Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BLING... It's For You

Two weeks ago, Princess finally broke Ace down; we got her a cell phone. Plus, we upgraded our current texting plan, too (we're grandfathered into the "unlimited data plan" as long s we stay with Verizon; which is great 'cuz I FB & email during breaks at work). The day we went to get Princess' & my passports renewed, Ace joined us. He ran a couple errands (new additions to our Halloween decor... lol), then asked us to join him at the Verizon store nearby.

He had been there about 30 minutes already and had chosen two cheap(er) slide phones for her to choose from. They were almost the same as far as features go (& both had a $50 rebate), but one was black & one was blue. She chose the blue one. We wanted: unlimited text, shared M2M, music, pics, and no data. Geoff (the store manager) upgraded our plan, and when all was said & done, ended up saving us $10/month (actually, probably more, since we get a discount on monthly service due to Ace's work). Her music & pics have to be down/uploaded to/from a computer (no data means no data transfer; including photos from phone to phone).

Then it was time to choose her number... which, for some reason, took three tries and another 45 minutes to go through (I thought computers were supposed to make our lives "easier"? Nope.). Since it took so long, Geoff gave us a free case (hot pink), and a free 2G memory card. He was *going* to throw in a free set of earbuds, but they didn't have any that fit her phone in stock (I just got her an adapter from The Shack for her current Sony pair). As we left, Geoff said to her, "You be good with that, ok? Don't disappoint your parents!" She said, "I won't! Thanks!"

On our way home, she took my phone & started loading numbers into it... Then, the texting started. Our rules currently are: (1) It gets turned on in the morning when she gets up, turned off when she gets to school, turned on when she gets out of school, and turned off again at (or around) 8pm every night, (2) No excessive texting, (3) Calls must be made to/from the house phone if calling is necessary; with unlimited texting, calling is RARELY necessary, (4) She pays $5/m toward the cost of her phone's service, (5) We pay for her insurance, but she must pay any replacement cost, (6) I read ALL texts before she can delete them, and (7) The phone gets charged every night.

Mainly, we had two reasons for getting her a phone. {A} Babysitting. She's been babysitting for one year (got her Babysitting Certification last November) and & parent-helper since she was little. A lot of people these days don't have home phones, so it was necessary to invest in her "business" by getting her a phone... and {B} Safety. We don't believe *having* the phone protects her, but we do believe that she can explore her independence a little easier now that she has the ability to easily check in (& we can track her if something *does* go wrong).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's A Matter Of Principle

Four, or maybe it was five, years ago, I was driving past the fairgrounds property in town and saw a HUGE banner on the side street building (it's an Armory building) that read something along the lines of "Huge Consignment/Resale Event -- Pass It On Sale" and the dates. So, that Saturday, I stopped by. I think I ended up buying a few things for different family members (my own kids included), and was pretty happy I got great deals (always the bargain shopper!).

Since then, it's moved a few times, but it's still in town. I've tried to hit it at least once per sale/season (they do two each year; once in the fall & once in the spring; now also available in a town about 2 hours south). Also since then, Princess' SM has gotten more & more involved each year. At first, we went at times/days when it would be less likely that she would be there, as Princess despises the woman. When that didn't work as planned, I went a couple times with friends (leaving Princess behind).

Sometimes I saw her; sometimes I didn't. Once, last year Fall, when Princess was with me, not only did we see her SM, but her bio was also there, as well as her younger half-sisters. MKG (the only one she really misses) was little miss chatty while I got checked out & paid for my items. When we left, though, Princess was shaking; visible upset. I asked what was wrong and she said, "I can't... mom... I can't do this anymore." That was the last time I shopped the sale.

Every time Princess is around her bio &/or her SM, she gets the shakes. I've had her in & out of counseling many times over the years, but since her bio refuses to come in, talk to her & the counselor, and actually work toward healing their relationship (apparently, it's "easier" to blame ME for the way Princess feels), it's no wonder she freaks out. She still thinks, after all these years (almost four, to be exact) that they will abduct her again if given half a chance. To be honest, I do too.

Princess' feelings are, of course, my main concern, but the other reason is about money. You see, my ex has NEVER willingly paid child support; ever. I'm not saying he hasn't paid it, but when I *do* get it, it's almost always garnished by the feds (from tax returns), the state (tax returns & unemployment pay), or whatever real job he happens to have at the time (wage garnishment). There have been a couple of small payments made while he was in the process of having it reduced last winter (jobless with an additional kid), but even though it's now $100/m instead of $288/m, he's still not paying... the arrears are just accruing at a slower rate.

As I understand, aside from being the "Sponsor Coordinator" for PIO, he is a stay-at-home dad for his two youngest. A noble choice, if you don't actually have financial responsibilities to take care of, such as CHILD SUPPORT, but that's another blog. If him staying home with the two younger children is really in the best interest of their household, perhaps his wife should step up and pay his child support with her income.

I don't know for sure if she has a "real" job, but I do know that she makes a pretty large chunk of money from the PIO sales, not to mention her c.s. for her own daughter (now 16yo). I also know she's been "promoted" and is the sale owner's 2nd in command. All that being said, I just cannot bring myself to spend MY money at a resale event where they are a huge part, when I'm not receiving any child support.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Difficult Conversations

How do you get across to someone that you don't want to have anything to do with them? Especially if that person was a very important person in your life for a long time? How do you explain that you no longer trust this person?

My princess is dealing with this issue with her biological father, as I am with my ex best friend. The odd/interesting thing is: both events that broke the relationships happened at roughly the same time; 4 years ago.

For the Princess, it was one dramatic event -- her father & stepmother abducted her from our doorstep. For me, it was multiple, seemingly-insignificant, events over the few years prior to our "break up". The end result, however, is the same: broken trust.

Princess is at the point now of wanting nothing to do with her bio. She doesn't want him to be part of her life; in any aspect. She doesn't want him at any school function, any sporting event, any kind of activity pertaining to her life at all. She doesn't even want to TALK to him. How sad for him... and, even sadder, he refuses to believe it; choosing to blame me for how she feels.

In my own situation with my ex-bff, I also want nothing to do with her. However, I share a friendship with her sister, her brother, her sister-in-law, and many mutual friends (including her baby #4's daddy). Such shared moments (like birthday parties, weddings, graduations, summer barbecues, etc) require me to be civil. That, for me, is not a problem. The problem comes from her continued pushing to still be friends.

So, here we are; mom & daughter in completely different but similar situations. Lucky for me, I'm a strong person; I can handle it all. Lucky for her, she's got me as a mom.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Swift Kicks & Broken Promises

First topic -- Princess' soccer games started yesterday with a Jamboree. These are half-games (two 15m halves with 5m halftime); with stops & starts, they last about 40-45 minutes. Ours were at a middle school, about half an hour away from home. We were up at 6am (ugh), got dressed, packed some food & lots of water, I made a mocha, & we were off. I stopped at Dutch Bros to get her a small mocha (didn't think to make her one at home).

We got to the school just at 730a. Coach asks that the girls try to be on the fields for warm-ups half hour before game time. Since game time was 8am, that was perfect timing. Princess was even chilly (at 730a, it was only 62`)... but not for long! First game, they won 2-0. We had about an hour & a half before the next game, so we scooted our game chairs back to allow other parents to watch their games, and had a small snack.

It was starting to warm-up so off came the sweatshirts and on went the sunscreen. Second game was lost 0-1, but it was a lucky "hail-mary" type shot at the end of the game. By this point, the girls were hot & hungry, so I set out a blanket & opened up the cooler. We had a lunch of sandwiches, Sun Chips (mmmmm, French Onion), & cherries. I had brought a magazine, cards, and a word search book to keep us entertained, but never took any of it out; soccer moms are entertaining enough sometimes!

At this point, it's 1130a, and we knew the games were starting to run over (our last one was scheduled for 1150a, but the one before ours had *just* started), so again, we sunscreened ourselves & our girls, I made sure Princess had enough water, and I got my umbrella out for leg protection (I already have an umbrella chair), & situated my blanket over my chair to cover more of the sides & back. CP (KP's mom) made fun of my "cocoon" but my French-mix skin is not made for all that sun!

The last game started at 1205p... *only* 15 minutes late. That one was also won 2-0. The girls were hot, dirty, and completely exhausted by the end. Snack & drinks were provided by two of the families (once again, I am in charge of coordinating this, as I've done almost every season since Princess started playing) -- mini Oreos & Gatorade. We loaded up the car, and when we got home, she took a much-needed shower. At 6p, I dropped her off at the MAX (my mom met us there; she's not old enough to ride alone yet); she slept long & well last night.

Second topic -- Does anyone know why someone would make a promise, then break said promise? Not once, not twice, not ten times... try many hundreds, over the last 10 or so years. Princess' biological father is one of those people, and it drives us both crazy. Well, correction; it USED to drive us both crazy. Now, it's just par for the course. No matter what he says (to her on the phone, or to me, through his wife, via email), we both have this, "Yeah, whatever... I'll believe it when I see it" attitude. Specifically, when he says he'll come to something.

Let me backtrack. The last phone call he made to her was early May (yes, five months ago). She & Ace were home (I was at work), so when I got home & saw a message from him, I asked why she didn't answer the phone. She said, "I don't want to talk to him. I have nothing to say." Ok, then. At this point, she *had* actually spoken to him over the phone about a month prior, so I figured no big deal. Then the months went by...

I sent him an email in early August with the soccer practice schedule; no response. I then sent him an updated schedule in mid-August, and got "Thanks for the info, we are busy this Thursday but we'll come next Monday for sure, M****** is also playing soccer and is eager to watch her sister play. Do you have her game schedule yet?" I replied, "She will not be there the next two Mondays (22nd & 29th), nor the Thursday in between (25th). Game schedule is always posted around Labor Day weekend."

Of course, I know full well it's always Princess' SM, *NOT* her father, answering the emails, which is sad for them... After all these years, she still doesn't "allow" him to communicate with me without her interference. Trust issues, much? Anyway, her response back to me was, "I did not receive the required notification that she would be going away." -- um, maybe because I'm not required to give you anything when she travels with ME? Regardless, I just ignored (my attorney got a copy of all of these, btw).

First day of school, I sent a (very small) version of Princess' first day of school pic. I got, "Thank you. Who is her teacher this year?" which I also ignored. I figure if HER "FATHER" really cared, he'd call & actually ask her. Apparently, he *did* call her that night. They spoke for about 10 minutes. I think that's the longest phone convo they've ever had. During that conversation, he asked all sorts of information, including her soccer game schedule ("I'm sure it's online," was her answer). He then told her he was going to *try* to "stop by" her game.

I'm going to take a stab in the dark, here, and assume he hadn't seen the schedule yet, because (as I've already said) she had three games, not one, and (like I said) they were 1/2 hour from my house; he lives even further away from that town than I do. Friday night, he called again. This time, she recognized his number and didn't want to answer the phone this time. I told her that it is her decision what kind of contact she allows him to have, so she let it go to voicemail. He left a message, making sure she would be at "tomorrow's game"...

Saturday came... no BD for the first game... maybe 8am is too early; fine. Second game... still no bio... Just before the third game started, Princess goes, "Good thing I wasn't holding my breath, huh, mom?" and off she went. Yes, baby; good thing. I hate that he does this to her, though. I don't understand why he makes promises he doesn't keep. All I ask is that he makes a commitment and sticks to it; make a promise & stick to it (I know, I know... he has the worst history with this).

She doesn't really care if he's there or not; in fact, she'd rather he DIDN'T come to things. But if he tells her he's going to do something, follow through! Truthfully, though, things are going to change around here regarding these things... He never did ask her who her teacher is.