Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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Planes, trains and boats (and I’m not on any of them)

July 28, 2013

This past week, I put my Emma on a plane.  Ballsy of me, ballsy of her; the whole trip is quite ballsy:

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She is now in Paris.  Navigating the Metro, the Eiffel Tower, figuring out which museums to see.  She’s not with a group or on an organized trip.  It’s just her and a friend, making their way.

I’m not surprised that when she called today, she seemed a bit subdued.  Or that she expressed some concern about finding their way outside of Paris to Versailles “on their own.”  (her words.)

They’re staying with family friends, so they aren’t completely adrift, but I think that having this time to plan, to execute, to budget – on their own – is an interesting wake up call.  It responds nicely to the exclamations of “I am an adult!  I can make my own decisions!” that were creeping into her arguments before she left.  Arguments for a later curfew, mostly.

She’s not an adult.  One more year of high school, and lots more years to mature.

Yet, I’m happy that we can provide for her an experience that will help her to grow into an adult.

She’s spending a week in Paris, and then a week in the countryside, staying with her friends’ parents’ in-laws.  There, they will hike, they will swim in a lake, they will milk some cows.  And I will be checking my phone, my emails, my growing number of grey hairs, much less.

Meanwhile, the 15 year old is safely ensconced in her remote overnight camp for a month.  Well supervised, well sunscreened, and beautifully cut off from internet and television:

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Last year, David and I fell down on our job of sending her letters from home.  At her camp, each “session” is two weeks, and we are allowed to visit on the mid-point day.  Before I knew it, the first session was almost over, and I hadn’t sent her a SINGLE letter.  This was horrible.  Wretched.  Terrible.  Bad.  We started getting letters that said “why haven’t you written me?” and “I can’t believe I haven’t gotten even ONE letter?  Is everything okay?” We did better after that, but it didn’t reduce the scarring.  (Fortunately, she was having a fabulous time, and this didn’t impact her experience … but it gave her a LOT of ammunition to complain.)

This year, we’re working to fix it.  We sent her postcards from the town right outside the camp on the day we dropped her off, and we’ve been alternating letters and packages EVERY DAY since.  And we EACH send something every day.  I’m hoping I can erase her memories of last year.  I’ve sent her, so far, temporary tattoos, a purple pen, nailpolish, stickers for her nails, and 2 letters.  David has sent her books.  I have some other little trinkets to send over the next few weeks.

As I’ve said here before, my kids are theatrically inclined.  They do musicals and plays, and Emma is now in the high school’s [very competitive, not that I’d brag] Improv Troupe.  Julez’s camp does a musical, too.  They work on it for the full month, and perform during the last week.  Last year, the musical was Seussical, and she was the Cat in the Hat.  This year, it’s The Little Mermaid, and she wrote to say she is Sebastian, the …. lobster?  Sadly, because her camp is 3 hours away, and on an island that can only be accessed by a boat; and because parents simply aren’t invited – we can’t see this musical.  But I take solace in knowing that I will hear the songs for months, during Juliette’s showers.  So I’ll have some sense.

David and I are enjoying our temporarily empty nest.  I’m on the verge of very intense trial prep, but so far things are under control enough that my weekends are untouched.  Yesterday we went and saw TWO movies, and then had some quick, cheap, delicious tacos for dinner out, and then came home and watched West Wing for a few hours.  Wild and sexy, us two.  Today I’m thinking of organizing my home office, so that perhaps one day it will be at the point where I don’t feel that I need to close the door and hide it from all visitors.  We’ll see how that goes.

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Our Final Days on Vacation.

July 1, 2012

Yeah, I missed out posting Days 5 and 6.  I have less photos, because the days were a little less cooperative.

Day 5:  We planned another field trip day, and the weather was hot hot hot.  We had been lucky all week with temps in the low 80s, and on our first field trip day, mid 70s.  But then on Thursday, it shot up into the 90s, and we all wilted.  The hurricane in the atlantic (Debby) had caused some rip currents, so we weren’t too upset about not being on the beach.  The thing Lemon really wanted to do was to go and see the site of the Wright Brothers’ first flight:

“It’s only a model.”

“Da Plane!  Da Plane!”

(As if someone else wouldn’t have come up with it if they didn’t.)

The markers indicate the first 4 successful flights.  The 4th is pretty far out into the sweltering field.  We did not visit the markers.

This was on a hill.  The hill was higher than it looked.  And it was HOT.

Monument, with a Wright Head.

Mouse, however, was miserable.  “This is all the things I hate!  Museums and airplanes!”  I gave her permission to give the Wright brothers (and the first planes) the finger, but she just glared at me. Like this:

Oscar the Mouse.

“Stop taking my picture!  I am miserable! I am sweaty! I am bored! Stop!”

So, we went to Five Guys and gorged ourselves on fries.  Then we went home, and the girls played games while David and I read books.  It was nice.

Our last day at the beach was also a bit lackluster.  It was due to be another scorcher, so we planned to get up & out earlier than usual, by 10 a.m.  (Oh, the torture that represents for a nearly-16 year old!)  But when we got to the beach, very soon after our planned time, we were greeted with a very rough sea, high winds, and pelting sand:

We went in the ocean for a bit, anyway, but it lacked the serenity of days past.  So we tried to take advantage of the wind, and fly some kites:

Lemon had some success, but Mouse’s broke.  So we tried to read for a while, but the sand was pretty sharp.

So we packed up by noon, and went and watched Brave.

Seriously, I started tearing up at the opening scene!  The opening scene!  When the mom was chasing her little girl around to tickle her, and they were so sweet.  I was all, “my girls used to be that little, and we used to chase around to tickle, and they used to giggle like that!”  And then later,  I cried more.  Then, when it ended, I sobbed.

Mouse laughed at me, but Lemon also had some heart-wrenching.  (I can’t say when, because it’s kind of a spoiler.)  But then, in perfect Lemon form, she picked on the premise afterward.  God, cartoon characters are so illogical!

Then we went home and packed, and we ate yummy foods, and we packed some more.  I found myself pretty sad about leaving.  Even though I was also ready to go.  I was sad to go.

I soothed myself by choosing next year’s house in between loads of laundry.

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The Last of the Birthday Trip

February 7, 2012

First, the trip almost didn’t happen, then we had a meal that we will always remember, now – I think I can resort mostly to photos, and lay off all the blah blah.  We’ll see 🙂

On our one full day, we got up early and had breakfast at the B&B.  Then we grabbed coats (that we didn’t need, because it was 55 or so, despite being December) and hopped in the car for our day exploring the entire island, rather than just the towns.

We started out in Menemsha, which is where Mouse spent her time when she vacationed with friends, and where at least some of Jaws was filmed:

There was a fish market there that was known for its clam chowder, and I really wanted some, but we were there too early.  So we had to move on and go around the island to the Aquinnah area.  We enjoyed some overlook views and then went for a very long and very rocky walk on the beach.  I was not wearing the right shoes:

 

One of the things about the beach there is the natural clay, to wit:

Here is the cliff’s worth:

And here’s a shot of a funky little crevice in the clay:

It was tough, but we avoided applying the clay to our bodies.  (heh)

Then, because he loves me and it was my birthday, David drove me back to Menemsha for my clam chowder.

Some sites along the road:

The chowder was delicious. It was worth the zigzag. After the chowder, we drove to South Beach, not far from Edgartown.  This was my favorite beach, and if I one day win that lottery, I will buy me a house near THIS beach.  Even though I’m told it looks nothing like this during the summer, but is instead wall-to-wall people.  I don’t care:

And then, finally, we started to get chilly.  After the entire day of walking on beaches and hanging out outside, we didn’t need a sweater or a coat until 4 p.m.  First time ever for my birthday to be that warm, I’m sure.

And then our funny story of the day:

We to Edgartown for a little bit, because we’d missed a couple of shops before they closed the day before, due to early off-season closing times. We were alone in one of the shops, looking at some wallets, one of which I knew that Mouse wanted, when the door went ding-ding-ding.  An older couple walked in – a polo-clad 60-something man and his fur-drenched wife.  I did a double take and said, “Judge ______?!??!!”  It was the judge I’d worked with during my first summer of law school and his wife.  Very surreal and odd (especially when you think that my true FIRST visit to the Vineyard was the time that I flew there in this judge’s prop plane — I even got to fly for most of the trip.  It was a lot of fun).

He of course was asking me about work and practice and the Big/Old Firm, and I was just about a week out from the lay off news.  I pretended that it hadn’t happened. We just caught up in general. Still, who would have thought?

That night, David went to a more casual restaurant.  I had some oysters, and we had – other food.  I think burgers.  I know it was good, but it wasn’t like the night before.

For our last morning, we got up and did some shell-combing on the beach across the street from our hotel . . .

. . . and headed back to the ferry, relaxed and ready to delve back into our school play.  (Which I plan to be the topic of my next post, but we’ll see.  This series has been exhausting!)

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The Birthday Trip, Day 1 (The Dinner)

February 7, 2012

Like I said in the preview, David and I had a great quick getaway for our birthday weekend, but primarily for his 50th birthday.  The girls were going to friends’ houses, and it was a little strange because they slept at home on Friday night, and slept in on Saturday, but didn’t leave our house to go to their friends’ houses until after we left to catch our ferry.  So we just – walked out.  With two girls asleep in their beds. Of course, we knew they’d be fine (and they were).

We were on a 10 a.m. ferry, and it took about an hour and a half to drive down to Woods Hole, where the ferry leaves from.  It was the first time we’d put our car on a ferry, and so that was not boring.  It was a nice quick ride across the water. When we got to the island, we were a little early to check in at the hotel – a sweet bed and breakfast right across the street from the ocean in Oak Bluffs. So we left the car at the inn and walked into town.  There wasn’t a ton open, but the weather was nice, and we enjoyed the walk.  We ended up having lunch at the same restaurant that we had breakfast/brunch at the last time we were on the island – Slice of Life.

The one other time that we’d been was a bit of a last-minute decision.  Mouse was going with a friend for a long weekend (a portion of her friend’s 2 week vacation), and we had to drive her to the ferry.  We had thought about going onto the island at the same time, but she complained.  This was her trip.  We rolled our eyes, but said fine.  Yet, once we’d driven the 1.5 hours to Woods Hole, we told her we were leaving, waved goodbye as her ferry left, and then bought tickets to the next ferry.  It was a warm June day, and we had nothing with us.  We wandered the town of Oak  Bluffs (where our ferry landed), and then took a bus to Vineyard Haven, and then another bus to Edgartown (those are the three large towns on the island).  All three towns were fine.  But I was jealous of the cars full of towels and beach chairs. I wanted to go see the lighthouse.  I wanted to rent a bike. I wanted to look at a house’s window at the water.

Other than my discontent at not having a house to stay in and beach gear to utilize, we had a good day. Including our breakfast at Slice of Life.  So we were happy to see it was open again.

By the time we ate lunch and got checked into our hotel, it was going on 3, and because it was December, that meant we knew it would be dark soon.  So for the rest of that day, we ended up replicating our first day.  We revisited the spots and shops we remembered from the first trip in all three towns.  We also did some investigation into restaurants.

My friend who goes every summer (who Mouse went with that time 2 years ago) had given me a list of restaurants to check out, sure that at least one of them would be open in the off-season.  None of them were.  So we did our own research into the available options – there were plenty.  There was one menu that jumped out at me, because it had a really solid range of food.   I wanted a nice dinner because this was our big birthday dinner.  We had brought nice clothes, so were equipped to go as fancy as we could. The menu I liked included a range from the fancy to the quick lunch, but what I really liked about it was that it had a “Chef’s Tasting Menu” option.  David was a little less sure, and he also was drawn to a super-fancy French restaurant.

After we had our short list of restaurant choices, we checked them out in person as we went through the towns.  His first choice ended up looking a bit bland, and full of grey and blue-haired folk.  We ended up crossing it off the list, and ultimately deciding to go with the one I liked:  Zephrus, which was in the Mansion House Inn in Vineyard Haven.

The menu had a lot that looked good, but I really wanted to try the tasting menu.  David was a little hesitant, because he was afraid we’d end up with something gross.  (The on-line menu has changed since, so I can’t really share. Sorry.)  We looked at the menu to see if there was anything we’d be unhappy to eat.  The only thing was the fois gras.  Everything else looked great.  But I shut my mouth and let David decide, reminding myself this was his 50th trip.

But he decided to go for it.

Oh My God.

The Tasting Menu was 5 courses, one of which would be dessert.  The chef doesn’t let you partake in the exercise unless everyone at the table is on board.  We were told that our dishes may or may not come from the existing menu – he may make something up on the fly.

Now, I’m sorry to say we didn’t get with the program and start taking photos of the courses from the start, so I do not have a photo of the first course, which was a sweet potato gnocchi with spinach, garlic and some yummy cheese.  I was in heaven.  We both had been a little nervous, not knowing what the heck was coming, and we were both giddy with this first dish.  Sweet potato and spinach are both favorites of mine, and so I was over the moon.

Our second course:

Balsamic braised bay scallops and asparagus over mashed potatoes. This was more David’s dish. Scallops are a huge favorite of his, although asparagus is another favorite of mine, and so were the mashed potatoes.  Again – this was cooked to absolute perfection.

Third course was a salad – but not just any salad – it was a roasted beet salad with gorgonzola and parsley:

(Beets are yet another of my very favorite foods . . . )

We remained giddy, and the chef and the waiter were getting a kick out of our enthusiasm.  After the beet salad, David said, “well, the only way this can get any better is if we get steak for our main course.”  But when the waiter re-set our places after the salad, he didn’t bring steak knives, so we figured we were in for a fish, or something else.

Our 4th Course:

Oh, what’s that?  Filet Mignon over a truffle risotto?  Oh, wait – what’s that?  Risotto, rare steak and truffle are all some of Suzie’s to-die-for foods?  Really??

The waiter chuckled and said, “I didn’t want you to guess, so I didn’t bring your steak knives ahead of time!” as he handed us our steak knives.

For the first few years that David and I spent our birthdays together, we hadn’t yet figured out how to do this “two birthdays in a row” thing, and so we made cakes back-to-back, one for each birthday.  Mine was spice cake, his was German Chocolate.

So what was the 5th course?

That, right there, is the last bite of spice cake.  (That’s a coffee ice cream, and I really wasn’t a fan — not to mention stuffed!)  And so that we had a bit more fun, they brought us different desserts – here’s the second:

A yummy cobbler.

The desserts, frankly, weren’t my favorites.  But I don’t think of myself as a dessert person, as a rule.  Of course there are things I love, but I’m not always ready for a piece of cake.  Also, I’m never a “dessert in a restaurant” person.  I will refuse dessert until after a walk every time.  I’d prefer a solid walk and then a chocolate bar (preferably high quality) or some ice cream. Sometimes, I’d prefer an after-dinner drink to a dessert.  So, the fact that I wasn’t head over heels over the desserts didn’t mean a thing.

David and I both were on cloud 9 after that meal.  We felt like it was really our best meal EVER.  We agreed that there was something to be said for the surprise element – we had no idea what was coming, so we couldn’t have preconceived notions about how it should taste or look or be cooked.  Even putting that psychology aside, though, this food was amazing.

We had gone out to a nice dinner for Thanksgiving, a couple of weeks before this, where we had much less food for the same price.  Hands down, this tasting menu was better than the Thanksgiving meal.  Maybe one of our New Orleans meals 2 years ago (specifically, the one at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA) came close to this meal.  But, it’s a little doubtful.  It’s probably obvious how awesome this was, since I can still write about it 2 months later with some pretty impressive enthusiasm!

We highly recommend not only Zephrus, if you find yourself on Martha’s Vineyard, but specifically the Chef’s tasting menu.  We went with the 5 course option (I think it was $65/person, but we know it wasn’t more than $85/person — we do know that with drinks and tip the total check came to $227.  Thanks to Mint.com), but there was also a less expensive 3 course option, which did not include dessert.

I think the next time we come across the option of  Chef’s tasting menu, we will take it.  It was really so amazing.

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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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Happiness and Headaches

February 1, 2012

Happiness

  • I’ve accepted the offer from the new job.  Man, does it feel good to know that I have landed without a gap in employment.  Hooray!
  • The new job agreed to my starting AFTER February vacation week, so I don’t have to be in stress-mode while Mouse is home from school and her friends are all away. Lemon will be traveling with her crew team, and we are not traveling without her.  We thought about it last February, when it was freaking cold out we didn’t yet know that I’d have this transition forced upon me.  But since today – February 1 – it was 60 degrees outside – we aren’t feeling too bummed about the change in plans.
  • The old job owes me 3 weeks’ vacation pay.  I didn’t know that until yesterday.  That will be a nice chunk o’ change. I am seriously considering a late-June re-do of last year’s vacation.  The house itself is very affordable, we will drive rather than fly, and we will all be happy with cooking in the house.  It could be great. It could be perfect.  Just what we need.
  • I’m home a lot. I don’t have much work left, and most of what I do have can be done at home.
  • When I’m home, I get to hang out with my kids.  And I like them.  And I have fun with them.  I love how much they make me laugh, I love how much they find what room I’m in, and hang out with me.  I love that Lemon came home today and laughed from the door way, yelling (to me), “Honey, I’m hooo-ooooome!” And that she then met me at her sister’s basketball game, and we went out for a sushi “snack” afterwards, chatting all the while.  Where are the nasty teen years?? (Don’t answer that.)
  • Mouse had a doctor’s appointment (annual physical) yesterday.  I picked her up early, we went and grabbed some burritos, and then went to talk about how damned healthy, tall, athletic and smart she is.
  • My girls are really enjoying each other lately. I may enjoy that more than them enjoying me.
  • Tomorrow is mine and David’s 5th wedding anniversary.  When we went away for our birthdays this year, we realized that it was also our 10 year “dating” anniversary.  He got a haircut today, and he looks super-cute.  Also, he probably noticed today at the basketball game that I raided his sock drawer, but he didn’t complain.  He’s a great guy.

 

Headaches

  • I had a 3 day headache.  For real.  Like, my head hurt.  An Advil fixed it, but I had to complain, because it just fits here so well.
  • While I had posted previously that the Ex “was less resistant” to the idea of kicking things back to the level they should have been at all along, I was being overly optimistic. We are going back and forth with proposals.  He’s dragged the sharing of travel costs and tax deductions into our discussion, and he pisses me off.  Then he throws in his usual condescending asinine comments (i.e., “I am very sympathetic to the financial and professional difficulties you face at the moment . . . “), and I want to rip his face off.  For reals.  I still think we can reach an agreement, but dealing with his bullshit in the meantime drives me bonkers.
    • I wanted to retort that while I am facing a paycut, it was something I always knew was coming, AND!  Another thing!!  This is not a “professional difficulty,” at all!  This is a very logical and typical move at this stage of my career, and is resulting in increased experience!  You dummy!  Instead, I ignored his blah-blah, and responded only about the issues at hand.  So, ha!  You cannot rattle me!  [except that, really, he did.  because he’s a jerk.]
  • Also, the Ex just canceled the girls’ summer visit again.  So now David and I will both be working, and I think that the girls will be home.  Without much to do.  Last year, with me making gobs of money, we filled the time with crazy-costly camps (no, really — the girls were in camp with the grand-daughter of the owner of the Patriots, and with the daughter of the owner of Newbury Comics … we paid dearly).  This year, Lemon will likely be looking for someone to pay HER, and Mouse will be, uh . . . .
  • Just after I came to terms with my reduced salary, I called the H.R. person at the New Job to find out about health insurance details.  They were bad.  Very bad.  I almost cried.  I didn’t know what to do – I was totally unprepared for the costs.  I know I’ve been spoiled and spoiled and spoiled, but this was a blow.  I have since spoken with some people that tell me that while the number was double what I pay currently, on a salary that’s half of what I currently have, it’s “normal” and “fair.”  Fortunately, they told me that AFTER I decided to negotiate this point with New Firm.  So, this maybe should be up there in “happiness,” because it looks like there will be movement on the issue.

So, thanks for reading!

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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.