Best Vacation

Today our family was blessed with Anson Connor, my baby sister had her baby today. He is 9lbs 10oz and 21″ long. Mom and baby are doing well after the C-section.

This morning as we waited for word of the delivery, the soon-to-be big sister was so very excited, sharing with everybody we saw that today was the day.

I got a video of her calling her dad and announcing the sex of the baby. When I told her to ask what his name was she looked at me and said, “Handsome.” HAHA Anson…Handsome…pretty close! Three of her cousins were with her when she found out the news and were full of whoops and hollers.

I know I have not yet shared the challenges faced on this trip, and I will…but this little man has brightened the eyes of the weary…he will be loved and spoiled and spoiled and loved. I promise.

His tiny footprints have already marked my heart, my soul, and changed my world. Love, LOVE you Anson!! MWAH

When I Say Adventure Days 1 – 3

I sure didn’t think it would go quite like this when I decided to take a trip to Canada to bury my Grandpa and then spend some time with my family.

Day 1: Instead of starting out Friday morning, the boys decide they want to leave Thursday evening. No problem, it will knock a few hours off the next day which was going to be a 15 hour drive. Pack up, remember meds; leave the house at 9:00pm. Drive almost 4 hours while the boys sleep and stop at a rest stop along the highway to get some sleep.

Day 2: Get up and get going; enjoy the scenery of western North Dakota. Cross the border in to Canada and get to my sister’s house. My first time here and I am given the tour by her four year old daughter. What a great place; beautiful home, huge yard, amazing garden. Boys and their cousin blow off some energy before lunch and the next leg of our journey.

Drive 45 minutes to my sister’s doctor’s office for an OB appointment. At 37 weeks pregnant she isn’t even telling the doctor we are travelling to Grandpa’s funeral…and remembers to pack the car seat and diaper bag just in case…

Drive 4.5 hours after appointment to where my grandparents live. We check in to hotel and relax for a bit before heading over to Grandma’s place…we debated going for supper before heading over there but I want to see Grandma and get through the initial struggle of not being greeted by Grandpa when we walk in the door…I also know there will be plenty of food there and don’t want to pay to eat when there is free food.

Visit with cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandma; some I have not seen since my Grandpa’s brother passed away six year earlier and we gathered for his funeral. B2 is now nearly 7, he was six months old when we were here last.

My mom and four brother’s show up, I have not seen them in three years…best feeling EVER…the years just melted away. If somebody had been watching they probably would have thought this was just an ordinary meeting, the love, the insults, the inside jokes, the poking, the ‘inside gossip’ was in full swing. Laughter…I’m sure they could hear us three blocks away from Grandma’s house.

Back to the hotel for bedtime…my boys are worn out. Get them to bed and stand in my sister’s (child number 7) doorway with her and her husband and brother number 3 (child number 5). The giggling and talking and stories are killing us…with laughter. No idea where brother number 4 is (child number 6) but we know that the potential for an excruciatingly drunk night for a few of the kids is likely in order…#7 is pregnant so she’s out, I’m and alcoholic…so I’m safe. We figure out who is staying in which rooms (there are four rooms for 18 of us). The giggles and idle threats of violence between brother’s who have a recent troubled history ensure they will NOT be sharing a room…we figure it all out and while some go out gambling, I take my boys and #7’s daughter (the four year old) and we go to bed in one room.

Day 3: Boys want to swim but pool does not open until 10am. After an initial mope they are revived by the promise of swim time before the funeral service at 2:00pm. We go for breakfast (15 of us) and the stories and giggles continue. We return to the hotel by noon and the boys and I are in the pool within minutes. We play and splash, and kill some time just being us. When it’s time we run up to our room and bath, shower, dress. Boys are just in shorts and t-shirts, and I get dressed up a little.

We are the last of my mom’s posse to arrive at the funeral home. We are again meeting and greeting family that has not seen the boys and I for six years or more. B1 takes random pictures of people and then B2 asks where Grandpa is. I take him in to the chapel and he begins taking pictures of more random people and the urn where my Grandpa rests. I explain about cremation and that like a log in a campfire, grandpa’s body is now just ashes. Next B1 asks for the same thing and I take him to the front and have the same talk with him. I am so proud of my boys and their thoughtful questions.

The service is wonderful. While not a religious man, he admitted that he would be a fool if he didn’t believe in something. There’s one thing my grandpa was not…and that’s a fool. B1 was seated beside me and B2 was on my knee. When he saw me crying he took a tissue and blotted my tears. When I became even more emotional as the service went on he leaned over and whispered to his big brother, “I knew we shouldn’t have come here.” When B1 said it was a funeral for my grandpa and we had to be here B2 replied, “But she’s so friggen sad and I can’t stop it!” He continues to wrap his arm around my neck and wipe my tears…I am so blessed to have kids with such big hearts.

Just two weeks earlier a childhood friend of mines 17 year old son passed away. When I got the news I was crying and the boys come in to the bedroom to check on me. When asked what was wrong I said, “My friend lost her son.” B2 wipes my tears, wraps his tiny arms all the way around me and says, “Don’t worry Mom, they’ll find him. I know they will.”

I’ve never before attended two funerals is such a close time. Exactly one week apart, a 17 year old boy and an 82 year old man.

Following interment we return to the funeral home for coffee and treats and more visiting. We are among the last to leave. Back to the hotel and the kids go swimming with my older brother and I head to the casino with my mother for a little while. I get a text from my sister saying B2 is ready to go back to the room…baby boy is sleeping for the night within the hour.

When the rest of the family decides to go to Grandma’s house to visit and eat, I order pizza for the boys myself to be delivered to the hotel. Concern is raised that B2 should be woken up, I explain that he will wake up when he gets hungry, eat a slice of pizza and go back to sleep…no problems here.

This is the first three days of our trip. The memories will forever be in our brains…our hearts.

So glad I did not know what the next few days would bring…

 

 

 

The Greatest Man

My grandpa died this last week. I am in Canada with family to celebrate his life and mourn our loss. He was so very miserable at the end…wanting to go home yet unable to. I am sad that he transitioned in to that phase before his passing; I would have much preferred he went while he was at peace with his fate.

The lunch lady was the first person I called to share the news with. She kept telling me, from when we first found out the end was near, that he would wait for me to get my green card. My green card arrived on Thursday, I picked up new birth certificates for the boys on Monday, he died Tuesday morning…sure seems like God kept him around just long enough.

Tonight I saw my mom for the first time in over three years…also all four of my brothers and some of my nieces and nephews I also haven’t seen in what felt like forever. Funny thing about love…the time and miles melted away instantly…you would have thought we were together last weekend the way we all laughed, joked, and carried on.

As we got closer to town I began to panic…how could I go to Grandma’s house and not be overcome with grief…how could I walk in and not find him there?

So many family members, so much love…he was definitely with us tonight. His picture may have been in a frame, but his name, his voice, his stories were definitely in our hearts and on our lips.

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to the strongest man in the world.

Grandpa,

I love you more than you will ever know and that will never ever change. Thank you for years of stories and tales and teaching us all about love and laughter and family and education and to never stop learning.

I bet Douglas was happy to have you with him…think of the amazing journey’s you will now share with him as you wait for the rest of us to join you in Heaven…

Love,

me

My Epiphany

Have you ever walked in to a crowded room and felt completely alone? The fear of people finding out just how truly broken you are inside keeping you from saying even a simple hello?

I won’t lie, being asked to do this today brought out those feelings – who would want to hear from me about loving other people? Was I the right one for the task? Has Pastor Jeff finally lost his mind? I asked Heidi…she’s looking in to it.

When I came to Epiphany Station just over a year ago, my best friend and I had been searching for a place to call home. We were both very curious about the “Love God. Love People. Period” mission statement.

I knew I loved God…that was easy. I was less sure about how to love strangers and very doubtful that they could ever love an outsider such as myself. What if they found out that I am an alcoholic, that I am less than a perfect Christian? Would they ever be able to love somebody as myself?

What I learned very quickly was that each of us is broken in our own ways. As I took a position with creation station, I learned what we all know…children are not shy. Children openly share their brokenness and expect that they will still be loved. As I taught them that God loves them no matter what, it dawned on me that I had to learn to practice what I preached. I knew I loved God, but how could He still love me after all I had done in my life?

The answer was shockingly simple, God knew me before he formed me in my mother’s womb; He knew that I would struggle with bipolar disorder, that I would become a cutter in highschool, He even knew that I would spend years thinking of ways to end my life. He still loved me so much, He gave His only son to die for my sins.

As I began to share my story I was amazed that instead of being shunned, I was embraced…almost as a crying child. I learned that not only do people care, they understand. People are willing to love their neighbors as themselves. I began to feel a part of a community that is exponentially bigger than the sum of its’ parts.

I learned that each struggle I faced could be used to help others learn that they are not unlovable.

My name is Debbie, and THIS is my Epiphany!!

 

Not very Interesting

The mediator did not award me a make up week but did allow me to have the boys for a weekend during the three weeks with their dad.

I had prayed long and hard about accepting the decision before it was made. I knew that I had no interest in changing it so my options were to complain about something I couldn’t change (by choice…I could always take it to court, I just had no interest in that).

One of the first thoughts I had though was that he now would have to pay for three consecutive weeks of daycare; and he is always complaining how broke he is. Be careful what you ask for I say.

On Tuesday of week three (his regularly scheduled week) I received a phone call from him asking if I was just taking the boys home with me after the baseball tournament on Thursday. I was taking the morning off from work but had plans to return to work after lunch. I said that I had not planned on it and would rather just follow the court order he insisted on getting (every decision the mediator has to make is a legally binding decision which is then filed with the courts).

Superdad couldn’t even be at the tournament…took part of Tuesday off to help his mother be moved back in to a nursing home as she is pretty much starving herself to death at home. She is medically cleared of all cancer…even the doctors have told her it’s all psychological at this point.

Wednesday he had to take the day off work because his daycare was closed and there is no available back up. So, come Thursday, he was unable to take time off for the third day that week to watch his son’s very first baseball tournament.

Tournament comes and goes…B1 had a great time, B2 spent 90% of the day firmly planted on my lap with his arms tight around my neck…as much as I love this, it breaks my heart to know he is missing out on social time and playing time because he misses his mama so much.

Thursday night I get a call asking if I would be interested in starting my parenting time on Saturday instead of Sunday…are you kidding me?? You complain and make a big stink about how the boys need consistency, blah, blah, blah, and how you shouldn’t be punished by losing time with them when going through the mediator…yet you can’t fulfill what you even demanded? C’mon buddy…life’s not that hard to figure out.

I told him only that I would meet him at the designated spot at 6:00pm on Sunday. As much as I love to spend time with the boys, I can no longer allow this man to manipulate my time.

Today he stopped as B1 forgot his bike helmet in my vehicle last night. He asked if I was interested in taking an extra weekend between now and when school starts…really? I’d take them EVERY DAY if you’d let me…you obviously don’t want them.

Only 11.5 years and B2 will be 18, in less than that the boys will see things for what they are. B2 is more open about his dad’s manipulation and isn’t afraid to call his dad out on his lack of parenting. B1 only wants his dad to love and accept him for who he is. He wants dad to spend time with him, to hug him, to join him in a game on the Xbox…he so desperately loves his dad.

 

 

Camping

WHO KNEW camping would be just like riding a bike? The boys and I went on our first camping trip last weekend and absolutely had a blast! We met with my sister (33 weeks pregnant) and her family in Minot for a weekend in a couple of tents.

Let me remind you, it’s been over 25 years since I stepped foot in a tent…the boys have never slept in a tent…and my sister is about to give birth. Thank God for her amazing husband!!

I cannot find the focus to write about all of our adventures right now (or at all lately for that matter) but wanted to stop in and let you know that life is full of ups and downs.

Lord, I know you hear my prayers…I feel your hand on my heart when I speak them, write them, think them. I do ask for some pretty ‘big ask prayers’ and am so humbled that you continue to answer them.

Your love for me is overwhelmingly comforting. As I teach my children to take their cares to you, I see them grow in confidence and ability.

Thank you.

Lord, continue to provide financial resources as the work I am doing as been less than consistent. Although I live in financial fear, I am confident the struggle is almost over.

Lord, as my Grandpa John spends his final days with family and loved ones, thank you for the opportunity for him to make me laugh on the phone last week…that’s exactly how I want to remember him. Continue to keep him relatively comfortable and pain free.

Lord, keep your hand on my boy’s shoulders so they continue to have the strength and hope to speak their minds when they perceive they have been done wrong. Help to keep them from becoming bitter or angry as they grow. Teach them the only truly perfect parent is you, and that you understand their struggles.

For all the prayers that I can’t put in to words…I await your answers.

Amen

This Could Get Interesting

The ex signed the boys up for Summer Rec baseball in the town where he lives. I am glad to see them involved and enjoying it.

Today after their game, B1 called to tell me they lost and said that B2 played right center field (whatever that means) and that when a kid hit the ball to him he forgot to throw it in and instead ran to the home plate from the outfield…and BEAT the kid!! He told me “…his tiny legs were going so fast Mom…”  Apparently the batter was B1’s age or older (9) and B2 is only 6! LOL

But I digress…as usual

Summer Rec takes place beginning at 9 am and for away games the bus sometimes leaves as early as 7:45. I am now working in the town where I live. I made it clear to the ex that I would not be able to get them to ball when they are with me due to my schedule and was willing to exchange parenting time so that the boys stayed exclusively with him through the ball season and I would exercise parenting time every other weekend. When ball finishes up, I would take the boys exclusively to make up for the time I missed with him exercising every other weekend through that time.

Although the divorce decree clearly states it is the responsibility of the parent with parenting time to provide transportation to and from the children’s activities, it also states that the parties are to work together in the best interests of the children.

I was told what my duties as a parent were when we exchanged the kids yesterday (to get them to baseball during my time) and a few other things…apparently I don’t know how to read or understand the divorce decree “…as it says right in there…” And right in front of the boys…good one dad…good job motherfucker.

This morning I sent the following email to the parenting time expeditor and the ex:

This email is regarding the boys playing summer rec baseball in Dad’s town.
 
I understand that it is reasonable for the boys to be involved every week with their friends and team in this sport. Up until this last week there had been no issue with the boys missing the week they are with me due to my work schedule. They understand that there are things that are not the same when mom and dad are divorced and living in different towns.
 
I also believe it is in the boys best interest that I remain employed to support them. My current work schedule prevents me from taking a minimum two and a half hours off three or four days per week.
 
I am still offering to switch parenting time so the boys spend the weekdays in Dad’s town so they don’t have to miss any baseball games or practices (I offered this when they were first signed up). I will continue every other weekend parenting time through those weeks and will then make up my weeks missed after the season is over; allowing parenting time with Dad every other weekend during that time.
 
I do not think it reasonable to be told what my duties as a parent are while exchanging the children in Exchange Location as happened during the exchange Sunday, July 6, 2014 in front of the children. While I understand the court decree states it is the parent who has parenting time’s responsibility to transport the children to their activities, it is sometimes necessary to make changes for the best interests of the children as it is the CHILDREN’S time, not the parent’s which is the priority.
 
Mom
 
I have no idea what will come of this…I just don’t need the threat of being taken to court over Summer Rec baseball or whatever the next petty thing he comes up with…
 
With our parenting time expeditor, we are to try and make these decisions on our own, amongst ourselves but include him in the emails we exchange so he can have all necessary info if and when he needs to make a decision.
 
Will I miss the heck out of the kids when they are with Dad and I only get every other weekend??? You know I will…I will also make sure our weekends are full of mini golf, fishing, bike rides, adventures, and cool stuff to enjoy every minute of what time we have.