Monday, July 16, 2007

Pre-Court Stress

The weekend after the 4th wasn't much fun at all. Since J's oh-so-delightful ex is again (for the third time) suing for custody of the boys and court was Monday, that was the main focus of the weekend. Friday afternoon, I did get to relax a bit, though. Pie and I baked a cocoa cake from Gourmet magazine, his first from scratch. He was delighted with it and with the "gorilla casserole" I made for dinner. He just had time to eat before Dark Man picked him up for summer visitation. J let him go a day early, for some reason. It turned out to be a good thing, though, because we wouldn't have had much time to enjoy him Saturday anyway. Knowing we'd be worn out before the court thing was over, we hit the sack a little after 7 Friday night. Wow, we are such wild and out-of-control lesbians! It almost hurts my feelings to go to bed so early since I am a night owl, but we knew we'd need the extra sleep.

We worked on court crap all day Saturday, organizing our paperwork into foldersd & tabbing it for easy reference in court. Ugh! I made some cranberry orange scones to get us through and J heated up gorilla casserole for our lunch. Finally, we took a break to go shopping for court clothes and grab some dinner. Of course, we have perfectly fine clothes we could wear in court, but new clothes made it more appealing. Bearable? I found this stunning black and white halter dress that looks like something Grace Kelly would have worn. J found me a classic black and white cardigan to go with it. I wanted to find some cute sandals with kitten heels, but no luck in a size 11. She found a pink watch she loves. There's this fabulous black big-brimmed hat that I am dying to go back and get. I couldn't wear it in court, but it looks damn fine on me and is perfect for the outfit. I may get it yet.

We were the last patrons at Bovalino's that night, enjoying gnocchi and spaghetti with meatballs on the patio. It's very soothing to me to be outside at night and if I'm also eating good pasta and salad with amazing garlic dressing, so much the better. Then, we headed home and pored over court materials until 3 a.m. Ugh! We took a brief sleep and church break, then looked over the papers more. Finally, we headed for the Dayton area, stopping for a mediocre dinner at Logan's Roadhouse. J loved her steak, but my open-face roast beef was not very good and I am terribly disappointed that they no longer serve fried green tomatoes. They do have awfully good sweet tea, though, and I am always happy when I can get good sweet tea without having to make room in my fridge for the pitcher.

We got a too-brief visit in with my grandies before having to go to bed and look over the court crap one last time. I will be so glad to have this ridiculousness over with for good. That I don't expect until Pie is 18. 5 and a half years. Not that I'm counting. We had to leave by 7 in order to meet with our attorney before court. He seemed utterly confident. Once J saw him in action in the courtroom, she felt more confident than she had. I never made it into the courtroom. The judge had interviewed the kids again in his chambers & had also talked to the ad litem. J's ex-MIL testified & our dear pastor did, too. I was so glad to have him there, if only for moral support. Once they'd been called, we were done. They had only allotted us a half day & the hearing was yet again continued. Thank goodness not until October or something like that and especially thank goodness not for my birthday!!! I was positive that would be the day, but it's actually Thursday & not tomorrow.

J's ex-MIL's whole case was that her ex is supposedly a good father & the kids love him. J said, "Well, they love candy, too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let them eat it all the time!" She also lied on the stand, saying that J flipped her ex off when he came to get the kids and that we never gave him any info about the kids' counselor. She couldn't talk smack about me at all because it was all classified as hearsay since she has never met me. One of her big charges is that there's nowhere here for the kids to throw a ball or ride their bikes & that they're "trapped in an upstairs apartment all day long." Bull. For one thing, there is a really cool mall within half a mile to which they can ride their bikes to play giant chess, go to the movies, shop and hang out with other kids. For another, we have a sand volleyball court, a racquetball court, a basketball court, tennis courts and a pool for ball-playing, not to mention the big grassy areas throughout the complex. Not only that, but we are 10 minutes from the lake and there are scads of parks in town. Harrumph.

The weirdest thing we found out wasn't that J's ex's family had been the ones to pay all the child support he's come up with in the last 4 years (less than $5,000 for both boys) because we kind of suspected that. Can you imagine paying your 45 year old son's child support for him because he isn't working & lives in your basement??? It wasn't even the fact that he couldn't even be bothered to register Boot for school when he moved there in February and had her do it. She is 80 & should be through her child-rearing obligations, but nope. Not for her because her son is a lazy loser who's never taken responsibility for a damn thing in his life as far as I can tell. No, the weirdest thing is that the boys' great-grandma, who had lived with her ex & his mom, has been dead for three years! This is weird because the boys have been telling us up until July 4th not only that Grandma Lyon is alive & well & eating celery, but they've been telling us details of visits to her nursing home. I'm sorry, there is just something very sick about lying consistently for 3 years about your dead great-grandmother. Why lie, anyway? I feel quite sure that I will never be able to trust either boy again. Very disconcerting & creepy to know that they are so comfortable with and acclimated to lying. This is what he's done to them.

After court, we tried to have dinner at Mela in Springfield. Unfortunately, the food and service were both so abysmal that we couldn't eat it. At all. So, we gave up on that and decided to get on the road before trying to have lunch again. We did find a decent place, an Amish restaurant close to Mansfield. It was good to get home that night. I am not looking forward to court on Thursday, but I have my birthday to look forward to before that and a weekend in Columbus after.

A Splashy 4th

We had visitation with Boot on the 4th from 9 to 9, so we decided to make the most of it by visiting with him there. When J got off work Tuesday night, we packed up the car (primarily with swimsuits & towels) and headed to Erie. We checked into our hotel & took the shuttle to Splash Lagoon, where we played until closing time. Then, we had dinner & played NTN trivia at Damon's before heading back to the hotel to rest up for Wednesday.

J picked Boot up from his dad's and they joined me in the breakfast room of the hotel. We got Pie moving pretty easily and were at the waterpark just after opening. It wasn't very crowded. I took two books with me, one for dry reading and one for in the water. I keep a stash of pool books, paperbacks I pick up at thrift stores & yard sales & save for reading at/in pools. James Patterson's Cross was my dry book. It's great fun. My pool book was a Carolyn Hart mystery, Southern Ghost. I spent most of the day in one or another of the three "hot tubs"...really a range from cool to lukewarm to warm. J joined me much of the time and we did the lazy river, too. Of course, she did some slides with the boys, too. No wonder her suits are always wearing out so quickly!

We left the water park and headed for a Jelly Belly/fireworks/weapons store. I kid you not. While it may seem improbable that a weapons store would also sell chocolates and Jelly Belly jellybeans, this one does. J & I both got sweets, Boot got some firecrackers and Pie chose 2 display Ninja stars...the kind that look cool but aren't sharp. Then, we had dinner at Eat 'N' Park before we had to take Boot home. We got to see some fireworks on the way home, but it just isn't the same as going to a display at Gaunt Park. Oh well, we did see some good ones at John & Nola's.

Aunties & Uncles & Cousins, Oh My!

The last weekend of June/first weekend of July was a family-filled one! Friday night was pretty quiet, with a trip to Trader Joe's for the grown folks and walking around Crocker Park for the boys. Saturday morning, J & Boot went shopping so Boot could find his usual shirt to purchase while here for the weekend. I spent the morning reading & whipping up some bagel chip dip to take to John & Nola's annual Canada Day/4th of July bash. It takes us a good 3 hours to get to their place, so we set out a little after noon, playing the radio game much of the way down. Boot was a delight and Pie was fine, too, until he found out it was a 3-hour drive and thought we were only going to stay 45 minutes. Not sure why he thought that, but he howled, "We're going six hours for a 45-minute party???" He felt better when assured we would stay much longer than that & that there would be cheeseburgers and fireworks.

Both boys seemed to have a really good time at the party, although they were mightily cranky with one another! At one point, J made Boot go to the car with her to calm down because he was so furious with Pie & was threatening to hit him. Pie kept on playing with the other kids, in the creek, with the dogs and so forth. Boot and J both dozed off in the car and Boot couldn't be woken until after the fireworks! He slept right through 'em! I woke J up for the pony trick show.

J & I spent our time (when she wasn't napping) visiting with relatives and with Nola's best friend, who was heavily pregnant, much to our surprise! Last time we'd seen her, she was in the throes of wedding prep and apparently, she got pregnant on their wedding night. They are very excited & I can't wait to see the bambino next time we go down. John was the grillmaster, decked out in a straw cowboy hat & Canadian flag muscle shirt showing off his latest tattoos. We found Nola in the kitchen mixing up sangria. She asked if we were going to have sangria & said she couldn't have any. She is pregnant again, expecting #2 in the next generation sometime in February! Yippee!!! I love NG #1 and hope maybe we'll get a girl to complement him this time.

Cousin #2 & his wife were there, just back from an R&R trip to Jamaica with 8 of their buddies. Our favorite barista wasn't there because his wife had to have surgery, so we bid them hello through cousin #2. My uncle Vic was there, with guitar & harmonica, although we had to miss the music in order to get home at a reasonable hour to allow for church in the morning. Drat! I always like to hear Vic sing the blues. We need to get over to Ann Arbor to visit them & check out their new restaurant. Nyoko was back home, working her usual 22-hour day getting the restaurant on its feet. I hear from my mom that the food & presentation are stellar. My auntie Jeanie was down from Vermont. She'd been visiting my grandies. Boot was waiting on her, taking her cake and Cokes throughout the early part of the party. He is so considerate, when he's being considerate, which is most of the time these days. For example, I was headed toward the trash can with full hands the other weekend. Boot noticed and opened the trash can for me without a word. That is so nice. It shows he is paying attention to the needs of other people.

Jazzbo & Ann were there with both Goldens in tow. Of course, Starr immediately headed for the creek and was soaking wet & filthy within 20 minutes of their arrival. Jazzbo & Ann were both pretty aggravated, but she cleaned up nicely even without benefit of a hose. I wish we'd been able to pitch our tent overnight with them. Maybe next year. Last year, the skies opened up and thunder rolled and we all slept inside! Good thing John & Nova have plenty of space. Their place is perfect for family get-togethers. I hope we'll be able to go there for Thanksgiving this year. They have taken over the mantle since our "second grandma" moved. J & I had planned to, but with this little apartment, that sure won't work.

Poor Xavier, my sweet wolfie, was not allowed out because he'd been bullying the other dogs at the start of the party. His handsome head was to be seen in the windows, looking out with a left-out look on his face. He looked great with his summer haircut.

We had a delightful visit, if not long enough, and the fireworks were very cool. We hit the road about 10, J's allergies in full swing. She and Pie were covered in chigger bites, too, poor things.

Sunday morning, J & I went to church. Finally, we got to join. They'd been waiting until they had more than just a couple new members. A couple about our age joined, with their son and daughter. I think their daughter's in high school & their son in 8th grade. Also, an older woman and the church organist and her son. We were invited out to lunch by 2 different people, but declined because we had plans already.

What fun we had, too! We went home, packed up some burgers & dogs and headed for the pool with the boys. We spent the afternoon swimming, munching lunch and enjoying the sun. Too soon, it was time for Boot to be picked up and us to get presentable for Jeanie's arrival. Once she arrived, we took her out to dinner at Aladdin's. Pie wanted nothing to do with it, so he got a cheeseburger instead. Jeanie loved Crocker Park and our complex, saying it's like we live at Disney.

In the morning, J had to go to work, but Jeanie and I were free to go for beignets & coffee at Petite de Vie. We sat outside with our breakfast & made plans to take my mommy to Disney one of these days. We went shopping & Jeanie bought me & J some monkey head key covers, very cute & very Jeanie. We each got a pair of Crocs, too. They are so comfortable! We made some paper cranes once we got back to the apartment. I don't think I could do it again, but at least I got to make Boot the one I'd promised him. Jeanie helped me get the slipcover on the loveseat and then we had lunch. We spent the afternoon lounging with our books at the pool while Pie & his friend played in the water. Since J had to go out to Blake's with one of the VPs who was in town, I took Jeanie to The Winking Lizard for dinner. She requested American food & that's a great place to get it. We sat on the patio & enjoyed each other's company. I sure am lucky to have the relatives I have. Leah & Jeanie are coming back at the end of August, which will be really cool. It's been 2 years since I've seen my youngest (and only girl) cousin! Too long! She's 18 now & I can hardly believe it! Although Jeanie had to leave for home Tuesday morning, I can look forward to seeing her often since she's moving back to Ohio. I expect I'll get to see more of the kids, too. One of these days, I want to get down to Savannah to visit them at school.