Archive for ‘December, 2013’


ChildhoodFamily

When I look at this photo of me and my family, I see a small, blonde, little girl who’s missing her two front teeth under her crooked semi-smile (I also see my badass bangs/haircut–I’ll address my funky childhood haircuts later). This picture was taken in my backyard during the mid-70s, when big collars and plaid were all the rage. I was probably close to 6 years-old here. (I remember hating that mustard-colored shirt.) This was during a time in my life when my parents were very busy both personally and in the community: they were members of the Jaycees, bowled on local bowling leagues a few times a week, played softball with friends, and my dad traveled quite a bit as the VP of a construction company. They left us home with a babysitter or alone…a lot!

I cling to memories of camping trips with my family, Sunday nights in front of the The Wonderful World of Disney, and careless summer days playing in the gutter outside of my home. I think I remember those times the most, because they were when my family was together and good-times were soaked up in the sun or on the ski slopes. Family time was somewhat rare, from what I remember. It’s because of this that I made a commitment to be very present in my kids lives.

A few years after this photo was taken, I began taking gymnastics classes at a local High School and soon began living at the gym 4-5 nights a week. The introduction of the “overpacked schedule” entered my life. From that point on, I was always busy. Gymnastics took up most of my pre-teen free time, and softball began the summer I turned 9. As I began to grow, and out grow gymnastics, I added cheerleading and volleyball to my schedule. I often wonder why I took on so many activities when I was young and should have been hanging out with friends in the neighborhood. Perhaps I was running from something (I’m sure that had something to do with it) or perhaps I enjoyed accomplishing things on my own and getting recognition for working hard. Whatever the case, this busy behavior has continued into my 20s, 30s, and now my 40s.

Is that a dangerous way to live: over scheduled and running all the time? My parents were busy doing their things all the time, and I longed for family time. Are my kids doing the same? My kids schedules are what keep us away from the house, but we’re still away.

I started pondering all of this yesterday. When I have too much idle time, I get a bit manic and over examine all parts of my life. For example: yesterday I had most of the day to myself, as my husband worked and my kids were at their dads. As I sat there folding laundry and watching a movie where the people lived by the beach and lived a slower paced life, it was like a huge mound of bricks hit me all at once, and many, many questions ran through my head: Where am I going? What am I working for? Where is my life taking me? Am I doing enough? Am I accomplishing enough? Am I teaching my kids enough? AM I ENOUGH?

Why am I asking myself these questions? Am I comparing myself to someone else? No, not that I know of. Am I expecting more out of myself? Could be. Do I feel “happy” in my life? That’s a difficult one to answer. Am I happy? Yes! Am I happy with my life? I think there’s definitely room to improve. Let me explain…I wake up, go to work, rush home, run kids around, feed the family, try to help with homework, get everyone to bed and do it all over again. Weekends are either filled with 8 kids and their things, or it’s catch-up on “us” time for me and Brandon. I feel like my life is living me, not the other way around. I debated with myself for a long time yesterday whether I was in the midst of a mid-life crisis or just having a pity party. I haven’t decided which one it was, but I need to kick myself in the ass and buck up!

I know the joy is in the journey, and I absolutely and fully admit I’m definitely a girl that forgets to embrace each day and live it to it’s fullest. (I’m that girl who saved outfits for “special occasions” and the good towels for guests only). Capricorns are natural goal setters. That’s what I do. I set goals and work towards them. The problem with that type of thinking is that I’m missing the sweet, luscious blessings right beneath my nose! My husband is much the opposite of that. He lives each day the best way he can. He doesn’t get caught up in the planning, scheduling and over thinking. I wish I were more like him.

In 2014, I resolve to slow it down a bit. To not be so over-committed that I practically kill myself getting everyone to every little practice, activity or training. It will be okay if we have to skip a few. I run a household of 10 alone 75% of the time because of Brandon’s schedule. I can only do the best I can.  I resolve to forget the criticizing words of my mother and my ex husband and know that I am amazing just for being me. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to do it all alone. I don’t have to always be in motion or achieving. Sometimes, it’s okay for me to just…be.

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Money

I swear to God, it’s always about the money!

It’s never about the kids and their well-being. It’s never about giving them the opportunity to play sports or getting proper medical attention. The shit hits the fan when my ex has to reach into his tightly locked-up pockets and spend one extra dime on his kids.

He asks for copies of precise medical bills and receipts, which I always provide to him. If I don’t provide them within 30 days, he doesn’t have to pay–he made sure that was in the paperwork. He also wants the EOB from the insurance company so he can tell me I over-paid or didn’t pay the bill right or didn’t get his “prior approval” to take the kid to the doctor or counselor and then he refuses to pay his portion of the bill. It’s always jumping through hoops.

He doesn’t give a shit about the fact that his bullying and crappy behavior is damaging to our kids. He could care less that he is the main reason the kids go to counseling. He says I lie and make up stories about him and that I’m brainwashing my children. What-the-hell-ever!

His son saved up his money to purchase a video game, but realized he didn’t have the few extra dollars to pay the sales tax. When his son called him and asked him if he could cover the taxes, my ex husband replies, “Sorry bud. I guess you won’t be getting the game. I don’t have the money. Ask your mom.” But that same day calls my son to tell him, “I can’t pick you up, because I have to go back to work and get my wallet. It has $200 in it and I left it in my desk.” He teaches our children that money is more important than they are.

In our decree it states that both parties split the extracurricular activities 50/50 as long as they are agreed upon in writing. I put that in the decree because our children play competitive sports, which can get expensive. He was there when our kids were tiny, pushing them and practicing with them, and getting them involved in all of the clubs and teams. But you know what? The first activity post-divorce comes up, and I send him a bill for reimbursement and his response says: I DON’T AGREE. Loop hole found, and he happily keeps his money and doesn’t support the kids.

I know the reason he does this: to manipulate me. He knows he makes triple what I do in one year. He knows I won’t tell my children, “Sorry guys, you’ll have to give up your activities now because of the divorce.” I wanted their lives to stay as status-quo as possible. He knows this and knows I’ll put all my money towards them continuing on the path they chose.

Asking him to be a responsible person and pay his share of the decree-detailed expenses is a joke. He creates a smoke screen, throws everything but the kitchen sink into the argument, and makes it pure hell to get the money back that I’ve paid for our kids. Numerous emails go back and forth (I’ve told him he’s not allowed to contact me via phone because of past abusive language), condescending words thrown about, and I get hurt, angry, then numb to it all.

I wish I made enough money so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting reimbursed.

I wish I didn’t have to deal with this man any more.

I wish he didn’t get to me like he still can.

I wish he would just man-up and be accountable.

But then again, he never has done that. Why would he start now?

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Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog post about the dreams I dared to dream for myself. It had been two years since my separation from my ex husband, and I was beginning to feel comfy in my own skin again. For the first time in my life, I did more than set goals for myself–I dreamed. And I dreamed BIG! Wow, what a feeling it is to think beyond the four walls of your life and what reality dictates for you.

As I glanced back at that post, what I quickly saw is that my dreams were indeed coming true. Sure, some of them morphed a bit, and some of them were were packaged a bit differently, but they were now a reality in my life.

This past year, I was lucky enough to do some freelance work for the magazine I used to work for. As a gift to myself for Christmas this year, I purchased my very first iMac with my paycheck! This beauty was delivered last week, and I feel like I need to pinch myself every time I look at it. I’ve got big plans for this baby: photos, videos, and creativity galore!

Love LoriA iMac

Second on my list of dreams was a Nikon D7000. I’ve noticed throughout this year that I’m busy and life is chaos, so I don’t grab my large DSLR any more. It’s really just my iPhone most of the time. And post-divorce, I’ve done a terrible job of documenting our life (shame, shame on me). I hope none of you have fallen into that rut as I have: our lives need to be recorded, both through the bad and the good times. After realizing this, I’ve made some changes.

I’ve taken advantage of printing photos from my iPhone and having them delivered to my house by the awesome Persnickity Prints (hooray for finally getting them off of my phone). I plan to slip all of my Instagram photos and snapshots into albums for our family to enjoy for years to come. To add to the fun, I picked up this Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 for just over $60. Now we can snap and print instantly and add to our books. The Instax is cheaper and easier to fit into my life, so yipee for dream #2!
Fujifilm_Instax_Mini_25_689645

And now, the dream of a new vehicle. This year I was ready to get rid of my 2004 Toyota minivan. Holy hell was I ready!!! Ideally, I would still love an Audi Q5…ahhh, I can still dream, but a new marriage and the addition of 4 new kids to my family made it quite crazy for me to pick up a 5 seat vehicle. The Kia Sorento Limited AWD was the perfect solution for me. The interior felt just like a Q5 (Kia picked up an Audi designer, so there are lots of features that feel like an Audi), but I’ve got the luxury of 7 seats to fit my new larger family (and the price tag was easier to swallow on this baby, too!)Sorento_2014_SXL_TitSilver_09_C

And finally, Hawaii. Oh, Hawaii. You are a dream that is being rolled over to another day for me. I still have dreams of visiting the islands and lounging for days in the sunshine, and I hope to enjoy a life-long dream of visiting in the near future with my hubby. But this year, we substituted the Pacific for the Atlantic and took off for Jamaica. Just because I didn’t make it to Hawaii doesn’t mean that my dream didn’t come true. Brandon and I spent a week enjoying and relaxing and it was far-beyond heavenly!

Honeymoon_Beach2

I’ve learned a lot about the power of dreaming over this past year. Especially the power of dreaming after a life-altering event, such as divorce. Life can get difficult. It can get ugly (boy, can it get ugly!). It can be painful. But I’ve learned that it can also bring new dreams, new love, new adventures and most importantly, a new you.

They say that if you write down your goals, you’ll remember them and commit to them easier. I think that applies to dreams, too. Call it a bucket list. Call it a list of goals. Whatever you call it, make your list. DO IT! Clip photos of places you want to go or things you want to do or just write them on a paper and put them up in your home. You’ll be so happy you did. Because dreams do come true!

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donotdisturb

Here we are: newlyweds with 8 children. Saying that out loud makes me chuckle.

Once you embark on your second (or third, or fourth…) marriage, if you have children, you may as well throw out any notions or ideas you had about newlywed life. When you’re young, and the baggage you carry into your first marriage only contains items like childhood trophies from your first spelling bee or your collections of Wham! and Dirty Dancing cassettes, your focus can be 100% tuned-in to your spouse and your new life together after the wedding day. As a well-seasoned mother and father who embark on a new marriage, your existing baggage tends to pile up and spill over into every corner of your new life.

Gone are the days when you can plan last-minute getaways (unless you’re über creative): arrangements for the kids and their schedules take time and planning. Date nights are rare, because there are practices, games, homework and school activities that fill up your nights. And you can forget about spending the mornings soaking in the shower with your spouse or lounging naked in bed long into the afternoon on the weekends. There are small eyes (and teenage eyes!) in the house and they are everywhere! And at our house, with 8 kids stuffed into a 2,000 square-foot house, I REALLY mean everywhere. There’s a 2 year old in our room in a playpen every other weekend, a 16 year old across the hall most of the time, and the rest are strewn room-to-room, often planning sleep overs right outside our door in the family room.

How on earth can we be spontaneous, sexy newlyweds with all of that going on?

It’s like cruel and unusual punishment!

That’s why we look forward to our non-kid weekends to have our newlywed adventures. But who wants to plan or wait that long for spontaneous fun?! (And hello! For all of you gals who have passed the ever-so-hot milestone of 40 years old, don’t you want to have sex all the time?)

After being married to a narcissist for years, finding a love like the love Brandon and I share has shown me a person in myself I always knew was there but never felt safe to share. I often tease him and tell him that he wont be able to keep up with me. He laughs and reminds me that there will never be a problem there (one of the advantages of marrying a man 6+ years younger than me). I often laugh about this new person I see in the mirror, seeing that my ex always nagged me and was frustrated about me “never wanting to have sex.” When you’re with someone who is always (and ONLY) about him/herself, you don’t really feel sexy, attractive, wanted or deeply-loved to the point that you are craving to have sex with that person. But finding someone who adores you, cares for you, and would take a bullet for you, tends to open up doorways that were locked for a very long time.

If you’ve been on the path I have, and you were starved for love and affection, trust that you will find love–real, deep, meaningful love. Be open. Know yourself and love yourself. That was my first adventure after my divorce, and a factor that I truly believe led me to Brandon.

And once you find someone and commit your life to them, learn to be vulnerable (which is scary as HELL! I had the hardest time with this!). Ask for what you need, and never stop working on keeping it sexy and new. Remember that between jobs, ex’s, kids and hectic schedules, marriage requires lots of work. All marriages take work, but really, subsequent marriages (and being a second-time-newlywed) take even more work, in my opinion! Gear up for the work, but remember that along with the work comes the fun!

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gift

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Divorce.

Anger.

Resentment.

Jealousy.

Why is it that some people just can’t let things go?

When my ex husband and I agreed to divorce 3 years ago, we both decided to use one lawyer. You know, make it easy. Save money. We both agreed, that is, until my ex husband saw what child support for our four children would be. That’s when he freaked out. He refused to move forward with our current lawyer. In true form, he argued that the amount was ridiculous and said he’d never pay that for the kids.

I insisted that it’s a formula input by the lawyer. He refused to believe me. So, we agreed to disagree and tabled the discussion. It was November, and the holidays were coming up quickly. I suggested we wait until the holidays were over and reopen the case then. Then it got quiet…very quiet. (I should have known then that something was up.)

It was 2 weeks before Christmas, 2011, and I was especially sad. A girlfriend of mine was listening to me gripe about how my soon-to-be-ex hated real Christmas trees. She said to me, “Let’s go get one! Tonight!” The idea made me smile. How cool would that be to bring a tree home to the kids?! So we trudged the mini-van up to the local nursery and picked up the perfect tree. We got to my house and began unloading my perfect little tree and the kids came running out. They were ecstatic! “It smells so good!” they chirped!

Handfuls of decorations were carried into the house, and I went back outside to begin untying the tree. A woman came up to me in my driveway and asked if I was Lori. I replied, “Yes. That’s me.” She handed me a crisp, white envelope and walked away.

I walked into the house, back to the kitchen, and opened the letter. My soon-to-be-ex was having me served. He went behind my back and contacted a lawyer and had divorce papers drawn up on his own. This went beyond everything we discussed! Pages and pages of selfish, pathetic demands were listed in that paperwork and the tears streamed down my face. I gasped when I read that he entered a child support amount of $500 per month for my four children. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS?! We spent that amount on food per month! How on earth could he be so greedy and heartless? (I have since found out he has more of that in him!) I could never afford to stay in the house and support the kids on my small salary plus $500.

My girlfriend, Erin, fixed dinner for the kids while I dried my tears, and she reassured me that no judge would approve that tiny amount considering my ex’s salary. I gathered up the pathetic mess I was, and Erin, the kids and I decorated our first real tree.

Looking back on that day, I have to chuckle about how my ex went about all of it. You see, my birthday is 3 days before Christmas. I think the serving of those papers was a calculated operation he planned to throw off my holiday and birthday. To this day, I truly believe it was a blatant act of revenge and selfishness.

Well, as luck would have it, a few days ago I got home and there was a letter in the mail from a different lawyer my ex has retained. The letter is full of lies, venom, and smokescreens…I like to call it a valiant PR move. Wouldn’t you know it: my ex’s Christmas slap landed directly on my face again. He actually is accusing me of being a liar. Anyone that knows me, knows that if there’s one thing I hate, it’s a liar! And one thing I’m definitely not is a liar!

I called my husband and the two of us talked about the letter. He listened to me, was empathetic with me, and made me feel safe and confident in who I am and in the mother I know I am.

whatswrong2

I know why he does what he does. My ex doesn’t appreciate that life is going well for me. He doesn’t like the fact that I stand up for myself and my children and won’t tolerate bullying by him any longer. That ship sailed out of the harbor years ago.

It’s been a long road to get where I am. And I won’t lie: his slaps still sting. I hate how he won’t just let me go. It frustrates me that when the truth comes out about him, he lies and spins things to make me look less-than. I despise that he has to “win at all costs.”

Will it ever end? Will we ever be able to move on and really, genuinely, act on behalf of the welfare of the kids and put the rest of the crap behind us?

I don’t see how it will ever happen, and I’m not holding my breath.

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49ersvsSeahawks

How can a single football game make me feel nauseous, angry and sad all at the same time?

No, it’s not the playoffs.

No, I didn’t have any money riding on the game.

Yes it was a close game, but I wasn’t freaking out about the outcome.

It was the fact that my ex husband was in San Francisco with his new wife watching our favorite team.

I haven’t been bothered when the two of them have traveled or gone to MLB baseball games in the past. It hasn’t phased me one bit. But the Niners games he goes to still seem to be the knife in my side that twist a little when he goes.

3 years ago, when he and I were trying to work through the final breaths of our marriage, I proposed an anniversary surprise. After finding out he was involved with another woman in our neighborhood and kicking him out of our home, he told me that he was frustrated that our life was only about our 4 kids and that he wanted to travel and have fun, I did some research and found that his two favorite football teams were playing in San Francisco on our anniversary weekend.  What were the chances? I thought to myself This is totally a sign! We need to go!

Our anniversary was in November. He liked the idea and told me, “Let’s book it. This is my way of showing you I’m looking towards our future and I’m committing to you.” So I planned the week of our dreams. We both love sports, and we were faithful 49er fans. I couldn’t believe he said yes! He’s typically a penny pincher and would always say, “We can’t afford that.” to anything involving spending money, so I was thrilled! (I was also falling back into my pleaser role and was trying to make him happy and woo him back into the marriage by competing with the new relationship with our neighbor. She seemed to feed his ego much better than I could as the “old” woman of his past.)

That anniversary trip never took place. A month prior to our anniversary, I came to the gut-wrenching realization that our marriage had taken its last breath and all that was left was a cold, still figure that would never live again.

I asked my ex to cancel the flights and sell-off the football tickets (it was his fault we were getting divorced, so I wasn’t going to deal with all of the tasks involved in canceling the trip). I remember the conversation like it was yesterday…

HIM:   “Oh I’m not selling the tickets.”

ME:   “Oh, you’re not?! You’re seriously going to take her on the trip, aren’t you?!”

HIM:   “No. I didn’t say that…I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.”

The emotions that rolled through me were very familiar by that time. I’d experienced these feelings almost daily for almost 4 months: Betrayal, fear, anger, frustration, abandonment.

Yesterday’s football game brought up those feelings all over again.

His new wife doesn’t even like sports. She is a pleaser and supports him in all he does (sound familiar?!) so she goes. He purchases football and baseball jerseys for her to wear and tags my children in the photos of the two of them on Facebook so I can see the them. Every.damn.photo. Interesting!

Like I said earlier, the trips don’t bother me. I have no desire to be alone with that man anywhere on the planet. It’s that feeling of betrayal that comes back to me like a stealth bomber rushing through the black midnight sky. Moments like these sneak up on me and it takes me a few hours to sort through what I’m really feeling.

What am I feeling?

Sometimes I want to scream out to him: hoping that he’ll hear and understand, but I know he never will.

I always wanted to travel! Why did you never take me anywhere?

Is that why you started seeing someone else? So I would divorce you and you would only have to pay child support and all of your extra money can now go to your selfish activities without taking your children to any of the games?

Our children go without: you tell them you don’t have gas money to take them to their friends, you won’t give them money to pay for the tax on a video game, you buy them used clothing, you won’t let them turn up the heat at your house because you “don’t have the money”, but you travel and go to professional games and send the kids photos and they get mad. Do you not see it?

Sometimes I still get angry. Not as much as I used to, but sometimes I still do.

I worked hard on that marriage. I always worked and I raised our 4 kids while he worked and enjoyed being in his garage on the weekends. I worked full-time with 3 kids under 3 to put him through school a second time so he could support our family–After graduation, our plan was for me to work part-time and be home for our children. Now that’s all gone. And my kids suffer. Their mom is gone to work every day until 5:30 and they come home to an empty house. They are shuttled to-and-from sports by friends, grandparents, and coaches. He isn’t there for them, even though he says he is. He is only a father when the court-designated visitation time comes up on the calendar.

I realize that days like these will pass. They always do. But that doesn’t stop them from coming occasionally And once days like those pass, I remember to breathe. I remember to look in the faces of my children and love them. Money and trips are not what happiness in life is about. They know this. They know it’s about love and time.

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