Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thursday 13: Brought to you by the letter A

Thursday13: A list of thirteen random things with or without a theme. 

Back in 2009, I started an alphabet theme for my weekly post. Since I've been having a hard time coming up with a theme lately, I thought I'd revive the A-Z Thusrday13. Today, we're focusing on the letter A!

1. AGE - At the moment, I am 36 years old. It seems pretty crazy that I'll be 40 in a few short years. Interesting tidbit: I am now the age that Johnny was when we met 13 years ago. ;)

2. A NAMES - Interestingly enough, all of our kids' names start with the letter A: Aubry, Ashlyn, Andrew, and Ashlyn (yes, his youngest child's name is the same as my youngest child's name). ALSO, all four kids have 13 letters in the first and middle names...which I didn't even notice until Johnny pointed it out about his kids and I was like...woah! Aubry and Ashlyn do, too! Seriously...what are the odds of that happening?!

3. ART - I have always loved graphic arts...especially drawing and painting. I took a ceramics class and three oil painting classes while I was at WSU and I loved them...just because I had the space and opportunity to devote some time to art. One of these days, I want to set up a space at home that is convenient for oil painting.

4. ACADEMIA - I love to learn. If it was possible to be a professional student...I totally would. I got my AA in Psychology and my BGS in Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Sociology. If the thought of student loans didn't terrify me, I would go back to get my Masters and Doctorate in Forensic Psychology. Is it sad that if I won the lottery, that's something I'd want to spend it on? lol :P

5. AUTUMN - By far my favorite season. I love the weather, the colors, the smells, the newness of “back to school” each year...I love it all!

6. ADAPTABLE - I've become someone who is pretty good at adapting to whatever situation I'm in. Change used to really bother me...but I tend to roll with the punches more as I get older.

7. ADDRESSES - I've had 10 different addresses since I turned 18 years old. They're in three different towns and all in the same state. I've lived in 1 trailer, 4 apartments, and 5 houses.

8. ANALYTICAL - I'm constantly analyzing things in my mind...picking them apart, looking at the details, finding things that don't make sense, etc. It's just how my mind naturally works.

9. ATTORNEY - One of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was an attorney. However, while I totally rock at preparing legal documents, I really don't like public speaking...so I think paralegal would be more fitting for me. :P

10. ANNOYANCES - I have so many pet peeves...and the majority of them have to do with noise. I don't like loud noises. I don't like sound effects on phones (mine is almost always on vibrate). I don't like being around people talking on speakerphone. I don't like the dogs barking. I prefer "indoor voices" in the house and all rough-housing to be outside. It drives me crazy when people don't put on their seatbelt and the car dings until they put it on. Yeah...and those are just the noise-related things that annoy me! There are just so many things... :P

11. AMERICAN EAGLE - A lot of my clothes are from American Eagle. I love when they have good sales. My favorite clothes to buy there are guys hoodies...they're comfy!

12. ACCOUNTING - I probably would've been a good accountant...it's one of the few "math" subjects I'm good at. :P I took two full years of Accounting in high school, have filed my own taxes since I was 16 (and started out doing it on paper because that was before things like TurboTax!), and have experience with Accounts Payable/Receivable and assisting with Payroll.

13. APOCALYPTIC - I like to read and watch shows which have a plot that revolve around an "apocalypse" event. 

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