Something fishy.  Something stinky and rotten.  Something that is not right.  This caseworker is totally biased and I made a big mistake yesterday by trying to talk to her.  I feel terrible.  DH told me not to talk to her.  DS told me not to talk to her.  But me, I have to plow ahead and try to do the right thing.  Didn’t turn out that way.

Things really went downhill yesterday.  It started with the kids not getting breakfast because Mommy had to take Mark to work.  I decided I was not going to deal with the social worker.  I called DS’s attorney (he has an appointment Monday, by the way) and asked if we should call the GAL to discuss concerns we had about the kids and the attorney said that was exactly what we should do.  His attorney said the GAL was going to be in court most of the day and the best bet to reach him would be late afternoon.  I wanted to be the one to talk to him because I figured he would be more open to me since I’m the middleman.  I called him late yesterday afternoon but still didn’t reach him.  Left a voice mail that I had some concerns I’d like to discuss with him. 

Yesterday was Scout’s birthday.  Little man is eight years old now.  DS took the boys to his house and had them pick out some toys and books they wanted to take to Mommy’s.  He brought them back around 3:30 so we could have a birthday party.  Lots of balloons and gifts and ice cream cake.  Scout wanted me to come to his other birthday party he was having that evening and I told him that I couldn’t.  I told him I couldn’t because he had so many people who loved him that it would take two parties and we had one and then Mommy and a bunch of other people would have another one for him.  I said, “Everyone just loves you to pieces!  You’re lucky to have so many people who love you that you have to have two whole parties.”  He said, “Yeah, except Newman.  He doesn’t love me.”  I said, “What?  Who’s Newman?”  He said, “No, not Newman.  You know, that new man.  He doesn’t love me.  He was kind of mean to me but I think he’s starting to like me.  He was kind of nice last night.”  I said, “What new man are you talking about, Scout?  Do you mean Mark?”  He said, “Yeah!  That’s his name!”  I said, “How is he mean to you?”  He said, “He won’t let me play my games.  Everytime I try to play my Wii, he won’t let me because he wants to play with it.”  I said, “Oh, well you should tell Mommy that he won’t let you play.  He doesn’t live with you, does he?”  He said, “No, we live with him in his house.  It’s not our house.  He lives in the upstairs and we live in the downstairs but there’s a door and it’s open and he comes in all the time.”  I immediately changed subjects but I was thinking, “Please let the GAL call me back.  Please!”

DS left and DIL showed up to pick them up at 5:30.  Everything was going fine.  She was laughing and hugging the kids and I told her DS had found her mirror but it wouldn’t fit in his car.  She asked if I would mind meeting her at his house again so she could pick it up and I told her that would be fine.  I told her he had brought over some more odds and ends for her (including her “dishes”) and she asked if she could pick them up later because she wanted to get going.  I said that would be fine.  She walked away and just before she got back in the “red pickup truck” she turned around and said something to me.  I was already on the porch and couldn’t hear her.  I walked back out and she said, “I was saying I’ll see you Monday.”  I said, “No, today is only Thursday.  I’ll see you in the morning when you drop off the kids.”  She said, “I’m not bringing them tomorrow.  I took a week’s vacation and tomorrow is my last day.  He kept my kids from me for six weeks and I’m going to spend my last day of vacation with them tomorrow.  I wasn’t going to bring them today and he’s lucky I let him see Scout for his birthday but I’m not bringing them tomorrow.”  I said, “Stacy, let’s don’t start this.  You know he’s supposed to have them on Monday through Friday from 8:30 to 5:30 for visitation.”  She said, “Not on paper.  I don’t have to bring them and I’m not.”  I said, “You know this is going to upset him.  If you wanted to keep them tomorrow, you should have discussed it with me ahead of time and not just thrown it out as you’re leaving.  He got Scout some new video games for his birthday and promised him they would play them tomorrow”  She started getting really nasty and raising her voice in the front yard and the kids were watching us and trying to figure out what was going on.  She said, “He should have thought about that before he took my kids away from me for six weeks.  I don’t care if he has plans with them.  I’m the one who has custody and I’ll decide where they’re going.”  I said, “Stacy, you had them last Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I rearranged the schedule to make it easier for you on Tuesday so he only had them half the day and you had them Wednesday.  What you’re doing is not right.”  She got really loud and said, “I don’t need you to tell me what’s right.  It’s none of your business.  I’ll do what I want, when I want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.  I don’t need your permission to spend a day with my kids.”  I said, “I’m not going to stand out here in the front yard with the kids watching and get into a shouting match with you.  I turned around and walked back into the house and she was yelling something after me.”

I was really upset and I told DH I was going to call the caseworker.  He said, “No, don’t call her.  You know something’s not right there.  Wait for the GAL to call you.”  I said, “I know!  I’m so confused I don’t know what to do.  I don’t want to call her but she’s the one who set up the visitation and she needs to know that Stacy’s refusing to bring them tomorrow.  I don’t want to call her but I don’t want her to say, “If it was a problem, you should have called me.”  I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I don’t want to deal with her but she needs to know what’s going on.  I don’t want to tell DS that she’s not bringing them and get him all upset until I see if the caseworker can tell Stacy she has to bring them for his visitation.” DH said, “I’m telling you.  Don’t call her.  Something’s not right with her.”  God, I hate it when he’s right.

I called her and as soon as I identified myself, she kind of laughed and said, “Oh, Pat.”  I said, “Let me guess…Stacy already called you.”  She said, “Actually, I’ve got her on my office phone and you on my cell phone.”  I said, “Then I guess she told you about her little scene in my front yard and that she’s not bringing the kids over tomorrow?”  She said, “Yeah, I’ve heard all about it and you know. that’s her right.  She’s has temporary custody and she has the right to make that decision.”  I said, “Joy, you’re the one who set up the visitation.  You’re the one who set it up for Monday through Friday and I don’t understand why she gets to cancel it at the last minute simply because she wants to.  DS has done nothing wrong.  I haven’t done anything wrong, and I don’t understand how she has the right to just decide, with no advance warning, that she’s not bringing them tomorrow.”  The caseworker said, “This has been really hard for her.  Do you realize that her car broke down and she’s been run ragged all week to make sure he got to see them as much as possible?  Tomorrow is the last day of her vacation and she could easily drop them off and go out partying all day but she’s choosing to spend quality time with her children.  You should be supporting her efforts to be a good mother instead of trying to make it more difficult for her.”  I said, “She has not been run ragged all week to make sure that he got to see them everyday.  She had them Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  She brought them Monday but we rearranged the schedule to make it easier for her on Tuesday and he only spent half the day with them.  I got up at 6:00 so she could drop them off at 6:30 in order to make it easier for her.  She had them all day Wednesday and she’s refusing to bring them tomorrow.  How can you say she’s been run ragged all week?  She only kept to the schedule two days out of the entire week. This is the visitation you set up.”  The caseworker said, “Yes, and I can see it’s not going to work out.  I had a feeling that this wasn’t going to work out.  I set up a visitation but told you both that you would have to work together and be flexible.  It hasn’t even been a week and we’ve got a major problem. I don’t have time for this and I can guarantee you the new caseworker won’t have time for it either.  If you can’t be flexible and get along, we’ll have to have the judge set visitation and he’ll be lucky to get one day a week and he’ll have to pick them up at another location which is what it sounds like we’re going to have to do.”  I said, “Why would he only get them one day a week?  He hasn’t done anything wrong.  Even when she was high as a kite on drugs, she got to see them three times a week and, when I had temporary custody, I was told that the visitation schedule was set and I had to make sure the kids were ready 30 minutes before each visitation and I had to wait for her up to thirty minutes after the scheduled visitation.  Even when she didn’t show up more than half the time, I was told that I had to make sure the kids were available.”  The caseworker said, “I can guarantee you, the amount of visitation she’s allowing their father to have is way more than the courts usually order and, if we have to have the judge set visitation, you will not be happy.  You’ll be cut out of the picture and he’ll have even less visitation than he has right now.”

I said, “Did she tell you she’s living with a man?”  She said, “No, what are you talking about?”  I told her what Scout said and she said, “Hold on….let me ask her.”  She came back to me and said, “I asked her about it and she’s not living with a man.”  I said, “You’re kidding…Do you think she’s going to tell you?”  Besides what Scout said, she brought this guy to pick up her stuff on Sunday and introduced him as a “friend from work”.  The kids say they didn’t have breakfast this morning because they had to get up early and take him to work.  Scout says it’s his house they’re living in.”  She said, “You don’t understand the situation.  I’ve checked out her apartment.  It’s a duplex and the kids probably think the man who lives in the other half is “living” with them.  Besides, she’s allowed to have a boyfriend and that has nothing to do with you.  I don’t have the time or the energy to devote to dealing with all these little issues that happen between you and Stacy.”  I said, “Joy, this is the first time I’ve ever called you about anything and I really didn’t want to call this time but I thought her cancelling visitation at the last minute for no reason and moving the kids into some man’s house was important.  I didn’t realize this was a “little issue between Stacy and I”.

The conversation deteriorated even more.  She said, “It’s obvious that you do not want her to succeed.  This is a woman who had her kids taken away from her in her first marriage.  She had her kids taken away from her again with your son.  She is doing everything humanly possible to turn her life around and you’ve got a mindset that she can not be a good mother to these children.”  I said, “Joy, I didn’t want to call you on this.  I had a feeling you were going to see it as me being vindictive toward her.  Still, in all honesty, you might want to ask yourself why the courts took her kids away from her not just once but two different times.  They devoted a lot of time and investigation into figuring out if she was capable of caring for her children and determined that whe wasn’t.  I feel like I can’t even talk to you.  I feel like if I don’t say anything, you’ll throw it back at me that “If it was a problem, why didn’t you call” and if I do call you, you think I’m just trying to sabotage her.  I honestly don’t know what I’m supposed to do.  I won’t call you anymore.  I’ll do everything I can to make this work.  In spite of what you think, I’d give anything for these kids to have two loving parents who can work out a fair schedule so that their kids get to spend quality time with each of them.  I know that you don’t want me to be in this position but I can assure you I will not do anything to sabotage their mother’s relationship with them.  I am NOT the evil mother-in-law you seem to think I am.  I have been trying to work with Stacy for years to help her be a good mother to her children and I will continue to do everything I can to support her.  I will not call you again but will try to be as accommodating as I can.  I just wish she would show me the same courtesy.”  The caseworker said, “No, Pat, don’t say you won’t call me again.  If anything important comes up, I need to know about it but I don’t need to know about all this petty stuff.”

Alrighty then…this is petty stuff.  Hello!!!  This is the same pattern she’s shown her entire life.  She’s moved in with some guy.  He’s supporting her, he’s paying all her bills, she’s sacrificing her children’s best interests for her own pleasure.  She’ll finally realize her dreams…to be able to suck DS dry on child support, have some guy supporting her, get food stamps and housing assistance, and run around and party.  What fun!

We got a recorder for the phone.  I would give anything to have recorded the conversation with the mediator last week and the phone conversation yesterday evening.  I know you guys probably think I’m making this up or seeing it through rose-colored glasses but I’m not.  Something is very rotten in Denmark.  Still, I may be slow to accept the fact that this caseworker is absolutely blind and totally biased but, I assure you, I finally get it.  I finally GET IT.  Now, I have to listen to DS and DH spend the day throwing I-told-you-so’s at me.

11:30 - Yes!  Thank you, God!  The GAL called and he was wonderfully supportive.  He actually remembers me.  I didn’t realize he was the GAL we had in the original proceedings four years ago.  He was NOT HAPPY when I told him what was going on.  He expressed to me that he has some serious reservations about what’s happening.  He said he was really surprised when the caseworker told him she was recommending full custody for DIL because he remembers working with the case from before and she had some serious issues.  He said he expressed that he would feel more comfortable with recommending temporary custody for me because he remembered me from before and felt that I did an good job with working with the kids and the caseworkers at that time.  He said he would not discuss what took place at the meeting last week but that the caseworker, for some reason, was dead set against me being involved because she felt like I was totally biased against the mother.  He conveyed to her that I had been impartial and totally dedicated to what was in the best interests of the kids in the past and he felt I would do well in that position again.  He was very disturbed to find out that the caseworker is allowing DIL to violate the visitation order that she set up and said that is a big no-no.  He said, “Unless your son is doing something to violate the court’s orders, and I don’t see that he is, she should be enforcing the visitation that she set up.”  He said he wants me to record conversations and keep written records and documentation of everything that’s going on.  He was very disturbed about the situation with the boyfriend and wants to talk to the kids on Monday when DS has visitation without the caseworker or DIL knowing about it.  He said the caseworker should not be making me feel like I was being “vindictive” when I bring legitimate concerns to her attention and he considers the boyfriend situation and a violation of the visitation order to be legitimate and serious concerns.  He said he has some serious concerns about what’s happening and feels that the caseworker is using her authority to make me feel “threatened” by saying that she was going to take me out of the picture when I haven’t done anything wrong. 

OMG!  I feel so much better.  I’m NOT crazy.  I’m NOT imagining this.

30thJuly

No vacancy

I have a houseful.  DH and I live here.  Oldest DS lives here.  Twin grandson’s live here.  Last night, I also had youngest DS because, quite frankly, he felt vulnerable going home.  He’s really upset about DIL’s fiasco with the car so he wanted to make sure he was “alibied” so to speak.  He went and picked up the dog and came back over.  I also had DGD, Holly, last night and her cousin because oldest DIL’s father is barely hanging on.  He’s in Hospice and they don’t expect him to last much longer.  Good thing I have a four bedroom.  Now, I also have youngest DS’s kids because they were just dropped off for the day. 

DIL has a boyfriend.  I knew it wouldn’t take long.  I met her Sunday to pick up a bunch of her stuff at DS’s and she was accompanied by a man with a red pickup truck.  She introduced him as “Mark, a friend from work”.  He was nice enough.  Loaded up all her stuff and didn’t have much to say.  This morning, at 8:30 a.m. she dropped the kids off and was driving the same red pickup truck.  She didn’t come in this morning.  The door opened and the kids came in.  This is the first time she’s just dropped them off and hasn’t walked them to the door.  I wouldn’t have known she was driving a red pickup if I hadn’t looked out the window.  I asked the kids why she didn’t come in and they said she told them she didn’t want to.

Went out with Sistah Pam last night to a rather well-established local bar and tavern called the “Come Back Inn”.  They have fabulous food and the place is usually packed but at 6:30 on a Wednesday evening, we had our pick of tables.  Sistah Pam had the baked ravioli and I had a Chicago Beef sandwich that was huge.  I ate half of it last night and asked for a container to bring the rest home.  Guess I know what’s for lunch.  I’m glad Pam was with DS and I yesterday.  She’s only met him recently and can vouch for his activities yesterday during the time DIL’s mother’s car was supposedly kicked.  I gave a lot of thought to that episode and still can’t believe she would actually fabricate her accusation.  I’ve decided she must have either dented the car herself in the parking garage and doesn’t want to admit to her mother that she did it or someone actually dented it while she was in the courtroom and she really doesn’t know who did it.  I can’t believe she would do it herself.

Sh*t!  Scout just asked if he could have a popsicle and I asked if he’d had breakfast yet.  He says he hasn’t.  I asked him why he hasn’t had breakfast and Jake said it was because they had to get up real early, throw on their clothes and take “Mark” to work.  I guess she’s either moved in with Mark and this is really his apartment or he’s sleeping over.  I hate this crap.  If I call the social worker, I just know she’s not going to care and I’m going to look like I’m just being vindictive.  Damn it!  Is it any of my business?  I don’t know.  When I had temporary custody, the caseworker was absolutely adamant that she could not keep the boys overnight at her boyfriends house.  She moved in with a series of guys and put the kids through all kinds of turmoil.  I guess DS should call his attorney and let him know about what’s going on.  The episode with DIL pulling me in to talk with the prosecutor about getting her belongings, the dented door, and now the obvious assumption that she’s either living with Mark or he spent the night.  We’ll let the attorney decide.

Firefly…I’d LOVE to come see you.  Thanks for the offer but I have to go to a two day retreat next week for work and then school starts the next week.  Ahhhh….the bay area….dream on, dream on….

Woke up to a downpour at 5:45.  Tried to go back to sleep but it was impossible.  It’s 7:00 now and still pouring.  Kinda feels like the story of my life.  What happened to my life, anyway?  It feels like it’s not mine anymore.

Oldest DS and DH got into a bitter arguement last night.  I started it.  The other DIL came over yesterday evening and dropped off DGD and her cousin so I had two more for dinner.  Her father is dying and can’t last more than another day or two.  She came back late and DS jumped on her for taking money from his wallet.  She got upset and left.  I told DS he shouldn’t have jumped on her.  Her father is dying and she has enough going on.  He said, “OH!  And I guess that gives her the right to take 40 bucks from my wallet when I told her she could have twenty?”  I said, “No, it doesn’t make it right but she’s your wife.  Her father is dying.  Instead of jumping on her, you should be doing everything you can to help her.  You should have said, “If you need money, just ask me.  I’ll do whatever I can to help.”  He got mad and said, “Yeah, it’s always something with her.  Her car’s broke down, her father’s dying, anything to get money from me and I don’t have any money.  I can’t afford to take care of her.”  DH didn’t appreciate the way he was talking and proceeded to jump into it asking where his money goes because he’s sure not paying any rent or utilities around here.  He carried on about DS spending all his money on himself and his girlfriend instead of taking care of his responsibilities and his kids.  Of course, he’s right.  We’re really fed up with DS’s lack of responsibility.  He’s living here and doing only the minimum to help out.  It’s just that I didn’t need the fireworks with everything else that’s going on.

Youngest DS goes to court this morning.  The attorney says not to worry but I do.  I’d be an idiot if I didn’t.

My car was parked in the back last night and oldest DS told me he used it to run up to the store last night.  Said he rolled the window down and the power window got stuck.  Smoke and sparks started coming out of the window and he had to pull over because the car was filling up with smoke.  He said it damaged the woodgrain on the door panel and all the wiring is burned up and the window is stuck down.  He threw a tarp over it because of the downpour.  I can’t WAIT to break the news to DH.

What ever happened to my life, anyway?

3:45 - I’m so sick of all this crap.  DIL won this one.  DS took a plea.  They made it so easy it made me sick.  Our attorney said we could go to trial but it would be long and expensive and there was a chance he could go to jail if he were found guilty.  On the other hand, if he pled to “harassment with bodily contact”, he’d be required to attend anger management classes for 28 weeks and stay out of trouble for two years.  I didn’t advise him.  I told him he would have to make the decision.  Our attorney told him it’s obvious that family court is favoring DIL right now and that would not look good for him.  On top of that, she brought the kids!  I couldn’t believe it!  DS and I were shocked to see them at a hearing where she’s accusing him of assaulting her.  I know what they saw and I know what they heard because they talked about it right after it happened.  There was nothing they could say that would have any effect on the charge of assault so we couldn’t figure out why they were there unless she had coached them.  DS just kept saying, “What the Hell is she doing?  Why on earth would she subject the kids to this?  He just kept sitting there dwelling on it and I could tell it was eating him up that she would bring the kids.  No wonder she didn’t ask me to babysit.  She already had plans to use them.  He just finally said, “I’m sick of this.  I’m going to take the plea.”  And he did.

Shortly after he signed the papers, our attorney told me the prosecutor would like to speak to me.  I went in the room and she said, “I understand that you’ve been very helpful in assisting with the kids and transfer of DIL’s belongings but I understand your son has been withholding Ms. E’s belongings as well as those of the kids.”  I said, “What????  He most certainly has not.  He has given her everything she asked for.”  DIL put on this innocent little girl face and said, “Please don’t misunderstand.  His mother has been wonderful.   She’s done everything she can to help make this go smoothly but he just won’t give me my belongings or any of the kids belongings.  I said, “He got all of her stuff together and she picked it up Sunday.  He sent over clothes for the kids and a few toys.  I told her he was still going through cabinets and closets and there would be odds and ends that he would send over for her to pick up when she drops the kids off.  She said that would be fine.  This conversation isn’t even necessary.”  DIL said, “The kid’s don’t have any of their games or toys or anything.  I feel so bad for them just walking around with nothing to do and no toys or books or anything.”  I said, “They have two game systems and he gave her the Wii system and all the games that go with it because that’s their favorite.  He also gave her a new TV that he bought the boys for Christmas.”  DIL said, “Oh, yes, he did give them the games but they need books and other toys and I have a lot of belongings missing as well.”  I said, “What belongings are you talking about, Stacy?  He gave you everything except for some odds and ends.”  She said, “I have a mirror and some dishes and a book case among other things.”  I said, “You took everything four years ago.  You totally stripped and stole everything he owns.  You lived in the house for three months until he could get you evicted and you never sent a single item of clothing or anything else to me during the entire time I had custody of the kids.  Everything that’s in that house was purchased by him or by us.  You haven’t contributed anything.  As for the dishes, I bought all the dishes myself to replace the ones you stole from before.”  She said, “I’m talking about my grandfather’s dishes.”  Our attorney said, “Yeah, she wants to take everything again.  That’s typical Stacy.”  I said, “Fine, whatever belongs to her, we’ll try to get taken care of immediately.  As I said, This meeting is totally unnecessary and she knows it.”  We left and our attorney said, ” I hate that effing b*tch.  I’m so angry that David put himself in this position.  You know he did all this for her.  He took her back and cleaned her up and set her right up there so she could turn around and stab him in the back.  He just didn’t want to listen to me or you or anyone else.  You’d think he would have learned a long time ago but he took her back and look what it got him.”  This is the same attorney who worked with us four years ago and he totally knows the score.  He knows her because he’s a family friend so I don’t have to convince him about her.  He’s witnessed it for himself.  I was pretty surprised, however, at how much hatred he obviously has for her.

So, that’s where we are.  She’s pulling out all the stops and she’s gaining ground.  This is just one more thing stacked against him.  I don’t see how on earth he’s ever going to get those kids back.  It’s going to be a long time and a lot of work.  In the meantime, she’s getting everything she wants.  She signed up for housing assistance and food stamps and she has everyone falling all over themselves to help her be “successful”.  I asked DS about the mirror, dishes, and bookcase.  He said she has an old mirror that she glued seashells on.  Half the shells fell off and she took it down.  He thinks it’s in the garage.  He hasn’t even seen it in ages.  The “dishes” consist of three mismatched plates that she put in the cabinet with the rest of the plates.  He said those must be the dishes she’s talking about and he doesn’t have a clue about any bookcase.  He said the only one they have is in the entertainment center we bought for him when he refurnished four years ago.

Sistah Pam is taking me out tonight.  I’m not allowed to talk about any of this.  She’s been keeping us occupied ever since we got out of court and is determined to take my mind off all this mess.

5:00 - OMG!  I can’t believe this.  We left court and came home.  Sistah Pam wanted me to go to Habitat for Humanity with her and then to an architectural salvage yard to look for old decorative wrought iron pieces to mount on her stockade fencing.  I asked if she minded if DS went with us because he was feeling pretty down and she said no problem.  She picked us up right after we got home from court and we went to Habitat, the salvage store, and then had lunch.  After that, we drove over to a concrete place in Indiana to look at some garden statues.  She brought us back home and told me to change clothes and she’d pick me back up in a couple of hours to go out to dinner.  DS has been with me every single minute today.  The police just called about ten minutes ago and said someone kicked in DIL’s mother’s car door after court today and she gave them his name and said they had a bad court appearance today.  I can’t f*cking believe this!  What the f*ck is going on here????!!!!  Did it really happen?  Did she make it up?  Is it an old dent that she’s trying to blame on him?  DID SHE DO IT HERSELF??  This is scary shit.  This woman is truly unbalanced.

Still hanging on.  Still stressed and depressed but taking it all right on the chin and dealing with it the best I can.  I don’t want to dwell on what’s going on because I’ve promised myself that I won’t turn it over and over in my head and make myself sick about it.  Still, I’ll touch on the basics.  I started keeping a log on what DIL does.  When she drops off the kids, when she picks them up.  It was very helpful in the past because even though she tried to deny a lot of stuff, I had records to back up what I was saying.  Of course, in this case, she’d probably be able to say that I’m just trying to sabotage her and they’d buy it.  It looks good so far.  For all of us.  She’s been polite and pleasant and done what she’s supposed to do and DS and I have, too.  The kids told me Mommy told them she would be taking care of them from now on and they will be living in her nice, new apartment.  They won’t be staying at Daddy’s house because they don’t live there anymore.  I would have preferred she tell them that they’re going to be staying there for a while but they’ll also be staying with Daddy until the judge decides what would be the best thing for everyone.  I don’t know if that’s worth bringing up to the caseworker or not.  Maybe the new one will be interested.  Last time this happened, she introduced them to four different “new” daddies within a year and a half and told them they’d be living with each one of them.  It was very upsetting to the kids because they didn’t understand what was going on.  Another sore point is that Jake told DS yesterday that he tried to call him over the weekend because he wanted to talk to him but Mommy told him that wasn’t allowed.  I can see her point.  If calls are made to his phone from her phone, he could claim she was calling him in violation of the EPO.  Of course, he wouldn’t do that and she knows that but it does give her the right to refuse to let the kids call him.  He was kind of upset about it.  The kids told me they have beds but Mommy sleeps on the couch because she doesn’t have a bed.  I swear, I came close to offering her the use of an air bed until I caught myself.  It’s not like me to be so mean spirited but I have to remind myself that helping her out is only hurting DS.  So…I didn’t offer to loan her the bed.  As it is, she’s asking for a LOT of stuff.  It seems that she’s convinced herself that since she has temporary custody, she should have everything that involves the boys.  She wants ALL their clothes, their bikes, the Playstation (because they want to be able to play with the Wii AND the playstation), their board games, their waterslide, etc. etc.  DS is just as determined that she can have what they need but they will STILL have everything they need to have fun at his house as well.  After all, they’re over there every day and the last thing he wants is for them to feel slighted when they’re at his house.  I think he’s been more than fair about dividing their stuff up but she keeps asking for more.

In fact, I had to remind myself that this IS about the kids and what’s best for them so DS and I gave her a break today.  Her car broke down and she had to borrow her mother’s.  That meant she had to get the kids up at 5:30 a.m. and drive across town to her mother’s (which is only two miles from my house), drive her mother downtown to work and drop her off at 7:00, kill an hour and a half, and then bring the kids over here.  Of course, this is the day she has to pick them up around noon for their counseling session and they would already be bouncing back and forth like tennis balls.  Her mom’s, kill a couple hours, my house, DS’s house, back to my house, down to their appointment, back to my house, etc. etc.  So, I told her to just bring them over here as soon as she picks up her mother and DS can have them until noon when she picks them up for their counseling session.  After that, I told her to just take them home.  It’s too rough on everyone for them to be running back and forth all day.  So…I allowed her to drop them off two hours early and DS got over here at 7:00 to spend time with them until they have to leave at noon.  Not much in terms of quality time…they’re all still asleep and it’s almost 9:30.

I wanted to be accommodating today because I have a feeling DIL is NOT going to be happy when I tell her they can’t come tomorrow.  I’m assuming she knows that.  Tomorrow is DIL’s hearing on the assault charge she made against him.  They’ll be in court all day.  I’m not sure how it’s going to go over when she finds out I won’t be taking them tomorrow but there’s no way they can say he refused his visitation when he has to be in court to defend himself against bogus charges she made on him.  I’m relatively sure she knows there will be no visitation but I can’t be sure.  I’ll remind her of it when she picks the kids up.

Of course, the assault charge is weighing heavy on us.  It’s bogus and we know it but can he make others understand?  I hope so.  His attorney says he shouldn’t worry.  It will be okay. 

That’s enough about what’s going on with DIL, DS, and the kids.  I said I wasn’t going to dwell on it and I’m not.  I did some laundry yesterday.  Ate a lot better than I have in quite a while but not necessarily low calorie.  The scales are still showing 186.5 this morning.  I cleaned out the “bowl” cabinet yesterday.  I tend to save all kinds of containers with lids because someone is always taking food home with them or I use them to take food to work and I just throw them out when I’m done.  It had gotten to the point where we had a major avalanche everytime I opened the cabinet door so I got rid of all of it.  I’ll probably regret it when I start back to work but I threw out an entire kitchen trash bag full of bowls and lids.  I kept busy.  Scrubbed the bathroom and washed some windows.  I wasted a lot of time yesterday with going to the store and getting groceries and cleaning supplies but now I’m all stocked up.  I stayed dressed until 7:00 yesterday evening and then I took a long hot soak and put on a pair of pajamas.  Watched TV for a while before heading to bed at 10:00.

I hear what everyone is saying about talking to a therapist and I know that’s something I need to do but I dont’ think I can fit it in right now.  Things are in such turmoil and I start back to work in a couple of weeks.  I’ve got it on my mind though.  This thing with DIL, DS and the kids is just one thing that’s getting me down.  I’ve still got my oldest DS living here and I need to make him get on with his life and move out.  I’ve also got money problems because the DIL episode is draining us dry on court and attorney fees.  My other DIL’s father is dying.  He was moved to Hospice yesterday and DGD, Holly, has been here more than home this summer.  Lots of stuff is contributing to my depression.

I’m depressed. More than a little. I’ve known this for a while but it took DH pointing it out to me yesterday to help me realize how bad it’s gotten. I didn’t get dressed yesterday until I had to meet DIL at DS’s place. That was at 5:00 p.m. I didn’t put on any makeup. Wore a tee shirt that was huge and a pair of my old “fat” jeans. And that’s not the first time. There have been days when I’ve gotten up and started blogging. Sat at the computer for hours. Watched some TV and didn’t do anything else. There have been days when I’ve gotten up, took my shower after being up for two or three hours and put my pajamas back on and didn’t get dressed all day.

I fixed a grilled pork loin for dinner last night and didn’t plan anything to go with it. I was sitting here with the roast on a platter, staring at it and wondering if we had any canned green beans or rice-a-roni or something to go with it when DH pointed out that I should have (and normally would have) thought of that a whole lot sooner. He said he was worried about me. Says I’ve got to pull out of this. In all honesty, I’ve known I’m depressed a LOT more than I should be. I’m not stupid. It feels like I’ve been wandering around in a daze all summer. The house is a mess, the laundry is piled to the ceiling, I haven’t been in the pool a single time all summer. The flower beds haven’t even been looked at. They’re essentially beds of weeds with a few perennials struggling through. I haven’t made a single doctor’s appointment all summer and that’s when I try to get all that stuff caught up. My GP said he’s not refilling my cholesterol medication until I come in for labs. The GYN said she’s not refilling my hormones until I come in. What’s scary about that? I seriously considered saying to Hell with all of it and not even taking them.

I’ll be going back to work in a couple of weeks and I’m still sitting around waiting for my summer break to begin.

Having said all that…I’m taking steps to address it immediately. I don’t want to get dressed but I will. I don’t want to clean the house but I will. I don’t want to think about dinner or laundry or doctor appointments but I will. On the situation with DS and DIL, I could sit here and blog and worry about it all day but I WON’T.

I weighed myself this morning. 186.5. I’m getting dressed now, going to the store to get some healthy food in here and some cleaning supplies. Oh…and I’m putting on makeup before I go.

1:30 - I took a shower and dressed in a nice outfit (ummmm…..kinda tight!), put on makeup and used a blow dryer on my hair.  Went to K-Mart to pick up a prescription for DH, went to Walmart and got a new mop, bathroom cleaner, upholstery cleaner, carpet cleaner, detergent, bleach, Pledge.  Came home and started a load of laundry, changed the sheets on the bed, and made appointments with my GP and GYN.  Sprayed the top of the stove around the drip pans with oven cleaner.  Now I’m eating a lunch made up of a fresh plum and  2 slices of fat-free ham with a cheesestick.  Fighting the urge to go slip into my nice, soft pajamas.  STAY DRESSED AND KEEP THE TV TURNED OFF!  Think I’ll crank up the stereo and get to work.

Pork loin, that is…  I saw this recipe on a talk show last week.  I don’t watch talk shows but happened to turn on the TV and catch Regis and Kelly hosting a chef demonstrating his ginger lime grilled pork tenderloin.  It looked delicious so I looked up the recipe on line and have been marinating a four pound pork loin in the fridge since yesterday.  Now I’m wondering if I can actually grill a four pound pork loin.  It’s one thing to grill a 1 1/2 pound tenderloin, quite another to tackle a four pounder.

The problems for DIL have already begun.  She called me and said the boys are bored.  They don’t have their games and she doesn’t have cable.  DS actually thought of this and brought some stuff over to the house for them on Thursday afternoon.  I told her she could come by and pick it up even though DH and I were headed out of town.  I left the stuff on the porch and she picked it up.  It was a bunch of clothes for them and a TV and their Wii game system.  DS hasn’t let his animosity for her interfere with what’s best for the boys and he wanted to try to make them as comfortable as possible.  He knew they would want a game system.  They have a Wii and a Playstation.  He kept the Playstation and gave her the more expensive Wii because they like it best.  He also brought over a nice TV that they bought for the boys last Christmas because he figured she would only have one TV and he has three.  Now, she wants some of their other toys and the rest of her stuff.  She “suggested” that I meet her at his place and she’ll pack up all her stuff and load it into a truck.  I “suggested” that I meet her at his place and she can pick up all the stuff he already packed that her mother wouldn’t take.  He’s already tagged those items that he feels she should have.  An end table, a dresser, and a large (and very ugly) picture of downtown Louisville’s waterfront that a friend of her’s painted.  Since she robbed him blind and took EVERYTHING they owned four years ago, he doesn’t feel obligated to give her any of the appliances or household items he had to replace on his own and I don’t blame him.  He had to purchase a new stove, fridge, freezer, mixer, blender, coffeemaker, dishes, linens, and furniture all by himself (although we helped out) at that time and she has nothing invested in any of it. 

She said it sounds like a good plan and she’s meeting me this evening to pick up her stuff.  Of course, it would have been a lot easier on everyone if her mother had picked up her stuff a month ago but she didn’t want to deal with it.  Now it falls to me.  I told her she can only pick up the things he’s packed and, if there’s any controversy, I’ll call him on the spot to ask him if she can have whatever item is in question.  I DO NOT want her to be wandering around the house picking up whatever she wants.  Of course, this also places a burden on him because he’s had to sort and pack all her stuff.

Her other concern is on Tuesday.  The court ordered her to attend counseling with the kids and she says they have an appointment around noon on Tuesday.  Since DS is supposed to have them from 9:00 to 6:00, she has to leave work, come by here and pick them up, bring them back after the appointment, and then DS will have to pick them up at my house again.  That means I have to ”babysit” from 8:30 to 9:00 and around 11:00 to 11:30 and from 1:30 or so to 2:00 and then be here for pickup from 5:00 to 5:30.  DS lives 15 miles from my house and that means he’ll have to drive over here, pick up the kids, drive home, drive back over here and drop off the kids, drive home again, drive back over here to pick up the kids, drive back over here to drop them off and then drive back to work.  Or….he’ll be spending the day here.  Which is, of course, the best solution except that he’ll have to “leave” four different times so they aren’t within 1,000 feet of each other.  Otherwise, he’ll have to drive 90 miles in a single day to get his visitation.  Or…. I could tell her I have plans on Tuesday and won’t be available and she’ll have to figure out who can babysit and pay someone and DS will miss a day’s visitation.  That’s probably the best way to go but may come across as DS and I being “unaccommodating” which is not something we want.  I agreed to be the “pickup” person so she can drop the kids off before work and DS can pick them up.  I also agreed to be here for DS to drop them off and for her to pick them up in the evening.  That’s IT!  I do not intend to be an unpaid babysitter for her.  We’ve all been working Mom’s and had to deal with doctor’s appointments and school and all the other stuff it takes to raise kids and she might as well learn to deal with it.  (sigh)  It hasn’t even begun and she’s wanting everyone to jump through hoops to accommodate her.  Welcome to motherhood, DIL.

Thought you might want to see a picture of DS and I fighting the caseworker.  At least, that’s what it felt like.

I’m home again.  I still can’t master the drinking problem thing.  My bottle of wine took me two days to finish.  I gave it a good try, though.  It was nice to get away from everything and everyone.  DH and I really enjoyed the peace and quiet.  I read an entire book yesterday and slept naked for the first time in ages.  It was great to have total privacy.

I gave a lot of thought to what happened in court Thursday and I talked with DS about it.  I’ve figured a couple of things out.  I was so rushed when I posted Thursday afternoon that I didn’t go into a lot of detail.  It wasn’t the judge who asked me to leave the courtroom before I testified.  What actually happened was that the caseworker asked the judge to have me removed to preserve “witness integrity”.  The judge then asked if I was going to testify and asked me to leave because the caseworker had requested it.

DS said the caseworker ripped me to shreds.  He said the caseworker told the judge that I had been totally against DIL from the moment she met me.  She said I had told her that nothing would convince me that DIL was capable or deserving of having another chance to raise her kids.  She said she believed that I would do anything I could to sabotage DIL’s success.  She said she sees a kind, generous, hard-working woman who has been abused both mentally and physically by DS and stayed in the relationship because it was the only way she could be with her kids.  And you know what?  She’s right.  That’s all she sees.  She hasn’t had time to see anything else.

I’ve come to believe that she fell for DIL’s act, hook, line, and sinker and she saw me as a threat to her recommendation that DIL be given custody.  She knew there was a good possibility that the judge and GAL would consider me because I served in that role in the past.  Her only option was to discredit me and I wouldn’t have a chance to respond.  That’s why she DID NOT want me in that courtroom.

That doesn’t make it right and I’m angry that she’s so biased.  It’s true the judge told her she did not want this to drag out.  She wanted a recommendation for custody so that the kids would not be in limbo for an extended period of time.  The caseworker fell in love with DIL.  And I understand that.  I’ve done it myself.  She’s beautiful.  She’s witty.  She’s intelligent.  She comes across as a loving and dedicated mother.  The difference in me and the caseworker is that I’ve fallen for it again and again and again and have finally come to accept the fact that she can’t keep it up for long.  This is the caseworker’s first encounter with her.  The caseworker sees a sweet, caring woman who desperately wants her children and a mean, vindictive MIL who is out to get her.  What the caseworker doesn’t understand is that I DO want her to succeed.  I really do.  But I don’t believe it will ever happen.  I’ve known her for 11 years.  The caseworker has known her for 3 weeks.

The caseworker could not be more mistaken.  I love the “good” DIL.  I see her quite often and I’d give anything if she could be around full-time.  My son loves the good DIL.  The problem is that the “bad” DIL is around quite often as well.  And the bad DIL is very, very bad.  It’s difficult for people to understand how they could both exist in the same individual but I guess that’s part of being bi-polar.  Still, I know other people who are bi-polar and their “bad” sides are nothing compared to DIL’s.  That’s why I wonder what else is going on with her.  It’s a lot more than just being bi-polar.  It’s like she can control it.  She can pull out the “good” DIL at will and she can keep it going when it meets her needs.

Even so, the caseworker was extremely biased.  I found myself wondering if she and DIL actually knew each other.  They were laughing and hugging and elbowing each other.  The shared grimacing and rolling of the eyes.  The incredulous looks.  It was totally out of character and unprofessional on the part of the caseworker.  At one point, when I walked in the courtroom to testify, the caseworker said, “Your honor, would you direct the father to stop giving me threatening and harrassing looks?”  The judge said, “No, that’s uncalled for Ms. Marten.  I have not observed any threatening and harrassing looks and you are out of line to suggest so.”  I, on the other hand, desperately wanted to say, “Your honor, could you please direct the caseworker and the mother to stop rolling their eyes, elbowing each other and showing such outrageous expressions?”  I didn’t, though.  I hope the judge observed it.  I don’t see how she could miss it.

I’m supposed to be the intermediary.  DIL is supposed to drop the kids off at my house every morning at 8:30 and then DS can pick them up at 9:00.  The kids are to be dropped off at my house when DS goes to work or anytime before 5:30 so DIL can pick them up at 6:00.  Both parties can call me and I will relay pertinent information between them. 

Of course, having set me up as the intermediary, the caseworker and DIL were forced to deal with me after the hearing and it was all sweetness and light on DIL’s part.  Lots of hugs and her telling me how much she loves me and how she considers DH and I to be more of a family to her than her own parents.  How wonderful it is that she can talk to me and that the kids will be with me every day.  The caseworker is all eyes and ears and I’m sure it just reinforces her opinions.  Yes, I do wish I could have the “good” DIL all the time.  I actually found myself wanting to hug her back.  I found myself thinking how good she looks and how much I love her when she’s this way.  The difference is that I’ve learned from experience that she can’t stay this way.  That’s what’s so heartbreaking.  That’s what makes it so difficult for DS to get rid of her.  It requires a hard heart.  It requires the ability to see beyond the good and accept that it’s only temporary.  In reality, when you have a loving heart, it’s very difficult to see someone with so much potential and cast them out.  When she’s good, she’s very, very good but when she’s bad, she’s horrid.  Still, in front of the caseworker, I let her hug me.  I was pleasant and accommodating.  I don’t want to reinforce her opinion that I’m just a nasty, vindictive bitch.  Even if the caseworker weren’t watching, I wouldn’t have been nasty.  I’m not like that. 

Enough of that for now.  I’m home.  I’m relaxed.  I’ve missed you guys and want to try to do some catch-up.  I don’t have to worry about the kids today.  The good DIL is on board and I know she’ll be around for a while.  I’m sure the kids are being well cared for and are loving every minute of being with their mommy.  The good mommy will be around for as long as she’s under a microscope.  I don’t need to worry until the scrutiny is gone and no one is watching everything she does.

I wonder if the caseworker has even looked at it from my point of view.  I DO NOT want custody of two small children.  It’s so much work and I’m tired of raising kids.  I don’t want to have to be up every morning at 8:00 when she brings them over and I do not want to have to babysit and hang around every evening for her to pick them up.  I don’t even want my son to have full custody.  That places a tremendous burden on him as it does on any single parent.  I’d like nothing better than to have DS and DIL share custody with both of them sharing expenses and sharing responsibility for raising their children.  I’d love for those children to know that they have two loving parents dedicated to their well-being.  Has the woman even considered that there must be a reason that I’m so terrified of DIL having custody?  In the meantime, I guess I’d better do some research and see what the Hell was going on with the idea that DIL is suddenly healed from a lifetime of being bi-polar.  DS was just as shocked with that statement as I was.  Wouldn’t you think, if a doctor told her she was NOT bipolar, she would have said something to someone?

23rdJuly

Children First!

Another night of tossing and turning alleviated to some degree by Tylenol PM.  I was still staring at the ceiling at midnight in spite of going to bed early so I could get a good night’s sleep.  Got up and took the Tylenol and fell asleep around 1:00 only to wake up at 6:00. 

I have so many thoughts crowding my head.  Don’t forget to say this, don’t forget to say that.  Trying to keep all the good advice everyone has given me in my head and figure out the best way to deal with everything.  Ironically, I just noticed I’m using a coffee mug that says, “Children First!  Thanks for being who you are!”  Who gave this mug to me?  I’ve had it for at least ten years and I don’t remember where it came from.  It’s not a cheap mug.  It’s a heavy, expensive thing from Louisville Stoneware.  All their mugs are expensive.  The cheapest is $22.00.  Not something I would have received from some routine class or program.  I’ve had so many awards in the past for being an advocate for kids.  So many recognitions and certificates.  And yet, the social worker seems to think my youngest grandkids are better off with a bi-polar, drug loving, totally self-centered sociopath.  Go figure.

I keep thinking about how the caseworker said I didn’t have anything good to say about her.  I’ve turned it around and around in my head.  I know that’s why they said I couldn’t have temporary custody.  Because it would be detrimental to DIL’s relationship with them to place them in an environment that would be “biased”. 

I’ve thought about going into court this morning and saying, “Your Honor, I know Stacy loves her kids.  I know she’ll do the best she can to take care of them but I have serious concerns about her ability to do so.  I’ve always been there to take up the slack when she goes off on binges that last days or weeks at a time and I’m terrified about what will happen if the court sets up a structure that will make it impossible for me to be aware of the situation and care for them when the need arises.”  I suppose I’ll say that.  Or something like it.  But the part about, “I know she’ll do the best she can to take care of them” sticks in my gut. 

I AM biased.  I KNOW she will not place their needs above her desire to party and take care of herself first.  I KNOW they will be casualties of her lifestyle.  It’s not that I’m not willing to forgive her or give her another chance.  It’s that I’ve forgiven her and given her another chance time after time after time.  I CAN NOT forgive her or give her another chance anymore.  It doesn’t work.  I know that.  DS knows that.  He’s been blinded by love so many times.  In fact, the reason he’s in this situation is because he kept forgiving her and giving her another chance.  So how can I say positive things about her under oath? 

I’ve been racking my brain.  Trying to determine if I’m blind to the fact that she’s turned over a new leaf.  Blind to the fact that she’s now willing and able to care for the kids.  And yet, I can’t see whatever it is that the caseworker sees.  Nothing has changed.  The caseworker can say, “She has a good job with stable employment.”  All I can say is, “It’s the first time in her life that she’s worked more than 3 months and I find it impossible to believe that she’ll continue to hold down a job.”  The caseworker can say, “She has a nice, new two-bedroom apartment” and all I can say is, “Where the Hell did it come from?  What man is paying her rent?”  The caseworker can say, “She has a good support system in place” and I have to say, “Who?  Her mother has washed her hands of her time after time and she doesn’t have ANY family that continues to be active in her life.  Her mother has never even had the kids spend the night.  Not once.  She’s never even watched them.  Not one time.” 

I could go on and on but I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided that I’m not blinded by bitterness.  I’m just seeing the reality and the caseworker isn’t.  Apparently, the caseworker has fallen under her spell and feels that she deserves “another chance” to be a mother to her children.  DS, on the other hand, HAD his chance and blew it because he’s an “alcoholic, abusive, neglectful” man.  In reality, he’s in this situation because he allowed himself to be used and abused by her.  Now he’s paying a heavy price.  Our entire family is paying a heavy price.  And we have a judge who wants this case resolved quickly and efficiently.  No temporary custody to allow more time for investigation.  Let’s hurry up and get it done.  We can’t have these kids in limbo. 

In a couple of hours, we’ll be done with it.  For the time being.  DS will be ordered to pay child support which will be used to supplement DIL’s “Me Fund”.  DS will be informed of when and where his visitation will take place.  And I will be out of the picture.

“Children First!  Thanks for being who you are!”

3:45 - I’m exhausted.  I feel like I’ve been run over by a MacK truck, beaten with a stick and then kicked in the ribs.  It was nasty.  It was scary.  It was a terrible roller coaster for what seemed like an eternity.

There’s good news and there’s bad news. I think the good news outweighs the bad.  I’m not sure.  Let’s go ahead and get the bad news taken care of…DIL got temporary custody.

Now, on to the good news…A GAL was appointed this morning for the kids.  For those who are not familiar with this term a GAL is a Guardian Ad Litem, an individual (often a lawyer) appointed to represent the best interests of a child or incapacitated person for the purpose of a legal procedure.  He met with DIL and the caseworker first.  He spent almost an hour with them.  Then the GAL met with us.  Our attorney showed him the psychological evaluation on DIL and he was NOT happy.  He said the caseworker had not been forthcoming with him and he didn’t understand why she hadn’t shared any of this with him.  Everything was put on hold while he talked to the caseworker and our attorney.  He came back out and said he did NOT understand why the caseworker was recommending full custody for the mother and he would not support it.  He said he was recommending temporary custody for me until everything could be investigated.

The caseworker came out and I asked her if she would take the kids to the playroom on the fourth floor.  This is an area where kids are supervised when they’ve been ordered to court and only a social worker can sign them in.  She asked why I wanted them in there and I said because there wouldn’t be anyone to supervise them while I testified.  She said I would not be allowed to testify.  I was shocked.  I asked her why and she said the judge only wanted to hear from the parents and their attorneys.  I asked her to take the kids downstairs anyway because I didn’t want a repeat of the six hours they had to sit there last week.  She agreed.

Our attorney came out and told us that the judge was going to move our case to the last one on the docket because she had been advised by the caseworker that it was going to be a quick “open and shut” case and the GAL had informed her that he had some serious concerns and it would take a lot longer.

They finally called us in and our attorney told me to come in.  The caseworker jumped up and said, “Pat, you can’t go in there.”  Our attorney said, “Yes, she can.  She’s the grandmother.”  The caseworker blocked my way and said, “No, she’s not allowed in the courtroom.”  Our attorney said, “Don’t listen to her.  She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”  The caseworker continued to block my way and the bailiff told her to move aside.  The caseworker said, “She doesn’t need to be in there.  She’s the grandmother.”  The bailiff said, “She has every right to be in there.  She’s a family member and she doesn’t need your permission to enter the courtroom.  Get out of the way.”

I was shocked.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I couldn’t believe the lengths the caseworker was going to to keep me out.  Anyway, we got started and the judge asked if I was going to testify.  I said I would and she said that would be fine and asked me to wait in a room until I was called.  The caseworker was absolutely livid.  I had to wait almost 45 minutes and then I was called to testify.  I  answered the questions honestly.  DIL’s attorney seemed determined to try to get me to say things that weren’t true.  She asked if I had ever seen my son physically abuse DIL or the children.  I told her I had never seen my son physically violent with anyone.  She kept pushing and I kept answering truthfully.  She asked if I had ever seen my son drive his kids around after he’d been drinking.  I told her I never had and I firmly believed that he would never do anything like that.  She asked me if I thought my son had a drinking problem.  I told her that I did.  She asked why I never reported it.  I told her I wasn’t aware of any drinking problems until this week but I had come to believe that he drinks more than he should and I felt that he shouldn’t drink around the kids.  Again, she asked why I never reported it.  I asked her why I would?  I told her that I had only become concerned about it this week because I don’t live with him and I’ve never witnessed him being drunk or abusing alcohol.  I told her that DIL had NEVER come to me and said she had concerns about DS’s drinking and I still wasn’t totally convinced that he has a problem but I felt that if he was drinking a six pack several evenings a week it was something to be concerned about.

Our attorney asked if I had concerns about DIL having custody of the kids.  I said I did.  He asked why.  I said because she’s bi-polar and refuses to take her meds.  I said that she routinely goes off for days or weeks at a time and I was concerned because I’ve always been there to take up the slack when she abandons them.  At some point, her attorney asked why I was bringing up issues from years ago.  I said I wasn’t.  I was only referring to the past year.  She asked if I, personally, could give an example of a time when DIL had done this within the past year.  I said I could only testify to the occasions when I had personally had to step up to the plate and assist with the kids but I knew of four times in the past year.  Her attorney rolled her eyes and acted incredulous.  She said, “I’m talking about THIS year.”  I said, “So am I.”  I gave them examples of incidents within the past year.  Her attorney asked if I had ever witnessed her being violent or abusive and I said I had.  I told her of two incidents I witnessed when she had become aggressive and I had to tell her to leave my home.  During all of this, DIL and the caseworker were rolling their eyes and putting on these incredulous expressions as if it were the most outrageous thing they’d ever heard of.

The judge asked why DIL was not taking medication for her bi-polar disorder and DIL said she didn’t have it anymore.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  The judge was pretty incredulous as well and DIL explained that her doctor had told her that her disorder was caused by her abuse of drugs in the past but she doesn’t do drugs anymore so she doesn’t have bi-polar disorder and doesn’t have to take meds.  I don’t think the judge bought it.  I know I didn’t.  You don’t “get well” when you have bi-polar disorder.  The judge wants a new psychological profile done on both DIL and DS.

I could spend hours reciting everything that happened but I need to wrap this up because DH is home and wants us to get out of here and hit the road so I’ll cover the basics:

The judge refused to grant permanent custody at this time.
DIL has temporary custody but the GAL recommended that it be given to me.
DS has unlimited and unsupervised visitation.
No child support has been ordered.
I was appointed as the intermediary (DIL and caseworker DID NOT like that)  All visitation will be arranged through me and the kids will be dropped off at my house.
Visitation was set for Monday through Friday and DIL will have them on the weekends but the judge wanted the option to be available for DS to have them on the weekends for any special events that might come up.

Thanks, friends for the support.  I feel okay about what’s going on at this time.  I would have liked for DS or I to get custody but the judge did not feel that DIL was a threat and “pacified” the caseworker by giving her temporary custody until we go back to court in October.  I feel like my prayers have been answered because MOST of what happened went our way.  Now we have to figure out what the f*ck is going on with this caseworker and why she’s doing what she’s doing.  At any rate, the judge ordered a new caseworker in two weeks.  Hopefully, the new one will have some common sense and not be blinded to what’s going on.

Long night.  I didn’t go to bed until 1:00 and I tossed and turned.  My mind churning with all this mess.  Last time I looked at the clock, it was 3:30.  Woke up at 6:00 to go to the bathroom and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I tossed and turned some more but my mind was working overtime and I finally gave up and rolled out of bed at 7:15.  Thought I’d fix my coffee and go out to the spa but it’s raining too hard.

Thanks for all the support and comments.  Word got out through the grapevine and my phone rang off the hook last night from friends and family.  It was comforting but I reached a point where I just didn’t want to talk about it anymore.  Ever do that?  Everyone wants to comfort you but you just want to crawl into a deep hole and tell everyone to go away. 

I’ve gone through all the scenarios in my mind.  Everything ranging from “This is a good thing.  She’ll finally be forced to accept responsibility and care for the kids” to “This is a nightmare.  The kids are going to wind up being molested, abused, or worse.”  I’m really frightened because of the EPO.  She’s not allowed to have any contact with us and we’re not allowed to have any contact with her.  That means she won’t be dropping the kids off and she won’t be calling me or DS to watch them when she feels like running off.  So…who will she call?  Where will she take them?  I’ve expressed all these concerns to the social worker and she says I shouldn’t worry about it.  She says another case worker will be assigned to keep tabs on the situation and a GAL will be assigned to look out for the kids’ interests.  She said the worker assigned to the case will meet with all parties at least once a month to make sure everything is okay.  Once a month?????  Are you kidding me?  I’m not supposed to worry because someone will touch base with them once a month?  All I know to do is to make sure I stay in touch with the GAL.

While it’s true that the hearing isn’t until tomorrow, I feel certain that the judge will go with the caseworker’s recommendation.  After all, that’s why she’s there.  To look over the situation and advise the judge.  Only problem is, this woman didn’t really look at the situation.  I’m not sure what she did. 

About DS’s drinking.  Does he have a problem?  I don’t know.  I don’t think so.  It’s ironic that he told them to test him yesterday and they wouldn’t do it.  He said, “I don’t drink everyday.  I haven’t even had a single drink in five days.  Go ahead, test me.  I’m more than willing.”  The social worker said she didn’t see any reason to do that because alcohol doesn’t usually show up unless you’ve had a drink in the last twelve hours and the test wouldn’t really prove anything.  DS said, “So you’re going to accuse me of having a drinking problem when I’m standing here asking you to test me and you refuse to do it?”  She said, “I don’t doubt that your test would show up negative.  I’m sure you don’t have any alcohol in your system at this moment but you’re not going to convince me of anything by taking a test at this time.”  DS said, “Fine, set up random testing.  I don’t care.  Whenever and wherever you say.”  She actually laughed and said, “Why are you beating a dead horse?  You’re trying to manipulate me and I’m not buying it.”  I said, “Please don’t laugh.  There’s nothing funny about this situation.  I take it very seriously and can’t believe you’re laughing about it.”  She rolled her eyes and DS said, “Don’t roll your eyes.  She’s right.  There’s nothing to laugh about.”  At that point, the mediator reached over and patted the case worker’s arm and gave her a “look” and the case worker settled down.  I don’t get it.  They say they don’t feel comfortable leaving the kids with him because DIL has accused him of having a drinking problem.  He owns up to drinking a six pack in the evenings three or four times a week but says he doesn’t have a problem and is willing to submit to testing anytime and anywhere but they’re not interested.  Guess he should have lied and said, “Who, me??? I never drink!  No drop of liquor has ever passed these lips.”

At another point, DS told the caseworker he didn’t understand why she hadn’t contacted any of his witnesses or talked to any of his neighbors.  She said, “I talked to Diane Felder and she said she’s witnessed the two of you argueing in front of the kids on two occasions.”  DS said, “Who???”  She said, “Diane Felder”  DS said, “I don’t even know who Diane Felder is.”  The case worker said, “She babysits your kids!”  DS said, “Oh!  That’s Dee.  Dee and her husband, Guy, live next door.”  The case worker laughed again and said, “You don’t even know the name of the person who babysits your kids???  And you think you’re a good father!”  DS said, “First of all, I’ve never asked her to babysit the kids.  Stacy has asked her to watch the kids on a couple of occasions.  Secondly, I’ve never heard anyone call her Diane.  She goes by Dee.  And, yes, I think I’m an excellent father.  I’ve raised my kids from the day they were born.  Their mother has come and gone whenever she felt like it.  She’s abused drugs.  She’s been arrested for prostitution.  She bi-polar and refuses to take her medication.  She’s physically and verbally abusive.  And you’re recommending that she have custody of the kids???”  The case worker said, “And yet you’ve allowed her to live with the kids for all this time?  It was okay.  You didn’t have a problem with it.  Isn’t it strange??  Coming from an excellent father like yourself?  Someone who doesn’t even know the name of the person you allow to babysit your kids.”

It was sickening.  The entire session.  I felt like they had it in for him from the moment he walked in the door.  They had already made their decision before they even spoke with us.  They just didn’t appreciate it that he didn’t roll over and accept that decision.  Everything DIL has ever done wrong was either “in the past and not relevant to the current situation” or “you allowed her to be around the kids so you’re either lying or you’re a bad father for exposing them to it”.  It felt like a no-win situation all the way around.

As for me…I have to admit that I’m totally shocked that the case worker does not feel that giving me temporary custody is a good idea.  Am I arrogant?  Perhaps.  I truly thought it there was a problem with DS that they would place the kids with me until they had time to investigate.  I still don’t understand it.  She says I’m not neutral.  She says I didn’t have anything good to say about DIL.  It’s true.  I admit it.  But what was I supposed to say?  She looks great!  I admire her ability to go to the tanning booth twice a week, get a manicure and pedicure every week, and get her hair done on a regular basis.  I love her outfit.  It looks great!  Of course, it might be better if she spent that money on the kids and helped out with the bills but that’s just my opinion.  I did say that she loves her kids.  I said that I felt it was really important for her to spend time with the kids and have them in her life.  What do they want from me???  I’m the one who had temporary custody last time and had to lie to the kids when she didn’t call or show up for visitation time after time after time.  I’m the one who had to comfort them when Mommy told them they were going to get a “new daddy who was ten times better than the old one”.  I’m the one who had to call the police and take them in the bedroom to try to keep them from seeing Mommy have a meltdown on the front porch because she was doped up on drugs and screaming that she wanted her kids NOW and I’d BETTER send them out.  I’m the one who had to put a smile on my face and say, “Look, guys!  Mommy’s here!  Have fun on your visit!”  Oh, wait…I forgot…that’s all in the past.  I’m not supposed to hold that against her.  Maybe they’re right.  I’m NOT neutral.  Still, I did my best to appear to be.  I never dissed her to the kids.  I begged her to spend time with them and told her how upset they’d get when she wouldn’t show up.  I’ve always been there for them when she wasn’t.  I suppose there’s some arrogance there.  I’ve never wanted something this badly and not been able to get it.  I’m fairly intelligent.  Loving, generous.  Definitely a strong advocate for kids.  I thought that would be enough.  Silly me.  Sound a little bitter?  You betcha.  It’s a bitter pill to swallow.  To think that they feel the kids would actually be better off with their mother than me.  I’m willing to put my entire life under a magnifying glass.  There are no skeletons in the closet.  No arrests.  Nothing.  Just a lot of love and dedication for my family.

So now…where am I?  I’m not sure.  I’ve done all I can do. We’ll go to court tomorrow and do our best to talk to the judge but I know that the recommendations of CPS are going to carry a lot of weight.  Can I sit back and leave it alone?  Can I accept that I’m just the grandmother and I don’t have any control over what’s happening?  Can I put my faith in a higher power and trust that the kids will be safe and I’ll still be in their lives even though it will only be a fraction of the contact I’ve had with them from the time they were born.  I don’t know.  The anger is eating me alive.  On the one hand, I tell myself that she does love them.  In her own way.  She would never deliberately hurt them.  Or would she?  As soon as that thought enters my mind, I think of all the times she’s kicked, scratched, and thrown things at DS.  She’s never done that to the kids but she’s done a lot of yelling and screaming at them.  She’s called me and said, “I can’t stand one more minute!  I’m afraid I’m going to hurt them.  Can you take them for a while?”  Was she serious or was she playing me?  Friends are saying:

“Keep close tabs on her.  Talk to the kids.  Fight her!  Don’t give up.”
“Patty, you’re just going to have to accept it.  Give yourself a break.  They’ll be okay.”
“She won’t last six months.  Just hang on.  She’ll give up and then they’ll be back with their father.”

I don’t know which advice is the best but I’m pretty limited on what I can do.  I don’t know where she’s living and I wouldn’t be allowed to go there if I did.  I don’t know where she found the money to get an apartment but the case worker says she has a nice two bedroom.  I wonder if she’s moving in with some guy.  Probably.  During the year and a half that I had the kids, she bounced through four different guys and lived with all of them.  Told the kids in each case that the guy was going to be “their new daddy”.  I told the caseworker that she lied in the past and told CPS that she was sharing an apartment with a friend and then we found out she didn’t even live there.  She was living with some guy she met and the kids were sleeping on an air mattress on the floor during their visits.  We wouldn’t have known about it at all except that Jake let it slip and told me, “Mommy said we’re not supposed to tell about staying at Jay’s house or she would get in trouble.”  At least the case worker seemed to listen to that and said she’d make sure the lease showed DIL actually lives at the apartment.

Right now, I’m just feeling tired and old and heartbroken.  Not to mention powerless and ineffective.

12:00 - DS just called.  They showed up at his job to serve him with an order to bring the kids to court tomorrow.  What’s that about?  Did they really think it was necessary to serve him?  He took them last week like he was supposed to.  Six hours they sat in that damn waiting area and the case worker didn’t even show up.  He said he’d bring them.  He never said he wouldn’t.  Guess nothing he says carries any weight.

12:15 - DH just called.  Told me to get the RV packed.  Said he’s NOT letting me sit around the house all weekend wringing my hands and worrying about things I can’t control.  Told me to pick up a couple bottles of wine because he’s going to try to help me develop a “drinking problem” this weekend.  Sweet man.

8:00 p.m. - DS just left with the kids.  He came over for dinner.  I fixed ALL the kids favorites.  Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots, new potatoes with butter and green beans with new potatoes.  Yeah, I know.  LOTS of potatoes.  Also fixed lemon meringue pie AND we made frozen chocolate covered bananas with pecans.  Not very nutritious but I don’t know when I’ll see them again so I wanted to have a fun dinner that they’d love.  DS has taken them home with the rest of the pie and they’re going to play Monopoly for a couple of hours before bed.  He wants to spend as much time with them as he can tonight.  Tomorrow morning will probably break his heart.

We were talking trash when they were in the kitchen and out of earshot.  DS said he knows she’s going to want his visitation to be from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon or some variation of that.  She’s still going to want to go out with the gang after work on Friday.  He’s angry to think that she’ll probably put them in daycare during the work week (which he’ll probably have to pay for) and then she’ll expect him to take them for the weekend so she can continue to party.  He really wants to avoid that if at all possible.  Talk about a load of crap.  She’ll work Monday through Friday and he’ll pay for daycare.  She’ll come home and take care of them (maybe) for a couple of hours and then put them to bed and she’ll be free all weekend to run around bar hopping with all her friends.  As a chef, weekends are his busiest times.  He’s going to take a copy of his scedule to court tomorrow and try to work out visitation during the week.  That will cut down on the amount of day care he has to pay for and she’ll find out that it’s not much fun to take care of the kids all weekend instead of running around. 

Sounds nasty, I know.  Sounds vindictive and spiteful.  We discussed the pros and cons.  In reality, he wants the kids to be safe but he doesn’t want to make it a piece of cake for her.  The sooner she understands what’s really involved with taking care of a couple of kids, the sooner she’ll give up and be ready to call it quits.  He just doesn’t want it to appear that he’s refusing to be “accommodating” on the visitation so it won’t backfire and make him look bad.  A copy of his work schedule should help with that.  And…I’m usually the one who winds up with the kids when she takes off on her little weekend soirees and he has to work.

We’ve been messing around with this string of EPOs DIL filed but now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.  At 10:00, we all have to meet at the Children and Family Services office to “address all the allegations” and the social worker will let us know what she’s going to recommend.  She’s been very close mouthed about what her recommendation will be but I’m certainly not impressed by the amount of effort she’s put into this.  She’s met with DH and I once for about 30 or 45 minutes, the kids once for about 30 minutes and DS once for 30 minutes.  I don’t have any idea how many times she’s met with DIL.  At least, after this morning, we’ll have an idea of how the social worker feels about things and which way the wind’s blowing.  She’s been very standoffish and I have to admit, that scares me to death.  She’s refused to look at our documentation about DIL’s past and current problems and she hasn’t spoken to any of DS’s neighbors or any of our other witnesses.  I find it extremely difficult to believe that she can make any kind of informed recommendation other than to place the kids with DH and I and continue the case with DS and DIL.

I’m not sure about what’s going on this week.  I’m available for whatever we need to do.  I think tomorrow is DS’s hearing on his EPO and Thursday we go to Family Court to hear what the judge has to say.  Next week is when DS goes to court on DIL’s assault charge.  This entire mess makes me feel like pond scum.  One nasty battle after another.  The bad thing is that I don’t like to talk bad about anyone.  Even DIL.  I can hate what she’s done and continues to do to my family but I’m not the kind of person who derives any kind of satisfaction from standing in front of a social worker/judge and spewing out accusations and airing dirty laundry.  Still, I’ll do it.  Even though it makes me feel horrible.  The things DIL does are so nasty and manipulative that it almost makes me feel like no one would believe it anyway.  I mean, if she’s all that bad, why would anyone be involved with her in the first place?  Oh, wait, I forgot…my son would.  Again and again.

DS says he’s totally done with her.  Says there’s nothing that would ever move him to let her back into his life again.  Perhaps that’s true.  This is the second time she’s thrown them into the mayhem of Child Protective Services and it’s a nightmare.  He says he thought she’d learned her lesson after the nightmare we all went through the first time.  Yeah, I thought you’d learned your lesson too.  Maybe he has.  He certainly doesn’t seem to have any feelings left for her.

Thanks, friends, for all your support and advice.  I’ve been so upset by all this I’ve been living in my own little world and haven’t been able to see beyond the current crisis but your support has meant so much to me.  Even if I haven’t been able to respond as much as I should.  And then, there are some of you that I’ve tried to answer but I don’t have a link and can’t find your blogs.  Sunnydaze comes to mind as well as Michelle.

So now, I guess I go to the shower, do my hair and makeup, dress in something flattering and authoritative without trying to be ostentatious and begin the real battle.  Keep me in your prayers.

1:30 - I’m in shock.  I’m numb.  They’re going to recommend custody for DIL.

It felt like a setup from the moment we walked in.  The caseworker said we were supposed to meet at 10:00 and tell the security guard that we were supposed to be in the green room because of the EPO.  We walked in and DIL is sitting there.  We went to the desk and told the security guards that we were supposed to be in the green room.  They told us to have a seat.  DIL was sitting on one side of the room and we took a seat on the other side.  She immediately grabs her purse, jumps up and goes over to the security guards and tells them that DS is not supposed to be in the same room with her.  They tell her to have a seat right beside them and she’s talking to them and, after a minute or two, they take her to another room.  I couldn’t believe it.  Just last night she transferred all of DS’s SuperAmerica credit points to her account.  Obviously, she’s not afraid of him, nor does she have reason to be.  It was all for show.

The social worker came in and said they were going to talk with her and then they’d send us back and talk with us.  They talked with her for about 45 minutes and then called us back.  The social worker was there and a  woman who said she was the “mediator”.   She showed us a chart with the “rules”.  Show respect for all parties.  Talk one at a time.  Do not interrupt another person.  No yelling.  No cursing, etc. etc.  She said we’d discuss concerns, strengths, and then discuss recommendations. 

She began by showing us the chart they had started with DIL showing her version of her strengths.  It was laughable:
Good job (8 months)
Good home (where?  who’s supporting her now?)
Good family support (Who???? Her entire family has written her off as a lost cause.)
Insurance for the kids.
I can’t even remember the other ones.  They were pretty trivial.

They asked us for our strengths.  DS said he owns his home.  He said he’s worked as a chef for 15 years.  He said he’s always supported the kids and taken care of them.  He said he has excellent family support.

Concerns:  DIL said DS drinks almost every evening.  She said he’s abusive. 

DS said DIL is bi-polar and non compliant with her medication.  He said she routinely takes off for days or weeks at a time.  He said she gets off work almost every Friday and doesn’t come home until Sunday, drunk and broke.  He said she’s physically and verbally abusive.

Discussion: This is where everything went horribly wrong.  The social worker said she has serious concerns about DS’s drinking.  He told her he drinks several beers three or four nights a week.  He said he does not have a drinking problem but likes to relax after work and have a few beers.  The social worker said DIL says he has a problem.  DS says he doesn’t.  The social worker says, “If you’re drinking several beers three or four nights a week, you have a problem.”  DS says, “I don’t have a drinking problem.  I like to relax after work with five or six beers.”  The social worker says, “That’s a problem.  You’re obviously not willing to admit that you have a drinking problem and that gives me serious concerns.”  I said, “I’ve never known him to have a drinking problem.  During the year and a half we had custody of the kids, he never drank at all.”  The social worker says, “How dedicated are you to these kids?  Wouldn’t you agree that anyone who finds it necessary to drink several beers almost every night has a problem?”  I said, “Yes.  I would agree that anyone who feels it necessary to drink several beers almost every night would have a problem but I have never known DS to have that kind of problem.”  She said, “Well, I feel that’s a serious concern and an unhealthy environment for children.”  DS said, “What about DIL?  She gets off work almost every Friday and goes out and blows her entire check on drinking and partying with her friends and doesn’t come home until Sunday.”  The social worker said, “I don’t care what she does on her own time.  She’s not around the kids when she does it.”  My concern is with the kids.  I said, “Obviously, she’s not terribly concerned with the kids.  She’s abandoned them four times in the past year, taken the car, taken all the money, and disappeared for days or weeks at a time.”  The social worker said, “Where was the father?”  DS said, “I was right there.  I’ve never abandoned the kids.”  The social worker said, “She didn’t either if she left them with you.  How can you say she abandoned them if you had custody?” 

It continued like this for some time.  Everytime we brought up something they either said, “That was in the past and we’re looking at the here and now.” or “You still let her back into their lives so, obviously, you weren’t that concerned about it.  If it was a real issue, you should have reported her to CPS.  If you didn’t, you weren’t all that worried about it happening around the kids.”

Everytime we brought up a concern that wasn’t listed during the “concerns” period of the meeting, they said, “You didn’t bring this up when we asked about concerns so we’re not going to consider it.  You had an opportunity to list all your concerns and strengths at the beginning of the meeting.  You can’t add to the list as we go along.”

Bottom line, they said, “We’re recommending custody for the mother.  She has a good job and a stable home and family support.  You’ve made a lot of accusations but there’s no evidence to support them.   On the other hand, we feel that you have a drinking problem and you haven’t produced any evidence to the contrary.  You won’t even accept the idea that you do have a drinking problem.”

I said, “I can’t believe you would recommend custody for her.  Haven’t you heard anything that’s been said?  Have you even taken the time to look at the file?  You haven’t talked to any of our witnesses or done anything to really investigate this.”

The social worker said, “I have done my job and I resent you saying that I haven’t.  I have met with all the parties and I feel confident with my recommendation.  It will be up to the judge to make the final decision.”

I said, “Okay, I’m going to lay it on the line.  It terrifies me to think that you would recommend custody for her.  She has never provided for these kids.  She has a drug problem.  She’s bi-polar and loves to create drama and drag everyone down with her.  Anytime she has to make a choice between what the kids need and what she wants, she does what she wants and the kids are the ones who suffer.  If you don’t feel secure with recommending custody for DS at this time, at least recommend temporary custody with me until you’ve had time to look into this further.”

The social worker said, “I don’t feel like you’re a neutral party.  You haven’t said one positive thing about her since you entered this room.  She said many positive things about you and your son and you two haven’t given her any credit at all for her accomplishments.  I believe that people can overcome their pasts and I believe that she’s ready to care for her kids.  I’m not saying the judge will give her custody but I don’t see any reason whatsoever to not recommend her to the judge.  The only “real” issue I have is with your son’s drinking.  It may or may not be a problem but I don’t have any evidence of her doing drugs, abusing the kids, or having any problems that would interfere with the kids well being that are not simply unfounded accusations.  What’s in her past is in her past.  She assures me that she is more than capable of caring for the kids.  Your son however, admits freely that he drinks and doesn’t think that’s a problem.  I do.”

So there we are.  She’s been “good” for six weeks and she’s managed to fool them.  It’s tragic.  I don’t know what to do at this point.

20thJuly

Pins and Needles

Tomorrow morning we meet with the social worker to discuss her recommendations for custody.  I’m so nervous I’m making myself sick.  I keep trying to run away and distract myself but it doesn’t work very well.  I’m quiet and morose and very shaky.  I keep telling myself there’s no way this woman could possibly recommend custody for DIL but I know how good DIL can look in the short run.  She’s a fabulous actress.  She can be charming and witty.  She can be repentant.  She can promise the moon and people believe her.  It’s so scary.  On the other hand, it’s been a week since the court allowed her to have supervised visitation with the kids for two hours a week.  She hasn’t made any arrangements to do so.  That could be because the social worker hasn’t done what she needs to do but I doubt it.  If I hadn’t seen my kids for six weeks and I was given an opportunity to spend a couple of hours with them, I’d be driving people crazy to get it arranged.  To me, that just means that she’s got better things to do with her time.  It’s not really about the kids.  It never is and it never was.

Enough…I’m going to find something to do to keep myself busy so I don’t have so much time to think about it.

Horseshoe Casino has a special this month.  Play for 30 minutes and get a free buffet.  Played Monday and ate dinner.  Played Tuesday and ate dinner.  Played Wednesday and ate lunch.  Came home.  Went back Thursday with DH, played and ate dinner.  Got up yesterday morning, played and ate lunch.  Figured everything up and I spent three nights in a nice room and had five buffet dinners for $60.00.  Next thing you know, DIL will be telling the social worker that I have a gambling addiction.  Fat chance…I’m so cheap I’m amazed that they let me participate in the special offers at all.  I always play $20.00 a day.  If I double it, I usually quit.  If I triple it, I definitely quit.  If I lose it, I quit.  Whichever way it goes, they’re not getting more than twenty bucks out of me.  It amazes me how people can sit there at the slots and play the dollar or five dollar slots.  I’m over there at the penny slots.

We got home yesterday afternoon and walked in to a disaster.  The house was a total wreck.  Got met with lots of “I thought you weren’t coming home until tomorrow”s but I was pissed!  Dirty dishes, food all over the counters and stove, the bathroom a wreck, wet towels all over the place and plates of food in the living room and family room.  I was HOT!  Got the place cleaned up and fixed a pot of beef barley soup for dinner.  While we’re eating, DH says “Know what I want to do for my birthday tomorrow?  I’d like to take the RV and go up to Belterra.  It was nice to get away with just you and me.  Let’s get up in the morning and head up there.”  (sigh…)  I may have spent the entire week in a caseeno but he hasn’t. 

Alright, Birthday Boy, get your peanuts and slim jims and let’s hit the road.

DH’s birthday is Saturday.  I don’t know what to get him.  I knew he’d appreciate a break from the chaos so I made a reservation for tonight at Horseshoe Caseeno.  Caseeno is a dirty word on 3FC.  If you use it, they block the entire post.  Weird…I can write butt, boobs, crap, shit, ass, and any number of other “questionable” words and everything’s okay but you can’t say caseeno.  We want to leave the minute DH gets home from work at 3:00 so I gave him a pencil and paper and told him to make me a list of whatever I needed to pack for him or pick up at the store and any errands I needed to run so we could walk away the second he comes in the door.  I just looked at the list he left.  It says:  peanuts, beer, Slim Jims. 

Anyway, it seems like DH doesn’t get much respect on his birthday anymore.  I told the kids they’d better not forget it this year.  His birthday isn’t for a couple of days but my free room is only good from Monday through Thursday so we’ll have to go tonight.  That means I’ll still have to get him something for Saturday.  So what do you get the guy who doesn’t have everything but doesn’t want anything?  It’s not that I forget anyone’s birthday.  It’s just that I can’t ever figure out what to get them.  Maybe I should just get: peanuts, beer, Slim Jims.

I’m going to call the social worker in a few minutes.  I talked to DS last night and told him I was really worried about her making recommendations without having done her homework.  I’m going to call her this morning and ask her if we should bring documentation and witnesses on Monday.  I know she’s going to say “no” but I want to make sure that she’s put on notice that we have them and she still hasn’t talked to them or gone over a lot of the documentation.

One of the items the social worker hasn’t seen is the psychological profile done on both DS and DIL from four years ago.  I have a copy. It’s 22 pages.   Excerpts follow:

The natural mother has bi-polar disorder and is medication non-compliant.  She presents as pleasant, engaging, attractive and attentive.  She is talkative and articulate. 

Ms. ____ reports that she lived with her grandmother who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Ms. ____ reports being exposed to strange behavior and violent mood swings.  She said that her grandmother regularly heard voices, engaged in fanatical religious talk, screamed and yelled, and was physically abusive.  Ms. _______ reports that grandmother’s sister had similar psychiatric symptoms.  Ms. ____ regards her grandfather as being the soul source of kindness and assurance.  Ms. ____ expressed regret that her grandfather was subjected to regular physical and verbal abuse by her grandmother.

Ms. ____ reports a maternal uncle staying in the basement of the home.  She said, “Something was not right with him.  He was paranoid, he isolated himself.  Another brother of his mother developed drug problems.  Ms. _____ own brother later developed a problem with addiction and excessive use of alcohol and drugs.  Ms. ____ reports that the drug and alcohol abuse is indicated on the paternal side of her family, as well.

The report goes on for several pages to describe how DIL began to experiment with drugs as early as seven years of age and was heavily into the drug scene by the 7th grade.  By 17, she left home and moved in with a series of men until she became pregnant and married her first husband at 21.  She says he was not a drug user and she kept her own drug use a secret.  She said domestic violence occured  and there was an episode of her wanting to suddenly leave her husband and take her children with her.  The police intervened and the children were placed in his custody.

I could go on and on.  Like I said, the report is 22 pages long.  The final conclusions state:

A caution is that Ms. ____ , while seemingly well intended, has a formidable history to overcome.  This history includes termination of all parental rights with her first two children.  She is not participating in inpatient treatment.  Clinical impression is that Ms. ____ may, albeit unintentionally, manipulate others into thinking that she is functioning at a much higher level than she is in reality.

Hello!!!  Ms. Social Worker!  Have you bothered to read this report?  It is, afterall, from your office.  When DS met with the social worker, he attempted to give her this report as well as court transcripts in which DIL admits to being arrested for prostitution and having a string of domestic violence charges against her former boyfriends and husband.  Ironically, none of the boyfriends or husbands had any history of domestic violence before they met her or after they left her.  The social worker refused to look at it.  She said she would be making her recommendations based solely on the material she has in her files and her own personal observations.  All I can say is that I hope she has this report in her files and has read it.  It’s a psychological report from a psychiatrist that social services chose that says exactly what we’ve been telling her.  That is….DIL is unstable.  She has a history of falsifying domestic violence charges and has shown time after time that she is unable to care for herself or her children.

The same psychiatrist did a psychological profile on DS.  Ironically, it’s only five pages.  Not too many problems there.  It says that he admits to having experimenting with drugs and alcohol during his early twenties but has not used drugs in years.  He admits to drinking on occasion but says his “partying” days ended when he became a parent and DIL backs this statement up when she states that “he changed after the kids came.  He didn’t want to go out anymore or have any fun.  All he did was work and I was left with the kids all day.  When he came home, all I wanted to do was get out of there and spend time with my friends.”

My God!  I’ve been blogging for two hours.  Sorry to ramble but it really does help me to think things out when I write (obsess?) about them.

9:15 - Called the social worker.  This woman is making me crazy!  All the other social workers in the past were very open with discussions about what was going on.  This woman is so tight lipped it’s ridiculous.  I told her I just wanted to touch base with her about the meeting on Monday.  She said, “No, it’s Tuesday.”  I said, “Are you sure?  I don’t want to make a mistake but I wrote down Monday when we spoke on the phone yesterday and repeated it to you before I hung up and you said that was correct.”  She said, “No, I have several cases going on right now and I might have been thinking of another one.  Your meeting is on Tuesday.”  I said, “Okay, I just wanted to clarify a couple of things with you.  You said we’d be meeting to hash out the allegations and talk about what you would be recommending to the judge on Thursday so should we bring witnesses with us and documentation about the allegations?”  She said, “No, it’s not anything like that.  You can bring someone with you for moral support but it won’t be like court or anything.  We’ll just be talking about what I’m going to suggest to the judge.”  I said, “Well, is this a temporary thing then until you finish doing your investigation?”  She said, “Well, if I recommend custody for you and your husband, it would be temporary until we decide about the parents but if I recommend custody for one of the parents, it would be with regard to permanent custody.”  I said, “Well, I don’t know what you’re going to recommend but I know that we haven’t had much of an opportunity to meet or discuss the situation.  I know David has only met with you once for just a few minutes.”  She said, “Well, this conversation is premature at this point.  We’ll discuss all of this on Tuesday but I feel like I have enough information to make a recommendation.”

I can only hope she’s taken the time to look through all the documentation social services has because she sure hasn’t talked to any of us enough to be able to make a recommendation.

15thJuly

Golden Girls

Home from the caseeno (they won’t allow the actual word in here, don’t know why..) for a day.  Couldn’t help but notice how decrepid “the girls” were last night.  Little Sister had acid reflux so she had to sleep propped up on pillows.  She can’t walk and she can’t lift anything because of her hernia.  Jo Anne had removed her hearing aide and we had to keep yelling at her and she went to bed with one of those breathing machines because she snores and has sleep apnea.  Me, I’m sitting there passing out hormone pills and slathering chap stick on my lips and lotion all over my body to keep me from drying up and it occurs to me that we’re definitely past our prime.

Okay, quick updates…I sat in court all day Monday and the end result was that they granted DIL’s EPO against DS.  I was rather pissed because DS didn’t take an attorney and DIL had one.  The judge felt that her request for an EPO was unnecessary because DS already has one on her but her attorney argued that DS was a threat to her and DS’s EPO is not permanent and she had a half dozen women from a Women’s Advocacy Center with her to argue her case for her.  Her attorney (also provided by the Women’s Center) said the final hearing on DS’s EPO isn’t until July 21st and there’s no guarantee that it will be granted so the judge went ahead and granted hers.  It has nothing to do with the kids and the judge said she didn’t see any harm in granting it since it involved only her.  Our attorney wasn’t there.  Turns out, DS didn’t tell him about this because he thought it was already over and done with.  I have a strong feeling that it would not have been granted if our attorney had been there to argue it.  Anyway, they asked for visitation for DIL and the judge granted her two hours of supervised visitation per week until the final decisions have been made.  The stupid social worker didn’t show up and our attorney wasn’t there and they wouldn’t let me into the courtroom because I wasn’t present during the altercation.  I’m pretty burned up about it because DS went in by himself and DIL had an attorney and a half dozen “advocates”.  I didn’t think they should have been allowed in because they weren’t there during the altercation either but that’s just my opinion and it doesn’t seem to be worth very much.

Of course, the social worker called DS the next day and said, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there.  I didn’t realize there was a hearing scheduled and mixed up the dates but I see that they granted her an Order of Protection.”  I don’t like it that she actually got an order against him but there’s nothing we can do right now because the final hearing on the one he filed isn’t until next week.

I barely had time to run in and throw a few things into an overnight bag before Little Sister showed up.  She had a doctor’s appointment that morning and they took the cast off.  They said she could put “light” pressure on her foot and gave her a walking cast but she didn’t do very good with it.  She can barely stand to put any pressure on it at all and is still using a scooter.  Her friend, Jo Anne, drove us up to the caseeno and we played a little bit Monday evening and spent the night.  Jo Anne came back yesterday evening and played a while and just decided to spend the night with us.  It made a nice break and I got home a little while ago.  DS’s birthday is this weekend and he just wants to “get away from here” so I turned around and booked us back at the caseeno for tomorrow night.  They have a special offer…free room Monday through Thursday and free buffet dinner if you gamble for thirty minutes.  Hope we do as well as I did.  I got a free buffet dinner Monday night, free buffet Tuesday night, and free buffet lunch today.  I broke even on the slots so it was a two day get away with a nice pool and spa, luxurious room, and meals for free.

The social worker called yesterday afternoon and told me she wants to meet with me, DS, and DIL next Monday to listen to all allegations and she’ll be making a decision about her recommendations to be presented in court next Wednesday.  I was actually pretty shocked.  She’s only talked to me once, DS once, and met with the kids once.  All together, she hasn’t talked with us for more than two hours total and she’s going to be ready to make a recommendation?????  It’s scary.  In court Monday, when the social worker didn’t show, the judge asked DS if he’d had a chance to meet with her and he said he had.  The judge asked DIL if she’d met with her and she said, “Yes, we’ve talked several times.  Almost every day.”  What???  I don’t like this one little bit.  DIL can put on a spectacular show when she tries.  Obviously, she’s run to the Women’s Advocacy Center and gotten them to fall for her sob story but I hope to God the social worker isn’t buying it.

Up early this morning.  DS has to be in court at 9:00 for yet another EPO hearing.  This is the third one DIL has filed.  How many chances does she get?  I’m going with DS because I hate to think that he’ll be there by himself and she’ll bring a bunch of her friends to sit there and glare at him or lie about him.  At least he’ll have company and there’s always the possibility that the judge will want me to take the kids anyway.

After court, Little Sister is taking me to Horseshoe Casino tonight and possibly tomorrow night for a break.

Gotta get dressed.  I’ll update after we get back from court.

3:40 - Damn!  Can you believe we sat for 5 1/2 hours??!!!  I was so aggravated I could scream.  At 12:15 the bailiff announced that everyone was to return at 1:15.  We were scheduled for 9:00 but they were still seeing 8:30 cases at 11:00.

Anyway, it was pretty much a wash.  I’ll give more details later but, essentially, it was continued and DIL will be allowed to have one supervised visit with the kids per week until a final decision is made.  The judge was not pleased that the social worker didn’t show up.

Little sister is supposed to pick me up in about 15 minutes to go to Horseshoe Casino so I’ve got to get off here and get packed.

12thJuly

Hanging in there

DS came over yesterday and Jake and Scout wanted to spend the night.  They were into some computer game and didn’t want to give it up.  They’re still asleep and there isn’t much going on. 

Talked to Mom for quite a while yesterday.  She was talking some pretty weird stuff.  A lot about prayer and how much she loves me and my brothers and sisters.  I think she’s just tired and worn out.  She closed the daycare and that’s a good thing.  It’ll mean a cut in her income but she’ll manage.  Reminds me of why I have to make sure I’m in a good place before I retire.  Mom and Dad never planned for retirement and that’s why she has to do what she does to make ends meet.  My brother has a good heart but he’s kind of the black sheep of the family and Mom has taken care of him for most of his life.  He moved in with her about eight years ago and has done a good job of taking care of her the last few years.  He’s been doing double duty for the last year or so.  Working all day and then coming home and helping Mom take care of the kids in her daycare.  Closing the daycare will make it easier on both of them and with Mom’s social security and little brother’s income, they’ll be fine.  Still, I didn’t like the way Mom was talking yesterday.  She’s worried about me and I kept telling her I’m just fine but she said, “You’re worried about your kids and grandkids and it’s putting too much stress on you but you forget that you’re my baby and I’m worrying about you and it’s putting stress on me.”  Good point, Mom.  I tend to forget that I’m her baby.  I don’t tell her about things that would worry her but I think little sister gave her too many details about how I was run ragged over vacation.

Scout’s awake and wants me to get off this computer so he can get back to his game.  I think he needs some breakfast first…

 I hab a code.  Node is stobbed ub an I can’t breave. 

Still taking Dayquil and Nyquil.  I’ll be glad when it runs it’s course. 

Yeah, Chickies, it’s nice to know that I can retire in four years.  If I can bring myself to do it.  At this point, I can get another $220 per month for each additional year I work.  I can just see myself hanging in there for “just one more year” a few times.  We’ll see.  If nothing else, it makes me feel good to know retirement is a real possibility.  Now I have to take the figures I have from Kentucky Teachers Retirement System to Social Security to see how much (if any) social security benefits I’ll get.  I think DH is going to make an appointment to talk to his “people” next Friday.  I get these “last minute” offers from cruises, airlines, and hotels all the time.  “If you can leave by next week, you can get a 7 night cruise through the Western Caribbean for just $399.00 per person!”  I’d love to be able to just pack my bags and go.  In fact, I’d love to be able to just jump in the RV and take off for places unknown whenever we feel like it.

No further news from DIL’s mother since the message she left on DS’s phone yesterday.  I’m sure she’ll be calling today to try to “talk about this”.  I had a fleeting moment of sympathy yesterday evening but then I remembered when I took temporary custody of the kids five years ago.  MIL went to court with us and told the judge DIL had some “serious problems” and she didn’t think she was able to care for her kids.  The judge gave me custody until the whole issue could be decided (turned out to be 1 1/2 years) and MIL told me she’d “help out as much as possible by taking the kids and giving me a break whenever she could”.  She picked them up from around 4:00 to 7:00 one evening during the first week and then she took them to a movie for a couple of hours the second week and then she never picked them up again.  I might be a bit more sympathetic to her if she’d shown more involvement and committment to the kids in the past but I think she’ll be able to hang on a couple more weeks until we can work out details for visitation.  As I said, I don’t think it’s really about her wanting to see them anyway.  I think it’s about DIL seeing them.  I know she misses them.  I understand that.  In her own way, she really loves them.  It’s just that she has always placed her wants and needs above theirs and she always will.  That’s not what a mother does.  If it comes to a choice of what she wants and what they need, it will always be what she wants.

Alright, guess I should get this day moving.

 

Slept until 9:00 this morning!  DH is off and he got Andrew off to work and let me sleep.  Good thing.  I took some Nyquil last night and it knocked me out.  Started getting a raggedy throat yesterday afternoon along with muscle aches and pains and a headache.  Hope it’s just a cold.

As soon as I get some coffee going through my system, I’m heading to Frankfort.  I promised myself I’d look into retirement options this summer and it seems like a good day to do it.

Updates on the home front:  DB called last night to let me know that he sent me a check for the car rental.  He didn’t seem the least little bit perturbed by the cost and said the amount was about what he thought it would be.  I’d told him I would only put the cars on my charge card if his kids took out full insurance coverage on them and he said he thought the amount would be about what it was.  He was really surprised when I told him DIL had been a bit upset at the amount.  Said he didn’t know why.  Okay, water under the bridge…

DS had a rough time with DIL’s mother yesterday afternoon.  She called him again and he told her she couldn’t take the kids Sunday.  Said she got pretty nasty about it and said that was ridiculous.  She called back a few minutes later to assure him that DIL would not be there.  He told her she still couldn’t have them because the EPO said they couldn’t be around her or her family.  Not that we believed for a minute that DIL wouldn’t be there…  She got pretty rude so DS decided to call the social worker just to let her know what was going on.  The social worker said, “I don’t see any problem with her having the kids for the day.  That’s between you guys.  There’s certainly no reason that she can’t.”  Hello!  We’re beginning to have some serious doubts about this social worker.  She’s given us different answers on several things and I’m beginning to wonder if she’s new at this.  DS called his attorney and was told that the EPO strictly forbids any contact between her family and our family.  He said for DS to save the phone calls and messages and not to let her have the kids under any circumstances.  He said to let her have the kids would be a direct violation of a court order.  That’s what we thought.  I haven’t gone into details here but there have been several things that have given us pause with this social worker.  She didn’t know that DIL had been married before and lost both kids, she says there’s no record of DIL’s arrest for prostitution, and now this.  Is this not the same woman who cautioned me in the beginning when oldest DS left a message for DIL that she needed to return DS’s phone that there was to be absolutely NO contact between the families?  It makes us a little bit worried when she makes mistakes.  Btw, for those who have asked, yes, DS has changed all the locks and told the post office DIL doesn’t live there anymore.  He didn’t bring up the issue of DIL’s belongings to her mother last night but I think I’ll help him pack everything this weekend and he can tell the judge on Monday that she needs to have someone pick it all up.  Yes, he goes back to court Monday on her THIRD request for an EPO claiming that he’s a danger to her and the kids.

Mom is still in the hospital but it’s mostly because she needs rest and physical therapy.  My mother has always felt that physical exertion is a big no-no.  If you start breathing hard or getting sweaty, you’re supposed to stop.  No pain, no gain?  Not according to mom.  If it’s uncomfortable, it’s too stressful.  That means you’re overdoing it.  I remember how she used to get upset when I’d jog and warn me that I was going to have a heart attack if I didn’t stop.  The doctor says she just won’t do the physical therapy he ordered after she broke her ribs last spring and it’s causing her to deteriorate.  She doesn’t want to walk around or move anymore than she has to.  I think he’s going to send her to rehab in a few days.

Okay, time to get my shower and go check out Frankfort.

2:00 - Okay, if I give up eating and promise never to get sick, I can retire.  If I want a decent amount of money and full insurance, it’s going to be three or four years.  Three is feasible but four is a lot better.  That’s not bad.  It gives me something to aim for and allows me to glimpse some light at the end of the tunnel.  Really, chickies, how many of you wish you could retire in four years?  I just wish I hadn’t spent twenty years as a dental hygienist before going in to teaching.  Of course, I have social security from all those years but let’s not forget the Windfall Elimination Provision that states: “If you didn’t pay Social Security taxes on your government earnings and you are eligible for Social Security benefits, the formula used to figure your benefit amount may be modified, giving you a lower Social Security benefit.”  that’s just fine and dandy for people who didn’t pay into the damn fund for twenty years but I DID.  Really pisses me off that I don’t get the benefit of paying all those years.

DS said MIL left another message on his phone that says “David, I talked to the social worker and we need to talk!”  He called his attorney and was told not to take or return her calls.  We’ll deal with it in court.

I think I’ll just sit here with my fingers in my ears and sing “la, la, la” all day.  I’m deliberately trying to pull myself out of a big, dark hole and it seems like everyone in the family keeps trying to throw me back in there.  I just want to sit here and think about fun stuff but there’s always another crisis going on and everyone wants me in on it. 

Sometimes families go through periods when everyone has problems and they all think their problems should be everyone’s problems.  Right now, I have enough of my own, thank you very much.  DS is concerned because DIL’s mother keeps calling him in spite of the EPO that states that neither DIL nor any member of her family is supposed to contact him.  Personally, I was kind of surprised at the restrictions but, nevertheless, that’s what the court ordered.  DIL’s mother asked the judge if she could pick up some of DIL’s clothes and the judge asked DS if that would be okay.  He said that would be fine.  Then she comes over with a specific list of items she wants and it’s no more than a couple of outfits.  Two days later, she has another list and he has to go through everything and find DIL’s “Liz Claiborne jeans with the red stitching on the back pockets, white jeans with silver embroidery, gold necklace with sand dollar charm, white tank top, black blouse, etc.”  He told her mother he didn’t want to continually be filling “orders” and would prefer that she pick up everything at one time.  DIL’s mother said she didn’t have room in her car and doesn’t have room to store everything.  She also mentioned that they’re supposed to have family portraits made on Sunday and she wants Jake and Scout to be there.  DS told her he had to think about it.  Then he tells me he has no intention of letting her take the kids.  It violates the protective order and he could get in a heap of trouble.  I told him to let her know that it wasn’t going to happen and asked him why he didn’t tell her that in the first place.  He said it caught him off guard that she would even ask and he didn’t know how to respond.  He’s following the EPO to the letter and isn’t allowed to call her but she left a voice mail on his phone yesterday “reminding” him that she would be picking up the kids Sunday for pictures.  No way, Jose.  Not gonna happen.  DS and I both know it’s just a thinly veiled excuse for allowing DIL to be with the kids and that’s totally forbidden.  DS is not the one who set up the restrictions.  She set it up and the court simply reversed it so that it pertained to her instead of him.  In fact, DIL’s mother is not supposed to be calling him like this.  She’s never been what I would call “involved” with the kids.  Only sees them a couple times a year during the holidays even though she lives right here in town.  She’s been divorced for years and is a very “hands off” kind of mother.  Told me a long time ago that DIL has serious problems and she got tired of trying to deal with her.  Anyway, I told him to get all the rest of DIL’s belongings packed, take pictures of how he packed them and get a witness to observe her mother picking everything up.  Tell her he won’t do anymore shopping lists and she needs to find a way to get everything within a reasonable amount of time. 

Little Sister called and said she had to put Mom in the hospital yesterday.  She hasn’t really recovered from her “fence climbing” episode from last May and she’s getting really weak and is not able to care for the kids in her daycare.  No duh!  The woman is 84 years old.  She’s not supposed to be running a daycare.  Little Sister said my brother called and said he wasn’t able to reach Mom on the phone.  Little Sister got her son to go over there and Mom was very weak and couldn’t get out of bed.  She said she was sick to her stomach and felt terrible.  To top it all off, she had a ten year old watching TV in the living room and Mom didn’t even know she was there!  Hello!  Mom!  Stop watching kids!!!!  Little Sister made the decision to take her to the hospital and said Mom is not happy about it even though she was so weak she couldn’t even get out of bed.  They admitted her for observation.

SIL called yesterday.  She and DB invited his kids and grandkids down to New Orleans for vacation and asked me to use my credit card so they could rent two cars for the trip since they wouldn’t allow them to pay for the cars in New Orleans but needed to do it up here.  It was supposed to be $340.00 and they were going to send me a check.  Their son was scheduled for back surgery the week after the visit and I didn’t want to bother them while they were worrying about that so I didn’t say anything for a couple of weeks.  Monday, they discovered that he had a small hole in his heart and they want to correct that before doing the back surgery so it was cancelled.  After the surgery was cancelled, I sent her an email and asked her if she’d heard anything about the bill for the car rental.  I really didn’t want to bother them but, as I said before, finances are getting tight since I had to spend so much on DS’s legal battle.  She called me yesterday and said, “I don’t know how to break it to you but the bill came to almost $800.00.  I don’t know what happened and I need to call Thrifty to find out why it was so high because I don’t have $800.00 right now.”  Okay, breathe deep.  Keep calm.  It’s on a charge card so there’s no emergency but it does have to be paid eventually.  I thought I did the right thing but Little Sister told me DIL called her and said she couldn’t believe I asked about the car rental when they have so much to worry about with their son’s health right now.  She said she had way more important things to deal with right now than the car rental bill.  Damn!  That hurts.  Of course I’m concerned with their son’s medical problems.  That’s why I wasn’t burning up the phone three weeks ago!  These are good people and I love them dearly and know they’re good for the money but it still hurts that she would say that.

Okay, so that’s today’s little segment of family affairs.  Now, can I just clean my house and deal with my own problems for a little while?  I’m still working hard to keep my spirits up.  I went out shopping yesterday and got some ideas for decorating the upstairs of the cabin.  I think I’m going to go with fun.  Maybe it’s because I’m trying to cheer myself up but I’ve decided to go with a “flip flop” theme in the room.  Sounds strange, I know, but the fabric has a strange little pattern in it that reminds me of flip flops.  I found a couple of cool pictures of flip flops and I’m going to buy a few pair of them and have a trail of flip flops climbing the wall.  I’m going to use flip flops for the curtain tie backs and use them everyplace I can so everyone can rest assured that I’ve finally lost my mind completely.

I met Sistah Pam for dinner last night.  Mongolian BBQ and a couple of beers.  The mongolian BBQ place we used to go to closed and another one took over at the same location.  They had a couple of new twists including a soup and salad bar.  The soup bar had a couple of big pots of broth, beef and chicken, and you could choose goodies to add to the broth to make your own soup.  I used the beef broth, tofu, rice vermicelli, carrot strips, cilantro, pea pods, and a dab of hot sauce in mine.  I guess if you have folks put together their own goodies for the BBQ, salad, and soup, no one can complain if the food’s not good.  We had a good time and it was nice to get away from here for a little bit.

Think I might plan a trip to Frankfort tomorrow.  An hour’s drive.  Check out my retirement options.  It would be nice to know that there IS that option in my future.

I have some great friends.  Just when I get so down I don’t think I’ll ever get back up, they start coming out of the woodwork.  Sistah Pam emailed me yesterday and we’re going out to dinner tonight.  She’s driving in case I’m drinking :-)  DS came by yesterday afternoon to make me some insalada caprese because he knows I love it.  Fresh, ripe homegrown tomatoes and basil from his garden, a good quality chunk of mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  Simple but soooo good!  It really hit the spot.  Little Sister called and invited me to go to Horseshoe Casino with her next Monday because she has a coupon for a free room.  Phyllisann wants me to pick a day when we can go shopping up at the Edinburgh outlets and DH wants me to make a room reservation at Grand Victoria Casino so the two of us can get away. 

Friends just don’t let friends stay in a funk.  I feel so much better today.  Thanks for all the kind comments and encouragement, Chickies.  It means a lot.  I got up and sat in the spa a few minutes while Andrew was getting ready for work.  Joy, thanks for the virtual coffee!  You sat on the patio with your coffee and I sat in the spa with mine.  Looks like we both enjoyed the quiet of the morning.

I let myself get too overwhelmed and depressed about all the crap going on but I’ve done a lot of thinking about it.  I live a good life and do what I can to help my family and be an advocate for kids.  I don’t do anything illegal or immoral.  I know in my heart that the kids will be okay.  I can’t imagine anyone giving custody to DIL and I just have to quit stressing over it and trust that everything will turn out right.  I don’t want to dwell on this stuff today but I want to address a couple comments that have been made.  I’ve thought about showing the social worker some of my blogs about how DIL has just taken off but, strangely, she doesn’t seem too disturbed by that.  She said something to the effect of, “I know it inconveniences you when she drops off the kids and doesn’t pick them up or when she just takes off for days at a time but I’ve seen a lot worse.  To her credit, she leaves them in a safe environment where she knows they’ll be cared for.  I’d rather see her do that than to have them subjected to the fighting and argueing.  She may be gone but the kids aren’t seeing or hearing anything that’s hurting them and that’s my major concern.  I don’t care if she takes off for a month as long as those kids are taken care of.”  After hearing her opinion on this topic, I’m not sure she’d be interested in what DIL is up to on those long weekends or periodic “bushwalks”.

I think I might drag out the sewing machine today.  I usually pick a fabric or picture that I really love and decorate a room around the colors in it.  I’ve been trying to decide how to do the upstairs in the cabin for quite a while and haven’t found any real inspiration.  There’s a fabric outlet in Georgia that I visited on vacation and they’re going out of business.  Prices were really discounted and there was one aisle where the fabric was reduced 75%.  This really unusual fabric caught my eye and I kept coming back to it.  It’s not the colors or pattern I would usually pick for decorating an entire room but there was something cool about it.  I showed little sister some of the fabrics I was considering and she zeroed in on the same one.  So, I bought ten yards of it.  Can you believe it was reduced to $2.00 a yard?  I showed it to DH and said, “What do you think about this fabric for the bedspread upstairs and these colors for the carpet and paint?”  He said he didn’t like it.  Okay!  That’s good enough for me!  If he doesn’t like it, it must be good!  I think I’ll start making the bedspread.  Of course, grandkids, Jake and Scout, keep telling me the SpongeBob blankets I made for their bunkbeds four years ago are too small now so I guess I should take them shopping for new fabric.  Scout still loves SpongeBob but Jake is getting a bit too old to have to look at SpongeBob lamps, wastebaskets, and curtains.  I don’t think he needs big stuffed Patricks and SpongeBobs on his bed either.  Yeah, time to drag out the old sewing machine.

I’m going to check in with some of you guys and see if I can get caught up (at least a little).  I want to do some housecleaning, too.  It hasn’t missed my attention that everyone around here seems to shut down when I’m off.  I need to address that.  All of a sudden, no one is picking up after themselves or doing any of the household chores. 

1:00 - Had a bit of a rebellion.  I decided that I didn’t want to clean the house so I went shopping.  Didn’t find anything good but I got some ideas for the upstairs bedroom in the cabin.  Now I’ve got to get moving.  The house is a wreck and DH is due home in two hours.