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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pre-Holiday Blogging

I don't know how much time I have left as the presents pile higher and I am no where near being done wrapping them. Not to mention hitting several grocery stores to accumulate the needed ingredients for the Christmas Day marathon food fest. And then there is the cleaning of the house, the driving of the kids to take them to their father, the fixing of the light strand on top of the tree.

So I don't think that leaves much time for blogging, facebooking, twittering or much else (though I am sure I will sneak in some time here and there). I am not sure how quickly or not I am getting the hang of all this social media/networking stuff but man! Is there sure a lot to know! Everytime I turn around, I find a link to something else that looks like something I should belong to, join, or know about. I hope I can keep up with it all so I don't miss anything!

Anyway, in the midst of making my lists and checking them twice, I was contemplating the year that has past and the year that is ahead of us. I guess we all start to do this in one form or the other this time of year. Making reconciliations, resolutions, tying up loose ends, getting ready to "start" whatever (a diet, a budget, a plan of some kind). I started that way too...thinking of all the things I feel that I need to DO this coming year. All the ways that I need to get from Point A to Point B by the end of 2010. It started making me feel anxious, and then second guessing myself and beating myself up a bit. When I think of all those things that carried over from the 2009 list to the 2010 list, I began to feel rather unproductive...a failure.

Then, somewhere in the middle of it all, I had an epiphany! I realized that although I may not have accomplished all that I had planned to in 2009, that maybe that was ok. I also realized that just because things did not work out the way I thought they would, that maybe that was alright too...maybe the universe had other ideas for me besides the ones I had for myself. On top of that, I remembered some things that had been carrying over on New Years lists for YEARS that I really never thought would come to pass...realizing that many of them happened this year...without my really realizing it or forcing them to happen.

My husband and I split up about 10 years ago. We spent several years with joint custody (week on, week off) and in that time were in court about as often. After a few years of my husband and his wife (my former babysitter) bringing me to court to get full custody of the kids, moving further away from me and making me move to keep the joint parenting arrangement, and telling the kids outright lies to bribe them to want to be there( simply because it was ruining their plans to be a family to themselves without me being in the equation), and the kids crying everytime it was time to go to court and hearing us fight, I finally broke.

I asked my husband if he was going to just keep taking me to court and moving further away until he had the kids to himself...he simply said "Yep". And that was it for me. I had to stop the fighting and the suffering my children were going through. I felt it was best for everyone to let things settle down for awhile. So I let him have full custody of the kids and I took them every other weekend and on vacations.

This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and I have had to do a lot of difficult things in my life. But I always felt that at some point, things would change, Karma would kick in, and I would have my kids back again. So, every year, there would be something on my New Years list that involved taking steps to make that happen. Every year, although I succeeded in doing something with the kids that made them happy, brought us closer, gave us a good memory, they were still with him at the end of the year. Until this year....

My youngest son Kyle had said he wanted to live with me since the beginning of our split. He would cry and say he didn't want to go to Daddy's ...why couldn't he live with me, etc. It was truly heartbreaking and has killed me for years. The reason I didn't have him live with me was because I thought the only constant my kids had anymore was each other. They had been torn from the life they knew out of the selfishness of their father and babysitter (who was also married with 3 children of her own). They missed important time and memories with me because they couldn't be in two places at once. My daughter had always been a daddy's girl and was courted by her step-mom...wanting to live there instead of with me. Then, without my doing anything at all, things started to change...

In 2008. Kyle finally told his father he wanted to live with me enough times and was enough of a "bad kid" that in September, his father finally said he could go. It went peacefully enough...he moved in with us, we went to court without a fight to sign over the papers, put him in a new school, done. What I hadn't counted on was the fact that once Kyle lived with us, his father would not call him on the phone...EVER... that he opted out of all the everyotherweekends that I had always done with the kids, and that he would basically write him off. This was very hard as I felt Kyle was being punished.

I tried to tell his father how much he was hurting him and that he should continue taking him, to which he replied.."I had him enough all these years. I don't really need to be around him that much anymore." Talk about Shock and Awe...I couldn't believe I was actually hearing that. From that point on, my fiance and I always told Kyle that we wanted him around no matter what. That if his Dad didn't take him on a weekend, we would do something even better. No badmouthing on our part...none needed...Kyle started to form his own opinions.

In July of this past year, our entire house was destroyed when the contractor we hired to replace our roof took off the entire roof right before a torrential and freak rainstorm hit our house with 7 inches of rain in less than an hour. They did not secure the roof, the water just poured in. The end result (and I will probably blog this story at some point) was that our entire house is now down to the studs. Still. No roof, no interior walls, no floors, no insulation, no ceilings...nothing. Nada. The house was left unlivable and we were forced to leave.

At which point, we decided to move from the area we were to my hometown. This way, I would be closer to my parents and family, and being that I was just starting to merge my business into my sister's gallery, it made sense for me to be closer to work too. We rented a house in lovely Blue Mountain, at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. Basically, right then and there, my daughter Sydney decided she was moving in too. That did not go over as well as the switch with Kyle. Her father said no, absolutely not...we were unstable...just moved...maybe we would move again and have to switch her school again...nope. Not doin it.

But between Sydney's relentless persistance and telling her father and stepmother every second that she wanted to live with me, and me contacting her law guardian and bringing her father to court for custody, we finally succeeded. She started a new school a week late, and in a much bigger school, which was extremely difficult for her. But she adjusted...started to like it...began to make a few friends. It has been slow, but she says she has not once regretted it. Best of all, she was finally home again...with me, her mother. It was right, and she knew it. And then another funny thing happened. She started to form her own opinions too...realizing some things that she thought were truths were not. Seeing things that she didn't see before. Then she started to not want to be there anymore. Karma struck again...

Then, just when I thought that things had totally changed so much...about all the adjustments my fiance and I were making being "new" full time parents, moving to a new house, fighting the insurance companies on the old house, etc. we had much more to come. In October, my 23 year old son had my fiance come to his new "house" where he was staying with some friends to get some of his things so he could stay with us a few days and relax. He had a tough year...a break up, losing a few jobs, not being able to find a new job, etc. But when Jon, my fiance, saw the conditions in which he was living and that it was apparent that he was going no-where-fast, he came home and told me we were getting him out of there. And so it went. He was moving in.

He has been with us for about 2 months now, still doesn't have a job, lots of us having to get used to being around each other in a rather small house, but it is really nice. For the first time in my life or his, he is living with me, and his siblings, full time. I had Aaron when I was 16 years old, in the start of my "wild years" and when my Mom was at the height of her "born again holy roller phase". I gave him to my parents to take of when it became obvious it was more than I could handle living with my parents and Aaron, and I did not want to take him where I was going...basically a 5 year couch trip. I've always been in his life...sometimes more, sometimes less, but was never really able to be a full time parent to him for one reason or the other. So now, at 40, I've adopted my 23 year old son and it feels great!

So as this year of 2009 winds down to a close, I feel optimistic about the new year ahead. Sure, there are lots of things still on my list of to-do's and I imagine, there always will be. But in the grand scheme of things, a lot of really awesome stuff has come out of this year in the midst of all the crap. I'm close to my family, I've got my kids (all of them!), I've got my honey - oh, and we got engaged this year too!- I'm doin' okay...

Monday, December 14, 2009

First Shot at Blogging

Ok, so I've been putting off getting involved in doing a blog for a long time now. Not because I didn't WANT to do one, more like when the hell am I going to find the time to do one? I enjoy reading other peoples blogs (some more than others) and can definitely see the value in it for business upstarts, insightful or funny people, or people in general who have something interesting to say. But do you work, take care of your house, get your kids on the bus, fed, bathed, and doing homework, shop, pay bills, go out, take the dogs for a walk, fight with insurance companies, cook, clean, and everything else AND keep up with a daily blog?

Anyway, as I said, Ive been avoiding, but I have always been susceptible to peer pressure, and I guess this is no exception. I don't know how good I will be at it. I don't know if anyone will want to read my ramblings at all. People usually laugh at things I say, so I guess that might be useful. Some say I should be an author because of my great story telling talent and my memory recall for interesting situations. I've had a fairly interesting life...not in the traditional sense of family stories, far away travelers or fortune and fame, but more in the "no way, that did NOT really happen to you" kind of way. That also may come in handy. Who knows?

I guess this is about as good a time as any to tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up in the suburban hippie town of Woodstock, New York. My father was a state trooper and my mom, a born again Christian. Fun times for a kid who hung out with teenagers whose parents were cool party animal musicians! Which is probably why I ended up in jail and pregnant with my son Aaron by age 16. I may get into this more later, but I don't want to bore you to death on my first go of it.
The Readers Digest (very) condensed version of the next 30 years of my life went something like this... moved around from town to town in upstate New York until I got a bug up my butt to go and see what it was like to live in Hollywood. I traded in my great aunts saving bond and bought a plane ticket and a couple cute outfits and off I went. I stayed with a few friends, worked some crappy jobs, and mostly partied. I made friends with musicians and porn stars and had a lot of fun. Too much fun. When December came and I realized there would be no snow and palm trees were not my idea of a festival winter landscape, I bailed. Back to New York, moved in with my boyfriend in a trailer, then a few more places, eventually settling into a home near Albany.

A few years later, had a remarkably beautiful daughter named Sydney, a quirky son named Kyle, and started painting childrens murals for fun. Getting jobs painting murals led to me teaching myself how to do decorative painting, and before long, I enrolled in college to study Interior Design. One thing led to another and I opened an Interior Design Boutique in 1998. Not long after, my marriage fell apart when my husband had an affair with my babysitter.

We claimed bankruptcy, I closed my boutique, and we spent the next 5 years in court. I finally got divorced and kept doing interior design. I finished my degree and went on to work on another degree in Business Management. I never did finish that one, still have one semester to finish. So things got very interesting for the next 10 years...starting smoking again, quit smoking again, lost a bunch of weight, gained a bunch back, 911 happened, more of my own personal disasters did too. Had some crazy experiences, moved around (alot), worked like a dog, and learned a lot.

Now, 10 years after the babysitter massacre, I am engaged to a computer geek. All three of my kids are living with us. I am still doing interior design and I am also trying to help my wonderful and talented mother (who is not preachy anymore THANK GOD...hahaha) get her little business off the ground. My mother came up with an adorable idea called Pillow Peeps ( I tried to have a design business with my sister this year, which didn't work out exactly the way we had hoped, so I just restructured and regrouped. I started a new business called Northeast Craftworks & Design to promote the work of my mother as well as other local and talented craftspeople online and at craftshows.

The economy has made it tough for someone like me to sell eco friendly and high end interior design items and materials, so I am having to diversify and get even more creative...which is where the Pillow Peeps come in. I am now experimenting with how many websites I can link my business to in order to get the attention of people out there in the world who appreciate fine crafts and whimsical animal shaped pillows in particular. I am now on Etsy ( and on Artfire ( and on Shophandmade (, Handmade Highway ( on Facebook (Pillow Peeps and Northeast Craftworks).So, if anyone out there has suggestions I am missing or any other criticism, constructive or otherwise...bring it on! And now, it is time for me to go to sleep so I can get up tomorrow and try and think of something else to blog about. Goodnight to all you out there in cyber world...if you are reading this, stay tuned for more!

Saturday, December 12, 2009