Posts from the ‘travel’ category

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I remember many of the days that lead up to asking my ex husband for a divorce. It’s funny how lots of people go through the same cycle pre-divorce. It starts out with tears and confusion once you realize your marriage isn’t going to last much longer. Then you move into the desperation stage where you try to fix everything to get the other person to realize what they’re losing. Finally, after much head-banging, you get to the point where you see your worth and see what you deserve, and you get the cojones to move on. I got to that point a few weeks before I deemed the marriage over. My ex and I were standing at the front door of our home (well, it was my home at the time, because he was living with his mother in her downtown condo). I was telling him good-bye after a quick visit with the kids. I looked him straight in the eye and and said something that I will always remember–and he probably will to.

I said, “Remember, one day there will be a man who loves me and adores me and he’ll raise these kids, every day, in this house, and you’ll get to see them every-other weekend. That’s the choice YOU made!”

He looked me and replied with a somber, “I know.”

That day has come. It’s been just-over a year that this wonderful man has been in our lives. He’s crazy about me. And I’m crazy about him and so are my kids. He doesn’t have to connect with my kids. There’s no rule in the step-parent handbook that says you MUST participate with your step-children. I know people who have actually chosen to keep two separate houses so when the husband has his kids, he LEAVES and goes to “his house” with his kids. Yep, crazy! But we are parents who love each others’ kids like our own. We are making a conscious effort.

This past weekend, Brandon and I were at my daughter’s first out-of-town softball tournament in St. George. She was super-excited to go and put in a special request to go alone with the two of us. Brandon was engaged with my daughter’s playing and her performance. He worked with her between games on blocking the balls as they were delivered to her at catcher. He gave her calm, positive instruction on how to be better and how to believe in herself. I watched and my heart swelled as I saw this. To see a man love in this capacity is everything I’d hoped for (and let’s face it–that’s just sexy as hell!). He also told every girl on the team that if they could make it through the first round of the batting order with no strike-outs, he’d take all of them out for Blizzards. And, guess what? They did it! And he delivered! Ellie had a great tournament, and her team ended up taking 3rd place! And Brandon was right by my side screaming and yelling through every home run and every time she threw out a runner at 2nd base. And her dad missed it.

My ex husband once told me, “I’m just sick of the same-old, same-old shit with life and these four kids. It’s time for me.” I couldn’t understand why someone would say such a thing. But he obviously envisioned his life differently than it was looking to turn out. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t come to their out-of-town tournaments. I’m not sure why, but that’s not my concern. As for me? After getting remarried, learning to trust again, and opening up my heart to something wonderful, I see the family I’d always wanted. It may look a bit different than my original vision, but it’s all mine.

If you’re divorced, or you’re a single parent (or both), trust that there will be someone out there who will love your kids as his/her own. They can come in the forms of coaches, friends, or spouses. Those people are out there. And by being positive and living your life, you’re bound to find them.

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After bobbing around in the dating pool for some time (and for the most part, feeling like I was drowning or getting the life  sucked out of me), I learned a few things along the way. Most of the men out there just didn’t make the man-I-think-I-could-see-myself-with-cut. (Most didn’t even make the first-cut!)

There were men who expected their woman to dress like a playboy pinup daily so they can show her off. Ummm, thanks, no buh-bye! And men who liked pretending they weren’t fathers who only wanted to go play and spend money. Let me see…you say you can’t afford to pay your child support all the time, yet you want to take me to Las Vegas for the weekend? PASS! But once in a blue-moon (or maybe it’s only during the full-moon) you may come across a man who is worth your time. SCORE! Here are a few reasons to consider moving that man from the friend-zone to the end-zone:

1. He doesn’t expect perfection from you.

Let’s face it, most of us heading into a remarriage have baggage–kids, debt, exes, etc. It’s not easy to sweep all of those lumpy things under the dining room rug and pretend they aren’t part of the equation. (You can pretend they aren’t there, but what kind of a beginning is that, really?) If you’ve had a bad day because of an argument with an ex, or your teen isn’t listening to you and you’re frustrated, and your man listens intently as you sob and have liquid dripping from your eyes and nose, he’s a keeper.

2. He takes pride in your kids and in their activities.

I’ll never forget the moment I realized Brandon cared about my kids just as much as he cared about me. It was during my son, Josh’s, football tournament in Nevada last year. Brandon was pacing up and down the sideline cheering for all of the boys on the team, and he was more stressed about the outcome than I was. That wonderful man was right there worrying about him when he held his arm after a hard hit, and he was by my side to celebrate the victory. Pride beamed from his face: all for my boy and the team. It was a weekend to remember!

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3. He reminds you that you are amazing.

I did not want was hesitant to get married again! I won’t lie! I had “control” of my little life (finally!) when he and I began dating.  So the few times I had cold feet and broke things off with Brandon, he gave me space and told me he understood my concerns. However, he also told me to stop comparing my old life to my new life and often reminded me that I I could achieve whatever I wanted as long as I stopped being scared of making a mistake. That was refreshing to know he had my back. I don’t think I ever felt that in my last marriage.

4. He laughs at your kids’ quirks and poor manners.

The fact that Brandon giggled when one of my daughters passed gas as he threw her up-and-over his shoulder for the first time told me he could hang with my kids and enjoy their obnoxiousness I’ve grown to love. (And the fact that he still giggles when my girls “let one slip” to this day tells me I made a good choice!)

5. He takes the time to get to know you as a person.

You, the woman, not only as the mother you are (sure that’s part of you, but it doesn’t make up all of you). I see so many men looking for a “good mom for their kids” and they don’t really ponder if they marry this lady, she’ll be shackled to him for the next 30-40 years. When Brandon was getting to know me, he was surprised to learn that I worked for a scrapbook magazine and liked creating and crafting and taking photos. He’s happy I have things I enjoy, and he supports me in those things.

Remarriage isn’t easy. It’s not like throwing out old shoes and buying a new pair that fit just as well if not better. There are still sacrifices to be made. And some days I wonder if I was crazy to try this again. But ya know what? I’m living my life. Living! There are  memories being made. The love grows. Each day our new family is together, we create moments we’ll chuckle about around the Thanksgiving table in years to come. We laugh, we fight, we tease. It’s called living.

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Lori_NestEggI feel completely naked: the kind of naked where you feel ashamed, exposed, and vulnerable. My nest egg is gone. In a strange way, I feel like I have nothing.

Flash back five years ago.

After 10-12 years of marriage, my ex husband and I were putting most of our extra money into his 401k account as part of our planning for our future: his job had a direct 100% match. We had begun making plans for our future. After years of diapers, preschools, building our family and settling in our “forever” home, we hoped to save enough money to give the kids a bit of cash to help out with college and for the two of us to retire someday in a warmer climate.

Fast forward 5-or-so years when a long-distance and a too-close-to-home situation occurred when my then husband conveniently forgot he was married, and all of those dreams were shattered (and flushed down the toilet right along with the marriage).

To my ex husband, money really is a security blanket. I get that now. That’s just part of who he is. Me? I’m not really molded that way, but having enough money makes me feel secure (who likes to be broke, really?). Throughout our marriage, we were debt-free for the most part. It was important to us. But he took it a step further and we lived like we had to live paycheck to paycheck, always. I felt broke, always. We didn’t need to live that way. He prided himself on paying extra on our mortgage and contributing extra to our 401k. That’s both a blessing and a curse.

We were lucky we had a retirement account—most people aren’t so lucky. I’m thankful we had the money built up. But really, what good is a nest egg when it’s cracked in half and rotting day-by-day once you get divorced? Let me explain:

Part of the divorce process involves the distribution of assets. Ours was a 50/50 split.  He believed in everything being “fair and equal”, so when he wanted 2 of the 4 extension cords, 5 of the 10 plastic bins in the basement (and so on!) it was also decided we split the 401k.

Now, one of the joys (insert sarcasm) of divorce is that if you and your soon-to-be-ex argue about anything, then you each get a lawyer and you hash it out and pretty much pay for the lawyer’s children to go to college instead of your own. I wanted to walk away from the house, the furniture, everything. I just wanted to get away! But I had people telling me to think of the kids and to stay and get half of what we had built. So I did.

The stance I took cost me nearly $13,000 dollars: $200 an hour, to be exact. When my ex husband decided to change his mind after paying for mediation and refused to sign ANYTHING we had agreed to, we went back and forth between our lawyers to agree on a settlement.  It took two months, and it got expensive—we didn’t even go to court! I was truly exhausted at that point and just called it over. I didn’t fight to have him pay all of the kids benefits like most ex’s do. Or all of the kids’ medical bills. Or for the entire mortgage. I pay 50% of the kids benefits and bills and paid 100% of the mortgage. I have always (and still do) paid for 100% of their activities and sports (although he’s supposed to pay half)! All of these payments add up to my debt.

Feeding children on a $9 an-hour salary when I worked at their school wasn’t possible. I was paying an $1800 per month mortgage! My only choice was to buy groceries on my credit card back then. Travels to out-of-town tournaments were a priority for my little family, because those activities are part of who my kids are (and I was not going to make them change because their father decided to skip out with a neighbor). Those, too, were put on credit cards. The feeling of being in debt is crippling!

Today, after dealing with lots of back-and-forth and lawyer bills to split our 401k in half, I finally am able to gain access to my half of the nest egg. Will that egg feed me in my old age? No. It will go to paying off a 3 year-old divorce and bills from surviving during the hardest 3 years of my life. I’m so blessed to be able to do this, as I know lots of people who don’t have this luxury.

Am I sad my nest egg will be gone? In a strange way, yes I am. But the two-ton weight that has settled on my back and continually squashed me into the ground every month when I pay payments to those credit cards will now be gone. The day I pay off those bills will be a day of freedom, and I’ll be able to breathe again. The past can be put behind me. The monthly reminders in the mail that whisper to me, “Lori, you might not be able to come up for air ever again.” will now disappear.

I have so much more than the comfort of that nest egg! I have my amazing kids, my own home, my husband, a job I love, and I will be debt free again. I may not have the security of a retirement account come tomorrow, but as my always understanding husband often repeats to me, “I can always make more money.”

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Honeymoon_ManonBeach

First: I need to start this post by saying that no, that is not my husband! Thank you.

Why is it that we as moms, whether we’re single or married, feel guilty about spending money on ourselves? Is there some sort of unwritten rule that states YOU MUST SACRIFICE YOURSELF AND YOUR NEEDS FOR THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR CHILDREN? Nope, nowhere that I’ve seen, anyway. It’s a sort of strange role we slip into while we’re trying to be the best mommy possible. I’ve mentioned before how I put my needs aside in the past, and I ignored the things I wanted to do for me. What I was telling myself was “You don’t matter!” Duh! What a dumb idea that was! If one of my kids or my husband came to me and asked for something, I’d try my very best to get them what they needed. So why didn’t I do that for myself? It’s a question that has no answer…just like why do socks get eaten by the washing machine? Really, no freakin answer!

One thing I’ve loved since I was a child was going on vacation. We’d pack up for a week and head to our timeshare in St. George or Bear Lake and I’d be the first one out of the car. The excitement raced through me as if I’d just won the lottery! I’d rush to my room, unpack my things (stacked perfectly in the dresser drawers) and imagine that I had my own place and this was my life. That’s how vacations make me feel now! This picture of the quite possibly intoxicated dude shown above is how I feel each-and-every-time I leave town (even if it’s only for the weekend). I wanna rip my shirt off and lay on the shoreline…well, not really. I do, however, want to lay in the sunshine and breathe in freedom. It’s pure, sexy, intoxicating BLISS!

For all of you single parents, married parents, soon-to-be parents: If there is anything you must do for yourselves, it’s plan getaways! There are plenty of low-cost options out there that you can afford! Groupon, Orbitz, and Living Social are a few of the online sources I scour when I’m planning a getaway for our family or for me and the man. In my “past life” (or the time in my life I refer to as the “19-years I spent locked in a closet”–not literally), time away was never made a priority. Bad Lori, bad! I have since learned how to live and enjoy, and damn it, it feels good!

This past September, Brandon and I went to Jamaica on our honeymoon. It was amazing! We met so many people from all around the world. Most had told us they booked their stay through Cheapcarribean.com (which I haven’t used), and their pricing was much cheaper than ours!

The water was an indulgent emerald color, the skies were perfectly blue, and the sand was soft and luscious between my toes. In Jamaica we were able to relax, play, eat, drink, escape and let our hair down (well, I let my hair down…Brandon doesn’t have any hair to let down, but he did his best). If you’re reading this and thinking “Lori, I don’t have an extra $500 bucks to leave the state, let alone fly to Jamaica.” let me tell you again, you must make this a priority if this is important to you. When I was a single mom with not much to spare, I found a Groupon deal for $59 a night in Park City. I took my girls up on a Friday night. Did they care it was only 45 minutes away? Heavens no! We stopped at Walmart and bought girlie pajamas, ate room service in our room (we ordered 2 appetizers to share), woke up late and enjoyed the day shopping for school shoes in the outlet malls. It was an inexpensive weekend and one they talk about often. I’m so glad I made time to escape our everyday life of sports, chores and schoolwork! Remember, living and experiencing your life is what it’s all about. Make you a priority!

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