Books Read in 2015

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Gator Bait

Laura's favorite books »

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What is Courage?

What is Courage?  noun cour·age \ˈkər-ij, ˈkə-rij\
: the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous

     There seems to be an issue with this word lately. I can only hope that people start to understand that just because you don't like what a person chose to do, or if you don't agree with it or their life style that doesn't make that person less courageous. In fact, the more people who have issue with something a person does, I think lends credence to the fact that what they did was courageous. We are all courageous in many ways every day.
    You don't need to have battled cancer to be courageous. Nor do you have to have been a soldier. You can be a student who stands up to a bully, a woman who finally looks someone in the eyes and stands up for herself. A man who saves a animal from abuse. It is taking that first step.  Dressing yourself for the first time and trying again when you get it wrong.  It is being friends with someone because you like them even though others do not.  It take courage to try a new food, or to try a new religion that appeals to you.  It takes a lot of courage to do it in front of the world.  It is being you!

     If you find it difficult to do and do it, then you are courageous. There is no measurement for what is courageous except what you believe and allow yourself to accomplish. If you don't believe a person did something courageous keep it to yourself. Courage is personal to the one doing the action, not the one witnessing it. You are not them and you do not know how they view the world.  Nor do they view the world as you do.
     If someone is getting an award for their courage and you don't agree they should receive it, or think someone else is more deserving, it is more than acceptable to start your own award for recognition of courage.
     But if another agency that you are not part of chooses to recognize someones courage they are allowed to as well.  It is impossible for everyone in the world to agree on who should receive a single award.  Courage is not something that can be measure equally by everyone because we are all individual with our own set of life experiences and schema.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Such a Long Hard Day and then Happiness

My son had his spring concert this week, I found out about it from my ex on the day before the concert, luckily I was able to make it.  He even saved a seat for me up front so I would be able to see and record it.  It meant I had to sit next to him but I figured we were in public so...

The same day, same time and in the same building my daughter had three pieces in the school district's art show.  At first my ex suggested I go to one and he go to the other, I guess not realizing they were just a few dozen feet apart from each other.   Though he insisted that he go to our son's concert no matter what.  That upset me a little because he seemed to brush aside our daughter accomplishments by saying that.  Eventually I got him to understand that we could do both, even if not on the same night the art show was a two day event.

P did great in the concert, the precision ensemble that his is part of got to play the piece they won first place with at a recent competition.  It was long, almost two hours and the order of the concert was not as written so I admit I was a bit exasperated when it was over.  It was a long day for me and I had been up and busy since 6 am.  It was not almost 8 pm and I wanted to see B's pics in the art show which was supposed to be over at 8 pm.

 We had to pick up P first and the ex seemed to not be able to figure out how to leave the auditorium.  I saw some parents I hadn't seen in a while and mingled a little as we waited for P.  Then when my guard was down my ex decided to nag me about a bill I was supposed t pay the weekend I was mugged.

Now this is a school district I work in.  Many of the students in the hallway are students I have taught.  Many of the parents in the hallway are parents of students I am teaching.  They see me and point me out to their parents.  That is my substitute teacher they say and they are happy to see me.  When I am at my children's school I consider myself to be on the job.  It is not the time or place to talk to me about a bill that I told him two weeks ago I wouldn't be able to pay because I was mugged.  I needed another paycheck.  He said he understood.

It is not the time or place to say loudly that I am inconsiderate because I work enough that I should be able to pay a bill.  It is not a time or place to have an argument with me about paying bills.  I asked him to stop and saw happily that the door to the art show was still open and I could go in.  I had hoped he would drop it because we were going to be looking at our daughter's art work.  I should have known better.

So I go in, our daughter is giddy with excitement.  She shows us her clay monster and he is still going on about the phone bill and how he is going to shut the phone off and switch companies because I won't pay the $40.00.  I know that I would get paid in just two days and I can pay it then, but he has no interest in what I can do.  Only in what I didn't do.  I try to focus on B's second art piece, beautiful pumpkins.  She is telling me all about it and I have to try to tune out my exes nagging so I can hear her.

Finally I see her last piece, "Kitty World" and she is so proud.  I want to be able to focus entirely on her, but my son is complain that he wants to go home, my ex is calling me horrible things in front of my students.  I hug her and tell her how proud I am, I hug P and tell him his concert was wonderful and say I have to go.  I remind P I am picking him up on Saturday for a sleep over at my place and he adds the final nail to a horrible fifteen minutes and tells me he doesn't want to sleep at my house.  I know it is Aspergers and the fact that he is 12 but I can't take any more and I rush out of there fighting back the tears.

When I get to my car I can't stop the tears anymore and I cry almost all the way home.  I get there and collapse on the couch and manage to talk to the people I live with.  They listen to me and offer me some comfort.  I need to just curl up in a ball and sleep so I get my mail and go to bed.  One envelope is which is thicker than the others.  It is from my exes lawyer.  I don't want to open it, assuming it is just another delay to our divorce.  But I do...

I am DIVORCED!  After a horrible time with my ex, where once again he reminded me why I left him I find out that I am no longer his wife!  I am single!  I am free!  Pure joy!  Happiness!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Don't Protect the Abuser

Right now there is something amazing going on.  A family that has been on tv in a series and a few specials for their religious beliefs has been thrown into a scandal.  People are feuding over it.  Friendships are being tested.  Lines are being drawn.  It seems that the eldest son admitted to molesting five female children when he was a teenager.  He publicly admitted it.  He was not arrested.  He stepped down form his family centered job and apologized to the world.

Is that enough?  I don't think so.  He may be in the spotlight now and this may be the topic we are debating now.  But what about next month, next year or the next decade?  Can what happen help keep possible future victims safe?  What if his first victim spoke up and the family didn't try to hide it.  Enough reports are coming to light that seem to say the family did something to keep this from going to prosecution.  Would his future victims have been saved?  I have no idea.

But maybe we can learn something from this.  STOP PROTECTING THE ABUSER.  I did it with my ex.  I did it with my father.  I won't do it again.  So join me.  Don't protect the abuser.  Yes, terrible things happened to the victim.  But it wasn't their fault.  It was something done to them.  Don't shelter the abuser because you want to protect the victim.  If you are a victim stand up for your self.  I wish I did.  I don't know what would have changed had I left earlier than I did.  It helped when I knew I had people to help me stand up for myself.  It helped knowing people were behind me and they knew I was a victim.

If you are being abused, sexually, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially or anyway don't
protect your abuser let others know.  Please if you know someone is being abused offer to help them, REPORT them to the police or any authorities.  We need to take a stand against abuse.  We have to do it now!  No one deserves to be abused!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I was Mugged!

Back Story...

A few weeks ago I slipped on the ice walking into work.  Yes, I live in an area where winter never seems to go away!  I hurt my left arm, my back on my left side and my left pinky.  The arm and back felt better in a couple days, but my pinky would hurt on and off.  I would forget about it and then it would hurt.  I would be fine then OUCH!!!!

Fast forward a few weeks, about 5 or 6 and my 12 year old son and I were having fun.  He is very ticklish and adorable when I tickle him.  VERY ticklish! So of course occasionally I take advantage of it and we were having fun.  Then he jammed my left pinky and OMG!!!!  PAIN!!!  Then a POP!!!  A noise that was loud and accompanied the pain.  The pain didn't go away and I called my doctor.  We made an appointment for me to get my finger X-rayed.  He had me tape my pinky and ring finger together. Urgent care wouldn't help.

So I went to the doctor's and he told me I had a hairline fracture that was about 5 weeks old.  Bonus I also had a sprain.  So into a splint I went and my finger is in semi-constant pain.  Not enough to warrant pain killers just enough to be slightly annoying.

Second Back Story...

I never take cash out of the bank.  Well, hardly ever.  Even if I do it is almost always $20.00 or less.


Except for today.  Today I had some bills to pay that were just easier with cash.  I needed gas, I needed food.  I needed some art supplies for my wish jars.  I am selling them to help make ends meet when I am out of work for the summer.  So when I was at the bank I took out more cash than I usually do.  I put it in my (Small, shuttle craft purse, that I keep in my huge purse so I don't have to always lug it around,) purse instead of my pants pocket.  (Probably because I usually don't have pockets in my pants because clothes designers think that women don't need pockets so we carry huge purses.)  I bought a couple things in the store and happily walked into the parking lot to get back to my kids and get my errands done.  I never even heard anyone coming up behind me.  I had my purse in one hand and my phone in the other.  They went for the weakest point, my injured pinky in a black splint, I saw stars!  I felt my purse being pulled out of my hand and it was gone before I could turn around.

 I turned around and saw a person running away holding my shuttle craft.  My first thought was at least it wasn't my favorite one, I had left that at my exes house the night before.  Then as I watched the person (I have no idea if it was a man or woman) running away wearing a hoodie, jeans and sneakers it occurred to me that I had cash in my purse, a lot of cash!  My ID was in it (luckily it was my exes address so...) and my bank card.  I didn't chase them.  I wouldn't catch them.

I think I sat down and cried.  I was on the ground when I finally called 911.  Eventually the police showed up.  I didn't have much of a description, they didn't give me much hope.  I got in my car after they left and just sat there.  Then I realized I needed to get back to the kids.  They had the day off of school and had been alone too long.  I didn't want a second disaster on my hands.

So here I am my first real brush with crime.  My apartment was broken into every other Wednesday between 7 PM and 9 PM (the police were no help then either, they didn't see the pattern after three break-ins) but the only item of mine that was stolen was my Kool-Aid.  My room mate was not as lucky.  Of course I never encountered the ones who felt the need to steal my precious Kool-Aid.  This was different.  This time I was injured and it was personal.

My ex gave me money that he owed me and bought me chicken wings when he came home from work.  I didn't know how to react.  I'm not used to him being nice to me.  For the next three weeks I don't have to see him as much.  He is on first shift instead of second.  Sadly this means I won't be with my kids as much.  I'll have to plan some fun for us.  What a day!!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day

It was my first mother's day without my mother.  I have been dreading it for weeks and here I am just moments after it ended.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I picked up my kids from the exes house and we went to my mom's favorite place to eat, a local hot dog restaurant.

She loved their hot dogs and always got them with everything.  When they started selling their hot sauce she always made sure she had at least one jar at home.  If we couldn't think of a gift to give her, a gift card from them was always a perfect choice.  In fact it was the last Christmas gift I ever gave her.

I imagine that I have been going there my whole life with her and love that I now continue the tradition with my children.  It may not be my favorite place to eat like it was Mom's but it has a special place in my heart.  My brother told the staff at one of the locations about my mother's love for their hot dogs and they gave my brother a cup and hat.  They sit on and next to my mother's ashes today.

The kids were eating french fries today and I mentioned that Grandma loved to eat her fries with vinegar.  So of course they had to try.  They are 12 and 10 and have not really been exposed to vinegar except at Easter when they dye eggs.  Funny I used to use vinegar all the time.  I guess somethings do change.

The look on their faces as they took the first bite of a french fry soaked in vinegar.  It was priceless.  They shook their heads and made sour faces.  Saying how they thought it was horrible and ewwww!  But they tried several french fries that way.  It was almost a compulsion.  It was probably the funniest moments of Mother's Day 2015.  Absolutely priceless!

The ex (the divorce still isn't final yet.  I don't know why it is taking so long.) Asked how long I would have the kids.  He wanted to take them to visit his mother.  So I brought them back to his house after we ate.  I had wanted to take them to the Mall, but I am trying to be civil.  So I turn the corner and see the empty driveway.  The kids inform me that Dad said he would be gone when we come back, it would have been nice if he told me.

So I call him.  I refuse to leave the kids alone and he has the nerve to be upset with me because I switch the time I would have them.  Truth be told I did, but I also let him know I made a mistake and typed the wrong time as soon as I noticed it, and he had plenty of time to adjust.  I stayed in the driveway while the kids played outside and he comes home absolutely irate at me.

He comes out of his car screaming at me.  Saying how dare I call and yell at him and find it to be such a burden to be with my kids on Mother's Day.  (SIGH!) Again he absolutely has no idea why I was upset.  He led me to believe he wanted the kids back to see his mother and did;t bother to tell me he was not going to be back.  He told the kids he wasn't going to be home.  I guess telling the other adult was too much to ask.  Of course it is all my fault again.  He screamed and yelled and had a temper tantrum in the driveway including stamping and giving me double fingers.   The as I am pulling out of the driveway he ordered me to leave.  I almost pulled back into the driveway.  He knows acutely how to make me mad.

Happy Mother's Day!  I am so used to having a huge argument with him on Mother's Day, so I guess I wasn't surprised.  How I wish I could see my children and spend time with them and have absolutely no contact with him.

Happy Mother's Day 2015 - I Miss You Mom!

In Memory of My Mother 
June 10, 1940 - August 20, 2014
I love you!!!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Just Two Minutes

The kids stay in one house and my ex and I change places.  I work first shift he works second shift and he gets them on weekends.  Perfect for him.  Stability for the kids.  Steals sleep from me, but the kids need it so I do it.  Over all it works.

In the last few months I have seen my old home get stripped of my influence.  New furniture, books vanishing, hockey flags on the walls and on the windows as curtains.  It is hard to come to the house five days a week and see things I worked hard to set up just disappear.  Oddly some things I did are still here.  The butterflies on the bathroom wall still fly.  The leaves on the kitchen cabinets are still clearly there.  Both are removable but remain, so some of my essence is still here.

The hardest part however is not seeing so much I organized change it is two minutes of my day.  After work I go back to the house we shared and spend the afternoon and evening with my children.  The kids have their own bedrooms and just one house.  They are not shuffled back and forth which I think is better for them.  My ex also has the house as his mother owns it.  I am the one who shuffles from one location to another.  I take the burden of moving from home to home.  My ex returns home from work around 12:30 am and pulls into the driveway behind my car.

Here is the beginning of my dreaded two minutes.  He could wait in the street and beep, he could text
me to let me know he is almost home and I can get in my car and pull out as he pulls up.  There are ways we could handle these two minute where there is little to no contact between us.  However he thinks they are stupid so he won;t do them.  So instead he blocks me from leaving until he pulls out of the driveway to let me leave.

He comes into the house and typically one of these things will happen.

  1. He will complain to me about how the house looks
  2. He will be upset with me because of a request I made that in his mind is unreasonable.
  3. Rarely we will have a real discussion about something involving the children.
  4. He will talk to me about something he loves that I no longer pretend to care about.
Sometimes those two minutes feel like an eternity.  I am amazed at how quickly I can be exasperated in that time.  He can start an argument with me the moment he walks in.  I would prefer not to see him at all for those short moments of time.  It seems so petty that I don't want to see him, but I know the tension between us can explode within seconds and make me so upset that I am screaming all the way home, a ten minute drive.  I always wonder what others think of the crazy woman driving around 12:30 am who is going mad in the car.

Somedays he just reminds me that he is selfish and really just doesn't care about others.  Yesterday was a perfect example.  He comes in all smiles and says, "Guess who was on the Howard Stern show today?"  Now you need to know that I am not a Howard Stern fan.  I have never pretended to be a Howard Stern Fan.  I don't like to talk about him or his show.  I don't care about anything involving him.  I almost stopped watching America's Got Talent because he became a judge.  My ex is very aware of how I feel about Howard Stern.

So I tell him as I am trying to walk past him to get outside to my car that I don't care, I just want to go home and sleep.  I have to work in the morning.  (I don't even get six hours of sleep some nights because he may not be home until 1 am and I have to work at 7:45 am.  When he gets home I want to leave so I can go home and get some sleep as quickly as possible.)  He looks at me and says, "I don't care that you don't care!"  And it hit me, that was a huge problem in our marriage.  He didn't care how I felt.  

Those two minutes are fast approaching tonight.  Will he be nice, will he be selfish, will he be mean? I gave no idea.  The one thing I do know is that he will pull in the drive way behind me and I have to wait for him to back out of the driveway so I can leave.  Trapped until he allows me to leave.  Two minutes of anxiety.  Two minutes of terror once.  What will it be tonight?


Monday, March 16, 2015

The Beginning of Closure

I signed my second batch of papers to finalize the divorce in front of the Notary.  She gave me a high five as I got up to leave.  It is strange to be so happy over the ending of a marriage.  But I am thrilled!  I want to be out of this marriage more than I wanted to be married 17 years ago.

I took his wedding band away when I discovered he was cheating on me.  I told him then that he didn't deserve the ring anymore.  I have kept that ring since then.  How long has it been?  May 31, 2011 was when I caught him cheating.  The Last Straw

Four Years!  It has taken me four years, what was my problem?  It was comfortable, it was what I was used too.  I was abused and I was in no position to get out.  June 4, 2011 (An Emotional Collapse) I took away his ring.  I have held onto that ring and refused to wear mine since then.

Today I decided that I had enough of those rings just taking up space.  I don't want to see them and I refuse to wear them.  He gave me the anniversary band on our first anniversary.  Back then he bought me gifts and back then he really loved me and cared for me.  Overtime I looked at his ring I thought of our wedding and when I looked at my ring I remembered our first anniversary and how happy we were.  I can remember where we were when he gave me it.  It is burned into my mind.  The memories just make me cry now.

So I went to a local jewelry store that advertises the fact that they pay well for jewelry you don't want anymore.  I pulled into the lot and parked.  Walked into the store and was greeted nicely by a sales person.  I explained that I had some rings I had to get rid of.  I was getting divorced and they needed to be out of my life.  He chuckled and took out a scale.  He weighed them and took a breath.  Next he explained they would be scrapped, melted down and I gleefully said good, melt them, make them go away!  He apologetically looked at me and told me I could only get $XX.xx, which was more than I thought I would get.  I could have kissed him!

The deal was made and I walked out of there with one more symbol of my marriage gone and just a little bit richer.  Good thing too, because my son managed to buy things from iTunes that he should have been able too.  I swear he is gifted at spending my money.  So instead of celebrating I had to call Apple and my bank.  Get things taken care of.  Of course the bank is quick at taking my money but not so quick at returning it.

Sigh, at least those pesky rings are gone!  Now if the judge will just sign those papers and I can have my divorce party then I will finally have my closure!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Marriage Ends

The divorce papers are signed and have been sent to the courts.  Now I just need to wait for the Judge to approve them.  So much hassle to be free of him.  My goal was to get out and not financial so I didn't worry about alimony or the like.  We had no assets so the divorce is fairly simple.

I have been separated from him legally for over a year, emotionally for about four years.  Still I have to see him five nights a week for about two minutes at a time when we switch who is with the children.  The decision was made to keep the kids in one place and because we (the adults) work opposite shifts will rotate who is with the kids.

Oddly just after I signed the papers I found some CDs that held copies of photos from when the children were younger.  Photos from when we were happy.  Photos that helped me pinpoint when things began to turn.

So many memories, so many moments of our lives.  Most when we were happy, but some of tears or moments that were less than ideal.  Moments that I thought were lost, moments I had forgotten about.  Moments that have been returned to me.

I look at the photos and wonder what I would have done then if I had known what was coming.  If I had known that out days of happiness were reaching the end.  Would I have changed some of the things I did?  Would I have protected myself or my children better?

These photos started when the children were babies and I watched them grow up again.  I watched them take their first steps and their joy at holidays.  Their reactions to life, and vacations that we will never take again.  Cuts and scrapes, mud and markers on skin.  Everyday life of a family.

I witnessed things they possessed as treasures.  Things they played with in their own special way.  Bubble baths in the backyard and birthday cakes that I used to make.  I need to start making them again.  That tree we named Viviane and gave her a face.  Holes they dug in the grass.

Sports played in the backyard and in the arenas.  Some sporting events that we went to as a family.  I remembered walking around and around the arena chasing my toddlers who couldn't sit still while their father watched the game.  Mascots they met and even some players too.

That dress we bought in Disney when she was just 10 months old.  She would have gone home with Winnie the Pooh and wanted nothing to do with Grandma.  We laughed about that for years.  My son met Mickey Mouse and went swimming in the hot tub in our hotel room.

We went raspberry picking and visited local farms.  That was before he would get upset if I spent $1.00.  We visited local amusement parks that my father built rides for.  We played in the yard together.  All of us rolling on the grass and playing with the hose.  

The kids would "steal" my coffee, they still do actually.   I would pretend to chase them.  But the older they got the more he changed.  I did too, we all did.  Sadly not all the changes were for the better and many led to tears and screaming.  But so many of those photos were moments of joy.

Some of the photos made me cry.  I found wedding photos.  Photos when the marriage began.  When I was sure I met the one I would spend the rest of my life with.  When I was walking down that aisle I never thought out marriage would end with our signatures on a piece of paper.  

And so a marriage ends...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Just When I Think It Is Almost Over...

The divorce papers are here and I am going over them with a highlighter.  Too many little things that bother me like the kids won't be able to call anyone the other other parent marries mom or dad.  Of course he didn't have any idea that was in the agreement which means that of course he didn't read it at all.

Then he tells me the car insurance is due and I need to find my own.  Reasonable, I have no problem with that.  I did have issue with him only giving me two weeks notice after I had two weeks off of work.  Christmas shopping would have been different if I had known.  My bad, I could have looked at the renewal date but I didn't.  He didn't need to over react and accuse me of trying to scam him by asking for one more month of us being not he same policy giving me time to get the money together.

He knows I make about 1/3 of what he makes.  It isn't a secret.  Of course he won't give me any money because I don't deserve it and he owes me nothing.  I need to add it to my budget and I can get it done.  I am working more but still two weeks off with no pay is a roadblock this time of year.

But then he goes the extra step of being down right mean and nasty.  Making it hurtful and abusive.  Why did I think it would be any different?  Yes, I did cover up names but changes nothing that was written.

Tonight was a winner.  He has asked me to give him a list of food to buy for the week since I make dinner for the kids.  No problem.  Of course the last two weeks he has ignored the list and the refrigerator is getting bare.  Today I got upset to find he went shopping and bought the exact same thing I made for dinner yesterday.

He may enjoy eating the same food everyday but neither I nor our children do.  With three supermarkets within 2 miles of his house there is no excuse for it.  He got upset because the food I ask for is too expensive.  Food I have asked for and he didn't get was tomato soup, cheese soup, mustard, beef rice or beef noodles, Italian or Polish sausage, bread, cheese.  These are things he usually buys.  But when I ask for them they are too expensive.

So he shows me food in the freezer.  Food I honestly have not cooked because neither I or the children like it  I assumed he bought them for him.  Sadly I may have to resort to these items since he won't buy any other food it seems.

We of course fought over the food selection tonight.  I brought it up because P complained about dinner tonight.  I wouldn't let him have anything to eat until he finished dinner so of course I am mean.  D got upset and started screaming at me because I was unreasonable in my food choices and he wasn't going to buy food that was so expensive.  I chose not to point out the food he bought was more expensive than the soup I wanted.

Then into the driveway because he pulls in every night behind my car.  Which means I can't go home until he backs out of the driveway.  There is no parking allowed at anytime in front of the house on the street.  I hate when he comes home because I have to see him and usually he isn't pleasant.  I tell myself its for the kids, they don't need to be shuffled from house to house.  We only have to see each other for 1 or 2 minutes five days a week.  We should be able to be civil to each other.  If not just don't say anything to each other.  Well only one of us seems to want those few minutes to be stress free.

Tonight he wouldn't let me close my car door.  Yes, I felt threatened.  Then he once again wished I would get hit by a car.  Isn't he so nice to me?  I asked him in a text message to let me know when he was close so I could pull out of the driveway just as he arrives.  Eliminating all physical contact between us.  He replied that he was deleting my texts without reading them.

I save every text message he sends me.  I am going to make sure we have a section of the divorce agreement allowing a no contact way for us to change who is with the children.  Having the children in one house with us moving back and forth seemed like a good idea.  They have some stability.  I work first shift and he works second shift.  On paper it seemed like it would work.

If there was no contact physically between us it would.  Funny he says he was hoping we could be friends after the divorce.  I can't see that happening with all the hostility has has towards me.  Of course he doesn't think he is hostile towards me, he says he is just brutally honest.  I really don't want to get the police involved but he is escalating and I fear I may have too.  I should have enough money to finish paying for my lawyer soon.  I hope this doesn't become a long involved battle between us.  But every time I think its almost over he goes and does something like tonight.  Sigh!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A New Year, Will it be a Good One?

It's a New Year and a new me.  I finally have a copy of the 24 page separation/divorce agreement and expect the divorce will be final soon.  I have mixed feelings about that.  To be finally be no longer married to him will be wonderful.  Though I see him all the time.  Five days a week I have to see him because we still are parents.  Sadly almost five days a week he reminds me why I left.  He just cannot be nice I think.

This was the first New Year's without my family as it fell on a weekday.  The kids spent the day with their father and I spent it with my extended family.  We had lasagna and played Trivial Pursuit (I won) into the wee hours of the New Year.  It felt strange not to watch the ball drop without my children.  Holidays felt strange through out this year.  Without my children I just don't feel complete.

My ex makes more money than I do and is very clear that he won't give me any money.  Even when the kids were with me he refused to give me any money.  My gas tank is on empty and I have a week before payday.  I spent my last two dollars today on soup.  During the week I take care of the kids at his house.  I eat his food.  But I sleep in my own place.  Basically all that has changed is where my bed is.

I have my own place.  I could be a single mother.  But I agreed to let the kids stay in the house where their father lives so they are not moved back and forth.  Instead I am the one who moves back and forth.  Every day I go take care of them after school and work.  I make sure they have dinner and do their homework and I do it all at his house.  The house he and I used to share.  The house that his mother owns.  I never felt like it was my home.  I never was allowed to make it my own.

Here it is a New Year and I still am in that house more than I want to be and I slowly see my influence being stripped from it.  Sports teams flags have become curtains and hang from the walls.  My knick knacks have been packed and the books are slowly being moved as I find space for them.  He still resists all new books entering the house.  He still claims they have too many.  He hasn't changed.

Have I changed.  I have lost weight, so I know I have.  I am free to practice my religion the way I need to and want to finally.  I have embraced my Paganism and won't let anyone keep me from practicing it again.  I have been dating and have discovered that I never really had a good relationship with him.  I have changed.

So I have changed, I need my life to change too.  I need to feel at home with my children.  I can't do that at his place.  He doesn't want the kids to be moved.  I feel a fight coming on and our awkward stalemate will end.  I read the divorce agreement and I am not signing it as it reads.  Looks like this new year will find me meeting with a lawyer a lot.