Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Meme

Like my friend Melanie, I've done this MEME in past years and it is fun to go back and read the answers, so I thought I'd do it again this year. If you decided to play along on your blog, leave a comment so I can read your 2010 recap.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
I wrote a book. A whole book! :) And a good bit of another one.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did not make any resolutions last year. This year I won't make a resolution, but I will state that my goal is to get a book deal. :)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nobody physically close to me did - several online friends did though!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my best friend died of breast cancer in May.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just the good old USA.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Peace, Financial Stability, and adequate housing.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 15 - the day we buried my best friend.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a book written. Raising my children in such a way that they are extremely well adjusted and happy in spite of bad circumstances.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Worrying too much about things beyond my control.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, several illnesses and a surgery.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Yeah - no disposable income around here these days. I guess food for my children was the best thing I bought this year. :)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My children - they are amazing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My Ex Husband's.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food, shelter.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I was healthy for 6 months straight. That was pretty cool.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"What I Am" by

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) happier; b) about the same; c) about the same, a little poorer actually

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Snuggle my kids, Relax

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent it with my kids, parents, bro and sis

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?
Nope, thank goodness.

22. How many one-night stands?
Seriously? LOL! Celibacy is working out very well for me.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Castle, Law and Order: LA

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don't hate anybody.

25. What was the best book you read?
Read lots of great books this year - recent favorites were "The Lost Hero" [Rick Riordan] and "The Ruby Key" [Holly Lisle]

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Not sure I really made any musical discoveries this year.

27. What did you want and get?
Better health.

28. What did you want and not get?
A decent home for my children.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hmmm... I guess Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I don't remember. I was 41.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If my Ex husband had not hassled me and gone out of his way to make life difficult.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

33. What kept you sane?
I'm not sure I am actually sane any more. I wouldn't take any bets on it anyway. :)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Will Smith. In an alternate dimension somewhere he's my hubby. ;)

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I'm so hating politics at this point in my life. It is all the same anyway - nothing ever changes.

36. Who did you miss?
All the friends I used to have IRL that I only see online now. And of course my best friend that died.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I don't really have an answer for that. I did not meet a lot of new people this year, though I did meet some really nice ones. I'm glad I "reunited" with my friend Kathy and a couple of other folks.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
"Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."
~Malachy McCourt

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"If what I am is what's in me, then I'll be strong, that's who I'll be; and I will always be the best me that I can be....Never gonna quit, I'll keep getting stronger."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010 From Kelly And The Monkeys!!!!

We hope this has been a great year for you and that this letter finds you in good health and high spirits! We are once again taking this opportunity to catch everyone up with our family and what has been going on.

Monkey1, age 12, started 6th grade this year. Her school has a fantastic gifted program that has been really good for her. She is continuing to make straight “A”s and to excel at everything she tries. She continues to do well in Chorus at school. She made the “State Wide Honor Chorus” this year. Her hobbies are reading, researching, listening to music, writing, singing, & watching old horror movies from the 1930s & 1940s. She is a wicked unbeatable chess player. Monkey1’s favorite book is The Red Pyramid [or anything by Rick Riordan]. She wants to be a private investigator, a singer or a chef when she grows up.

Monkey2, age 9, is in 3rd grade. He has morphed into a straight “A” student and is consistently on the high Honor Roll. He enjoys playing basketball and anything on the Wii. His hobbies include computer & video games, building with legos, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, bakugans & cooking with mom. He loves playing with his two younger sisters and they worship the ground he walks on. His favorite books are Dragon Blood and the Magic Treehouse series. Monkey2 wants to be a lego designer when he grows up.

Monkey3, age 7, is in 2nd grade. She is doing very well in school & is staying on the Honor Roll as well; definitely doing her part to keep up the family tradition. She enjoys playing basketball & playing with her brother on the Wii. Her hobbies include collecting animals, playing with animals, learning about animals, pretending to be different animals, reading & cooking with her mom, & playing Pokemon & Yu-Gi-Oh with her brother. Her favorite book is Go Dog Go! Monkey3 wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

Monkey4, age 5, is in Kindergarten. Kindergartners do not receive letter grades, but she gets 100% smiley faces. :) She enjoys creating art work, dancing, playing with her younger sisters, “babysitting”, cooking with mom, playing with Barbies, playing outdoors, & swimming. Her favorite book is Mermaid Barbie. Monkey4 wants to be a Mommy when she grows up.

Monkey5, age 3, started preschool this year. She has done very well at preschool and loves her teacher [she lucked out and got the BEST TEACHER EVER – truly a Blessing!]. She has made lots of friends in her class. She enjoys playing with Monkey4 and Monkey6, reading with mom, playing with Barbies, cooking, being with her Granny, playing pretend, swimming & drawing. Her favorite book is Fancy Nancy. Monkey5 wants to be a Princess when she grows up.

BabyMonkey, age 2, is the Lone Ranger at home during school hours these days [we tried preschool with her this Fall – it didn’t work]. She continues to be adorable & funny. She has developed her talents into becoming a First Class Cat Burglar – able to get anything she wants & steal it away, no matter how well it is safeguarded! She enjoys hanging out with her Grandfather, playing with dogs, reading books, destroying stuff, climbing, figuring out how things work, and pretending to be a puppy. Her favorite book is Llama Llama Misses Mama. BabyMonkey wants to be a Puppy when she grows up.

I, Kelly, am still hanging on by my teeth and somehow managing to enjoy the heck out of life in spite of it all. I was thrilled to get my old job back teaching childbirth classes at the Hospital, where I worked for 10 years until 2009. I enjoy cooking with my children, snuggling with the kids, reading, writing, walking around the neighborhood & lake with the children & the dogs, & amazing people by making fine wine out of the lemons Life handed me. :) I couldn’t possibly pick just one favorite book this year, but, like Monkey1, I have certainly enjoyed everything Rick Riordan writes.

The children completed a major accomplishment this year. For three years they were working, sacrificing [asking for cash donations instead of birthday gifts, for example], and saving to build a house for a poor family in Haiti through the charity organization “Food for the Poor”. This year they finally succeeded, and in May they were able to send off a check for $3,100 – enough to build a home for a homeless family affected by the Earthquake in Haiti. It was a monumental accomplishment. They were even featured in a half page news article in the local paper and in several articles on the Web. I am VERY proud of them!

We wish you a happy and prosperous 2011. May God richly Bless you in all that you do!

:) :) God is Good - All of the Time! :) :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

12 Days Of Christmas Monkey Style

In what has apparently become our Monkey Family Christmas Tradition, myriad relentless and never-ending illnesses have descended upon our household.

This is my attempt at keeping my sense of humor [and hopefully my sanity by laughing it off... ;) ].

Twelve Days Of Christmas Monkey Style:

On the first day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: One puking Son With A Fever

On the second day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: A Double Ear Infection and a puking son with a fever.

On the Third day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: Three Snotty Girls with Fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the Fourth day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: Four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the Fifth day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: Five Medical Copays, four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the Sixth day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: Six whining, fighting, miserable children, five medical copays, four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the Seventh day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: Seven expensive prescriptions, six whining, fighting, miserable children, five medical copays, four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the Eighth day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: eight days without sleeping, seven expensive prescriptions, six whining, fighting, miserable children, five medical copays, four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent me to: nine over the counter medications, eight days without sleeping, seven expensive prescriptions, six whining, fighting miserable children, five medical copays, four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: ten days of sinus infection [and counting], nine over the counter medications, eight days without sleeping, seven expensive prescriptions, six whining, fighting, miserable children, five medical copays, four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my Dear Lord sent to me: eleven Christmas gifts still un-purchased, ten days of sinus infection [and counting], nine over the counter medications, eight days without sleeping, seven expensive prescriptions, six whining, fighting, miserable children, five medical copays, four worrisome rashes, three snotty girls with fevers, a double ear infection, and a puking son with a fever.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my merciful Lord sent to me: twelve blessed days of peace in a rubber room at North West Regional.

[Updated a few days later to add: I forgot to add in one massively bleeding head wound [Monkey2] and 4 cases of strep throat! Silly me! ;)]

Monday, December 13, 2010

The "Elf on the Shelf" Is A Minion Of Satan

Have you guys seen this thing? Apparently it is all the new rage.

I gather that the general idea is that mom puts the elf out and tells the kids that the elf is a spy from Santa and is watching them constantly and reporting back to Santa if they behave badly [and are thus unworthy of Christmas gifts]. Then mom moves the awful little creature around every night so that the kids think it is really alive and moving around on its own.

Can I say Just NO!??

What the heck are people thinking?

This thing is just all kinds of wrong. For instance:

1. Who on Earth wants some creepy little supernatural doll spying on them all day? That would give ME a complex and I'm not even 5. I mean, this takes "Big Brother Is Watching You" to a new extreme, does it not?

2. Let's spoil the fun and magic of Christmas by keeping the kids constantly stressed out and worried that they won't actually make the cut, that the vicious little elf will report badly upon them, and they won't get a dang thing from Santa for Christmas. Because here in the USA we aren't neurotic, stressed out, and worried enough as it is.

3. Let's teach the kids that the only reason to be good is so that they GET STUFF! Yay! Let's not worry about teaching them that being good is intrinsically, well, Good. Let's teach them that any and all good behavior should be rewarded with material things and that the only real reason to obey Mommy is so that Evil Little Minion of Satan won't go interfering with their Christmas Loot.

4. And best of all - let's forget the real reason for Christmas. Forget all that crap about celebrating the birth of the Savior and Saint Nicholas bringing them gifts in celebration of their eternal Salvation [which is FREELY GIVEN to them and CANNOT BE EARNED of their own volition, at least according to most Christian religions]. Let's make it all about keeping our bad behavior out of the line of sight of El Creepo the Snitch.

Mmmm..yeah. Sounds good to me.


It is entirely possible that I am biased. My father often told me the story of "Talky Tina" the talking doll from the Twilight Zone. I was scarred for life from a young age where dolls are concerned. I generally think of dolls on the whole as evil little things that are easily possessed by Demonic Forces. My worst nightmare would be being locked overnight in a doll repair shop where I would most certainly die of a heart attack due to extreme fear before the dawn came. And this horrid little elf definitely meets my criteria for Creepy Dolls Who May Potentially Become Evil And Thus Should Be Destroyed On Sight....

But still.

Does anyone else find this whole "Elf Spy" concept just WRONG?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Meme

My friend Anne suggested this Meme and I can't resist an opportunity to talk about books, so here we go. :)

1. Favorite childhood book?
All of the Laura Ingals Wilder books.

2. What are you reading right now?
"K is for Killer", "Good Girls Don't Get Fat", "The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters"

3. What books do you have on request at the library?
I must shamefully admit that I don't use the library. There are two reasons for this. 1. I found that once I had a certain number of children, I could almost never get my act together enough to return books on time. My over due book fees added up to such an amount that I felt justified just buying the books I wanted. 2. I really want to buy the books anyway. Does a crack head *borrow* their crack and give it back? I think not. I must own the books, love them, hold them, POSSESS them! LOL!

4. Bad book habit?
I'm not necessarily "Gentle" with my books - I dog ear at will, lay flat instead of marking my place, etc.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
[See #3]

6. Do you have an e-reader?
No. Wretched technology!

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?
I usually have one fiction book that I'm reading "just for fun" and at least one educational book that I'm reading for some other purpose. Sometimes I have 3 or 4 going at once.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No, not that I've noticed.

9. Least favorite book you read this year?
"The Godfather"

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Mmmmm....hard to say. A) my memory is bad so I know I've read some fantastic books that I loved this year and now I've already forgotten them. B) I'd have a hard time picking a favorite.

But, SOME that I really enjoyed are:

"Finding Nouf"
"Marriage Bureau for Rich People"
"How To Be An American Housewife"
"Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced, and Covered In Cat Hair"
"Damn, Why Didn't I Write That?"
"Raising Great Kids On Your Own"

This year I re-read all the Rick Riordan Olympian books and read "The Red Pyramid" and re-read all the Harry Potter books - all of which I enjoyed tremendously as well.

and many, many others that are escaping my brain at the moment...

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
I don't. Reading is my sole source of fun, pleasure, learning, and growth at this point in my life and I only read what I WANT to read.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
I like good, clean fiction, mystery, fantasy, some sci-fi. I like books on any topic that currently interests me [these can range from gardening and raising chickens to obscure religious texts to "how to do" just about anything - I love learning new stuff]. I have a real weakness and devotion to good juvenile fiction - that's probably my favorite genre of all.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I can't read when in motion - makes me puke.

14. Favorite place to read?
any place I can take a book.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
I don't lend books - I give them away. I have literally owned several copies of many books that I love because I keep giving them away and buying more copies. I don't lend books because you so seldom get them back - I give the book away with a happy heart and don't ever look for it to come back home. Then I never have to worry about who has which book where...

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
Generally not, but sometimes I do if a book affects me in a specifically good or bad way. [You should have seen my copy of that horrible Ezzo "Babywise" book - it was so marked up as to be hard to read the text. I had people borrow my copy of that book just to read what I wrote LOL!]

18. Not even with text books?
I used to mark up my text books, but it has been a long time since I worked with text books.

19. What is your favorite language to read in?

20. What makes you love a book?
Compelling characters, a good story, a moral lesson, something beautifully ironic, something that makes me laugh or makes me grow as a person, all kinds of things can make a book great for different reasons.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
If I couldn't put it down and enjoyed every second, or if it was a book that changed my life in some positive way.

22. Favorite genre?
Probably juvenile fiction.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
I don't really have any genre I don't read but wish I did - if I wish to read something, I read it.

24. Favorite biography?
hmmmm....I really loved the biography of Mother Angelica. [I even named a kid after her!].

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Yep, I read lots of self help and/or educational type books. Perpetual curiosity is part of my nature - I have to always be learning about something, it is almost a compulsion.

26. Favorite cookbook?
Moosewood cookbook, The Southern Living Cookbook, The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, The Flying Biscuit Cafe Cookbook, and many many others...

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or nonfiction)?
Probably "Damn, Why Didn't I Write That?" because it inspired me to actually START writing instead of "thinking about writing". Not inspiration in the traditional sense I guess, but inspirational to my situation!

28. Favorite reading snack?
ice cold coca-cola

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
I don't know if it ruined the experience, but that hype surrounding those awful Twilight books really was ridiculous. I ended up reading all four of them "waiting for it to get great" because everyone said how great they are... but you know what? At the end of it all, those books are just awful. period. I have never been so frustrated at wasting so much time! LOL!

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don't pay any attention to critics. All that matters to me is whether *I* like the book.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
I don't mind it. If the book is bad, I feel like it is a service to the community at large to be honest about it. At the same time, most of the reviews I do are positive - because when a book is awesome, it deserves credit for being awesome.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?
Spanish - I'd love to be more fluent in Spanish for many reasons.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
I gave up reading "intimidating" books years ago. Life is too short.

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
See #33

35. Favorite poet?
I don't care for poetry actually.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
See #3 above....

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?

38. Favorite fictional character?
Oh good Heavens? How am I supposed to pick just one? I suppose at the moment my favorites would be Percy Jackson, Hermoine Granger, and Kinsey Millhone.

39. Favorite fictional villain?
Actually, I don't like villains in general so I guess I don't really have a favorite.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Whatever I'm reading at the moment I guess. [Vacation? what is this vacation of which you speak?]

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
I have never willingly gone even 24 hours without reading. The only exception was when I was in the hospital for the birth of my 5th child and I had an eclamptic seizure - it was the scariest time in my life in large part because it did brain damage that prevented me from being able to read for WEEKS - and I didn't know if that would be permanent or not. If it had been permanent, I'm not sure I could have survived such a disability given my book addiction. ;)

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
There are some books that I WISH I hadn't finished, but I generally do finish them once I start.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?

44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. This is the only instance where [with all due respect to Tolkien, my hero] I believe the movies were actually BETTER than the books. The adaptation was AMAZING. Peter Jackson rocks!

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
Pretty much all the others. Movies usually do a disservice to the books they come from. I am usually disappointed by them.

46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
I'm not sure. Probably not too much, but only because I'm always too broke to buy more than a couple of books at a time. But I shop *frequently*. LOL!

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Not usually. I like to start with the introduction and drink the whole thing in.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
If it were extremely boring or offensive in some way.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
I keep my books organized by topic mostly, and then by author.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
Fiction I give away [unless it was something just so amazingly incredible that I know I will read it again], non-fiction I typically keep for reference. Every couple of years I do a big purge and donate a ton of books that I no longer need. [And I usually kick myself later because it turns out I DID need one of those books I donated... ;) ]

51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?

52. Name a book that made you angry.
The angriest I've ever been at a book was a wretched Anne Rice book, I think it was "The Witching Hour" - I hated HATED HATED the way that stupid book ended. I literally tore it to shreds and threw it in the garbage. I still remember how annoyed and mad I was when I finished the book, and that was 20 years ago.

Recently I read "The Godfather" for the first time and felt the same way - I threw the whole thing in the trash and truly, deeply regretted reading it. I wished I could WASH out my brain when I finished. I kept expecting it to get good and it never did - it is such an icon of American Culture and it turned out to be nothing but perversion, violence, and filth. Ugh.

53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Harry Potter books. I started those books with no real interest - I literally read them because I *hate* people trying to ban books and I decided that if people were going to ban them, I was going to read them and make MY OWN DECISION about the books. Turns out, I think they are FANTASTIC. Very glad I read those [all 7 or 8 times I've read them now... LOL!]

54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?

55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
Juvenile fiction probably...

If you love to read, I tag you! Leave a comment so I can read what you write!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Girl Who Lived ... One Year Later

In the Fall of 2009, I posted a couple of things that were very honest and very open about the situation I was in. Those posts were hopeful - they were very much "I WILL live through this" - it was me at my optimistic [in the face of all rational evidence] best.

I've been meaning for two months now to write an annual update. In my "Girl Who Lived" post, I had marked on my calendar one year later - Oct. 14, 2010 - as the date that I would be doing so much better. I have avoided this update for some time because I wasn't sure how to handle it.

When I wrote those two posts in the Fall of 2009, I thought the worst was behind me. I was wrong about that. If I had known then what I know now, I doubt I would have put that shot gun away - I would have gone ahead and pulled the trigger, because I would not have believed I could really endure what was coming.

In the 14 months since then things got worse. A LOT worse.

I lived through the death of my best friend [and main support system] to cancer. I lost my "common law" sister in law when her relationship with my brother came to a spectacularly bad end after almost a decade. Both women were people I felt very close to and whom I cared for very much.

I lived through surgery on my kidneys and major surgery on my thyroid. I took care of my children while recovering from both surgeries. I had pneumonia 4 different times in 9 months, including an antibiotic resistant bout that lasted more than 5 weeks. Through which I cared for my children and never rested. We lived through 3 different [*confirmed*] bouts of the flu. We lived through 2 different bouts of Norovirus/Rotavirus - one bout over Christmas and one bout over Easter - which began 24 hours after my thyroid surgery and left me home alone caring for 6 extremely ill puking children with very high fevers - a virus that lasted more than a week with each child and took about 2 weeks to run its course through the whole family. I'm left with terrible scarring on my neck because what should have been an uncomplicated surgery turned into a gaping wound that bled non-stop for weeks and never healed right - due, in large part I am sure, to the fact that I didn't get to sleep or rest at any point in my recovery period [and when I say I didn't get to sleep, I mean I did not sleep for more than 30 minutes in a row for 2 weeks because of puking, desperately ill children].

Every month has been a struggle to keep food on the table and to keep a roof over the heads of my children [even though our current rental house is a nightmare, at least it is a house]. I live in constant, gnawing fear of potential homelessness.

I was able to get my old job back in September of 2010, which was a blessing. It has helped some financially [but not as much as I expected because my pay was cut to 60% of what it had been previously and I drive more than an hour to get to work]. It has also led to other stresses - being a single mother of 6 and trying to juggle a job are not easy things.

There is ongoing drama with my Ex husband. He disappears for weeks or months where the kids don't hear from him, he won't return their pleading calls, he rarely ever visits the children, when he does visit he leaves early - and yet, now he's taken me back to court to demand that he be given week long visitation out of state. Given his mental health history, I would never have dreamed it was possible that he would be granted this, but I was wrong. Now I have the added stress of preparing children to go visit a father who was extremely neglectful of them even in the best of times and who was physically and emotionally abusive to them in the worst of times. They are going up to stay with him in his girlfriend's house [the girlfriend whom he described to me as "a terrible mother who gets drunk every night and neglects her child severely". Oh, and also he described her as "psycho-controlling" and "extraordinarily lazy"]. Not an environment ANY decent mother would want her children in.

The kids go *insane* every time he actually does come for a visit - nightmares and depression for 1-2 weeks before a visit and 2-3 weeks afterward. They fight like cats and dogs and the stress level in our home surrounding his rare visits is *catastrophic*. [Their therapist calls this "displaced rage" - they can't focus it at their father for fear of further abandonment so they focus it on each other and, in the case of one child, on me]. They are clearly traumatized by him, and their therapist was willing to testify to that. But her testimony doesn't matter and the children's testimony doesn't matter because by golly, a man has a right to see his own children NO MATTER WHAT HE HAS DONE. My testimony doesn't matter because everything I say is dismissed as me being a "scorned Ex wife", so of course I'm lying. And I can't subpoena his psychiatric records to prove what I am saying because of my Ex husband's "right to privacy". [What about my children's Right to Safety?] I have so much more I could say about this, but in the interest of keeping this post a readable length, I'll stop.

In the midst of all that, I've been trying to help my children have good feelings about their father - there is a gag order around here - nobody is allowed to say anything bad about their father in front of them no matter what he does. I feel it is important for the children to believe that their father is good - even if he isn't. THEY need to feel that they came from goodness and not from evil. Which makes things hard. We continue to be chronically victimized by this man but I am faced with the need to be his "PR" agent in so many ways to keep the children from hating him. [And I don't do that for HIM - I do it because that hate would eat my children alive and damage them.]

I find it hard to even put into words what I lived through last year.

Beyond the illness and financial stress and the stress of dealing with an unstable and highly unpredictable and controlling Ex who appears and disappears at random, it has been a hard year emotionally.

I had to come to terms this year with the extreme emotional abuse I endured throughout my marriage. [and other kinds of abuse that I won't detail here.] I knew for many years that the relationship was bad, but I stayed because I felt it was better for the children to have a bad father than no father at all. I stayed because I had promised "forever" and he was sick [mentally ill] and I would never have left him when he needed me so much. Now, in retrospect, I believe it was a horrible choice - I should never have stayed. The children [and I] have permanent emotional damage from the years of living with his craziness and abuse. That is my fault - my only defense is that I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. That is not a defense that gives me much comfort.

I still wake almost every night with nightmares about the things my Ex husband did to me and to our children. I started writing this post at 4:30 am - after waking from yet another nightmare and being unable to get back to sleep. Which happens to me frequently. I have panic attacks every time he calls or emails me. I live in constant fear of the "next crazy thing" he is going to do to us. My motto about my Ex husband is "the only thing I can predict about his behavior is that he will continue to be completely unpredictable". It is like living on Earth that randomly moves and tries to swallow you up and you never know where the next yawning pit will open.

I feel that the controlling and terrorizing that he does will go on forever and that I will never be free of him.

And that terrifies me and makes me feel hopeless. I cry for Sanctuary, but nobody can grant it.

Now you see why I put off this update. ONE YEAR was not a magical time frame that would make all things better. One year was barely a beginning on the healing that has to take place.

But, curiously, things ARE much better. Aside from our Post Traumatic Stress Disorder involving my Ex, our life is good.

I have come to be happy being alone - just myself and my children. I have learned to enjoy my solitude [a monumental task for me, a complete and total extrovert]. I have learned to make decisions without a friend or partner to discuss it with first. I have learned to be ALONE, in every sense of the word, and to be at peace with that.

I have learned to be happy living just with me.

My children are excelling - despite the trauma, despite my Ex husband's continuing cycle of neglect and then malevolent control, despite being poor as dirt... my children excel. All 6 of them are *really* nice kids. All 6 of them are really INTELLIGENT kids. The ones who are old enough to get grades are all honor roll students. The ones who aren't old enough to get grades will be honor roll students when they ARE old enough... LOL! I never cease to be amazed at what wonderful, amazing, kind, friendly, FANTASTIC human beings my children are. There is never a moment that I am not proud and over joyed to be their mother - it is an honor and a privilege.

It has gotten exponentially easier being a single mom to 6 young children over the last year - for one thing, the baby is now a 2yo and that makes a world of difference. For another, we have discovered routines and rules that work for our family and that make daily life survivable. And as the other children get older as well, they are all easier to care for.

In this past year other good things have happened too. I have become much closer to my father and my mother. I have written a book. I have a good start on another book [on childbirth]. For the last 6 months we have been remarkably healthy [I think we had every virus known to man last year and now we seem to be fairly immune to them all! ;) ]

I have learned who I am at a level that most people will never achieve - the crucible of my life has left me keenly aware of my own strengths and my own flaws. And I feel content that almost all of the time I am the person God wants me to be. I know how strong I am and I know that I will always make the best choices possible in the situation I am given. I know that I have the strength and the courage to always do "the right thing", no matter the personal cost.

Despite all obvious evidence, I have hope. Hope for our future. Hope that, like Job and Tobit, God will end my life in happiness and joy instead of pain and sorrow.

The Girl Who Lived is still alive and kicking.

Old Posts

There were two very important and pivotal posts that I made towards the end of 2009. They both followed a situation of extreme abuse from my then estranged husband [now Ex husband]. He had abandoned his family and moved to Maryland to live with his girlfriend. But he wouldn't just stay away, he kept coming back and would not leave me alone. It was a very sick situation, and looking back I'm appalled at the abuse I withstood.

I am reposting both of these here and then I am going to post an update on the last year plus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The Girl Who Lived

Only a Fool would look at a Gift and see a Curse.

And I am no Fool. [insert image of Eowyn removing her helmet just before she slays the Witch King here].

God has given me a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card and I kept seeing that as a loss somehow. I've been handed an unexpected parole on a life sentence for a crime I never committed. Why am I sad?

I need to get over the sadness, get over the continual shock of the new revelations about betrayal that keep showing up, and just TRUST in God.

I know He has good things planned for me. God will heal me, God will heal my shattered children. He will take all the bad and turn it in to our Good.

I am going to mark this date on my 2010 calendar and I'm going to look back that day and I know I'll think "Oh, Thank You Loving and Merciful God!" as I look around at my beautiful life.

That day I will Praise the Lord and rejoice that I am The Girl Who Lived Through This.

Thanks to all of you who have been praying me through this despair. I hear His still small voice again and I know that He is there. Thank you. :)


Thursday, October 29, 2009
Padme Was A Wuss

We are Big Star Wars Geeks around here.

I've used a lot of metaphors from my favorite movies lately, and I'm about to use another one. This post is going to be painfully honest and difficult to read emotionally - feel free to skip it. But in the interest of "keeping it Real"....

In the Star Wars Universe, Padme Amidala is the strong female lead in Episodes 1, 2, and 3. She is first a Queen, then a Senator. She falls in love with Anakin Skywalker and marries him.

In Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, she becomes pregnant with twin babies [Luke and Leia]. Anakin turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader, which is, understandably, shocking and upsetting for Padme, who can't believe he's capable of it.

After Anakin Force Chokes her in the midst of an Evil Fit, Padme gives birth to the twins [in the scariest, most futuristic automated surgical birth ever...worst birth portrayed in film yet in my Childbirth Educator opinion].

Then, moments after the babies are born, she simply dies - she's "lost the will to live" and dies of a "broken heart". Leaving, of course, her two infant children orphaned for all intents and purposes.

Now, oddly enough, my children have been saying that I am like Padme Amidala for years and that their father is like Anakin Skywalker. Their father was the first to make this comparison and they ran with his story. In fact, one year for Halloween they begged us to dress as Padme and Anakin, and we did.

And it became a self fulfilling prophecy in many ways. Anakin and my husband have many similarities.

And I will say that I DO identify with Padme. How does a woman keep going when the man she loved above anything else in the Universe decides to choose evil and harms her so completely? How does that woman recover herself, get out of bed, and keep going?

No matter how strong a woman is, she CAN be broken.

When I first watched Episode 3, I remember actually yelling at the screen at Padme "Don't you DARE lay there and die and abandon those babies!!!!". I was SO furious - so ANGRY at George Lucas that he would have such a strong woman die like that - broken, worthless, just lying there and dying because of her stupid broken heart... it really made me angry. I hated that movie.

I have more sympathy for Padme now. I know what it is like to have a heart so broken that you don't think you can keep going. I know what it is like to experience a betrayal so deep that you don't even remember who you are any more.

I spent a large portion of the last few months feeling suicidal on some level - some days it was a low level, other days I made actual plans and came very close to carrying them out.

Two weeks ago I found myself on the phone at midnight with a VA Suicide Prevention Counselor. He was very helpful, and that was a turning point for me.

Because, you see, Padme wussed out. I don't want to be like her. I don't want to leave my children alone - to abandon them to a life of Hell as motherless children. I WON'T do that.

But I understand why Padme did.

My life is extremely difficult now. Not only did my husband leave me and the kids, but he moved several states away - which means I don't even get an occasional weekend break while he does his "Visitation".

My life is 24/7 and, most of the time, it is 24/7 of me running in over drive trying to accomplish the impossible.

Most nights I don't get sleep - due to kids with the flu, or teething babies, or a toddler with a serious night waking issue, or an 8yo who keeps having scary sleep walking never ends. [3 of my kids sleep all night long, 3 wake all night long - but 3 waking all night long is sufficient to insure that a mother does not get sleep].

It is like a Sadistic Game of "Whack-A-Mole" - I get one kid to sleep only to have another one cry out. It goes on all night.

Most days I don't really eat either - I am so stressed and so "GO GO GO" all the time that I have no appetite at all - I completely forget to eat. Many days it will be 5pm and my stomach will just be *hurting* and I'll think "Hmm...wonder why my stomach hurts so much?" and then it will occur to me that I've not actually eaten anything yet that day....

My days are a fog of running from one task to the next with no break. I get the kids up, get the older 4 kids to school, take care of the baby and toddler and all the stuff I have to do around the house, and try to deal with whatever demands the public school is making that week, and try to manage doctor appointments and grocery shopping [thank GOD for my father who comes to watch the two smaller girls while I deal with the doctor appointments and grocery tasks - I'd be completely lost without him]. Then the big kids get home from school and the most night-marish part of my day begins - I have to do homework with them [even the 4yo has homework!] while the baby and the toddler throw fits because they are tired and angry that I'm not 100% theirs at that moment. They climb on me and cling to me and cry and fight while I try to help especially my second grader who has TREMENDOUS amounts of homework. It goes on for hours most days - 2 hours, 3... then I try to get some sort of dinner on the table [our once *excellent* diet has gone straight to hell since the separation] while the older kids fight and fuss and run around like maniacs ...then it is a rush to get 6 kids bathed and in bed and to take a deep breath before the endless rounds of night waking begin.

Oh, and my 2yo has violent fits of anger that include beating me and the baby non-stop for hours at a time [I'm not kidding you] when she doesn't feel well or is angry about something.

And often I'm doing all this while also dealing with my own health issues - pneumonia, kidney stones, an anti-biotic resistant kidney infection that they can't cure.... yesterday I found out I may need up to 3 surgeries in the next couple of months to try to fix my kidneys.

It never ends. It won't end for years.... things may get better if I can survive until Monkey6 is school aged - at least then I can get a job and bring in some income, so the financial stress will not be as great. But that will add other stress I imagine.

And my kids are *really good* kids - compared to most kids they are Angels. They are *traumatized Angels* but angels none-the-less. How would I cope with "normal" bratty kids? [Praise God that I don't have to!]

And I have *amazing* support from my family too - my dad & mom & sister & brother. There truly is no way I could do this otherwise - it wouldn't even be a possibility.

But yet - though blessed with awesome kids and awesome family members - my days are still awfully difficult.

When I look into the future, I feel so overwhelmed and inadequate to the task ahead of me that I feel completely hopeless to achieve it.

I go to Confession a lot these days to confess feelings of complete and utter Despair.

[And, lest you all decide that I'm a complete nutjob here, all my divorce recovery books and my divorce support group tell me that everything I'm feeling is actually completely NORMAL - these feelings would all be normal for a single parent - male OR female - with only ONE child... much less Six....]

I don't know how I will accomplish what I have to accomplish here, but I do know that I WILL. I will do it. I will wake up every day and do my very best for these children [even knowing it won't be adequate many times]. I will keep going because my children *deserve* for me to keep going.

I will not lay down and die like Padme did. I just won't do it. Padme and I may have parallel stories, but mine isn't going to end like hers did.

Please pray for me.