Friday, December 26, 2014

Santamas Season, continued...

It's interesting to me all the "traditional" things people do for a really long time, then get mad/depressed when they can't do those things anymore. I've said it many times, but as a reminder - I grew up in a "split" family, and as an adult, I've been part of one... there are very few "traditions" that we do; we just go with the flow. No "Day After Thanksgiving" *Black Friday* craziness, no specific day to get the tree or go shopping or do the wrapping, no "Santamas Eve box" filled with jammies & a movie, no "Santamas Day feast" (obviously, we eat, but nothing specific that *has* to be fixed/eaten this day), etc. I've found it's much less stressful to do things this way because family dynamics change -- divorce/separation, kids grow up & move out, grown kids have their own families, etc.

Cards were out by early December, but I still felt this season came at me a little faster than usual. The fact that my older two kids didn't have their wish lists to me until mid-December didn't help matters, either... However, the last three weeks went very smoothly. It has been a whirlwind of gatherings, baking, working, shopping, shipping, & wrapping. Packages for my nephew and my "Littles" went out a little later than normal (December 15th!!) so the post office was pretty busy (45m line), but they did get to them in time.

As usual, all three of us got in on the baking this year... but, not usual, I ran out of goodies before I ran out of friends I wanted to bring some to! I had to add a second baking & delivery day! Next year, Ace will bake a "regular" (which a 4X normal batch) set of M&M cookies, another round of Applesauce cookies, and maybe add a third kind to his contribution. I will need to double up on the three items I make, as well... or, maybe Princess can make a batch of something solo (she usually just helps both of us).

For the first time, I decided this year to have a Wrapping Party (since I've had so many friends say something about "hating" wrapping or "just not getting to it" until a day or two before Santamas), but the turn out was not what I'd have liked. Possibly due to the late notice (I only gave two weeks). I had a few people tell me they regretted not coming. SO, next year, I will give a month's notice, and add that they can also drop off a small donation & their gifts, and WE will wrap for them.

We also, as usual, adopted a family in need. I like to choose a family I know personally, instead of just grabbing one of those Tree Angels at the mall. This year, however, I wanted to go bigger than I normally do (I usually set a budget of $100 or less). This family has four children, so I asked my FB friends/family for help. My SIL, one of my nail sisters, and one of my clientfriends all contributed, and we were able to give them $100 to Target, $100 to Fred Meyer, $15 to any Darden restaurant, and $10 for Walmart, plus I gave them a tin of goodies, a new outfit for each of their twins, and had some Gymboree & Crazy 8 coupons.

I *don't*, however, set a budget for our own family. Ace usually tells me "Don't go overboard" but since I've never heard "You've gone overboard", I'm not sure exactly what that means. I'm assuming that if we ever had trouble paying the credit card bills (as a debt-free family, we pay off our cards in full every month), that would qualify... :)

This year, Squeaks needed a new laptop. She contributed about a third of the cost herself and Ace did all the research to find a good one for her needs. He got it ordered, set up a date for her to come over with her old one, and got everything transferred over & set up for her. There were a few other things on her list, as well, so we took care of those. Gamerboy asked for specific clothing items & new pots/pans, among other things. We got him almost everything he asked for, as well.

Princess didn't have a real "list" (as she said, her biggest wish was granted on October 7th of this year -- her adoption!), but she does have both an Amazon wish list and a Wanelo wish list. LOTS of ideas on those. She got a lot of the new clothes she wanted, another cabinet for her silver spoon collection, new boots, a Michael Kors wristlet, etc. The only thing I wanted to get her but didn't is a new office chair for her room (although she can buy one herself with her money/gift card gifts).

Ace was on top of things this year, and took care of 1/2 my stocking (I take care of things like candy, beauty/toiletry items, gift cards, and scratch-it tickets for everyone), plus I got a new laptop (much needed), some clothing items, and a new stamping set for work. Princess got Ace a tee shirt that said "BEST. PAPA. EVER.", and I got him a scope & stand for his rifle, plus some clothes and kitchen stuff. My bestie found the dragonfly bowl set I'd been eying for a couple years, plus sent me a really cute penguin mug, and she sent a Michael Kors beanie for Princess.

Our Santamas celebrations have one more round, tomorrow at my SIL & BIL's house. All of our kids, furry ones too, will be joining us for food, gifts, and family time. I am making the green bean casserole (at S's request), plus we are bringing some baked goodies, and a couple of small gifts for them. The gifts for the older two kids, and the ones from Squeaks to us that she brought over when she came down for her computer, will be brought down as well.

Next week I have a very light work load, so my plan is to spend a couple hours on Tuesday (before my one evening client) taking inventory, making an order list, restocking/reorganizing a few things, and doing a bit of deep cleaning. Same thing at home at some point, too... Gotta get our end-of-year donations taken care of!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Burn, Baby, Burn...

As I mentioned in my Santamas Season post, I spent part of Thanksgiving day going through the stacks of notes, filings, court orders, emails, webpages, etc that were all part of my divorce paperwork over the last 14 years. For a couple of hours, I went through it; stopping to read certain things that, at the time, pissed me off, upset me, caused me pain... and this time, I laughed. I laughed at how silly & stupid the Wildebeest had been; how she was jealous of the fact that I was married to him and had a child with him before she did; how her actions & words screamed "I have zero self esteem."

Jealousy, in my opinion, is a worthless emotion. It says to the world, "I don't feel I'm good enough for my significant other," and that you truly believe someone else can easily "steal" them from you. Believe me, from experience, if your SO can be "stolen" that easily, they are not worth your time & effort.

Anyway, that, in itself, was cathartic... but, I wanted more. I wanted to watch those 14y worth of papers go up in flame. A few people, my husband & my family law attorney included, said to me, "Why don't you just shred it?" Because it's not the same. Sure, it would get rid of it; same as fire... but I wanted the emotional release that came with burning.

So, I set out to find a safe method to do so. We have a small fireplace, but it only burns wood pellets, so I couldn't use that. We don't have an outdoor fireplace, yet, and I didn't want to buy one that would work for this purpose, only to have it not be what we want for our permanent set up. We searched hardware stores for a metal bin I could use, but nothing was heavy-duty enough (would melt even galvanized if it got too hot) nor did anything we looked at have a mesh top (you don't want little burning bits of paper flying around; that's a fire hazard).

Then, I thought, "Who do I know who has a wood-burning fireplace?" AHA! My friends, A&E, do. I sent A a message, asking if her fireplace would " to help me dispose of all my legal papers" -- hahaha. She said yes, and offered a few times/days for me to come over. I also had a tin of cookies for her & her family, so we made a date.

Yesterday, after work, I went over. She'd moved since the last time I was there, but I easily found it. I grabbed the tin of goodies, and the huge box of paperwork (seriously, it filled a Costco-sized paper towel box!), and went inside. Her husband poured us both a small glass of wine, and I grabbed a stack & tossed it in the fire. A got a few pics of me (for "prosperity" she said... lol), then we both sat on the couch with our wine, catching up, while E fed the fire. I left an hour later; there was still half a box left, but I told them they could keep it for starter.

I'm still waiting for the child support system to delete my court order from the online accounting, but my next steps are to go through my saved emails (I have it all in a folder titled "Legal") and any files/photos on my computer... and probably deleting them all. I see no reason to save any of it any longer.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Back in June, I removed "Gonzalez" from my last name... legally. Then began the process of changing all my information everywhere else; everything from my credit cards & driver's license, to my rewards cards at local grocery stores. What a serious PITA that is, btw. Anyway, in July, Princess accompanied me to the DMV to get a new driver's license. While we were there, we picked up a Driver's Manual.

The rest of the summer and into the fall, she read through that book. Mid-October, she started taking the practice test at the back of it multiple times, she took the two practice tests on the DMV website multiple times, and she found two other websites with Oregon practice tests and took those multiple times. She asked questions anytime we drove together and she insisted on having us "pop quiz" her.

She was out of town over her birthday weekend, so we didn't get into the DMV until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I called the hotline to make sure I had everything I needed (because, although it's listed on the website, some of what she needed I don't have yet due to the adoption). Guy over the phone was helpful (& we even double-checked with the guy at the help desk inside), but when we got up to the counter, the DMV worker told us we still needed a few things.

She was able to get most of Princess' information into the system (although for her SS#, she had to input her old name for verification, then change it to her new one -- I don't have her new birth certificate yet so I can't get her a new SS card), gave me a list of what else I needed to bring when we came back, and reminded us that testing stops at 4p.

This past Tuesday (December 2nd), I pulled her out of her last class (Freshman Exploration, which is similar to Homeroom, except they occasionally have a paper or project, and it's graded) at 230p. We got up to the DMV around 3p, grabbed a number, and waited our turn. The numbers weren't moving as fast as we needed them to, so I sent Princess up to the "Driver's Test Check In" desk to ask the dude there if there was any way to speed it up; she was only there to test on the computer, no need for Driving test, and half of her info was already in the system... He said, "I don't know, kid; it'll be close." Ugh.

At 350p, the same woman who was so helpful the week before just happened to be the person in charge of moving the line along (making sure people had the paperwork they needed ready to go, etc). So, Princess asked *her* if we were going to make it, and if there was anything *she* could do to move it along? She said, "I remember you two; let me see what I can do."

At 405p, the announcement went up first for "Anyone holding number 410 and below, line up in order of your number." And, then, right after that, "If you're here for testing, the center is closed. You'll have to come back another day." WHAT?!?!?! NOOOOOO!!!! Then, the lovely woman looked at Princess & me, and said quietly, "Follow me." She opened her own counter back up, finished entering Princess' information, took my $5 for the testing fee, gave Princess her form to put into the yellow box at the end of the counter near the testing computers, and said, "Good luck, hon." I almost hugged her...

Princess took her test (I told her not to hurry; I wanted her focused & paying close attention), and by the time she was done, the testing counter was empty; no one there. So, she went to the guy who was at the help desk last week, at his counter. After some teasing about her hoodie (she had a Ducks one on), he took my check for her Permit, told her congrats, and sent her to the photo counter. Another $23.50 for that, and she is a Permitted driver! They give you a temporary one (paper), and her real one will be here within a couple weeks.

Oregon does not require extra insurance for a permitted driver, but they do require 10 hours of driving practice before you can sign them up for Driver's Ed (which, unfortunately, is no longer offered at the high schools). So, it looks like Ace & I have some teaching to do...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Santamas Season

The day after Thanksgiving starts the holiday season. For us, as I've said for years, it does not involve any religious celebrations or teachings. We are an atheist household and as such, we celebrate what we call SANTAMAS. If you look up SANTAMAS on the Urban Dictionary, it's defined as, "Santamas is the commercial version of Christmas, centering around Santa instead of Jesus. It's very similar to Christmas, except Santamas avoids religion like the plague.", but that isn't quite correct...

I do "avoid religion like the plague", but it's not the commercial version of Christmas. The Spanish word "mas" means "more"... so, More Santa! An older, Christian, male family member asked me a couple weeks ago, "Understanding that you are athiest and refuse to celebrate what the christian world deems as the birth of Christ. So instead of celebrating what you deem as a fictional character, you celebrate another fictional character (Santa)......Why?" I answered, "Not so much the character as what he stands for... to me, The idea of "Santa" is the symbol of giving, and we (my family) spend the season doing just that -- giving carefully chosen gifts, helping those in need, spending time together baking, etc. For the record, we do it at other times, too, but you specifically asked about this season." Not that it matters to me, but he seemed satisfied with that answer; it made sense to him.

All of that said, Santamas season has begun.
* Friday, we had our annual Day After Feast at my mom's. This year, though, was a little different as mom is currently on a vegan diet (heart issues), she has moved to a smaller condo, and there were less people (although my bonus daughter was able to join us this year!).
* Saturday, I had two morning clients (as usual), but (first time) Princess decided not to join the Littles and their parents for Santa photos. We actually have a different plan, but I'll expand on that at some other point. We did some home chores that afternoon, and settled in to watch the Civil War (big yearly battle between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers). Bonus son was supposed to join us, but his plan fell through.
* Sunday, we moved the furniture around a bit, put all the Thanksgiving stuff away, and got our Santamas decorations up. As much as I love the smell of a real tree and the adventure of picking one out & chopping it down myself, to have one in my home would incapacitate my poor husband (migraines). Plus, an artificial has no maintenance!
* Monday, I started on cards. I have a "method to the madness" (of course), so there are three piles - (1) stamped, sealed, & ready to go, (2) unstamped &/or unsealed (needs pic of Princess) &/or missing address, and (3) name but no address or stamp -- these get pics AND will also have a package going out with it (like for my nephew, my nieces, my parents, etc). I actually have a fourth pile this year, too -- A few "nail mail" packages for nail sisters.
* The rest of this week (besides working), I plan to finish cards & get them sent out, wrap any gifts I already have, and do more shopping (probably an afternoon with Princess after school), including gifts for the family we adopted this year.
* This weekend is a local holiday bazaar; Santa will be there so we're planning on doing pics there.
* Next week, we bake & deliver, and next weekend, we're planning on taking the dogs to see Santa, and we're having a Gift Wrapping Party!

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Today was Thanksgiving in America, and as I do every year, I wanted to blog post a list of things I'm thankful for. This time, though, I'm doing it a bit differently. My family feast is actually on Friday every year -- my mother hosts (even though she's moved to a smaller place) -- so we spend the day doing a little prep cooking/baking for Friday's feast (I'm in charge of fudge and green bean casserole) and just relaxing. This morning, on Facebook, I decided that every post I made today would be something I was thankful for... Each post got quite a few comments & likes... This is that list:

1. This morning's "sleep in". I am usually awake by 630a or so, but this morning was able to sleep 'til 750a.
2. The laugh I get when the dogs & I wake Princess up. She growls at me, but I know she likes it; she's told me so.
3. That my daughter can, and loves to, cook. We did a bit of prepping for tomorrow's feast earlier today.
4. My daughter inherited my organization skills; we reorganized my nail art kit (which, if you must know, is a huge tackle box with lots of compartments).
5. I posted a photo of the four, 3-inch, 3-ing binders I've kept throughout the last 14+ years... Legal papers of all kinds. Today, I put them all in a box, & this weekend, I'll be burning them all. This post got all sorts of comments, some funny, but all supportive.
6. Being self employed (which allowed me to have today & tomorrow off), the incentives at Ace's work (allowing him to make more $$ & be fed on any major holiday he choses to work), & a relaxing day with my Princess.
7. Final one for this round: warm bed, under my own roof (debt-free, including the house, for almost 8 years now), & no need to get up early tomorrow either.

There are, of course, many more things I am thankful for, including the "usual suspects", but that list would be boring.

Friday, November 21, 2014

In Financial News

Seems MG has picked up all the paperwork, and sent it in to Child Support Enforcement --

* Back on Nov 6th, from MG to MB, "I hear the adoption is final. Do you have paperwork for me to send in to child support or are you sending it?" MB sent that to me and asked, "Should I tell him to come get them?" I told him to hold off; I wanted to chat with RP first to make sure were good to go.
* Nov 7th, RP responded to me with a short email, letting me know that she prepared a letter for CSE & would be sending it out that day. I got a copy of that Nov 8th.
* Nov 11th, MB sent him an email, noting that the Satisfactions are drafted, signed, and ready for him to pick up. MB will send a copy to CSE, and both original sets (child support satisfaction and attorney fees satisfaction) will be sent to the courthouse to be added to our records.
* Nov 20th, to RP, "I have received the satisfaction of judgment paperwork from D***'s attorney however, child support would like a copy of the adoption paperwork. Can I swing by today and pick up a copy so that I may fax it in?" (sic) RP told him that she already sent a copy to CSE, but attached a set for him to print out and fax in if he wanted to... Then, she gets "My case had been transferred to the district attorney's office, child support division on October 1st. They of course failed to forward your letter. I faxed it in." I had a little laugh at this one because it was like he was surprised it was at the DA's office... Dude, you're lucky the DA hasn't tossed your ass in jail (you can thank *me* for that, as I am the one that called them off while the adoption was processing)!!

Anyway, I just checked my online Child Support account, and it's still active (showing he still owes me over $6000, and there was a garnishment of just over $1300 (most likely from their Federal tax refund from this past year) on Sept 8th. Curious if everything will be zero'd out before or after CSE distributes some of it to me.


I also got a call yesterday from my accident attorney. After much back and forth, negotiations, multiple pictures and copies of doctor's records were shared, we finally got a GOOD settlement offer. I told him to accept. I will need to sign the consent form next week and I should have a check before Thanksgiving. My plan is to put a big chunk of it into my savings account (my plan is to buy a newer car within a year), and the rest into my personal checking, some of which will be used for Santamas gifts (including ones for the family we're sponsoring this year - as we do every year). The rest will just stay in there for my personal use.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Elvis Update

For reference, this was my original post about him. We've now had our furry boy for six months... and we are absolutely in love with him. He's come a long way since we first got him, too. Let's compare that first list:
1. He still follows us everywhere in the house and mostly outside, too. We did a lot of loose-leash training (in & out of class), and he has surpassed our expectations.
2. He seems to only follow *me* into the bathroom every time, not so much with Ace & Princess, and not with guests. I still recommend latching the door, though.
3. He's noticeably a lot less skittish these days. He still jumps back when you startle him, though.
4. He still nips/jumps when excited, but will respond to commands ("off", "no bite", etc). Izzy used to be like that, too, so we feel it's something he'll grow out of.
5. He still runs laps in the yard, but runs into his people less.
6. He now knows "bone", "ball", "rope", etc and will go find one if you ask him to (although he has a short attention span and gives up quickly if one is not readily visible).
7. It seems he no longer feels the need to bark or howl except when he wants outside & you are ignoring him, when he sees squirrels or birds outside & he is inside, or when someone he doesn't recognize knocks at the door. He loves the mail man, the neighbors, our friends, and just about everyone else... but will let you know when he doesn't.
8. Treats are no longer needed, but we do occasionally give them to him. If he's being stubborn, a stern look & repeating the command in a deeper voice usually does the trick. He's still testing us, I think... and he's still young.
9. He no longer howls/barks when left in the kennel during the day (although we don't leave them in there more than 4 hours, max; if we're going to be any longer than that and I take them to daycare). BUT, we did get woken up a couple times in the days after Daylight Savings with his quiet "arf" (if he had a voice, I believe this would be his way of saying, "Mom? Mom, are you awake? Mom, I have to pee... Please?"); both times were around 6am, so I just got up, let them out, used the restroom myself, then let them back in, and went back to bed for a little bit).

And, here are three more I feel the need to share:
10. He loves car rides and walks. He will go anywhere with us if we let him. He's excellent on the leash, but very hyper in the car. So much so that I bought him a seatbelt harness and a waterproof backseat cover. He's also very clever; he figured out how to unbuckle the seatbelt and how to roll down the window. I figured out how to stop him, though; I roll down the window about half way, then lock it there. Also, we bought a seatbelt cushion to attach over where the seat belt buckles in. He verbally grumbles at me because he can't get it undone.
11. He absolutely loves daycare... and they adore him there (they like both dogs, but Elvis has a special place in their hearts). They call him The Escape Artist; seems that because he's small & quick, he can get into & out of the door that goes between the outside fenced area and the inside hall before they can close the door behind themselves. He thinks it's a game, and as soon as he gets into or out of the door, he'll sit and look at them with a smile on his face (one of the attendants said he looked "very pleased" with himself... lol).
12. He no longer pees in the house. This took quite a bit of trial & error and consistency. We also had the help of a professional trainer. I won't tell you what ended up working because I truly feel there are things we got from Sandy that we never would have figured out on our own. There are a lot of training items regular people can do on their own, but when you have a specific issue, when you are considering returning that dog you promised a FURever home to, that's when you need to call in a pro. Dogs are very much like children; when you adopt one, you rarely know their prior situation and it is not fair to the dog if you just give up because you can't figure something out. We were prepared to have him wear diapers everywhere we went if need be... thankfully it didn't come to that.


Birthday Week Fun

We started the week by giving Princess the Oregon Duck boots she's been asking for, because she wanted to take them to the coast. My good friend, BHF, asked months ago if Princess & a friend could accompany her, her bf, & their young daughter to one of our coastal towns; BHF had a pool tournament out there. So, I talked to KP's mom and all was set. The girls were happy they got to miss two days of school, and get paid for it. Judging by the pics she posted online, they had a lot of fun hanging out with the 2yo...

I spent part of yesterday wrapping all her gifts (along with other chores & errands we had to do). They returned last night, just in time for Princess to see Ace making dinner (steaks) and her cake (chocolate zucchini, per her request). After dinner, she unwrapped all of her presents (pics on my FB page), we had cake, and then watched OUAT & played cards.

Tonight, we're going out to dinner at one of her favorite places. Tomorrow, she's coming with me to work so I can take her to get her brows waxed (her request; Amanda is happy to do it for her), then she's off to lunch with my mother to celebrate both her adoption as well as her birthday. On our way home, we will head to the bank (to deposit birthday money) and Michael's (for some craft items she wants). Oh, and she's having her friends over next weekend, as well.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

It's Only Fitting...

This is my 200th blog post. I know that because within this blog system, I have a bunch of stats available to me. This includes:
(1) Overview -- This one gives me a stats overview; including but not limited to number of page views, comments awaiting post, traffic sources, etc. If I want specific details, I can click on any of the other options below it, and those go into more detail.
(2) Posts -- This one tells me the name of my post, gives me the option of "view", "edit", "preview", or "delete". It also tells me how many people have viewed my post.
(3) Pages -- I don't use this one, so I'm not sure what it's for.
(4) Comments -- Shows me all my Published, Awaiting Moderation (since I have it set to approve comments before posting), and Spam.
(5) Google + -- gives me more options for connecting.
(6) Stats -- This one's my favorite. It shows me how many page views I have every day/week/year/all time, exactly where my page views are coming from (traffic sources -- by browser, country, and operating system), audience, a graph of views, and which specific posts were recently looked at). This is how I know Wildebeest is still reading my blog...
(7) Earnings -- I don't use this, either.
(8) Campaigns -- I don't use this...
(9) Layout -- This one is fun; change where all your info boxes are, plus boxes to free-write info.
(10) Template -- Changes the look of your blog; I use this one seasonally-ish.
(11) Settings -- I could change it to private view, or by invite only... but that's no fun, is it?

I know a lot of people are very private about stuff, but that's not me. I'm open & honest; if you want to know something, I'll generally tell you (unless I've been sworn to secrecy or something). I blog because writing old-school hurts my hand... and I like to share. I have a good life, a great husband, cool kids & animals, and a career I wouldn't give up unless I had to. If reading about my life bothers you, you have the option to stop reading. But, I'm not going to stop writing.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


The Monday after we got the adoption papers in the mail, I sent Princess's school's office staff a message about it. Of course, ALL of her records needed to be changed, and she needed a new email/password & ID card. Tuesday, I sent a copy of the court order and she dropped it off to the registrar, Sarah. Princess said the her first period (that day)'s teacher was "the only one that noticed" her name change (as a memo was sent to all her teachers, the librarian, her counselor, etc). She went up to his desk after class to get her test grade, and he couldn't find her... He finally did, and asked, "Did you change your name?" She said, "Yes." He asked, "Why?" And, with a smile, she said, "My stepdad adopted me."

He congratulated her, gave her her grade, and she went to her next class. I have a feeling her other teachers *did* notice, but for whatever reason, didn't say anything. It took her a couple days to say something to her friends, too, as she was waiting to see if they noticed. Anyway, Sarah & I went back and forth a few times, trying to get everything changed over, but it is now done. One of her friends just yesterday said, "It's still weird to see you write your new name on your papers..."

Tuesday, while she was in school, Ace & I had a bunch of errands to run; one of which was our credit union. While there, I got Princess's bank account information changed over (good thing she didn't need to be there to do that). I also decided to change her deposit-only ATM card to a both-directions ATM card (can't get her a debit, as that is "credit", and you can't have "credit" accounts until age 18y). I haven't told her about that, as it is one of her birthday presents.

I also called DMV's hotline to ask what I need to bring for her to get her permit, since we don't get her new birth certificate for a while. Not a problem; I just need her old one, her school ID with her new name, the paperwork from court, her permit application, and my own ID... perfect! She's so excited; she's been studying her guide & taking practice tests for months!

Ace also took care of changing over her records at his work, my mother is in the process of changing her college fund & settlement money, and I got new address labels (with old-school Mickey & Minnie Mouse!) & business cards (monkeys on these) for her. I also called USAA (as that's who we have our home & car insurance through) to change her name on those records. There is still the matter of her social security card & passport, but those have to wait until her new birth certificate comes.

She's never been the type to get super-animated/excited about stuff; at least, not in a traditional manner. And, she doesn't really like to talk about her feelings much. I knew she was happy about this & wanted this to happen, but didn't have any outward sign of it until a couple days ago. We had carved & painted our pumpkins Wednesday night, and that morning, she said to me, "Mom, next year, we should really have the older kids join us for carving. Then we'd have more pumpkin seeds." (She really likes the roasted seeds Ace makes, but we only carved two pumpkins worth.) I said, "Older kids? You mean your brother & sister?" We've always referred to them as such, so I wasn't sure what she was getting at. Then, with a huge smile on her face, she goes, "Yes, but since I'm officially & LEGALLY part of the family, now, they're *the older kids* and I'm *the younger kid*."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Long Time Coming

It's been almost 7 years since Princess's biological father and (now soon-to-be ex-)stepmonster kidnapped her from our home... and, I'm now very happy to report: After years of pain & suffering, months of waiting for MG to sign the consent, weeks for Ace's background check to come back (although, that only took 3 1/2 weeks, as compared to the "4-8 weeks" we were originally quoted), & almost a month to get the certified adoption papers... The adoption is FINAL (signed Oct 7th)!!! Princess' name change was part of that (I'm not releasing that here, as that is private and this is a public forum, but I *will* tell you that she changed both her middle and her last name), a new birth certificate is on its way, and the legal record has been sealed since she's a minor.

Part of the agreement for the adoption to go through was that I drop all of MG's financial & legal responsibility; once MB gets the Satisfactions filed, and copies sent to the appropriate departments, there will be no more child support, no more attorneys fees owed, no more requests for assistance with Princess' medical bills, etc. All the "Supplemental Judgements" go out the door... I think my first order of business will be to have a burn party... I need to track down a metal bin appropriate for the task, but I will be putting every single court order, filing, website copy, "nastygram" email, etc from the last 13+ years that has filled four 3" binders into flame, and watching it burn.

MG (& his entire family) is no longer any part of our lives (not that any of them, with a couple of exceptions, have been since the kidnapping), and that is how it will stay until & unless Princess chooses to make contact. I have one request to MG that I hope he will consider (that he has no obligation to grant): keep MB informed of any change of contact info (mailing address, email address, cell number). She has no desire to have any contact with him at this time, but if she ever changes her mind, I'd like her to be able to easily do so.

So now begins the process (a LOT less involved than mine) to change her name on her school records, social security card, bank accounts, investment accounts, passport, etc.

Friday, October 17, 2014

One More Step...

While I'm waiting for the final paperwork from the court, I figured I should have another chat with MB... so, yesterday, we had a meeting. We went over the draft he had prepared, regarding the Satisfactions, and how he's planning on handling it. I signed them, got a copy marked "COPY", and the originals went into the safe. Once the adoption paperwork comes back done (provided MG doesn't withdraw his consent before it does), which should be any day now, MB can finalize the Satisfactions, and we will be done.
We worded them very precisely; short & sweet, as they say, so there is no confusion. Child support -- paid in full, no further obligation. Attorney fees -- paid in full. The adoption order itself *should* cancel out all the other supplemental judgements, so there is no need to draft/sign/file/pay for a Judgement for that (and if he tries to take me to court over anything in them, the judge will likely laugh in his face, deny him, and order him to pay my attorney fees for taking up his time).

{On a related note -- MB gave me a copy of the OJIN register with all my listings on it... THERE ARE 18 PAGES OF FILINGS! MB told his assistant that not only was I his first -- outside the DA's office, where he originally came from -- Domestic Relations case, but I was also his most contentious.}

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Next Step...

Since Ace has only lived in Oregon, and in only two counties, his background check came back quicker than even RP thought; roughly 3 1/2 weeks. I have in my hands a copy of the petition for the Adoption courts (five pages), a copy of the Letter Of Notice to MG's mother with the certified mail receipt, and a copy of the Notice Of Filing (attached to the letter)... all of which should now be at the courthouse, awaiting signature. When I spoke to RP on Thursday, she said it looks like our county's Adoption judge is about two weeks out, so I *should* have final paperwork before the end of October. I will be sending MB an email to let him know he needs to get the Satisfactions of Judgment ready, so that as soon as RP finishes her part in this, he can get those filed; the sooner, the better!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Words From Experience

I was going to call this "Words Of Wisdom", but the title I chose is actually more accurate.
My ex-husband & I met in 1993. I was 19, and he was a few months from his 16th birthday. He exuded maturity, and I found out later, he was the epitome of "man of the house" for his mother. To me, this was a good sign; it said to me that he was a family man, willing to work hard for those he loved.
In the five years between meeting and marriage, we went through some interesting things. We broke up and dated other people, we got back together, we both moved to California and then back to Oregon, and we fought like the outcome meant something to us... because it did. Well, apparently it did, but only to me; I discovered later that, to him, our relationship meant nothing.
A few months after we married, we decided to try for another child (our first was miscarried) and got pregnant pretty quickly (contrary to what some believe, my Princess was a planned pregnancy). She was born in November 1999. In January 2000, we started looking for a house (with financial assistance from my mother, who insisted that HER GRANDCHILD was not going to be raised in an apartment! lol). In February, we moved, and one year later, we were done. The "man of the house" had been replaced by a cheater and a liar who cared only about his own needs & wants.
He and the woman who was dating his best friend (our roommate at the time) were a couple, now. I won't go into details about that time, but I will tell you that having someone pretend to be your friend while they are sleeping with your significant other is one of the lowest things you can do to someone. I don't care who "came on" to whom, and all these years later, none of that matters. What *does* matter, to me and many others who've been in situations like this, is that I now have proof that Karma is REAL.
Through my sources, I have found out that not only are they no longer a couple, but that he pulled much of the same crap on her that he pulled on me. Some of the verbiage she sent me over the years (about what a horrible wife I was, how he never loved me, how I was ugly, etc) has recently been used by him toward her. Since last year's holiday season, he & she have had some "marital issues". Apparently, she moved out & in with a friend of hers for a while while they got counseling. Counseling didn't work, so some months later, they separated and are probably headed for divorce. I'm actually taking (mental) bets as to who files first...
I feel like the "right" thing would be to feel sorry for her... and I do, to a point, but it's hard to feel badly for someone who lied, cheated, and connived... and helped someone else do the same. It's hard to feel badly for someone who helped their SO kidnap his own daughter. It's hard to feel badly for someone who chooses to drown their sorrows in alcohol (to excess, from what I hear). It's hard to feel badly for someone who not only encouraged, but assisted, their SO in avoiding paying court-ordered financial judgments (both child support and attorney fees), by hiding all his money (earned under the table) in her own bank accounts...
Mostly, I only feel sorry for their two young daughters. Those girls are innocents caught in the middle, just as my daughter was. It is my genuine hope that those girls don't end up screwed out of what is their right; parents who truly understand what "In The Best Interest Of The Child" means... and lives up to it. Those children... EVERY CHILD... deserves that. Just because my daughter didn't get it from her biological father doesn't mean his other two don't have that right.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Official Documentation

We got four important documents in the mail yesterday --

1. Petition for Step-Parent Adoption: This one just outlines all the facts in the case, and includes copies of everyone's consents.
2. Adoption Summary & Segregated Information Statement: This one is the information that will be separated for privacy issues.
(More on these two documents here, if you're interested in the legalities.)
3. A copy of the letter to the Office of Safety & Permanency for Children: The originals of 1 & 2, above, went to the court system, so this letter is a request (which was obviously fulfilled) for copies of those filings.
4. A copy of the letter to MG's mother. By Oregon law, the parents of the non-requesting party must be notified of the adoption proceedings. They cannot stop, halt, or otherwise have any say in them, but they must be notified. In this case, there is no biological (since we don't know who MG's bio dad is) nor legal (since Tim never adopted him) father, so we only have to notify his mother. It is my understanding, through my sources, that she is at the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, so I don't even know if she remembers she *has* another granddaughter, but that is not my problem.

The weirdest part of this paperwork is seeing Princess' new chosen name. She will be issued a new birth certificate when this is all over, but this is the first time I'd seen her new name in print. That will take a little getting used to, but we all REALLY like it, and think Princess made a great choice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

At Her Request...

So, I spoke to RP on Monday, and (after she gave me some more information on what her next steps are) she asked that I call C.S. to "temporarily halt" their contempt case against MG. I wasn't sure if they could do that, but called them anyway. The Contempt Case Representative called me back yesterday, & said that she'd check, but since they hadn't filed yet, they probably could. She also said that I can always call them back if he withdraws his consent, and they can just pick up where they left off (they were going to file their case by the end of this week). In the meantime, she also called MB & RP to verify what I told her about the pending adoption and reminded them both they'll need to send a copy of the signed judgments once they're done (the adoption order only stops future child support, so the Satisfaction order MB's drawn up will stop the arrears). The only bad news at the moment? We were apparently at a standstill all this time, waiting for MG's consent to come in. That means that we still need to send in Ace's background check, which can take 4 to 8 weeks, then we have to wait another month or so for a court date. Working in our favor, however, is the fact that Ace has lived in this county for almost 25 years, so his background check should be fairly straightforward, and I've waived my right to a home study as well as to an adoption ceremony, which means RP should be able to get the judge to sign the paperwork sooner.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Interesting Developments...

Seems MB got another message from MG... Friday, August 16th (a full two weeks after the date we gave him -- in the last email message -- to get the signed consent to RP's office), just after midnight. In it, he stated, "I still have not heard anything back in regards to the adoption papers. Please advise as to where we stand. Thank you. This is my 3rd unanswered email." Just like MB, I was flabbergasted and extremely confused. At first, MB & I thought maybe this is just the latest in the long line of stall tactics. But, remember: I've already been in contact with an agency, and started the process for collections on the attorney fees judgments.

I got to thinking, though... What if whomever is sending MB's emails to MG (his assistant or one of the paralegals) still was using MG's old email address (the one he shared with Wildebeest; he changed emails about 3 or 4 months ago, right about when my attorney's boss moved their offices...). I hadn't been CC'd on some of the more recent correspondence, so I didn't know for sure, but asked MB to look into it.

In the meantime, that afternoon, I asked him to take the letter from the end of July with the Aug 1st "return date" on it, make sure the email address was correct, change a couple of minor things, and give him until THIS Friday. Later that same Friday, I got paperwork from DCS in the mail, asking for any information I had regarding all MG's names used, addresses, phone numbers, social security number, employment, spouse & children, military, property, etc. They are opening a contempt case against him because of the child support arrears. No idea if anything will come of it, but I filled it out and put it in Saturday's outgoing mail.

The revamped letter went out to MG on Tuesday (email & snail mail this time). Then, to everyone's surprise, JC (RP's paralegal) sent a message to MB & me yesterday afternoon that MG showed up at the office and had her notarize his signature on the consent. We are not done, yet, as he still has to wait (as do we) for the adoption to be finalized (hoping RP can push it forward quickly), but for now, I will be calling the collections agent tomorrow and asking them to temporarily halt proceedings (Child Support will continue their path until this is done; there is no "calling them off"). RP gets back from her travels Monday, so we'll proceed then.

Keep your fingers crossed, people (Ace, Princess, & I are crossing fingers but not holding our breath).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TIMBER.... & more.

Some life updates for you today --

1. We had nine trees removed yesterday, and one (the huge evergreen in the back) drastically cut back (de-limbed & thinned out). A local company, For The Love Of Trees, took care of this for us. The crew was professional and fast. They were at our house at 8am, and gone by 330p. All branches & debris were either run through the chipper or otherwise cleaned up & removed, and the trunks were cut into logs for firewood. We don't have a wood-burning fireplace, but we do have plans for a fire pit in the back yard. Not sure if it will be wood-burning or not, so for now, we will stack & keep the logs. They will return Friday to grind three of the trunks down.

2. We continued tweaking the plans on the computer program; filling in the back yard with some misc plants (in the proposed veggie garden, as well as around the organic pool), etc, to give us a better visual of the finished yard. These plans will continue to get tweaked as we move along in executing them (we also need to figure out plans for the front yard, but that will come later). Now debating adding a tree back into the back yard on the west side, but not as close to the fence as the previous trees were, to give us evening shade over the patio, but not to interfere with the pool.

3. Decided our next step (this weekend) is to go talk to Lowe's, since the shed company we're going to use is through them. We need to figure out how big our concrete slab needs to be, how far from the fence line, etc... Then, we need to order the shed and schedule install.

4. Elvis' training is going super-well. We are so impressed with him! He passed the first six-week course with flying colors, and we have three more left in the second round. His house-training is going well; we started him on a 4ft tether, and he has earned being on a 12ft tether as of last Monday. He has not peed in the house since tethering started, but we have yet to allow him to freely roam. His commands now include: sit, stay, down, off (different from down), wait (different from stay), release (a potty command), and come. He knows his humans and which toys are which; if we ask for a certain one, he will get it (bone, rope, Kong, football, etc) about 90% of the time. He is friendly to everyone and respects Izzy as his elder. He walks loose-leash about 90% of the time (only pulling when we get close to home from a walk or whenever he thinks he knows where we're going), as well.

5. My accident attorney is in settlement talks with the woman's insurance company. I need one more visit to my PCP, and possibly one more to my OT to get my current grip strength on record. We're estimating, after all is said & done, I will cash out at about 1/3 of what Ace got (which is fair). Not sure exactly what I'm doing with it yet, but I will probably give some to Ace to contribute to the yard upgrades, and save the rest for a new (to me) car in a year or so.

6. My family law attorney has the Satisfaction of Judgments ready to go (these release MG of all past, present, & future financial responsibility to Princess & to me), but after the last communication he had with MG, and MG's lack of response, I've decided to continue pursuing his financial obligations to me. As much as I want him to just sign the consent & allow the adoption to happen (which will cost him NOTHING, and be over in one to two months), I can't force him to do so. This "I'll sign it if..." crap has been going on for six months, and I honestly don't believe he'll actually sign it. Collections is a slow process, but it *has* been started.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Last Chance... Blown

A little over a week after I posted this blog post, I got a message from my family law attorney. MB sent me a copy of an email MG sent him (in which he claims to have spoken to his own attorney -- not sure I believe that -- and again stating his is willing to "finalize the paper signing" at MB's office, but wants the Satisfaction to be "backdated to include the amount the state of Oregon has withheld from my 2013 Tax return and immediately stop any pending action against my Oregon drivers license...", along with a quick note: "I am not sure what email & follow up he is talking about. But what he wants is the back child support satisfied as well as the Judgment as far as I can tell. Call me."

If you'll remember, we originally asked him in MARCH to sign the consent & allow the adoption to happen. Had he signed then, the adoption would have been finalized by the courts by the end of JUNE. Had he signed the consent when I asked, I would not have had a reason to ask C.S. to do anything and I would not have started collections on the attorney's fees judgments. I told him over & over that in return for his signature & follow through, I would release him of all monies (arrears, current, interest, and going forward from the date of the adoption) owed. At this point, I don't feel he has any negotiation power.

My conversation with him said as much. I also shared my extreme frustration about the whole situation, reminding him of every opportunity & warning we've given MG about my intent to start collections... and now, MONTHS later, he's still dangling the carrot; saying "I'll sign if..." So, I had MB send MG one last email regarding this matter. In it, we stated that if he does in fact sign (we actually gave MG a date of August 1st, last Friday, at 4pm to get the signed consent to RP's office) & allow the adoption, I will halt the collections on the attorney judgments. However, the actions of the child support division (garnishing tax refunds, suspending his license, etc) will not halt until they are given a court order (a copy of the signed Satisfaction Judgment, once it's been entered into court, after the adoption is final) to do so.

I did not receive a call, nor an email message, from RP (nor her paralegal, as RP is out of the office for a few weeks), so at 5p, an hour after the deadline, I called. There was no answer, so I left a voicemail for the paralegal to call me back Monday to let me know if it came in or not. I'm assuming not, but I won't know for sure until I hear from her.

So, an open letter to MG -- "I don't believe you have any intention of ever signing the consent form, nor do I believe you'll actually allow the adoption to happen. If you did, you'd have signed already. I have been more than fair in this matter and am done with your antics. You're doing nothing but delaying the inevitable, and pissing off Princess. I'm not stopping any collections. I'm not giving you the 2013 garnishment back. I'm not calling off the collections agent. If, and only if, the signed consent eventually gets to RP's office AND YOU FOLLOW THROUGH ON ALLOWING THE ADOPTION TO HAPPEN, will all collections proceedings stop and you'll get your license back. All money I collect between now & then is mine to keep."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This Is Going To Take A While...

I'm talking about our landscaping plans... Ace & I finally sat down and spent a few days drawing out (using his fancy landscape drafting program) the tentative plans for the backyard redo. We have yet to finalize anything about the front yard, but we have planned a few things: the trees need to go (one is dead, one is in the cable lines & too close to our house, and the third's root system is growing toward our driveway), we'd like to widen the driveway, I want a walkway from the side of the house on the right up to the front door, a small seating area (cafe table & two chairs or an outdoor couch & side table), and I'd like a stone path of some sort in what was the dog run on the left side. All of that, however (except the trees) will have to wait; the backyard is more important to us right now.

Backyard plans are as follows:
Round 1 -- Trees. We are having nine trees removed (that's all but one - the huge evergreen is staying) on August 12th. In the backyard, two are growing into our fence (shared with The Farmhouse to the left of us) and interferes with the backyard end of the dog run. There are three arborvitaes up against the back fence that will go. The plum tree in the back right corner will go. Our arborist will also trim back the lower branches of our huge evergreen & thin out anything dead/dying or growing at a weird angle. Arborist will take care of the trees in the front yard at this point, too.
Round 2 -- Shed. We haven't decided exactly what size or type, yet, but there will be a storage shed of some sort where the plum tree currently sits.
Round 3 and more -- Not sure in what order the rest will be done, but the current plan calls for tilling & regrading the yard, installing some sort of patio (from the sliding glass doors out into the yard a bit) with some seating & a fire pit, a open/covered area for the smoker, walk paths (stepping stones or something) between the areas, building a small vegetable garden in the back left side, laying sod to fill in, installing gates on both sides of our house, and a water feature or two of some sort (currently pricing out organic pools; we would love a small one up against the back fence where the arborvitaes are... I also want a small waterfall thing near our bedroom window). We are also considering a pee post of some sort (look it up); this could save our new lawn. :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bumps, Bruises, & Broken Bones -- One Year Later

It has been exactly one year since Ace & I went down on our bike. Ace had to have surgery, which left a metal plate & steel screws in his ankle - permanently. Both of us went through months of physical & occupational therapy. Both of us dealt with anger. Ace still has guilt; thinking he could have/should have done something differently. Interestingly, I think it's brought us closer. We've dealt with a lot of emotionally draining things from outside forces (exes, mostly) for a great deal of our relationship, but this was different. We could have died.

On the physical front -- I still have a 2" X 3" spot over my right arm's scar (just below my elbow) that is numb. It's been determined that I probably will never regain feeling there. I have a noticeable loss of grip strength in my right hand. I also get the shakes occasionally, as well as twinges & what feels like a mild electrical charge, which causes me to drop things. When this happens at work, I have to stop & massage the area, causing me to have slower service times (my clients are fully understanding). Sometimes, my right arm goes numb, also causing me to drop things -- also a problem at work.
Ace now feels weather/pressure changes in his ankle. He has a different gait than he had before. His hip hurts fairly constantly, causing him to need a pillow between his legs when he sleeps. His shoulder/neck muscles are worse than ever, and migraines ensue. Very few (like: 2) things work to rid himself of them... one is so much of a muscle relaxer that he is forced to sleep. Not easy to be productive when that happens.

On the emotional/psychological front -- I am more apprehensive when he rides alone; asking that he give me a general idea of where he's going, and that he leave his phone on (in case the need for tracking arises). I am slightly more nervous on the back than I was before the accident.
Ace partially blames himself for the accident. Again, "could have/ would have/ should have" messes with your psyche. For a long time after the accident, he didn't want me on the bike with him. I allowed him time to get re-used to it on his own, but after a few months, told him it wasn't his decision. I don't blame him for causing the accident or either of our maladies, but I will not have him telling me that I can't get back on his bike. That had to be my decision, and my decision alone.

On the financial front -- his case is done; we're just waiting for the final accounting to be drafted, and his check to be issued by his attorney. My case just started negotiations. I will not reveal how much we're each getting, but I will tell you... it's not by any means a windfall, and it sure as hell isn't worth what we had to go through to get it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Too Much To Hope For, I Guess...

As most of you know, over the years, I've asked Princess' b-d to allow Ace to adopt her. He's always said, "No" (followed by a multitude of reasons; none of which truly applied). I figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask again. In March of this year, I did just that. I spoke to RP (a very good, very well-known, adoption attorney in our area) to see if she was still on board (I've known her for years; she offered over 10 years ago to do the adoption, should MG ever take me up on the offer). "Of course!"
I then had my family law attorney, MB, send him a letter. This letter basically stated that I was willing to let go of all of the attorney fees judgments he owes me as well as current & future child support, plus all interest (without having the judgments in front of me, I think they total somewhere in the $25,000-$30,000 range). MB also told MG that I had already been in talks with a collections attorney. Surprise! He actually agreed... sort of. He wanted to meet with Princess first, without me there.
When I talked to Princess, she freaked out! She was almost in tears, so I told MB, "No. I will not put her through that." For whatever reason, MG decided not to push that, claiming he knew it would make her uncomfortable. Ok, then... We had a tentative "Yes", as long as I would sign the order to release his financial obligations *before* he "signs his parental rights away". That started a multitude of explanations from RP.
You see, that's not how the law works. A judge will not allow a parent to have his/her rights removed (except in VERY drastic cases - this is not one of those) without another to IMMEDIATELY replace that parent. Translation - his parental rights are not terminated until the judge signs the adoption order, basically swapping out Princess' b-d for Ace, replacing him as her "legal father". Before the judge can do this, all parties involved must sign a consent form. From signed consents to signed adoption order takes roughly 2-3 months.
Many back & forths about this; MG still refusing to believe what RP is telling him, and arguing that he "won't sign his rights away until I sign the money judgments, because" he believes "D*** could change her mind about the adoption, and then I lose my rights, and still owe her the money".
You can imagine the irritation at this point (and, remember that under Oregon law, everyone involved in the adoption has to sign a consent -- which is what we're asking him to sign, and he's refusing). Princess, being "over the age of 14y" signed her consent. Ace signed his consent. I signed my consent. Ace also signed his consent for a criminal background check (required under Oregon law), and I signed a waiver for the home visit (after almost 13 years together, there's no need). I also signed a waiver for a court adoption ceremony, which reduces the amount of time we need the judge to be available, hopefully reducing the amount of time we have to wait for our court date.
I had also contacted my child support case worker just before I talked to MB and started this whole thing, who decided (since MG has no "real" job -- he works under the table so he can hide his income from me) to suspend his license. A "Notice of Intent To Suspend License" went out, and my case worker told me that a couple days later, MG called him. They worked out a payment plan, C.S. gave me about 80% of what I assume was a federal tax return they had intercepted back in July of last year (long story -- they have up to six months from garnishment to decide how much, if any, of the returns are his, as he is the only one legally responsible for paying support to me), he made a $200 payment, and he got his license back. Two months later, I hadn't gotten any more money, and MG still hadn't signed the consent, so I called my case worker again.
The child support system had given me a new case worker at this time, a female. She & I discussed what my previous worker & I had talked about, and what he had been doing to get some money for me, and she told me she was going to suspend again; this time, requiring "multiple payments" before he got his license back. I got another copy of the "Notice Of Intent To Suspend License", and about a week later, a copy of the "Notice To Suspend" with the box stating *has not entered into an agreement with the Child Support Program* checked. Three weeks later (last week), I got about 2/3 of what looks like their state tax return from this year.
The same week his "Notice To Suspend" was sent out, I had RP attempt, one more time, to try to clarify things even further -- how the law works in these types of cases, that MB had already prepared the Satisfactions, that I intended to sign them & have MB file them as soon as the adoption is final, and (most important) that he DOES NOT LOSE HIS PARENTAL RIGHTS until the adoption is final. I also told her that since he doesn't seem to believe her (& MB, when he communicated the same thing), I was willing to pay for him to have a one hour consultation with an adoption attorney of his choice, up to $245, and asked her to (A) remind him that should he not sign the consent, we're just going to wait until Princess is 18y (which is just over three years away); at that time, we don't need his consent nor do we need to notify him of anything, and he will still owe all the money... and (B) give him a cut-off date -- two weeks from the date of the letter should be sufficient -- to find & meet with an attorney of his choice, and to get the signed consent to RP's office.
That date was July 11th, and not only did he not get the signed consent to RP's office, but neither he nor an attorney on his behalf contact her at all. So, now we are working under the assumption that he has no intention of signing the consent. I have contacted (again) the collections attorney I originally spoke with a few months ago, and we are in process now. I continue to hope, but am not holding my breath, that MG comes to his senses & signs the consent; allowing the adoption to go through. But, after all these years of him not doing ANYTHING in Princess' best interest (btw -- she told me yesterday that she is more pissed at him now than she's ever been because he won't just "sign the damn papers" <<-- her words), that is highly unlikely, and I am done letting him off the hook.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Forty, Already?!?

Two Sundays ago, I turned 40yo. I've been getting myself used to the idea by telling people I was "almost 40" for the last few months. Fairly common responses (especially from my -- over 50yo -- clients) include, "Oh... you're still a baby!" and "You don't look 40y!" I'm not sure what 40y is supposed to look like, or feel like for that matter. But, thanks!

So, as we have for the last few years, we celebrated my birthday with a gathering of friends & food. I gave people about a month's notice, and close to 25 people came. This year, Princess made a cake (chocolate) and cupcakes (red velvet), Ace made a brisket on the smoker, and my friends brought sides & drinks. Now, remember that we don't have a fancy backyard (yet; plans are in the works... just waiting on our motorcycle accident settlements to start working on it), so I literally have three outdoor chairs. I also laid a tarp & blanket down. So, M&J let me borrow their sun shade, a patio table, and six chairs. Other friends brought their own chairs.

This was also a good test for Elvis; we had no idea how he would act/react to having all those people (plus little kids, and a couple of newborn babies) in "his" yard... He was so good! There was no barking/baying, no jumping on people, no stealing food, etc. He did get into a couple plates left on the ground instead of thrown in the garbage but that's to be expected. He sniffed at the babies, and was startled when Bri (age 2y) petted his butt when he wasn't looking... but didn't bite or anything. We are super-happy with this!

My gifts from friends included: funds toward a new tattoo (I have two more planned, plus two of the three I have already need a touch-up, and one will get a partial cover-up at some point), gift cards, wine, and ammo for my firearm. My daughter bought me a new phone case, my stepdaughter bought me a drizzle (alcoholic chocolate sauce - yum!) and some junk food I love, and husband bought me the Mother's Ring I've been wanting. I also got TONS of emails, text messages, phone calls, cards, and posts to my FB wall.

All in all - a good time was had, and my friends & husband (and daughter for that matter) are good cooks (handy to have when you don't enjoy cooking).

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Elvis Has Left The Building...

More specifically, he's left the rescue -- All Terrier Rescue out of Aloha, Or.

Ace & I decided a month after Belle's death that we were ready for another dog. We'd been eying Petfinder for a while, and the tug was there. The biggest concern was getting a dog, then "abandoning" it (in our home, in the kennel with Izzy) by going to work for hours. So, Ace took a look at the vacation calendar at work, and found the first two-week time frame he could -- this week & last week. Two weeks ago, he decided to add Saturday, May 10th; most adoption events are Thursday evenings & Saturdays at local PetSmart stores.

We actually started (after I got off work at noon) at the Petco by our house; no adoption event was going on there, so we went to Tanasbourne PetSmart. Not one dog stood out for us... Off to the one in the Cedar Hills area. I got to talking to the foster mom of a mini Aussie, but he was kind of high-maintenance (required meds and constant watching for seizures; that wouldn't work with our schedules and would not be fair to the dog). Then, we went to the one by Washington Square Mall.

The first dog we got out of the crate was Ava, a pure black Aussie mix, about 50lbs. Ace had been eying her on Petfinder, but when we tried to introduce Izzy to her, Ava nipped her in the nose. Ok, then; that's not going to work. Ace & Princess took Izzy off to the side while I slowly walked the aisle of stacked crates (so sad, but necessary for the adoption event). A few were pretty cute, but too large. A few were pretty cute, but incessantly barked at me. One was the perfect size (smaller than Izzy), laying down, and stared at me.

I asked what breed he was & how big? They said, "Corgi, Basset Hound, & Lab, we think. Two years old, about 35lbs." I knew he also had Pit in him; it was obvious in his face... but I let it go & asked to see him. He was quiet & gentle, and seemed to like me, so I asked to take him to the open area with us & Izzy. They both did well; sniffing, licking, etc. We were told he had been fixed (they'd had him about 10 days at that point, and got it done when he got to Oregon. He also had an impacted testicle & a hernia, so they removed his stitches before we took him home.) I asked his name. It's Elvis, because of his Hound traits. Ace bent down to pet him, he snuggled in close & licked his face. "I think we've just been picked," he said.

We came prepared; already had the full adoption fee on us. The paperwork was filled out, we got him a new collar, food & water dishes, a leash, some treats, & food. The note on the desk as we filled out paperwork said that they come with a collar, leash, & small bag of food (all of which, in our opinion, was crap). There was also a note that said professional training is required (which we think is a bit silly considering we've always trained our dogs). Among the papers in our folder was a donation reciept for the amount of his adoption (unexpected, since we usually adopt from the local shelter, but YAY). We got him home, and he seemed curious, sniffing all corners of the house. Every time one of us got up from our chair or the couch that evening, he followed.

The next day was Mother's Day; I spent most of it on the couch in my pajamas, watching HGTV & DIY channels, while Princess catered to my needs (snack, lunch, a card game, etc). Ace went to the store to get steaks & asparagus for our dinner (my request). We also worked on potty (he had one accident in the house, which we caught quickly), "sit", "off", & "down" (yes, off & down are different commands), and figuring out how to get him to leave Izzy's food alone (still working on that one).

Monday, we took him to the vet for a once-over. She agreed he's part Pit, part Corgi &/or Basset (hard to tell without testing), and probably only very little Lab, but put "Corgi mix" on his official paperwork. By the look of his teeth, he's 2yr (which coincides with the rescue's opinion), and is full grown. She also told us that if we wanted to switch him to our current brand of dog food, that's fine with her (and maybe that will cure his food-"curiosity"?). When we were done, she told us that the visit was free because he was a rescue (awesome!), so we only had to pay for his microchip.

We then headed over to Petco to get a few more things, and sign up for classes. Originally we were going to do just the six-class set, but after talking to the trainer, and having him for two days by that point, we decided his stubborn behavior could use a pro's help; Ace signed up for the 12-class set, which also comes with a AKC Certification. Last stop was the Animal Control for his license.

Some quirks --
1. He's chilled a bit on following you around everywhere (only a little bit, though), but will wait at the garage door when either Ace or I go in to the garage.
2. He likes to follow you into the bathroom (note to visitors to my home: if you don't want him in there with you, close the door all the way).
3. He responds well to gentle guidance/tone/foot nudge/treats/etc, but is skittish if you make sudden or "scary" movements.
4. He's not been properly trained, so even though he's 2yo, he's still VERY puppy-like in behaviors. He will nip &/or jump when excited (we're working on that).
5. He likes to run laps in our backyard (cute) but if you're back there with him (which we are for now, to supervise) he's likely to run INTO your legs; move out of the way or risk being smashed into by a stocky dog (all muscle, btw).
6. He doesn't yet know the difference between his toys & bones, and our shoes. We can only assume that his previous owners gave him old shoes to chew on? The command for that is "not yours" (although Ace uses "Nachos"... lol), taking it from him & putting it back where it goes, and giving him something that is his.
7. He not only barks (so far, only a few times), but he also howls (which is both a Corgi & a Basset trait). It's cute & not very loud, but he can go on & on, so we will work on a command for that (probably "quiet" or "hush").
8. He is VERY responsive to treats (which is why we're doing all 12 classes; the first six are treat-based, the second six are weaning off the treats).
9. Found out today he barks/howls when left in the kennel during the day (I left for an appt about 1/2 hour before Ace was up; he didn't like that! lol), but he will have to get used to it.
*I'm sure there are more but that gives you an idea...

So, we've had him 10 days, he's been checked by the vet, he gets along with Izzy, and he's had one professional training class (plus lots of training at home)... Yup, we love him.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

That Wasn't Supposed To Happen...

Three & a half weeks ago, my beloved furbaby, Belle, died. It was, to say the least, a shock. She was technically a "senior" dog, but as a mixed breed (black lab & whippet), we thought we had a few more years. To us, she was *only* 12y.
I guess it started many years ago... when we first noticed some lumps on her. One of them, near her butt, was hard; the rest were soft & squishy. We took her in to get them checked, and the doc suggested removing the hard one & sending it in for testing. We followed his advice, and that tumor came back benign. The others were deemed "fatty tissue tumors" - also benign. Over the years, she's gotten more of them, but they didn't seem to cause her any problems/pain, and the doc said that unless they were, there's no reason to remove them (they'd probably come back anyway).
Over time, she got more & more "old lady" like; we'd make jokes about the grunting & heavy sighs that came out of her any time she had to get up or lay back down. She stopped playing as much as she used to (chasing balls, toys, Izzy, etc), and tired easily. Over the last few months, she seemed to have problems with relieving her bowels, she sometimes skipped meals, and when she did eat, half the time she threw it back up.
They were both due for shots anyway, so we took them both in together. Dr Brian felt a mass in her spleen so asked if he could take X-Rays; we agreed. Pics showed that her spleen was huge, misshapen, & pressing into other organs... no wonder she couldn't eat, go to the bathroom, get up, or lay down comfortably. The options were: surgery - which would likely give her a more comfortable living, or no surgery - which would likely end up killing her, as the spleen would continue to grow, put more pressure on her other organs, & eventually burst. We took the weekend to discuss, and decided on surgery. We felt it was her best option for a happier life.
She went in the following Sunday night, just before they closed, so they could start surgery as early as possible Monday morning. We got a couple calls on Monday with updates; she seemed to be doing well, with the exception of one thing: apparently, the spleen was literally stuck to her pancreas, so that caused a bit more bleeding. They got it stopped, stitched her back up, and asked to keep her overnight again for observation. They also took some samples to send to their lab for testing. Tuesday morning, we got another call; she had eaten, gone to the bathroom, seemed alert, etc... We picked her up at 2p.
She was groggy (of course), so when we went out to dinner (Squeaks' bf was here for the week, so we met them in town), we left her out of the kennel. She was in the same spot when we got home, so I cuddled with her for a bit. I gave her some pain meds & went to bed around 1030p.
At almost 1230a, Ace woke me up... "Something's wrong with Belle." I shot out of bed, and went straight to her. She seemed to have trouble breathing & it looked almost like she was staring into space. She couldn't look at me, so I just pet her, and felt helpless. Ace said, "She's dying..." I couldn't even speak. Her bowels released, her breaths slowed, then stopped, as did her heartbeat. I just sat there, petting her, and all I could think of was "Her eyelids won't close... I can't get her eyelids to close." I was almost frantic about her eyelids!
He sat on the couch, crying, and I laid my head against her belly, took her paws in mine, and cried. She wasn't supposed to die. This surgery was supposed to give her a longer life. What happened? What went wrong?
There's a box in the garage with stuff we'll take to the donation sites; among them was a fuzzy green blanket Princess was getting rid of. She used to bring it & a pillow into the living room, lay the blanket down, and before she could put the pillow down, Belle would lay on the blanket. We thought it was only fitting to wrap her in it. Since it was the middle of the night, we put her into the back of the 4-Runner & cracked the back window. I cried myself to sleep.
Princess was shocked the next morning when we told her. She seemed fine until she peeked into the back of the 4-Runner on her way to school. She said she cried all the way to the bus stop.
Ace took her back to the vet in the morning (I chose to work, knowing there was nothing I could do for her at this point anyway...). Dr Brian was visibly upset, asking a bunch of questions, trying to wrap his head around her death. Cremation cost $76. We waited for biopsy results.
Two weeks went by, both of us trying to heal, different things made us each cry. Izzy went through a mourning period of her own: tail down, didn't want to eat, kept looking around for Belle every time she went outside, came back inside, stayed on "her" side of the kennel, extra cuddly... She finally smiled again (yes, my dog smiles), and we knew she'd be okay.
About a week ago, I talked to Dr Brian again. She did, in fact, have cancer. Specifically STROMAL SARCOMA, malignant, but not a fast-moving one. I'm not sure if I feel better (she didn't have to suffer a slow death from that) or worse... But, I do take comfort in the fact that she was home, and we were with her, when she passed. I fully believe she died knowing how much she was loved, and *I* know that we gave her the best life we possibly could.

Goodbye, my Bella...

Saturday, February 8, 2014


HAHA! Decided to take some time during the snow storm we've been having to update you all (well, those of you who I haven't already personally updated, or who want more details than I post on FB).

1. After taking a year off due to his mother's complete & total disregard for his educational future, Gamerboy has gotten the ball rolling again on FAFSA, and other financial aid options. He got some notices, but is waiting for confirmation of a couple more. He still plans on attending Portland State in the fall (he will be in his third year). He & one of the guys from his house-room for rent situation moved into an apartment of their own a couple months ago, and he loves that it's close to his newer job, and a little less driving time to come visit us (or vice versa). We're waiting for a job update from him regarding permanent status (he was a full time, but temp, employee over the holidays, but is still there... so hopeful!).
2. Squeeks' job at the restaurant drastically cut her hours, and her mother has taken a hiatus from dog training (where Squeeks was assisting), so she's in the process of finding a new one... not a whole lot to choose from up on the mountain, but she does have a car (well, truck; our old truck, actually). Cover letters, applications, interviews -- OH MY! She's also now in her second term at MHCC, taking a full load of classes. She continues her long-distance relationship (although we like him a lot, I'm not sure about longevity of this relationship, mostly due to his plan to join the military, but we'll see). She's also been learning how to maneuver in the adult world, like taking care of her own doctor's appts. She's made a couple of mistakes, but hey... don't we all? I really hope her mother doesn't screw her over (home/living situation & financially, mostly) like she did with Gamerboy, but only time will tell with that one.
3. Princess is now in the second half of 8th grade. Her grades continue to be excellent (Honor Roll every term of middle school so far), even though her major complaint is her math teacher's lack of kindness in her teaching. She also, unlike every other teacher Princess has (with the exception of her PE teacher, of course), doesn't allow them to listen to music while doing their work. For a child who lives in a home with constant music of some sort (her Papa plays guitar & bass, and we always have music going somewhere in the house), this is actually a distraction. She finds herself unable to fully concentrate, and her grades suffer (not much; it's the only class she has a B in). Such is life, and she just does what's needed until she can move on in a few months. She also has decided that, among her other classes (forecasting will be done this month), she will take Spanish next year (she was going to do French, but decided Spanish made more sense for her future), and will not continue in cheerleading. I reminded her that she needs to do *something* to keep active, so she's taken to doing at-home exercises & yoga in her room at night. She also uses the equipment at school during "free time" in PE. She & I are considering taking a yoga class together, maybe in the Fall...?

1. My occupational therapy is almost done. I have one more "check in" appt to see where I'm at, then I'll probably make one with my regular doc. At that point, we'll probably be ready to discuss settlement.
2. Ace, too, is almost done with his physical therapy; just a few more weeks to go. He's been going twice a week, and although it hurts him quite a bit, he seems better each time. He's never going to run for enjoyment anymore, or ski, or other active things he used to do, and only time will tell how the metal plate & pins will affect his life in other ways, but he's healing... and that's important.
3. My work hasn't slowed down much. Usually, there's a lull January to March, but I haven't seen that yet (with the exception of one week in mid-January). Most of my clients have scheduled through early June, and would book out through summer if I'd let them. We're working on our family's summer plans (possibly another camping trip, a beach trip or two, and whatever Princess is doing, plus my 40th birthday).
4. We were bummed that Ace couldn't come with us to my baby sister's wedding, but it was BEAUTIFUL... and (I can' remember if I've said anything about this) we found out in November that they are expecting (a boy - we found that out later) in late April!
5. We're starting on plans for the landscaping and *hoping* to get at least a start on it come spring. So far, our plan consists of: quite a bit of tree-hacking, a firepit/seating area in the back yard, new gates on both sides of the house, and extending/building our deck (which is currently a concrete slab, since we tore out the old deck that was not safe). We'd also like to repave/widen our parking pad, and do a walk path of some sort from the driveway to the front door.

1. Ace is in the process of redoing his C.S. obligation, since Gamerboy has aged out (he turned 21y a couple months ago). Since we went the "DA's office" route, this could take a couple months...
2. The Wildebeest (since we all know she continues to act & speak for the S.D.) continues to bitch every time I have to make contact. The latest round was about Princess' eye appts. She had three. The first time, I emailed a scan of our HSA card's receipt and the breakdown of costs to them. That amount (a "whopping" $33.50) was paid three days late, and I had to send a friendly reminder about it. The second time, I emailed a scan of our HSA card's receipt, only, since that's all I got. She literally went back & forth with me about it (this bill was only $15, and is due TODAY), not only claiming that the "credit card" receipt with Ace's name on it (the same type as the first round, btw) could be mine or Ace's bills (yeah, 'cuz we're so hard up for money, we try to pass off $15 as Princess'...), but then went off-subject saying that the child support is "always paid" (um, the c.s. website says differently -- you're now over $7000 in arrears), and, my favorite topic, " you continue to keep me from even talking to M******* as I am legally allowed, it further supports the Parental Alienation syndrome you have subjected her to..." Really? WTF is WRONG with them?!?! Oh, just for the record, the third appt was considered part of the "fitting fee", since it was just a check to make sure her new prescription was working well, and therefore there were no additional fees.
3. While Princess *did* get birthday presents (two WEEKS late), she has not gotten Santamas gifts. Seeing as it's February, she's most likely not getting any. And, you know what? She said that was fine. She doesn't really want them, anyway... but the insistence that *I* am keeping her from them, when in reality she wants nothing to do with them, is almost comical.
4. After the latest round of bitchiness from Maleficent to Ace, I decided it was time to block her. I already had her email address blocked, but figured it was time to block her on FB too. She went from condescendingly-civil to downright nasty after Squeeks turned 18y... since I don't HAVE to deal with her, I am done. I also deleted her from my address book & cell phone.
5. I also made a call a few weeks ago to my C.S. case worker. I got tired of waiting for them to do something about M's arrears. He basically said the same thing he's said before, "You can't get blood from a turnip." Since M works under the table, and claims he's "just a stay at home dad" (bullshit), he has nothing to legally garnish. Since J gets a paycheck & pays taxes, but isn't legally liable to pay M's C.S., they can't garnish anything. Any tax refund they get is held for "up to six months" for the C.S. dept to figure out how much, if any, is M's... I would, of course, get that. But, the last few years, none of it was. The only payments I got was a few $100 or less payments almost three years ago, when he was trying to avoid having his license suspended. So, I asked my worker to look into that again (meanwhile, what I assume is a Fed refund, garnished mid-July, 2013, is sitting in C.S.'s coffers). A few days later, I get a copy of "Intent to Suspend License"... and wouldn't you know it, a deposit of all but just over $300 of that assumed Fed refund is deposited into my bank account just a couple days later. Fine with me, except he's still (as I said before) over $7000 in arrears (not to mention the close to $30,000 in unpaid attorney's fees judgements). Now, I have a few things up my sleeve, but I'm not ready to share those with you here (since we all know Wildebeest reads these blogs). As things progress, I'll post updates.

Enjoy these few pics of my furry babies & yard; currently at 9" & counting!