I haven’t posted in a week, but not for lack of trying. There has been A LOT happening on ALL fronts. But, I’ll start with the easy stuff. The day after I wrote that last post I got online at work to catch up with all of you. I got halfway through my blogroll when the boss sent me off to town. The next day when I got to work Manjina told me my computer had another virus. Boy, he did it right that time! This virus wouldn’t let you online at all and you couldn’t even run any anti-virus or anti-spyware programs. I had no choice but to wipe the entire hard drive. Yeah, that’s about as much fun as it sounds. It took 2 work days for me to wipe the drive and reload the basic programs. I haven’t even put MS Word or Picasa back on it yet. I’m not even going to load Yahoo Messenger because I’m pretty sure that’s how he got the virus in the first place. His Yahoo accounts have been getting hijacked for months with the hijacker changing his password and sending out messages as him. Going by the messages, it’s obviously a vindictive ex-girlfriend or someone related to them. I tell ya. Here’s a clue Manny. STOP HANDING OUT YOUR PASSWORD LIKE IT’S CANDY! And how about you don’t add everything with a female name that asks to be added? Not so hard really. At any rate, if you thought I just didn’t care or skipped your blog intentionally, SO NOT TRUE. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, there was a kids weekend, my relatives came, Rachel got her PCS orders, and Tina had a minor celebrity sighting. So let’s hit this…
When Mull dropped the kids off on Friday, she and Paladin got into it over me. It started innocently enough. She sent them with a ton of craft stuff for the weekend. When they came through the door, Blondie was gushing over it telling me how “Mom said we can do this here.” I told her in my smiling, sweet, not-on-your-life voice, “Nope. You can do that at Mom’s. I have stuff to do this weekend.” Mull was still outside giving Paladin a schedule for Spring Break (but I’ll get into that later). So, Martian took the stuff back out to her. Mull flipped. She told Paladin, “She can’t tell my kids what they can and can’t do.” I was inside with the little ones and oblivious to all of this, btw. Paladin told her that I was none of her business and Mull told him she’d ask her lawyer about that. Paladin told her that was fine that he wondered just what the judge would have to say about her selling babies. As I said, I was inside the house and had no idea this was going on. Bell came inside and was obviously upset. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she didn’t know if she should tell me. I told her, “In this house, we have no secrets” and took her to the bedroom to talk. She told me about the fight going on outside. I told her that Dad and Mom were wrong to fight in front of her and Martian. She was having trouble explaining how she was feeling, and I told her that I knew she felt caught in the middle and that she didn’t have to be. I told her that it’s the adult’s responsibility and she’s a teenager and that anytime she felt caught in the middle she could come to me. We hugged. It was totally a bonding moment and she felt better. When Paladin came inside I dragged him into the bedroom alone to find out what was going on. He hadn’t known that Bell or Martian could hear them. I left the room and sent in Bell and Martian so Paladin could talk to them and apologize. And, the rest of the weekend went off without a hitch except for some arguing between Paladin and I. I always get stressed when pulling off a big to-do. I try to do everything myself (in this case, that meant redecorating a courtyard and porch and cooking for 30…all in 2 days…I’ll have decor pics soon!) until I can’t and then I hand off a few jobs. Paladin wanted to go put a bracket over his license plate. Yeah, way more important than fixing the grill and getting out the cooler. So, yeah we got into it, but we got over it…as soon as he saw the light… I told him if he thought this was rough, he should see how I get when the wedding comes.
Sunday, we planned a BBQ and invited my relatives and all of my girlfriends (I told Rachel to forward an email to them but most of them didn’t show up…not sure if Rachel was lax or what…this has happened before with her…she shows up with one or two people in her car and that’s it…I’m starting to wonder if it’s intentional friend-hoarding or coincidence). We didn’t tell the kids this until the day of the BBQ because every time we have made a specific plan and told them about it something has ruined it. They all had a blast! Paladin got water balloons, and although I missed most of it because I was making sure everyone got fed, I hear that they got several of my cousins GOOD. lol My relatives all loved the kids and fawned over them. Savvy got her hair french-braided by my aunt and was over the moon about it. Rachel showed up with her 3yr. old Naudia and with Girl’s Night regular Clara and her little 4yr. old Junior (how I wish I’d given someone a camera while I was running around making strawberry margaritas and telling Bell that “I don’t care if your mother lets you make her pina coladas and drink with her. It’s not happening here.”). Naudia and Indy are about the same age, and Junior and my cousin’s little boy Christian are the same age. So, the kids had built-in buddies. The boys did great and were in cahoots in 10 seconds. But, Naudia has me worried. She wouldn’t play with the other children (she is shy with most people but she’s been in daycare with other kids for months) and when you put her next to Indy you can tell that they are on two different developmental tracks entirely. Naudia’s language skills are stunted to some extent and Rachel has already spoken to a speech therapist because of it. I’m very worried about it. Sometimes you really don’t see how significant it is until you see them with other children. I’ve been around this child more than her own father (thanks to deployments) and on this Monday, they will be leaving for Missouri. I’m going to miss them so very much. 😦 Anyhoo, the party was still in full swing when Indy informed me that she had pooped. We headed inside for a diaper change and Mull showed up halfway through (who keeps feeding this kid curry? seriously, she could peel paint off the walls!). I told Martian we’d be out once it was done. When we came out I almost had to force Indy to go because she wanted to keep playing outside. I’m sure that helped Mull’s mood. Eventually, the party wound down and we headed out to my Mom’s.
The majority of the week was spent at work trying to repair things. First, I worked on my computer. Then Brian told me that he had gotten a letter from the VA telling him that he owed them almost $17 grand! Needless to say, we spent a day at the VA trying to get somewhere with that. It comes down to additional medical expenses, such as OTC meds and transportation costs, that the VA has been giving him a monthly stipend for, but that Brian didn’t claim (it was determined before Tina’s time and we suspect that a previous worker filled out the form and padded it…but the Hispanic Morgan Freeman voice on the other end of the line would only say it was “data” they had on file). They are going to dock his pay by over $500 a month. Brian thinks it will all be ok, but things have been tight since Mr. Ralph died and he had to take over all the bills alone. The other day before Paladin and I left Brian asked if the offer to move into the West Wing still stood. Of course, it does. Not a problem. We’ll be happy to have him as a tenant.
I did take off for most of Tuesday and Paladin and I joined the family on a trek through Natchitoches. Paladin had never been and we hit all of the same places we’d gone with Ginger last summer including St. Augustine Catholic Church (the wedding ceremony of Steel Magnolia’s was filmed there), Oakland Plantation (it’s undergoing renovations but they’ve opened far more of it since last summer), and Magnolia Plantation (it was deserted and not even the caretaker was there…last year we had a ghostly encounter there that scared the bejesus out of Ginger 🙂 ). Then we went to lunch at The Landing restaurant on Front Street where the food is ok but you really pay for the ambiance (I prefer Merci Beaucoup around the corner); the bread pudding always makes me forget the cost though. Paladin and I avoided most of the shops and just strolled along the river front talking about how what might have been. If Mull hadn’t screwed up filing the divorce, we’d have been in Natchitoches secretly getting married that weekend (I mentioned that to Mom when we got home and she flipped…apparently, I forgot to tell her about our interrupted secret elopement plans). We ended the day out at the Bayou Pierre Alligator Park. Unfortunately, it was still a bit cool out and alligators don’t like that, but the baby goats were ADORABLE! I used every quarter I could lay my hands on to feed them! Paladin was hanging around talking guy stuff with my Uncle Rob. Paladin fits in with all the relatives just like he’s one of us already (the brothers even like him…he hangs out and drinks coffee and argues politics and speaks guns & ammo…like I said, he fits right in! lol ). On the way out of the park, Tina stopped the owner to tell him how much she enjoyed watching him on A&E’s The Exterminators and she told him about her minor-celebrity sighting. Last Saturday, she was in Walmart when the brother on the Exterminators, Ricky, asked her if he could get past her. She went totally ‘OMG! A celebrity!’ stunned and stuttered, “Sure, Ricky.” Then Ricky looked stunned. I’m pretty sure it was the first time he had been a celeb-sighting. It made Tina’s year. It was a good quiet day, and I went home with White Russian and Irish Coffee truffles from Front Street’s Les Saisson candy shop.
In fact, everything was quiet until Thursday evening when Paladin and I got into a major fight. He has a bad habit of telling the kids everything about our plans which is the same as telling Mull. Martian called him Thursday evening and asked what we were doing and he told him about the zoo, stopping at Mom’s for painting (weekend before last, I let Savvy and Indy talk to Mom on the phone and Blondie has been asking about her too…Indy threw a major fit the other day wanting to talk to “mom” on the phone…Paladin thought she meant Mull and I had to explain to him that she meant my Mom…this would have been their first time to meet my Mom in person but they’ve met the brothers and Tina a few times) and bowling on base with the Girl’s Night crowd. I screamed at Paladin over that and told him that we’d never see them now. He argued back at me because I’m too controlling and have to have my way and he’s not going to lie to his kids. I told him, “This is who I am and you’d better figure out now if you can handle it; if you can’t, it’s best to leave now.” He walked out of the ghetto trailer and came back a while later. We talked it through but nothing was really settled. I took the argument harder than he did. He thought of it as a little spat. I spent the rest of the night driving back to Deridder with him quietly thinking about whether or not he could handle life with me. I’m under no illusions. I KNOW I’m controlling and I take my life and everything I do seriously, but I haven’t changed in 20yrs. I wouldn’t hold my breath on things changing anytime soon. Paladin tried to get me to talk about it by the time we stopped at Walmart for gas (people don’t really appreciate you sitting in the van for half an hour talking while they wait to fill up, btw). He finally realized that he’s not the only one with abandonment issues. I may handle mine better, but they’re still here sitting beside my ‘second class citizen’ issues having coffee and talking shite. My issues didn’t even get a chance to cool down when Paladin pulled out the forgotten Spring Break schedule Mull provided. He had forgotten to show it to me until that moment. I flipped a bit. Mull’s schedule was basically her taking the kids to the zoo Saturday and to Church Sunday then immediately leaving them with us after Church for most of the rest of the week. Gee…I wonder if college students get the same Spring Break. They do? Why, really? By morning I was still steamed at Paladin despite his hugging me tight in bed and telling me how much he loves me (that doesn’t keep me from being mad about suddenly having to work out my work schedule so that I can work, take care of the kids, and be with you week-after-next when you have to be in the hospital for 2 days). Mostly, I was pissed because I’d been looking forward to sleeping past 6am for the first time in a month, to having a single day when I didn’t have to clean or take care of a million other things. I wasn’t mad at him for long though.
When Paladin called at 8am to make sure the kids were up and getting ready for our day out, Mull informed him that they couldn’t go because they were sick. Uh huh. After I’d told Paladin “told ya so”, I suggested he roll on over there and see just how sick they were. The answer? Probably not at all. According to Mull on the phone, Savvy was throwing up all night and Indy was sick and had a fever. When Paladin got there, they were gone. Mull soon arrived with all the kids in her mini-van dressed and ready to be left with us; she wanted us to leave Bell at home alone with Indy and Savvy and take the “healthy” kids to the zoo (that leaves Martian and Blondie, btw). That would never under ANY circumstances have happened; at most, one of us would have stayed with them and Bell would have gone with the rest of the kids. It’s not Bell’s job to take care of a sick 2.5yr. old and 8yr. old! She’s only 15! Dammit, Mull, be a mother or step aside and let a grown up do it! Of course, sick is a very relative term. Paladin quickly found out that Savvy had thrown up once the night before and she was hanging on him begging to go to the zoo as perky as ever. Indy was kept out of his reach; so that he couldn’t touch her to check her “fever” but she didn’t do her usual sick kid thing (she wasn’t listless or glassy-eyed or cuddling up…and believe me, we know what she looks like sick…Mull has sent her to us sick MANY times). Paladin informed Mull that her ploy wasn’t going to work. If the kids were really sick, she needed to either stay home and take care of them herself or take them to the ER on base (it costs her nothing but time to take them there). She told him that just maybe the kids would be sick the next time he was supposed to have them too. He told her that if she couldn’t take care of her responsibilities that a judge could make sure she did. Mull has sent those kids to us about 4 times in 5 months with illnesses and has yet to have taken any of them but Martian to the doctor (she only took him because he’s missed so much school that if he didn’t have a doctor’s excuse they’d fail him). Savvy keeps telling us about her cavity and that “Mom says she can’t afford to take me to the dentist”; Paladin has offered several times now to pay the co-pay for the dentist (as he did for Bell to get her braces and he pays to keep the dental insurance which is an extra charge in the Army system) and Mull just got almost $5k in tax money and another big pay-off from the adoption. She can afford it. She just doesn’t want to. She wanted to make sure she ruined our day out and to get her way. Paladin told her that wasn’t going to fly. He came home without the kids because of it. Bell texted him telling him that it was unfair to not do it Mom’s way because that way at least some of the kids could go and instead now they’d be in the ER for hours; he texted back telling her not to do her mother’s talking for her (Mull makes Bell and Martian talk to Paladin for her despite the fact that we’ve told her time and again to do her own calling…it’s not like Paladin attacks her or anything…it’s called being an adult). What else was he supposed to do? If we had taken these obviously-not-sick kids to the zoo as planned, Mull would have reamed us over it and she’d probably have done the same if we’d left Bell to take of them (as if we’d do that!). In the end, we’ve pretty much decided not to make Mull’s life easier by taking the kids for most of Spring Break. We want them here. We do. But, Mull can’t have it her way all the time. She doesn’t get to tell us how to spend our time with them. Period. And, I, for one, really don’t feel the need to take care of the kids so she can spend romantic weeks with her college student especially if it’s on her terms. The Wednesday before this, Paladin talked to his attorney about equal custody, and the lawyer said he could file for it but it’s going to take time. His lawyer isn’t the greatest and seems to be juggling a lot of clients. I told Paladin that he’d just have to be the squeaky wheel. We haven’t been formally documenting Mull’s activities or hunting her down or making notes about her men, but it looks like it may be coming to that. *sigh*
So that’s been my week in a nutshell. I’m going to try to get to your blogs tomorrow since I’ll have my Sunday free, I guess. I hope you haven’t all disappeared. 😦 Right now, I’ve got to water my neglected garden, check out the very needy cat, and go to the last Girl’s Night. 😦 Byes!
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