Monthly Archives: July 2012

Red Letter Day

Today is my mom’s last day of work. Ever. She’s retiring – work was getting in the way of her social life and organizational commitments. I’m really happy for her – she’s always had an incredible work ethic, and she has definitely earned her retirement.

And tomorrow is Tyler’s ninth birthday. Technically. He was born at 12 minutes after midnight on August 1, so I always remember this day as my own personal Labor Day.

The Polaroid on the right is the first picture of Tyler – I think one of the nurses snapped it (because really, who brings a Polaroid camera to a delivery in 2003?). I like Tyler’s ninja spaghetti arms.

The photo on the left was taken this spring. I keep it on my bedside table.

Everyone says that a baby will change your life, but SERIOUSLY, Tyler has changed me. Before I had him I was, like most 20somethings, quite self-centered and lazy. Taking care of him taught me discipline, but also to be more laid-back about things I can’t control. And now I have this awesome child, who astounds me daily with the way he sees the world, who makes me laugh every single day, and who still likes to snuggle with his mama.

Nine years. I am so lucky.

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A Moment Like This

On Monday I ran across this piece, part of Sweetney’s excellent “Through the Fire” series on divorce, and I was particularly struck by this passage:

Reading [Eleanor Roosevelt’s] story that afternoon by the pool, I could no longer dodge the truth about my own personal life. My marriage was a sham. I was furious that I had given all my power to my in-laws. And I knew I had to take it back. It was two more years – and one daughter later – before I finally gathered the courage to file for divorce.

I don’t know that everyone has “A Moment” when they realize that their marriage can’t be saved, and I think some people have that moment and only recognize it later.

At least, that’s what happened to me.

My moment came in the drive-through of the CVS pharmacy. I had recently moved to Tallahassee and was working full-time. My then-husband was looking for work. I was at the CVS to pick up his prescriptions (he’s a Type I diabetic with high blood pressure and acid reflux, so it was quite a few prescriptions).

I handed the cashier the credit card (it was his card, I was just an authorized user) and she informed me that it had been declined. I called then-husband.

“The credit card was declined. Do you know what’s going on?”

“No. Oh, well…. actually, yeah. I had you taken off the card.”

“Why did you do that?’

I could almost hear him shrug. “I don’t know. I was mad at you for something.”

And you know what I did?

Despite my Amherst education and a solid decade of girl-power indoctrination, I bought the prescriptions with my own money, and slinked home. I don’t recall if I apologized, but I probably did.

But that moment kept coming back to me. And every time I turned it over in my head, I got angrier. Those were HIS prescriptions. He wasn’t even working at the time. And then to remove me from a credit card that he controlled, simply because he was mad at me? For an offense he didn’t even remember?

Slowly, I became appalled. Not necessarily at him, but at myself. Appalled that I had learned to put up with such petty behavior. Appalled that I was letting this happen to me. Like Pauline in the piece above, I was furious that I had given all my power to someone else. Appalled that my son was watching, always watching, with his bright intelligent eyes.

It was months before I actually filed for divorce, but that day was a turning point – maybe not the straw that broke the camel’s back, but perhaps the grain of sand that tipped the scales.

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WIWW: The Sweaty Trudge to August

Today is my friend Amy’s birthday. Amy always looks polished and adorable, and I wish she would play WIWW with us. Happy Birthday, Amy!

pleated poppy

Thursday I wore my homemade dress, which I still love. I made another one first (gray and aqua), and it’s currently on my cutting table. I’m going to shorten the bodice and make it knee-length. Anyway.

Friday: I have had this necklace for years, but never wear it because 1) it sits very high off my chest, thanks to the beaded sphere part, and 2) the dangly bits at the end hand just a touch too low to be worn with any of my shirts. So I took the chain off another necklace and attached it to either end of this green necklace, and voila! Long necklace. I was quite happy with the result, and may try it next time with a pretty ribbon.

Monday I was tired, so I stuck with something relatively safe, but colorful. This is the day I wore my handmade headband, too.

And Tuesday I wore one of my favorite dresses:

Be excellent to each other.

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Kibble

Saturday, 10:00 a.m.: I spy a piece of dog food on my dresser.

Windy: Tyler, what is this?

Tyler: Dog food. (blushes)

Windy: And why is it here?

Tyler: While you were in the shower, I was putting dog food in my navel and trying to get the cat to eat it. But he wouldn’t.

Windy: …

I love that kid.

 

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Care Package

When I was little, we used to do all our vacation travel by car. My grandmother would make us “care packages,” which usually involved a shoe box filled with treats. My personal favorite was her brownies – they were covered with a very thin crackly layer of bright green mint glaze.

Jason is in trial this week in Panama City, and I wanted to do something similar for him. Something to help him relax after a long day of trial, something to remind him of home.

Nailed it.

Also, in his absence, I’ve been tackling some of the projects that have been lurking on my Pinterest boards. I used this knotted headband tutorial (one of my first pins ever!) to make this:

I think it turned out well. I used white cotton and a size H hook. The tutorial was great – very easy to follow.

Love!

 

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For My Next Trick…

One of the reasons we bought our house was for the large formal living room at the front. We wanted a grown-up space where we could escape from the children sit and talk, but not a space that felt like a museum. My parents’ house had a beautiful formal living room, but we were never allowed to sit on the furniture, walk on the carpet, or breathe the air.

Here’s what the living room looks like today:

Let’s break it down, shall we?

1. Ivory Camelback sofa from my parents.
2. Large mirror. I have no idea where this came from. I think someone just gave it to me.
3. Sassy brass lamp from Goodwill that I spray-painted in an oil rubbed bronze finish.
4. Jason, doing his Beyonce impression.
5. Buffet from Jason’s old house.
6. Giant ginger-jar lamp from my parents.
7. Drop-leaf table from my parents.
8. Pair of wingback chairs, from my parents.

And here’s the reverse:

9. Bookcase with curtain front, and a photobomber.
10. Marble-topped vanity/desk, from my great-grandmother.
11. Armchair, from my great-grandmother.

The room is…..fine, and comfortable, and we certainly spend a lot of time in it. But it’s kind of boring, and not very coherent. Also, I hate pink. True story – see those bright coral throw pillows on the wingback chairs? My father painted our entire family room that color. I mean, it worked for them, but it’s just not my thing.

So I’ve been thinking about how I want the room to feel, and looking for an inspirational color palette. I keep coming back to this picture, which I originally pinned to my “Guest Room” board on Pinterest.

Why I love it: I have always loved navy and white. It’s classic and clean – two things I aspire to be. And this particular color scheme crops up in my wardrobe on a regular basis.

See?

Why it works for that room: It will be pretty easy to work with/around the existing dark wood furniture. My mom has generously offered to have the wingback chairs reupholstered (thanks, mom!), and I can handle re-covering the armchair seat. I’ll probably leave the sofa as-is, but add/recover the throw pillows – although if you notice, two of the pillows and the blanket across the back are already the right color. I’ll need to add curtains and art. And I’m planning to paint that medium-wood buffet – maybe turquoise with a glaze?

I’m excited to start working on this room. As always, I’ll keep costs to an absolute minimum – but considering the only money I’ve put into the room so far was for two deeply-discounted rugs and a lamp from Goodwill, I’m doing all right.

Let’s all cross our fingers that it doesn’t end up looking like a shoddily-constructed British Colonial nightmare.

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WIWW: The Cat Days of Summer

This is What I Wore Wednesday, and these are the Days of Our Lives.

pleated poppy

I missed last week, but didn’t hear any wailing, or gnashing of teeth.

Thursday: I love me some day dresses.

Dress + shoes = avoiding public nudity. Win!

Friday I worked half a day, then drove 2.5 hours across the the state to pick Tyler up from camp, and then drove home. So I needed to be comfortable.

Also a success.

I spent much of the weekend in a bathing suit or yard work clothes, so no pictures were necessary or safe for children.

Monday: Thing I also love? Yellow.

Yee haw, tater.

And yesterday was another guest appearance by my festive red pants. I tried something new by pairing them with a light gray cami and pewter flats. I liked it.

Have a lovely week.

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Adventure Time

Tyler spent this week at Camp Montgomery in Starke, Florida. I went there when I was a kid, and my mom went there when she was a kid. It’s a real summer camp, filled with sailing and water-skiing and swimming and archery and a ropes course and NO PHONE CALLS.

I have not heard my Bear’s voice since Sunday. That’s the longest radio silence of his entire life.

Heewww, heeewwww, heewwww (deep breathing)

Unlike when I was a kid, the camp directors take photographs all day, and post them to the internet at night, so I can confirm that yes, Tyler was alive at (checks time stamp) 7:32 p.m. on Wednesday. And again at….. 9:44 on Thursday morning, etc.

Sunday morning, before we left, Tyler got a little anxious about the impending separation. He was very quiet for  most of the drive, his head buried in a book. He would ask occasional questions, like whether the cabins would be like our house, or more like a hotel (snort). I spent the entire drive back worried that he would be homesick for the first 48 hours. I knew that eventually he’d relax and have fun, but you never want your kid to be sad or lonely, you know?

I shouldn’t have worried.

This photo was from Sunday night. That’s Tyler in the middle, looking happy as a clam.

Each morning, when I would check for the previous day’s pictures, I would glimpse him – sometimes I would just see the curve of a cheek, or a flash of his favorite hat, or even a hand. But I could always pick him out.

It’s like “Where’s Waldo?”, but for parents.

I told him before I left that his job for the week was to make new friends and try new things. He succeeded on both counts, it seems.

This is one of Tyler’s cabinmates. He has drag0n-and-wizard bedsheets, which increases his awesome factor by…a lot.

Tyler (apparently) tried kayaking. My risk-averse child! In a boat! By himself! There were also pictures of him sailing. Sailing!

And canoeing! With a GIRL!

I can’t wait to pick him up this afternoon and hear all the stories that go with these pictures. And wash that bathing suit.

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It Takes a Village

Earlier this week my friend Amy sent me a link to this article, on a proposed law in California which would allow a child to have more than two legal parents. She asked if I had any thoughts on it from the perspective of a divorced parent.

And, it turns out, I do.

First and foremost, let me state that I totally support the idea that there’s more than one way to make a family. But after reading this article and thinking about potential outcomes, I see this law creating more problems than it solves.

We must ask up front, “What is the problem that this bill seeks to address?”

From the Bee article: “SB 1476 stemmed from an appellate court case last year involving a child’s biological mother, her same-sex partner, and a man who had an affair with the biological mother and impregnated her while she was separated temporarily from her female lover.”

This is certainly a complicated situation, but is it a commonplace one? Commonplace enough to warrant new and novel legislation?

A more common scenario would be the increasingly-prevalent custody situation in which I find myself right now. My ex and I have 50-50 split rotating custody over our son.

So I ran through a bit of a thought experiment. Let’s break it down, yo:

Jason has been an excellent step-father to Tyler. He has attended parent-teacher conferences, coached tee ball and soccer, became assistant cub master for Tyler’s cub scout pack, taught the boy to ride a bike, tie a tie, and be a good man. He has most definitely acted in a parental role towards Tyler, without being Tyler’s actual legal guardian. None of the amazing benefits of parenthood – the hugs, the kisses, the laughter, the snuggles, even the application of band-aids and the soothing of emotional hurts – are exclusive to those with the legal status of parent.

But let’s say that the option was available to Jason to become Tyler’s legal guardian, because he is married to me and Tyler spends 50% of his life with us, and because it would be in Tyler’s best interest to have such a good role model for a father.

First, we’d have to get my ex to agree. This would be, to say the least, a large hurdle. Skipping a few other steps for the sake of brevity, BOOM, Jason is now Tyler’s father.

Then my ex realizes that Jason makes a lot more money than him, and sues Jason and me, based on our total household income, for child support.

Boom, indeed.

Then my ex gets re-married. To someone who is unemployed (so we’d have to continue to pay the same child support). And my ex petitions the court to allow his new wife to be Tyler’s parent, based on the fact that Tyler lives with them 50% of the time.

Tyler now has four parents. Four equally-weighted voices to make decisions on his behalf, and “in his best interest.” Try to imagine picking a college (and paying for it), planning a graduation party, or making complex medical decisions, with four competing opinions.

NIGHTMARE.

But it appears that this law is not designed with an eye towards groups of people who are trying to codify an already-loving and already-supportive relationship. The article gives us this clue: “Under Leno’s bill, if three or more people who acted as parents could not agree on custody, visitation and child support, a judge could split those things up among them.”

This presupposes that there are already problems. For example, if Jason and I were to divorce, he could petition the court for visitation rights (based on the above and the “best interest” standard) – and instead of seeing Tyler 50% of the time, I’d see him 33% of the time, maximum. Every third Christmas. Every third Thanksgiving. Jason and my ex would have to rotate Father’s Day.

And let’s say I was kind of vindictive, so in the process of our divorce, I petitioned the court to be a legal guardian of Jason’s daughters.

BIGGER NIGHTMARE.

In Florida, not even grandparents have the right to visitation of a child. If I were to die, my ex could disallow all contact between Tyler and my mother, and she would have no recourse. Similarly, if I die, Jason could be (and probably would be) excluded from Tyler’s life – at least until Tyler turned 18 or discovered Facebook, whichever comes first.

It’s pretty safe to say that it’s bad for children to be pulled in two directions when their parents separate. It can reasonably be inferred that being pulled in three, or four, directions is worse for them.

The bill’s supporters claim that it will reduce costs on government. “Designating multiple parents in such cases could enhance the child’s prospects for financial support, health insurance or Social Security benefits, thus reducing the state’s potential financial responsibility.” 

I disagree. For one thing, the court could not just reach out and “designate” – the parties would have to hire lawyers and bring a petition and litigate it. That is monstrously expensive, both to the parties and to the court system. Like every other aspect of family law, only the lawyers win. Second, this would require a total overhaul of the formulas and calculations by which child support is determined. We’d need, like, an army of math nerds. They don’t come cheap.

When I first read this article, I was reminded of a few recent cases where same-sex couples or single mothers had sued for child support from their sperm donors. Some couples prevailed, and some did not, but in every case, that donor had to hire a lawyer and pay thousands of dollars to defend himself, sometimes to the appellate level. The Supreme Court recently decided that the biological child of a man, conceived after his death, is not entitled to his Social Security benefits (in Florida). Do you have any idea how expensive it is to take a case to the Supreme Court? And then lose?

To sum up, the best parts of being a parent do not require any kind of legal designation. There is no restriction on the amount of love, attention, and time you can give to a child. This law, I believe, would instead open up a new avenue into the worst, the ugliest, and the most divisive parts of a divorce or separation – all of which revolve around money. While this law may have been drafted with same-sex couples in mind, it could be applied in situations not contemplated by the people who drafted it. I guess the theory is that by creating a bigger pool of potential resources, the child will have more access to those resources. From my somewhat-cynical analysis, the pool gets quite a bit smaller when the lawyers jump in.

 

 

 

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WIWW, and by W I mean Th.

Welcome back to What I Wore Wednesday, now with free popsicles for children under 4 feet tall.

pleated poppy

Thursday: I love this foldover skirt from Old Navy (it’s a couple of years old) but I feel like it doesn’t love me back. It’s always coming unfolded, especially under  shirts and in the back. Sigh. It’s so comfortable, though.

Friday: Basic trouser jeans and white tee, with colorful shoes and accessories. Why could I not figure this out when I was 25?


Monday: I love this dress, but my office is so chilly I always have to throw on a cardigan. And I don’t know that I love the dress with a cardigan.

Tuesday: Again, going for comfort here, with wide-leg linen pants and a dressier t-shirt.

 

Have a lovely week.

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