* Drama-free Zone

OK, I'm happy to report that there will be no lawsuits or court battles or official nastiness. The kids are already asking to come to our house, and Pa bought them all Halloween costumes this week. But you can be sure that when we see them next, we'll be having some discussions about trust and honesty.

I've learned a couple of lessons from this ordeal. First, I need to stop letting my husband's ex get to me. Experience shows that she likes to stir up emotions and create conflicts, but she seldom follows through on her worst threats (even when she does, her lawyer has more sense than she does). I can't give her power over my own happiness. Second, I need to be more relaxed about my relationship with my stepkids. I started out on really good footing with them, but lately I've been pushing more discipline on them and I don't think they're ready for that. I need to back off and let my husband handle the discipline whenever possible. Finally, both Pa and I need to establish some clear house rules so there is no longer any question as to what the expectations are for all children at our house, including Hercules.

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I wouldn't discuss my stepchildren. I finally violated this rule due to my building frustrations and need to VENT. Unfortunately, the issues surrounding my stepchildren have been consuming most if not all of my emotional energies for this past year. It has been the biggest single strain on my marriage. I have considered divorce on more than one occasion solely due to my inability to cope with my stepkids and their mother. Fortunately, my husband is willing to do the hard work when it comes to communicating and negotiating a peace. He often encourages me to get away on weekends when the kids come over, single-handedly taking on all 6 kids on his own, without even flinching. I am lucky to have him.

My stepkids challenge me because the primary influence in their lives is their mother, and she is an extremely dysfunctional individual. Divorce and remarriage are hard on kids and I didn't expect this adjustment to be easy for them. But I know that she is only making it more difficult by encouraging them to rebel against their father as well as myself. In their eyes, their mother is a saint and their father is the cause of all their troubles. She is building a steady campaign of anger and resentment towards him. She subscribes to a victim complex in which it is better to assign blame and feign helplessness than to take responsibility for your situation and actively seek to improve on it. Therefore, when I try to impose my values on her children, they only resent me more because I actually hold them responsible for their choices. It's very difficult for me to accept the fact that I have very little control over how they choose to see their world and interact with others. I am already witnessing the pychological damage that she is inflicting on her kids, and I only foresee more deep-seated emotional issues for them, and the fact that I may not be able prevent it drives me to insanity.

I am a problem-solver. I like to take a bad situation and make it better. I'm very, very good at it, too. I'm beginning to think that the big lesson for me here is that control is an illusion. Some things are simply beyond my power to control, and I need to accept that without giving in to despair. Lately, I have been giving in far too much to despair when really, this is only one small aspect of my life. There are so many good things in my life that I'm grateful for, I really shouldn't allow a singular issue to blot out the rest.

So with that, I will return to our regularly scheduled programming of tales of Hercules. I'm happy to report that life with Hercules has been pretty quiet these days. He's starting to look like your everyday, happy little boy. I must be doing something right! So let's leave all the drama behind and resume our Herculean anecdotes, shall we? I've got more good news to share, so I need to wrap up this post and start a new post for the good stuff.

Here's a photo I took of Hercules on the trail this weekend. I'll be posting some more in the next week or so. Oh, and guess what Hercules is going to be for Halloween? A ninja, of course! Photos of that soon to come, too!

Posing on the trail

* Troubles

It's been a rough couple of days around here lately, but I'm in better spirits today. The whole head lice/haircut drama escalated to an absurd level of insanity. Basically, the children's mother seems to think that her kids were already lice-free and that I cut her daughter's hair JUST TO SPITE HER. Which she considers child abuse. Yep. And oh yeah, she said that I'm creating a hostile environment for her children. So they won't be staying with us for a while.

Now the lawyers will decide if her claims have any merit. It's very unlikely, but I'm rather cynical when it comes to the justice system, and family law in particular.

What really breaks my heart is that the kids backed up their mother's story, even after I showed them the live, wriggling lice that I plucked from their heads. I guess physical evidence wasn't convincing enough, at least not compared to her brainwashing. I wish I had thought to take some pictures of those lice. Stupid lice. Like I have nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than to spend 3 hours plucking imaginary lice from a child's head that isn't even mine.

OK, I should probably shut up now because anything I say can and will be used against me in a court of law. I don't know if she reads this blog, or rather, if she knows about it. Because if she knows about it then she most certainly reads it.

Smile and wave!!

So if my blog is mysteriously shut down without warning, it's probably because I'm consumed in a nasty court battle. More than likely though, all this will blow over and life will resume it's usual insanity. As opposed to this warped insanity.

* Hormones, head lice, haircuts, and rabies

I'm back, after a pretty rough weekend. Hormones and head lice conspired to bring all sorts of drama to my household. Because although we successfully eradicated the head lice from Hercules and our home, my stepkids are still passing them around. It's been four weeks now and their head lice show no signs of diminishing - on the contrary, they are multiplying with great success. So I decided it was time for my stepdaughter to get a haircut. That's when the drama ensued. But thanks to my calm, reasonable, non-hormonal husband, I was able to cut her hair and no physical force was required. Then I spent a good 4 hours plucking nits from her head. Once her head was clear of all signs of lice, her older sister brought her to the salon for a nice professional cut (hey, I can cut hair, I never said I was good at it). Oddly, in the end it was her younger brother, the other child still afflicted with lice, that was the most pissed off about his haircut (the boys got theirs all buzzed off). But on Sunday, we sent 4 children back to their mom lice-free. Instead of appreciation, though, we get scorn. Because you know, I didn't have permission to cut the girl's hair.

The worst part is, there is still one boy who probably has lice (he didn't come this weekend, not after he heard about the dreaded haircutting incident). So the lice will most likely continue to spread amongst the siblings and the entire drama would be repeated next weekend, only with a teenage boy. Except that my husband has finally agreed that if any of the kids still have lice, from now on they will have to stay at their mom's until they are clear. Because I simply refuse to have to treat my entire house for lice every goddamned weekend.

I am such a bitch.

Well, now that I have vented my frustrations, let me share a more fun-filled portion of my weekend. I spent Sunday morning with my oldest stepdaughter (she has a different mom from the younger 5), my other stepdaughter and one stepson. The oldest daughter, I'll call her The Director, has become very interested in film-making and is likely to pursue this field when she starts college next year. Currently she is working on a few short films, one of which is a horror flick about a woman who gets rabies and tries to murder her children. Guess who got to play the rabid mother? Yep! I sure did!

It was actually quite fun, and definitely a good way for my younger stepdaughter and I to enjoy some time together and put all the drama behind us. Even though my character did end up bludgeoning her with a croquet mallet, it was all in good fun. And in the end, her brother got to push me into a freezing cold lake and knock me out with said croquet mallet. Perhaps that was cathartic for him as well. I sure hope so, because DAMN that lake was cold! Now we're all looking forward to seeing the finished product, once The Director gets through with post-production. From what I've seen of her previous work, it should be excellent.

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to brag just a little bit, because this was not my first appearance on film, oh no. I did make a brief appearance in a certain zombie musical, but that's hardly worth the bragging rights. I'd much rather brag about my husband, because he plays one of the starring roles in that film, as Arthur the Serial Killer/Zombie Slayer. And he is SO sexy dancing with an ax!

* Rio & Stanley

Rio & Stanley
I'm way behind so here's an old photo of Rio with a friend of ours. Click on the photo to learn more about Stan. He's a cool guy.

All's well around here, just busy as ever. I'll try to get back on the blogging wagon soon!

* New Look

OK, after some technical difficulties (blogger ERG!), the new design is up and running. Tell me what you think!

Oh, and I haven't even looked at the comments template yet, but oh well. Someday when I migrate away from blogger to my own domain, I will be more particular. For now, this is at least an improvement. Or at least I like to think so:)