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
Sunday, September 8th 2013
Neighborhood Crime Watch

I was on my way home from work for lunch one day last week when I happened upon the scene.

It was the most pathetic excuse for a crime scene in action you ever saw.

One woman had her mouth wide open and NO teeth (it kinda haunts me when I think about it) and she was walking down the sidewalk digging through a not very cute black handbag.

Behind the Toothless Woman about ten yards was a woman who was following after, but only at a barely-brisk walk. Behind HER, was another woman.

The two women who were following the Toothless Thief wore ballet flats. They didn’t want to walk fast, actually get NEAR the thief (can’t blame them), or I don’t know, break a sweat or actually RUN.

I was on the phone with my mom. I said, “hang on mom. There’s a mugging going on and no one is wearing the right shoes.”

I stopped the car and asked the first of the ‘pursuers’ – and I use that term with great disgust and VERY loosely – if the first woman had indeed stolen her bag.

YES.

“Right. Okay. I’ll follow her.”

And I talked to my mom while I steered down a few alleys, looking for the Toothless Thief, who had really made good use of the fact that her targets were total wusses who wouldn’t kick off their stupid shoes and give chase.

Mom said, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU WONDER WOMAN? WHERE ARE YOUR BRACELETS?”  And I really didn’t know what she meant, because although I WANTED to watch that show when I was little, I don’t think she let me because the sexed up costumes  Lynda Carter wore might have been bad for me or something.  I certainly do not remember bracelets. Not that I really accessorize well anyway.

“WHAT?? I’m putting the phone in my lap so I can turn down this next alley. Just hang on, mom.”

I careened down the alley in my giant white SUV with the words of Paul Simon in my head. “Who’ll be my role model, now that my role model is gone… gone…? He ducked back down the alley with some roly poly little bat faced girl…”

And my thief wasn’t bat faced (whatever that means), but she wasn’t a looker either, and there WERE alleys, and I don’t know. That’s all it took.

Unless ‘bat faced’ means it looks as if someone had taken a bat TO her face. And then, yes, she was totally bat faced.

I came back onto the main road in time to see my ballet flat wearing victims simpering and pointing and flirting it up with two men who came out of an office building. AH. Seriously? You want to be damsels in distress and flirt with men types instead of pursuing the ugly thief woman…? GOT IT. Nevermind. Your purse was icky anyway, and you didn’t care enough to run after her yourself….? I’m going home to eat lunch.

And I did.

I picked up the phone from my lap and told mom I was done, and she  was like, “Really? All I heard about was how everyone involved was wearing inappropriate SHOES.”

“WELL? THEY WERE!”

If a crime happens right in front of me, I will not be able to describe the individuals. But I WILL tell you if they wore appropriate footwear and acted like they cared. That’s just the kind of eyewitness i am.

 

 

~hm
Monday, September 2nd 2013
work it, girl.

The nice people I’ve been working with for the last 8 months gave me flowers and cake on my last day. SO sweet and unexpected.

The nice people i’ve been working with for just the last week…? Oh wow. I think I love this place. It’s a school – a really unique school that has office hours on days where there are no students present. SO. I can do office-y stuff like a recluse in a largely empty big building without people around during school hours while my kids are busy ANYWAY…? Well thank you GOD for this job. That’s beyond thoughtful!!  That’s like, MADE for me, right?! I do that a couple days a week. And I have a more social job one day a week there. And lots of people from my church are there… I’m having to actually interact.

It’s a good thing. Now. I have to go to bed.  Love y’all.

 

~hm
Wednesday, August 28th 2013
briefly…

I’m kinda fantastically busy with a NEW JOB. I’ll tell you about it soon.

Until then, I’m just grateful for this life I have. there was yelling scary insanity on the front lawn today, and…?  it was NOT me. What an improvement!  Maybe one day that’ll stop entirely!

Life is good.

 

~hm
Wednesday, August 21st 2013
One of a Kind, Three of a Kind

I’ve been kinda busy.  School started. Football started. (caden-9yr) and then there is all this bizarre legal stuff.  Claude hasn’t been paying for the house in which he resides and it’s his assertion that this is my fault for not sending ENOUGH certified letters. Because he had NO idea all those payments he was mailing to the mortgage company…? WHAT? They didn’t GET THERE? Why didn’t you TELL me? Are you SERIOUS?

Um.

Um.

Um….? I’m not your wife. I will not baby you into successfully paying for your home each month. If you do, great. If you don’t, there are consequences. This is real life for everyone. This is how it works.

Moving on. Really. Good grief.

I’ve been rattled. I admit it. HIGHLY.

i went to work on a day I wasn’t supposed to be there.  Oops.

Last night I was trying to settle down the boys for devotional for the fifteenth time and Seth-7yr said something about “if we were girls” and i LOST IT.

“IF WE WERE GIRLS?! BUT WE AREN”T GIRLS.  WE ARE BOYS. SO LET”S JUST STOP DISCUSSING IF WE WERE GIRLS AND TALK ABOUT GOD FOR A FEW MINUTES.”

That got their attention. I thought.

And then they started looking at each other and exchanging glances and then cracking up and one of them said, “Uh? Mom. You actually ARE a guhl.”

“SO?”

Another kid said, “Well. You just yelled that we are not guhls. And that was really like, kind of insulting to yourself.”

“RIGHT” said another brother. “That ‘s what I was thinking. INSULTING. Like, she’s saying she’s not a very GOOD guhl.”

“Mom, you really ARE a good guhl. It’s the rest of us who are NOT guhls. WE are boys.” Complete with helpful hand pointy gestures to further point out the differences among us.

They all sat in silence and waited to hear how I’d react to this little three brother analysis. I knew they were right, and it was sweet and weird, but I was too rattled to talk yet. I just looked at them.

Then Ethan-13yr said, “But wow that was funny when she was like shouting, “WE ARE NOT GUHLS” and all of us were like, UM…… YEAH YOU ARE, but we didn’t want to say it… because she was all…. WILD looking and kinda irritated. HA!”

And then the brothers joined in and reenacted it all as well, and it was another giggly 5 minutes before we got to he healing nature of the presence of God.  But. We got there. Three boys and me.

The good guhl.

~hm
Monday, August 12th 2013
When you Hear Tim McGraw…. I hope you think of my bathroom

It’s the last week of summer break here.

The kids are at that phase where they’re tired of seeing each other’s gorgeous faces all day every day and it affects their levels of kindness. There are more underwear fights. Less patience. More of (my personal favorite) arguments that end up with my saying, in ALL seriousness, “He HAS to walk through your bedroom to get to the bathroom. IT IS NOT PERSONAL. HE CAN”T HELP IT.”

The plumbing in this house is really made for one person. Even though it’s a four bedroom house. The plumbing is really suited for maybe 1 small person who likes vegetables. So this summer has been a challenge for it. The plumbing is ready for school to resume.

In my bathroom, there is a tub and a sink that had seen better days. They almost scared me away from this house, initially. My father has claimed the sink alone is so frightening it could inspire a Stephen King novel entitled The Lavatory. Horrendous scratches, dents, chips, stains, rust, and disgustingness of all kinds which are impervious to all chemicals and scrubbing attempts. I think they’re ceramic. Enamel. I don’t know. It actually doesn’t matter.

I’d had enough.  Finally.

I researched how to refinish your sink and tub. And then I did it. When the kids were gone, because DANG those are some harsh fumes, watch out if you try this at home, ladies.

I think what you are supposed to do is:

open windows.

take before pictures.

scrub with highly abrasive Trisodium Phosphate, per instructions that tell you to dissolve it in warm water.

wipe with paint thinner to break down any soap, grease, shampoo residue.

tape off areas you don’t want to get painted.

use spray epoxy in thin coats, waiting thirty minutes in between.

take after pictures.

leave area.

Let cure for 3 days before use.

 

What I did instead because NO i can’t follow directions or recipes or anything like that ever:

look at window and think, “eh. probably won’t open anyway.”

scrub everything with bleach.

scrub everything with highly abrasive Trisodium Phosphate, per instructions that say to dissolve in warm water.

scrub everything with highly abrasive Trisodium Phosphate, in powder form, because PLEASE, but that stuff in water did nothing, those are the Sissy Directions.

SAND the sink and the tub using coarse and medium sanding blocks, orbital sander, AND belt sander, because really? This is serious stuff. I’m sure the original instructions were not written for the Stephen King sink. I needed to modify. (and a lot of those rust stains came off at this point! YAY! So did the skin on my right hand, just a little bit, but HEY, no big deal.)

scrub everything with paint thinner.

tape off edges.

fill in low points with white epoxy – the kind you mix and let sit for 30 minutes.

Spray epoxy in thin coats.

Do not leave area.

Stay in bathroom in a white epoxy cloud and not realize how this is affecting me until I found myself discussing the physical attributes of Tim McGraw, OUT LOUD, in an empty house.

Realize, OH MY GOSH, maybe I shoulda tried to open that window after all, and go out in the backyard and feel all relieved that I did this when the kids were with Claude and they didn’t breathe that or see that or HEAR that, good GRIEF. And also? I think that man needs slightly bigger clothing.

Take pictures of sink and tub. Compare to my ‘before’ pictures.

Text them to everyone, because it is UNREAL how the Stephen King sink looks like a brand new white sink now, and so does the tub, WOW, shoulda done this when I first moved in???!!!

Let cure for 3 days.

Later today I  get to use the sink and the tub for the first time, and I’m pretty excited. Not scared in the LEAST anymore.

 

total cost: less than $60. (and a few brain cells.)

 

 

 

 

 

~hm
Sunday, August 4th 2013
Yurt, Sweet Yurt

I’m listening to Paul Simon sing “allergies.” No idea why I like that song so much. It’s… weird.

 

I’m painting everything different shades of purple. Periwinkle on the walls,  deep purple on a table… “the one that got away” on my toes… Always purple, lately. Speaks to me, now, that color.

 

I took the kids camping. Sorta. I don’t camp. Well. maybe I do.

We went to the Abilene State Park and we stayed in a yurt. It looks like a tepee, sorta. It has beds and a refrigerator and a microwave, but really it’s a step up from a tent and a step down from a cabin. FANTASTIC. This went really well.

 

No one else was there for some reason. Just us. In the state park. With a bunch of deer and bobcats.

We were pulling up to the yurt the first day and from the backseat I hear Caden-9yr say, “What was the name of the hotel we stayed in last month…? With Dad…? The Four….? WHAT? The… OH! yes. The Four Seasons.”

I put my head on the steering wheel. Counted to 5.

“Babe. This is NOT the Four Seasons. This is a yurt. And it might be awful. But we are here in the name of adventure and love and family, and I want to have a great time.”

“Oh! I KNOW! Cool, Mom.”

And we did.

I wanted to build a fire. I brought lighter fluid, but I wanted desperately not to use it. I wanted to conquer firebuilding and cooking raw meat over a flame, just me and my boys. Just firebuilding techniques and a cheap gas station lighter.

We did.

Deer came up to us and ate right out of our hands. Chicken. Why are deer in Abilene eating chicken, anyway? That makes no sense. But we enjoyed it. So did they.

Ethan-13yr was frantically warning all of us to avoid the armadillos, as they are carriers of leprosy. Everyone pretty much ignored him. We were busy snuggling the deer.

At one point, Ethan-13yr was SO frustrated that he yelled, “IF ANYONE GETS LEPROSY, IT IS NOT! MY! FART!”

And then we all just died laughing, because he was horrified he’d yelled that, and hadn’t meant to, and that wasn’t what he meant at all, and he got really tired of me whispering that to him over the next few days every time we smelled something nasty. “Hey… it’s not my fart!”

The first night in the yurt, Caden-9yr and I had go to the bathroom. At 1:30am. We were unaware until RIGHT THEN that there were bobcats everywhere between us and the bathroom way far away, and neither one of us really knew much about bobcats or how dangerous the situation was, but we DID know we needed to twinkle. So off we went. Holding hands. Scared to pieces.

We got back to the yurt, having avoided two large bobcats, and were on a huge adrenaline rush. We googled bobcats on my phone. We discussed how we should have awakened Etahn-13yr, our family animal expert. We stared at the yurt ceiling, unable to sleep for hours. And then we’d relive the experience and crack up. And then one of us would drift off, and the other would get the giggles.

The next day we went to the zoo. Caden-9yr and I were amazed at how tiny their bobcats were. Ours had been much larger. And scarier.

We fished. Sorta.

It was important to fish, just the four of us. So we did. Fish jumped everywhere on a completely empty and abandoned lake. We couldn’t catch any of them though, so we just had fun with our rods and worms and mud and I soaked up the sun and avoided touching gross stuff.

The second night in the yurt, we had neighbors. A group of girls moved in behind us. Caden-9yr said something very sexist about how we’d know if they saw the bobcats when we heard them scream. I ignored him. But it bothered me. After all, the previous night, HE had been so afraid of the bobcats, he’d insisted on coming into the women’s restroom with me instead of separating briefly and going alone to the men’s room. SO. Big talk, my precious boy child.

We were almost asleep when Seth-7yr tearfully admitted he really needed to twinkle and he really really did not want to. We all went. Flashlights in hand. Seth-7yr glued to my side.

And the two large bobcats from the first night were not around. But five to seven smaller ones WERE.  We held hands and on the way back there was one in between us and our yurt. Ethan-13yr scared me to PIECES when he decided he should hiss loudly at it.

I didn’t know who hissed. Silly me, I assumed it was the BOBCAT that was hissing, not the HUMAN.  Perhaps a little strategy talk would have been in order there. But he hissed really dramatically, and the bobcat circled us and then followed us all the way back until we were running the last little bit. I’d suggest not hissing, should there be a next time.

We got inside and the boys went to sleep pretty quickly. And then…. there was a bloodcurdling group girly scream.

I smiled.

I couldn’t help it.

Then silence.

Then a car, leaving, in a hurry. And they were gone.

THAT was what I wanted. A fun sort of adventure with those three precious boys, where we plan what we want to do and then go do it and accomplish new stuff together.

It truly happened that way. How nice. I mean, The Four Seasons it was NOT.

But I liked it. And we’d SO do it again.

 

~hm
Wednesday, July 31st 2013
Sand Surfing: A Brief, What Not To Do Guide

Okay. Sand surfing. There’s a right way to go about it.

And there’s what we did.

 

Right way:

go to Monahans State Park when the sand is cool. This enables the actual surfing to occur. I do not understand the science behind that statement, and I will not pretend otherwise. Wear athletic/tennis shoes and socks.

What we did:

go to Monahans State Park when the sand feels as if it has been freshly roasted in hell.

wear flip flops.

burn the flesh right off your feet.

try to surf.

can’t budge.

that’s because – I THINK – the plastic of the surfing equipment is being melted and you can’ t slide.

be sure one child loses a flip flop deep in the burning sand and it cannot be recovered.

that way you will be forced to strategize an exit strategy and rescue effort for how to get the child back to the car with only one flip flop. walking across sand is not an option. carrying the child is not an option. hopping is not an option  - it’s too far.

you can approach it as a team building exercise.

that’s easier if two brothers do not abandon the one shoe-d brother in order to get themselves a drink. “Um. We are parched.”

Excellent use of the word ‘parched.’ Now let’s discuss never leaving a brother behind. And then rescue him.

It took thirty minutes I think.

It involved one brother taking the stranded brother my flip flops. The rescued brother wore the girly flip flops safely across the sand and then got in the car and griped ungratefully about how painful they were.

Ignored this.

Turned the a/c on high on the floor vent option to cool our red hot feet and drove back home.

i took a two hour bath.

TWO HOURS.

 

 

But that was only day one. The next two days we continued our adventure and we conquered firebuilding  and bobcats and fishing and public restrooms and camping. I’ll get to that soon enough. The next two days were fantastically more successful than the sand nonsurfing. We’d TOTALLY go back and do the next part of our trip again, bobcats and all.

~hm
Saturday, July 27th 2013
Surf’s Up

two exciting words:

SAND SURFING.

 

Like how FUN does that sound? surfing down sand dunes. i can hardly wait. i have NO idea what you wear for that. I’m out the door with 3 boys to surf. we might all be dressed wrong and weird and i don’t care. SO looking forward to today.

i’ll tell you how we do.

~hm
Monday, July 22nd 2013
the boys are back in town

i have adorable boy children types ALL OVER THE PLACE.

they’re home. seth-7yr’s hair is noticeably longer. Ethan-13yr is noticeably taller. caden-9yr is noticeably more affectionate. he held onto me tightly for more than an hour this morning.

SO. that’s good.

it’s kinda all that mattered today.

boy kids. asleep in beds.

i’m staying awake just enjoying the quiet of a full house.

~hm