Friday, July 29, 2016

Filter Free Friday

New porch - view from the driveway...
Fifth day blogging in a row! Not sure how much I have to share today as it has been a pretty dull day, I mean, thinking from the perspective of anyone but me. For me... it's been fabulous! My mom had a checkup with the cancer doctor down in Atlanta so she and Pop left early this morning. I had Oscar-sitting duty which involves literally sitting with Oscar. I left him briefly to take Austin to work but other than that and potty breaks, he was glued to my side all day. I don't even remember what time they got home. Two, maybe? The house was so quiet!

I spent the day binge-watching Jane the Virgin, which is a great show. It's sort of a parody of tele-novellas and is a little over the top but it's been entertaining. Yay for Netflix! Yay for avoiding the 24 hour news cycle this week!

I also finished a massive Italian course that I've been working on since - April, I think - that included over 2,000 words. The way the program I'm using - memrise.com - works, you continue to review the words from courses you've finished at certain intervals so I'm not technically DONE with that course because I'll keep reviewing until I'm sure I know every single word. Or most of them. I'm still reviewing the Duolingo "recap" course and I'm working on a new course that is more about learning phrases and understanding sentence structure which is a very big difference between English and Italian. I still only speak Italian to the cats but I'm getting better. I enjoy the challenge.

Pain wise... left shoulder, still the piriformis syndrome but not as bad, headache but not migraine level, muscle spasms in my lower back. I'm not kidding when I say that it's something every single day. Not the worst pain day I've had lately though, so that was nice.

Today I had yogurt with granola for breakfast... corn for lunch (just corn... I meant to warm up some leftover potatoes in chicken and I just wasn't that hungry)... and then fried chicken and macaroni & cheese for dinner. Not getting the fruit and veg in so well today. It's just harder to eat with the doggie beside me. He's very interested in my food!

I've never done a Filter Free day before, officially but I think my blogging style tends to lean toward unfiltered anyways. This has been a tough week for me emotionally. (physically too but that's always the case). I'm really hurt by the things I've seen posted on Facebook by people who feel differently from me politically. This happened during the last election too and I think it just hurts more now because I'm feeling so emotionally vulnerable because of our situation with Cosette. I'm just already so bruised and battered that I take things more to heart. So I'm just going to go ahead and list the reasons that I plan to vote the way I'm planning to vote not that I think it will change anyone else's mind but because I'm tired of being vilified. Here's the thing...

I believe that abortion is always wrong. It ends a life. And while I understand that people have reasons... and while I might be emotionally moved by those individual, heart-wrenching cases, I can't escape the conviction that ending a life is wrong. That's always my main reason for voting conservatively. The extreme cases such as rape and health concerns for the mother and child are a small percentage of abortions and in those situations, I would want someone wiser and more knowledgeable than myself to make the decision. HOWEVER... those cases are not the bulk of the abortions in this county, most are for the convenience of the mother and father. So - always - every time - no matter what - my vote will go for the candidate with the most conservative position on abortion. For those who believe in a woman's right to choose... I agree. Those infant girls and boys have the right to choose life and I will always want to do what I can for those who can't speak up for themselves.

The other fear I have in this election, at this moment in time is that our world is in chaos and I feel strongly that our isolationist policies of the Obama administration have strongly contributed by not doing what we could and not speaking up for those who needed to be defended. For half of his administration his Secretary of State was Hilary Clinton and I'm not impressed by her handling of world affairs. We pulled out of Iraq too soon. We haven't been strong against ISIS. People are fleeing for their lives from the places that ISIS has infiltrated and those who can't flee are being executed. Christians... executed. Homosexuals... executed. Women... raped and executed. Want to protect Women's Rights? Start in Syria. Or Iraq. Are you for equality... same sex marriage? Guess who isn't? ISIS. The horrific things they do to homosexuals haunt me. How could we do anything short of electing someone who will be strong against ISIS? How could I allow myself as a woman, or my gay friends to be put in danger?

Places with open borders are finding themselves facing frequent and horrific terrorist attacks. Do I want us to build a wall between us and Mexico? No, of course not...  but I do feel like it's important to have strong border controls so that those who consider us as "infidels" don't get in. Our country has a history of being a melting pot but it never has just flung open the doors for anyone and everyone. If you spend any time doing genealogy studies you realize that there were checks and balances and lots of people didn't get in. Look at Germany... France... Turkey... and how open borders have cost the lives of their innocent citizens. War doesn't look like it did in World War II - with uniformed men marching across borders. They come one at a time... and so many that end up causing harm have already come under suspicion but political correctness stopped them from being stopped. Not speaking up costs innocent lives. That matters to me.

For those who are here and undocumented, let's extend amnesty. If they can show a history of working or studying, maintaining a home, obeying the law (except for being here illegally), let them stay and pay taxes. No system is fool proof but we can't just blindly say, "y'all c'mon in..." without placing our nation at risk. Blanket amnesty, beyond what our system could handle puts us all at risk, even those seeking sanctuary here. If they're breaking the law... send 'em back to where they came from. I think it's simple. Let the ones who want to do things right stay here. Free up the folks in immigration and border patrol so that they can spend time watching for those who want to come here to do harm instead of chasing down people who want to do the right thing but just haven't been able to get the paperwork in order.

Look, I'm not a huge fan of Donald Trump but I am concerned about what has happened in the past eight years.  I'm concerned about the future of the Supreme Court and having activist judges appointed during a Clinton Administration. For Ruth Bader Ginsberg to feel so emboldened as to speak out against a Presidential candidate just demonstrates to me that justice is no longer blind. I'm concerned about the world that my children and grandchildren will be living in. I'm concerned about leadership that doesn't lead. I'm concerned about the growing racial divide in this country. I was accused of being racist this week by someone very close to me... when they painted all "non-Hilary" voters with a broad brush and that hurt me. I couldn't watch the Democratic Convention because my heart is too weary right now to listen to people like myself with only the best, patriotic intentions at heart be maligned and attacked for what we believe. This happened during the last election too... with accusations of not caring about people without healthcare when absolutely the opposite is true. I'm concerned about being able to pay for the programs that our government creates and how heavily my kids and grandkids will be taxed.

So - Filter Free Friday - the truth is that if I loved you before this election, I will still love you after this election, no matter how you vote. I will respect your right to follow your convictions just as I follow my own. I won't engage in name calling or Facebook debates because truly, how could that possibly change anyone's mind? I won't paint with a broad brush that says, "if you don't like what I say, unfriend me" because my hope is that I can continue to be friends with a wide array of people who all bring their own unique life experience to the table and that those who love me, love me for who I am and understand that my heart is in the right place. I've learned so much from people who aren't just like me and I want to surround myself with diversity. But I can't tell you that it doesn't hurt to be essentially tossed aside over my belief system and my own personal convictions when I have always respected those of others. And I can't tell you that I won't remember things that were said about... people who feel the way I feel. I don't post politically divisive stuff because I don't want to hurt people I love who see things differently than me. That's sometimes the problem with "free speech"... we only want to protect it for those who think like us and stifle those who don't agree.

I remember a story that my former mother-in-law told me about my father-in-law who was killed in Vietnam. He came home and faced people protesting against the war and their anger towards him for serving in the war. He told his wife that it was ok, he was fighting for their right to disagree. Many have fought and died for our right to follow our own convictions. I hope we don't let their sacrifice be in vain, that we can continue to allow people to speak freely.

And I guess that's all I have to say about that. Happy Weekend, friends! Love and hugs!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Blogging Cheat

The new porch... almost finished... 
Day numero quattro in a row blogging. I'm sort of cheating by using this little ditty I found on Facebook. I've elaborated on the answers so maybe it will feel like a real blog entry. Also... food for the day... I had greek yogurt and granola for breakfast, red potatoes and leftover rotisserie chicken for lunch and Pop made sloppy joes for dinner with spinach and beans on the side. 

Pain wise today... piriformis syndrome is out of control. That's the one I describe as feeling like sitting on a thick wallet. I have tried all kinds of pillow/cushion combinations trying to get it to ease up. Pain meds don't really touch it but the strong muscle relaxers help some. I have such a love/hate relationship with the muscle relaxer they're giving me because it makes me feel like I'm stoned. I can barely keep my eyes open but it works much better than what I was taking. My back still has the deep ache that I acquired sitting in court two weeks ago. Usually that kind of "trauma" settles down in a week or so. I use the word "trauma" in quotes because it's relative. For most people sitting for a few hours in a courtroom would be no big deal. For me, it's pure torture before you even factor in the mental stress.

That's my summary for today... on with the show!

1. Do you like blue cheese? I like it for wings and to dip celery in. Maybe crumbled on a salad if it's good quality blue cheese. My favorite cheese is brie and I've been wanting to try halloumi but haven't found it here. 
2. Have you ever traveled out of the country? NO. My new nephew went to London when he was four months old and here I am... approaching fifty never even have had a passport. 
3. Do you own a gun? No. I respect the right for others to own them but I wasn't raised around guns and am not comfortable with them. 
4. What is your favorite flavor of candy? Mango, I think. Mango is my default favorite flavor of everything. 
5. Do you get nervous before Doctor visits? Not nervous but I do try to make sure I have a list of things I need to discuss so I don't forget anything. I also make sure I have an up to date list of my meds because it's too much to remember. 
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Occasionally they're ok. A little mustard... maybe some onion... but it's not something I would choose unless there wasn't anything else. I never think, "gee... I really want a hot dog..." If I do intentionally have hot dogs I try to buy all beef with as little junk in them as possible. 
7. Favorite Movie? I'm all about movies with strong female roles - Under The Tuscan Sun, Gone With The Wind, Fried Green Tomatoes, Steel Magnolias, Mona Lisa Smiles, Breakfast At Tiffanys, I Remember Mama, the original Yours, Mine and Ours, Les Miserables, Beaches
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? chai tea with sugar and cream. Lipton makes a really nice K-cup version that has the perfect balance of spices. I tried another brand that was cheaper and it doesn't compare. 
9. Do you do push ups? Ummmm. No. I do stretch every day, not in an organized program of any sort but just to loosen up that which aches. Otherwise about the only exercise I could do without further damaging my spine is swimming. Although we live on a lake and although folks do swim in it... I have this thing about not swimming anywhere I can't see the bottom. 
10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? I wear a ring on my "wedding ring finger" that says "faith". I love sterling silver rings. It's the only jewelry I ever buy for myself. I've been wanting a Pandora bracelet but they're too expensive. I would like to do a charm bracelet of some kind, though. 
11. Favorite hobby? Genealogy, embroidery (when my shoulder cooperates which it hasn't in a long time) and learning Italian. 
12. Do you have A.D.D.? No. Is this survey made for middle schoolers?
13. What’s the one thing you dislike about yourself? Living with chronic pain. I'm grateful that I can still get around but it's frustrating to not be able to do the things I want to do and to always have to factor in fatigue and pain levels for everything I do. People don't really get how much of a big deal little things can be.
14. What is your middle name? Nancine
15. Name three thoughts at this time:
1: I need to pee
2: I'm glad Austin and I ran to town this morning, it was a nice chat
3: I hope my mom isn't having another attack of pancreatitis, she thinks she is. 
16. Name 3 drinks you normally drink? Water, chai tea, iced tea (I've gotten over the whole gatorade thing and I'm glad... lots of calories!)
17. Current worry? The custody hearing Cosette... for Austin to be awarded visitation with Cosette, that he can see her soon. He misses her so much. It's the hardest thing we've ever been through and we've had some tough, tough times. I worry about what this whole thing is doing to him. He's so frustrated and discouraged and hurt. 
18. Current annoyance right now? That Austin hasn't seen his little girl in over a month, that he has had to face false accusations, that we have had to spend so much money just for him to be able to be a part of his child's life, that the process is taking so long. The past ten years have made me really introverted - just trying to prevent anyone from being able to hurt me. And I really struggled before Cosette was born with allowing myself to be excited about her, afraid to bond with her. I'm not saying I regret loving her but it does take away my sense of security that someone could reach into my home and cause so much hurt. 
19. Favorite place to be? My nest. Or Cades Cove but going to Cades Cove would be painful/exhausting so I'll stick with my nest. The nest is best. 
20. How do you ring in the new year? I don't know if you could use the word, "ring". It's more like sleeping in the new year. I've never been a fan of big New Year's blowouts. My last big New Year's party was to welcome in 2003. 
21. Where would you Iike to go? Italy, to show off my stellar Italian (that's a joke!) New York to see my baby nephew. Myrtle Beach to see my eldest child and his future bride. And anywhere that Oliver and Cosette are. If I had a different body I'd want to take the babies to Disney. 
22. Name three people who will complete this. Nobody. No pressure, guys. Just enjoy. If anyone wants to, go for it. Or maybe just pick one question and answer it in the comments or under my blog link on Facebook. Or respond to one of my answers. Have my answers surprised you? I think I'm fairly predictable. 
23. Do you own slippers? Yes. They have big Santa heads on them. mostly wear crocs. (My sister-in-law is cringing). They're easy to slip on when I need to step outside. 
24. What color shirt are you wearing right now? Mustard colored camisole under a gray long sleeved top. 
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? I don't sleep on any sheets. I can't sleep in a bed because of my back. I could put sheets on my recliner but they'd slip down and just aggravate me. Back when I was a teen bride we had a waterbed with satin sheets and a satin comforter. It was slippery. Red and black. So tacky!!
26. Can you whistle? Not really. 
27. What is your favorite color? purple
28. Would you be a pirate? I think I'd get seasick. 
29. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't sing in the shower. Showers are angst inducing for me because there's so much pain involved in the process. 
30. Favorite girls name? Cosette Camille. If my sons were girls they would have been Ashley Elizabeth, Alyssa Ray and Caylin Brooke. 
31. Favorite boys name? Robert Ryan, Justin Cody and Austin Clay. AND Oliver Joel
32. What’s in your pocket right now? No pockets but I do have some Burts Bees lip balm in my bra. I keep it there so I can always find it. It keeps it at a nice consistency for application as well. 
33. Last thing that made you laugh? Seeing my granddaughter walk for the first time yesterday
34. Best toy as a child? My Little House on the Prairie book set. Also, my paper dolls. I had a LOT of paper dolls. 
35. Worst injury you ever had? There are so many owies on me... the crumbling spine, the compressed spinal cord, the compressed nerves, the aching joints, the headaches... worst injury= my body in it's current state. 
36. Where would you love to live right now? I can never imagine living anywhere I would love more than I love my little Whine Cellar with my screened porch overlooking the lake. I feel very blessed to live here. 
37. How many TV’s do you have? 2. One is under the kitchen table because it's too heavy to move. I spend all my time in the same room so I watch the same tv. 
38. Who is your .... (somehow this question is cut off, I don't know what it means)
39. How many dogs do you have? None. There's  a very spoiled one that lives upstairs and he's enough dog for the whole family. The whole EXTENDED family. He is my parents' favorite child. 
40. Does someone trust you? I don't know. People spend a lot of time telling me not to blog about certain things. 
41. What book are you reading at the moment? None. Not a big reader any more. Mostly just stuff on the internet. 
42. What’s your favorite candy? Jelly Belly Jelly Beans specifically the coconut, pina colada and buttered popcorn flavors. Also, starburst tropical flavors are pretty awesome. 
Trying to show the dock post-pressure washing. Too far to see. 
43. What’s your favorite sports team? Florida State Seminoles because I promised my kids if they would give me grandchildren I would swear allegiance to FSU. Last year wasn't an easy season to love them but I'm trying. 
44. Favorite month? April... because of mine and Cosy's birthday... January because of the possibility of snow... October / November because of autumn, cooler temps, Thanksgiving... December because of Christmas. I'm not a fan of the Summer months except for one day in July - Oliver's birthday. 

So that's the blog for today! Hope this was interesting or maybe a little entertaining. Love and hugs, y'all! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Whiny Wednesday

HEYYYYY! Three days of blogging in a row!!! How'dya like me now?

Actually. I almost forgot my intention to be a daily blogger again. It has been an eventful day here but despite the title I can't really whine today. If you're friends with me on Facebook you already know that my Cosy girl came by to play for a little while today!!! It was... supervised visitation, I suppose... her mom and grandma came along. And Austin wasn't here so he didn't get to see her and he is really hurting.

So if there is a whine from today, it's that a mama can only be as happy as her saddest child and he is heartbroken. Cosy has taken her first steps and he missed it. This is such a precious time in her life and he will never get it back. Her entire month of being 14 months is lost to him, as of Friday. It will always be a time we look back on with regret.

That being said... it did my Nana heart so much good to see her and watch her walking. She was a little hesitant when they came through the door but then she saw Oscar and said, "Ooof!" And wanted to get down to his level. Then she saw her toys in Mawmaw's living room... Then she saw Little Kitty and started making the clicking sound that I make to call the cats. She remembers! She chased him into the kitchen still doing her monkey crawl. I asked her what sound the cat makes and she said, "Hiiiisssssss". LOL! She's been around some mean cats lately apparently. Actually I think her moms cat runs and hides if there is any human around. Anyways... Little Kitty headed downstairs so I took Cosy for a ride on my Acorn Stairlift down to my living room. OOOF! CATS! TOYS! Oh Boy! She immediately went to the shelf where I keep her toys and the first toy she reached for..... Raggedy Ann! Guess what Nana's buying her real soon? The Biggest Best Raggedy Ann I can find.

They stayed for about an hour. I crawled around on the floor playing with Cosy. Cosy actually stood up and walked... she took lots of steps in a row. She is legit walking! My mom got a few pictures. I got a few pictures. There was no unpleasantness. No discussions of hearings and mediations and custody or any of the ugliness of the past few weeks. We were just Mothers, Daughters and Grandmothers all admiring the same sweet little girl. Ultimately, that's what this "divorced" parenting situation is like... we may not all feel the same about each other as we did on the day Cosette was born but we all still feel the same way - and more - about Cosette. Our problem is that too many people love her and want to have her in their life as much as possible. Loving her means building a world for her that accommodates all of these people who love her, making sure she can spend time with her daddy on his days off. Making sure she can come over when family, especially her baby cousins, come from out of town. Give her the comfort and security she feels with her mama... but expanding her world enough to include a father who loves her with his entire heart and our huge, diverse family who can all bring special things to her life.

In short: I have hope. And for those of you who saw the pictures and left comments and even just liked the pictures... I know that your hearts agree with mine, that you want her in my life, you understand how precious she is to me - to us - to all of us. Please continue to pray because we are going to have to sit down and come to a place of agreement. We have to negotiate legal documents that will be the framework for how her little life is going to be structured. There's a lot of work to do. There's a lot of hurt attached to this process. I just pray that we get through it without any more hurt... and that we can all cooperate and that each family will see the value of the other family and that we can support and encourage one another.

Also today... we had our decks and dock pressure washed. That was a noisy annoyance all day but I didn't have to leave the house so... YAY! We had steak and mashed potatoes for dinner (yum) I had frozen chicken sandwiches from White Castle for lunch. They were only sorta ok. For breakfast I had one fried egg, two pieces of bacon and an english muffin. Low on fruits and veg today. Better grab a handful of grapes for my snack. The animals were out of sorts because they couldn't go out to the screen porches. I'll take some "after" photos tomorrow so you can see the changes to our decks.

And now I'm watching Big Brother and then I'm getting back to my binge watching Jane the Virgin. I have found a few more series I'm interested in watching on Netflix. I may be able to boycott broadcast news at least through August! I'm breaking the 24 hour news cycle addiction, y'all!

Painwise today - again the left shoulder is hurting. Right butt check in spasm. Not as fun as you might think. Lower back pain spreading to the left hip something fierce. Ankles and feet hurting today because... you know... it just happens. Pain can strike anywhere and it often does.  This morning I used the cane and then tucked it away before Cosy came. Didn't want to confuse her or be hampered.

Thanks for your love and support, especially in our efforts to reunite Cosette with her dad. Please keep their relationship in prayer. He loves his daughter so very much. Everything he does in life is for her. Hope you're all well! Love and hugs!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

News Day Tuesday

My stash
What if I started blogging every day again? What if I could fall back into a pattern like, "Reasons to Love Monday" and "News Day Tuesday" and "Whiny Wednesday" and so on and so forth? What if I could manage that... I have felt like I didn't have enough to say to blog that frequently but things have been a bit more noteworthy lately. Would you want to hear from me every day? Would you read here every day? I think I might like to be able to look back to this time and see what I was thinking along the way. So here's all the stuff that's fit to blog about today and probably a few things that aren't.

Biggest news... Cosy's mama hired a lawyer. Our hope is that having a paid professional will help her come to a more realistic understanding of how the court allows fathers to have visitation with their children. The immediate impact for us is that the new lawyer has a conflict on the day that we had mediation scheduled so that has to be rescheduled. It's not likely to be scheduled before we go to court on the 15th which means that we may or may not (not likely) get things sorted that day. Hopefully we can at least complete the legitimation so that we can request an emergency order for visitation. We hope. I'm trying to work out a visit with Cosy in the meantime.

Austin completed his parenting class today. It's not HUGE news but it's required for all parents who go through a custody case, just like the mediation. Austin's been working really hard to get his life in order to prepare for having Cosette in his life. He's kept his room really clean, for example. We've made long term plans for where she will sleep and just had a good time planning for their life. When it seems like the time is dragging by so slowly and we literally just ache to have things resolved, we focus on the future and all the opportunities we will have to share in her life. I think he found the parenting class... um.... interesting. I told him it would be fun to make a game out of it and take a shot every time they cover a topic that has been handled inappropriately in Cosette's case. He's not much of a drinker but he did find quite a few things that were interesting/ironic.

In my continuing effort to avoid broadcast news i.e. the Democratic National Convention, this morning I watched Sports Center instead of Fox and Friends. I missed sweet Steve Doocey and his son Peter but I just can't take any Hillary this week. I'm at the breaking point. I finished all of Grace and Frankie and started watching Jane the Virgin. Jane is done like a parody of a telenovella - a young woman - a virgin - is accidentally inseminated with the sperm of her boss. It's such a far reach of a plot but it's quite entertaining and I'm binge-watching my little heart out. I'm going through a Netflix series about every 2-3 days. I hope there are enough to keep me entertained until November. Any suggestions?

Today for breakfast I had yogurt, green grapes and an english muffin. For lunch... steamed green beans with leftover rotisserie chicken. For dinner we had roast, potatoes and carrots. I'm back to drinking water as my primary beverage but like to have chai tea with a little cream and sugar in the morning. And of course, my Luigi's Mango Italian Ice. I'm hoarding it.

Pain wise... today the left shoulder is screaming, the left hip hates me and my piriformis syndrome - (it's a nerve compression that makes you feel like you're always sitting on a really thick wallet) - well, it's gotten a bit better. It was really out of control after our last court appearance and I was afraid it was permanently ruined but it's finally a little better today. I'm having lower back spasms that take my breath away and cramping in my right hand and left wrist. Quite honestly, just your average Tuesday but at least I didn't have to leave the house since Austin was off work.

Our upstairs deck remodel is almost finished... and tomorrow the painters come to start working on painting the decks and the dock, I think. We're just a beehive of activity!

So that's my Tuesday. Hope yours was far more interesting! Love and hugs!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Reasons To Not Love Monday

As I've mentioned many times, the days of the week pretty much look the same to me. Mondays used to be a real pain in the tukas because we had the whole week stretched out ahead and I never knew if I had enough resources (time, food, money, energy, patience) to last through the week. So I started blogging about the positives for that day/week to get myself in a more positive state of mind. Here lately, since I'm prematurely retired/disabled/a lady of leisure... Mondays can be as good (or sometimes as bad) as any other day. I'm not going negative on y'all but today, I have a few reasons to NOT love Monday this week.

1. It's hot. Fry an egg on the sidewalk hot. And I don't glisten any more... I sweat. I'm tired of having the breath sucked out of me every time I step outside. I'm ready for the temps to dip back down to a more tolerable level. I'll settle for anything below 90 at this point but really... I want to need to wear a sweatshirt. I want it to be cold. Or cool. The Summer can't end soon enough to suit me. BUT... we're at the end of the July... we're about 2/3 through...


2. I had a dr. appointment at 7:30 this morning. Why 7:30? I schedule everything as early as possible so that if it's a day where I'm in enough pain to need pain meds, I can get whatever I'm doing done and get back home and get things back under control. It wasn't a BAD visit... it was to my local primary care doctor, so - no long drive. I really love this doctor and his office is run well so no stress. He always gives good advice and is encouraging so it's uplifting usually (and it was today). I have lost weight without really trying. I'm down about ten pounds since my visit in April. My blood pressure wasn't perfect but it was decent for me considering the stress I've been under lately. My joint pain is getting worse but the change to the stronger muscle relaxer has helped with muscle spasms. I mean, things are ok and this visit was non-invasive and I didn't even have to have blood drawn. I did that last Friday. (post script to this medical stuff: I've started using a cane to get around. I'm not loving that I need it but I am glad that it helps take some of the strain off my back, especially when I'm getting up and down. It's purple. I need to name it to make it less offensive.)

3. Another reason to not love Monday... being Austin's chauffeur. Pop's been busy with church duties - last week he was in New Orleans on a mission trip and today he's at a funeral for a dear, sweet lady. My mom hardly ever/practically never drives so I've been driving Austin back and forth to work since last Sunday. Why doesn't Austin drive? Hmmm... he just never has gotten licensed. He has a learner's permit and has practiced some but he's not ready yet and I'm ok with driving him until he is ready, even though it can be a huge inconvenience. The drive is not a problem, it's the not being able to take meds until I'm done driving for the day that is the problem. Sitting in the courthouse all day for Austin's first hearing really messed things up in my spine. I haven't had a break from the pain since then, except when I'm sleeping. Going down South for Ollie's birthday party made it worse (although I'm so grateful that I didn't have to drive! That made a huge difference!) I can ease it a bit with meds and rest but I can't make it go away. So I'm right frustrated by the end of the day when it's time to pick him up. I almost feel like it's less safe to drive when I'm in pain than it is to drive when I'm on pain meds. But I won't drive on pain meds, I promise! Not loving the pain this Monday.

Oliver with his practically grown big cousins. 
4. Three words: Democratic National Convention. I'm a Fox News junkie. It's my "white noise" in the background all day long except when I'm intentionally watching something else. But I just can't look at Hillary and her smugness all day. I can't tolerate Debbie Wasserman but I am glad she finally managed to do something with her hair in the last photos I've seen of her. She was looking like me with a bad home perm from junior high, matted down. I'm not saying I'm on the Trump Train but I'm a Republican who believes strongly that eight years of Obama has left not just our country but the whole world in a mess. Hearing Democrats bragging on Obama... praising Hillary... all week long... I just can't do it. It would make me stabby.

5. Another week without our Cosy-girl. I had a pretty hard breakdown last week over her. I noticed that there was dust on her tea set. There should not be dust on her little toys in her Nana's house. In the house where her daddy lives. It just ripped me apart. Her mother is still determined that we are not worthy of unsupervised visitation. She offered to let us meet them at the Chinese restaurant in town last week but I just didn't think it was wise to do that. It's not as if Austin can have a reunion with the child who has been withheld from him for 32 days (and counting) in the middle of a restaurant at lunch time. It's insulting to him (and to me) that we can't have her - just her - come to our house to have some much needed bonding time to get reacquainted with her dad. If her mom is at the next table - or even across the restaurant - or here at our house - it puts Austin at a disadvantage. He doesn't trust the mother not to cause a scene and doesn't want a public screaming match with her. Nor do we want to make Cosette uncomfortable in any way. Anyways... last week I just broke down. It's too much to watch my child hurt on top of my own hurt. I have been taking care of babies since my younger brother was born when I was 7. I have held and cared for Cosette and been a consistent presence in her life from her first day of life. There is no reason that child couldn't be in my care for the ONE SINGLE HOUR we have asked to bring her to our house to visit with her without her mother. Just like I'm counting down the days of Summer, I'm counting down the days until our day in court where I hope and pray the judge sees the insanity in a father and his very competent family not being able to have even (let me say it again) THE ONE SINGLE HOUR we have asked to have Cosette in our home with us. We have mediation on August 2nd and a hearing on August 15th. So hopefully before too long we'll be able to dust off that tea set. But I'm pretty sure it won't be this week.

6. Speaking of Summer and things that just aren't right... I'm not loving this Monday because I am tired of seeing folks in their swimsuits. I don't know if it's because we're in a vacation spot... or if people think that going to town practically naked will keep them cool... but every time I'm picking Austin up from work there are always folks wandering in and out of the grocery store in their swimsuits... a lot of times without a cover-up. Am I getting old? I just can't imagine, even on vacation, going into a grocery store in a bathing suit. Yesterday there was a lady in a one piece that didn't fit her right, barely covering a body that nobody wanted to see, walking through the store barefoot in just her swimsuit. Another girl had on a t-shirt over her swimsuit but it didn't cover her rear... and the bottom half of her bottom was hanging out of her swimsuit bottoms. It's bad enough that I have to look at my own cellulite, I don't want to be unwillingly subjected to someone else's. And you can't unsee it. I close my eyes and I can still see it jiggling and wiggling all the way across the front of the store while I paid for my groceries.

7. Big Brother this season - not doing it for me. I just can't get excited about the folks in there this year. It's usually a great Summer diversion but this year... eh.

8. We still have to get through this week and next before the Summer Olympics start.

9. I'm LOVING the Netflix show Grace and Frankie (although I do still harbor bitterness toward Jane Fonda for her whole Hanoi Jane thing). Grace and Frankie is an amazing show. It's been a great escape for me this past week as I binge watched it BUT ... it's a reason to not love this Monday because I'm almost all the way through the second season and I don't know when they'll release more episodes. The second season just came out in May. ARGH! I'm going to have to find another compelling show that will keep me entertained because I'll be on Netflix all week. At least until Thursday. Maybe until the Summer Olympics. Or until the election is over.

10. Speaking of the election... I'm seriously close to having to take a Facebook break to escape it. Because I am an open-minded person who loves people of all races, religions and sexual orientation I have quite a diverse group of friends. I am so sick of people insulting one group or the other for their political standing. There is so much hypocrisy, so much hate, so much ugliness going on... I just can't stand it. And the only thing I hate more about folks insulting folks who vote differently from them is the folks who think they've been appointed hall monitor in Facebook who make posts telling other's they shouldn't criticize their posts. If I see one more post that starts, "if you don't like what I have to say, delete me"... because that's a mature way to resolve differences and to keep an open mind. I love a lot of people who vote differently from me. I try really hard not to be controversial on Facebook. I try less-hard on my blog because y'all come here on purpose and you've usually been warned. But on Facebook I think about the folks that I don't really know all that well that might get offended if I say something controversial and I think even harder about the ones I love a lot that might get offended... and I try to be true to myself without being confrontational. It's not so much political correctness on my part as it is avoiding conflict and you know, keeping the peace. Every ounce of decency and decorum left in my spirit is going toward not ending up in jail or the nut-house over my sweet baby granddaughter. I just don't have the energy to defend my political stance and my heart hurts too much over things happening here in my hometown for me to absorb the flaming arrows people want to throw over how people vote. I will vote in this election the same way I vote in every election, based on the principles that are important to me and if you don't like it/appreciate it/respect it then just don't TELL ME. And if I slip up and post something that does support my beliefs, I can promise you it's not done with the intention of hurting anyone's feelings because guess what? I respect everyone's right to vote as they please so please don't lecture me or try to change my mind. Old dog here - you're not getting any new tricks out of me.

I promise to love Monday again soon. It might take until the end of this hot, miserable Summer. Or maybe until the end of this election cycle. It's just not in me today. I will say that I'm very grateful to have been able to make it down south for my sweet Oliver's first birthday party on Saturday. I've sprinkled pictures of that day through here to offset the grumpiness of this post. There were a lot of people there and he received much love and attention. He loved the bounce house that was my gift to him (got a great deal on it). I hope he'll get a few years' use out of it. Italian lessons are going well... I'm nearing 5000 words and sort of starting to be able to put together simple sentences. Language learning is hard when you're past 40, folks. Again with the old dog/new tricks scenario. I'm proud of myself for working so hard at learning something... and grateful for the distraction. Anyways... me and Monday will work things out. I hope that in the meantime you found your own Reasons To Love Monday!

PS: There are lots more pictures from Oliver's birthday on my Facebook page!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Our First Day In Court

Happy Weekend to those who celebrate... for me pretty much every day looks the same other than the fact that Book TV is on CSpan on the weekends and I'm less likely to go into town on the weekend. But I know many of you still look forward to the Freakin' Weekend, so... yay!

Yesterday was Austin's hearing for the "temporary protective order" aka TPO that had been put in place after the chaos that occurred surrounding his last attempt to visit his child. The short story is that it was dismissed because there was no evidence to show that it was necessary. I'll tell you the long version in the part that follows, to the extent that I can.

First thing... we were on the docket for 9am, among many other cases. As we had feared, they brought the baby. With the TPO in place, none of us could legally interact with the baby or her maternal family. That. was. hard. She called out for her dad and he had to just walk away and sat there wiping tears. I asked him if he was ok so many times that he had to tell me to stop asking if he was ok. Baby Girl made eye contact with me and Mawmaw and her mom forcefully turned her head away from us. She knew who we were. The county courthouse is small, as you would imagine for a small town. There was a juvenile case on the docket that required that the courtroom be emptied while it was in progress so we had to sit in the small lobby watching Cosette but not touching her or talking to her. As heart-wrenching as that was I was still glad to see her.

The court schedule ran long. After the juvenile case there was a dramatic bullsh**ing Southern lawyer who tried the last case of the morning. It was pure theater and I would have found it amusing had it not meant that we had to sit through it for an hour or so,  break for lunch and then come back. That's right. Sat at the courthouse from 9 to 12 for no good reason. On the upside... the baby's mother had been avoiding service of the paperwork for the custody case and our attorney was able to get her served while we were there so the clock is ticking for that day in court. It's a process. Baby steps, I guess.

We went home for lunch. I had two antacids and a protein bar. I had a piece of cheese toast for breakfast. I couldn't eat.

Back to the courthouse. Austin won a bet with his lawyer about the previous case so his lawyer gave him $10 when we got back. I told him that was probably the first time in history a lawyer had ever paid a client. But seriously... our lawyer is such an awesome guy. I won't name him here but if you are ever in need of a family attorney in this area, I'll give you his number. He has been such a calming force for us and truly, worth every penny. He teased me a lot yesterday because I wouldn't let him out of sight. I seriously called his office when I couldn't find him for a few minutes. He's straight talking and doesn't hold back on his opinion. He has a good rapport with Austin and really seems to "get him". He did a great job for us yesterday and he was just fun to hang out with. He and Pop bonded over golf, as I knew they would.

Our case was heard when we returned from lunch at 1:30. I really don't feel comfortable sharing the details of the hearing in a public forum and I hope you all understand. We're just still in the process of finding justice for Cosy (justice in that the child has two parents and should be able to have a relationship with both) and I have to be careful not to say anything that might complicate things. The judge found that there was no evidence of Austin harming Cosy or her mother and didn't believe him to be a threat to them. What this means is that there is no legal reason that Austin should not be able to see his daughter. More about that in a minute. We had planned that Austin and myself would testify and of course, Austin has a video of the incident but none of that was necessary. The mother presented her case and she didn't have a case and it was over after that. We were pleased.

In light of the TPO being lifted, I contacted Cosy's mother today and requested that we have her for one hour - ONE HOUR on Tuesday and her mother denied my request. She will allow it only if she "supervises" visitation and that's just not going to happen. My hope was to give Cosy and Austin the opportunity to reunite but also to help ease baby girl into being away from her mother for short periods of time so that it's not traumatic for her once visitation is awarded. I offered to let mother pick the time of day, I offered to have my mom ride in the backseat with Cosy. I offered to bring her back immediately if she was the least bit distressed and she refused. There was a longer conversation involved than what I wanted but I truly hoped that we could find some common ground and avoid another long court process. I hoped that appearing in court without an attorney had embarrassed her enough that she would want to avoid it in the future. I was embarrassed for her, honestly.

Ultimately though, she is unwilling to allow us any time at all with Cosette unless she comes along and honestly, I just don't want to risk any unpleasantness. I mean, really, I would feel like I needed to video the entire visit just in case. She tacked on a little nasty "she is happier without you in her life" at the end so... I had to remind myself not to let someone else's words become my truth. I know that her only weapon is Cosette and I understand that she is disappointed in how things have turned out. But it took two people to create that child and there are two families who love her. We aren't going away. I know that the court is not pleased when parents try to alienate their child against the other parent and I have seen cases where the offending parent loses custody for that reason. I mean, the other grandfather testified under oath yesterday that he wanted to kill Austin. These people have no idea... and part of my hesitation in putting any of this on the internet is that I wouldn't want Cosette to stumble across this some day and know just how ... ridiculous... I'm sorry, I can't come up with another word... her maternal family was during this process.

Yesterday we got home from court around 2:30 and I was asleep not long after. I woke up at 6:30 and saw the tragic news from Nice, France. It's so heartbreaking to see how much hate there is in the world. I am so sad that we are separated from Cosette for a short time but I'm so grateful to God that our separation is temporary and that she is not lost to us forever. I had a few luigi's and facetimed with Oliver (who has learned to wave goodbye and say, "muah" when he kisses me goodbye over facetime!) then I went back to sleep probably within an hour and slept straight through until about 3am this morning. The physical toll on my body from sitting on those hard church pews (there is a thin cushion but not much comfort) yesterday has left me fairly crippled today. I have cursed my back about a dozen times today and shed more tears over back pain than over our sweet baby. I know that she will be back with us. I look forward to watching her grow up. I know that God loves her and will protect her and I know that she will grow up knowing her daddy and knowing that she has two families who love her. I just hope I don't end up in a wheelchair from this process. Too much time sitting in lawyers' office and courtrooms... too much stress on my spine.

So we wait for our next day in court and just try to get through this hot Summer. I'm looking forward to the Republican Convention next week. I "self-identify" more with conservative politics than liberal and I am usually encouraged by the pep rally environment of the political convention. Tim Tebow is speaking and I'm looking forward to that. Oliver's birthday is the 23rd and we'll be going down for his big first birthday party. I bought him a bounce house - I got a great deal on it - and I can't wait to see him in it. And... that's about it, I guess. Time for me to hit the freezer and have my daily dose of Luigi's. Thank you for your love and support. Many of you have messaged me and commented and sent texts and I don't feel like I've thanked you enough. It means the world to me to have your voices drowning out the negativity. Our attorney has told us not to have people out marching out in front of the courthouse with "Cosette's Life Matters" signs (I think I come across as pretty militant about this situation to him....) but I do feel the love and prayers and I'm so grateful! Hope you have a great weekend and I'll update you soon! Love and hugs!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ice Cream For Lunch Is Ok

I can't remember which day it was but I had ice cream for lunch recently. I gave myself a long list of reasons why it was ok, which included things like: I'm 48 years old, I'm under a lot of stress, it's Summer, nobody had to cook and so on. But truly, the only reason I'm making that a blog title/subject is because life here lately has just been so serious and sad and I don't want it to be. For the record, it's really ok to have ice cream for lunch occasionally.

Mostly my diet looks like this lately: yogurt with fruit for breakfast unless Pop cooks. He makes really creamy grits and knows exactly how I like my eggs (fried, sort of medium where the yellow isn't completely runny but is a little runny). For lunch I've been having either watermelon or tomato sandwiches. Don't read that to say "watermelon sandwiches". Either tomato sandwiches or fresh watermelon. It's hot, although my space is nice and cool, to the point where I still wear long sleeves and long pants every day or I'd be wrapped up in a blanket but the heat outside makes me not hungry for much other than fresh produce. Dinner runs the gamut from nothing or DIY (which means Pop isn't cooking) or take out, usually from a local meat and three or Chickfila. When Pop cooks it's almost always good but I'm at a loss for an example of a meal we've had lately (keep reading, I remembered one). I put some dried beans and country ham in the crockpot yesterday down here and it smelled awesome all day but the taste was only meh. And of course every day I have two luigi's mango italian ice cups because I'm a creature of habit and I really like them.

Wednesday was a long, eternal day of much suffering and I fell asleep with a plate of spaghetti in my lap (Pop cooked!) before I had my luigis. I had received a text regarding baby girl saying that she had been to the doctor for a virus and had gained a pound since she was last weighed - about a month ago. I was happy to get an update, happy to hear she had gained as she's been flirting with falling below the chart. I responded with a simple "thank you, we'd like to see her" which descended into the typical non-sensible nonsense that is the reason we can't see her in the first place. It could all be so simple... dismiss the restraining order for which there is no need/proof to the contrary, each side makes a list of their perception of how custody and visitation should go and we figure out a way to meet in an agreeable middle which the lawyer we've already paid for puts together in to a nice, formal agreement. We go to the judge (because it has to be done that way to be legal) he looks over what our very expensive lawyer has prepared and says, "great" and we're in and out in five minutes. Nobody has to pay anything more than we've already paid and it's not dramatic or painful for anyone and we're all responsible, Christian adults who know how to put a child's needs above our own. That's how it goes in a perfect world but I'm thinking our world isn't perfect.

Anyways... this descent back into nonsense happens when I'm about 15 hours into a day where I had enough pain to vomit but had to hold off on pain meds because I was the only one able to drive to get Austin. I was about as close to "curl up in a fetal position" pain-wise as it gets. I was also messaging back and forth with my former father-in-law's first cousin who was with her mother who was giving me some great details about the former's biological father. With her information and the resources on ancestry.com (which earned it's expense in this instance) I was able to track down my kids' biological great-grandfather, his birth certificate, his family's census records for several decades and lots of other info. I found out that he was 5'9, 135lbs in 1942, which was the same size as my kids' dad at that same age. I found out that he was a truck driver. I still haven't located marriage and divorce records but... long time ago in rural Texas so they may not exist.

Last night while doing a little more research I found what might possibly be incarceration records for this character. Well, they're definitely incarceration records, I'm just not completely sure they're his. The birthday was off by a year but the height, weight, religion, geographical area, occupation and name were the same. If it's the same person, he spent a long time in jail for burglary, three separate sentences served over the course of about 15 years. The time frame is the same time when my former father-in-law was adopted by his step-father, so that would explain maybe why he was adopted.

Anyways... all of that drama around the past, present and future combined with a lot of physical discomfort was just too much. I picked up prescriptions and a few groceries while picking up Austin and that's when I got the final non-sensible nonsense text just as Austin was leaving work which got him wound up and ... yeah. Ice cream for lunch. I've earned it.

I watched a lot of the - I'm not even sure what you call it - the political drama with FBI Director Comey regarding the lack of prosecution of Hillary Clinton despite her obvious carelessness with her email set up. Ultimately you either have to believe that she was ignorant of how to handle sensitive, classified documents or you have to believe that she knew what she was doing and didn't care. Either way I think that makes her infinitely unqualified to be Commander in Chief but it doesn't make Trump any more qualified than he was before. All the things that supposedly make her "the most qualified candidate ever" according to Obama make it really puzzling how she could not know that she was playing fast and loose with National Security. I've got to say, Director Comey was impressive in his calm way of answering questions which went something like: (Republican) "This is total BS", (Democrat) " (butt-kissing, sucking up)". I was also impressed that nobody had to stop to go to the bathroom during that whole process. I went about a half dozen times while it was on.

Then we have this Wild West mentality going on between The Thin Blue Line and Black Lives Matter where so many lives have been lost this week. I just don't know what to think. Truly, truly heartbreaking whenever a life ends needlessly.  It's so sad that so many have to live in fear that because of their occupation or the color of their skin, their lives could end abruptly. The one thing I said about Obama eight years ago was that I thought he might be able to unite our country. The sad truth is that we're more divided than ever. I don't have a solution but it does break my heart.

Anyways. I'm not sure that any of this was blog-worthy but it's what I'm thinking about today. I'm happy to see a few more days tick off the calendar and hope that means I'm that much closer to holding those two babies I love! Time to get the ice cream out of the freezer... Love and hugs to y'all.