.

Today I was stunned when Claude’s assistant brought by some of what he owes. He’s missed… 4, 5, or 6… (?) child support payments. I was not expecting any funds from that man ever again.

I did not answer the door to the assistant and say, “Ohmygosh. You work for a financial advisor who does not pay child support. You poor thing, is that a moral conflict for you?”  It crossed my mind. Or, “Has your boss been paying YOU for the last few months? Because his kids have lost some weight.” But I didn’t.  It doesn’t matter. And I figure I just would have felt even worse for her afterwards if I HAD said that.

So with a huge smile on my face, I bought dog and cat food. I bought BAGGIES. Seth-8yr had wanted a new toothbrush for the last month. These are things that HAPPENED today. I went up and down aisles and silently constantly thanked God that these small needs were being taken care of today. I bought the food the kids WANTED. Not more of the stuff we learned to like because people gave it to us.

We are so grateful and blessed that God’s timing is perfect. HIS provision is creative and endless and perfect.

 I’m GOOD, y’all. I smell a little musty and berry-ish, but it’s my new favorite scent anyway. 

 

Love you. : )

~hm
Sunday, January 12th 2014
Rainbow Debris. EVERYWHERE.

The Rainbow Loom has taken over this home. It’s that plastic peg thing that kids are making rubber band bracelets on…? OH. It consumes all waking hours here. And sleeping ones.

I woke up twice last night because I had little rubber bands sticking to my skin because they had gotten loose in my bed and then it was affecting my dreams. The rainbow loom requires approximatley 1.3 billion tiny rubber bands per user. And we have 2 addicts currently, so that’s approximately 2.6 billion rubber bands in this home right now.

But there are definitely advantages. Caden-9yr and Seth-8yr work together quietly and happily for hours at a time every day. Caden-9yr gets so consumed with it all that he stays out of everyone’s business. It is BIZARRE not to have Caden-9yr in everyone’s business all the time. I mean, house dynamics totally flipped out when that happened.

Ethan-13yr griped one day that he wouldn’t have gotten in trouble for something one day if Caden-9yr had just been IN HIS BUSINESS like he usually is. Weird thing is, that conclusion was completely correct. But his brother had gotten up early for school, gotten himself ready, and allotted an hour and a half to peaceful bracelet making in his room alone and had no interest in anyone else’s drama for once.

He can stir up trouble even like THAT. He’s good, that one.

I’m currently wearing a bracelet that each of them made. One is a waterfall. Whatever that is. And one is a bowtie switchback. Whatever that is. But they’re pretty. All the bracelets that come out of this home have brown and black dog hairs interwoven with love into the pattern. It’s a bonus feature.

I’m refraining from telling them that their dad is numerous child support payments behind and maybe they want to sell those hairy things on ebay to help replenish their supply.  But I won’t.

I have to tear them away from this to take them to church. Wish me luck.

~hm
Monday, January 6th 2014
Happy Polar Vortex Day, Y’all!

I hope you’re all WARM today. I am. I dropped off kids at school – taking dogs with me so they didn’t have to shiver outside while i was gone – and now I have blankets and a cat and hot coffee with Girl Scouts Thin Mint creamer in it, OH WOW. Coffee that tastes like liquid cookies. Mmmmm.

A couple of days ago Caden-9yr said, “What’s a polar vortex anyway?”

And immediately Seth-8yr answered, “Oh, that’s my new deodorant.”

We all looked at him. “Yep.”

“No, honey. That’s Old Spice ‘Wolfthorn’. Not polar vortex.”

My boys will voluntarily use deodorant from the Old Spice “Wild” series. One has a wolf, another has a fox, and I think one has an eagle. I think it’s weird marketing to put wild animals on something that should PREVENT you from smelling like one, but i don’t care as long as the boys use it because WOW, but these three are in THAT collective phase. I don’t think it ever ends, either. So Wolf Deodorant is fine.

Or Polar Vortex deodorant. Whatever. All the same to Seth-8yr.

Lately I am a flurry of motion.

FLURRY.

I haven’t been that in YEARS.

It feels good.

There’s a lot of working out and cleaning and organizing and de-cluttering and cooking and laughing and suddenly the whole Life thing just clicked and I snapped back to who I really am. I’ve been here, but kind of stuck or massively slowed by the fog of what has been my life. But now it’s FINALLY really okay and I’m no longer putting forth huge efforts for each small task that has to be done. I trip over my words and my plans and my goals and my ideas and my prayers and my weird little acts of worship because there’s just so MANY of all of them and it’s hard to fit them all in to each day.  There’s so much living I haven’t been UP to doing and now I can’t help but try to catch up.

I stopped with the diet coke.

Everything looks and feels and seems so much better. (not because of the absence of diet coke. that sentence is just there because i thought of it then. see? i’m tripping all over everything and throwing it all out there in whatever order makes sense in my head at the moment.)

I’m learning TONS about money and finances and credit and credit scores and realizing how truly terrible all such decisions were in my previous existence.  I guard my growing credit score and am constantly on the lookout for threats. And there ARE the same usual suspects. I protect it fiercely and it’s jumped almost two hundred points in the last year.  

Bet you didn’t know that was possible, right?!

Yes. Well. Last year when my (not yet) landlord said  he was considering me as a renter but, well, in all the years he’s been in business he’s actually NEVER seen a credit score as low as mine. YES I KNOW. THANKS. (It started with a FOUR. Yes. As in 4. FOUR. And I took very small consolation that Claude’s was even lower.)

Fortunately  the landlord guy and his wife knew my boys and I were the ones for this house anyway, despite my stupid low, starts with a 4, number. (Thanks, God!)

I have so many things to do. And accomplish. And say. And feel. And think. And pray. And live. And today? So do you. Don’t opt out because of the cold  or because of your credit or your clods or anything else.

Love y’all.  

 

 

 

Deu 30:19 NIV

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

 

 

 

 

~hm
Sunday, December 15th 2013
Greetings from the CF (no. not corn field.)

So. I’m alive and well.

 

Previously I was:

Alive and in the midst of a legal battle

Alive and not so well

Alive and well but not, uh…. festive.

And NOW. Without an invitation, a prayer session, a huge gathering of all mental reserves…. simply, UNBIDDEN…. The Christmas Fairy arrived. And took my place. She does, in fact, often wear boots.

The kids and I picked out a tree together for the first time. It’s darling. Fraser fir, 5′ tall, and $20. YAY!

I’m watching stupid hallmark movies that are romantic and Christmas themed and not swearing out loud at them. Or even silently.

I am NOT changing the radio station whenever something Christmas-y comes on.

I’m wrapping gifts and making gifts and loving the unexpected Christmas blessing that if there’s an open contempt of court case waiting to come down on Claude at any point…. he pays everything on time! Early, even!

(I totally should have sued his butt last year when he was starving us! And bragging to me about the great deals he got on new furniture!)

Anyway. Life is good. I don’t know why. The finances are a very small part of it. It’s  not that I have the kids for CHristmas. I don’t. It’s not that I’m somehow on fantastic terms with all friends and family and haven’t made lots of people edgy lately.  Because that’s not ever gonna happen. Not with my big mouth.

I think it’s just that it’s TIME.

Finally.

Things are okay. Life is making sense again. I’m not gasping for breath. Figuratively.

The other day I actually looked at the laundry room and decided it should be CLEANED and ORGANIZED.

In shock, I described the Laundry Room Epiphany and asked my mother, “How long has it been since I have had a thought like THAT?”

“Yes. It’s been a long time,” she agreed.

AND THEN I DID IT. I kinda like my laundry room now!

I can’t write more tonight. I need to do several errands and then i have Fairy tasks.

 

I just wanted to say hello. I haven’t forgotten you. I’m pretty much okay and back, and I sincerely hope y’all are all well also.

 

 

 

~hm
Tuesday, November 5th 2013
Who Are You Calling a Woman?

Ethan-13yr came home from school early with a fever and I took off work to stay with him. At his request. (How sweet is that?)

In the car on the way home, Caden-9yr and Seth-8yr noticed that their older brother was not there and questioned me until learning he had gone home ill.

“Did he throw up?” Caden-9yr wanted to know.

Before I could say ‘no,’ Seth-8yr said, “YOU ASKED A  WOMAN THAT?!”

Caden-9yr said, “Yes. Yes I did ask a woman that.”

Seth-8yr, “I can’t believe you did that.”

Caden-9yr, “There is nothing wrong with asking your mother if your brother VOMITED. Nothing wrong at all with that.” He enunciated ‘vomited’ and dragged it out so it was like “VAAAAAWWWW-mitt-ed.

Seth-8yr, “Oh. Okay.”

Caden-9yr, “I think you were confused. You never ask a woman how much she weighs, how old she is, or if she’s pregnant. But you CAN ask your mom about your brother.”

Seth-8yr, “Oh. Thank you. How old are you, Mom?”

Me: “38.”

Caden-9yr, “Seth!!!”

Seth-8yr, “WHAT!? Are you calling your mother a WOMAN?”

 

And at that point we were in the driveway and I had a headache and I got out of the car and left them to continue this discussion on their own.

And… I’m sure they did.

 

~hm
Friday, November 1st 2013
lots of #1s in today’s date

Well.

Um.

There has been a lot of suing and countersuing and stuff that is not wise to blog in real-time.

It’s still going on. It’s a mess i don’t want to give any more energy to than absolutely necessary right now…. and so that’s all I’ll say. No need to write to figure stuff out, or vent.

What I can definitely say and focus on…? I’m grateful. My sweet family picked me up and blessed me beyond belief with money for legal fees, prayers, visits, encouragement, and a generally incredibly strong show of support I never would have asked for or expected.

For some reason, life started over again today. Unexpectedly. Just… a spiritual, practical, psychological ‘hey start over and live life’ kinda vibe that came out of nowhere. It doesn’t go along with the practical aspects of life. It’s just there… despite all that.

if i had the energy, i’d cut my hair, paint my toenails, write a novel, and paint a dresser.

Maybe tomorrow.

Tonight I catch up on project runway and laundry and eat those disgusting little pumpkin candies. Mmmmm, love those.

 

 

 

 

~hm
Friday, October 11th 2013
Sure, Let’s Blame the NFL Mothers

Caden-9yr didn’t want me to wash his football pants tonight. He has a game in the morning. I explained that it was important. They are gross. I’m not sending him out there looking like that. He needs clean football pants.

“Mom. That’s like brushing your hair before you wash it. I mean, you just don’t DO it. It’s POINTLESS. I’m going to go get them dirty as soon as I get there.”

“WHAT? No. Don’t be ridiculous. Do the Dallas Cowboys wear dirty pants on game day?”

“Some of them do. YES.”

“NO THEY DO NOT.”

“WELL FINE. BUT THAT’S ONLY BECAUSE THEIR MAMAS MAKE THEM WASH THEM.”

 

Mamas… dont let your babies grow up to be cowboys… with dirty pants… on game day….

 

I also sometimes brush my hair before I wash it. I’m not telling him that. He can’t handle the truth.

~hm
Sunday, October 6th 2013
State of the “Union” Address

A brief update:

In Texas,

if you REALLY know what you’re doing, and you are the sort of person who actually WOULD do this… you can make sure both spouses’ names are on the house title. But then make sure that only ONE spouse’s name is on the mortgage. (Not yours.) THEN. After the divorce, live in the home, pay rent or don’t, it doesn’t matter… your credit isn’t TOUCHED. In fact, hire a credit repair service to clean up your credit while you do this. It’ll be easy since you aren’t making those pesky rent/mortgage payments like the rest of the world and you have the luxury of skipping that payment for months at a time. It isn’t like it affects… YOU. Just that ex-spouse. Also, blame that ex-spouse when you can for this arrangement. Hey, why the hell not?

Turns out not a judge in Texas can evict you. Your name IS on the title, after all. You can stay and do this as LONG AS YOU WANT.

Or… you could sell the house and buy another one. Hey, your credit is cleaned up, right? Good for you.

You don’t have a clear title… and your ex-spouse has to sign off on it… but clearly that won’t be a problem. The ex-spouse has nothing to gain, though. You’ve trashed that person’s credit. What’s the benefit? What’s that person have to lose?

Hmm.

Well. Now that is a problem.

Herein comes the sort of language that has struck me as SO familiar. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It flat out  gave me the creeps. But I finally figured out why it bothered me.

you know you want this, too.

don’t fight me on this, or it’ll be harder on everyone.

just do what I’m asking and it’ll be over and we can move on with our lives. 

 

Kind of… chilling, right?

It’s the dialogue given to a certain sort of character in lots of books and movies, in lots of various scenes and circumstances and disputes and crimes. Domineering, selfish, meant to scare someone into submitting to an arrangement or an act or something that is not actually… agreeable.

That’s where things stand.

I’ve refused to engage in that sort of talk, but have agreed to negotiate.  And I will. Gladly, even, if treated with professionalism and respect.

But I won’t be coerced. I won’t be threatened.

It doesn’t work like that anymore.

I gotta go. I get to hang out with the 2 year olds this morning. Have a great day, y’all. : )

~hm
Friday, September 27th 2013
Sweet as Pie (Shepherd’s Pie)

Seth-7yr, after a field trip to an apple orchard. He holds up a less than stellar looking apple and proudly tells me it is “the exact kind that YOU are, Mom.”

 

“What?”

“Yeah. If you were an apple. You would be exactly this apple.”

I frown at it.

“come on! Name some apple types!”

I try. But Macintosh and Granny Smith and Honeycrisp don’t have anything to do with me. And Seth-7yr can’t stand it anyway.

 

“NO!! It’s a Pink Lady with bruises!!!!”

 

He giggled and was very proud of himself for this. I looked at what skin i had showing, and yeah, there were the usual few bruises.

Huh.

Well. Okay. 

If I have to be an apple, he’s right. That’s the one.

~hm
Saturday, September 14th 2013
This is me. This is my life.

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes here. I’m about to yank the curtains back. : )

I LOVE my new job.

I miss my old co-workers.

I’m attempting to rectify the housing conflict Claude and I find ourselves in.

Let me talk this through, because, eh. It’s time. My silence here has been misunderstood. Taken advantage of, perhaps.

There have been numerous, uh, incidents with Claude.

One incident… the first of the following…. I LOST it. I mean, I freaked. I was sarcastic and angry and fortunately I did it all in a legal meeting with both attorneys present who could reign me in if needed.   Y’all. I was BADLY behaved. I hadn’t intended to be. Not at all. We were meeting to renegotiate a few terms, and Claude feigned total SHOCK that all his rent payments somehow never got to the mortgage company and the house (that he had put in MY name) was in foreclosure. SHOCK, I tell you. How….? Well….? What?! Those payments? I mailed them. Every one of them.

I guess I didn’t notice they NEVER cleared the bank, he said. With a straight face. A financial advisor. On television.

“So…. you have an extra $10,000 plus in your bank account that shouldn’t be there…?” One of the professionals present asked. I asked where the tracking numbers were since these had been ‘overnighted’ and if there was ANY proof whatsoever of these phantom checks that had disappeared into the wild blue yonder each month.

He flinched. No proof of these weird claims.  But then he kept going. He was completely shocked those payments had not been received, and I should have alerted him (besides those certified letters he ignored) and frankly he was really DISPLEASED with…  ME.

His living rent free in our marital home…? Ruining my credit? That was my fault. CLEARLY. And THAT meeting was the first he realized there was any sort of problem with the house. Really, it was as if he’d been SET UP. By me. And, frankly,  he was offended.

Fortunately it was a large circular table, the seats were low, and it seemed a large enough physical boundary to hold me in my place.

Fortunately I lost it in that meeting with professionals present and only then. I got it out of my system that day. Which was good, because there were coming many more instances in which I could erupt again if I chose. The urge was gone though.

Claude proposed later, via email to our attorneys and to me, that he would get the house current by August 31. I replied to everyone, accepting his offer and telling him that it would be HIS responsibility to be sure the payments were made ON TIME and received and could be proven and recorded and documented received by 8/31 and NO EXCUSES would be accepted and otherwise I’d evict his butt.

But he didn’t. He caught up the payments, but not by the date he proposed.  He gave me the clear go ahead to evict him when he failed to meet that deadline. HIS deadline.

So I researched eviction procedures in Texas. I decided that the best time to give him the papers would be when he dropped off the kids one morning. I’d hand them to him in a folder with little owls and take his picture with my phone while talking to him about the kids’ shot records. He, and the kids, if they were tuned in, would probably assume that what was in the owl folder was the shot record I was saying I would give to him. And then I sent that by text.

This worked exactly as planned, and i have a really unfortunate and unflattering photo of Claude being served with eviction papers on my driveway. The kids were never aware of what had occurred, and friendly sounding chatter about vaccinations filled the air.

In the owl folder was a 10 day notice to vacate. Claude was livid, as I found out later. “SHE SERVED ME IN FRONT OF THE KIDS.”  Yes. Yes I did. Discreetly. And they never knew.

In another meeting with a professional he said he planned to ignore my eviction notice. The professional then turned to me and sweetly asked, ‘Now what?”

“Now we move on with forcible eviction processes, I execute a deed in lieu and am separated from this real estate mess and can begin rebuilding my credit NOW.”

I was calm and quiet in that meeting. More prepared for what was really going on, and realizing Claude really didn’t have much of a position….  Well.  It didn’t really matter to me either way. I wouldn’t have to be held back by a table, it would be a waste of energy. He could negotiate with me on three other issues, and in return I would GLADLY give him some grace on the house mess. (still would, probably, unless things are too far in motion to stop) Or he could refuse, lose the house, and I’d be done with it. My decision was already made, and either of his choices were fine with me.

Somewhere in here – and admittedly, it was probably after that first meeting where I was freaking out angry – because we all KNOW that is threatening and impossible – Claude began a full court press on defining who I am. To anyone who will listen, I am ‘unforgiving,’ ‘hateful,’ ‘awful’, and my personal favorite… “un-Christlike.”  I am ‘fighting’ with him all the time.

Interesting…. I’m not fighting. I was angry one day in August, and I showed it. But am I fighting…? No. I’m negotiating. Calmly. And it’s driving him nuts.

Claude does NOT define me. He never has. He has no authority in my current life. No power. If anything, it’s the reverse, as he’s expecting forcible eviction processes at any moment. He can talk a big talk. Say ugly stuff. He can yell and freak out and threaten the kids and me that he’ll withhold money… yelling at us through the front door. And… that would be different from what he does now…. how?  (yeah. police were called. fun.)

But… REALLY?  he was mad at me for withholding Duke. It was going to be opening season for dove… and I withheld the hunting dog. WHY? Well. The school had called. And if Claude didn’t pay their tuition, they needed to find a new school. Immediately. So I withheld the dog. Totally guilty, I DID THAT. Was that the right thing to do….? No. Probably not. I sat with the kids and heard them out on their opinions. My choices were to withhold the dog in an attempt to get tuition paid… or to not say anything at all and to go enroll them in a new public school.

Right or not…. it WAS effective. Tuition was paid within two hours and the ransomed dog was handed over the next day. Neither choice was particularly attractive… but I’m not losing sleep over MY right or wrongness there. Or anyone’s. This is life. I’m living it. I’m fine. I’m bargaining with what i HAVE. And if it’s a dog, it’s a dog. If it’s a house… it’s a house. I will NEVER withhold children, nor have I. But a dog or an unpaid free ride of a house? Sure. No problem.

I’m not a hateful person. I thoughtfully considered that charge. After I stopped smirking. I’m fairly joyful and peaceful, regardless of circumstances.  Just humbled and beyond grateful to have escaped my previous life. THAT is how I really feel. When i think about my life…. it’s gratitude that permeates my thoughts. Not resentment or bitterness… it’s just oh thank you GOD that I’m free. And THIS is my life now. And THIS is how it is better. And THIS. And THIS. And ohmygosh, I get to do THIS now and THAT…..? That’s what goes on in my head. In case you wondered.

Am I unforgiving? Well…. I don’t know. It’s hard to KEEP UP with all the stuff I have to forgive him for, but I think I’m doing a pretty good job. His porn ended up on the kids’ phones (thanks to his iCloud syncing procedures/settings issue) for the THIRD time last week in the last six months. And yeah…. that annoyed me. But did I yell at him? No. I made little paper doll outfits for the naked girls and boys and put them on the phone and THEN took pictures (because I don’t want that on MY phone) to document it all, as is my standard practice now, and I explained the issue again and what he needed to do to STOP it from happening and then, sure, I maybe made fun of him a little for the type of images that I found. Couldn’t help it. Okay. Maybe that was bad. But…? Geez. It was the third time. Could we maybe, LEARN, from this? I don’t particularly enjoy making little bikinis out of post it notes. I have other things to do with my creativity than that.

I do feel badly for his girlfriend. I used to be that young and naive. Someone thought she was my daughter last week. And…? Maybe it shouldn’t have, but it made me LAUGH so hard. Ohhhhh. No. She may resemble her in a few ways, including age. But no.  That baby is not one of  mine.

So i haven’t been writing. And now I am. And I said a whole lot I wouldn’t have normally. But…? My default mode is not to discuss the negative things Claude does here. And…. I suppose because he’s trying to characterize me as being so awful and because I’ve really given it a lot of thought…. I realize that default mode isn’t appropriate.

Why am I still in some small way protecting the image of a man who never protected me/my health/my life/ my credit/ my finances/ my family? I think in the future I need to be sure that if I’m leaving something off this site that is unpleasant about Claude and is relevant in my life that I would normally write about here… it’s for my OWN reasons. Not because it’s been my habit to just silently go with the program.  The program changed.

I don’t owe that to anyone.

And if it’s a privilege extended in the future… it’ll be earned.

THIS is my life. And THIS is who I am. And THIS is what I’ve REALLY been going through and how i’ve REALLY been handling it all.

And, as always, the very best part about me… is my faith. It’s largely because of my faith that I refuse to stay silent and possibly participate in a false characterization by someone who never knew me at all.

I know Whose I am. And who I am.

And I do have a voice.

 

 

~hm