A Christmas Gift to Remember

Another busy weekend and it wasn’t spent shopping. That, I still need to do.

What I did do was take portraits of the little girls and their mom. It was my Christmas gift to her. I wanted her to have pictures of just her, and her girls. Ones she could share with her family and know they weren’t prints I’d have all over the walls of our house. Because, I LOVE prints of the girls all over the walls of our house, and I probably would. Which? Is why I made them a gift so I wouldn’t steal them ……they are hers.

I’ll just give you a peek.

It was a really nice day. I had my assistant Sydney with me. We went to a park. It was incredible to me that it is December and the leaves are still in color change.

It set a magical scene.

One of the many reasons, I love Texas. Maybe we don’t get to see snow that often, but we get FALL for a long, long time. Psssst, love it!

The girls were excited to have step mom, mom, and sister on an outing together. It was getting in a car and going somewhere. Just us girls – weee!

I was really happy to know they acted the same with her as they do at our house; giggly, loud, and silly – or just like normal little girls.

Sometimes, I get a little afraid when they show affection towards me. There was a time their mom wasn’t very happy about that.

That was a long time ago.

We have come a long way and made great strides toward blended family relations. Based on how we get along, I think a lot of things have changed for the better. Now, I hug with no fear, even her.

I recognize the beauty of mothers and daughters. I could never take that from any one, nor would I want to. I want to always support that bond and encourage their love. What child couldn’t use more love?

More hugs? More laughter?

Am I good person for doing this? People tell me I am. But I don’t think of it that way. I didn’t take photos to get ahead, or to earn favors, or smooth ruffled feathers. I took photos because I love these little girls.

I love them like I gave birth to them myself.

But I didn’t.

I have this woman to thank for that.

For two precious angels I get to love too. I hold that very dear to my heart. I am grateful, so grateful, for being blessed as their step mom.

Incredible husband, beautiful step daughters, stunning daughter, and an ex-wife that is open to my crazy ideas of family. If this is the time of year blessings are counted, I need more than my fingers and toes.

A time to reflect. A time to reach out. A time when we humble ourselves like the deity that crossed the heavens to be a helpless infant for our hope. Hope and love – a gift to always treasure.

I am embracing this time of year, and I am sharing gifts of a different kind. Ones I hope will always be remembered.

Now, I must go and edit my next set of pictures. I took them the next day. Another gift…..a gift of education, a gift of pure pride. My amazing husband got his masters degree and I was there to capture the exciting event (I wouldn’t have missed it – not even for a Survivor finale – right, honey?).

Sleeping Beauty, The Witch, and The Pirate

It sounds like a Narnia tale.

Actually, it was our Halloween night.

But similar to a fairy tale……………….all things considered.

Here’s the spell, if you take a daughter of an ex to an ex-wife’s place, plus add in two daughters from former ex to now step-dad of said daughter to new step-mom of step-daughters, with a dash of Halloween *poof* you have trick or treating at your new husband’s ex’s place (or a brew of crow’s foot in a cauldron, take your pick).

Did you follow all that?

Never mind, it was fun. I loved it. The kids loved it. The neighborhood rocked Halloween and that’s all that really matters. I care about this family – every part – chopped, blended, mixed, and all. I want the best for the little girls and their happiness. Trick or treating with mom, dad, step-mom and new step-sister is a pretty rad deal – for them, me, mom, dad, and especially step-sister (you’ll see why at the end).

What was more surprising? That this kind of thing was possible? Plausible? Successful? Or that Sydney at age sixteen went trick-or-treating and got away with it? Because she is so cute. Because she shielded herself with two little kids sisters.

Above and beyond, I would like to thank Jason’s ex; aka the little girls mom. For letting me stalk shadow her, crash enjoy her Halloween night, and invade bless her home with my lens. All for these adorable pictures of the girls in the costumes she made. She MADE them. Aren’t they the cutest things ever or what?

The Witch.

The Pirate.

The Candy Thief, I mean Sleeping Beauty, of course.

So there you have it. Sleeping Beauty, The Witch, and The Pirate.

Off to save the world To take your candy……

…with a smile that will leave you with a why-did-I-just-give-them-the-whole-dang-bowl.

They might even share, yeah, right.

And Sydney? This is sooo going on Facebook.

P.S. For more Halloween costume parade fun. Be sure and visit the SITS girls. You could win a Canon Rebel T2i DSLR camera.

An Unexpected Encounter

She stood at the bin squeezing the avocados. One by one; squeeze, handle, and replace. Her fingers moved from one to the next quickly, she furrowed her brow in concentration. The little lines above her nose wrinkled in a twist. She was looking for a ripe one, and she really had no idea how hard, or soft it was supposed to be – hence the disturbance of her features.

I boasted a little knowing every expression, every concern, and every move about her. She was my ex after all. The love of my life. We were together six years, but I hadn’t seen her in several. She looked older, a little more worn, and mature. Her hair was darker underneath with blond streaks dispersed throughout the top. She had gained some weight, but then again, she was too thin the last time I’d seen her. She looked good.

The punch of sorrow to my gut surprised me, because I realized, I still missed her. She was still my one and only. The rawness of our dissolution opened like an old wound. I felt my eczema flare up and burn. My heart thumped wildly. Then, the anger began broiling up (as it always did). I pressed back the floodgates of memories and looked at her again. My heart softening once more.

She had a plastic vegetable sack holding one avocado by this point. She was still digging through the selection. A sliver of hair freed its self from behind her ear and fell across her hazel eye and cheek. She didn’t bother to tuck it back. It swung softly over her eyelashes as she moved from one side of the bin to the other – searching as she stepped and leaned forward.

She finally pulled her hand up to tuck the stray away. That’s when I noticed the ring. A wedding ring. Platinum and sparkling, it flashed in my face. It flashed me back. It illuminated the storm inside. The anger, pain, and memories bubbled over. I clenched my fist, and grit my teeth. Burning as the floodgates opened wide.

I saw her – staring at me from inside her car. The garage door hung by one hinge, the rest of it crumpled by my explosion of fury when I saw all the furniture removed from the house. Everything gone in the two hours I had left to go to the store. The flurry of activity, her friends, and co-workers standing by, eyes boring into my skin like leaches, like I was a leach. How dare they.

The rage was a towering inferno and I glared at her. My eyes piercing and dark. Not once did I look away as she pulled from the driveway. I wanted that to be her last vision of me. To know how much I despised, and hated her for leaving me hanging like the garage door; crumpled and broken.

In an instance, it all came back, filling the emptiness of my soul with outrage. I wanted to let my temper take over. I wanted to rankle her fluid life. Stun her when I appeared, to remind her of what she did to me. I seethed, the ever present heat inside, as it was back in those days. The softness for her – gone.

As much as I wanted to face her, to look her in the eye, and see her fear of me. See the pain of me. I couldn’t move from my place of voyeurism. She had moved on (of course she had). I debated following her, finding out where she lived, and what he looked like. I wanted to quell the ignited blaze. Maybe knowing was my extinguisher. Was that stalking? Jesus, what was I doing?

With a last glance, I backed behind the shelves, expelling a rush of air too full for my chest. Turning down the aisle, I stepped hard toward the exit.

Write a short piece of fiction about seeing an ex in the grocery store from the first person point-of-view. Instead of writing from the female perspective, we want you to write from the male perspective.

This is my first effort at fiction since last year. It might be a little rough, but I needed the practice. I hope you enjoyed.

I am also being featured over at The Scoop on Poop today. If it’s not up yet, you can keep checking back. I’ll be there today and tomorrow. Click on the link or picture. Happy Friday!

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The Final Chapter

Not in NaNo, laws no! Not even close.

It is the final chapter of a long, drawn out, wanttorunawayandhide saga.

And honestly, I really debated about writing this at all, but it was such a significant part of my day and psyche, how could I not. I think getting it out, therapeutic for me, and maybe some of you can relate.

You see yesterday, I went to a lawyer. Now, I am not fond of visiting lawyers, doctors, or dentists. Well, actually I LOVE my dentist. Goodlookin’ blonde Norweigan, sweet and kind, yes I love him but not the stuff they do to my teeth – OW. Generally, don’t like the visit itself. I have actually gotten better about these kinds of “visits”, as I get older and things start falling apart I’m too old to care anymore, but I digress.

Yesterday, off I go, nerves wrecked – lawyer – blech. Now let me just tell you, I have put this off for TWO and HALF years. Yup. Just couldn’t deal with it. Why can I today? I am not sure. I think because if Jason and I take that step forward, I want to enter into our covenant completely free of my past. He deserves that. I deserve that.

So this visit is the final nail in the coffin, uhh, I mean the end of it. It’s a bankruptcy lawyer. Husband number two either refused to work, or when he worked he didn’t make ANY money, and I mean ANY. Oh, there were always excuses……bad day…..bad client….bad boss….bad hours…..the list goes on and on.

Point is supporting him, a daughter, two car payments, a house payment and ALL the bills (not to mention his penchant for things) on ONE measly travel agent salary just does not work without accumulating enormous debt. Enormous.

My credit was perfect when I met him, no bills, everything was paid off. I lived in a cheap two bedroom apartment that I loved. It was in a country town outside the city, you could actually SEE stars out there. It was great. How quickly that can unravel when the man you marry refuses to be so low as to live in an old apartment. And the country? Not for this city boy.

I am not blaming ALL the bills on him. Truth is I made the money, I could have put my foot down. I could have REFUSED things that he wanted. Honestly, I was just trying to keep the peace, he cycled so rapidly. His good days so few. He promised so many things and I believed some of those in errant….

Llike he would succeed at his commission paying job, like when we bought a house I couldn’t afford on my own that he would actually help, which he promised to do, like he SWORE he would, like he got really pissed at me for questioning him about.

I could go on and on, but seriously, WHY? It’s over and done, divorced finalized October 2007. I can cry, complain, and stress but it doesn’t change what happened. It doesn’t help me by dwelling on it. I have LEARNED from this. These are the things that make you stronger, tougher, smarter.

I learned to never, ever take good credit for granted. I’ve learned someone really has to back up their words with actions, or it’s no dice. I’ve determined so much, but I couldn’t FACE that last thing. Bankruptcy.

Maybe you don’t think I need bankruptcy, it’s just some credit card bills? Heck, do credit counseling! Let tell you, if it were that easy I would, but this man refused to put the house we I bought up for sale. It was one of two in the whole neighborhood with a game room. Plus, we had a nice upgrade, berber carpet throughout. It was unique. It would have sold.

Instead, he squatted lived there six months until he was evicted by foreclosure. The house SOLD within a MONTH of being back on the market (just like I thought). I had told him I’d give him the profit, he could have had a fresh start with money. Siiiiiigh.

If that were the only issue fine, foreclosure is not that bad, believe it or not. But the car he drove was in both our names. The car he never paid for, the one I paid for, so he didn’t pay that either, obviously since he never paid anything. It took them a year and a half to repossess it. A year and a half, he dodged them to keep driving that car for free.

They sent me a bill for $17,000 dollars. GULP.

My only choice is/was/and will be bankruptcy. To start over, to re-build, to finally have closure.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought, this happens in a lot of divorces. Not everyone has an amicable one where people actual work together. Some just get screwed, badly. In fact, most do.

I prayed a lot yesterday. I took my lumps. I faced my fears. I didn’t want this hanging over me anymore. It was finally time.

Plus, the ONE credit card I still had ($300 limit), I mainly used it for online purchases (to not risk my bank card). Well, they canceled me. I BURNED with shame of it. I had PAID that card off many times, never missed a payment. I can’t blame them though, they checked my rancid credit report. It reeks.

As anguished as I felt driving to that lawyers office (crying), I felt a spark of hope. Hope for my future, hope for a new start, hope for a final conclusion.

When I left that lawyers office, hope was on fire – blazing. I wanted to feel bad about the cost. I would be paying for this a loooong time, but not even that could bother me. My festive celebration could not be squashed, I did it!

The Final Chapter? Yeah, it’s a bankruptcy chapter. The end.

Maybe you have something in your past, holding you back from moving forward, the weight is heavy on your shoulders. Let it go. Put it down. As Jason’s five year old would say, “Be brave”. Then finally, walk away. The last page has been written. It’s time to start a new book.