Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

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Birthday Trip Angst (2 months later)

February 7, 2012

I find that while essentially between jobs, my life is dull.  My brain is dull.  I don’t have tons going on.  The girls are doing fine. David is having a more-frustrating job search, but still, that’s fine. Everything is just fine. So I’m a boring blogger.

But there are at least a few things that happened in the past few months that I never had a chance to blog about. I had every intention, but didn’t find the time, and then it felt too far away.  But I’m going to go back anyway.

Back in December, in the aftermath of the lay off news, I was seriously wrestling with whether or not to cancel a planned surprise birthday trip for David.

I’m sure he won’t mind me saying (ha!), but on December 5th, David turned 50.  (Right after I turned 39 on December 4th.)   Of course, we knew this milestone year was coming for quite some time.  I have been saying at least since I was 37 that I want a party for my 40th.  I want us to rent a space and have a BIG party.  Not hundreds big, but 50-big (and that won’t fit in our apartment).  David it’s a “have a party to celebrate ME!” kind of person, but he is a “I want to travel the world!” kind of person, so we always said, a trip for his 50th, a party for my 40th.

As the year/fall came together, I knew I couldn’t pull off the ideal trip (Europe) for his actual birthday.  Not only is it in the middle of an intense time of the school year, but it’s also the weekend before the 7th/8th grade musical at Mouse’s school.  The musical that I produce and for which he runs the lights. We couldn’t go away for much more than a weekend.

I considered doing a Europe trip around Christmas-time, but wasn’t sure I could swing it, financially.  Then the Ex swapped Christmas for Thanksgiving, so we had the girls for Christmas, and we definitely couldn’t afford 4 to Europe. Then the job got shaky, so any of hope of swinging it was dashed.

But I wanted to do something.

He’d been talking for some time about how it would be really cool to be on Martha’s Vineyard during a storm.  We are more wintry weather people than summer weather people, and I thought this could be something that would be a good get-away without breaking the bank.  I checked in with my co-producer back in September, got the okay to disappear for the final weekend of the show, and started making quiet plans.

I checked out the ferry (I wanted to take our car over – the last and only time we’d been to the Vineyard, we went for the day, without the car, and I didn’t think it worked to be there without a car), I checked out off-season hotels.  Prices were great ($100/night, instead of $400/night during peak).  I did enough research to know that we wouldn’t be without any amenities in the winter.  Getting the kids taken care of was tougher – I had talked to my mom, and while she wanted to come and help, she was a little stuck because she was taking time off to come see Mouse’s play the very next weekend.  And my plans REQUIRED us to be gone into Monday, because his birthday was Monday.  If we came home on Sunday – my birthday – then it would feel like I got the trip for his 50th birthday.  Probably weird, but the truth.  It was fine, though, because I instantly had 3 friends raising hands and offering to take the girls.  (As it turns out, my co-producer not only shouldered the play for the weekend, but she also took Mouse in!)

I had fun thinking about how I would surprise him.  Would I tell him the night before “I have plans for us tomorrow, we’re getting up early – no questions asked.”  If anyone did that to me, I’d be pissed, and would never sleep the night before.  I HATE surprises.  But he’s not me.  He loves surprises.  And how would I get him to have his stuff?  I could pack him a bag, but again, if anyone did that for me, I’d be pissed (and my laundry wouldn’t be done, so they wouldn’t be able to get my favorite clothes, and it would suck).  I could tell him we’re going away for the weekend, and not tell him where, but that would be less fun.

In the end, I got laid off, instead.  We were facing a huge unknown about whether we’d end up with no income at the end of February, or if I’d end up taking a 75% pay cut, or what was going to happen.  The trip felt . . . wrong.  But I also couldn’t let go of it.  I couldn’t think of a single thing that I could do for his 50th that wouldn’t (a) suck, or (b) rival the cost of the weekend.  And I got kind of upset about it.

Because of our situation, I felt that I couldn’t just up & go with the plan without involving David in the financial decision-making.  And at some point in the lay off aftermath, I came clean with my plans.  He liked the idea, but didn’t think we could afford it, and that it wouldn’t be wise.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we started some Christmas shopping for the girlios.  We had a fun day out on Small Business Saturday, and ended up at one of our favorite restaurants in town.  The gift-buying had me thinking about and stressing about his birthday.  I’d ask him what he wanted, and he’d say something like, “Oh, I’d really like a striped hat.”  Or, “I do need a new winter coat.” And I was so frustrated.  It was his 50th.  It was a big deal.  He wasn’t getting a fucking hat.

By the time we were at the restaurant, I was all worked up.  I brought up the weekend again.  He again pushed back.  And then, really not in Suzie-style, I started to cry.  In the restaurant.  I just cried and cried.  His eyes bugged out of his head, and we started to talk about a one-night trip, instead.  The ferry and the hotel together would cost about the same as a nice dinner out in Boston – we can swing that.  No problem.  My mom had even offered to give us a night at the Inn as David’s birthday present, so we could do it.  And we’ll both get jobs, and we do have savings, and okay okay okay.

So we pulled the trigger on a Sunday – Monday trip.  It didn’t take long after that for us to say “oh what the hell” and put Saturday night back into the equation.

[Then, after making the decision, I got an unexpected $500 profit sharing sort of payment thing from my firm, and it definitely helped make this more reasonable.]

And I guess I’ll have to blog about the actual trip in a separate post, since this is already a novel.  Preview:  It Was Awesome.

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Want, Need, Wear, Read – What we did

January 3, 2012

As I’d mentioned previously, I caught wind this fall of the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” gifting philosophy.  Kind of simple, yet really useful.  Of course, we likely always give our kids gifts that fall into some combination of these categories.  But having the categories clearly stated at the outset helped David and I to frame our ideas, and helped us to function with an actual list, instead of just throwing money around willy-nilly.

When we first heard about it, we thought, “okay, 4 gifts per kid, one per category.”  But that’s not what we ended up doing.  It was hard to do that for a few reasons.  First, I wanted to give them more than 4 gifts.  Second, it was tough to keep balance between the girls.  Lemon wanted either a set of Harry Potter DVDs or an electronic keyboard.  But Mouse wanted a make up caddy (I so hope she grows out of this phase . . . ).  So, $70-$100 for Lemon, and $25 for Mouse.  Not fair!!

So David and I thought – okay.  We’ll EACH get them one gift from each category, and make sure things balance out around the whole.  It ended up working out pretty well.  (Of course, us “each getting one gift” is a fiction – since it comes out of the same budget. And while he did find ways to even out Mouse’s wants, he wasn’t thrilled that Lemon ended up with both the keyboard and the Harry Potter DVDs – even though both combined came to well under $150 thanks to some amazing sales).

One little cheat I had was their stockings.  I added an extra thing here or there that was more substantive than your typical stocking stuffer.  Mouse had a pretty nice wallet and a watch.  Lemon had a similarly priced necklace.  They both had movie theater gift cards ($20 each) – and, of course, Broadway tickets to see Anything Goes.

I also had a last-minute cave.  The girls and I really enjoy the t.v. show Gilmore Girls.  So far, we’ve seen one season, and ended up watching it by “renting” episodes via iTunes.  Not cheap.  It annoyed me.  They want to watch season 2, but we haven’t kept up with our hard disks from Netflix, and it’s not available by streaming, and I refuse to keep “renting” them, and if I were to “buy” them through Netflix, my hard drive would explode.  Out of curiosity (because we were talking about ordering disks from Netflix to watch in CT), I checked the price for the entire series on Amazon, and it was . . . lower than expected.  And because I have Amazon Prime, I ended up accidentally clicking the “quick purchase” (or whatever it’s called) button, and waa laa!  An unplanned “want” that wasn’t on the list.  “But it’s for both of them!  It’s a joint gift!”  I whined at David (after the fact).  Despite the caving, it is still remarkable that this was the only instance.

Even though we did more than 4 gifts, we still felt like using the Want, Need, Wear, Read philosophy helped us to stay sane in our gift-buying, and to make reasonable, well-rounded lists.  Seriously, last year, I just wandered around the mall and bought things that looked nice (ended up heavy on the “wear,” and honestly, it didn’t even turn out that they even wear the stuff that often).   This kept us from doing that (ignore previous paragraph).

We will do it again next year, I’m sure.  Depending on how all this job stuff turns out, we may very well be forced to stick to one gift per category – we’ll see what happens.

Funny thing about this year — I’m sure that we spent well under HALF of what we spent last year (if not 1/3), and still, the girls walked away saying “This was the best Christmas ever!”  Pure success.

 

 

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A Little Bit Awkward

January 1, 2012

In the past month or so, I’ve been applying to jobs as I see ones that pique my interest, but haven’t gone whole-hog.  My firm has provided me with a professional career consultant, and I’ve started that process, and our plan is to really kick things up after the new year (you know, tomorrow?)  But when I see things that I don’t want to go by me, I send my stuff.

Last night, David and I went to a New Year’s Eve party where one of the other attendees was one of the bosses of a job I applied for.

It’s an odd situation I find myself in – I socialize with people who are far ahead of me, career-wise, because of my gap between undergrad and law school, and because I had kids at a (relatively) young age. I’m 39, and several of my peers here in my hometown – fellow parents of kids my kids’ ages, are 50 and up.  10 years older, plus my 10 year gap – they’re 20 years more advanced in their careers.  So when I was graduating law school, attending a school fundraiser, I was seated next to someone who had just been appointed as a federal magistrate judge. One of the volunteers for the play I just produced is a senior Attorney General in my state, and another is a Senior AUSA who is close with one of the partners at my firm.

It’s not that I’m not used to this difference. I am.  But it is the first time that I’ve been on the job market, and these people who are much senior to me may be potential employers.  So when I reviewed the invite list of the party I’d already RSVP’d for, I developed some butterflies.  What if he’s seen my resume? How do I talk about my situation?  Do I say that I’ve been laid off?  Do I mention that I’d applied?  My “career consultant” thinks I need to be very open about my situation, as it’s valuable networking – but if this person knows I’m not leaving my firm voluntarily, will it hurt me?

In the end, it didn’t really come up.  The party was big enough that while I did intersect with and chat with him, we didn’t have a detailed conversation. We laughed and joked a couple of times, and I chatted with his wife (also a lawyer).  I had a couple of conversations with my close friends about the situation and the job search thus far, and at one point, I did think he was tuned into what was being said – but I had to let it go.  I wasn’t going to shove the job search in his face at a holiday party — if he has seen my resume, he already knew who I was (I have a pretty public presence at the school, because of the plays and other volunteerisms).

But it was a little odd.  More so conceptually than in how it played out.

 

 

 

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Well, Hello, 2012!

January 1, 2012

Hoping to end this prolonged hiatus.  Not 100% sure why the silence happened.  Despite the recent job news, I haven’t really been wallowing or otherwise in a funk.  But I did throw myself into a few other things (Mouse’s school play, the holidays), and found my time pretty full.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I tried to post a video, back in December, of my Mouse in her play.  I may try again – I think I have to upgrade and pay WordPress some money before they’ll let me do it.  The show was Anything Goes, and the kids were outstanding.  The show is currently on Broadway, and a few of the kids had already seen it in New York.  Mouse wanted to see it more than anything in the world – but we were playing coy, and citing job issues and saying “we’ll see.”  In the meantime, we bought tickets, and were trying to figure out how to best unveil them as a holiday surprise.  She ended up with one of our school play tickets in her stocking, with the date crossed out and the Broadway date written in.  It took her a minute to figure out what it all meant, but then she had actual tears of joy.  It was cool.  (Lemon was also thrilled, as a Broadway-loving gal, but had less of a connection to the show.)
  • David and I had a really good holiday season.  We shopped together for the girls for the first time in years.  In years past, while struggling with my work schedule, we’d sort of taken the divide & conquer approach.  And I took the “divide and spoil” approach.  We also tended to do a lot of shopping last minute, because of the timing of my end-of-year bonus.  That was different this year, in light of not being a regular associate anymore, and so our shopping schedule changed.  Our volume kind of changed – but we just made wiser choices.  If we hadn’t bought the Broadway tickets, it would have been easily 1/2 to 1/3 of what we’d spent in the past, and the girls would have STILL been thrilled.  I’m still going to write a post about the Want, Need, Wear, Read system that we used (and perverted) this year.  We found it interesting and helpful.
  • The holiday(s) itself was also lovely this year.  We went to my parents’ house in Connecticut for the holiday itself, but also had a more intimate celebration at home on Solstice (actually, we did it on the 21st, which I *thought* was the solstice, but this year, I was wrong).  The kids opened most of their presents then, so we didn’t have to cart them to and from CT (and unbeknownst to them, NYC, for the show).  In the end, the girls were saying, “this was the best Christmas ever!”  David and I gave each other a few high fives.  We were really happy with the way things worked out.
  • New Year’s was mellow this year.  For David & I.  Not for the girls.  We wandered down the street for a party from 8:30 – 11:30, where Mouse already was and had been pretty much all day long.  Lemon had friends over, and I felt like, theoretically, it was weird to leave a house full of 15 yos without supervision.  But, realistically, these kids were more than fine.  A handful of girls who were fighting over house rules for Apples-t0-Apples when we left, and who begged me to make them a cheese plate before leaving . . . they were more than fine.  David came home before me, and found them in the middle of a game of Life.  They’d had some Sprite and potato chips.  We all watched the ball drop together, and then David and I retired to our room with our iPads.  We ended up playing games. Until 3 a.m.  Once we finally went to bed, we crashed, so we had no idea that Lemon & Company stayed up all night long, and went to the park around the corner to watch the “First Sunrise of 2012.”

And so now here we are.  First day of 2012.  I’ve been thinking about “resolutions” – but I’m not really into it.  I thought about saying this year’s resolutions will be to make my bed every day, and to keep up with my laundry.  Pretty productive, not overly introspective.  I guess I could say “find a job,” but . . . duh?  What if I don’t make that my resolution?  Will I end up unemployed all year?  Of course not.

So I’ll keep pondering.  While watching the Patriots catch up to and then kick the ass of the Bills.  I’ll try and be more introspective this evening.

I know one thing, already, though —- I’m not sorry to see 2011 out the door.  And I wasn’t sorry to see 2010 disappear, either.  I know I’m ready for a good year.  Very ready.

 

 

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I’m not ungrateful I swear . . .

November 25, 2011

I tried to do a “things I’m grateful for” post on Wednesday.  But then Lemon came home from a friend’s house and proceeded to have the usual “I’m leaving for the Middle of the Country tomorrow!” meltdown, and I got distracted.  Then yesterday (Thanksgiving), WD and I mostly stayed off our computers.  We took the girls to the airport for their 7;15 a.m. flight, and then went back home and into our bed.  I slept only fitfully until I knew the girls had landed safely, and then slept HARD until noon. Then we sort of hung around and read books and chatted all afternoon, until our delicious dinner out.

Today, I was up early to meet a friend for a walk, which was good.  It was a nice crisp but sunny morning.  Now I’m back with my Dragons, and with my laundry and my play producing.  I’m talking WD into putting up our holiday lights on our balcony, and we’re thinking about Christmas shopping for the girly-q’s.

Last year, we were relatively obnoxious with the Christmas gift buying. This year, we will not be obnoxious.  I found the “Want, Need, Wear, Read” outline over at Mom to the Screaming Masses, and plan to adopt it as my mantra for this year.  We will tell the girls that things will be a little more modest this year — but we won’t be quite all the way to austere.  Their “wear” will probably be Uggs, and I think Lemon’s “want” will be Harry Potter movies.  Not sure yet how many (I haven’t done the shopping) (oh, wait – I just did.  The complete set of all 8 movies on Blu-ray is $70.  So she’ll get that).  But she also wanted a keyboard, but she can’t get both.  For “need,” I can’t think of much that they need.  (Nice, huh?)  I am seriously and without a shred of joking thinking about socks & underwear.  Maybe socks, underwear & “extras” (what we call scarves, gloves, hats).

I have less ideas for Mouse.

But that’s my day.  Gift-planning, reading, walking.  Encouraging light-stringing.

Here’s the partial-post from Wednesday night, exhibiting my partially-formed list of things I’m grateful for.  If I had finished, I would have added anecdotes about my friends, my parents, my cats (I do love my cats).  At least.

 

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As easy as it may be to wallow in the week following a lay-off, I find myself having a good time, and feeling very, very grateful:

  • Last night, I checked in on my 15 year old daughter just before she went to bed, as I usually do. She is 15!!  That age where people are supposed to be glum, and supposed to hate their parents.  Stuff like that.  I offered her a hug, and she took me up on it.  The hug lasted a very, very long time.  When she was 1, 2, 3, 4, even 5 — thinking about having her on my lap for minutes upon minutes was nothing.  It was accepted.  But last night’s prolonged hug wasn’t “nothing.”  I am grateful for the hugs that I still get.
  • Today, Mouse called as she was leaving school at noon (pre-holiday release time).  She was thinking of seeing a movie.  She was going to have lunch at a friend’s.  “Oh, and hey – mom?  A is making me say this:  Um, J and I are a thing.  As of today.  Okay?”  J is a boy that I’ve suspected as a possibility for some time, but Mouse has denied it. A is Mouse’s closest friend (since 1st grade!) – the one who insists that she’s my third daughter, who posts on Lemon’s Facebook wall as ‘your other sister’ every day.  I am grateful that even when my teenage daughters do NOT want to confide in their mother, I have a relationship with their friends that kicks in.  I know this is a lighthearted middle school relationship, but I do truly believe that if there were a problem – a real problem with my girls –  the same would hold true.
  • My girls are leaving tomorrow early in the morning to visit the Ex in the Middle of the Country.  I don’t like this.  I like them here.  But WD and I are doing what we can to make the holiday special, even without the most special parts of our days.  I am grateful for WD.  Because he helps to make my days special.  He knows what’s hard, and he works to make it better.  We are going out to dinner tomorrow night, at a nice restaurant.  We are /

(That’s where I stopped.)

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Day-by-Day

November 22, 2011

I feel like I am still on a rollercoaster, emotionally, but the dips and hills are not so crazy-wild as they were before I received my lay-off news.  I’ll feel fine one minute and happy to distract myself by immersing myself into the play that I’m producing, and then the next moment, I’ll feel inexplicably sad. Things that make me sad:

  • The HR person who’s supposed to be holding my hand through next steps knowing ZERO answers to very reasonable and foreseeable questions;
  • going to court with a long-time pro bono client, knowing that I won’t be around for the next review date;
  • wondering when we will next be able to travel.

But for the next several days, I’m going to be home and enjoying the holiday.  Monday will start the huge push toward the job search, but first – Thanksgiving.

The girls are going to the Middle of the Country this year.  WD and I thought about taking a trip at the same time, but our time was too short and prices were too high.  The girls leave on Thanksgiving morning, at some ungodly hour, so we won’t even drive to see my parents.  Instead, we made reservations.

Last year was the first year that we had a really nice meal out on Thanksgiving. Only, we weren’t at home.  The menu wasn’t so different from this year’s.  WD had the turkey, and I went with the lamb, thinking I was being adventurous.

Instead, I missed having turkey.

So guess what I plan to eat this year?  Yep.  Turkey.  It’s gonna be delicious!

Other than the meal out, WD and I have no plans for our long-long weekend.  I will probably spruce up the resume a bit more, and maybe do some job searching.  I may prompt him to do the same.  I’m sure we will watch movies.  I would like to watch The Shining again – haven’t in a long time.  I’ve been on a horror movie kick since we saw Rosemary’s Baby with Lemon recently.  That movie was outstanding.  Then came American Horror Story, and my old appetite for creepy is rejuvinated.  But it is creepy that I like – not slasher.  And there’s less out there that fits my requirements, as opposed to sheer “scary guy waiting behind the door with a big knife” crap.  The psychological aspects of my kind of creepy must be well-developed.  I want some intelligence in my creep.

I also plan to exercise a good bit over the long weekend.  Some running, some strength.  Would like to firm up a bit before I start the interview circuit.  Although I have a lunch with a partner at a firm on Monday, and I’m not sure there’s much I can do about the lack of firmness before Monday.

 

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Never Easy Anymore

October 25, 2011

When the Ex and I divorced, I carefully planned our holiday schedule.  I would have Christmas during odd years, Thanksgiving during even.  This was important to me, because around the same time our divorce agreement was being finalized, my sister and her (horrible, pathetic, wretched person of an) Ex were separating.  We were craftily finding a way that we could still spend holidays together, with our kids.

[In my opinion, our joint divorces are 1000% a testament to the sheltered upbringing and college educations that we both had. There was no reason for either of us to get married at 21 or younger, and no reason for either of us to have children half a second after that.  But, whatever, moving on … ]

This year, for the second time in three years, my Ex is forcing a reschedule of that carefully laid plan.

The first time was when his first child with his new wife was born, in 2009, the last time he was supposed to have our girls for Christmas.  The baby was due on 12/27 – or something like that – and it just felt too close for comfort for him. (Understandably – if his wife went into labor in one small city while the girls were due to land in another smallish city an hour away, it would have been very hard for him.  As it turned out, the baby was born 3 weeks early, and there was no conflict.  That wasn’t foreseeable.). It was fine with me, because I’m always thrilled to have my kids around.  He wasn’t able to swing Thanksgiving instead that year, because of ticket costs, so I just had Lemon and Mouse for all of the holidays that year.

Last year, Thanksgiving was his, and the girls went as planned.

This year, he had them for April vacation.  But then Lemon had a conflict.  He was quicker to accommodate than I anticipated, and it went okay. I got some me-time in, and my car got some additional miles.

Then this past summer — it was also a bit odd.  First, he said they shouldn’t go there, he would come here. Then he couldn’t come here, so he wanted them to go there.  But we’d already made plans to keep them busy because he said they shouldn’t go there, so it was tough.  But, again and as usual, we worked it out.

This coming winter, the schedule again says it’s his turn to have them for Christmas.  But in the universe of My Ex Is a Weirdo, his kids are in Turkey (not the part that was just devastated by an earthquake), even though he and his wife are in the Middle of THIS Country.  His son (who will be 2 this December) has actually been there since April.  His daughter since May (she was 3 months old when she left the U.S.).  The Ex left Turkey in June, and his wife left in September (or August?).  So . . . he really hasn’t seen his baby girl since she was 4 months old. Hasn’t seen either of his babies since June (maybe July?).

I do not understand.

But he and his wife want to go visit them (the babies are staying with his wife’s family; his wife is finishing her dissertation in the MIddle of THIS Country, where the Ex works). They plan to visit at Christmas-time, which I suppose makes a lot of sense, since the Ex and his wife are currently operating in line with a college academic calendar.

Therefore, he cannot (will not) have a visit with Lemon and Mouse at Christmas.

Again.

This time, we figured it all out in time for reasonable Thanksgiving airfare prices. Very reasonable. But his budget is so-very taxed (as one is wont to be when flying across the Atlantic  several times a year . . . visiting Europe and the Middle East) and so he could not afford 50% of tickets that kept the girls from missing meaningful school time.

We went back and forth several times about the best travel time.  I balked when he suggested they fly on Thanksgiving Day.  Really?  What kind of holiday is that?  He pushed back, insisted I ask the girls.  I was again pretty appalled when they just shrugged . . . but shrug they did.  So the tickets were bought.  Thursday to Monday.  They would miss school on Monday.

So we said in September.

Since then, Mouse got the lead in her play. Lemon’s dream-team was going to be missed. And the trip has seemed a burden to both girls.  WD and I looked into a repeat of our amazing Thanksgiving of a year ago, but the timing was too tight, and prices were too high, and things just too tense. So we can’t do anything with the time, except to stay home and – well – breathe (not such a bad thing, when you stop & think about it).

But it recently became clear that the Monday that Mouse was going to miss was a crucial day for her play rehearsals.  The play is soon after Thanksgiving, and the dress rehearsals start right after Thanksgiving.

I said too bad.  It’s the only day she’s missing, it will need to be fine.

She was miserable over it.

So I tried to swap some rehearsals around — we have two casts, because so many kids are involved in our shows (everyone who wants to participate gets a part … this is elementary/middle school, after all), and so I checked with her  counterpart, after talking to the director, to see if a switch was feasible.

It was not.

I said too bad again.  Mouse remained miserable.  I told her it was up to her to raise it with her father – and she did.  She wrote him a very kind, loving email, asking if the tickets could please be changed.

Once again, he’s being relatively accommodating.  Of course, it’s after I offered to pay the full change fee (stupidly).  But we still don’t know if it’s something I can even swing.

Maybe he’s being accommodating because in the same email that he discussed his semi-flexibility for Thanksgiving, he also discussed his already-changing plans for the summer.  Probably reducing the girls’ time there to 1-2 weeks, rather than the 3-4 that we worked out.

It’s just getting harder and harder to make this work across state lines.  And the distance that geography has brought* makes the relationships harder to prioritize.  Not by me – not at all – but by him and by the girls. I wonder, also, how much their relationships with him are treated as a lesser priority now that he has more children that are shared with a person he is actually married to.

* I maintain that his personality brings more distance than geography. But that’s just the ex in me talking . . . or not.