Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where do I start?

I have been away from this place for far too long and as with most things, the longer you stay away, the harder it becomes to come back.

So much has happened in the last three weeks that I may have to bullet point it all just to keep it in some semblance of an order.

On January 6th FoTB was arrested. Or rather he turned himself in. On the 17th of November he beat up a girl he was staying with. Pushed her around in the kitchen, held her down while he screamed at her, threatened to "show her what crazy was", threatened to punch her, etc.

Unfortunately, this girl has a sorted past and that may work against her in court. I know she is not lying. Every single thing in that police report was things he did to me. Every one. I have heard every phrase, seen every action, I KNOW with every fiber of my being she is telling the truth, but it won't matter. My testimony can't be used to prove he did it. Just because he did it before, the courts say, is not proof he did it again. The courts are wrong. It absolutely is....

That next day, he was fired from his job.

He was also charges with theft. He told his dad it was for a drive off of gas. I tried to get the police report for that but they said that in that city (I have been to four different places getting police reports over the last month) the don't give out police reports for open cases.

On December 7th, he was out again. Apparently before he went in he left some money with a friend or with a bail bondsman and so that person came and got him. Less than 24 hours in jail and he was out again...

However, his freedom was short lived. On December 15th he was arrested again. This time charged with five felonies and a misdemeanor. The 2nd misdemeanor was filed on the 22nd. He stayed in jail this time on a cash only bond for 13 days. Then one of his "friends" paid a cash only bondsman somewhere between 20 - 40% of the cash amount to get him out.

He is in way over his head. I don't have friends that would pay that kind of cash to get me out. He owes some people big time and I just don't see it ending well. My guess is he becomes their drug runner and is back in jail for more serious charges within the month.
Today the papers were finalized and sent to the court for termination. I am done. This is completely unfair to Zack to continue to let this drag out. He has been through enough.

I don't know if his mom will hire him a lawyer to fight me on the termination. She knows it is coming, she understands why I am doing it, she just isn't 100% comfortable with the end result. I hope she doesn't but at the end of the day, I can't control that part. If she does, we will just deal with it.

Either way, she can't change the facts:

15 weeks since he has seen his son

14 weeks since we suspended visits

8 weeks since he has contacted us

5 weeks since I have received any child support

He has basically abandoned Zack now, I don't know what difference it will make to him if we make it official. Yet somehow, I think we will end up in court over this. Nothing can ever be easy or in Zack's best interest with him.

Oh, and to add to the madness and chaos in our house, there is also this:

4w3d - Due September 2nd

Scared out of my mind. Every twinge, every pain. Every time I pee I look at the toilet paper.

I have known far too many people who have miscarried, delivered too early, had babies that were born still. I know all too well that a positive test does not always end in a take home baby and I REALLY, REALLY want a take home baby.

So I pray, a lot. And I try to remember that I don't get to control this. I get to be along for the ride. The termination, the pregnancy, the rest of this craziness, all I can do is sit back and pray that it all goes well.

So, how are things with all of you?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday Talks

(Zack singing in the back seat) Frosty the Snowman was a jolly happy soul....

(Insert the rest of the lyrics to this song that I don't really want to type out, sung mostly correctly and mostly in order....)

[...] I'll be back again some day!!

Wow buddy. That was a good job!! You remembered all of the words.

Yeah, that's cuz I have a rememberer in my brain and it helps me remember that stuff. But sometimes it remembers stuff I don't want it to and then they get stuck in my head. Like Who Let the Dogs Out. C was dancing to that yesterday at D's party and it got stuck in my head.

Later that night I make the mistake of telling Jim this story. I couldn't help it. A rememberer? (yes, there is an extra er....) it was too cute not to share.

Jim: Hey Zack... Who let the dogs out?

Uggg!! DAD!!! Now that is going to be stuck in my head!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Santa Express

On Saturday we took Zack to ride the Santa Express in Boone, Iowa.

We didn't tell him where we were going, just told him we had a surprise. He was excited, even though he had no idea where we were going.

Once we pulled into the station he about lept out of his seat when he realized we were going to ride a train.

It was raining outside all day, it turned to sleet on our way home but luckily the train cars were all enclosed and it was nice and toasty inside.

There was, of course, lots of excitement and some goofing around while we were waiting for the train to get going and when we were stopped at the "North Pole."

That's right... this train went all the way to the "North Pole." On the way they served us homeade cookies.

And hot chocolate...

And then when we got there, we got a special vistor!

Santa got on the train at the "North Pole" and handed out bells to every child. (It used to be called the Polar Express and they handed out the sleigh bells like he gets in the movie but because of copywright issues they can no longer call it the Polar Express but they still hand out the bells.

Then we all sang Christmas Carols. Jingle Bells, of course, along with several other favorites.

Overall, I think it was a very fun trip. It would have been a little better if we had gone during the day so that he could have seen out of the windows but otherwise, it was pretty good. More importantly, Zack loved it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Speak out


This morning as I came downstairs from getting dressed I noticed that my phone had a missed call. I picked it up and dialed my voicemail. I knew it was FoTB's grandpa, I know he was probably saying thank you for sending Zack's pictures. I did not expect the message I heard.

He was sobbing. Not just crying, sobbing so hard he could not talk telling me how grateful he was that I thought of him and sent pictures and how hard this has all been on him to see FoTB fail again. To try to support him and to be screwed over once again.

Today, on Speak Out against Domestic Violence day I don't want to talk about me. I did that already, you can go and read it here and here and see pictures here if you want. Instead today I want to give a voice to the people who are forgotten. The rest of the people who were not "direct victims" of the violence but yet their lives will never be the same.

Like his grandpa and his mom, who live each day thinking that I may not let them see Zack because I in some way reflect FoTB's actions onto them. Who are sad, and scared and ashamed that they supported him and believed his lies. Who just want to see their grandson/great-grandson and don't know what to say or how to say enough times how sorry they are that they believed him.

I want to give a voice to Zack, a little boy who struggles with what he did wrong. Was I bad? Is that why daddy is so angry? Did he not want a big boy? Maybe he just wanted a baby and I got too big? Who right now is hurting and can't explain why. Who is TERRIFIED of his biological father yet is wanting him to change all at the same time. I miss him. What do you miss? I don't know. I didn't like it when he was mad and he yelled.

And so it is, the abused defending and loving the abuser, even when they know with every logical part of their brain that they shouldn't.

And to J, who wanted nothing more than a real dad, and S who wanted nothing more than a husband. They both wanted someone to care for them and they both paid the price for it. J is only 8 and yet he was hit and berated and belittled. And even after it was all done he wasn't sure he wanted to tell because he didn't want to get FoTB in trouble. And then when he decided to tell he was afraid he would come and hurt him again. He lived every single day in fear, every night having nightmares that he would come back and hurt them again.

Domestic violence has changed my life and my perspective in ways I couldn't even begin to explain. Comforts that people take for granted, I may never be able to do. But when I talk about my story I don't want to forget that there are others. That there are lots of people hurting. Family, friends, etc. People who hurt because I hurt or who hurt because they hurt, even if they weren't abused they are collateral damage.

So today, send up a prayer for every man, woman and child who has been affected by domestic violence. Every person who is struggling to feel whole and alright again that they may one day find the peace and love we all deserve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Mailbox

About two months ago, I came home from choir practice to find our mailbox flat in the ditch. Someone had left the road, driven through the ditch, over our mailbox and back out onto the road. A drunk driver most likely, as the mail had already come for the day and was strewn about the ditch and there were no adverse weather conditions.

The next day I went over to where the mailbox had been to assess the damage. Our mailbox was in four pieces. It snapped back together and didn't seem to be visibly any worse for the wear. The post however, was snapped in half and the plastic piece that the mailbox sat on was no where to be found.

So, I brought it inside and set it on our back porch.

"Mom, what are you going to do with that mailbox?"

"Well, we are going to go to the store and see if we can buy a new plastic piece to mount it on. If we can't, we are probably going to have to throw it away."

"If you can't fix it, can I have it?"

By the time Jim got home from work, his plan was already fully thought out. If we couldn't fix it, he told him, he was going to get to keep it and he could mail letters and maybe someone would bring him some mail.

As it turns out, we couldn't fix it. We had to buy a whole new mailbox and so this one, became his.

Every morning after it became officially "his mailbox" he would wake up and run to the back porch to check for mail. And, for about a week, every night we would sneak out there when he was asleep and put mail in his mailbox. Junk mail, catalogs, etc.

Then we ran out of junk mail. Or at least junk mail that would intrigue a child. So one day, he didn't get mail and we had to have the disappointing conversation with him that even WE don't get mail every day and that... gasp... even the mail man needs a day off.

Now, the mail man (aka Mom & Dad) comes a bit less frequently but it is ALWAYS an exciting time at our house when he walks out there, realizes the flag is down and finds a new piece of junk mail to marvel over.

He mails things back now too.

"Mom, I put that envelope in there and the mail man came and took it and now he's going to deliver it to someone."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Phone or Family?

I have a confession to make, I am slightly (ok, possibly a lot) addicted to my smart phone. And so is my husband. A week or so ago, I noticed that we were sitting in our living room, the TV on but both messing with our phones..... for over an hour. Me in my chair, him on the couch. Later that day, I realized that we went out to eat and one or both of us was messing with our phones (him checking sports scores, me texting) most of the meal.

And I thought to myself... is this what I want Zack to remember about dinner with his parents? The fact that we were more interested in our phones than in being a family?

At that moment, I realized something needed to change.

Today and yesterday I ate entire meals with my family and left my phone in my purse the entire time and you know what? No one died. No horrible crisis happened in my disconnection.

I can tell you, when Zack is with us, it is way easier to let it go than it is when he is at daycare. It will probalby take much longer to set it down during lunch at work but for now, I think putting it away during meals that I eat with him is a wonderful start.

Hi, I'm Heather and I'm a phone addict. Today is day two of my recovery...

Friday, November 11, 2011

On The Edge of my Seat

That is how I feel lately. Like I am continually sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to jump up. Waiting to act again.

It has been 11 days since I have heard from FoTB yet I still don't feel like this is over. Every day for seven weeks I have made sure to leave work no later than 4:30. Every day I have made sure Zack has been picked up by 5:00. Just in case.

Last week I traveled to Santa Barbara for four days. Did you know I was gone? Don't feel left out. I'm not quite sure anyone other than the people I was with, my parents & Jim knew I was gone. Actually, if we are being honest here, my body was gone but I don't think my mind ever left.

It's too bad. Of all the times in my life I needed a get away, this was towards the top of the list. However, with the most recent communication with FoTB just the day before and the words of my lawyer still ringing in my ears (she had seen his lawyer a week before at the court house and he had,told her then they still planned to file contempt against me) I just couldn't let go enough to fully relax.

Everywhere we went I had to keep checking my phone. I had told EVERYONE to keep quiet about me being gone yet I was terrified that somehow he would find out and try to take Zack, knowing I was 1,500 miles away. Every meal, I had my phone on the table. Every 30 mins I checked it. Looking for any word from him, the daycare, my lawyer, Jim, or my parents.

Both afternoons I was there I got to a point where I just went back to my room and laid down. My anxiety and stress were high as was my exhaustion so I left the others to their fun and I laid down. To rest, to breathe deaply, to regroup and then join the group and try desperately to have fun.

I think I failed. It is too bad. I hope my friends understand. I hope they don't take it personally. I hope they know that I separated not because of anything they did but because I didn't want to drag them down with my stress.

I emailed them all earlier this week, I hope they read it. I hope they believed it.

As for me, I'm glad I went. There was some good times and laughter. For 3-5 hour stretches of time I forgot all about the worries of home. And I needed that. More than I knew.

Every day my shoulders relax a bit. Every day of calm I move a little bit back from the edge. Baby steps...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


On Sunday I sang this song in church (like I need something else to fill up my week, remind me to tell you about my week sometime....) Anyhow, when I first heard this song I fell in love with it. With everything that has gone on in my life in the last few months/few years this song just spoke to me. So, I thought I would share it with you.


Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need

Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if trials of this life

Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear

We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love

As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea

And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near?

And what if trials of this life

Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win

We know that pain reminds this heart

That this is not, this is not our home

It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops

What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights

Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if my greatest disappointments

Or the aching of this life

Is the revealing of a greater thirst

This world can't satisfy?

And what if trials of this life

The rain, the storms, the hardest nights

Are Your mercies in disguise?

Struggling with me

Another perfect day for Mr. Zack yesterday. Nothing written down on his sheet at daycare and him and the dog only drove me a little nuts when we got home.

He had Taekwando last night and he did really good. His last three or four weeks we have really noticed a difference there. He is doing MUCH better at paying attention during class and following along with the moves and the words. Hopefully that continues.

I will leave you with yesterday's Zack-ism...


Do you have your seat belt on yet?

I can't get it on mom!! My seat belt is struggling with me!!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Would you please consider doing the right thing for Zack? He has been dealing with your addiction and you being in and out of his life for his whole life. He deserves better than that. He's happy now. He's finally doing GREAT at daycare. His life is calm. Please just let him be happy.

Time stamp: November 1st, 8:41 am

I have not received a phone call or a text message since. I don't know what to make of it but I'm trying to practice what I preach and just be happy. Zack is happy and adjusted to this new life and I am trying to be as well. Tomorrow it could all change. Tomorrow he could be back with his chaos but for right now, at this very moment he is gone.

I didn't cause this, I can't control this and I can't cure it. He is on his own on this relapse journey for the first time in 15 years.

And we are just trying to be happy.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Still Waiting....

Over two weeks have passed since I have been here and yet I still find myself drawing a blank.

Today I went to get popcorn and found myself in a "discussion" with the popcorn lady. Let's call it what it is really, a lecture by her on why I should have had another child several years ago. About how 2 years is the appropriate age gap and that if I am going to be having another I have already waited too long but I better not wait any longer.

I find this discussion confusing at best. How do I easily explain to someone that there is a VERY good reason that my children (if I am blessed with another one) will not be two years apart? That I can only IMAGINE the disaster that would have befallen me if I had decided to bring ANOTHER child into that awful relationship.

Sorry, I know two may have been ideal for you but I married the wrong man so my son will have worse things to discuss in therapy about how I screwed up his life than the fact that I didn't give him a sibling within the appropriate amount of time.

And more over... there comes in to play the fact that we are still not 100% sure I CAN get pregnant. The test I took last month indicates that I ovulated on my own but that is still no guarantee. What if I am infertile? What if my husband is? Why is it that people feel it is acceptable to comment on this part of a person's life without knowing even 1/1,000th of their history?

Anyhow, as I walked away a million things ran through my head. She is a very nice lady and I know she didn't mean to say anything to upset me but it got me thinking just the same. It made me ever more conscious of what I ask people when it comes to these things.... you just never know....


As for the rest of the disaster that is my ex-husband. Who knows. He may still be charged with credit card fraud... he may once again slip through the cracks of the legal system. He may be charged with child abuse (either by the police or by DHS) or he may once again slip through the cracks of the legal system. (The abuse that we once thought was just extra spankings was so much more than that. Punches to the chest and arms, kicks to the legs, fists in his face threatening him if he told...)

His ex-girlfriend and her son have done all they can. They have asked the questions, told the authorities what they needed to and all they can do at this point is wait. It is 100% out of our hands and that part to me is REALLY hard.

We saw them again on Saturday. Took her son out to lunch with us and out to run a few errands. I am struck with a heavy heart every time we see him. He is so well behaved that I have NO idea how anyone could strike him in anger. He didn't deserve that and at the end of the day, despite telling the police and his mom and DHS there still may be nothing that can be done and that is heartbreaking.

As for Zack, visits have been suspended for four weeks tomorrow with no sign of them being resumed. FoTB had made no attempt to attend meetings, quit drinking or try in any capacity to be back in his life. Zack has done a complete 180 in the last four weeks, for the better and so we can only hope and pray that all of this continues in the same direction. The longer he stays away, the better off Zack is....

So right now... we just wait. Wait for the police to make up their mind. Wait for DHS to make up their mind. Wait for FoTB to make his next move.

Have I mentioned lately I hate waiting??

Friday, September 30, 2011


Mom, I want one burrito.

Do you want any taco's too?

No, just one burrito... no wait. I want two burritos. That will stuff me right up....


Look at how hard the wind is blowing. Do you see the trees moving?

Yeah, that is because God is trying to get all of the leaves off....

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I've been away for another week and I come here offering no witty stories, no real ending to a tale that has been unraveling since June 1st. A life lived in lies that are all finally starting to come to the surface and a man, so far stuck in his own sickness that rather than fight, he has chosen flight.

Thursday was eye opening. We went to his ex's house expecting to stay for an hour. We stayed for three. We went to his ex's house with one understanding and walked out with an entirely different one.

The violence was/is back. Holes in her walls, "spankings" doled out to her eight year old. A child so afraid that he would do ANYTHING to avoid angering FoTB. A child so afraid that he BEGGED the neighbor not to call him when he forgot his key a few weeks ago. Two lives shattered into pieces that they now must pick up and put back together. An innocence lost, a trusting nature abandoned.

At one point, Jim just sat with him while he cried. He is eight. He wanted SOO much for FoTB to be the man that loved him, that adopted him, that stayed forever (his own bio-father long since gone). All promises FoTB made to him. All promises he broke.

On Saturday we are going to pick him up and he is going to spend the afternoon with us. We owe them nothing but he needs so much that we can give that we feel it is our duty to do so. One day will not fix it but it may go a long way towards showing him that not all grown up men are scary. Not all grown up men scream and yell and threaten and leave. There are good ones out there that he can trust.

As for FoTB, I have no idea where he is or what he is doing and I hope it stays that way for a long time. His lawyer called my lawyer last Wednesday. That conversation ended with, well I guess I have some things to talk to my client about and then get back to you. He has not called my lawyer back since.

On Saturday, I assume realizing that his lawyer had no answers for him, he called the police. He was dismayed to discover they had no answers for him either.

So we wait for his next move. I have been on edge since Saturday. Always looking around, wondering if he will try to show up, waiting for him to call to say he has done this or that and he wants his visits back now. So far it has not happened. Maybe in another few weeks, I will finally believe that it won't.

Until then... I wait, I watch, and I pray....

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Tonight we take Zack over to FoTB's old house where his ex and her son still live. We feel it is only fair to allow them to say goodbye and to give him a chance to process what is going on. We are hoping that seeing FoTB's stuff gone and his vehicles gone might help him to understand that he has really moved out.

It is a bittersweet moment. On one hand, we have been right all along about what he is but on the other hand, Zack is losing these two people which he has become pretty attached to.

We have both agreed to let the boys see each other as often as they need to over the next couple months to fully have that closure but eventually, I know, that relationship will come to an end. And it is unfortunate.

FoTB has spend his entire 31 years thinking only of himself and leaving a litany of broken bridges, broken people, and broken relationships in his wake....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


On Monday afternoon around 1:00 my phone rang. I looked down only to realize it was FoTB's girlfriend. I remember thinking to myself, I should ignore it. She probably just wants to ask me why I won't change the Wednesday night visits for him. Yet something in me made me answer the phone anyway....

By 2:00 on Monday, my whole perspective on how this was going was different. She called to tell me that she thought he was still using and that he had stolen her credit card and tried to take money off of it. He was staying out all night, hanging out with shady people, sneaking around, etc. She was done, she was kicking him out, changing the locks and trying to move on.

I wasn't quite sure what to think. We tested him on the 22nd of August and he passed. She told me she had no idea how he had passed but that she had found a joint in his car that weekend and when she confronted him about it he had told her it was synthetic.

So yesterday we tested him... and he passed. At that point, my head was reeling. I asked the drug test person if they were able to test for synthetics and she told me not yet. They are all illegal in Iowa but the testing for them is not out yet. Next month, maybe two or three....

I left work last night thinking to myself, that is how he is doing it. He is using the synthetic stuff and flying under the radar. Then last night, she called again. And in the conversation she mentioned alcohol. Wait a minute... he is drinking?

Apparently, he started drinking in January. She was naive enough to think that he could drink and just not use drugs. She didn't know that an addict, is an addict and she also didn't know that it states in our divorce decree that he is not allowed to drink OR use drugs.

And suddenly, it all made sense. Everything came crashing down at once and I finally clearly understood why he was passing drug tests but still acting like an addict. He had been drinking, she said quite heavily. Vodka and Crown Royal. She had caught him drinking and then picking up her son which means he had been drinking and then picking up Zack as well.

We suspended visits indefinitely last night. We need to find a way to keep Zack safe and right now he is not safe in FoTB's care.

Welcome to the roller coaster. Guess we are back on for another ride....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Today is my mom's 60th birthday. On my way back to the office from lunch I heard this song on the radio and I thought it was pretty much perfect for today!!

Happy Birthday Mom!! Thank you for everything you have done for me!!

"Like My Mother Does"

Lauren Alaina

People always say
I have a laugh
Like my mother does
Guess that makes sense
She taught me how to smile
When things get rough

I've got her spirit
She's always got my back
When I look at her
I think, I want to be just like that

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
Because I see myself like my mother does

I never met a stranger
I can talk to anyone
Like my mother does
I let my temper fly
And she can walk away
When she's had enough

She sees everybody
For who they really are
I'm so thankful for her guidance
She helped me get this far

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I feel weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
I see myself like my mother does

She's a rock
She is grace
She's an angel
She's my heart and soul
She does it all

When I love I give it all I've got
Like my mother does
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray
Like my mother does

When I'm weak and unpretty
I know I'm beautiful and strong
I see myself like my mother does
Like my mother does

I hear people saying
I'm starting to look like my mother does

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jim's Hand

**I added a picture of my hand to the previous post**

When I went back to daycare this afternoon they had put up the rest of the hands and the one Zack made for his dad was there. He only made one, not two. And the one he made, was for Jim.

I like it when dad boxes with me.

When I mentioned to Jim that he had not made one for FoTB his answer was exactly what I was thinking.

Zack knows the score. He is not stupid.

And he is 100% right. I now feel even more comfortable with the route we are going with visits.

A what?

On Tuesday night we had to work on a "homework" assignment for Zack. They are reading the book The Kissing Hand, which is about a baby raccoon who is nervous about leaving his mom to go to his first day of school.

So, each child drew their hand print and then told the teacher the things they loved about their parents and she wrote it on the palm of their hand print. Each parent was to do the same and then decorate the hand however they wanted and send it back to school.

This morning I saw Zack's hand. Apparently he just picked me to write about and this is what it said:

I love to twirl my mom's hair. I love it when she scratches my back. I like it when she takes me to the park. I hope I can have a baby sister sometime.

A what? Huh? He has been asking us about having a sister for several months now and we keep telling him maybe some day. But what if it is a boy?

I am not having a brother. I am having a sister. Maybe a sister and THEN a brother but a sister first.

So apparently, it is not just us he is now telling about this. I guess I know what he is asking Santa for this year.

Do you think he will ask me to send it back if we end up having a baby at some point and it is a boy?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Life Well Lived

Two weeks ago, in the wee hours of the morning on August 29th, my cousin lost his will to live. He had a disagreement with his wife, one that I have learned seemed to be a frequent occurrence in the last few months, and he went up into the mountains that he loved so much and ended it all. He left behind two children. 8 and 10.

Two days later, I found out that a girl I went to high school with, a girl who has had medical struggles all of her life, was dying of cancer. On Monday she lost her fight. Her son is a few days shy of three months.

Two lives lost in two very different ways. Three children left without a parent to watch them grow up.

All of this loss has got me really thinking about things lately. About the things I want for my life and the things I want for Zack. We have suspended the search for a counselor. It has been four weeks as of Monday since we were in mediation and we have had no luck getting FoTB or his lawyer to make a decision.

As a parent, I had to make a decision. If I keep pushing, there is a possibility that the new counselor will not see right through FoTB. That the new counselor will believe his lies and will say that it is ok for Zack to have to spend the night there again. I need to keep that from happening as best I can and right now, the way to do that is to keep quiet.

The longer we go without a counselor, the longer we go with no overnights. Right now, what is in Zack's best interest is no overnights. When those two people died, I realized that I can no longer fight for a relationship that FoTB does not seem to want. (He says he does... but his actions speak MUCH louder than his words)

I have to spend as much of my time with Zack as I can and make sure that MY relationship with him is everything I want it to be. Life is short, and if mine ended tomorrow, I would want him to know that I spent every moment I could trying to make sure he was happy and safe.

Right now, that entails keeping him home with us as much as possible.

Last night we did a project for his daycare. We had to draw our hand prints and write what we loved about Zack in the middle. He then helped us decorate them. After drawing and dinner and general goofing around, it was 8:15 and time for bed. Not once did we turn on the TV. Not once did we tell him to just leave us alone and go play.

For two hours last night he had our undivided attention and today, he knows just a little bit more, that what is most important to us is not stuff and things we have to get done. It is him.

Those are the things I want him to remember. Those are the things I have been reminded of in the last two weeks. The things that my friend knew, in her last moments, the things my cousin lost sight of in his.

For when my time is over, I want people to know that my life was well lived and my family was well loved.

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many." -Unknown

Friday, September 9, 2011


"Mom, why is your hair like that?"

"Is it bad?"

"Ummm... No."

"Do you like it?"

"Ummm.... Yeah. But why did you want to cut it?"

I guess the 3 inches I cut off is more noticeable than I thought.....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Empty Space

Here we are, a week and a half after I last posted and I'm staring into the empty space of a posting box, not quite sure what to put here.

On the 27th Zack saw FoTB for nine hours. In that nine hours, from what I can gather from Zack and from the timeline of when he was brought home FoTB worked on his car, fought with his girlfriend, didn't feed Zack lunch till 3:30 pm and then dragged him along on an outing to buy things for his boat. (He didn't have $320 to give Zack health insurance last month but he has that money and probably more to spend on his boat this month?) He gets nine hours every two weeks to spend with his son and that is how he chooses to spend it?

He dropped him off at 5:00 on Saturday night and we did not hear from him again until he picked Zack up on Wednesday evening.

FoTB saw Zack a week ago for his Wednesday visit. We have not heard from him since. I assume he is going to pick him up for another visit tonight. I have no guarantees. I will, as I have done so many Wednesday's before, head home right after work. Our house is 5 minutes from his daycare. Daycare closes at 6:00. I figure as long as I am at home, if he fails to show up, I can be there in 5 minutes. Thus far, he has yet to fail to show up but I never have 100% confidence in that.

I was talking to Jim about all of this last night and no matter how many ways I try to look at it I just don't get it. He went into mediation fighting with all of his might to see Zack. To be in his life. To have as much time with him as possible. Yet, here we are three weeks later and a counseling appointment has yet to be made. In fact, a counselor has yet to be picked.

And now this... seven full days without any contact with your child. Seven full days without even so much as a text to see how he was doing, how he had been, where he had been, etc.

Seven full days of nothing.

Why fight so hard to see him if you are not really going to want to be in his life?

I came to terms with some of this last week. I made my peace with the relationship they are destined to have. I no longer try to make things better for them. Zack has a dad in his life to fill that void and right now, it is probably better that FoTB not call at all. Better to not call then to half a$$ call because he feels like he has to or because someone is making him.

Zack has asked about him a grand total of zero times in the last week. That makes a grand total of zero times in the last two and a half years he has asked me about him or asked to see him so I guess I should not be surprised, yet there is still a part of me that is sad.

I'm not sad for FoTB... he is a POS in my book and if he stopped calling and showing up tomorrow I would not miss him in the slightest. No, I am sad for Zack. If FoTB had walked away, signed over his rights and said that he thought Jim and I could give Zack a better life I could have explained that to Zack. Explained that his dad needed to figure things out and he loved him enough to walk away and allow Zack a chance at a better life.

But what he is doing now, holding on like Zack is a possession, worrying solely about himself and being unwilling to put Zack's needs first. That part will be much harder to explain. The fact that he was given a million and one opportunities to do what was right for Zack, to fix their relationship, to be in his life in a positive manner and the blew every single one of them.... that part will be much harder to explain. Much harder for Zack to understand....

A friend of mine sent me a quote last night. It's from Dr. Phil whom I don't usually listen to a whole lot but I think it really applies here:

In order to be a parent, a good constructive parent, it takes more than the
absence of negatives; it takes the presence of a whole lot of positives.

When FoTB talks about being in Zack's life, he talks about the absence of negatives, he has yet to give any positive reasons. That part I struggle with. The courts focus on the absence of negatives but as a mom, I want positives that he is bringing to Zack's life and thus far, I haven't found any.....

Friday, August 26, 2011

No news is good news?

Is that really always the case? I belong to a credit monitoring service thing through one of my credit cards and every month they will send me an email that says no news is good news. I suppose the point is to reassure me that nothing that they are monitoring has changed. Yet in life, is no news really always good?

I know, deep thoughts for a Friday afternoon.

Anyway, the point is, that I really have nothing new to share right now. Things are pretty stalled on the counselor front. The two lawyers are arguing back and forth about two people who have the exact same qualifications. Why is one better than the other? You got me... We have someone we would prefer based on the recommendation of Zack's previous counselor. FoTB's lawyer has someone... well who knows how he chose him but they are sticking with that person just to be difficult I assume.

So until they decide on a counselor, the visits will not increase beyond 8-5 every other Sat, Sun. Which, right now, is just fine with us. We are having enough trouble controlling his behavior after what little time he spends with him. Let alone allowing him more time and/or overnights.

FoTB has asked me twice now to switch his Wed night visit to 5:30 - 7:30. I have refused twice, sighting the fact that we were more than willing to work with them at mediation and instead of compromising and working with us they went in and told lies about us. Their answer has been that they didn't lie... they gave their opinion. Well in that case... my OPINION is that your visit ends at 7:00.

My lawyer tells me that this could come back to bite me if I ever need to modify a visit but thinking back, historically, the amount of times we have needed to modify a visit vs. them needing to move/change one is like 1:1,000. So, I feel pretty comfortable in my bitchiness right now. I'm entitled to it after all of the crap I have put up with. (Or at least that's what I'm telling myself right now... )

Other than things with Zack, Jim and I have begun the "family building" discussion. It is complicated by the fact that we are unsure as of yet, that my body ovulates on its own. It did not when I conceived Zack and so I had to be on clomid. For that reason, I have been off of birth control for two and a half years now. Some months I am positive my body has figured it out... some months I am equally positive it has not.

This month I just monitored with a cheap ovulation test. I debated on calling my doctor for a day 21 progesterone test but second guessed myself when I THOUGHT I saw one line getting darker than the other. It is now day 26 and I am kinda pissed I didn't call because I'm pretty sure that darker line was all in my head.

Next month I am going to call the doctor and just do the test. Then we can go from there. At least then I will know.

Things with project puppy potty training are also moving right along. As long as we continue to take him out rather frequently we are fine. He is a piddler, so any time he gets too excited or thinks he is in trouble we get to clean up but otherwise... I suppose it is just like when I did this with Zack. Some days are really good, some days we think we can do this and other days... well you will take him out one minute and 10 minutes later he is peeing on the carpet.

Come to think of it... that is not at all unlike my four and a half year old... except yesterday it was the garbage can. Why yes... as your final departing laugh for the weekend I will leave you with this. Yesterday my four and a half year old urinated in the garbage can at daycare. For what reason? He can not tell me...

Stop laughing... it would not be nearly as funny if it was your kid....

Ok, so maybe it would.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Deal with the devil....

I've been thinking for two days about how to explain to you what went on at mediation on Monday and the closest think I can use to describe it is what I told to Jim on Monday night. I feel like we made a deal with the devil.

The lesser of two evils was negotiated.

He came in to mediation and basically spent the whole time saying poor me... I'm a victim here. He did not worry about Zack once. His demands and desires were solely for his benefit. Even though we had talked about Zack's stress at overnights and even though he had originally agreed that he would do whatever needed to be done for Zack, once he was in the mediation room overnights were off the table. He was keeping them, Zack would need to adjust. They would put him to bed earlier or they would limit his fluids.

I never wanted to face punch someone so much as I did right at that moment. Luckily we were in two separate rooms for mediation so all I could do was sit in my room and fume.

In Iowa, we heard from three different lawyers, it is almost impossible to get overnights taken away if a parent is currently clean. As far as we know, he still is. (I think we will be testing him again next week) So our only option was to give on something so he would give on overnights. That something ended up being supervision.

I am sick to my stomach....

We also had to agree to take Zack to a new counselor. He said we picked this one and the counselor was on our side. That we had told him everything and he already didn't like FoTB before he ever met him. This will be the third counselor my son has had to see in 4 1/2 years.

Our side of the agreement, from now until the foreseeable future he only has him every other Saturday 8-5 & Sunday 8-5. No overnights until the new counselor says that she or he feels it is appropriate. I'm hopeful by that point he will be five. Maybe five and a half and more able to cope with what is sure to be the added stress of having to stay over there again.

If we are lucky she or he will never recommend overnights. Or FoTB will decide that this person is mean to him too and that they don't like him and then we will have some more evidence against why he is a crappy parent. Not that we don't already know that. Heck, the mediator met him for 3 hours and she knew that. She all but told us that... right before she said but unfortunately, in the state of Iowa you have to lay more groundwork. What he has done is bad but it is not bad enough and here is how you lay the groundwork in case he fails at this too....

How is it that someone who only knows him for three hours can know that but the family court system in our state can not?

A deal with the devil.... the best we can do... and now we pray....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why not termination?

I had a question from someone yesterday wondering why we had switched from termination to limited visitation and questioning if that was really what was best for Zack.

I suppose, as is likely to happen, such things go on outside of this place and I don't really explain them fully here so it looks like maybe this was a rash or quick decision on our part. Trust me when I tell you, the decision to allow visits has not been an easy one. I have lost many hours of daytime and sleep time to worry over this. To concern that I was not doing the right thing. That we were making the wrong choices or that perhaps there was another option. But there is not.

In reality and in a perfect world, we think that termination is what is best for Zack. He still has a lot of anxiety around FoTB. Anxiety which doesn't really seem to be lessening. He saw him for two hours on Wednesday. I was there the whole time. Last night it was 9:45 and he was still lying in his bed, staring at his ceiling.

However, in the great state of Iowa, none of this makes one ounce of difference. In Iowa if a biological parent is sober and wants to visit their child, they are allowed to. Regardless of how negatively that visit affects said child. In this case, said child happens to be my son.

Our lawyer puts our chances of termination right around 1%. Maybe 2%. There is a clause for habitual drug offenders but since he only failed one drug test and has passed several since then the judge is likely to say, look he turned his life around..... Termination is hard and we are not millionaires. We have already spent over a grand on a lawyer and we are not even to court yet. This has all just been for preliminary stuff.

So, we have to work towards what we know we can get. We have to fight for the things that we can make happen and right now that is to limit visits as much as we can. FoTB goes back and forth on whether he wants to be part of Zack's life. He didn't call for two months and then called for a week and then when I called him out on just trying to impress his lawyer and his girlfriend he stopped calling again.

Zack doesn't miss him. On Tuesday night he played baseball with Jim for 45 minutes. He would have played longer but we had to get him dinner and get him to bed. On Wednesday the first thing he told me when I picked him up was that he had a good day and one more good day and he could play baseball with Daddy (Jim) again. Last night they were out playing again.

Zack has a dad in his life. He doesn't need long stretches with FoTB for father/son bonding time. He doesn't need weekend visits to have a good male role model. So, since our state refuses to take away all visits, we are going to try to limit them as much as possible. It is not a perfect solution but it is the hand we have been dealt and we are trying to make the best of it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thoughts on Visits

Did you have fun?

Yeah.... Mom?

Yes buddy...

Dad didn't make any bad choices when we were at the beach.

Well that's good.

Did you have fun playing at the park?

Yeah... it's good that you were there.

Yup, I told you I would stay the whole time.

But he didn't do anything bad at the park.... if he would have I would have had to tell you.


Mediation is on Monday. I'm torn. Zack has wet the bed both days after his nine hour visits. FoTB hasn't called to talk to Zack since last Friday. And even then, he was calling to talk to me... Zack was sort of an, if he is there.

Last night he had a visit at the park that I supervised. (He didn't want to do it... he wanted to move the visit so he could be at his house sitting on his couch. I made him show up at the park and interact with his son.) I had to tell him what to get for Zack for dinner. When I told Zack what he was bringing him this was his answer:

Mom, did you tell him to go to McDonald's to get the chicken nuggets? If he gets tacos did you tell him Taco Bell? Did you tell him what I like on them so he gets the right stuff?

Even at four and a half he knows his dad does not know those things about him. If Jim was the one bringing him food he never would have even questioned me. That dad knows what he likes. That dad knows him, the other one visits him.

Once he got to the visit and they ate he looked confused on what he should do next. I made him leave his girlfriend's son at home so it was just him and Zack. One on one time and he looked positively out of his skin on how to handle it. (We have figured out that for the most part Zack goes there and he sends him off to play with the other little boy or takes him to his mom's to play.) Finally he just started following Zack around. He was the only parent of a child over 2 in the play structure, just following him around doing whatever he did for an hour and a half.

When we got done Zack said to me:

I wanted someone to play with, so I just played with him.

He is an uncle, a playmate, a guy to hang out with. Not to be trusted, not to be alone with, but ok to be around for awhile.

And here is where I am torn. Zack doesn't trust him, he doesn't want to be alone with him and he doesn't want to be with him for long periods of time but he does seem to want some interactions with him. So I am back to feeling like it is in Zack's best interest for him to at least have some contact with him.

I know FoTB will fight me on this. I know he will want to go back to every other weekend, (no overnights) but in all reality, thus far 9 hours on a Saturday has been too long. Wouldn't it be best for Zack to see him five hours and be happy than 18 hours and be miserable? How do I make FoTB understand that?

I am hopeful that Monday will bring some answers but I am not holding my breath. This could still be a long road...

Monday, August 8, 2011


Meet the newest member of our family. Jim loves him. Zack adores him. He is slowly growing on me. Consequently he has picked me as his favorite and follows me everywhere. He is determined to win me over. Don't tell him but it might be working.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I told you...

This weekend we were watching TV and an infomercial came on for a pen that is supposed to fix scratches on cars. This product... if you're interested....

As we were watching Zack turned to Jim and proclaimed with all seriousness that we NEEDED that product. That it was very important that we get it right away. (As a side note, he is four, we need EVERY product they sell on TV according to him....) Consequently, we just told him sure, whatever and moved on with our weekend.

Then last night, as I was pulling out of the parking lot I turned the corner too sharply and clipped a rock that they were using as landscaping. When we got to daycare today I remembered it and was on the passenger side of my car assessing the damage when Zack came up.

"What are you looking at?"

"I hit a rock last night and it scratched my car. See right there?"

"See!! I TOLD you we needed that thing from TV!! If we had that we could fix it!!"

It's a good thing my four year old knows everything, I would be lost without him.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good indeed...

"Zackary do you know mommy thinks you are simply adorable?"

"Yeah..... hey mom.... it's a good thing you had me and not some other kid."

Yeah little man... a good thing indeed....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Emails to FoTB

Over the last two weeks I have sent a series of emails to FoTB. If you wonder why I'm not posting here... I'm too busy dealing with behaviors and/or writing emails. After the latest incident we took a sort of gloves off approach with him in our communications. We are not rude, per say, but we are direct.

For the last two years or so people have sugar coated things for him. No one has told him directly what his actions have done to Zack and no one has called him outright on his BS. Perhaps that is one of the faults of working within the system for as long as we did (we were DHS involved for about 15 months).

After DHS dropped out, it became about avoiding the conflicts. If something was going to become a fight we sort of took a how important is it approach. However, the only thing that got us was compounding problems. What was something minor just sort of snowballed into a lot of much larger problems until, as you have probably figured out, we have found ourselves here. We go to mediation on the 15th to try to work out a different visitation schedule.

Until that point, when things arise we are now addressing them directly, instead of avoiding the conflict. Last Wednesday when we went to pick up Zack he wouldn't even make eye contact with us or speak more than two words to us. I don't think he likes this new way of doing things....

"My question to you is why and how would you allow this to happen? How would you ever think it was ok to act this way at all, let alone in front of your son who is already scared of you because of the domestic abuse he witnessed?"

"We try everything in our power to encourage Zack that he will enjoy his visits with you. That he will have a great time. That said, you need to remember that his first lasting memory and impression of you is that of you throwing a glass at my head and screaming at me. [...] When you become upset like this, Zack assumes that someone is going to be hurt. Zack has yet to develop a sense of comfort and security around you and now this happens. On Saturday you scared Zack so badly that he ended up wetting his bed and had two night's in which he could not sleep. [...] This should not be happening to a 4 year old....EVER!"

"Zack is terrified of you when you act like this and he spends each visit on pins and needles wondering if it will happen again. [...] Zack has said he likes to visit the three of you. However, when he is asked if he would like to have a visit with just you his answer is no. He has repeatedly told us and Dr. B that he would not want to go if it was just him and FoTB."

"We cannot tell you what to do in order to begin building a bond and a relationship with Zack. That is up you. However, the truth of the matter is, no matter what you may believe, nothing you have done over the past 2 years has done anything to foster it."

"At some point, your focus needs to turn to 100% about what is in Zack's best interest as it pertains to Zack."

"You are in a position where you need to create an atmosphere and environment where Zack can begin to trust, respect and love you without fear. [...] Should you not do this and should Zack continue to feel this way about you, he will in the long run, decide by himself, the fate of your relationship with him."

"First of all, I am a bit confused by the recent phone calls you have made both yesterday and this evening. You went two months without calling, texting or emailing me to check on Zack or his well being. [...] On the 14th, and the 19th, I sent you two emails regarding Zack and his behaviors both at home and at daycare since we started visits again, and you never contacted me to discuss his behaviors [...] Then suddenly, we set a mediation date [...] and you start calling two days in a row."

"Look, I am all for you trying to change your life and make things better for Zack but I have to wonder if you are calling because you want to, or because [girlfriend] or [lawyer] told you to. Given the fact that, left to your own devices, you did not call, text or email for almost two months, I am left feeling as if it is the latter and if that is the case, just know that you are not doing Zack by favors by calling him because someone told you to."

"If [...] you really do miss talking to him, then I think now is probably an appropriate time to set a few ground rules for phone calls."

"When you were calling before and he said he didn't want to talk your answer was always why not? I miss you... I want to talk to you. Don't you want to talk to me? It is inappropriate to put a guilt trip on a four year old. He is entitled to his own thoughts and feelings and if he doesn't want to talk on a certain night he should not have to be questioned as to why."

"Secondly, there are certain nights that we are busy or have things going on. [...] it is not helpful for you to leave me messages getting angry that I didn't answer or that we didn't call you back."

"Finally, when you are talking to him it is not appropriate to ask him if he misses you or he loves you. It is not his job to validate those feelings for you and it makes Zack really uncomfortable. [...] He is entitled to his own feelings and he should be able to say what he feels, not what someone else wants him to say."

"Also, as I mentioned before, I have sent you two emails regarding Zack's behavior and have gotten no feedback from you on how you feel about addressing the behavior. [...] Again, I think it would be very helpful for us to get into some sort of co-parenting counseling together to address some of these issues. It seems as if you are not fond of Dr. B because he asked you to get the drug evaluation but right now, he is the most likely choice as Zack trusts him and he could help the two of you work on Zack's trust issues with you as well."

Sometimes the truth is the best and hardest thing you can say to someone. At the end of the day, it has to be about Zack and nothing he has done has made me believe that Zack is his first priority. Unfortunately, in my inability to speak up, I have probably given off that impression in areas as well. That is all changing now......

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Anger Management...

So much has been happening since last Friday that I'm not even sure where to begin. Often when there is a million different things running through my head I find it helpful to make a list, so that is what I'm going to do. Please excuse the somewhat jumbled format of this post but if you have questions or want me to expand on anything, feel free to leave a comment or email me.

  • On Friday, Zack had a great day at daycare. As a reward, Jim picked him up and too him out to dinner and then they had boy time while I went to a meeting

  • On Saturday FoTB got his first full day with Zack since the end of May

  • Rather than spend that day at home, bonding with his son and catching up on all he missed he chose to get in a car with his girlfriend and drive two hours each way to her Grandma's house (who has no air conditioning in this 110 degree heat)

  • So of the nine hours he had him at least four of those hours were spent in the car

  • When we picked up Zack at 5:00 pm they said the visit went fine

  • On Sunday, Zack wet the bed again

  • He had not wet the bed in over a month

  • Then he cried in church

  • He never cries in church

  • Then he refused to sleep, two hours lying in his bed grinding his teeth, clenching his fists and most importantly... not sleeping

  • Monday he had an appointment with his counselor where I expressed my extreme concern at the behaviors we were seeing after just one nine hour visit with them

  • When I left the room his counselor asked him if he was scared

  • He told him yes

  • He then asked him what his dad did that was scary

  • Zack told him a story of FoTB yelling at the girlfriend's son and then slamming on the brakes, pulling the car over to the side of the road and trying to get Zack out of the car but he couldn't because the girlfriend locked the doors

  • After a text to the girlfriend it was established that this incident happened on Saturday when they were having a visit

  • It was 115 degree heat index on Saturday, what the hell did he plan to do? Stand on the side of the road and wait for his mom to arrive?

  • On top of which, he had not had a full day with his son in over 45 days and he couldn't control himself for nine hours

  • Consequently, we now know exactly why Zack wet the bed on Sunday morning

  • Lawyers were called, game plans were made, an email was drafted and then sent to FoTB and to the girlfriend explaining our concerns

  • There is no law against him acting like an idiot and yelling in front of his son

  • So we went with the honesty approach, we stopped sugar coating everything when it comes to him and Zack

  • The email explained to him that Zack is terrified of him and that every time he acts like this he only makes it that much worse

  • It explained that if he does not get his act together and start controlling himself it will not be us that decide that he can't see Zack, it will be Zack who decides that he doesn't want to see him

  • I hate all of this

  • Every bit of it

  • Zack has to go there for two hours again tonight

  • He has only been over there twice and already they are once again questioning him and making him question his thoughts and feelings

  • Why don't you want to spend the night over here? You have fun when you come here don't you? etc.

  • It makes me sad for him

  • Did I mention I hate all of this?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The visit...

Ahh.... the visit...

Well, the visit its self went fine. At least it seemed to. I picked a third party supervisor, FoTB's uncle, whom I feel comfortable with and whom I felt would keep Zack's best interest forefront for the entire visit.

The aftermath of the visit... not so great. First of all when we got there I got cornered by his girlfriend and asked all sorts of prodding questions about why she couldn't be a supervisor and what we were hoping to accomplish with all of this. Luckily Jim realized what was happening and got out of the car to come inside with me.

I won't rehash every detail but basically she wanted to know why she couldn't be supervisor - we picked a non-interested third party because a week ago you tried to kidnap our son. She also wanted to know (yes... she speaks for him... I controlled him, his mom controlled him, and now she controls him... is it any wonder he refuses to grow up?) why we felt overnights were so bad and if we were willing to give some extra time to them during the week to make up for time they were missing if they didn't have overnights.

I asked her what time they were missing and that is when she hit me with well, if you take him at 7 and we pick him up at five we are missing a few hours. He only sleeps 7 - 8 hours. Ummm.... ding, ding, ding... there is your problem. No, he sleeps 10 - 11 hours, every night, consistently. And that is why we want the overnights taken away.

Of course he had to make some smart ass comment about how he tried to do this without lawyers but no... we had to go and get our lawyer involved. To which I reminded him, that actually, if we wanted to get our facts straight... I tried to do this without lawyers four months ago when I offered to pick Zack up at 7:00 at night and bring him back at 8:00 the next morning, thereby only inconveniencing me and they flat out refused and told me he would just have to adjust.

Then... and this one is lovely... then she hit us with, well if we are amending the visitation I think it is important that we put in a time line for when we will go to joint custody.....

**chirp, chirp... can you hear the crickets**

Excuse me? You think what? FoTB screws up and you have the nerve to think we are going to agree to MORE custody? Needless to say, we politely declined her request and simply said that we had no way of knowing when that would be and that we were not willing to put in a certain age because we had no way of knowing what Zack would be comfortable with.

They are oblivious to the fact that anything could possibly be their fault. At one point FoTB asked me how I could say that Zack's complete turn around was because he hadn't seen him. Well, because it happened in the time he hasn't seen you. He of course came back with well, he has been seeing a counselor. Actually, if you would pay any attention to your son at all you would know that he had been seeing the counselor for a month BEFORE all of this happened. But hey... who is counting.

As for Zack, his fallout from all of this has been just as great. Yesterday he hit someone, he kicked someone, he pushed someone, he spit on someone, he yelled no at his teachers, he ripped a book.... need I go on?

I took the opportunity last night to email FoTB and explain to them a few things. First of all, his girlfriend gets to be supervisor (on the advice of our lawyer and in the great spirit of giving a little to get a little) but we reiterated our desire to remove the overnights from the custody agreement. We also explained to them the day he had yesterday in the hopes that perhaps they would see, or at least no longer be able to deny that they knew, that their presence does affect Zack's life.

Do I think this is because of something they did wrong? No. Do I think it means that he hates it over there and should never go back? Not necessarily. I think it just means that Zack is confused. FoTB was there and then he wasn't and now he is again. I'm sure there is part of him that was happy to see him again and part of him that was scared of what will happen and the anxiety he felt before.

More than anything it shows me that FoTB needs to get his sh!t together or he needs to disappear because being in and out of Zack's life like this is too hard on him.

One day at a time... hopefully today will be better....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

They made him go

I think that post title explains it all. A meeting of the minds this morning. Counselor, lawyer, me. We don't want him to go but legally we have no other option. Fully supervised by a supervisor of my choosing we can not make the argument that we have a safety concern. Without it I am in contempt with no defense. So, he has to go. I want to cry. I dropped him off at 5:00. 7:00 can not get here soon enough.

The family court system in this state sucks.....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Treading Water

Well, we are still here. I really have no new news to report right now either. It has been back and forth and back and forth with my lawyer and the counselor and FoTB's lawyer but no "official" paperwork has been filed.

As of right now, I have not heard anything from FoTB since last Wednesday. He was supposed to contact me to set up an agreeable supervisor for a visit tomorrow night. He has not called or text me and it is 10:30 am. I am operating under the assumption that a visit will not be happening. I told my lawyer that I felt I needed at least 24 hours notice to approve the supervisor and discuss with them my expectations for the visit so the time for that is closing in quickly.

As for whether there will be a visit at all, that is still up in the air. If he arranges a supervisor and we withhold the visit, per Zack's counselors strong recommendation, we could be found in contempt of court. If we send him, against Zack's counselor's recommendation we could be doing further damage to Zack. Who, according to the counselor yesterday, seems happy and well adjusted to this change that has happened.

However, if he never contacts us to setup a supervisor or a visit, we are not in contempt, there is just no visit. We are banking on that option right now. Every time my phone buzzes I jump. My heart beats a little faster as I check it to see who it was that text me. Was it him, does he want his visit? So far, nothing....

So, we wait. We tread water a little while longer hoping to stay afloat for another day....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

He did what??

Even now... as I try to type this, I can feel my heart start to beat faster and my breath catches in my chest. Even now... over 24 hours later it is still terrifying to me....

Yesterday, my ex husband tried to "kidnap" our child.

I use the quotes in that sentence only because he never got his hands on him, and I am uncertain as to the duration that he planned to keep him, not because I am any less terrified by the prospect of what could have happened.

On Friday he took the last of the four weekly drug tests required of him by our original divorce decree. However, he did not provide me with the results of that drug test. Per the original decree once he had passed four UA's, no less than one week apart, he was supposed to start supervised visits again the Wednesday following when notice was given of his clean UA.

Notice was given to me yesterday at 12:30 pm.

On top of giving me notice he was also supposed to contact me and arrange for a mutually agreeable third party supervisor to be present at the visit. FoTB has not communicated with me at all since Friday, June 24th.

So, considering no supervisor had been arranged and he did not give me notice until 12:30 yesterday I was under the assumption that no visit was to take place yesterday.

At 1:30 pm my phone rang and it was the director of Zack's daycare. She was calling to ask me what was going on because she had received a call from FoTB saying that him, or his mother, would be there to pick up Zack.

He planned to just go to daycare and pick up Zack without saying a single word to me. I would have gotten to daycare at 5:30 and Zack would have been gone and I would have had no idea where he was.


Who just picks up a child from daycare without informing the person who has primary custody of said child? A child whom he has had no contact with in 36 days and whom he has not asked about since the 24th of June.

My hands began to shake as soon as I got off the phone with her and within 15 minutes my mom was on her way to get Zack. When I questioned FoTB his answer was that he had given me notice so he was entitled to a visit.

No care or concern was given to Zack's well being. No care or concern was given to the fact that he had not arranged a supervisor or told ME that he was planning on picking up Zack. He was just going to go there and pick him up and lord only knows when I would have gotten him back. What hoops I would have had to jump through. Would he have just stuck to the normal visit schedule? Would he have refused to let me come pick him up?

Even now, it makes me want to throw up knowing that he tried it. Knowing that he had every intention of just taking him from daycare without telling me.

He is not in his right mind right now. Do meth addicts ever recover a right mind? Either way, Zack's counselor says he is not safe around Zack and I agree. Steps have been taken to ensure that this does not happen again. Rules have been put in place, organizations have been contacted, and yet... I feel no comfort sitting here at my desk. I feel like a line has been crossed and invisible barrier I had in place to give me comfort (at least he has never tried to take him from daycare) has been shattered and I am left here, trying to pick up the pieces.

The next step, he is pulled from that daycare and transferred somewhere else. Somewhere where FoTB can't find him until all of this is over. I don't want to do that, I don't want to make this harder for Zack then I'm sure it already is but I will do whatever I have to to keep him safe.

This is starting to get really ugly and I fear this is only the beginning.....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Failure of the Social System

Last week I posted an update about being contacted by FoTB's lawyer and the process which we were beginning. On that post, a lovely reader asked a question about Social Workers. Basically to the effect of have we tried contacting and/or talking to someone from social services.

Ahhh.... the joys of the Iowa Department of Human Services...

Also known as... big fat failure to our kids....

Want proof?

Back at the beginning of May when this all started I emailed our old DHS worker asking her what I could do because FoTB had left Zack and an eight year old alone, overnight in a tent. She was appalled and immediately told me to call the 1-800 number and file a report with social services.

So I did and they came out right away. And from the moment I met with the lady in my living room (Intake person, not our old worker) I knew that while she wanted to help me... there was absolutely nothing she could do. Her hands were tied, the laws were the laws in our state and what he did is not "bad enough."

So she met with him and he told her he did in fact check on the boys over night and that was enough. Unfounded child abuse claim... case closed. Never mind that there were 2 - 3 hour spans in there where the boys were fully unsupervised. Never mind that at any point my son could have wondered off during that period... nope, he checked on them so that is all that is needed.

During that same visit she also asked him about putting Zack on a motorcycle. His answer, it is not illegal. Really, that is what we are using to justify what is right and wrong? In that case, my gutters need cleaned so I'm just going to put Zack out on my roof and have him clean them. What?? It's not illegal!! (Please note the EXTREEEEEEEEMMMMM sarcasm here and the fact that I will not even let him be in a room on our second floor with the window open for fear he will fall through the screen let alone on our roof....)

N-E-Way... so we move on, and right before she is due to close that investigation he drops a dirty drug test. So once again, I email my old DHS worker and once again, she is appaled and tells me to contact the intake worker and/or call the abuse hotline.

So..... I call the intake worker and I explain to her that Zack has described watching FoTB roll a joint to his counselor and now FoTB has dropped a dirty drug test. Her answer, was first one of, I don't really want to be bothered send me how you know this and I will get back to you.

After a week and a half she finally met with Zack, in a room without us or his counselor where she claims he told her that he had heard the story not seen it first hand. He is four, how did you ask him, what EXACTLY did he say? She would not tell us but her suggestion to us was to go to family court.

I would like to help you, but I can't. The courts often ask how high was he and since Zack is saying he heard the story this will get overturned. Go to family court.

So, that is our experience with Iowa DHS. Completely worthless. Everyone WANTS to help us but no one can. Everywhere we turn there is another loophole, another catch 22 that makes it so in this case, for this reason, nothing can be done.

And once again, I say to you... in the State of Iowa, the Department of Human Services and the family court system is failing the children. Every time you see a story on the news of another child that was abused, fell through the cracks, died at the hands of someone who had been investigated 2, 4, 6 times already by DHS this is why.

Because everywhere I turn to try to help my child, to try to keep him safe I am turned away. Because right now, it is just not bad enough. Because right now there is not the money or the resources to keep the children safe. Because right now, the only person who will stand to be an advocate for my child in this state is me.