Friday, February 16, 2018

Parent-Teacher Conferences, House Guests, and More!

So...it's been a month since I posted in this blog. I've been slacking! :P It's been both a busy and not so busy month. I say that because while there hasn't been a lot of plans going on...it just feels busy at home.

Right after my last blog post, my step-daughter, their four kids (three boys and a girl ages 3-6), four dogs, and a cat all moved into our living room. Then last week, her husband arrived. He just got out of the Army and they're buying a house in the area. So...the house seems really busy with all the people and all the noise.

Now don't get me wrong, I love them all dearly. That said...I've never been a person who does well with roommates. :P My patience level is nonexistent and I'm annoyed by pretty much everything in general. I totally admit that those are MY issues...it's not that they're necessarily doing anything wrong or purposely trying to irritate me or anything. I'm just a crabby old bitty who has been used to living a certain way all my life so the influx of people and animals in my home is a bit much for me to handle. lol. ;)

It's a temporary situation, though. After they get their tax refund back, they'll be able to use it for a down-payment on their own home. And I believe my mother-in-law may also moving in with them (she babysits the kids) and she'll be taking the other three dogs that we've had at the house. So soon, it will just be me, Johnny, my two teenagers, Bandit (our Australian Shepherd), and my three kitties. We haven't had that since I moved in with Johnny in 2013...so I'm looking forward to it! :)

When I was growing up as well as when my own children were little, we lived in a HUD apartment complex. It was income-based housing and there were many rules and regulations that had to be followed. There were inspections multiple times a year when the property managers would walk through your house to determine if you were keeping the place up to their standards. There were also multiple times a year when the apartments were sprayed for pests and the filters were changed...and the maintenance people would tell the property manager if your home was a mess. So it had to be kept clean and orderly.

In addition to that, lease violations at the apartment complex would get you kicked out...and the most common lease violations given were in regard to noise. If your neighbors complained about the noise coming from your apartment at all, you could lose your home. That meant we had to find quiet activities in the house and any roughhousing could only be outside.

So...I'm just used to having an organized and quiet home and I have a hard time handling the change. A lot of my time lately has been spent on the computer listening to rock music through my earbuds. ;) I've gotten a lot done, though! Paperwork is done, files are organized on my computer, taxes are filed, etc. Oh and hanging out with the cats...I've been spending a lot of time doing that! They're my little furry antidepressants. :)

Parent-teacher conferences were this week. Since I've been using Skyward to keep up with the kids' progress, I pretty much know how my children are doing in school already. I did go to Ashlyn's parent-teacher conference yesterday, though. She has had a lot of trouble this year with getting her assignments turned in and her grades in a couple classes reflect that. The worst part is the fact that a lot of times, she's already done the work! If I notice she has a 0 on an assignment, I'll make her actually show me that she got it done...but then it just stays a 0 because she doesn't turn it in. She already did the work! Handing it in is LITERALLY the easiest part of the assignment! It's even easier than writing her name on the dang paper! I'll ask her if she turned it in...and sometimes she'll just lie and tell me she did. So when I went last night, I asked the teachers how long it takes them to enter grades for late work on Skyward so I know whether or not it's been turned in. I also wanted to let them know that I may be emailing them to ask if certain assignments have been turned if Ashlyn says she turned them in but they're still a zero. So at least we got that out of the way!

It also didn't help that Ashlyn missed four days of school a couple weeks ago when she had the flu. I thought she was going to skip over it since Aubry and I both had it during winter break...but she got it anyway. :( She felt a lot better after we finally got her fever down but the cough lingered for a bit. It's gone now though!

Since parent-teacher conferences were this week, the girls didn't have school yesterday or today...they also don't have school Monday, either. So they get a nice break! Ashlyn gets to work on homework over the break and Aubry is working stage crew for the play at the high school this week. She just went to practice Monday to hang out with a friend, but they were short on people so she started helping out. She's having fun with it and I'm glad she's found something she enjoys being involved in. :)

My plans today include hopefully organizing my desk and taking apart my laptop to find out why the touchpad isn't working. Fun times! lol :P

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cold weather day and bonding!

The girls didn't have school today--along with many other districts in the state--because of the extremely cold projected windchill. It's generally taken into account when it comes to kids who have to walk to school or wait at the bus stops. The girls certainly weren't upset about having a four-day weekend. ;) We got the notification from the school last night, so they got to sleep in today.

I think they were getting stir-crazy, though. I managed to get them to clean their rooms and put their clothes away...for the most part. :P Aubry hung out with her boyfriend here at the house for awhile. Then much to my surprise, Aubry asked Ashlyn if she wanted to go to the library and to dinner with her and her friends. WHAT?! lol. I definitely like that they're being nice to each other and hanging out together, though!

It's not just her relationship with her sister...Aubry and I have grown closer, as well. We've been having some trouble sleeping. I'm thinking it might be the Sudafed we've been taking for our lingering head cold. She's been coming downstairs and hanging out with me in the family room while neither of us could sleep...and we've been bonding. A lot of it is just funny joking around...but we've talked a lot over the last few weeks, too.

Shortly before I got primary custody of the girls in 2016, things had changed quite a bit with the kids' relationship with their dad. A year earlier, XH had started dating someone who wasn't interested in having a relationship with his kids. He basically just dumped the kids at his parents' house during his 50/50 parenting time and was living with his girlfriend and her three kids. When the girls were actually at her house with XH, she treated them horribly. His "fiance" was really the catalyst for the kids' desire to change custody.

The kids were thankful that court turned out the way it had...but it was still tough for them, too. Right after he lost shared custody, things were better for awhile and he was paying more attention to the kids. But soon after that, XH got another girlfriend and moved in with her...and it was just the same thing all over again. While Aubry liked the new girlfriend, Ashlyn did not. After another volatile spring break, Ashlyn decided to stop seeing her dad while he was living with his new girlfriend and her three kids. That's when XH started talking to Aubry about all the "drama" Ashlyn causes and comparing her to his mom and sister. What he was doing was alienating Aubry from the rest of her family. She followed his lead and anyone he had problems with, she approached her own relationship with those people in the same way.

XH's girlfriend broke up with him in June 2017 and things changed once again...especially for Aubry. He was constantly talking to her on FB about things that just weren't appropriate to be sharing with his child...like asking her for advice about how he should handle things with his now ex-girlfriend. He was sharing nearly every detail about his daily struggles with Aubry, and it was causing a lot of pain and stress for her. He talked about how hungry he was, which made her want to take our food to him so he could have something to eat. He complained about being homeless and going to a shelter (which he never did). Aubry was scared for him and angry that his family wasn't helping him (and not understanding at the time that they kept bailing him out and he just kept burning bridges with everyone).

XH just wanted to play the victim and have someone feel sorry for him. He told Aubry "Everything I do turns to shit. I'm successful your mom destroys it. I leave money for happiness and your sister aunt and grandma destroy it." In his mind, he was successful and I destroyed it because he was ordered by the court to pay child support. You don't complain TO your child about having to pay child support...and to blame that for the reason why he was struggling is just WRONG. He wasn't even paying his child support at the time, because he didn't have a job. Just like he told Aubry, he CHOSE to "leave money for happiness" which is on him. He decided to quit his job and live off his girlfriend's state assistance. He even told Aubry: "that's messed up she used me to get more benefits then kicked me to the curb" which is just one more inappropriate thing to tell his child. Then to go so far as to tell his child that her sister and other family members are to blame for destroying his happiness? WTF?! Who does that?!

A short time later, XH's parents let him move back into their house...but there was a lot of tension between him and everyone else. He was constantly telling Aubry about fights he was having with his family. Then on 12/10/17, XH sent Aubry a message telling her that the cops showed up at his parents' house and he was kicked out so he was staying with some friends. She tried calling and sent multiple messages asking him what was going on. He kept reading her messages, but he wouldn't respond. Two days later, Ashlyn had sent him a message and he responded to her...which just upset Aubry even more.

Aubry removed XH as a friend on Facebook on 12/18/17. That's when he finally decided to respond to her. She was understandably still upset and asked XH why he read her messages but wouldn't respond--knowing that she was so upset--and why he responded to Ashlyn, but not her. His only response was: "Hun I really don't know what to do anymore. This is the last thing I wanted but my only option at this point. I'm done with them down there I have no family [there] anymore." Aubry felt like his response wasn't enough...she didn't get the answers she was looking for. XH sent her a message on December 20th and Christmas Day, but she just read them and didn't respond. She felt like he shouldn't get a response when he had been unwilling to respond to her.

We've talked a lot since then. I always let the kids dictate where the conversation goes when they start talking about their dad. Ever since they were little, I've been careful not to project my own feelings onto the kids. While *I* don't like him, he's their father and I've made sure not to get in the way of their relationships with him. I've always believed that they should use their experiences to form their own opinions about people. And the older they get, the more they understand everything that's going on around them.

Aubry now finds herself taking stock of all the things that have been said and done over the years...trying to sort it all out in her mind. She has begun to resent all the secrets he made her keep, all the lies that have been told, and the way he dictated her relationships with both sides of her family. I think she's also finally starting to "let go" and not burden herself with her dad's problems. She deserves to be a teenager dealing with teenage problems...not thrust into adult situations that she has no control over.

She has also noticed how different things are now since her dad hasn't been around. She went over to XH's parents' house right before Christmas and commented about how she's getting along better with everyone there. And like I've said, she even has a better relationship with her sister now. I think it amazed her to see how much a toxic environment distorted her perceptions. She's been a lot happier lately...and it's definitely nice to see.

Yesterday, XH sent each of the girls a message about his new truck. Ashlyn chatted with him for a little while, but Aubry didn't want to respond to it. She asked me to read something that she'd written to her dad last month but never sent. She wanted to get another opinion on whether or not she should send it to him (she'd already talked to a friend about it). I told her that it had to be her decision...and that she should make that choice based on whether or not getting things off her chest would make her feel better. I also cautioned her that if he responds, it has the potential to be upsetting for her...but she'd already considered that.

Ultimately Aubry decided to send the message to him on Facebook. She stood up for herself and laid out all her pain in front of him. She mentioned several specific things that had happened over the years and how everything has made her feel. She can't--and shouldn't have to--deal with all the stress he has brought to her life. In the end, she said that she needed time to be able to heal and told him goodbye.

XH hasn't responded.

Ashlyn has chatted with her dad nearly everyday in the last month...even if it's just to say hi. She talked to him tonight before bed to let him know about the fun evening she had. He still hasn't responded to Aubry, though. While it hurts to spill all your feelings and have it left unacknowledged, I worry that a response from him would likely hurt her even more.

I don't know if/when Aubry will try to have a relationship with her dad again. Her relationship with her dad is all up to her...it's my job to make sure that she knows there is absolutely no judgment from me one way or another and that we love and support her regardless of what she decides to do. I just want both of my girls to be happy. :)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Funny Kitty Videos!

These are two of my favorite videos I've taken of the kitties. The first one is just Milo playing fetch. He'll bring the ball to you whenever he's in the mood to play. The second video is what happens when Leo takes the ball away...and their interaction at the end makes me laugh every time.



Saturday, January 13, 2018

A week? Oops!

I haven't posted in the last week...not even my Thursday13!

It hasn't been a particularly busy week...I've just been dealing with some health issues. I struggle with peripheral neuropathy...which causes painful sensations, numbness, weakness, etc as a result of nerve damage. It was found in 2006 when I explained to my family doctor that it felt like I had shards of glass in my skin and even my clothes were making it hurt. Sometimes it is a burning pain. Sometimes it feels like the pins and needles sensation when your foot had fallen asleep and it starts to wake back up. Sometimes it's just a lack of sensation at all. My neuropathy comes and goes in random areas everywhere except for my head, neck, and shoulders. Cold weather seems to be a big trigger of it...and it's been pretty cold in Kansas this week. I've also been dealing with migraines...and it seems like cold air on my ears triggers migraines as well. Last Christmas my grandma gave me a beanie with an opening for my ponytail, and it's helped a lot!

I am not a fan of winter at all. We had sleet on Thursday which started a few hours before it was time for the kids to go to school. A lot of the area schools were closed or delayed. We saw several cars slide across the two lanes of traffic in front of our house and there was a wreck right in front of Ashlyn's school that backed traffic up quite a bit. NOT fun. I don't mind snow very much but I hate ice. And while I trust my driving in it just fine, I definitely don't trust other drivers. There seem to be a lot of issues when there isn't inclement weather...it's even worse when there's ice on the road! :P

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Back to School!

Well...winter break has ended and the kids are back to school. I think they were still running on break time...because they both came home from school each day and took a nap. :P

They both like their new schedules so far. They have several classes with their friends, so they're glad about that. I'm hoping we don't have a repeat of missing homework that was such an issue during first semester. :P

Aubry is excited for her Sociology class. She's wanting to study psychology or social work in college, so she was glad to be able to take a social science class this year. She is also in her second year of AFJROTC. It's one of the things not offered at her old school that she's really enjoyed. Johnny's son, Drew, was in it all four years and convinced Aubry to give it a try. I think it was the perfect choice for her first year at a new and much larger school than she was used to. Some of the first friends she made as a new student were kids she met in AFJROTC. Yesterday was particularly exciting for her...she became flight Sergeant and got ranked up to Tech Sergeant. She's nervous, but excited. And next weekend there is a community service event she's helping with so she'll make honor flight. I love that she enjoys participating in community service activities.

When I asked Ashlyn about her day, she mostly just talked about her friends. :P She liked that there are a lot of funny kids in her classes...although I don't foresee that being a great thing where her grades are concerned. :P She's also happy that she doesn't have PE this semester. It's not her most favorite thing in the world. She likes to focus more on her elective classes; this semester they are Vocal Music, Art, and Teen Leadership. Vocal Music has been a year-long class, so it's a good thing it's been her favorite. I think Teen Leadership will be a good class for her. They develop leadership skills in personal and business areas...developing a healthy self-concept, healthy relationships, and understanding personal responsibility. Ashlyn really likes the idea of running her own business someday, so I think that's largely why she chose that as one of her electives. Hopefully it will encourage her to prioritize her schoolwork over her social life a bit more. ;)

Here's to hoping for a great second semester! :D