Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Journey

I can almost grasp it.

The things that I saw, the experience that I had, and the way that I felt as I left an emotionally abusive marriage and took off on my own for the first time...

It was September 19, 2002.   My 23rd birthday.  I loaded up everything I was willing to fight for into my truck and started driving at six in the morning.  I headed through New Mexico into Arizona.  I spent three nights in Phoenix, then headed into California - back home.   I waved goodbye to the mountains with a cocky hand.  I exulted in the mesas and red dirt that I drove towards.  It was raining as I drove into Phoenix.  I cried jubilantly when I crossed the state line into California.  I almost wrecked multiple times staring out the window at the ocean.

I saw and felt so much on that journey - the beginning of my journey - that I think I relegated it to the back of my mind to be dealt with later.  It was too much.  Now, eight years later, it's beginning to resurface.  I think I will be lucky if I am ever able to put that experience into words.  I know that I will have to revisit this again. 

I was brave and confident and terrified and clueless.... and I did it.  On my own.    

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Tradition Revisited

Yesterday Caitlin, Gavin, and I went to visit my sister and her husband at their house.  My sister really wanted to revive one of our holiday traditions from when we were kids - baking and decorating sugar cookies!  We used to do this every year with our mom and all the kids - it was always a blast, and yesterday was no exception.  We were joined by a couple of friends and another super fun kiddo. 

I love having family nearby to have experiences like this with.  Next year I think we'll expand and do even more Christmas-y stuff together - like making construction paper chains!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Another Caitlin Tidbit (and a Gavin tidbit)

Right now, Caitlin's favorite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and her favorite movie is The Incredibles. She still loves to play with her princess toys.  Also, she is going to be "a real firegirl" when she grows up.

Gavin is obsessed with the old-school Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo, anything Star Wars, and Monopoly.  He has decided he is going to design video games when he grows up.

These kids are just too cool. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Caitlin Quote of the Day

"I like looking at purple porcupines."

Said at the dinner table, completely randomly. 

Also, the other day, she and I were eating lunch together and she handed me a french fry dipped in ranch.  I ate it and she said, "I licked that.....(pause pause) and you just ate it."

Not that I should be encouraging this sort of thing....but I could not stop laughing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Random Notes

Someday I will have a room all to myself for books, music, sewing, writing, crafts.....whatever I want, basically.  I will also have a room dedicated solely to making music, and another to do yoga and weights, and possibly for Caitlin to practice dance in (if she ends up being interested in dance). 

Yesterday all four of us made some Christmas crafts - one of which was a construction paper chain which we hung up on the walls like a garland.  I felt like I was ten years old again.  It was awesome. 

Ryan is going to have his own booth at the NAMM show in January.  This is so exciting and yet so terrifying - this will essentially extend us to our limit financially.  If it doesn't pay off with at least one order, we will be left with a bunch of debt and nothing to show for it.  Scary.  However, even if that is the result of this particular show, we will keep going.  I don't think Esoterik Guitars is ever going to not exist, now that it's here. 

I am contemplating quitting my job and just concentrating on school and raising my kids. This, however, hinges mostly on how the show goes in January. 

We are jumping off the deep end...... here we go!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tonight During Game NIght....

We were playing Sorry! with the kids, and it was Caitlin's turn.  She pulled her card, pretended to read it, and announced "My card says that the person with the yellow pieces wins the game."  Guess who was playing with the yellow pieces?  Best part of the day, by far. 

She knows almost all the letters of the alphabet by sight already and at least one word that starts with those letters.  Mommy's proud. 

We went and picked apples together the other day. 

She prefers the green ones.

I'm excited to get back out on the hiking trails with her, now that the weather has cooled down.  We need to get her some pint-sized hiking boots (although she does love slippin' and slidin' down the hills). 
Looking forward to more adventures with my stinky boys and my little ladybug!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Highlights of My Day

Highlights of my Saturday so far:

Sleeping in till ten (thank you Gavin for watching your sister!)
Delicious hot coffee
A beautiful sunny day
Family dance party to Beastie Boys (the robot moves by Ryan and Gavin were especially captivating)
Family exercise (I feel so much better - healthy, strong, and happy)

Now off to work!

***
......this is what I came home to after work:

I am a happy girl. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Get Over it Already!

So lately I've been thinking a lot about the woman who abused my trust and put my daughter in a situation that could have killed her.  Maybe because this woman recently walked into my place of work and the mere sight of her caused me to practically have a panic attack, I don't know.  Maybe.

Anyway.  I've had a really hard time getting over the whole situation.  I can't talk about it without crying, I no longer trust my kids with anyone but family and oh maybe three friends, I still have nightmares and trouble falling asleep if it happens to cross my mind at night, things like that.  I have vivid daytime visions of car accidents while I'm driving....I've even contemplated giving up driving here and there (not seriously, but yes it has crossed my mind).  You could say I was a bit traumatized - even more so than my daughter (which I am thankful for - I NEVER want her to feel these things I'm feeling). 

I've decided to take the advice of one of my best friends and focus on the GOOD that came from the situation, instead of dwelling on the bad.  Now, this has proven to be extremely difficult for me, but I'm giving it the old college try.  I'm going to start here, by making a list of all the good things that have happened as a direct result of the car accident caused by the drunk daycare provider that miraculously did NOT kill or seriously injure my daughter or anyone else.  Here we go....in no particular order.

1.  I get to stay home with my baby.
2.  I have more time to focus on school.
3.  I have more time for myself (when I'm not chasing my three-year-old, anyway)
4.  I have more time to focus on cooking/writing/art/music/etc.
5.  I no longer work at a job I hate.
6.  I no longer commute two hours a day.
7.  I get to spend more time with my darling stepson (who just this very second told me that in life, every second counts, so make it a good second.  Smart kid!)

That's what I've got for now.  I'm trying really hard to focus on these things and move past the anger towards forgiveness.  I honestly think if forgiveness happens, it will be a miracle, but I'm going to try to get there anyway.  I can't keep carrying this around for the rest of my life.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Belated Halloween Pictures

I completely failed in getting good pictures of Caitlin dressed as a princess.  However, since she dresses up like a princess on an almost daily basis, I guess that's not a huge loss. 

On the other hand, I got very clear pictures of Gavin in all his gory cowboy magnificence. 


Yes, it's blurry, but it's the only half-decent one I got of the two of them together.  Better luck next year, I guess.

***
*Pre-Halloween*

We went to Avila Valley Barn to find a pumpkin.  The kids started off with a hay fight while we waited for the tractor to take us to the pumpkin patch.




On our way!


Caitlin was very serious about finding the "perfect" pumpkin.
They had a blast carving it with Dad. 

And the end result....


A very successful and fun Halloween!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Old Writing resurrected

I am completely unable to write these days.  I wish I knew why...it's very frustrating.  So instead I am posting some old writing.

This is from March 2005.  No title, kinda goofy, but it makes me smile. 

Fear is a low-flying fog clouding my head
zero visibility
squinting and shuffling
hands outstretched
looking for a safe place to land
hands clutched and released become
landmarks on the map
of places I've already been.

(keep going there's more to come)

my sneakers are wearing thin, but
still holding up.
frayed at the edges and
holes beginning to show

and then I met a man with
a bottle of super glue.

he fixed my shoes.

now he walks beside me with
steps sure and confident
holding my hand
my feet are snug and warm
and the fog lifts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Check Out My Friend's Blog

Everyone should read this post.  I love this post.  Stephanie, you rock!!

http://djstephaniebell.blogspot.com/2010/10/spirit-day-or-why-im-wearing-purple.html

I am wearing purple today!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mac 'n cheese

This weekend I will be making homemade macaroni and cheese for the first time.  I've never been a big fan of feeding my kids macaroni out of a box...the powdered cheese substance just creeps me out.  So Saturday night is it!  Homemade macaroni and cheese day!!  Any tips or recipes are greatly appreciated!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

First Artist Endorsement

Great news!! Esoterik Guitars (my husband's guitar-making company) is now proudly endorsing the amazing guitar player Dave Reffett!! Look for a Guitar World Magazine iphone app coming out soon called Lick of the Day - featuring Esoterik Guitar Model #2!! Check out the link here which is Dave featured on Betcha Can't Play This for Guitar World Magazine. We are so excited to be working with him!

I feel like things are about to take off for this little company my hubby started about a year ago.....he is so amazingly talented and determined!!  I am beyond proud!!  If you haven't already, check out Esoterk Guitars here!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unbelievable

So apparently in SLO county you can drive at an intoxication level of .258 BAC, have an accident with four kids in the car - not strapped in - and only get sentenced to two months in jail.  Huh.  What a wonderful justice system we have.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Up Late

It's 2:25am right now and I'm (obviously) still up.  I worked until 1:15, and now, even though I'm exhausted, I'm having a difficult time shutting down for the night.   I don't really want this night to end. 

It is unseasonably warm here right now - it must be at least 75 degrees outside still - and I wish I had a comfy chair to sit in outside so I could listen to the stillness and enjoy the warm air.  The wind is blowing just every now and then.  The trees are swishing tonight. 

The quiet right now is reminding me of when I was nursing....quite frequently in those days my daughter would finish, I would put her back to bed, and then be unable to sleep.  I would stay up reading or writing or organizing something and just enjoying the different atmosphere of being the only person awake and the absolute quiet. 

I wish I had the opportunity to stay up tonight until I just can't keep my eyes open any longer....but I know that in about five and a half hours her robust little voice is going to yell "MOOOOOMMM!!!" at an amazingly high decibel, and I will stumble out of bed to her room, get her out of bed, on the potty, then downstairs where I will say baby mommy really really needs to make coffee right now please play for just a few minutes.  And she'll say but mommy I want you! with that look on her face and maybe if I'm lucky she will be still and just let me hold her for a few minutes before we start going at the speed of light. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tiny Visitors


Caitlin and I have decided that fairies are residing under this rock that sits in Nana and Papa's front yard.  Sometime in the near future we are going to try to tempt them out with some treats, and maybe something sparkly.  Maybe we'll see some fairy footprints.... or maybe even a fairy!

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Random Note

Switching between the mentality needed to interact with my three-year-old and the critical thinking skills I have to use for school is definitely challenging.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First of the Season

Just had my first sip of my first cup of tea of the fall/winter season.  Aaaahhh.....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Angels Watching Over Us

The last four months have been a trial - to put it lightly.

On April 26th, I went to pick up my daughter from daycare as usual, and she wasn't there.  The front door was wide open, the hose was still running in the back, and the phone was dead.  No one was there.  I didn't have my cell phone. I wasn't panicking at this point, but pretty close.  I figured they had gone to the park or karate or basketball or the pool or something and were late and had forgotten to call.  Finding the door open was not completely out of the ordinary.

I went to the neighbors house to call my husband to see if anyone had called....no one had.  Panic level rising. 

I gave the neighbor (Mike - definitely a good Samaritan) my husbands number in case anyone showed up at the house and got his in return.  I got in my car and headed to San Luis to check to see if they were at the pool and to get my phone.  They weren't at the pool and when I got home to get my phone, still no word.  At that point I collapsed, sobbing, terrified, completely lost and out of my mind with worry.  Sheer, gut-wrenching, debilitating terror.  I had no idea what to do.  I had no idea where my daughter was.  I had no idea if she was ok or even alive.  Every horrible scenario possible played over and over in my mind. 

My husband had to stay home with my stepson, had to stay calm and not let the boy know anything was wrong.  I couldn't do it.  He always has been tougher than me.  I had to get in my car and go looking for her. There was no way I was going to sit there and call people.  I had to do something.

I tried to call the police and discovered that my phone for some unknown reason wouldn't call out.  Of course!  I texted my best friend and simply said I need you.  I can't find Caitlin. She called me immediately, and once I explained that my phone wouldn't call out, she called the police for me. 

That's when we discovered that my daughter's daycare provider had been in a car accident.  Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt, but we discovered that none of the kids (three daycare kids and one of her own) were not strapped in, two of them were wearing only diapers, and the daycare provider was drunk.  Beyond drunk - wasted.  At 2:30 in the afternoon.  She had been on her way to pick up her two older kids from school and apparently overcorrected on a turn.  She hit a light pole and a parked car, and her SUV tipped on its side and slid down an embankment.

Her blood alcohol content was .258. 

Every single day I give thanks that my daughter is alive and well and with ME.

We finally knew what was going on, but we still didn't have our baby girl back with us.  The police told us to sit tight, that a Child Protective Services worker would bring her to us as soon as the paperwork was done.  We were not allowed to go pick her up.  We had to sit around the house waiting, wondering what she was going through, what she was feeling, who she was with.  We didn't get her back until 11:00 that night.  I have never cried so hard in my life.

That was absolutely the worst day of my life.  I am so lucky to still have my girl. 

(A little bit about how I was feeling can be found here.)

I called my boss that night and quit my job.  I applied for unemployment on the basis that I was emotionally incapable of putting my daughter into another daycare, and so needed to find a job that would allow me to work nights and weekends.  Apparently the person who did my phone interview was a complete idiot because he denied my claim on the basis that I had no child care.  I guess her father and her grandparents aren't good enough (in his opinion) to constitute reliable childcare.

I appealed the decision and waited on pins and needles for my hearing.  Meanwhile, I looked for a job and got ready for our court date against the daycare provider. 

The court date was a farce.  The judge refused to award me any money, saying that I "elected" to quit my job, that I didn't have to.  I'd like to see his reaction if it were his kid in the same situation.  My faith in compassion and common sense is pretty much nil at this point.  We will be getting a settlement from the insurance company to cover the medical bills, and hopefully she won't need any sort of counseling in the future. 

So we dropped the court case (too traumatic - not worth it; she'll be sentenced for her felonies anyway) and I continued to wait for my unemployment hearing. 

While all this was happening, we have been living with my husbands parents, trying desperately to get the money together to move out on our own again.  This event was a crushing blow to that goal. 

Now, four and a half months later, I am celebrating.  I am ecstatic.  About a month and a half ago I got a job I like that allows me to stay with my daughter during the day.  The daycare provider will be sentenced this month for four counts of felony child endangerment as well as felony DUI.  The DA's office is pushing for a year in prison, along with treatment, probation and I'm sure a lot of money in fines.  I don't know if she gets to keep her own kids or not.  I'm torn on whether she should or not.  I'm glad that's not my decision.

I won my unemployment hearing and we now have enough money to move out.  I just found out twenty minutes ago that we got approved for the apartment we applied for.  It has a nice pool, a patio with a little patch of grass, a woodburning fireplace, and is right next to a park.  We are moving in on October 2nd. 

Tomorrow is my daughter's third birthday and she is here, healthy and happy, to celebrate the most wonderful day in the world with us.  I am making her pink cupcakes with pink icing and rainbow sprinkles tomorrow, and having a full birthday party on Sunday.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that has been supportive and loving through this.  I couldn't have made it without you. 

And thank you to the angels who are watching over my baby. 


Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Hold A Grudge

I try not to.  No, really, I do try.  However, I haven't yet mastered the art of forgiveness.  In the back of my mind, there is always a voice that whispers.....they did it once, how do you know they're not going to do it again?  Once trust is lost, it is almost impossible for me to find it again. 
I marvel at people who can just forgive and move on.  I envy those who can welcome back with open arms a loved one who has broken a promise or disappointed them in some way.  They must know something I don't.  Maybe they've had more practice at forgiveness than I have.  I can't seem to get the knack for it.  I hold a grudge. 

I'm not doing so well with selflessness and calm today.  One little bitty broken promise - not even something all that important - and I snapped.   I yelled.  I almost cried.  It is such a small thing - but I'm so tired of hearing the same thing over and over and over and then....nothing.  Denial that such a promise was ever made.  Justification and excuses.  Now I feel like this persons word is worthless.  Again.  Why do I keep giving chances?  I don't know what to do about this anymore. 

I want to shrug my shoulders and not care, but I can't. 

What do I do?  How in the world am I supposed to believe anything that is said?  I hate this feeling. 

So much on my mind these days it's hard to sort any of it out.  I don't know what to think.

This post probably doesn't make much sense, but that's ok.  This one's for me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

20 Minutes

Twenty minutes till I'm supposed to go get Caity up from her nap.  Twenty minutes of "me" time....although my to-do list is not quite finished for the day. 

What to do?

I am so busy morningnoonandnight with kids, work, housework, school, etcetcetc, that when I get time to myself it feels somehow illicit - like I'm doing something I shouldn't.  I have a hard time making myself sit and read, or watch a movie, or take a nap.  There's always something productive to do!  Why do I feel like I need to be constantly productive?

This is one of the things I am working on.  I have resorted to scheduling downtime in my dayplanner.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes not.  Maybe I should throw out my dayplanner. 

I think I'll go work on Caity's quilt.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quick Update

Things are going well in the Cook household....  we are taking baby steps, but important ones. 

Last week I started my new job at Kohls.  I haven't made this little money since just after high school, but it's easy, low stress, I get to listen to decent music while I work, everyone seems nice so far, and - most importantly - they will work with my schedule, so I still get to go to school and stay home with Caitlin during the day.  NO MORE DAYCARE!!!!  That is the most important thing of all.  Oh - plus I get a discount.  That's a nice little bonus. 

We started apartment hunting this week!  We have finally taken all the steps needed to get back into our own place and will be moving soon.  We are all very excited - plus I'm sure the in-laws are eager to have their house back to themselves. 

I've also begun planning Caitlin's third birthday party.  She wants EVERYTHING to be Disney Princesses.  For those of you who will be attending, don't be surprised if she shows up in her princess "dress"  - which is actually a swimsuit with Aurora, Cinderella, and Belle on the front.  She's convinced it is a dress because it has a little skirt.  She refuses to get it wet. 

Esoterik Guitars is getting lots of support - already becoming well-known locally and on facebook.  If you haven't already "liked" it on facebook, please do!  Brandon (web-designing guru) has finished the website, and it will be fully live once we've proofed it.  Should be up sometime this week.  Hopefully soon people will start buying guitars!

And last but not least, I am continuing with school in the fall.  I am only signed up for one class this semester (psychology - should be fun!) due to everything that will be going on, but I am toying with the idea of doing two and just finding a way to make it work.  We'll see. 

Oh wait - one more thing.  About a week and a half ago Caitlin actually said this to me:  "You're wrecking my life Mom!"  Sigh.  She's saying this already?  She's gonna be a fun teenager. 

Wish us luck!

Fourth of July 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Moments

I have a vision in my head of you and me, sitting by the train tracks under the stars, looking out over the highway, a bottle of cheap red wine being passed back and forth. I wanted to bring glasses out with us; you wanted just the bottle. I remember having my hair blown out of my eyes by the wind kicked up by a passing semi. We made suppositions and guesses about the driver's life, discussed our place in the universe, and  decided that maybe your reason for existing is in fact to father that little boy who may someday rule the world. Or maybe he'll only rule his own world; it doesn't matter. The possibilities are endless. The possibilities matter.

Another: Standing on your balcony, overlooking a vacant lot filled with weeds and wildflowers, the neon light of Burger King half a block up. Cigarettes shared, a bottle of Jack Daniels at our feet, the stars once again eavesdropping on our conversation. Discussing our blessings and our failures and what we have learned from them.

Doesn't everyone do this?

If they don't, they should.


Another: Laying on our backs in the courtyard of that church up on the hilltop. Surrounded by grapevines, rolling green hills, blue sky, and puffy white clouds, it was still and perfect. We hiked up the hill that day, feeling the muscles in our legs being used, and the cool wind in our faces.


The massive wooden doors of the building were warm under our palms; the pale stone walls were cool. The terra-cotta tiles of the courtyard were smooth. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud as we lay there, and the world was so still and quiet I heard the sound of the air being displaced by the wings of a passing hawk. I almost became a believer in that moment.


Another: sitting at the bar while you play a gig. Your fingers flew on the strings of your guitar; the movement still holds my attention just like the first time I ever saw you play. Every now and then my eyes would roam over the crowd in front of me as they mosh and shout, bouncing off of each other like pinballs. I wondered what they are trying to escape from as they chugged their Budweiser until they couldn't stop smiling? Maybe they see a better version of themselves in the bottom of that bottle.


The glass at my elbow held no such promise and I knew that, but I drank it anyway, until the room started to blur and you finally got off stage and came over to me. All those girls that were watching you with bright eyes, licking their lips and whispering to each other drooped with disappointment when they saw you kiss me... until they found someone else to lay that bright attention upon. The morning light found them tarnished and tired, their makeup smeared under their eyes and their hair in hopeless tangles. But maybe that boy will want them anyway. Is that what they are seeking? I wanted to ask them, but I knew that it wasn't the time or place for a conversation such as that.


I discussed it with you instead, standing on the balcony with shared cigarettes and a bottle of Jack Daniels, stars winking at us as we counted our blessings instead of them.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Are Hiking Fools!

On Monday Caity and I went to the bluffs in Cambria.  We had a lovely walk along the path.....
.....and saw lots of pretty flowers....


....these little guys were not shy at all....
.....we ate a picnic lunch on this crazy lookin' chair.... 
.....and saw some amazing ocean views..... 
 



Cambria is so beautiful and unique!  If you get an opportunity to go check it out, I highly recommend you do.

***

And today we went to Nojoqui Falls with some friends.


The walk up to the Falls was amazingly beautiful and green....
 
....meandering along the path was this sweet little creek....
 
Cara and Mike stop to take in the view.
And so do Caity and I, even though her eyes are actually closed.
Charlotte and Lexi took a moment to rest.
And then we reached the Falls.....
Beautiful!
Caitlin had a blast splashing around in the creek.
And we ended the day in Solvang with ice cream - pink ice cream of course!

I hope you all had as wonderful a day as we did!