Thursday, November 27, 2008

Many things; all in a week.

I can’t believe that a whole week has passed. So much has happened that I have a hard time putting it into perspective.

Let me start off by answering a few questions I’ve received. Linda did make it safely to Sturgis, Kentucky. She sent a text message to me the day after she arrived. She wanted to have a chance to talk with Stella. I had her call me when she was at Uncle Bill’s house and I would call. This was one way for me to verify that she was actually in Kentucky. Not that I really thought she would lie, but just to make sure she didn’t decide to make a detour. Over the past week she has talked with Stella maybe three times and that included one phone call from me, because Stella wanted to talk with her. The roughest part was when she called on Saturday. She was finally willing to go over the Separation Agreement which just turned into another excuse to talk about our relationship and how much I don’t care about her. She also didn’t like it when I told her that we were expected to be at a party.

Stella has, for the most part, accepted the new arrangements at home. Doesn’t seem to be affected by Mom’s trip to Kentucky and has shown improvements at school. On the 20th and 21st the elementary school had half days for Parent / Teacher’s Conferences. Stella’s was schedule for Thursday and so was Paige’s. That allowed for both Karla and I to travel together. Stella’s grades were quite high in all areas except paying attention and following directions. Mrs. Zimmer and I agreed that it was primarily due to Stella being bored with the subject. We came to joint solution and better communication to help Stella get better in this area. Paige has been doing really well in all areas too. Stella has missed the last two days of school due to a cold and Paige has helped to collect homework for Stella and bringing it home for her to keep caught up. It’s nice when your child has so many friends looking out for her. Stella’s doctor noted that Stella has another ear infection. (3rd this school year.) He will be putting in a referral to see an ENT specialist. These ear infections could lead to a tonsillectomy in Stella’s future. Ouch! She has her cheerleading registration complete and is looking forward to it. Cheerleading does not start back up till January, so I hope to have all medical problems resolved before then. Other then all of this she’s has been doing really well.

Keri has been…. Well… A teenager. Hormones and drama has become her middle name, but I guess that is normal. She’s a good kid, but sometimes it takes a lot of patience to help her muddle through. Her biggest problem right now is her Boyfriend, or should I, her Boyfriend’s parents. Apparently, Jamie has been grounded and she hasn’t been able to visit much. To keep her mind off of things, she’s been helping more around the house. Keri will be taking Child, infant CPR courses soon, along with babysitting class. This is to set her up to become a registered babysitter on post. This will help her in the form of therapeutic retraining in the area of child care. I have watched how she handles the children that has been visiting on the weekends and have become a little concerned. She shows a little too much of Linda’s habits when taking care of kids; nothing really detrimental to the kids, but a concern none the less. In January, she will be registered for snowboarding classed; something she’s been looking forward too.

Karla, Alysa and Paige have spent the week preparing for a trip to their family’s house up in Maine. They finally departed today. Keri and I will be responsible for her animals and house while they are gone. The girls have spent the normal weekend with me and nothing has really changed in that area. On November 20th, Paige turned 8. She was able to open just a couple gifts; she had a birthday party planned on Saturday. Karla went out on the same night after the kids went to sleep at my house. This idea of Mom going out on Paige’s Birthday seemed to have bothered Keri a lot. She did not like that at all. But to me it’s all good. Paige wanted to spend her birthday evening with Stella and Karla didn’t go out until the girls were at my house. This meant that she was home alone and had nothing better else to do. Paige’s party went great. One of Karla’s friends made sure that the cake and ice cream arrived on time. She had at least 9 kids over, which included the normal ones that I have every weekend. During the party, I became a jungle gym for the kids. Between the running back and forth, dealing with Linda and playing with all of the kids, I certainly got my exercise in for the day.

Heather has been my biggest concern this week. The girl is going through so much and I truly wish I could help her out. My Niece is not looking forward to a very good holiday season. This concerns me a lot. With her going through so much legal and financial troubles, I can’t help but feel for her. If and when I get my situation repaired or at least stable, I will then be able to focus my attention her direction. I have been able to set up Keri and Stella with their own blog, chat and e-mail. With this they have both been able to chat with Heather. I am hoping this will convince her that she is not alone and that she has family that cares. Between giving her an ear to vent to and prayers, it seems that’s all I can help with for now, but I hope to change that soon. I was relieved to here that my Brother Walter will be able to spend Thanksgiving with her. I do hope it will help them both. Heather wasn’t planning on having much of a Thanksgiving until he told her about his plans. Walter is going through a divorce himself and could also use the company of family. It appears that some of my prayers have been answered in that regard.

I haven’t heard from my friends in Iraq in a while and this has got me concerned a lot. I am use to being able to chat with them at least once a week and really don’t like being out of touch. One of my friends keeps a blog that keeps me informed, but it’s not the same as being able that talk with them. One of them has usually given me the best of advice and that advice is really needed. They are probably really busy and haven’t been able to chat much. I also miss just being there and part of the action. I feel like I am letting them down somehow.

The weather has been bouncing form rain to snow all week. This is probably why Stella has been getting sick. This evening has ended with Keri and I shoveling snow at least 3 times.

Next ten-day forecast; you’ll love this: I’m dreaming of a… White Christmas? Only in the North Country.

TodayNov 27
Snow Shower
Highs 35°Lows 30°

Fri Nov 28
Snow Shower
Highs 37°Lows 27°

Sat Nov 29
Snow Shower
Highs 35°Lows 21°

SunNov 30
Few Snow Showers
Highs 34°Lows 28°

MonDec 1
Snow Shower
Highs 36°Lows 23°

TueDec 2
Snow Shower
Highs 32°Lows 23°

WedDec 3
Snow Shower
Highs 35°Lows 25°

ThuDec 4
Highs 34°Lows 23°

FriDec 5
Snow Shower
Highs 32°Lows 17°

SatDec 6
Partly Cloudy
Highs 29°Lows 13°

The biggest question that I have been hearing is; “What about the Court Hearing”. Well, I showed up on time. The Judge had to wait for the customary 30 minutes for Linda to show up. When I went in to see the Judge, I told him Linda’s need to be in Kentucky and she would not be able to show up. He noticed that Linda was served and declared the case closed in my favor. This means that the protection order stays in place until April of 2009. It also means that I have been awarded sole custody of Stella with future visitations with Linda to be controlled at my discretion and the well being of Stella. The hearing lasted all of about 15 minutes. This was a large undesirable victory, but one that is necessary.

The US Army and my Chain of Command have sent me by the way of chapter from military service. They have denied my request, once again for leave, with their needs as priority. This was proven by a VTC (Video Tele Conference) with the forward Battalion Commander. He still is one of my biggest supporters, but is powerless, unwilling or unknowing about my situation to interfere with the subordinate Commander’s decisions. Needless to say the VTC included CPT Adams, who for some odd reason did not wish to talk directly to me. LTC Parker made a statement that I found amusing. “SSG Cartlidge let me ask you this; seeing how everyone else appears to be incapable of talking with you directly…” I think I have found a way of staying in the military though, but that will have to wait for the future a complaint to the Inspector General and possibly a Congressional Investigation. I will explain these things later.

-Have a great Thanksgiving! Believe me, I will, because dispite everyting, I have a lot to be thankful for. Ken

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Turning bad things in good things.

---Monday, November 17th: Today, I turned the accursed Monday into something better. The morning was difficult, only because I felt so drained and just not well. I had only one task after getting the kids off to school. That was picking up the service paperwork from the Sheriff’s clerk office. I had to file it with Family Court for this coming Friday’s hearing. It took most of my morning to accomplish this small task. Karla was not feeling well so I help her out a little.
She had Grant over while Mom (Allison) was out at an appointment. This little boy can get into anything, and is usually the center of attention.
I took the day slow and allowed myself to just relax. It feels like events have been going by so fast lately and just barely within my control. I spent the evening with the kids and helped Karla rest. I made sure her dogs and cats were taken care of. Bell and Ranger, the dogs. Fluffy and Jade, the cats. I picked up our kids at the bus stop and was swamped with more then just mine. Chris and April joined us as well as Bryce. April is holding Fluffy.

Stella had received a special gift from me on Sunday night and she wanted to get back to it. To everyone else it’s just a rag doll. To us, it’s a special rag doll. This doll was my Mom’s and Stella calls it Stella K. It is the doll that Mom had with her when she passed away. My Mom had died of a form of Alzheimer Disease called Dementia. My Mom passed on just prior to Stella being born. Stella is proud to share the name with her Grandmother. I have talked for long periods to Stella about her Grandmother and how I still feel her in my life. I have been keeping this doll safe for her, until she was old enough to take care of it. Now it seemed to be just the right time, because Stella uses Stella K to keep the nightmares away. I could never be happier and a little misty eyed when I watch her sleeping and holder her doll close.

- Ken

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Weekend in Pictures

It takes more then 1 Paige to make a book. So, Paige I. joined Paige M. and the rest of my kids.

The weather was poor, with all of the rain. We made it through with games, crafts and coloring.

Some of the kids just wanted to tease the dog.

We had pizza for dinner and even had Karla and Liz join us, before they went out.

I think maybe the wanted to sing too.

By the end of the night, they were content to have one large bed. Remind me to order more beds. Or ar least a bigger living room.

They weren't the only ones that were tired.
-Good night everyone! Ken

The Next 48 Hours (Preparation and Completion)

---Thursday, November 13th: I managed to get about 4 ½ hours of sleep before I had to get up again. I had a lot of things to finish before Linda could make her trip. Sleep would just have to wait. I was going to need all the time I could get and all of the strength God could provide me.

I had to find and collect a lot of stuff for Linda in a very short period of time, prepare the car for a long trip, fit all of her stuff into the car, preposition the car at the hospital, arrange for Linda’s finances, coordinate with the Watertown Sheriff’s Office to serve Linda with the Protection Order, the final visit for Stella and Linda and accomplish the other issues that were bound to crop up throughout the day. I had to do everything without a single misstep or failure.

I decided first off to allow Keri and Stella to stay home from school. Their emotional state last night wasn’t too good and their help may be therapeutic. While they slept in, I paid all of the bills and made several phone calls to the Sheriff’s Office and MP Station for information. With that done, I woke up Keri and Stella and had both of them eat breakfast. Karla needed my help, so I left Keri in charge of things here and went over to her house. While I was helping her, she was helping me by being a sounding board for the things I needed to do. She gave some good ideas on how to make some of this stuff easier. I then had to go to the store and get a few things and restock the refrigerator. I had a choice to make regarding Linda’s finances. I could put the funds into her account with out knowing the accounts status. Since I took my name off the accounts, I couldn’t be sure where the balance was and I didn’t want to pay a negative balance and leave her without funds. I could give her cash and hope that she managed it wisely, but for some reason that didn’t feel right; maybe because I would not have been able to show proof of support.

While I was at the store, I found a third option. They had those prepaid Master Card gift cards. They would work at all locations and could also be refilled by me. I liked it, simple and easily managed. Linda wanted a minimum of $400.00, but really wanted almost $600.00. I felt that was a bit much. I planned on giving her $200.00 in gift cards and $60.00 cash. That was more then enough for the trip to Kentucky, to include a stay at a motel if she needed it. I returned home when I was done with the car. In my absence Keri had done the dishes and totally cleaned out the car. I was surprised by the amount of detail she went to. There was noting left except the Owner’s Manual, registration and Insurance. She even vacuumed and cleaned the dash. I was looking for Pods, because this is not normal for my teenager.

I then took the car to the gas station and filled it up with gas, checked the fluids and air pressure, and returned home. By this time it was fast approaching dinner time and I had little done and nothing out for dinner. That’s when I received another phone call from Karla. This time she wanted to know if Keri would like to join her family for a trip to the mall. I took care of a lot of my concerns about bringing Keri back to the hospital. So, I gave Keri $20.00 from her savings and dropped her off. She was happy for the escape. What teenage didn’t like to go shopping? Stella joined me for a snack, and then it was her turn to be a little surprised. I had her clothes set up for her visit with Mom. I had a black felt dress with light pink flowers on it and tights and new shoes. The dress was passed down to her from a friend and I had purchased the shoes and tights earlier. I then brought her in front of the mirror to see if she like the way she looked. She just bounced up and down with excitement. “Yes! I love it” While we were there, I grabbed the hair brush and started working her hair. I brushed it back and used a small hair tie to place it into a high pony tail. They way she’s going to need me to do it for her cheerleading. Then I found a matching pink scrunchy and put it in place. She looked great; she looks at herself in the mirror and yells “Dad! How did you learn to do that! You’re the best Dad!” I love moments like this.

We finished that with about an hour to spare, before we had to be at the hospital. I grabbed the service copy of the Protection Order and drove with Stella to the County Protection Building. It was after hours there and everything was locked up. I found the night call box and request to see a deputy. They let us in and we sat in the lobby to wait. Stella was content to just sit with me with her head on my shoulder. She started wondering what we were doing there. I told her about the Protection Order and the Sheriff’s job in serving Mom. We wound up waiting and talking for about 45 minutes and I was really amazed at Stella’s patience. When the Deputy came out, he asked to see the papers and told me he would attempt to serve her tonight. I told him about the policies of the Mental Health unit and about Linda’s imminent departure tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. He told me that if he couldn’t serve Linda then he would give it to the shift change at 7 a.m.
Talk about hoping for the best and trusting in God. There was only one chance at serving her before Linda left the state. If she wasn’t served, there would be nothing to stop her from legally being able to pick Stella up from the school and taking her to Kentucky. I hope my fears are unfounded, but I am not going to take chances.

We left there and went directly to the hospital. I didn’t loose sight of what this visit meant to both of them and made sure there visit was more peaceful. I owed it to both of them. I asked for the nurse to meet me back here at 8:15 p.m. and told Stella to have fun. I waited in the waiting room, doing absolutely nothing. I should have brought a book or something. I am not accustomed to having free time anymore. The visit appeared to have been a good one; Stella came out smiling and happy. Not quite what I had expected, but pleased none the less. For the second time, I chided myself for always expecting the worse. I pray to God, that in the future, I am more careful. I don’t want my fears to leave me to blind to see; or to look for improvements in Linda.

We left the hospital and drove home, talking about her visit with Mom. I couldn’t help it, I felt both sad and bad about what I was about to do. I wasn’t about to stop, but I had to admit it hurt. On the way to the house, Keri called the cell phone and told me there were just about home. We arranged to meet up at Karla’s house. Once we were all together, Karla agreed with the girls request to let Alysa and Paige stay over at my house again. While we were waiting for the girls to get their clothes together, Keri and Karla both wanted to show me all the things they had purchased. I just sat and listened with Ranger and Bell; who were begging for attention and the two cats would make their presence known too. Sometimes, I sit in Karla’s house and it feels weird. I have been getting confused; Is it two families with to homes or two homes with one family.

My feelings for Karla is that of a sister, maybe; a good friend at least. Karla is single and goes out with her friend to meet guys and it doesn’t faze me in the least. I have even helped her. So, I know that I haven’t built any strong feelings for her. It’s been funny watching Alysa however, size up the men that has been by to take Karla out. Deep in my heart, I know it will be a long time before I allow myself to have feelings for someone. I don’t trust myself, and don’t wish to make mistakes or see others hurt. Good friends are all that I wish to have right now. Linda asked me a question tonight when she called; it left me thinking. “While I’m in Kentucky, do you plan on seeing other people?” My answer was, “No! I have too much going on in my life and don’t need any more complications.” I meant it too. Of course, Linda managed to be hurt by this. I’m not exactly sure why. Her response I understood, but the reasons why she was asking… “Is that the only reason? Never mind, I don’t want to know.” She was crying as she hung up.

By the time the all the kids were tucked into bed it was 10:30 p.m. Much later then I would have liked, because Keri was going to be responsible for getting Alysa and Paige to the bus stop. Keri and Stella were going to be able to stay home. I gave them a chance to face their emotions without being in school. It also provided me with a comfort from my fears; Stella couldn’t be picked up at school if she wasn’t there. I finished packing the car with Keri’s help. We did our best to ensure Linda’s list of wants was met. This would prevent Linda needing to come to the house with a MP escort. I would also help her and give her a chance to get to Kentucky without a lot of stops. It was about 2:30 a.m. when everything was in place and I could get the car to the hospital. While I was in route, I called for a taxi and scheduled it to meet me there. Everything started falling together like clockwork. I was back home by 3:30 and sent Keri to bed, she was having a hard time sleeping. Not wanting to mess up the timeline, I stayed up and worked on catching up a few things, like my blog. My routines were blown totally apart this week.

---Friday, November 14th: 6:30 a.m., I started waking up the kids; Keri first of course. She had my responsibilities for getting the girls up, fed and over to Karla’s. I left her to it; she knew how important this was. Karla was awake at home if Keri needed her. I arrived at the hospital by 7:15 a.m., the Sheriff’s department wasn’t there. I made a few phone calls while I was waiting in the van. I finally was able to get the Dispatcher to patch me through to the Deputy that was going to server her. He asked a few question and told me that he had already called the Mental Health Facility and held up Linda’s release until he was able to arrive.

It was about 8:45 when he arrived, with the folder I had dropped off in hand. It was the same officer that Linda had a very negative altercation with while we had lived in Clayton. I was expecting this to go really bad. If Linda acted like she did last time; he was more then likely just throw hand cuffs on her and put her in jail. It was almost 10:00 when the hospital released Linda. She came out with Deb. The officer read her the Protection Order and asked her if she understood. She said that she did, but proceeded to ask the officer, “If I can’t talk to him, would you ask him for they keys to the car!” The officer and I looked at each other with questions on our faces. I repeated what he had read to her and stated that she could talk to me so long as she didn’t make contact the kids or my job, and she did not come by the house. She asked where the money was. I told her in the car. She asked how much. I told her $260.00. She started crying and saying that wasn’t enough. Deb intervened and directed her to the waiting area and the Officer and I left. It took all of 15 minutes. I knew it was more then enough money to get to Kentucky. I didn’t understand. Was she upset because she didn’t get what she wanted, was fearful of getting stuck, or did she have something planned that was going to cost her more money.

I returned home to find both Stella and Keri asleep in the living room. I sat there for a few minutes watching them sleep. I couldn’t go to sleep yet, and I didn’t want to wake them. I managed to get some sleep after Keri woke up. She handled getting the house cleaned up while I was asleep and I gave her some money for Jamie and her to go to the movies on post. With that accomplished, I was planning a little quiet time with Stella. It didn’t happen. But something better did. Karla called and asked if Stella would like to join Alysa and Paige for Awana. I didn’t know what that was but she explained it as a Bible Study for kids. That sounded real good and after asking Stella, we agreed. Stella and I rode with Karla’s family to the Fellowship Baptist Church in Watertown. Once we arrived Karla told me it was actually called the Master Club, but it was the same concept.

Stella was a little nervous, but excited at the same time. After leaving the children there, Karla and I went to the mall to hang out until it was over. Once we went back to pick them up. Stella came out telling me that she wanted to come back. All of the kids enjoyed their time there and it was just the right opening I was looking for. I have wanted to get my kids back into church. This is just one of the many reasons for me to know God is still with me. When the time is right, He will light the way.

After we left, Karla and I took the kids to Friendly’s for dinner. Good Food, slow service, but served its purpose and made the night enjoyable. It was almost 10:00 p.m. when we got home and the children were all dropped off at my house for another night.

To know how I keep my faith in God; all I have to do is look into the face of a child while they are sleeping.


Friday, November 14, 2008

The First 48 Hours (Planning)

---Tuesday, November 11th: Today has been a very long day. It started Veterans Day morning with another phone call from Deb. In her message she was talking about a Separation Agreement and some rumor about me wanting Linda to sign it during the meeting. I had no clue what she was talking about. To have an agreement, you first have to sit down with both parties and they have to talk and agree first. Also, a Separation Agreement is only good if signed in front of a Notary Public, and unless there was one in the mental ward, then… You see where I’m going with this. As I said it, didn’t make sense.

I didn’t even bother with responding because I was due to be there in a few hours anyway. I worked on a few things in the house, decorated the house for Thanksgiving and kept myself busy until it was time to go. I made it to the meeting with a couple minutes to spare and was escorted to another little room to wait for Deb and Linda. After a few tearful moments from Linda and a few minor outbursts, Deb and I came to an agreement on the plan of action. Linda had her plan, but most of it was discarded by Deb as being against her best interest and her safety.

The agreed plan involves some things I don’t like, but I don’t have to like everything. Linda would have two more visits with the kids; first was later tonight and the second was on Thursday. These visits would not include me because I provide too much stress to Linda. (Hey it’s what they said!) But to alleviate my concerns for third party supervision of Stella and Keri, the hospital would have a nurse stay in the room with them. Didn’t like it; it was workable, if for no other reason then to ensure Stella had a chance to see her Mom before she leaves.

Next, I had to provide the money for her trip to Kentucky, We also agreed for me to pack all of her clothes and well she has a list of things. Then I need to fit it all into the car and provide the keys on Friday. I agreed on all this because then I can arrange for her Protection Order to be served legally before she leaves. But the plan then falls on Linda to leave for Kentucky without her needing to stay a single night in this area. She wanted to get enough money for gas, a motel room, food, and smokes. I am quitting smoking myself, so just why would I pay for her habit? We have to work that issue later.

Part of the plan involves Deb making contact with Linda’s Uncle Bill or Aunt Barbara to insure that she has a supportive place to go and for her to make contact with and coordinate an appointment with a therapist in Kentucky. Once Linda arrives there she will have to get a job in order to supplement the income she will be getting from me.

I cannot afford to pay for two vehicle loans, the insurance, fuel, and her needs down there; the bills here, the loans, credit cards and other debt she’s created and still be able to fully support the kids here. So I will make her responsible for herself.

After the meeting, I returned to Karla’s house to have a talk with Stella. Up until now, Stella has known that her Mom needs a lot of help from the doctors and Mom had to stay where she could be safe and not bring her anger back to the house. I haven’t shared any of the major plans and log term solutions with her, because I wanted to make sure how things were going to happen myself first. Stella and I had talked a long time ago about Linda staying with her family down in Kentucky and she was visibly torn up then.

So, I wasn’t looking forward to this talk. I had to make sure she understood what was going to happen and why, but in a way that she would still feel secure about it. Besides, if I didn’t explain it correctly now, then I would have to trust Linda to do it during a visit that I wouldn’t be at. Not a chance of that happening!

We talked about why Mom was in the hospital again to insure she was clear on the topic. Then I asked her if she understood why her Mom wasn’t able to come home. She explained it to me pretty good and we talked about how it made her feel to have all of the arguments taking place at home and about how Mom’s anger had affected Keri and her. I asked her if she had seen me or heard me act agree towards her Mom and she said happily, “No,” I explained that it she was staying away because of that anger and to keep the home free of stress. I told her why Mom was so angry with me was because of the Protection Order I had to place on her. That went into a discussion of what a Protection Order was and why I did it. We talked a little about Linda’s need to physically hurt her self and the impact on Keri’s emotions while she was involved during the events that caused Mom to be put in the hospital. When I asked her if she understood the term suicide, her negative answer told me how far to take this line of discussion. She understood everything so far. I made sure by asking her to explain it back to me. She still wasn’t showing any stress or tears, so I continued on.

I explained that Mom and I love her very much and that nothing that has happened between us was her fault and there was nothing she could do to make things better, except to give her Mom the time she needs to get better. Next, I had to explain that her Mom couldn’t and shouldn’t have to stay in the hospital and that she needed somewhere else to go stay and get support. I told her then that Linda would be traveling to Kentucky to stay with Uncle Bill and Aunt Barbara while she was able to get the help she needs, Stella’s only concern was if she would be able see her Mom again. I basically told her that although I wasn’t sure how long it would be before Mom would be healthy enough to return home, there would be chances to visit her Mom in Kentucky or for her Mom to come up to visit.

I went on to explain the plan in detail; to include the chance for visiting her Mom two more times before she left. When I told her how the visit was going to be handled, she got very animated. “Why can’t you go in? Daddy, I want you to be there.” I replied, “Because while Mom is still angry with me, I am a stress for her and the Doctors didn’t want additional stress on Mom at this time, but Keri would be there with you and I will be waiting outside in the waiting area. If at any time, you feel you need a break, you only have to tell the nurse that will be you.” She did not like that either, but settled down for me to continue our talk. The talk went on for about 45 minutes and I answered all of her questions. Feeling a little better about her ability to handle the next few days, I was able to set some of my concerns aside. One of the tougher questions was “What if Mom wants a divorce?” I could only be honest; “Then there is nothing anyone can do to stop her.”

We had time after our talk for her to play with her friends and have dinner. We arrived at the Mental Health entrance at 7:15 p.m. Linda and the nurse met us at the door and asked Keri, who had stepped into the ward with Stella, “What are you doing here. Keri’s only answer was: “I’m here for Stella.” Linda said: “I don’t need the stress and you need to wait with your father.” Mind you this is the last two visits (or chances) to set things right with Keri. The nurse wasn’t allowing me in at all, because of the Doctor’s orders. I simply asked the nurse to return with Stella at 8 p.m., to which she agreed. Then I escorted Keri back out to the hall to wait.

Keri’s anger and hurt feelings were just about to out run her control. So I chatted with her about her boyfriend and other things of interest to her in order to redirect her attention. It worked for the most part. You could tell that Keri was getting anxious as I was to have Stella back out of there so we could go home. When she did she acted as though she was a little sad, but otherwise okay. I only asked Stella if she enjoyed her visit, and she nodded her head yes and said she only cried a little at first, when Keri or couldn’t come in. We enjoyed singing some songs all the way to Karla’s house. We arrived by 8:30 to pick up Alysa and Paige so they could spend the night with Stella.

After they managed to get to sleep, I started packing Linda’s list and prepare for her trip. This I kept doing until it was time to get the girls up for school.

---Wednesday, November 12th: Keri first woke up to her favorite and rarely gets to have; biscuits with sausage gravy. She enjoyed that little treat, because she never gets a hot breakfast at home unless she gets up early enough to fix it herself; usually it cereal or a small snack until she gets to school. Just as she left to catch the bus I woke up the other three girls. As they came down the stairs they were all looking at a spread of their favorites too. We had pancakes with homemade syrup, scrabbled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy and apple juice. Those sleepy little girls were quickly waking up and enjoying their food, but I had to rush them a little because they were running out of time. Alysa and Paige had to return home to pick up their lunches, book bags, and give Karla a hug and kiss goodbye. I brushed their hair as they finished eating, and then I had them get dressed as I finished cleaning up. We made it to the bus stop with 10 minutes to spare. I took a 1 ½ hour nap after they left. It would have been longer except Karla called me just to let me know she had been ringing my door bell for the past couple minutes. She wanted me to join her for some errands that I had forgotten about. After that was finished it was back to packing up more of Linda’s stuff until the kids made it home.

Karla had a friend at her house by this time and was rather busy. Keri was helping Alysa with her homework. And she had a lot of it too. I had her knock out the hard stuff first and took all four of the girls to the library. Each of the girls picked out only 3 books each to read, but the whole process took about an hour. I had a few people snickering or shaking their heads as each of the girls lined up to check out the books. I think I saw a look that was close to sympathy from the Librarian. We left and rushed to my house for dinner. Keri and I continued to help Alysa with her homework while cooking. Quickly ate and returned to Karla’s. Karla wanted to spend a little time with her girls. Great idea, because it allowed me time to spend time with Stella and Keri before they had to go to bed. Stella and I shared a little time playing on the Playstation. Stella appears to be addicted to Spyro and she wanted me to help her. I got her to bed after her shower and spent a little time with Keri. As hectic as the past 43 hours have been and as tire as I was, I was feeling a little bit of peace and a sense that everything was going to work out. I found a few minutes for myself and prepared for the next day. I don’t think I remember my head hitting the pillow though.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I never did like Mondays

Monday, November 10th, was just a day for the blahs. Moody blues or whatever you want to call them. For the military it was part of a four day weekend here, so I didn’t have to report to formation. But the kids still had to go to school, even though they really didn’t want to go. I didn’t have to worry about Alysa and Paige either. Which was a good thing because those kids gave me such a wonderful gift this weekend; I caught their cold.

I took care of seeing both Keri and Stella off to school, gave them all the attention and help they need, smiled as Stella waved goodbye from the bus and then went right back to bed. They say: “If you find yourself waking up on the wrong side of the bed, go back and try again.” Too bad for me; the other side of the bed was the phone. Deb from the hospital called for me to make arrangements for another meeting. I set it for tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. That phone call ended what should have been a wonderful nap. Linda has stated on previous meetings and visits things like: “This is just so easy for you, throwing our marriage away like this.” Or “You don’t care about what this is doing to me or else you wouldn’t be doing it.”

It’s never easy! Especially when I find yourself alone, thinking that maybe, just maybe I should give her another chance. I know intellectually it wouldn’t make a difference and I would be putting my children at risk again. But emotionally, when I’m alone I wonder could there be away to salvage everything without her having to leave. I am not the one that likes to throw away, what would have been a 13 year old relationship in December. I walk through my house and everything is still in the right place. Her dresser is filled with her clothes and all of her pictures are still up. I haven’t been able to bring myself to changing anything yet. But just like the relationship itself, I will make changes when then the problems out weighs the benefits.

Karla called me at about noon and told me Paige and Alysa had stayed home from school because of their colds. So I decided to go over and cheer them up. (Or maybe the other way around) Surprisingly enough I found them helping each other in cleaning their rooms. I was just standing in the hall watching them until Alysa turned around and nearly jumped out of her skin. I guess I should have announced myself, but that would have taken the fun out of scaring them. Shocked looks were replaced with smiles quickly enough though.

One of them asked if Stella was coming over after school. The other asked if Stella could spend the night. I said only if they did as their Mom asked and finished their rooms. Alysa gave me a quick hug and they both went back to cleaning. I sat down and talked with Karla until Keri made it home. Before leaving I checked on Alysa and Paige’s progress and was surprised at their progress. I let them know that Stella would be able to spend the night. Karla made Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Cole Slaw, Deviled Eggs and Baked Beans. For me that sounded like a dangerous combination, but it turned out very good. Keri and I spent the remainder of the evening talking about her feelings and plans for the future and troubles with the past.

The picture at the top is Heather and Keri on the day I was married to Linda. They were our flower girls. Keri was 4 1/2 years old and every day now I can see how much it hurts her to have Linda's final words hanging over her. For Keri, Linda is the only Mom she's ever known and now Linda says she only has one daughter.


Monday, November 10, 2008

A little bit about these girls.

Saturday and Sunday has been filled with kids. Lots and lots of kids! Just like last weekend I had all of the girls here. From Left to Right: Alysa, Stella, Paige, Madison, and Emma. What you don't see is Keri and her boyfriend in the living room watching a movie. I can say that all of them are really good kids.

We have done everything over the weekend. The weather stunk and most of them had colds, making it a challenge to keep them all entertained. Emma played Hide and Seek for a little while with Keri.

She hid in the clothes that I needed to fold. Keri found her with the camera. Emma is only 3, but she is a little too smart for her own good. Both her and her sister Madison are attention needy at times and rarely get along on anything. If we can, we keep them doing seperate activities to avoid the fighting.

Emma likes to sneak off when you’re not looking and I think that she is the perfect child to have around the house. She becomes a great teaching tool for a teenager that needs to learn patience.

Madison however wants what everybody else has. She is only 6 years old and is built like a little tank. I have to keep an eye on her all the time. If she is not the center of attention, she will do something; anything to get that attention. Good or bad, it won't matter. With the right influence however, she is a good girl. Usually all it takes is a little firm tone and she's easily refocused on behaving herself. These two don't have a steady father figure in their lives, unfortunately, which means they love to climb all over me. Having them around is always entertaining to say the least.

Their Mom works on the weekend, goes to school during the weekdays and goes to Port Richards whenever she gets the chance. So, I can kinda expect them back next weekend.

Alysa is like having a second mother around, especially with Emma. Anytime Keri or I need an extra hand in dealing with their rougher moments she steps right up to help. She’s very capable in redirecting their attention onto better things to do and appears to instinctively know what is troubling them. Alysa is the more sensitive and sensible one, between her and her sister Paige. Alysa is 9 years old and Paige is 7. They are both cheerleaders and are good playing by them self. Stella, being 8 falls right in between them. Paige and Stella are in the same class, but after school it’s Alysa who asks for Stella to stay over. The two of them have a lot in common. She's the one that has talked Stella into becoming a cheerleader. Yeah for me!! Now I have to deal with Pom Poms too.

Paige is the stubborn one. She’s abrupt and tells it like it is, whether you like the answer or not. With me she doesn’t seem to be too difficult to deal with; maybe, because she’s a lot like me. I find it easier to deal with her by explaining things more clearly to her. If she understands what you are wanting from her and why, then regardless of whether or not she likes it; she will do as you ask. She won’t allow the other kids to take advantage of her. If you made her a promise, you had better remember it. She will!

With all of these kids over this weekend, I still managed to find time to clean the house a little and keep the basic chores caught up. By Sunday evening, it was time for all of them to go to their own homes. I found myself chatting with a friend online, texting Karla via my cell phone and brushing the girl's hair out all at the same time. I feel for you ladies that have long hair and I'm glad that the army requires me to keep mine short.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The 80's has returned.

This whole week has just flown by. Although I have been very busy, some things are becoming more of a routine and a little more calm. Every morning I have been able to get up at about 4:30 a.m. in order to get my jogging time in. I have been averaging about 4 miles every other morning. On my off days, I have been able to sneak off to the community center for a good workout.

After my exercise, I have time to, take care of my two dogs, take a shower and get myself dress to go to my 6 a.m. formation/meeting with the rear detachment. By 6:30 a.m., I am back at home seeing Keri off. I quickly have breakfast with her, talk about what ever is on her mind at the time. She catches the bus by 6:45 and I have to be there for Stella. On some nights, Stella might stay over at Karla’s or Alysa and Paige will stay at my house. It always depends on the evening activities and what is practical. This has been having a positive impact on Stella too, but I will explain this a little later.

If Stella stays at my house, Keri or I will have her up and dressed by 6:45 a.m. Stella would then join me for a trip to Karla’s house to help in waking up Alysa and Paige. If Stella is already at Karla’s then it just easy for me to wake up all three. This helps Karla out and gives her a more relaxed morning. One of the few ways I can repay her for her kindness and help. Besides, if asked, I would have to say, I love spending this time with the kids. Getting the girls up is a very slow and complicated process. They are not morning people, especially, Alysa and Paige. While I am waiting for them to get dressed, I am usually letting their 2 dogs out. (1 is a Cocker Spaniel, and the other is a Terrier.) Then I feed their two female cats. By the time they are taken care of, the girls are starting to make their appearance downstairs. Not quite awake, they sit in the living room waiting for me to brush out their hair. Then it on for a quick breakfast and a scramble of finding their bags, homework, making their lunch, having arguments, giving Karla hugs and kisses and climbing into my van. This is all done by 8 a.m. I dive them over to the bus stop and let them sit in the van waiting for the bus. Once we’re in place, here come some of their friends. Within a few minutes, the bus for the Primary School will come by and I will see Paige and Stella off as they wave from the bus window. Alysa and I wait about another 10 minutes for her bus; she has picked up the habit of waving goodbye too.

Every after either I am home waiting for Keri to get off the bus or she will call to let me know that she made it home safely. After she is done with her homework and chores, she asks if Jamie can come over. She is slowly learning to pace herself out with her relationship with Jamie. No matter what I am doing, I always make it back in time to meet Stella coming off the bus. It’s good to note however, that with a single phone call, Karla and Keri both are in place to pick up Stella. It is the beginning of that family care plan I have needed. It is truly amazing how God works. I have been focusing so much on the primary issue of safety and security for the kids, that I just now noticed where he has been helping me. After the kids gets back to Karla’s house, it’s a quick snack and on to homework. Karla and I work together to help them when they need it and to work out the details out for dinner. And this is where the routine ends.

On Monday, November 3rd, I arranged to meet with Linda and her support staff at the hospital to go over her exit plan from the hospital. Mind you this was also going to be the time when Linda would find out about the Protection Order. I went to the meeting with a lot of trepidation. The meeting was set for 3 p.m. and it was over by 3:15 p.m. Her physiatrist noticed that I was hesitating on giving out too much information and asked the question… “Could you explain the legal aspects of why Linda can’t come home?” I could only answer with the truth. “Yes, because I was granted a Protection Order from the Jefferson County Court House.” Linda, sat there for about a few seconds then jumped up to her feet and approached me so fast, I thought she was going to hit me. She stopped herself about a foot from where I was sitting and screamed “I hate you” and ran out the door. Deb, the Social Worker ran out with her and her physiatrist was quick to follow. I sat there for another 5-6 minutes, unable to stop myself from shaking. I have seen her enraged by events in the past, but this really was the worst.

On Tuesday, November 4th, I had my appointment with the Staff Judge Advocate on post. They helped me with the paperwork I needed to start a legal separation agreement. It was my hope to use this step to provide financial security while continuing to ensure Linda’s has continued medical benefits. With a divorce she would loose everything she needs to fix herself. After that meeting, I went home and checked my bank online. I found out about a check for over $300.00 was written by Linda prior to going into the hospital. This crated a negative balance in the account that I was leaving open for Linda’s needs. I was removing my name from all joint accounts. I will be required pay it off in order to get my name off this account. This of course will make it harder to insure that money was being set up for Linda to go to Kentucky and be able to support herself.

Wednesday, November 5th, the day was spent addressing other issues that I have been discovering. Like a loans Linda had taken out by using the power of attorney. I worked to budget them in and arranged to pay off two of them. I typed up a Revocation of the Power of Attorney and sent it out to all the businesses that Linda may have contacted and ensured that a copy was sent to the bank. I met up with Karla and Allison at the Post Exchange in order to do some shopping for dinner. They made some smart comment about me being a good “Army Wife”, and learning how the other half lives. This was made worse by the kids calling me “Mr. Mom”. Karla took us out to her favorite Korean Restaurant for dinner. I had never been there before, but the food was great. It’s also funny to watch people’s faces when we enter a restaurant. With so many kids, they have to shuffle tables in order to make room. It reminds me of the days growing up when I was the youngest of six.

Thursday, November 6th, was a day for getting the house work caught up a little. I managed to get every thing done at my house that I set out to do this week, except the garage. Karla asked me to help her with the kids mess at her house. Her house was in worse shape then mine. When the kids tare through her house, they do it with so many friends from the neighborhood. She has no hope of keeping up. Besides, helping gets me out of having to clean that garage; plus, it allowed me to be with friends. After the dinner, I took the Keri and Stella in for a visit with Linda. This did not go so well. Stella received a picture that Linda had made in craft group and asked: “Where’s Keri’s. It’s not fair that she doesn’t have one.” That caused Keri to shake her head a little and the visit to be tense. Stella didn’t want Mom and I to be mad at each other anymore. Linda was getting upset at the fact that I was in the room and Stella trying to include me in their conversation. Keri and I wound up sitting out in the hall at Linda’s request for the remainder of the visit. Karla and I ended the evening with making plans for the kids dance at the primary school. The theme for the dance is the 80’s

Friday, November 7th, I did my normal visit and routine at Karla’s house, but her girls were not going to school. They needed to get ready for a dental visit. After, they were up Stella and I returned home because Stella wanted to catch the bus this morning at her normal bus stop, and spend time with her other friends. I was able to sit and watch a show for about an hour when Karla called to go shopping. We hit Target, several stores in the mall and Wal Mart. The goal was to make the girls look like they were in the 80’s. I think we did a wonderful job. The kids were all surprised and excited by the time they came home from school. By the time Karla and I were done getting the girls dressed, their hair done and their make-up on it was time to leave. Oh! Yes, for me it was a little weird to be putting make-up on Stella and to change out her ear rings. I’m not a girl; I’ve never done anything like this before. LOL. But, it was fun.

We loaded up all the kids into the van and I drove us all to the school. Karla, Keri, Stella, Alysa, and Paige were singing to Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, take the wheel”, and few other popular songs. You know, they didn’t sound half bad either. I couldn’t help but enjoy the 25 minute road trip. The dance was a lot of fun for the girls and every one of the adults were talking about their years through the 80’s. Some of us actually got down and danced. After the dance, we stopped by Taco Bell for a late snack. Then it was on to Karla’s house for a change of clothes for Alysa and Paige. Those two along with Madison and Emma stayed the night at my house, while the ladies went out again. One Dad and six girls, take a guess on who was responsible on getting all of that hair spray out of the girl’s hair. And Karla had emptied a can of Aqua Net on them! Enjoy the pictures.

-Goodnight, I am exhausted.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Weekend

--Saturday, November 1st, the last of the 5 girls had finally fallen asleep about 1:30 a.m., which was Emma. For a 3 year old she had a lot of energy. Her and her sister Madison was at each other until I found a way to keep them separated. I woke them all up relatively early and got them dressed for the day. We all headed to my house for brunch. The Mom’s had not made it back home yet, and I didn’t feel comfortable cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Later in the day, Karla checked in, made sure the kids were okay. The kids were doing everything; playing on the Wii, “chasing the horses”, and I even hear the song “I kissed a girl”, being sung by Keri, Alysa, Stella and Paige.

Then all of the kids started singing different songs, including Christmas songs. When Karla made it home I brought her the kids and a Subway. The kids and I helped to clean up the mess they had made.

I had invited Paige and Alysa over to spend the night with Stella. Karla didn’t have plans for anything and found herself with no kids. Well I would up with the same girls over at my house till Sunday afternoon. Trust me I wasn’t complaining. I haven’t heard this much laughter in my house in a long time. I grilled up some hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. Took dinner over to Karla and allowed her time to go out again.

All day Sunday was filled with activities and games that kept the girls from getting bored. Stella was really enjoying herself and so was Keri, who surprisingly enough took a day off from her boyfriend to help me out. Keri got the girls into more singing. I think Christmas is going to make an early appearance at my house. She even helped me with cooking lunch?!!

Sunday Dinner was simple because I had agreed to take Stella by the hospital to visit with Linda. For the first time in a week, Stella actually had one on one attention from Linda. Linda had set up some pictures for the two of them to color. Keri had come along for moral support, but after getting snubbed by Linda she waited outside the ward reading a book. Linda was trying her best to get information out of Stella about what out activities were and Stella would just answer “I’ve just been doing kid things”. I don’t know why Stella was omitting so much from Linda. She only said that she had gotten a lot of candy for Halloween and was “having fun with Paige and Alysa. And two girls you haven’t met before Mom, Madison and Emma.” I kept getting strange looks from Linda and a sense that she did not like the idea of Stella withholding information. After the visit I asked Stella why and she only said that “I was afraid that Mom would get angry at you again Dad.” Here I was thinking that I was protecting her from dealing with the stress. Who would have thought that an 8 year old could be trying to protect me? So much for keeping her out of it! It was time for us to go home, unwind and get ready for another school week.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Halloween

--This was the most complicated day of the whole week, but in a good way. It started with getting the girls dressed in their costumes, for school. I couldn’t get a picture of Keri, because she was shy about being caught in a dress of any sort. Especially this outfit, it showed too much of her legs. The younger ones were all excited by the time we hit the bus stop. They all loaded into my van to stay warm. Bryce (Daughter of my Battalion Chaplain) joined us.

Karla joined me for the Primary School’s parade and Halloween Party. I was fun to get down with these kids. They had a lot more energy then us parants.

After the party we had to rush off to pick-up Alysa from her school, run to McDonald's for a quick dinner and get home. We were expecting more kids over and wanted to be ready for Trick or Treat. Keri desided to spend the evening with her boyfriend. Stella was a Fairy. Alysa was a Black Cat. Paige was a Cute Bunny. Madison was a Little Devil. And Emma was a Little Fairy.

After all of this and all of the sugar, my evening wasn't done. Karla, Alison, and Liz were planning a Lady's Night Out. So it was just the 5 girls for the night with me babysitting.