Anybody Still There?

Hello??? Remember me?

Yeah, I know, I've been a craptastic blogger the last few months... I make an effort for a few days and then it just kind of dies...

Anyways, I've been pretty busy the past few months with one thing or another.

Let's see... my sister had her baby - my 1st niece - in March. She was a few weeks early, they induced her for medical reasons, but she's pretty healthy and doing just fine! Her name is Arabelle, but we all call her Belle for short (my sis has been crazy about Disney's Beauty and the Beast for years - she even wore a yellow ballgown Belle dress for her senior prom a few years ago). My brother-in-law got orders to be stationed at Norfolk as of May 1 so my sister, him and Belle had a month to move out to Virginia, where they're currently residing near the base, in Virginia Beach. Kinda weird not having them around or seeing them every other week... Jay's quite smitten with his little cousin, being ever so curious and gentle with her, although it is amusing when he decides she doesn't need a binky and yanks it out of her mouth, or decides she needs to wear socks/booties and attempts to put them on her, lol...

Here's a few Jay/Belle photos:
Easter 2013 (with my dad)
The feels!!!
He was trying to hold her hand during the car ride into downtown Chicago
And this happened:

Jay met Carly and Chica from Sprout's Sunny Side Up Show in Chicago at the end of April, as well as a Sportacus impersonator (I was really hoping to meet the real Magnus Scheving as he often makes appearances - would have been so cool to say I met an Olympic gymnast!). Jay was a little shy, lol...

Obligatory Bean photo!
That trip to Chicago was kind of my sister's last "Hurrah" in the city before they moved. It was also hubby's sister's first time actually in the city too, so we made a day of it downtown, visiting Navy Pier and Millennium Park as well as walking along Michigan Ave (she's recently gotten into the Divergent series and was super excited to see in person a lot of the places she had read about in the book). I must say, considering it was my 1st time actually driving in downtown Chicago, it wasn't nearly as bad as I had always been told it was!

In Jay news, we attempted potty training. It didn't go very well - he went a few times after sitting on the potty for what felt like hours but he didn't seem interested in the least so we figure we'll try again this summer. He's also gotten really into VeggieTales and is a bit attached to his plush LarryBoy he picked out at the Christian store not too long ago.

Hubby has some news of his own - he finally got a driving spot this summer for UPS! It's the last step in the process to get on as a full-time supervisor (something he's been wanting for years) so once he's done with his driving in September all we have to do is wait for a full-time position to open up somewhere in the area! It's pretty rough though as he had to spend a week at a conference center in the Chicago suburbs for training and now the route he's driving is at a center just over an hour away down south (it's 8-6...ish so he leaves by 630am and doesn't get back til at least 730, if not later on the weekdays... it really sucks as I see him maybe a few hours if that). But it'll be worth it!

In addition to hubby's sister going to downtown Chicago for the first time, she also got to go to her first formal event as her homeschooled friends invited her to their co-op's annual spring formal event. She had a lot of fun. She also does (board) game night with her friends a few Friday's a month (they rotate houses) and she's starting her first paying babysitting gig this week, babysitting the kids of one of hubby's former coworkers once a week all summer. We also pay her to mow the grass when the weather's nice. Right now she's getting ready to go on our church's annual youth group missions trip to Kentucky which is next week. When she gets back we need to get the ball rolling on getting her enrolled for school in the fall as she'll be starting her 1st year of high school and attending real school (as she's been homeschooled all her life).

I've been reading a bit - finished the Arthas World of Warcraft book (it was good, I learned some backstory I didn't know about Arthas and even Sylvanas, however it did feel like it dragged on at parts taking me forever to finish it); I read the final Sookie Stackhouse (aka True Blood) book and was a bit disappointed, as I expected based on everyone else's reactions to the end of the series (I'm sorry, but you don't end a series like that! Gimme a freaking "years later" epilogue! Don't be lazy and leave the main character's future open-ended!). I also started the Divergent trilogy, having finished the first book in 3 sittings and just started the second - it's an easy read, a bit predictable at times, but still fun and light reading! Think I'll revisit Westeros next and attempt to read more in the Game of Thrones series as I've only gotten through the 1st book.

Speaking of Game of Thrones... holy Red Wedding Batman! Now I know why it's referred to as the Red Wedding! Gotta say, the finale was a bit of a letdown after that episode, but I hear a lot of it was setup for the next season, as remember - seasons 3 and 4 make up book 3, so we're only halfway through the 3rd book so I can't even imagine what epic-ness is going to happen next season! Gotta say, Dany ripping Astapor a new one was definitely one of my favorite scenes of the season (I believe it's the last 5 minutes in episode 4 of season 3). Also looking forward to season 4 of The Walking Dead and what's in store... not so much looking forward to True Blood though - I missed the last half of last season and can't say I'm that anxious to catch up and watch the new season... I liked the books (save for how she ended the series) but the show just strays waaaaay too much and it drives me nuts... I get adding on for the other characters storylines but I don't understand why they had to change the main storylines all around (they killed off the wrong fairy in season 4 for crying out loud - the one they killed off right away is a main supporting character later in the series that you grow to love!).

We saw a few movies in theaters the last few months. Hubby's sis and I had a girls night and saw Oz the Great and Powerful - it was a nice prequel to the classic story (which I've been crazy about since I was little!) although I wished they had tied in Wicked and left the Wicked Witch's name as Elphaba. My mom and I went and saw The Great Gatsby for Mother's Day (hubby had to work alllll day and so my dad offered to watch Jay so my mom and I could go do something fun - we also got lunch and pedicures) - it was pretty good, despite me never having read the story (I will say though, after getting hooked on Gossip Girl, it's definitely like a modern day version of Great Gatsby, with Dan Humphrey as Gatsby and Serena as Daisy!). Hubby and I went and saw the new Star Trek movie which I did enjoy and then we went and saw the latest Fast and Furious installment which was a lot of fun and if you saw the clip in the end credits then you definitely know exactly why I'm super excited to see the next installment!!!

I also played some more of Portal 2... I will finish all my games I've started someday... I have been hooked on Candy Crush Saga for quite some time though! I'm at level 273 right now - it helps I have a friend I'm playing against, trying to keep pace with... we keep passing the other up, it's pretty fun!

In other news...

Hubby's parents divorce was finalized mid-May. At the end of February (the day before my father-in-law's birthday) my estranged mother-in-law announces via a Facebook relationship status change that she's in a relationship with a guy that (based on our interactions with him online and how he presents himself on Facebook) can only be described as a total d-bag. Needless to say, (to make a long story short) as the saying goes, the "shit hit the fan" after that with the remainder of her kids - she can't accept the truth that we're mad about how she left us, what she's continued to do since and her continuous lies to us (for example, we offer to fly her home, she refuses... giving us yet another excuse/lie as to why she can't be here - one such lie was that she had to be there for her former niece who was having medical procedures done in the spring and she needed to continue to help her with her kids she'd been taking care of... yet she up and walks out on all of them the same way she did to us just weeks after making her relationship with this d-bag public... so much for that excuse!). She'd rather just tell everyone that her kids chose their dad's side instead of hers when that's not the case, as most of us never chose sides. And this boyfriend of hers just screams bad news (he has a 3rd degree felony battery charge, not to mention he is very verbally abusive and foul online, constantly speaks for my mother-in-law instead of letting her speak for herself and pretty much persuades her as to who she should be friends with online, getting her to block all of us kids as well as a bunch of her friends from up here).

He also kept saying she was getting a divorce "soon" which implied we had to beat her to the punch as hubby's sister, only being 14, did not want to get stuck with her mom and this bad news d-bag down in Florida, as there's no guarantee that if they had joint custody that my mother-in-law would put her back on the plane. Plus, if anything were to happen to my father-in-law, given his poor health, custody would automatically default to my mother-in-law and we'd have to fight, not to mention in his state of health at the time and the fact that he had been in nursing care for months with his daughter living with us, well... my mother-in-law wouldn't have to fight too hard to get any custody. Also, if she filed first and in Florida, we would have to either get my father-in-law down there for court to contest it or find a trustworthy lawyer down there to fight it for him. As much as he didn't want to divorce her, he realized it was in the best interest of their daughter for him to do so and in filing up here he was able to name hubby and myself as interveners and request the court grant hubby and me full custody of his daughter due to his health and the abandonment of her mother - if my mother-in-law cared to contest it, she would have to show her face up here or get someone to do it for her.

Needless to say, my mother-in-law doesn't care enough about her kids anymore to bother contesting anything and clearly her sugar daddy doesn't care about her having anything to do with her family as instead of helping her get up here for court or hire someone to contest anything in the papers (ie: child support!) he announced he'd take her on a shopping spree to help fill up their walk-in closet. What a great guy ya bagged there - can't wait to see/hear his reaction when you up and walk out on him and his daughter that's almost the same age as your own!

We were fortunate to get the divorce stuff finalized when we did, as just 13 days later (May 29) my father-in-law suddenly passed away.

4 month old Jay with Grandpa J
Now I know, he's been sick with some serious health issues for the last few years, being in and out of the hospital so many times since last fall that I've lost count (plus the 2 times before that), however I say suddenly as when we saw him the day the divorce was finalized he seemed to be doing pretty well, not to mention the day he passed, several people visited with him earlier in day and all said he seemed to be doing much better than he had in months! But I guess it was his time...

I think most of us were at peace with him passing - I know I had said goodbye to him in my heart months ago, and the reality of it was that we weren't expecting him to make it another year. I am quite proud of how hubby's sister handled it, for only being 14... when we broke the news to her she shed a few tears but made the comment that at least we know he's no longer suffering and in any pain. She spent the rest of the week and weekend surrounding herself with friends and her siblings.

Sadly, she didn't want to go to the private family viewing the day before the funeral or say one last goodbye at the visitation prior to the funeral service... hubby and one of his brothers tried to push her to do so, but the result was just tears. I don't blame her though... the way she felt, it was just his corpse, he wasn't in there, so what was the point and in having to see that? Plus, one of hubby's aunts was a little too insistent that everyone touch his body... it was a tad bit creepy and awkward - even her grown son argued with her about it, citing he didn't want to touch his uncle's body, not that he was afraid, he just didn't want to and didn't see the point.

We were very fortunate that people were generous in their donations (my father-in-law did missions work and even headed a ministry that taught about apologetics, cults, the occult and the end times) as he didn't have life insurance and the funeral/burial planning and expenses somehow (as usual) all fell on hubby and I (still baffled that not one of his sisters offered to help with expenses... one of their sons did!). We had a private lender who requested to be anonymous help us with the money upfront, as we had only about 1/4th of what we needed the morning of the funeral and burial and the funeral home said they wouldn't continue with the visitation and service if we didn't pay the morning of and the cemetery said they would not bury him if we didn't have their money that afternoon. Hubby and I were both majorly stressing until the lender came forward (I need to get my hair recolored as my greys are out of control thanks to all this lol...). So the lesson learned here folks, is make sure you have life insurance!!! If we had more time, hubby said he could have taken it out of his retirement, stocks and 401k's through work, but even that takes weeks to come through...

There were a few memorable things that happened at the funeral:

  • Riding 1st car behind the hearse on the way to the cemetery after the funeral service, going through all the lights and seeing the string of cars behind us down one of the main roads in town - holding up traffic was pretty awesome!
  • We had Jay with us all day as everyone that watches him was there anyway. The church had the bookstore open while the visititation was going on and being that Jay's on a VeggieTales kick right now he saw some VeggieTales stuff in there and took off running to check it out... only his pants were a tad too big and fell down around his ankles. I don't know about you, but seeing little diapered butts hanging out cracks me up, especially when they're running with pants down around their ankles lol...
  • My youngest brother-in-law couldn't make the family viewing the day before due to work and was running late to the visitation before the service so naturally he was speeding and of course a cop pulled him over. He admitted he knew he was going like 90/95mph and flat out told the cop he was already late to his father's funeral. The cop asked where it was and told him to follow him - the cop put his siren and lights on and my brother-in-law had to step on the gas and do at least 110mph to keep up! So yeah, he got a police escort to his father's funeral and no ticket! Talk about an awesome cop!
  • While not amusing, hubby and his brother that picked out the burial plot noticed at the graveside service that the cemetery people dug the wrong hole! The one they dug would ultimately have the headstone sitting right in front of a scrawny little tree instead of the green shrubbery they had been told would be there (they specifically told them when they picked out the plot they did not want the tree and were assured it would not be there). Afterwards we all went to the office and then the office ladies took a trip to the gravesite with us... after some debate and pointing things out to them we got them to agree to switch out the young tree with one of the abundance of shrubs throughout the cemetery as they said they couldn't dig the plot next to the one that was already dug anytime in the near future due to safety issues.

So yeah... that should catch you all up on the past few months in my life.