Friday, July 16, 2010

The Vacation - The Conclusion

Okay, Syd... I won't keep you waiting any longer for the outcome of the story. :)

Let's see... where did I leave off... oh yes. We were at the hotel for our last few nights, and then we were heading home. The big thing, though, was the court hearing.

First of all, it was in Berkeley. Don't get me wrong. I love Berkeley. The only problem is, I don't really know all the streets that well. I certainly didn't know where the courthouse was. So Hubster Googled a map, and off we went... late as usual.

Fortunately for us, traffic was light. We got there with mere minutes to spare and faced having to find a parking place. Since we were so late, Hubster dropped me off in front of the building while he went to find a parking space. I didn't have my walker with me, so I hobbled to the building as fast as I could. Uh oh... there was a dreaded metal detector which I had to go through. I was in a hurry - who wanted to bother?

The cop standing behind the metal detector was a young guy, clearly doing his time at the court before they released him onto the public. He told me, very authoritatively, that I had to go through it. I lost it at that point and began yelling at him. I stuck out my arm and showed him my tattoo of my grandfather's badge and told him that Grandpa would never make me walk through such a thing (good thing, too, because I used to carry a gun and a blackjack), that he was a lieutenant at the station before he retired, that I didn't have on any underwear (so how on earth could I hide a weapon other than up my snatch?), and I was late for a court hearing. The poor guy didn't know what to do, especially since I was wild-eyed, handicapped, and clearly insane. He waved me through, praying, I'm sure, that I really wasn't packing anything up my cooze. I hobbled up the stairs as best I could and found the correct court. Thank goodness the judge was late; Mom was in there with her attorney, saw me, and waved me in.

About 15 minutes later, the judge appeared. By this time, Hubster had found a parking place right outside the courthouse and made it into the courtroom. Mom and her attorney went up to the podium and began talking to the judge. He was so soft-spoken that I could barely hear him. He asked a few questions, seemed to approve of the answers, and said, "Okay. So ordered.". The entire thing took less than 10 minutes. Mom looked at her attorney with a puzzled expression on her face, was told that she had won, and she grabbed her attorney with tears running down her face. Then she ran over and hugged all of us (Amber's soon to be ex-MIL and ex-SIL also showed up). That was it.

Mom has permanent guardianship of the kids. :)

And the most disgusting thing of all? Amber didn't even bother to show up.

After the hearing, we all went into the hall while the attorney went downstairs to file papers and get copies made. As we were talking, Melissa's cell went off. It was Amber, saying thanks so much for letting her know that the hearing was in Berkeley. She claimed to have gone to the courthouse in Pleasanton. What a load of horseshit. She had called Mom's attorney to ask where the hearing was and what time it got underway. Lying, as usual. We all just ignored it and sat there grinning like idiots. Even the judge had been grinning at all of us in the courtroom. I think he was happy he could make that decision.

So now, if Amber wants to see the kids, she has to give Mom two days' notice and is only allowed a one-hour supervised visit at Mom's house. She can't take them anywhere, either. So early this week, she called for a visit and set up the day. Then when the day of her visit arrived, she called in the morning to cancel it. She rescheduled it for today.

Mom called me this evening to tell me that she showed up, but that she didn't say a word to Mom or Grandma. Instead, she walked outside where the kids were splashing in their pool. Both kids totally ignored her until the end of the visit, when Daisy said a few words to her. Amber said she'd see them next week and got pissed off when Mom reminded her to call first. It hasn't sunk in that Amber has to follow the court orders. The one thing Amber did say to Mom was that she was canceling their health insurance and now had an attorney. Big deal. There's nothing she can do at this point, and we've heard the "I've got a lawyer" line before. She left in a beater of a car (nobody knows whom it belongs to - Amber's car was repossessed a couple of weeks ago). Amber also lost her job and will be kicked out of her condo at the end of the month. She has no money, no car, no job, no place to live - at 31 years old. She's filed bankruptcy twice and just had her second abortion. I'm not the world's best money manager, but this kid takes the cake. How on earth she ever thought she could care for those kids is beyond me. She's now really hostile because she's lost the only playing chips she had - the one thing she could use against us. You gotta love karma. The mother part of me is trying to feel sorry for her, but the rational part of me says that she's done nothing but caused the family grief and pain for more than 10 years. I'm trying to not worry about her because she's always used guilt against us, too, but it's difficult at times. Until I look at a picture of the kids, that is.

Hubster has to go on a business trip to Chicago the first week of August, so we're driving to the Bay Area once again (with Emma in tow). I was originally going to go with him (I used to go to Chicago every month and love the city) - he's staying in the new Trump Towers, and I really wanted to go to yarn shops in the area. We can't afford it, though, especially since the company doesn't pay for my ticket or hotel stay or even meals (I was so looking forward to a burger at Blackie's). He also doesn't want me at home alone. At least this way, if I run into trouble, I can call Mom and she'll be at my hotel room in five minutes flat. I've also got Emma to protect me (she's a very territorial little fart, although she's very friendly if one of us is with her and she senses there's no danger). I'm looking forward to it. The pool there is very small, but there are lounge chairs where I can sit in the sun and knit while I'm working on my tan, and there is also a hot tub where I can sit at night and enjoy the warm water with the cool air blowing against my face. It will also be fun to have the kids come over and swim with me. This is when I really miss my Sacramento house and the pool. I'd give anything to have them back. Stupid me, I did a Bing bird's-eye view of the property and saw what the new owners have done. It really made me sad. I have to stop doing shit like that.

Mom is scheduling a visit for Amber and the kids so I'll get the chance to confront her. Nothing would make me happier. Maybe she'll slap me and I can have her arrested for assault.

I've already got my knitting bag packed with traveling projects and the one test knit I'm working on, so I'll have plenty to do while I'm there. Mom and I are going to a fabric shop and getting a pattern for jammies for the kids which I'll make when I get home. We're also hitting up my fave knitting shop in Oakland (Article Pract) and having lunch. We haven't done that in years; it'll be a lot of fun. I'm also trying to get ahold of my cousin so I can go over and visit. His wife wants me to teach her how to knit.

So that's all the news. It's been so damned hot here that I'm sprawled in front of a big fan with my knitting and not doing much of anything else. It's even too hot to go sit in that little pool. It would cool me off, but I'll fry. That's unusual, because I usually burn once and then just keep getting darker and darker.

It must have something to do with being so much closer to the sun. Barf.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Still on Vacation - and Loving It

Here I sit in bed, watching the fog beginning to roll in and feeling the cool night air brush against my skin. Even this far inland from the bay, I can smell the sea air as it makes it's way over the Dublin ridge. It feels so good to be home, even if it is just a hotel room. At least I'm not in the mountains watching the latest horrible bug crawl down the wall or fighting off moths which have snuck into the house through a door which has been briefly opened. I have one more day of paradise, and then we head out Sunday morning. I plan on making the most of tomorrow.

It has been an exciting two weeks, though. It began a week ago Sunday when we first drove up here to pick up the kids. Of course, nothing is ever as simple as it seems...

We arrived late that Saturday night and checked into the same hotel I'm sitting in now. We then gathered up all our shit and headed over to Mom's on Sunday afternoon to get the little ones. They had been anxiously staring at the clock and pacing because they didn't quite believe we were coming. They were also afraid that they would have to go home with their mother on Monday, and that was something they did not want to do. We had many long talks about that, which I'll recount later. Anyway, we arrived, talked with the parental units for a few minutes, packed up all the kids' shit, stuffed them in the truck, and headed for home.

It's been a long time since I've traveled with small children, so I had forgotten just how many rest stops they require. They also require a lot of feedings. I am now intimately acquainted with every rest stop on I-5 between here and where they end down near Pasadena. Not only are rest stops unpleasant, it was about 112 degrees outside. I barely made it into the little building and back to the truck before I collapsed. They were so happy to be away from all the bullshit, though, that I would have walked into a thousand rest stops for them.

We got home that night around 2 a.m. I thought the kids would drop from exhaustion, but they were far too wound up for that. It took us another hour or so to get them into bed after we walked in the house. Once they were in bed, though, they were out like lights.

The next day was a day of rest and just goofing around the house. I didn't want to stick them back in the truck and take off again right after they had arrived home, so we blew up the pool we had bought for them, let them explore the backyard, stood outside while they jumped on the trampoline, and just had a lovely day. It also marked the first day we had some talks about the situation at home. Some of the things they told me broke my heart.

Both of the little ones sat on the couch, looked at me, and told me in no uncertain terms that they hated their mommy, didn't want to go home with her anymore, didn't like her boyfriend, were neglected when they were with her (not fed, bathed, or paid attention to), and a bunch of other things. She had even gone as far as leaving them alone in the apartment while she and Methboy went out doing whatever they do. God forbid that her own children should interfere with her plans for the weekend. I explained to them about the court hearing which was coming up after we took them back to Mom's and what it was for; they were afraid Mom would lose and they would be stuck with their mother on a permanent basis. The court hearing is for Part 2 of this post, though. I will say that Mom told me both kids had been acting out sexually - not with each other, but lying on their backs with some sort of object in their hand (you get the picture). To say that I was horrified is putting it mildly. Apparently, they had witnessed Amber having sex with Methboy and were imitating what they saw. Sigh. I did the best I could to assure them that they were safe, that she wouldn't try to come get them while they were with us. After a while, they believed us. The other thing they asked (well, Lily did) is why we gave them away all those years ago when Amber took them from us and dumped them at my mother's house and then wouldn't give them back. I explained what had happened. Nobody had ever taken the time to tell them that we didn't want them to go, that our hearts were broken for years, that we cried ourselves to sleep every night for a very long time. Lily came over and hugged me around the neck after I was through because, once again, I was crying.

On Tuesday, we headed for the hotel and the big event of the trip, our day in Disneyland. Again, we got there late, and not entirely because of us, either. We had gotten halfway down the hill when we almost plowed into the person ahead of us. There was a dead deer lying on the road and a motorcycle halfway into the bushes. The CHP had blocked the road and were waiting for the Life Flight helicopter. Sitting there took about 20 minutes, but we were finally on our way. We had no sooner hit the bottom on the hill than I said to Hubster, "Did you remember to grab the Disneyland tickets?". The answer was no, and the tickets were non-refundable, so we had to go back home to get them. Back up the hill we went.

Hubster ran into the house, got the tickets, and we headed back down the hill for the third time. It was then that we discovered a secret about Lily. Halfway down the hill, I heard a horrible sound. She threw up all over the back of my seat, the floor, the seat belt, herself - anything within reach. We reassured her that she hadn't done anything wrong, that she wasn't in trouble... and then Hubster commenced to clean everything up. The stench was almost unbearable, but I didn't want to let on that we were dying. We bought her some Dramamine and she fell asleep. Whew.

We got to the hotel and checked in, then went up to our room. We had gotten them what the hotel called a "Kid's Suite". It was composed of two rooms - one for the kids with bunk beds and floor to ceiling windows, and one for us. A connecting door stood between the rooms which we could shut, but it didn't matter - the kids were out like lights once they explored everything. I put in a wake-up call for 8:30 a.m., and we tried to get some sleep.

The next morning, I opened my eyes and looked at the clock. Then I started blinking faster and rubbing them. What the fuck? The clock said it was 10:30 a.m.! It was also obvious that no call had come in. I was beyond pissed because I had wanted the kids to experience breakfast in the park. It sounds like a small thing, but one of my fondest memories is of having Mickey Mouse pancakes first thing in the morning. I called down to the front desk, got ahold of the hotel manager, and chewed him a new bunghole. By the end of my tirade, I had a free night at the hotel and a free breakfast in our room the next morning. I figured we could live with that. Anyway, we all got ready and headed over to the park. I had an electric scooter waiting for me at the hotel when we checked in, so I didn't have to worry about getting one at the park. The shuttle was also ADA equipped, so I rode it downstairs, the shuttle loaded me in, and off we went.

Seeing the kids' faces when they first saw Main Street was priceless. I got to experience the park again through the eyes of a child, and it was sweet indeed. While we didn't get to go on all the rides, we did ride quite a few. We told the kids that all the animals on the Jungle Cruise were real, and they were in awe. They were afraid of the Haunted House but enjoyed it all the same. They even went on Splash Mountain, which surprised me because I thought they would be terrified, but my grands are daredevils. We also all got ears - mine have old-style tattoos on them with piercings on the ear parts. I had "Grandma" embroidered on the back. :) We left the park at midnight when it closed and got back to the room happy and tired. Of course, they were also hungry, so we ordered room service dessert for them, then made them go to bed. They immediately turned their TV on (they don't have one in their room at home, so this was a huge treat), and it was probably two hours later by the time we got them to settle down and go to sleep. The next morning, we all had breakfast, packed our suitcases, checked out, and headed for home.

We also took them to San Diego so they could romp on the beach. They couldn't go into the water because of a huge storm in New Zealand which was affecting the waves on our coast, but they did get to see the ocean and build sand castles. The rest of the week was taken up with goofing around, going into town, and doing small things. I had wanted to take them to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, but we didn't have time because of Hubster's work schedule. It was just nice to have them with us, to talk to them, to hold them, to know that they were in the house again.

We brought them back to Mom's last Tuesday but kept them in our hotel room overnight because of the late hour. On Wednesday, we brought them back, even though I don't think they were too thrilled about it. So far this week, I've been sleeping a lot, Hubster has been working, and it's been relaxing - all except for Thursday. But that's for the next post. I visited my friend and his family (the jeweler who makes all my jewelry - I've known him and his family for 30 years), and drove around the valley. It feels so damned good to be home. I wish I had the money - I'd buy a house in town tomorrow and leave all my shit in Idyllwild just so I wouldn't have to do that drive again. We were supposed to go home tomorrow, but I made a deal with Hubster. If I gave up dinner in San Francisco, we could stay one more night. I've had dinner in the City a thousand times, so I opted for one more night before we have to leave. So tomorrow, he's putting a new lockset on Mom's door, we're picking up the pictures we left for developing and sharing those with the family, and then we'll come back to our room for a relaxing night. I'll probably knit - I've been making really good progress on my projects. Then home we go on Sunday.

If possible, I'll post some pictures of Disneyland with my next post. I don't know if I can or not, but we'll see. Otherwise, it will be all text. I'll give you a little hint about it:

It's got to do with a court hearing.