Friday, December 17, 2010

You Brought It On Yourself

I know you guys "love" this stuff, so here's a little bio-dad and stepmom update:

Ok, so Tuesday the 7th, about 430p, this email came to me: "Just wondering if school photos were in yet, which reminded me that I have yet to receive a Halloween photo or Santa photo from you yet this year, which you had previously promised to send. Also, remind me again what size M******* wears, she said 14/16 but apparently that was incorrect. Any other ideas on what she might like for Christmas?- M***"

I responded with, "1. Your school photos, et al, were sent in today's mail. 2. She & I both told you she wears a 10 (although she's now getting into a 12) in pants, and a 16 in shirts. She does NOT like tights nor long-sleeved shirts, and loves peace symbols & (still) girly skulls. She no longer likes pink unless it's dark/hot pink; preferring blue. However, she has more than enough clothing & shoes as it is... The only thing on her wish list that we are not already giving her is a DQ Blizzard Maker and a peace-symbol Snuggie. She also loves books & music, so an Amazon gift card would be nice, as then she can buy just the songs she wants (so she can download them onto her MP3 player)."

He then called her that night (after close to three weeks without a peep), and she had to tell him about her concert on Thursday (his response: "Oh, good. Now I can come!"). She also let it slip that she has a wish list, and he asked her to have me send it to him. I told her no; I had already sent him a small list, and I was pretty sure he'd be irritated by the fact that her wish list is under one of her nicknames with my married last name. She agreed.

Sometime in between the email I got and the one I sent, SM changed their joint profile to read, "We love sharing the reason for the season,with our friends and family.God teaches us True Love &without knowing his love,you cannot truly know or give love. Learn about God's love this year, learn how to love others & start living a meaningful life!" <<-- aimed at my non-believer ways, no doubt (hypocrite, much?).

Wednesday morning, I changed my profile to read, "I find it amusing to be cyber-lectured on religion by the woman who was my ex's mistress. Religious agendas have no place in our lives. Giving is the reason for the season. Start paying down debts owed, & start living a meaningful life!"

About 2 minutes later, I got another email from her, "Thank you for the pictures, we received them today, however there were no pictures of Halloween or Santa , when will you be sending them. Additionally, I would like to remind you that M*******'s last name is G*******, not K****, please adjust all registrations to reflect her legal given name. Thank you- M***"

You're going to love my response... "Until she is 18, I would need M***'s written permission to legally change her name; I obviously have not done so. If she chooses to use K****, or G*******-K****, in any non-legal avenue, that choice is hers to make." All of this, of course, forwarded or BCC'd to my attorney.

Thursday was her Winter Concert (the one she told him about Tuesday night?)... guess who didn't show? Yeah... Friday morning, I was informed that their joint profile is gone. As in "this profile does not exist". At that point, I didn't know if she had deleted it or just made it private; I didn't find out for sure until sent another email (after sending yahoo to yahoo, there's a screen that shows all the profile updates of those you sent the email to).

Then, Friday afternoon, she sent my attorney an email (signed with BD's name, of course)... You're gonna love this: "M***- I am sure you can see how it is clearly unlawful to change my daughters name in any legal or non-legal manner and as such such not be encouraged, but in fact prohibited in every manner by your client. I have been made aware of several instances where D*** is referring to M******* (our daughter) as M******* (or C*****) K****. Please advise her to immediately change all references, registrations, and the like to reflect M*******'s legal name; M******* G*******.This is to include all sports and extracurricular activity registrations. As a reminder, your client should of course be notifying me of all such registrations within 30 days of doing so, and failure to do so is a violation of our parenting time order. Thank you, M****** G*******"

M*** then forwarded it to me, along with: "How do you want me to respond?..." Basically telling me I was right; she can be known by any name she wants, but all legal avenues must have her real name. Um, duh? Oh, and really??? "...a violation of our parenting time order."??!!? What about not paying child support? What about not paying any of the attorney fees? What about not paying your 1/2 of her medical bills? Take me to court... go ahead! I'd love to see the judge bring down the gauntlet on him.

My response to M*** was: "...Her school, her afterschool activities, her sports, and the like are always under "M******* G*******"; always have been, probably always will be. I don't think this warrants any response except, perhaps, that the only existing order regarding this matter only states I cannot change her LEGAL/GIVEN name. I clearly have not done that. -d-"

Then, yesterday morning, I had to send an email to BD about Princess doing basketball. Even though she made "their joint profile" unavailable to the public, as soon as I sent the FYI email, I saw her update, "Some people really are idiots! Christ is the reason for the seaon, thats why its called Christmas. But if giving is the reason, then why not give your daughter her father. You know nothing of giving, only TAKING!"

Stupid Christians are the worst kind... I'm sure you, my readers/friends, know the truth; Jesus was not born in December (I think the current belief is that he was born in the spring). "Christmas" was originally a pagan holiday, celebrating the rebirth of the sun ("yule" or "winter solstice"), and the Christians STOLE it. Regardless, I've said it before and I'll say it again: continually playing the victim will not get you the results you want.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Parental Units

Since I was 6 yo, I've referred to my dad & stepmom as "my parents". It didn't occur to me that I confused people when I talked about them that way. I know now, of course, that the usual first impression is that parents = mom & dad. Well, that wasn't the case in my house... in the technical sense of the word, anyway.

My mother & father split when I had just turned 6, and my father was given custody. Dad had steady income, a stable household, and was emotionally better able to take care of five children. When my future stepmom moved in with her own baby girl, my mother had 90% removed herself from our lives, and I started referring to my stepmom as "mommy".

For you to understand a little more about me, you have to understand how I was raised. My stepmom was the primary caregiver & female role-model in my life. I was raised in a two-parent household (there were actually three different homes before I moved out); a stable, secure, loving home where we had chores, and rules, and friends felt comfortable. A home where I was taught how to change my own oil, clean a toilet, and cook a meal.

Spending time with my mother was so infrequent that it was more like a mini vacation -- dinners at nice restaurants, movies in the theater, trips to the mall for clothes, etc... My parents were the ones who came to my school events, conferences, practices, recitals, and games. My parents were the ones who helped with homework, and taught me how to care for myself & others. I preferred my "real life" to any time spent with my mother, and always looked forward to going back home.

When my mama was diagnosed with rectal cancer a couple years ago, I broke down crying. Obviously she's been the only woman in my life who's always been there for me, and her life was threatened... I was scared. Two summers ago, after her first round of treatment, and after she'd had some time to recover (and other family had come & gone for a visit), Ace and I went out there for five days. I had to see for myself that she was going to live; that I wasn't going to lose my mama any time soon.

I firmly believe that without her, my dad would not last long. I think with her diagnosis came that realization for dad, too, and he started to reevaluate. He put the campground on the market, and decided it was time to slow down. The campground hasn't sold yet, but part of his rental business did. They also started planning a trip out west.

Earlier this month, they flew from South Dakota to the tri-cities to visit T, D, Bug, & Firefly for a few days. Then, I got them for three & a half days. They went from here to northern California for a visit with DW, JH, and JH's fam (&, I think, got to meet DW's bf, J), then returned home. Over Xmas, they'll be visiting my 97 1/2 yo grandmother in Texas.

I've lived in this house almost 11 years, and they've never been here. The last time they were in my area was when MG & I were married (August of 1998); they were in southern Oregon in 2007 for T & D's wedding, too... That's a long time to be away from a growing area. Part of their visit included a little tour; a few things were still the same, but most had changed. Two that stood out for them -- the fairgrounds had a lot less trees, AND our old house had been remodeled, half the lot was sold & built on, and it's now for sale!

But, this trip was probably the most relaxed I've seen them in a long time. Dad took full advantage of my 60" flat-screen (& mildly irritating me with his non-stop FOXNEWS - haha), and mama was perfectly happy chatting, shopping, running errands, cooking with Princess, and just being part of our everyday lives for a few days.

Comments of note: "I love watching this." "Watching what?" "Just you guys... the way you are... it's nice." Then, later, "You guys are raising a pretty cool kid; and she's smart too! We all know what side of the family that comes from, huh?" Princess also noticed just how much I'm like my dad... his little sayings, some of his mannerisms, and some personality quirks. What I noticed is that if you flip the parentage, her upbringing is almost an exact replica of mine... and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Season Done

Last night was the End Of Season party; ending Princess' 5th season of Fall Soccer (for the record, her BD showed for just two games). Judging by the last two weekends of game time, at least half the girls (as well as their parents) were ready for the season to be done two weeks ago.

The season was good; a lot more wins than losses, and even a couple ties (including a tie game with a highly-rated rec team!). There were only a couple of wet/muddy games, although many practices were on the nasty side...

This year was also the first time our team was asked to participate in a tournament; the only one of our city's "rec" league to be asked. The league also included "classic" (for you non-soccer-speaking readers, that means competitive level) city teams and a few from outlaying cities. We won the first game, tied the second (against a classic team, nonetheless), and lost the third.

My Princess never made a goal herself, but she had MANY assists and passes that ended with a goal for our side; Ace & I are SO proud of her. About mid-season, she started telling me she didn't want to play next season. Although disappointed, as long as she does something for regular exercise, that was fine with us. She may not be the best/fastest player, but she's still an asset to the team.

Two weeks ago, an email was sent out to all the players' families stating that the league is trying a Spring option. The commitment is less time and less money, and the players can use their same jerseys from Fall ball to play in the Spring. Princess was adamant about not playing... until we were on our way home from the party last night.

When we got home, I got her signed up. She's still insistent that she won't play in the Fall, but we'll see... In the meantime, we plan to enjoy the holiday season, then January starts her first season of indoor rec basketball!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Feliz Cumpleaños

Today was Princess's 11th birthday. Unless you have children, you don't understand the blood, sweat, & tears that goes into planning -- even if the event is a "low key" one. Princess's birthday is usually spread out over a weekend or so, simply so she can have a party with her friends, do something in her classroom, have a family get together, and do something with Mimi. This year was no different... except it was.

I don't know why it hit me like it did this year, but when I dropped her off at school Thursday I saw in her face the teen she's becoming. I'm not complaining so much as stating a fact. And, it's not just her face... her whole outlook on life is changing. She's making more decisions on her own; she's pulling away from me more & more. Maybe I'm a little bit crazy, but in a way, I like it.

Don't get me wrong; she's still very much attached to me. But, she's starting to find herself, as well -- her own music, her own shows, her own opinions... I can have actual life conversations with her; not worrying I'm "going over her head".

To date, she has:
1. Chosen teaching as her future career. Now, I realize (of course) that this may (& probably will) change before she goes to college, but as of right now, she's had this plan since 2nd grade.
2. Chosen to adopt her future children. It used to be about the pain involved in child-birth, but evolved into realizing how many kids there are out there with shitty parents who need a good, loving home. Her own experiences have helped shape that view.
3. Chosen how we safely invest her money. Granted, we've only given her safe options to consider, and she knows there are not-so-safe ways to invest your money, too (like the stock market -- where we currently have about 10% of our worth invested). She has some in her savings, to spend on birthdays, Xmas, etc... The rest is invested in a CD at our credit union. She also, btw, chose how long to invest. Her exact words, "Mom, until the interest rates come back up, we're only doing a year at a time."
4. Decided that her college education comes before children. While she may get married while still in college, she "will not" (her insistence) have/adopt her children until she is done & has a good job to support those kids.
5. Decided that she'd like to stay living within a couple hours drive time from Ace & I. We would, I think, love that.

The point is not that she has her life kinda mapped out; obviously some or all of this could change in the next 7 - 10 years (or more, for that matter)... but having a plan and changing it to accommodate life is a better option than having no plan, and therefore, no direction.

And, really, all I wanted to say was this: I love my daughter with everything I have and more, and I couldn't be more proud of her than I am right now. Feliz Cumpleaños, mija. Te amo.

Halloween Weekend

This past weekend was the first time Princess has not been with me for Halloween in many years. Since she is doing well in school, we allowed her to skip two days (Friday & Monday) to accompany my mother ("Mimi"), and mom's friend ("Meme") to Washington to spend time with her aunt, uncle, & two little cousins.

Among her highlights: Time with Bug & Firefly, helping Aunt D in the kitchen at an SCA event (her friend, B, also helped), corn maze w/the fam, & trick or treating w/most of the fam & B.

Meanwhile, Ace & I took the dogs & went to the beach. We did a lot of reading, fire- and storm-watching, and listening to music. Being at the beach lowers our blood pressure and it was nice to get away after the craziness of the kitchen remodel & soccer season. This was, technically, our (very) belated anniversary weekend; THAT weekend we were prepping the house for new flooring.

Everyone returned home Monday evening, and after unpacking, we all had a great sleep in our own beds.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Three Years Later...

I've been thinking about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it for a few weeks now... I knew I wanted to post an update regarding life in general, as well as Princess' life specifically, since her bio-dad & stepmom abducted her three years ago, but I struggle to write it without getting upset. I get mad, I cry, I rant internally... I also struggle with the right words. I suppose that's what "edit" is for, right? So, here goes:

Almost of you know, three years ago (from last weekend, btw), Princess's BD & SM took her from our doorstep. Without regard for the number one concern of any GOOD parent, "in the best interest of the child", they came to our home under the guise of delivering her costume, and took her. The way she was taken was also difficult -- BD bent down, pretending to just be giving her a hug, grabbed her, and ran. Do ANY of you, dear readers, know how traumatizing that is for a child (not to mention, myself)? She was not yet 8yrs old.

I called my attorney (I have his cell number for emergencies), and then the cops, but since (1) our court-order was not as precise as it should have been (later corrected), and (2) the cop was a non-custodial father (can you say, "biased toward the father"?), he did nothing. He also tried to tell me how much more traumatizing it would be for a police officer to show up, put her in the back of the cop car, and return her to me would be for her. I knew then that not all cops are created equal, and on that last point, he was correct. So, I called my attorney back to report in, and had probably the worst weekend I've ever had. I didn't eat, I couldn't sleep... I was a mess.

Sunday night, BD did return her, but she did not come back to me the same child. She would never again be the carefree, easygoing child she had been... My first concern was her safety; I asked the courts for a restraining order for both her & myself. Being as I was (am) her primary parent, I felt the only way to have a restraining order was to ask for one for both of us. I was denied. I couldn't honestly (at the time) say for sure that he would ever harm her or me. I, of course, didn't realize at the time that he already had; emotional damage is deeper & longer lasting than physical harm. I felt defeated, but knew I had to do something else... something that would protect her from anything like that ever happening again.

I spoke with my attorney, and we asked for a hearing so the courts could spell it out, in black & white, what the current document meant (he was not supposed to have parenting time unless he either paid a huge chunk of what he owed me at the time -- child support as well as some attorney fees judgements -- OR could prove he didn't owe it to me due to his bankruptcy filing). In the meantime, I agreed to status quo; Princess would continue to have her regular parenting times with BD until we saw the judge (it was only a few weeks - Thanksgiving weekend was his last time with her).

That court date was less nerve-wracking for me than any previous ones; I knew he was wrong (both in his actions & in his thoughts regarding BK -- can't discharge family law bills, like child support & attorney fees), and that the judge would be pissed - BD had already been threatened with jail time, and was, at that time, on his first round of bench probation. Boy, was I right! After hearing the testimony as to what happened leading up to, and including, the abduction, the judge wanted to put BD in jail. However, when he asked me if I wanted to press charges, I said no.

Now, I know some of you are reading this, wondering why the hell I didn't throw his ass into jail for a while... Remember what I said at the beginning of this post: "in the best interest of the child". I honestly didn't (& still don't) see how putting him in jail would be in Princess's best interest. I firmly believed, as well, that if I were to have asked for jail time, he would have done something even worse once he got out - he'd take her again, & this time, she wouldn't be returned. As the years go by, I fear that less & less... but Princess still thinks it.

Anyway, the judge decided that while he didn't agree with my refusal to press charges, he did understand it. Instead of jail, the judge ordered all parenting time be suspended. BD was to have no parenting time with Princess until he paid the four (there are now six) attorney's fees judgments w/interest, all child support w/interest, and continued to pay child support. I thought at the time that it wouldn't be long before he'd find a way to pay the money, and he'd be back in her life in no time. Boy, was I wrong.

By mid-March, we were starting to prep for her second season of softball, and she had a freak out. She basically didn't want to go into any stores or restaurants between our house & his, for fear he may be there & take her. She wanted to drop out of softball, for fear he may show up & take her. The only place she said she felt safe was school (I had made sure there were steps in place to safeguard her), home, certain friends' & family members' homes, and out of the immediate area (another city, state, or country). At this point, I knew it was time for counseling.

This wasn't her first time in counseling; that had happened when BD moved to Colorado back in 2004. In her young mind, BD "abandoned" her when he moved out of our family home, and here he was, doing it again; moving out of state. Three or four sessions later, she understood that whatever his reason for moving so far away, it had nothing to do with her. This time, however, she was confused, and scared, and distrusted almost everyone - including me to a small degree. She felt I should have &/or could have done more to protect her; that I should have fought harder.

Her counselor at the time, K, spent many sessions working through her emotions. K explained to her that I did everything in my power, but that BD is bigger & stronger than I am; had I tried anything further, I could have hurt her, or BD (& that could have winded me in jail). K also helped her understand that BD & SM acted of their own accord, for their own twisted reasons, and that NONE of it had anything to do with her.

A few sessions in, K & Princess asked BD to join them. He did, but didn't stay for the whole thing, and never apologized. Mostly, he had many excuses (to accompany his wife's multitude of internet postings, finding many different ways to blame me -- ie: I'm keeping her from him, I'm poisoning her against him, a long blog all about what "parental alienation syndrome" is, a claim that all I'd have to do is tell my attorney he can have his time back but I refuse, etc -- all bullshit), and Princess wasn't buying it. The next session was about making sure she understood all the steps I'd taken to protect her as best I can, but since BD chose to blame me for her mistrust of him, counseling was no longer needed at that time.

Since then, I've had her do two other "mental health check ups" -- three sessions each. I just wanted to make sure she's doing okay, and that Ace & I are doing everything we can to make sure it stays that way. We've recently been working on her physical attachment to me. Not that I don't love having her around, but at her age, she shouldn't want to be around me so much. She's almost old enough to babysit, for jiminy's sake! This past summer, she took her first ever SOLO flight -- only a return flight from Pendleton, Or... but still; huge accomplishment! We're also working on her comfort level for staying home alone (max time so far: 1 1/2 hours -- she thought it was too long, but she was fine), and walking home alone (not quite there, yet).

On the "contact" side of things, he's called her (on average) about twice a month (although, he once went almost three full MONTHS without so much as a peep -- that was nice for us), he orders school & her two major sports' photos, and he comes to (on average) one conference and two-three games (no practices) each for her two major sports each year. She was 7 when he last came to a dance performance (no regular classes), and I think 5 or 6 when he last came to the last day ("show off day") of a swim class.

Since he isn't allowed to be at the school during regular hours (safety for not just her, but for the school & their liability, too -- if he shows up, they call me first, then call the police), nor around Princess without me there too, he can't volunteer for much of anything. Last year, there was a whole fiasco when her SM told her (at the ONE game she actually made it to) that it was "too bad" I had "banned" her BD from her school 'cuz he'd "love to volunteer at Field Day!" (which, of course, turned out to be total bs, 'cuz I jumped through many hoops to make sure he could be there if he so choose -- basically by writing a letter to the school that he had my permission to be there, that Princess was okay with it, and that I would be there too anyway -- and he never followed through). That incident was just another nail in his coffin as far as she was concerned...

For all of these three years, she has been angry at her BD and SM. She, at first, didn't understand why he's so attached and such a good parent (supposedly; we don't know for sure... we only know every time we see him somewhere, he's got at least one of his other kids with him) to his other kids (he has a 15 yo SD and two daughters, age almost-2 and 4 1/2). Princess has said many times over many conversations that she misses her sister MKG (the 4 1/2yo).

Recently, it's been things like, "You & Papa are my parents. Dad is my dad, but not my DAD; Papa is. He's here, he's part of my life, he cares, he loves me and shows me every day... Does that make sense?" and other related conversations. Don't get me wrong; I'm so grateful Ace is here, and a good dad to her... but I want to scream at BD, "How DARE YOU do this to her!! What the eff are you thinking?!?!" Hell, if I'M conflicted, can you imagine how my Princess feels?

The last conversation was about the meaning of "like" vs "love". She "loves" Ace and I all the time, but doesn't "like" us when she feels we're being unfair to her (that makes sense; total "parent/child" relationship right there). But, when the conversation was brought around to her feelings about her BD & SM, she said that she "loves" BD, but a lot less than she does us; more like an uncle. She then said she doesn't "like" him much right now.

As far as her SM, she flat out said she doesn't "love" her, she doesn't "like" her, and she will never call her mom or mommy again. The day that woman helped "take" her (Princess' word) was the day Princess lost all love & respect for her. I'd say that's a shame, but the only thing that's shameful is the way that woman treated my daughter and the loss of a part of my daughter's childhood because of it.

All in all, she's mostly okay. There are bad days and there are good days, but mostly, she just tries to focus on daily life and her future. We give her rules & boundaries, and she's pretty respectful of them. She's chosen this year to use her free time at school to tutor other students instead of working to get ahead (as she has in previous years). I applaud this. I think it shows just how caring she is; she wants others to succeed too and is willing to help them to achieve it.

By his continued refusal to do what is legally required, & blaming me for his own absence in almost every aspect of her life, he is now only hurting himself... she is done. We, her real parents, are proud of her. We love the fact that we get to watch her grow, and grow up, and become such a wonderful little lady. Too bad for him, and his misplaced pride, that he's missing out...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Really Quickly... Literally

I just wanted to take a minute to publicly post that I adore my husband. We've had some... well... let's just say "interesting" things come up lately (some with his kids, some with mine), and our near-future may be completely changed soon, but we can do it. :)

Bigger update coming soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Well, until the next project, anyway. Tuesday & today, Cory finished up all the minute details. Ace was so excited, though, that he started putting things away last week!

Here's the breakdown -- we kept the original layout of the kitchen, with a few changes. The biggest two were: moving the dishwasher to the left of the sink, and adding an island.
* All the upper cabinets, with the exception of the cabinet above the fridge and the huge (42"H) corner cabinet (with a beautiful "rain" glass front), are 36"H, 15"D, and of various widths.
* We had a "blind corner" cabinet base; it was replaced with a two-high lazy susan.
* Under the sink is a double shelf, and attached to the inside of those doors are a soap storage unit and a plastic-bag storage unit -- both of those have a plastic piece on their tops to hold wet sponges.
* The pantry now has four pull-out shelves (on rollers), and two regular shelves.
* The island holds all our pots, pans, and baking pans, as well as the griddle, the electric skillet, the crockpot, and more!
* The toaster no longer sits on the counter; it actually has a "home" cabinet (you have to laugh at how happy that made Ace).
* All the cookie sheets & cutting boards have an upright home, with the assistance of a metal organizer tool.

Ok, I know you all want to see (especially those who aren't my FaceStalkers), so here ya go:


Now, I think we're taking a bit of a break, until we figure out what to do to the bathroom...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Inspection Fail

Last week, the range and range hood were completely installed. All the cabinet innards went in and all the handles were placed, but when the inspector came through, he "failed" us because we were short ONE outlet. Since the fridge must be on its own, we need one more to the right of the stove (above where we have moved our 4-drawer piece).

Today marks six weeks since the day construction started. I am happy with the time frame; Ace, not so much (but, then again, he has no prior construction experience, and I do -- I tried to warn him...). The good news: Everything installed works fantastically. I'm not sure which is my favorite appliance -- the new range, the range hood, or the sink unit! The bad news: the "checklist" won't be gone over until this Thursday, with a finish date another week out. I think I can live with that.

If any of you would like to see photos of the finished kitchen (or perhaps "before" and "after" photos), let me know; I'll email them to anyone I know who doesn't have Facebook!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Counters & Power

This past Wednesday (August 18th), our countertops were installed. My biggest worry (aside from breakage - these things are HEAVY) was that the largest part of the countertops would have to have a seam in the corner. I was very happy, then, when the installers carried in only three (not four) pieces -- one for the new island, one for the cabinet between the stove & fridge, and the huge one for the left side of the stove around the corner to the left of the sink. With some countertop surfaces, depending on the pattern, you can easily hide a seam. With this particular one, it would have been very noticeable.

Thursday, the electrician and plumber were back to install: the new dishwasher, the sink, the faucet, the soap dispenser, the new disposal, and all the switches & outlets on the sink wall. The electrician was here from 850a - 11a, and the plumber was here from 915a - 130p.

I had been stressing out a bit because that was the ONE day I needed to pick Princess up from her class (45 minutes away); the rest of the week, my mother had taken care of it. I sent out an "SOS" on my FB page; J.S. (friend since junior high) came to my rescue, and was able to come out here to babysit the plumber.

I can now do dishes IN MY OWN KITCHEN (instead of the bathroom, as we've been doing), I can fill my water bottle IN MY OWN KITCHEN, and I can make my mocha IN MY OWN KITCHEN!! Can't cook in there, yet, though.

Next week is installation of the new stove & range hood, the finish details, and the inspection; then we're done! Well, until the bathroom remodel, anyway...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Almost Done

Last time, we were weighing the kitchen's east wall's paint color. After much debate, and physically putting one of the smaller cabinets first in front of a grey wall, then against a burgundy wall, we decided on grey for the whole kitchen.

So, the first Sunday & Monday of August, we painted... and painted... and painted. Those walls got two coats of primer (just like the rest of the house), then two coats of grey. By the time we finished, it was Monday, 730pm. Good timing, because...

Tuesday at 815am, our cabinet installer was here! There were supposed to be two of them, but the other had been sent to Salem for another job; our poor guy was here until 530pm! Luckily, Ace was home so I could get Princess off to soccer practice!

Wednesday, the second cabinet guy showed up about noon (had a morning job) to put my doors on and clean up the job site. Princess & I, since we couldn't go anywhere, played cards and some games, and I gave her a manicure. By 3pm, he was done (reminding me that the doors will be squared up when they return).

Thursday and Friday, the flooring installers were here. Thursday, they worked 9a-615p (I had to have one of Princess' babysitters, BB, pick her up and take her to practice), then I met up with Ace to watch the last hour of Princess' soccer practice. He makes it to at LEAST half of her practices every season; she loves when he watches her play.

Anyway, Friday, the installers were here 'til 230p. They would have been later, but since Liz didn't order quite enough quarterround (they were about 2 strips short), he put a call in for her to order a few more, and they packed it up. He said that it would be in "next week", but he'd like to wait to install it until after our countertops are in. He's seen our house go from carpeted, white painted, blah to laminate floors, beautifully painted, and awesome -- he'd like to see it finished (well, except the bathroom -- that's the next project)!

Monday, while I was working, Ace got to be home for the countertop people; they were doing their templates. I guess the guy doing it "doesn't like" the newer laser measuring tools, so does it "the old fashioned way" (by actually making a real template). Took him about an hour.

I forgot to mention, AK was here from Sunday through today... So, no projects were done; we just spent time with her. Ace got in a couple motorcycle rides with her and played some games. He also took her shopping for her two-week camp trip (starting this Sunday). Since DK finally got a job, he couldn't come up this time around, but may be able to while his sister's in camp.

The rest of this week is pretty easy - no improvement projects are planned. Friday, T&D are here with their girls for the weekend. MK plans on hanging out all weekend at her Mimi's so she can get in some "quality cousin bonding time" with Bug & Firefly. I'll be spending some of the weekend with them, ending with dinner on Sunday before they head south, to include Ace.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Just a little anecdote for now:
Princess is usually (during the summer months) lights out at 9pm. Since the weather's been nice, she's been leaving her window open (with the little lock on it, of course). She also likes her curtain left partly open, and always asks me to close it when I go to bed. A couple nights ago, I was exhausted by 945p. After doing my normal bedtime routine, it was just before 10p when I went into her room to do as she asked. At the time, our hallway light was still disconnected, and the light from my bedroom (across the hall) didn't really penetrate her room; it was dark! I crept in, shut the curtain, and turned to give her a kiss while she slept... except she wasn't sleeping. She was staring at me. The two white orbs were practically glowing, and I about jumped out of my skin. Then, we both busted up laughing, I gave her a kiss, and told her goodnight. Perhaps, in the future, I'll check to see if she's actually asleep before I go in to close her curtains...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thank You, Spook (& Dad)

So, last Friday, after picking up Princess at mom's and having lunch, she helped me tape... A LOT of tape... I've decided Frog tape sucks, and I love painter's Blue tape. I also love Amy Matthews .

Princess and I had to tape off the ceiling throughout the whole house (except the kitchen), and all the trim in the hall and living room. By that point, it was too hot to paint (the a/c unit had been temporarily disconnected for two reasons -- one: so we could paint around the opening in the wall, and two: so we could replace the unit with a newer digital model). Saturday, I had to work and Princess had a cooking class, so no painting that day either...

Sunday, Ace and I got up a little earlier than is our normal time, had our mochas, got set up, and got to work. I cut in (Princess helped) and he followed behind me with the rollers (Princess got to use the 4" for smaller areas). Half hour passed (lunch break), and we were ready for a second coat. After waiting an hour or so, we pulled all the tape, and moved the living room furniture back.

Monday, the flooring installers came to demo the last two rooms. For our comfort, they actually decided to demo only part of the dining room carpet, and all the tile in the kitchen. With the tile came the subfloor, which (after installing a vapor barrier) was fully replaced. One problem: when I got home from work around 3p, I heard a leak. After finding where it was coming from (long nail in new subfloor), Ace turned off the hot water and crawled into the crawlspace to get a photo. He then called our installer, who called a plumber to get it fixed.

Tuesday, I left for work before any contractors got here, so Ace kept me updated by text. The plumber came by and replaced the pipe (nail went straight through); no cost to us, of course. Then, the electrician showed up and did all his rough-ins (there's a hole in my floor -- but this one is supposed to be there; it's for the outlet on the new island!). Everyone was gone by 4p, which left us free to take Princess to her first soccer practice of the season!

Yesterday, the drywallers were here to replace all the crap they removed (about one and a half walls worth). They'll be back today to tape, mud, and texture. I actually had to call our main contractor a few times to get some things worked out; hence the title of this blog -- had I not had experience working for my brother years ago, and helping dad with many projects through the years, I wouldn't have known enough to question them.

Anyway, after today, we're free through Monday to get those three walls painted, and get the rest of the lighting back up. I have a dilemma, though... with the "Bordeaux" color of the cherry cabinets, I'm not sure I want to do burgundy on the kitchen's east wall... All the other east walls in my house's main living areas are burgundy, so, for cohesiveness, it makes sense. BUT, I'm afraid we may lose some of the stand-out quality of the cabinets by putting some of them against a wall of similar color. My other choice is to paint it the same as the other two, which is grey like the rest of our home... Thoughts?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Between Coats...

Yesterday, we spent the whole day prepping the house to paint the ceiling -- figured since the demo crew and the plumber finished up this week's projects early, we'd take advantage of it. Finished prepping by 7p, then had enough time (and light) to get the walls base-primed (going over other paint, pen marks, etc) and to get one coat of primer on the ceiling.

This morning, after mochas (which, btw, take a lot longer to make considering we have no kitchen -- it's like camping, but in a house), we put up another coat of primer, and cut-in the walls. I have a moment right now (between coats) to get this blog down, and have some lunch... Then, prime the walls and actually paint the ceiling. My "plan" is to paint the grey walls tomorrow, but we'll see how the day looks...

In other news, my Princess returns to the area tonight, but she gets in so late, I'm having her stay at "Mimi's" and I'll get her in the morning. She likes to paint, so she can help me tomorrow. I am looking forward to hearing all about her trip, and seeing the pictures she's taken!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Was Wrong...

We've gotten two more emails, and a postcard, from Princess since the last post. On the 16th, she sent, "i miss you! Even though i am the only girl i am having lots of fun with the boys." I replied, "I am so glad you're having fun!! We miss you, too, but we're focused on work and the kitchen. Monday, they'll be here to take all the cabinets away and remove a couple of walls, so that Tuesday & Wednesday, they can run new wires & water lines! Did you remember to send Papa a "Happy Birthday" message? Continue to have fun, and I'll look forward to your next email (or just catching up when you get home, if you don't have time for more emails). LOVE YOU! -mom-" I chuckled at her response, "Yay! It is about time . Yes, I sent papa a birthday message. I hope to have fun in Hiedelburg. I love you guys! See you in a week."

In the meantime, the kitchen is proceeding nicely. Monday, the demo guys were here for about 3 hours (I quote, "Took us longer to drive here than it did to do the work!" Probably not, but still...). My kitchen is now completely gutted. Today the plumber redid all the old lines, built a box for a shut off from the bathroom to the ice maker (same water line, now it has it's own shut off valve), and ran new for a new outside faucet (which, due to the old one's shut off valve leaking, hasn't been in use for about 6 years).

Next week's plan --> Monday: flooring installers remove carpet from dining room, and tile & subfloor from kitchen, then replace all the subfloor; making sure it's all level. Tuesday: electrician works his magic. Wednesday: drywallers install new drywall to the walls currently missing it. Thursday through the weekend is left for us to finish painting...

Steve, our contractor, gave us an estimate of 4 weeks. I am estimating 6... we'll see soon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One More... And, GO!

So, Tuesday morning (equal to around noon, Germany time), I got one more email from my angelpie: "Reporting on wardrobe malfunctions! My Aeropostle shirt is too tight, and is not comfortable. So I am going to use it as a painting shirt when we paint later this week. Also, my San Francisco shirt had a rip on the right seam. Mimi hand sewed it for me, and I will machine sew it when I get back to Portland. It cooled down last night and I had ice cream twice yesterday! I also mailed a postcard to you yesterday. Guten tag!"

Obviously, Princess didn't write this one herself, but she did tell mom what to write. That was the last communication I got, and I'm sure that means she's super-busy, having a great time, and exhausted by the end of her days. During all her other overseas trips, I didn't get any communication except the "We're here!" email, so this is an improvement...

In other news, our kitchen demo starts this Monday!! We still have the majority of our things in storage, and will probably be moving a few more things there this weekend to make room for the cabinets here. We already have the new dishwasher, range, faucet unit, and all the drawer handles. Still waiting for sink, et al (back ordered, but should be here before end of month), and range hood (next week). We also need to remove everything from inside the current cabinets, & store what we don't need -- we'll do that Sunday.

Basically, the kitchen will be completely demo'd w/partial drywall removal, the plumbing & electrical will be brought up to code (including an outlet on the new island), all water damage (if they find any... and we think they will -- no thanks to he-who-installed-my-dishwasher) will be addressed, and they'll install new drywall on two walls. Ace & I will paint, and the flooring people will demo the remaining two rooms (dining & kitchen) then repair and level. After that's done, the cabinets go in, the new flooring goes in, and the countertops/sink/faucet are last!

The contractors' hope is six weeks; our personal thoughts are more like eight. We're also assuming they'll find more water damage between the kitchen & bathroom, which will push our bathroom remodel up. Not a big deal; it's a small room (less than 50 sq ft), and the last "big" inside project. I already have some ideas...

Monday, July 12, 2010


So far, I've gotten two emails from Princess, and one from mom. We miss her, but not nearly as much as we did last year... But, last year, we were home and the older kids weren't being as helpful as they should have been. This time, we've had a few things to keep us busy. So far, we've been doing a lot of cleaning (and cleaning OUT), prepping for the kitchen demo. I work a full day tomorrow, so probably Wednesday and Sunday we'll be packing up the majority of the kitchen in boxes; what we don't absolutely NEED will be taken to storage.

When they first got in, we all got, "Long flights (I slept about 4 hours - M******* says she slept about 2!) - Got to hotel... at 9 am, but can't get into our room until 2 pm, so we've been wandering the streets, walking along the... River, etc. Keyboard on German computers different - Z and Y are reversed and punctuation different! More later."

Princess then sent Ace & I, "We made it here safely. I love you and miss you both - M*******," to which I replied, "We love you and miss you too. - mom & Papa" Then, I got another email this morning, "I slept for 12 hours last night, and then had another 3 hour nap this morning! I woke up at 3:25 this morning, but went back to sleep until 6. It is HOT here - Mimi dragged me to a cathedral so she could take pictures of the stained glass windows. Love, M*******" Awww, poor thing (hahaha, not).

Mom also sent (and posted as her FB status), "M*******and I slept 12 hours last night - then, after breakfast (of which she ate very little!), she slept for another three hours. Rest of group arrived about noon - turns out she's the only girl (three boys), but she says she's okay with that. Classes start tomorrow - today we ate and toured the city in the heat!" (She actually said what city, but I don't want to post that here.)

Anyway, we look forward to more emails, and I will post them here when we do get them.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Off She Goes

Princess started traveling overseas at the age of 7, but the idea actually started when she was 4 and I took a trip to London with my mother (whom Princess refers to as "Mimi"). To make her more comfortable with my absence (with which she's had trouble since she was 17 months, and her father left our family home -- she used to think I would leave her, too; poor thing... but that's a whole other story), I showed her maps and told her all about the things I was going to do, and that when I got back, I would show her pictures!

After mom & I returned, she asked, "Mimi, when do I get to go to London?" Thinking nothing of it, mom answered,"I think when you're 7, you'll be ready." My daughter is NOT one to forget anything, much less a promise, so right after her 7th birthday, I started putting the pieces in place to get her passport. Since I have full legal custody, I made sure I didn't need her BD's permission, 'cuz he has a habit of trying to stop her travels (in and outside the US); unsuccessfully, of course. Once her passport was acquired, mom made arrangements for her first trip overseas -- to London; just like mommy!

Mom then wrote an article for I.T.N., explaining some of the legalities of traveling overseas with a grandchild, as well as some of the cool things they did together; she included a couple photos that Princess took (yes, she got proper credit), and a few months after that article was printed, mom was contacted by Sally Wendkos Olds, who was writing a book about things to do with your grandchildren. She interviewed my mom and asked to use info about her & Princess' trip to London in her book (Princess has been published!). Since that trip, Princess has also been to Amsterdam and Costa Rica, and mom continues to submit to I.T.N.

Tomorrow morning, bright & early, my Princess "abandons" me once again... This time, she and her Mimi are off on a two-week adventure in Germany! They, along with other grandparents and grandchildren (who are all around Princess' age) will be exploring castles & old monasteries, taking a boat tour, playing and learning about the Knighthood, and being part of a mystery tour! I will miss her, as I always do, but (as always) she'll have a great time and will have many pictures, stories, and souvenirs (she's hoping to get her Papa a specific item to bring back for his birthday) to share with us when she returns.

Besides, we have a full-on KITCHEN REMODEL to keep us busy while she's gone! Demolition starts July 19th!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Storms in the Dakotas are Better!

I love thunderstorms, but I do not like flying tree branches. And, really, the Dakotas have the best ones; their lightning is BLUE! I got to see quite a bit of stormin' goin' on while in the midwest! It all started very early Thursday morning...

After three tries to get on a flight PDX to MDW, I finally got on the 130p, which (after the two-hour time difference) got me into MDW around 730p, CST. I was starving by this point so when my aunt & uncle (& mom; she got in earlier in the day) picked me up, we headed to Olive Garden for dinner, then drove about an hour to their house.

Mom & I stayed at D&R's house for two days before DW and JH came in to start our annual GIRLS' TRIP. So, Friday we slept in, and decided (even though uncle D left us his car) to just hang at the house. My cousin, B, was up first. After chitchatting with him for a few minutes, he asked if cousin MJ was up. Nope, so he went down to wake him (something along the lines of, "M! Get your ass outta bed! Your favorite cousin is here!"). MJ and I visited for about an hour, then he had to get ready for work (he's the manager of one of the four restaurants inside the FOUR WINDS CASINO in Michigan).

Mom and I read, I computered (haha), and watched a little t.v. before Uncle D got home (early). Aunt R was home about an hour later, so after packing up some picnic stuff, we headed out to a small state park about 1/2 hour away to watch an outdoor folk concert (my aunt & uncle are huge fans -- Sons of the Never Wrong). Definitely NOT my kind of music, but whatever.

We got there while the "opening band" was still playing, and set up our chairs. It was cloudy and trying to rain, but we had umbrellas, and the tickets DID say "rain or shine"... About five minutes later, B called R and told her about the "huge storm, with up to 85mph winds" that was supposed to be headed straight for us. About that time, the announcer came onstage to ask us to wait in our cars for a few as they were going to postpone the start of the concert about 15 minutes...

No sooner had we gotten back to the car that the dark clouds rolled in... then the rumbling... then the rain... then the lightning... then, the piece de resistance, the winds! The Element was rocking like the bed of newlyweds! A few people left, but we stayed. After about 20 minutes, the winds started to die down, so when the Parks Director came around, we thought he was telling us it was ok to go back in, but no... "Concert Cancelled; sorry!!" Ok, I guess we just donated to the local public radio station, then.

Since we were hungry by this time (we WERE going to eat at the park), we drove another 1/2 hour (through felled trees, flooded streets, and power outages) to the casino. We ended up having dinner at M's restaurant, then got a tour of the casino, ending with B's restaurant (he had to get back to work). Seems their kitchens lost some power until the generators kicked in, but the slots (of course) did not. :) Then, once M got home, we ended up staying up for two more hours, talking & catching up. Side note - I finally got behind the truth of his extreme dislike of Princess' bio (he was living nearby when MG and I were married, and we worked together for a while, as well... I knew MG didn't like MJ, but I know now why MJ felt the same).

Saturday, R made muffins & pancakes, and laid fresh fruit out for breakfast. Uncle D shared some interesting family history (apparently my great-grandfather worked for Brinks for 30+ years). Then it was time for showers & packing up... our condo was waiting! Took us a little over an hour to get to Chicago, but we found our building just fine, got checked in, and I sent a message to DW. JH texted me about 1/2 hour later, telling me they were on the "L" headed our way.

After we all got settled in (we were renting a 2br, 1 3/4ba - that means no tub; just shower - unit on the 27th floor in the middle of downtown Chicago -- awesome), it was time for dinner... and there was a nice Italian place right around the corner! Drinks, dinner, then a walk around the neighborhood, and it was definitely time to crash.

Sunday was Father's Day; we spent the morning meandering through Millennium Park and checking out a few other points of interest nearby, then Uncle D came out (R was supposed to join him, but she was sick) for a CUBS (vs Angels) game with us! As with the Yankees game we saw a couple years ago, and the Saints game we were in town for but didn't go to, the CUBS won. It was so great to see all the dads there with their kids... all ages, too!

At one point, I texted Ace to ask what the kids did for him (he had all three kids at home while I was on vacation), and he replied, "AK got me a cute plaque, DK did dishes, and MK gave me an awesome card that says how much she loves me as well as a book about dads. Oh, and they're not arguing at the moment." Cool. Even though they drive us batty at times, I love those kids. After the game, we went to Gino's East Pizzeria for some deep dish Chicago-style pizza!

Monday, we met up with our "Chicago Greeter", Doug, and took a three-hour walking tour of downtown Chicago. We got a lot of architectural history, and got to see a lot of cool things. Chicago's history is interesting; if you ever have a chance to go, I highly suggest meeting with a greeter!

Lunch was next on the agenda; at a great place just a few blocks from Millennium Park (can't remember what it was called), then we were off to the river cruise! We entered off the Riverwalk, and took the Wendella boat. It's an hour and a half, with a little on Lake Michigan, too. Afterwards, we did a bit of shopping (gotta get those souvenirs).

Since that was our last night in Chicago, we returned home to freshen up and chill for a bit before dinner; we had 630p reservations at Le Colonial for my birthday (a Thai/French place). When we were done, we headed back to pack up and check loads. We were all able to get on an 830am flight home; mom & I back to the PNW and DW & JH back to Northern California.

Next year: probably Boston!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fickle Beast...

As in "Time is a fickle beast". That word, I swear, is going to kill me. I have updates regarding Princess & her spring sport, B.D.'s shenanigans, kitchen & flooring, and summer plans. But, first, I am leaving. I'm leaving my husband and my children, and I'm going to Chicago.

As you should know, my two older sisters, my mother, and myself go on a "girls' trip" every year. This year, it happened to work out better for all of us to go in early summer, instead of in the fall. For me, that means Princess had no school, no activities, no appointments. It's not that Ace can't get her to these things; of course he can... and does. It's that, with me being gone, it's a whole lot easier for him if (a) he's home (on "vacation" himself) and (b) he can focus on spending quality UNstructured time with her.

In this case, he also has his own two children; they're here for the first part of our summer parenting time (they'll be here through the 4th of July holiday weekend). While I'm gone, they'll be working on clearing out their rooms of junk they don't need &/or they've outgrown and mowing & edging the yard. I am leaving my car here, as well, because my birthday present from Ace is tinted windows!

I leave at, as my dad likes to say, "zero dark thirty" on Thursday morning, and return the evening of my birthday: Tuesday, June 22nd. Scheduled, so far, is a Cubs game, visit to mom's hometown, visit with mom's brother & his wife (perhaps their "boys", too?), a boat tour &/or a hop-on-hop-off tour, and (of course) true Chicago cuisine! Mom has also set up a "Chicago Greeter" for us to do a short walking tour.

Next time I check in with you, I promise to tell you all about our trip to the Windy City!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Adventures in & around THE CITY (by the Bay)

Friday --

* Got up the same time as Ace, made coffee, got dressed, packed car, and left.
* Got to airport 1 1/2 hrs before flight.
* Played cards with Princess & hung out 'til flight.
* Landed earlier than expected.
* Found HOTEL SHUTTLES just fine.
* Was asked what hotel, gave hotel name, was told to wait.
* Got on shuttle, road over an hour out of our way, north, into the city -- right hotel, wrong location (they really should ask "which one"!).
* Was returned, at no cost, to actual hotel, to eat lukewarm IN 'n OUT burgers.
* Was given rough time by brother & sister & mom.
* Took a walk toward the park nearby, but detoured along a walking/biking path instead.
* Spent rest of afternoon chillin' & visiting.
* Switched rooms so that East Coasters & Cali folks could be closer.
* Had dinner with mom, Princess, Bug, Mer & her kids at hotel restaurant.
* Chilled in room 'til I got a text from D, asking for assistance with Firefly (Bug was already asleep).
* Sent D on her way, got Firefly to sleep, and watched a little t.v. while Princess read until D got back.

Saturday --
* Woken up by Bug "being quiet" while mom got showered & ready for the day. Mom then took her down to breakfast downstairs.
* Princess & I were allowed to sleep 'til 830a, and Bug brought me my mocha.
* Got dressed & ready for a day in the city, checked in with T & D, figured out transit schedules with mom, and headed out.
* Shuttle to airport, BART to Powell St, cable car to Fisherman's Wharf.
* Sudden stop on cable car in the middle of a street when some @$$ decided to run the light. Those wooden brakes do NOT smell good.
* Wait for a push (literally). Got going again...
* Lunch at Cioppino's.
* Bay Cruise around Alcatraz.
* Shopping & ice cream at Pier 39.
* Window shopping at a few more places (actually, I bought only hats for Princess, Bug, and myself) on our walk back to the cable car station near Ghiradelli Square.
* Cable broke at some point near the station, so we were let off 9 1/2 blocks away. Shuttle was coming, but mom didn't want to wait.
* Walked about 1/2 block before mom decided Bug was too slow, so she picked her up.
* Three of those 9 blocks were uphill. My left calf hurt for three days.
* Stopped at Cable Car Cafe for dinner.
* Hopped back on BART. Got to the airport, learned Princess's father had called, so had Princess call him back while we changed Bug, and used the restroom.
* Hotel shuttle back to hotel.
* Checked in with T & D.
* Bug decided she wanted to sleep in our room (originally with Princess, but I told her that "grammy" & I didn't fit in the other bed, so she settled on sleeping with "grammy"), so we had to get stuff from T & D's room.
* Princess helped Bug get ready for bed, including a new diaper (she won't change poopy ones, but wet ones are fine), read her a story, and got her tucked in.
* Mom got herself ready & into bed.
* Princess & I played some cards while I was going back & forth w/D about taking Firefly (in their room, of course).
* Sent Princess to bed.
* Read until I finally got a slight knock on my door around 1045p, was told she was just giving D the "death stare" and not going to sleep, so she decided to just take her downstairs.
* Climbed in bed, and promptly fell asleep.

* Mom took both the girls down to the cafe and they brought me my mocha when they came back up.
* We had a very "chill" morning; I got internet for the room so Princess could work on a homework project she brought with her.
* Bug played and watched t.v. and "read" her books.
* Lunch was quick & easy, then another hour or so of quiet time for Bug while Princess finished her homework, & mom packed.
* We all went down to the pool; stayed a bit too long as Princess got a little red on her shoulders.
* Back up to the room for a snack and some reading, while mom took care of our travel docs.
* Over to D's room for a little visit, then dinnertime.
* On the walk to dinner (two blocks), Bug was telling us all about where all the airplanes were going (we could see SFO from the water). My favorite commentary: "That one is going to land, then go to Pasco, then go to KUBLACON!"
* Benihana for dinner -- Bug was "OOoooh"ing and "Coo-uhl"ing as well (her way of saying "cool").
* Got D food to go, walked back to the hotel, gave D her food, tracked down T, let Bug say goodnight (she opted to sleep in our room again).
* Mom wanted to have brunch with us all before she left, but T told her he wasn't going to be up that early and since he only sees Corey & Manny once a year, he wanted to do their regular later brunch. Mom was kinda upset... Oh, well.
* After fighting Princess about her pajamas, Bug finally settled down and let Princess read her a book. About halfway through, Bug was asleep (as was mom).
* Princess & I played cards for a bit, then we went to sleep ourselves.

* After the usual morning, mom finished packing up and left.
* Bug "helped" Princess & I pack up, then we tracked down T & D.
* Had final food - brunch - in the cafe with the whole crew.
* D went back work, and T handed Firefly over while he finished packing up.
* Princess & I said our goodbyes at 1p, and headed back to the airport on the shuttle.
* We were home by 715p.

It was a great trip. I probably never would have taken the girls to the city by myself... not that I couldn't have, just that I am not comfortable travelling to places I don't know. I hadn't been to the city in almost 15 years (maybe more?).

I also really like Mer, Corey, their kids, & Manny. This is a great group and they've made me feel as if I'm family. If I'm ever in their areas, I'm thinking I won't need a hotel! :D

Next year, it looks as if D's mom will be accompanying T & D on this adventure, but I'll make sure the weekend is free, anyway, just in case...

Monday, June 7, 2010


Time is a funny thing... Sometimes, you think you have a LOT of time... Other times, not so much. It's been over a week since the Bay Area trip, and in a few ways, I have yet to recover. The most important to YOU, readers, is this blog. I have a LOT going on, and very little of that precious time to actually sit down and update. So, this blog is not a "what I'm doing" or "what I have done" blog; it is only an apology, and a promise that before the week is done, I will finish my already-started blog about our trip to the Bay Area, and update you on our house updates.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On Our Way

First, let me mention that, since my last post, "Father of the Year" has called Princess almost EVERY night. He didn't call her while she was at my mother's one night (hmmm, perhaps 'cuz he knows she probably won't answer her phone?), another he called past the approved time (after 730p, she is on bedtime routine; he knows this), and yet another she was in the shower & it was after 730p when she got out.

Last night, I made sure she returned his (two) missed call(s), and that she let him know we were headed out of town for the long weekend. He probably won't call while we're gone, but who knows? And, I do wonder, is he actually trying to be better about regularity, or is he just making up for going 51 days without calling...? Either way, I think she's getting tired of the every night call, and may ask him at some point very soon to just make them once a week. We'll see.

Second, as I said, Princess & I are headed out of town for the long weekend. As we did last year, we are "kid-wrangling" for T & D. This year, the newest addition (whom I will from here on out refer to as Firefly) is joining the trip (she's about 5 weeks now), but I think D is "wearing" her most of the weekend. Mom, too, is joining us this time around, which should make things interesting.

Looks like the Bay Area's weather is supposed to cooperate, and, as we are planning on being outside most of Saturday, this is great! Not sure of other plans, but that's okay; at least we have our own room this time. I am just about done packing (have a couple loads of laundry to finish first), and except for last minute items (toothbrush, hair brush, etc), we are ready!

Oh, and we're trying out a "doggie camp" this time for the fuzzy babies, so Ace doesn't have to worry about them being left alone at home for too long. The woman we're taking them to has 40 acres that backs up to a major forest, and her property includes a pond and a creek! Dogs should have a blast!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another Quickie...

Last night, after (yes, I'm counting; I keep track on the calendar) 51 nights of silence, "Father of the Year" finally called the Princess. Told her he'll call again tonight, and *might* come to Saturday's game (currently having no plans, he says; and he may bring his MIL). {Notice the use of the words like "may" and "currently" -- these have historically been his outs. Princess is not fooled.}

Let's fill in some details here, shall we?

* Last visual contact -- early December, 2009, at a school production. He brought his mother, two younger daughters, and grandmother. She's had a full 12 weeks of dance classes, a few events at school, and is almost done with her softball season... no-show for any of it.
* Last telephonic contact -- March 29th, close to 7pm. She won't call him, so it is completely up to him to make the effort...
* STILL no birthday (which was November 6th) or Xmas gifts, which he SAYS he has... -- does he not know how to ship? USPS has what we call "flat rate boxes" -- very inexpensive.

Also, I got a letter from DCS stating that his driver's license is going to be suspended, unless (of course) he takes one of three certain actions -- pay the full amount owed (HAHAHA!!), the person listed on the form is not him, or by making a payment plan. Not sure if he can even make a payment plan, though... Well, stick to one, anyway. Unfortunately, driving without a license is a secondary offense, so he'd have to be pulled over for something else before the cops would know it. But, whatever; it made me mildly amused, at least.

Since I know J still reads my blog, I'd like to mention that the option of adoption is still on the table. In exchange, all money currently owed in this case would vanish -- he would no longer owe one dime of it. Think about it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quick Update

Ok, seriously, just a quick little update, since I have no time for anything else...

Flooring is laid in all bedrooms, hallway, and living room. Trim is laid only in the boy's room. Most of kids' things are in storage, save Princess' mattress, a few clothing items, book, etc, so she can sleep and function while in the midst of chaos. What didn't fit in storage is in the boy's room, as well.

Flooring peeps return Friday, so we're getting as much painting done as we can before that, as well as hanging all new interior doors. So far, the girls' room is painted (I also bought them each two double hooks -- for robes, hoodies, purses, whatever -- as well as a throw rug and new curtains), and our bedroom is painted. The boy also has a throw rug.

The utility closet has a new set of bi-folds and new hardware, and the girls' room has a new door with a fancy handle. All doors and handles will be the same with the exception of locks -- our bedroom and the bathroom get locks, only.

Sorry to cut this short, but we have more work to do! Corey wants photos, T/D already got some... anyone else, let me know!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


First addition -- our new niece, Firefly (hahaha -- no? How about glow worm?):
* She's finally here! She was born, about a week late, April 20th, and weighed in at just over 9lbs, 1oz (big babies run in our family -- she was only 2 oz more than my own birth weight), and was 19 3/4" long.
* As far as I can tell, the girls look so much alike, the only major difference is the fact that she has dark hair, and Bug had (and still has) blondish red hair. From what I see in photos and hear from blogs & status updates, Bug adores her sister. Unfortunately, we won't be able to meet her until the end of May...

Second addition -- our new floors & kitchen:
* We have decided against the recycled glass/concrete countertops for ONE reason -- too much lead time. I cannot wait 10-12 weeks AFTER my new cabinetry is installed to have my countertops made. So, we decided on "Black Rocks" by Caesarstone. We got a rough estimate from Costco's website, and will have another company do a second estimate next week; then we'll compare the two.
* Flooring company rep is coming over Tuesday morning to take measurements. We'll probably get the bedrooms, hallway, and living room done asap, and have a temporary transition piece put in where the new flooring meets the dining room... and finish the dining room & kitchen AFTER the kitchen is completely redone.
* Our last bit of stuff to decide on was the kitchen sink & faucet. We decided to go with traditional stainless steel, but with a modern twist -- it's an undermount, 10" deep, and has almost perfectly square edges (very industrial looking). The company we're getting it from has a package deal with the faucet we like, a soap dispenser, the drain parts, and drying racks for the sink's interiors.
* So, now, after we meet with the flooring company, we need to start looking for a general contractor. I have a few recommendations from good friends & a co-worker, but we're starting with Home Depot, because they have the cabinets we're getting.

Again, if you'd like photos, and don't have access to my FB albums, let me know. I can actually send you a link to view the photo album, even if you don't have a FB account! :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gearing Up...

Over the last few weeks, Ace and I have been focusing on the upcoming kitchen remodel and new floors.

We have chosen:
* A GE dual oven, stainless, with ceramic top.
* A BOSCH dishwasher, stainless, with hidden controls.
* Cherry cabinets with a "bordeaux" finish (cherry/mahogany).
* Simple silver hardware.
* "Rustic Maple" laminate floors.

I wish the oven had a rating from Consumer Reports, but they haven't done oven/ranges in a while, so I have no ratings... I also am aware that a glass cooktop requires immediate clean-up, but that's such a minor thing; we're okay with that. I wish we could do a gas range (they do have this same model in a gas style), but there's no gas lines in the area... bummer.

The dishwasher, however, rates very high. C.R. rated a higher-end model the highest in their tests, but the one we chose is about 1/3 of the price, and still rated within the top 15. My favorite feature is the blue LED that lights up the floor to tell you it's on, since it's so quiet (47dB).

The cabinets are real cherry, with a reddish-brown finish. All our home accents are burgundy, so these are perfect. We are keeping the same rough layout of our current kitchen, but will have some upgrades to the cabinetry -- soft closures, matching simple silver hardware, an upper corner unit with interior lighting and glass front, a special couple of inserts in the lower pots/pans cabinet to make it easier to reach pieces, drawers inside our pantry cabinets, and a small island for more prep space.

The flooring was a tough choice... Do you go with hardwood, engineered hardwood, or laminate? Laminate won out for several reasons: (1) The higher-end ones are more durable than anything else (Ace dropped his screwdriver on our sample piece, on purpose, to test this), which we need since we have kids and dogs. (2) Hardwoods (even the engineered ones) require refinishing once in a while (with engineered, you only get two - maybe - refinishes before it has to be completely replaced). Even if you disregard the UNeco-friendliness of having hardwood these days, the laquer used for refinishing is so nasty, you have to be OUT OF YOUR HOUSE for a WEEK! (3) Hardwood floors would probably qualify as overimproving my house for the neighborhood. Most importantly - (4) This laminate is the ONLY one we've found, in all our searching, that had the right color. We wanted as light as possible without being pink (which would look even more pink with our burgundy walls/furniture and the cherry cabinets) or yellow (CLASH!!).

We have yet to determine what product we'll use on our countertops, but yesterday, we went to inFUEZ ( in Portland to check out some of their samples, found two we liked a lot, and had an estimate written up for one of them. While the financial expense is not much less than granite, granite is NOT eco-friendly at all, and really, a bit over-the-top for my small home. I've been interested in recycled glass countertops for years, but these fuse locally collected curbside glass with concrete, and the effect is awesome! The only downside, as far as I'm concerned, is NOT the price, but the timeframe involved for turn around -- 10wks or so (they measure, then make to order).

We are also looking at CAESARSTONE (found three looks we like), SILESTONE (found two), and CAMBRIA (three) countertops; the company we chose to do our flooring also carries and installs all three of these countertops. CAESARSTONE costs a little less than the FUEZ countertops, but require very little maintenance, and the turn around is only two to three weeks. Soapstone (, by the way, is AWESOME, but, while the product is eco-friendly (and so fantastically cool), the distance it has to travel (Brazil, for the most part) is not. I'll update when we've made a choice.

We have this really cool home design program that shows us all sorts of things... we took a lot of time and energy about a year ago taking measurements and getting everything "installed" -- we can now virtually test out options, and see what our home will look like when we're done. It doesn't do everything I want (of course) but it's close. It will definitely come in handy when we talk to the contractors.

Once we figure out countertops, that's the next step... contractors. I have four names/numbers, and CCB#s for them all (which I've already checked out). We will be interviewing them to make sure our personalities match and they listen to our wants/needs. We will be contacting some of their prior clients and (hopefully) we'll be going to see some of their work, in person. Of course, their estimates are also important, but it's not about having the cheapest bid; it's more about doing the job right the first time, and the quickest. I don't want to have to be displaced for any longer than necessary...

If you're interested in more details of what we're doing (model numbers, slab names, etc), comment here, and I'll email it to you. I can even save/copy/send you the layout of our house from the design program!

**Side note -- there's some very minor legal stuff brewing, but nothing set for sure yet, so I'll update when I have more to give you.**

Monday, April 5, 2010

Miscellaneous (mostly) Bitching

First, without going into too much detail, I just wanted to mention that when children act up, it is mostly the fault of the parent(s). I say mostly because I do understand that there are certain medical issues which interfere with the behaviors of a small percentage of kids, and there are a few other folks who have influence over kids (teachers, friends, neighbors, etc)... Counseling is there for a reason, btw. But, the first and most important influence is YOU. You do not have the right to bad-mouth those who help you take care of your kids; ESPECIALLY in front of them. You have a responsibility to make sure that your children are raised to be responsible, respectful, and safe; as well as to make sure they treat others with respect, and act in a moral and ethical way. If you have a problem doing these things, you should not have children. It's not supposed to be easy.

Second, why is it that some people remember and acknowledge important dates, but others completely ignore the event? Are these "ignorers" rude on purpose? I am a firm believer that if you WANT to remember something, you will. Don't tell me you "can't remember" something, when you have a thousand other bits of mostly-useless information running around in your brain. If you really have trouble with dates, there are endless kinds of calendars around.

Third, April is a super-busy month for my family --- This year, I acknowledge:
* April 1st -- my and Ace's anniversary, my bff's & her husband's anniversary, Manny's birthday, and one of my co-workers' birthday.
* April 10th -- my father's birthday.
* April 11th -- my sister's (DW) birthday.
* April 13th -- my new niece's due date.
* April 14th -- my grandmother's birthday.
* April 21st -- my older bro's & SIL's anniversary.
* April 28th -- my sister's (JH) birthday.

Fourth, we were planning for two weeks to go to the coast for our anniversary this year (6th), but the Friday before we were supposed to leave, Ace came home from work and said we couldn't go; we had "too much to do". I was pretty upset. We haven't been to the coast in months! So, that weekend, we spent the majority of the time going over, organizing, and matching up our paperwork for taxes. We had an appointment with our accountant that Tuesday, so it had to get done. I understood that, but it still bugged the crap out of me.

Fifth, ending on a high note, softball season starts this Thursday.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Specifically, MY boobs.

Get your mind out of the gutter; this is serious.

Since I can remember, I've had lumpy breasts. They've never bothered me much except the few times a year when one specific lump would hurt (never related to my cycle, though, which is weird). Through the years, all my docs have blown it off to "it's just a cyst; don't worry about it" but no one's ever tested it...

...Until my newest doc (Dr Kim -- LOVE her!). Five years ago, just after I turned 30, my doc decided to have some testing done, so I went to a specialist (Dr Lisa -- who's also done my other specialty "girly" appts when needed for the last 6 years) and she did an ultrasound. Luckily, they found no cancer, just cysts (as thought).

This year, my doc decided she wanted another ultrasound and a baseline mammogram (this is being done more and more, so docs know what you're supposed to look like in there, and have something to compare your age-40 photos to; I highly suggest pushing this one, and fighting your insurance if they won't cover it). Mammos have come a long way and I was not nearly as uncomfortable as I thought I'd be.

Anyway, doc got the results which basically said it's not cancer, but they couldn't tell for sure what it was, so doc sent me to a breast surgeon for a second opinion. I thought for sure she was going to want to do a needle biopsy, but no; the ultrasound she took (I even got to take a copy home with me -- wanna see 'em?) and the complete breast exam she (and the resident, as well) performed found only cystic material. However, I got the official diagnosis of "Fibrocystic Breasts", so at least it has a name.

The only concern this surgeon had was this: Apparently, she's had some women my age who come in with this kind of issue, find out it's cysts, find another lump, and chalk that one up to being a cyst, too... then, six months or a year later, when they go in for their regular appt, it IS cancer. She made me promise (duh) to call my doc if I EVER find another one or if anything changes with this one.

For the record, my girly appts are the ONLY thing I've never put off... for any reason. I was without insurance in my very early 20's, and still made sure to get those appts taken care of. So, my point is this: Do your monthly BSEs (yes, even if you're a man; men get breast cancer too), and have anything funky checked out asap. We joke about boobs, but this is serious. So, as one of my FB fan pages says, "FEEL YOUR BOOBIES!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baby Countdown

So, last week was super-busy. Between working, Princess's school (normal work as well as a science project), and getting things around the house done, I was a chicken-with-her-head-cut-off, so to speak... Friday culminated with polishing Princess' and my toenails with some cute artwork -- rattle, baby foot, baby's name, and a yin yang (If you're interested in photos, let me know and I'll email them to you).

The reason for all the running around, though, was because my beautiful SIL's baby shower was last weekend. T&D's second little angel is due April 13th, and contrary to their first child, we all knew the gender of this one ahead of time. For some, that makes shopping easier. Not for me; I started shopping even before they found out it was a girl.

I loveloveLOVE shopping for other people. I love giving people things they need. I love the look on their faces when they open all the gifts. Ace jokes that if he didn't keep me in check, I'd give all our money away! Actually, he's not far from the truth (although I do have specific groups and people in mind).

Saturday morning, Princess and I got up with Ace (around 630a), got the car packed, my mocha made, and headed out the door. We were about 20 minutes early picking up my mom (Spring Break traffic is awesome), and with just two stops (food & restroom), we got to T&D's exactly 5 hours from when we left mom's.

Bug practically ran to Princess, and although she gave us all a hug, she refused to leave Princess' side. She said to me that Princess is "my favorite cousin", which is of course adorable, then showed us to our room. Princess could have had her own room, but she wanted to sleep with me ("We hardly ever get to do that anymore, mom" she said). T&D had set up Bug's room with the waterbed for me, and mom got what used to be known as the "man tower"; now a guest room.

The baby shower was fun. D is a great cook, so we had couscous, some cold potato salad, and a few other goodies, as well as sausage dogs that T cooked on the grill. The weather was beautiful, and their friends were nice. D's sister, L.S. is actually the one who helped throw the shower, and their parents were both there, too. D got a ton of gifts too (I think there was only one that was "iffy"), including a sling, lots of clothes up to size 9m, blankets (my Princess even sewed one herself!!), some toys, a few things for herself (Bug and the Princess even got a couple gifts!), and some bathing items.

I got them a bunch of clothes, a book, a sippy cup, and a carseat. OMG! This carseat is awesome! It's the only one they'll need; it goes from 5lb to 100lbs!! I wish I'd had something like this when Princess was little... But, I'm glad I was able to do this, because I know they needed it.

Anyway, the rest of the weekend was very relaxed. We played a lot of cards, went to the park, talked, had three meals out in "downtown", did a little shopping, and just hung out. Princess and Bug were joined at the hip for most of the weekend, as well. Bug and I even had a mock argument, "No, I'm the favorite." "No, I'M the favorite!" LOL!

Bug's a funny little character, and so well-spoken. Among the many interesting & fun things she said were these little tidbits: "Unc D**** had to work. My mom said Unc D**** had to work. That's okay; I see him soon. I love him." AND "Take that to your D***" (to the Princess). Her parents are working on teaching her family relations, like her dad is my brother (I told her he's my baby brother, like she's going to have a baby sister), and I'm her aunt but Princess' mommy. She's getting it... slowly...

All weekend, D was uncomfortable. At one point, Bug said when her baby sister comes out, she's going back in. HAHA! Um, no. I really hope the little one comes soon; I'm not sure D can hold out much longer! My bet's on Thursday... April Fool's Day... my & Ace's anniversary... and Manny's birthday! :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Has Sprung (and I'm not talking about flowers)

Seems little-miss-sunshine has a bee in her bonnet again... yahoo profile updates, and now, another "threat" to take me to court. I'm guessing there isn't enough going on in her own house to keep her busy, or is she just ignoring her own three kids & husband because she's so fascinated with me and mine?

Let's backtrack:
* March 16th -- she posted, "She has & will always have 1 & only 1 father, his name is M****** and is the ONLY daddy a girl ever needs for he supplies ALL she needs." (sic) Hmmm, really? So, you're telling me she needs absolutely nothing... Gotcha.
* March 19th -- I sent BD an email stating that Princess and I were going to Washington for a few days; returning Monday, and that he could call her on my cell if he wanted to reach her.
* March 20th -- I received an email asking where in Washington we were. I ignored that, figuring if HE was really that interested, he could call his daughter. He didn't...
* March 24th -- I get a forwarded email from my attorney. The wife, once again posing as BD via email (she does this a LOT), sent him, "Dear Mark, It has come to my attention that my daughter, M******* was recently brought out of state without D*** G*******-K**** giving me the proper advance notification or any idea where she would be. As you may recall, this is a direct violation of our court order. What do you offer to remedy this situation? I can of course file an action but it is such blatant disregard I thought perhaps you might have a less evasive suggestion. Thank you, M****** G*******" (sic) How about, (a) you spell everyone's names correctly (my last, as well as his and Princess's first, names were all incorrect), (b) you run the spell check and actually read what you write before sending it ("evasive"?!?! LOL!), and (c) you actually read the many (MANY!!) court orders to make sure you have your information correct? I could go on... but I won't.
* March 24th -- she posted, "Wow,You just keep pulling tighter on that noose you've made for yourself. do you feel the pinch yet?It's coming." (sic) Wow; this could be considered a cyberthreat...
* March 24th (just after she posted the above) -- Mark sent me a note asking if I wanted him to respond and seeing if there was limitation to my travel with Princess, because "he" has raised this issue before, and failed miserably.
* March 25th -- Mark (have I told you recently just how much I love my attorney?) sent, "Can you indicate which Court order you are referring to and how Ms. G*******-K****'s actions are a violation of that order? What sort of advanced notice do you believe is required and can you tell me which of the many judgments that have been entered in this case cites to this requirement? If you could please indicate which Judgment and which paragraph of that Judgment, that would be most helpful..."
* As of 530p tonight, "he" hasn't responded to Mark yet...

Last night, after a FULL one month & one week, BD called. We were at "CATS" with my mother, so he left a message. You would think she'd be surprised that it took this long to call her, but no; it's par for the course by now. At this point, it only surprises her when he does something, not when he does nothing. Manny, you were absolutely correct in your comment on the previous blog... and I love ya for that.

One more thing... Although the measly $28.15 was owed TO ME, NO LATER THAN March 13th, it actually came March 20th. Three interesting things to note: (1) The check was totally correct; all parts - SHOCKED!, (2) The check was dated March 13th - the date it was due to me, and (3) The envelope was post-marked March 20th. As usual, I copied them both for my records prior to depositing the check and recycling the envelope, then sent them to Mark for his records. It's minor, but the week-late does add to my gigantic "Court orders that BD refuses to follow" list.

Oh, and a personal note to "J" -- I know you read my blog; it's public so I would expect nothing less from you; my own personal stalker. But, seriously, grow up, live your own life, and leave me & mine alone. We're happy, and she's perfectly healthy, without you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Life Is Good

First -- a house update:
B.H. finally came and picked up the old dresser set. I had two coordinating nightstands & an armoire that she took first, then came back on the weekend to get the dresser & its matching mirror. Those pieces are HEAVY, but that's what you get for having real oak. I'm a little sad to see them go; they're beautiful pieces. But, they aren't our style so "see ya"!
We got the other dressers built (with a little handyman reinforcement) and installed. Then, since these drawers are so much larger than the oak ones, we had to take some of the clothing that was in the closet to fill the rest of the drawers. That was nice... and now leaves room for a safe (which, of course, will be bolted to the floor -- didn't you watch "It Takes A Thief"?). A friend of mine owns a guns & accessories store, so we'll be checking out what he has to see if one will work for our needs.
Yesterday, we went to pick out (after weeks of research) our new bedroom television. We were looking at Sony, but as it turns out, the Samsung we ended up getting has a MUCH better picture. I also was able to talk the electronics store sales guy down a bit (side note: Suze Orman, financial guru, says for any large-ticket item, since the profit margins are so high, you should ALWAYS ask for a discount... but go in educated and prepared). Next step on that is to upgrade our digital package.

Second -- a life update:
Medically, I've had a few more than my fair share of doc appointments this year... Seems my girly issues are getting a little worse. I won't go into detail, but I will tell you that I have great support both with my doctor's office and my family & friends. If you're curious, email me and I'll fill you in.
Emotionally, we've been on a bit of a roller coaster. Our eldest will be 18 in December, and was finally able to get his driver's permit. Rules have changed quite a bit since Ace & I first got our permits & licenses, but Gamerboy is taking it all in a stride. He's had a few "iffy" moments, but is doing well. He's been working on some personal issues, but by summer, that should be figured out, and he should have a job. Squeeks decided that she isn't waiting that long, so she presented us with a plan that involves her getting her permit, taking driver's ed, getting her license, and working after school on the mountain. She's not even 15 yet, but at least she has "a plan"! We're so proud.
Some of our summer plans are still being finalized, but we have a few things already set: my annual girls' trip, the older kids' summer time with us, Squeeks' summer camp, Princess' camp w/Mimi, Princess' annual trip, and a beach trip. We still have to talk to the General Contractor about doing the kitchen & floors (hoping for July, but we'll see what his schedule looks like), and the painter about some interior work (although we may do that ourselves; Princess LOVES to help us paint). There are, of course, all the little things to do, too... home improvement is detailed work. But, those things happen as we have time. I'm just so thankful that Ace and I work so well together; makes these things that much easier.

Third -- a legal update:
Princess is doing well. Her B.D. is only calling about once a month now, & she's happy about that. He still hasn't given her the presents he supposedly has (birthday was in Nov, and Xmas) for her... I don't know why he can't just put them in a box and ship them to her!
After the two checks that our government intercepted for me (from his tax refunds), no other money has been received; not even the measly $28.15 he was supposed to have to me no later than March 13th (his half of what insurance didn't cover for both her regular check-up and her ortho consult). I am also still waiting for a bill from fixing her two front teeth, and that one is going to be a LOT more. Perhaps he's forgotten that unpaid medical bills accrue a 9% per annum interest rate, just like the child support and attorney fees...?
B.D.'s wife has been busy on the internet, as well... Seems she thinks that even though she gets support from her eldest daughter's bio-dad, B.D. doesn't have to pay support to me. She claims that since I don't "need" it, they shouldn't have to pay it. She also likes to spout little bits of "wisdom" like, "...being a real parent has nothing to do with $$ and everything to do with love..." and threats like "... Gearing up to take back what's really ours..." (sorry, but even if the $$ was paid in full, he'd still have a LONG way to go before he gets any parenting time); not to mention the fact that she's now taken to leaving comments on my own profile. Childish, yes?
Regardless, all these tidbits are printed and filed for my records, but the question is: Why does she still bother? She's talked to my daughter twice since B.D. lost his parenting time (2 1/2 years ago!) -- it's obvious she doesn't even like the Princess, let alone love her. So, all this posturing is for one reason, and one reason only: to try to upset me. I have an idea... stop the whining & childish behaviors, and make B.D. start DOING something. Or, both of you could just leave us alone completely. She has a great set of parents, here...
While money is not, of course, the MAIN idea in good parenting, being responsible is... Being responsible includes paying ALL your bills, even ones you don't want to pay. A good parent will put aside their own feelings and do what's best for their child... every time. And, a child who is raised properly, as we're raising our Princess, knows exactly who's been there for them, and who's all talk.

Fourth -- miscellaneous:
Today is another example of what a REAL (good) parent does. Ace got up two hours earlier than his normal wake time to get Princess up and off to school, then returned 1/2 hour later to help chaperone her grade's latest field trip. Between Ace and I, we've chaperoned almost EVERY field trip she's had... since she started kindergarten! How many times has B.D. done it? Once; when she was in the first grade. Interestingly, when that teacher gave her the choice of who she wanted to be assigned to, she chose me. She ALWAYS chooses me.