I have been (ever so gently and lovingly) called on the carpet for being so absent. Truth is, it isn't the first time in the last year, but this particular email, though absolutely not one bit accusatory, really made me realize what an ass I've been. I have been so blessed with so much love and support from the blogger family I found, and I've done you all a disservice (like I said, I've been an ass) by just disappearing.
So, in an effort to explain (and absolutely not to EXCUSE) my absence, I'm going to try to give a year's worth of updates, and do my damnedest to stop being an ass, to surf blogs, and reconnect with everyone who was there for me so sincerely when I needed it most.
I'll start sometime before last year's Heart Walk...
Early last year I started a group/website intended to be a support network for moms who live in my county. It was a thing of great beauty, and I put my heart into it 100%. I was out of my element, because it forced me to trust people face-to-face. Not one of my strong points. We set up the site, we gathered the members, we held playdates and many events. We were in parades with banners and really went all out with making the site available and known to all the moms in our area. It turned out to be far more time consuming than I ever expected, and I was swamped with it.
I opened it with a partner, but she became a good friend, someone I "let in" farther than anyone had gotten in many years. Our husbands were buddies, our children were BFFs, we spent a lot of time together, personally and professionally. She even joined Team Nova and walked with us last September.
The Heart Walk was a fiasco. All the people we'd worked with quit (I wish I knew the whole story there!) and all new people took over. The new people completely screwed stuff up. The website wasn't reflecting online dnations, and the people never did fix that. They rerouted the walk route, and we were all carrying stroller WITH KIDS IN THEM down railroad tracks. The opening ceremony was completely unorganized, and before one person got through their speech, someone on the other end had shot the starter gun and sent the walkers off walking and none of the speeches or introductions got done. The organizers completely discounted all the smaller teams, like ours, and only seemed to concentrate on the corporate team with huge fundraising capabilities and fund-matching programs. It went from being a very successful and warm/personable situation to being a money-hungry endeavor without any hint of the HUMAN element involved. We were very discouraged. We are not the only ones it seems because the Charlotte fundraising efforts have dropped off considerably... the ticker has only just recently passed the halfway mark, and we've got less than a month to go.
In November, I received a confusing call from my half sister (My father's oldest daughter from his first marriage whom I hadn't seen/heard from since I was 8-ish.) After the "OH MY GOD! NO WAY!? HOLY SHIT! HOW ARE YOU!!!!???" bit in the very beginning, things went quickly downhill. Mostly because the answer ws something like, "Oh pretty shitty, in the last 2 years, my son died, my daughter in law died, my ex husband died, my step mother died, Santa Claus died, the easter bunny croaked, my father died, I lost my job and I'm about to be thrown out on the street, and I want to move to NC, can you help me?"
Hold up, huh? Your father died? As in MY father died!? When?
Oh, 2 years ago, but we couldn't find you to tell you (I had been living in the same house with the same telephone # as she had just dialed ---for 6 years!!! ...how could she not find me?)
OK, I was not receiving the information well. Nor did I receive the rest of the conversation well... she hadn't worked since her son died because she was just too depressed, and was trying to get disability for it. (So... um... I've lost 2 kids, gone back to work and done what I had to do, and now, because you "can't" work, I'm supposed to move you up here and support you financially for some unidentified time period while you wait for disability for losing your son... Yeah.)
Now y'all know I'm pretty big hearted, generally really helpful, and I can totally empathize with the loss of a child, but none of this is sounding "right" to me. As a matter of fact, there are red flags flying and bells ringing. But she asks to talk to mom, who goes all in for 'saving' my sister Maureen, despite all my protestations for her to just think on it, be careful etc... In December my mother left for New Jersey (my mother, who is afraid to drive in Charlotte, hops in the car and heads off for a 16 hour drive like it's nothing) and by January, Maureen is living with me, whether *I* liked it or not (oh, no, it didn't matter that it was my house...really)
There's SO much more to that story, but it's just too long to tell it all. But I do have to back up and say that in Novemberish we had ALL (Me Scott and my mother) decided we were going to move out of that house. It was time, the land lord was nutzoid, the heat/AC wasn't worth a shit, the house was falling apart, the school system sucked etc. Well, Mom moves Maureen in, we start looking for a new house in January. Mid January my mother says "Oh, y'all go ahead and find a place, Maureen and I are going to stay here."
Wha!? Maureen isn't working, Mom's retirement is barely enough to pay the rent on that house, how the hell is that going to work?
Basically, in the end, I was pushed out in favor of Maureen, so now Ma and Maureen are super tight roomies and I rarely hear from her. No idea how that money thing is working out.
So come February we find a new house. The logistics get interesting here though. The house is 3 bedroom (the other was 5) I'm out whatever small amount of money Ma was contributing to the house hold (roughly $300 a month) and the rent in the new place is $300 more than at the other place. Plus there are more utility bills here too! Basically, there's about a $700 deficit between our new budget and our new expenses. (Thanks Ma) I had been working full time but oddly, as soon as I moved into this house (a block from my job) the boss lady cut my hours and started acting really weird.
In late March/early April, I lost my job. (Eventually I found out that it was becase there was some major miscommunication there...)
Scott was making decent money, but not really enough, so I had to find another job, within walking distance of the house because I have no transportation. I don't live in the city. That narrowed my employment opportunities considerably. But I did find another job at a tiny little Mom and Pop restaurant in the same shopping center as the coffee shop I'd just been fired from. Awesome!
Not so much, business was slow, pay was real low, tips were non existant, and in July they closed down too.
In the mean time, my good friend/partner at the mommies site tried to steal the site out from under me because we'd had a personal disagreement. She couldn't steal it from me so she tried to sue me for it, only she was in the wrong and no lawyer would represent her. So, instead, she pitched a huge public fit and left the site completely. Unfortunately, she twisted facts so completely and made me out to be a hateful bitch who was stealing HER site from her, and pretty much destroyed the site on her way out. We're still trying to recover ("we" as in the site/group) but she's done a good job of convincing people of a lot of untruths, and we're just about to close the site down.
I'm upset about the site/group yes, but I'm more upset that she turned on me the way she did, and that so many people that I called friends and cared deeply about believed her and never gave me the opportunity to refute her lies. I feel betrayed and hurt and angry.
July was a fairly decent month full of birthdays and parties and what not. Terra turned 5, Bren turned 11, Tommy turned 19, I turned 36. August came, Kassi turned 14, and we prepared for school. Terra would be in kindergarten (I'm homeschooling her though) Bren started middle school, Kassi started high school, I started hyper ventilating - when did my kids grow up so much!?
Then, Scott got laid off, on the kids' first day of school. August 25th. Rent's due on the first, I've been out of work for over a month, and all of a sudden Scott has no job. Joy!
*Starts squeezin' out $900 worth of gold turds*
We just got through with Alexis' birth and death dates - they went largely unmentioned, I think because we just couldn't deal with it.
I have not been working hard on raising funds for the Heart Walk because I was hugely disappointed in the AHA, but on top of that, my family and most of my friends have ignored my involvement or requests for donations. The schools that were so involved the year before have chosen not to support it this year either, and even the kids were discouraged. The general feeling seems to be that we should be over it by now and move on. And maybe it is time to move on, I don't know.
In June or July I found a site called the 29 day giving challenge. It's been the high light of my year, and because of some folks that are members there, I have received a small rush of donations to Team Nova in the last week or so. But more than that, the challenge has been really a life changing experience, especially after THIS year. I am very involved over there, and I've even been made the Online Manager. There's talk of getting on Oprah. If that happens, I'm going! How cool would that be!?
Now honestly, I don't want to sound like I'm feeling sorry for myself. Yes, stuff (lots of it) has happened this year. I've learned a lot of lessons, some of them have been hard lessons. But despite the chain of events, 2008 has been overall, a good year. Scott and I are super close, even more so than before. I don't have as many fiends, but the ones I do have are GOOD friends who I trust. My kids are growing up, Scott and I can even go out every once in a while without the kids because they're old enough now that the older kids can watch the younger ones. We're in a neighborhood where the kids have friends available all the time. The new schools are better schools. I love the new house, my landlord and land lady are absolute DOLLS. I'm not living under my mother's thumb and though that was a painful ordeal, it was, in the end, a huge improvement for our lives.
But I've been so busy with the things in my off-line life that my online life has sort of suffered. And I feel badly for abandoning those that have been so amazing to me through the most painful periods of my life, but my real life needed me.
And now things are calming down and easing up and settling in, and I think I'm back. And I hope that you all forgive me for not being here for so long, because I haven't shown it, but I've missed y'all.