Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summertime Blues

Since Buster's last Annual Visit, when he professed to wanting to spend Quality Time with M this summer, and talked enthusiastically about moving to Greeley, CO, for his new job that would bring him so much closer, a couple of things have happened.

After the end of his First Year of teaching, he went home to Massachusetts to visit his parents, and - as usual - got bogged down.  I'm not sure what the dynamic there is, but I have my suspicions.  His doting mother is the kind to hold his hand and wipe his butt, and Buster is the kind to enjoy that.  Since arriving back in MA, he has been ever so reluctant to answer my questions, but since his parents jump on the webcam with him to M whenever he's there, he can't avoid answering completely.  For the past several weeks, though, the webcams have meant I have to be in the room, because his parents ask me about stuff and it's much more interactive than when it's just Buster and M by themselves.  Last time, when his parents were finished and had left the room, I took a break for a brief minute and came back in to find Buster asking M what her Thanksgiving plans were!  He's got some nerve...

What I've been able to find out so far: 
  • He now "can't make any plans" for the summer.  (which relieves me of trying to work out any arrangements with him)
  • His finances are "a shambles" (duh, I guess that's what happens when you never open your mail)
  • He still has no place to live and no arrangements have been made.
  • After telling me a week and a half ago that he was heading back to CO, as of Wednesday, he is still in Massachusetts. 
Although the Court order to increase his Child Support obligation from it's below-poverty level to something resembling reasonable did go through, Buster continued to pay his Discount Rate, claiming he wasn't aware of the change.  I guess that's also what comes of not opening your mail...

I was excited to learn that after all these years of him getting away with contributing next to nothing, that his monthly check would be close to being Actually Helpful.  Still less than my monthly bill for daycare, but still.  However, I also knew that it was folly to count on it.  Since I bought the new townhouse at the same time, which raised my Housing budget, I admit I was kind of hoping to see that money.

Fortunately, I also just had my first Review at work, having been there a year now, and was granted a token raise.  (2.5%)  That helps, and although it isn't as much as I'd hoped, I also know that in this economy I'm grateful to have a job and any raise at all.    So, as usual, I am managing on my own.  My job has been crazy stressful for the past couple months, and I've been scrambling.  I hate feeling so crunched that it's hard to find time to make routine appointments like get my hair cut.  As soon as school let out and the dreaded Homework stopped for the year, swim lessons started, and we're rushing off after work for those.  I'm kind of beat.

I made a reservation to escape to higher ground for the 4th of July weekend.  Last year I whisked us off to Aspen, but this year we are going to stay in a cabin in Estes Park in a campground.  The cabins are supposed to have individual fire pits just outside their front doors, so we'll be able to roast marshmallows and make S'mores, so M is stoked.  The cabin is really to make it easier to manage the kid and the dog, since the tent I own is a relatively small lightweight backpacking tent, and I don't know how this new dog will cope with the whole camping thing.  I decided to avoid it altogether and go for a cabin.  Easier, if not as rustic and secluded as I wanted.  I'll be able to bring up a bunch of groceries and not have to worry about bears and raccoons, and just relax.
Also, nearby in the town of Estes Park, which is surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park, is a large dog park where we can take the dog and let her run.  So the whole thing sounds stellar, and I'm looking forward to a few days off.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

We Are Three

The time has really flown by.  We've been in our new townhouse almost two months now, and we are starting to feel settled in.  One of the things that we'd been talking about for a long time was getting a dog.  I've had dogs my whole life.  When I was a baby and my Grandmother took care of me while my mother worked, she had a lovely older Irish Setter named Ginger and a black poodle named Pepi.  We had a German Shepard/Great Dane mix named Fritz.  When we moved from the Redwood foothills to the suburbs my parents gave Fritz away, and soon after that my grandparents were killed in a car accident.  I think the loss of the dogs in my life was representative of the huge void I felt during those years.  When I was older, arranging my life so that I could have a dog was always a priority.  I can step back through the dogs in my life with probably much greater accuracy (and greater affection) than the men.  A few times, conflicts between dogs and men were pivotal points.  I wish I could say the dogs always won, but when they didn't, the men didn't last long after.

At the time M was born, I had two black Labs named Molly and Maggie.  When we all moved to California, part of what made the decision was that my parents had a huge house and fenced yard, and my dad helped me install a dog door.  Sadly, both developed Mast Cell tumors that despite (very expensive) surgery, ended up ending their lives prematurely. 

We've been back in Colorado for two years now, and a week ago we adopted a lovely 2 year old female black Lab from a Lab Rescue organization.  She's a wonderful dog and has good manners, is already housebroken, past the chewing stage, and is great with my daughter.  She's happy to go for walks and has settled right in.  The adjustment period has been going surprisingly well. 

I am a homebody at heart, and something very deep and very basic inside me is calmer, happier, and more secure with a dog in the house.  I also think that it is good for M, being an only child, to experience having to take someone else's needs into consideration.  So we walk the dog together, and she feeds her, and we talk about what the dog needs and how to care for her.  I have no illusions about who is primarily responsible for her, but as M gets older she can take on more.  It's good for me to have a dog to walk again... getting me up off the couch is always a good thing.  And there's something so satisfying about listening to the dog breathing next to my bed at night.  It feels like the last piece has dropped into place.