This past year was a challenging one. Finances strained; tempers flared; lies told; heartache suffered; tough decisions were made. And yet we survived as a family unit and are still going strong, despite early predictions of falling apart.
Jan: One deliberate lie designed to hurt was hurled at the tail end of 2010 and rudely interrupted our New Year's Eve party. The SU and daughter's relationship was never quite the same, and in fact, grew worse. We did get our internet and TV back, but not the phone. My cell phone became our primary source of communication with the outside world who was not connected by facebook or email. An ice storm hit and I don't think the bookstore had any customers this month. In fact, I quit dressing up and dressed for the weather, not caring what I looked like.
Feb: A deliberate act of defiance caused us to fear we would have a runaway on our hands, or maybe retaliation from a rebellious person who has no respect for authority, parental or otherwise. Thankfully, the daughter agreed to follow our rules, though we did have to make it perfectly clear to the 'rebel without a conscience' we were in charge of her, not him. Received the heartbreaking news the bookstore would be closing the next month, as the community was just not as supportive as they claimed to be. Our tax refund allowed me to buy a laptop and wireless router, which has brought peace to our house, as there are no more complaints over who's spending too much time online!
March: I spent this month boxing up what books I wanted to keep. The SU wasn't happy with boxes of books I lugged to the basement, but too bad. The kids and I took a three day vacation to Lafayette and had a wonderful visit with friends and the college kid. We said farewell to the Mockingbird Book Emporium on the 31st and handed over the keys. We discovered my laptop had Skype on it, so was able to celebrate the youngling's 7th birthday with his brother face to face:) Same with the spouse's birthday.
April: With me back on After School Homework Detail, I discovered my now-7-year-old 1st grader still couldn't read. I went to the school with the suspicions he was dyslexic and could we have him tested? And why hadn't the Reading Lab noticed anything? They shrugged their shoulders and told me it was too late to have him tested. We'd have to wait until September, and oh, the budget had been cut, so summer school was out of the question. We now had a decision to make: retain him; hope he was placed with a teacher capable of working with him to bring him up to 2nd grade level; or see if the proposed program would be accepted: He would be allowed to attend 1st grade reading class, but for the rest of the time be in the 2nd grade. The SU decided to take early retirement and filed the papers. This would double our current income and make life a little easier.
May: I met with both the principal and his teacher, and decided to put my summer promotion plans on hold so I could work with my baby and get him tutored. We also decided not to retain him. The first retirement check arrived, and it allowed me to have the funds to spend a day at the zoo with my sister and her her family, who were in town for two weeks. I also made the heartbreaking decision to end a friendship, but the next day received the news my Arbor U series was being given a home with Secret Cravings Publishing. Coincidence or Divine Guidance? All I know is my writing career was suddenly on the fast track after being towed by dogged determination and a few wrong choices. The rest of this month's retirement money arrived, which allowed us to spend one more night at the hotel with the water park and enjoy the company of MDQ and ME, who wanted to spend a week with us. I also reconnected with an old classmate I'd not seen in 30 years.
June: I launched Aunt Molly's Summer Reading Program for the three kids after the stepdaughter informed us she no longer had a place to live. I decided we'd keep hers for the summer and if need be, we'd shuffle things around and put them in school down here until she got her act together. I arranged for a tutor, but a series of issues arrived, and it would be weeks before anyone received tutoring. I dragged the kids to the library twice a week; we took 'field trips' around town and read signs. I had them read me labels at the store. And at the end of June, I discovered my 3rd Kenzie title had been moved up and had to do a massive 5 day edit-proofread-write the dedication-upload book-promote it schedule. I think the kids were thrilled to have Aunt Molly otherwise occupied for a while, lol! I also reconnected with a dear friend from high school, and we spent two weeks emailing each other and catching up. I also set up at one festival, but rain kept everyone away. The kids were able to Skype with their mother several times a week, which both helped and hurt. Helped, because they missed her; hurt, because then they realized how much they missed her and wanted to go home.
July: Daughter turned 17; Kenzie's Appetite For Desire was launched; MDQ and ME went off with another set of grandparents for a week with them. The temperature soared; we spent time at the pool plus took them to see the movie Cars 2 in order to escape the heat. I also kept the Skyping to once a week, to cut down on the homesickness. One of my adoptees stopped coming around; it would be two more months until we saw him again. Met relatives on my SU's side and had a good picnic, only to be saddened by a death two weeks later. Relatives were thrilled I'd taken his picture before he left on what would be a fatal vacation. My SIL decided to move her daughter and kids into her home if their mother's job offer fell through again. We discussed it, along with our offer to keep them, but since she's their true grandmother (strange family dynamic....if you're confused, email me and I'll explain it!), we agreed to pack them up and return them on their collective birthday (yes, they were born one year apart and on the same day!) I also had to rewrite large chunks of Kenzie's Teacher's Pet.
Aug: This was a busy month. I had a min-class reunion planned on the 5th, and the SU didn't like my plans, so I called my father, who agreed to come get me. I spent an enjoyable evening with old friends, then on the 6th met my family at my SIL's for the kids' birthday party. Stepdaughter was doing well in her first week at an amazon.com warehouse, so things were looking up. A week later, we returned to Lafayette to move our oldest into his new fraternity apartment and had a nice picnic with my parents and two other families. Two weeks later, I was back in Lafayette because the friend I'd reconnected with in June had suddenly passed away. Mom and I attended the funeral, and his parents were thrilled to see me and to learn their son had sent me several of his songs he'd composed. My kids returned to school, and my youngling's new 2nd grade teacher pulled me aside with her suspicions our baby was NOT dyslexic, but ADD, and recommended we have him tested for that instead. I looked it up online and discovered I think my elementary issues stemmed from the fact I was an undiagnosed ADD myself! WOW....I also began walking 3 miles a day, at least 4 days a week. And a friend and I decided to karaoke every Wednesday night, and to go through the song title book to get some variety. I began with the A's while she went to the other end of the alphabet. And even picked up some drunken fans, lol! Writing-wise, I was self-editing Love On The Rocks. The daughter broke up with the boyfriend for four hours.
Sept: With my kids finally on medicaid, I took them both to the dentist and doctor. Youngling was tested and an appointment was made. I received an email from my editor, asking if I would modernize my series. I went into panic mode; asked for advice online, and received terrific feedback! Emailed her back with a polite 'no' and spelled out the reasons. She and publisher conferred, then agreed to keep my setting in the 1980's. Huge sigh of relief! I began revisions for Love Finds A Way, then put them on hold when edits began arriving for LOTR, plus was thrilled with both covers! My neighbor's blood pressure spiked and was put in the hospital; I looked after her kids for an entire week while she was recovering. Received word the stepdaughter was doing well in her job and they were considering hiring her full-time.
Oct: Began to have a suspicion when I noticed certain supplies in the bathroom were not being used. Since I myself am entering another phase of life, I decided to pray about it and give my family member the benefit of the doubt. But after two weeks, I decided to confront her, and was heartbroken to learn the truth. But, someone has to be the adult in the family, since I knew more fireworks would be arriving, so I've become the Head Advocate around here. And as for the youngling, we started him on ADD meds and saw a 180 in his behavior two days later. No more three hour homework issues and even his teacher is thrilled with his progress! Love On The Rocks debuted the same week my world fell apart; plus my right foot was having pain issues and I twisted my left ankle on Release Day. Three days later, I went to the doctor; had both feet X-rayed; left ankle was put in an air cast; I was told to stay off my feet for a week and to do exercises on my right foot. A week later, I was good:) My neighbor's health went downhill again; I joked about there being some sort of end-of-the-month special! This month was also particularly hard on my oldest: He'd lost his best friend suddenly in a freak health care accident. She'd gone to the dentist on Monday for a gum infection and given meds. Tuesday, was in the ER because she could hardly stand; Wednesday was life-lined to Indianapolis in renal failure; Thursday was pronounced brain dead. The family held off on pulling the life support until friends could arrive to say goodbye. K was heartbroken beyond belief. The SU and daughter went up to be with him at the hospital, since S had also worked with the girl. Stepdaughter reported they were considering her for Safety Officer and she now had the funds to have her own apartment again. She'd ditched the deadbeat boyfriend and was doing well. The kids were very happy in their new school and my efforts over the summer had paid off:) The daughter broke up with the boyfriend again, this time for three days.
Nov: Busy with appointments for both my daughter and youngling. Began to notice the youngling's appetite was slightly affected, and he was having problems going to sleep at night. Thanksgiving was good, but received word my grandmother had fallen and cracked her pelvis. We hoped Granny would recover in time for Christmas. I finished edits for LFAW and the self-edits for Forbidden Love, which was good, since final edits for Teacher's Pet arrived! Also received the heartbreaking news an old boyfriend had passed away, and met his widow, who joined us for karoke a few times. J had been one of my first serious relationships, but wasn't meant to be. I also breathed life into a potential zombie story, so I hope to continue writing it soon. Finished self-editing book #4, Balancing Act, and submitted it. And surprise surprise...after a three year campaign to join The Writer's Evo blog, I was finally asked to contribute:) I just hope this means the current contributors aren't getting ready to jump ship....(crosses fingers no!)
Dec: The daughter finally had enough of the boyfriend and broke it off, even taking back her class ring. We celebrated K's 20th birthday via Skype. I reconnected with my #2 adoptee, who started coming around again when he realized I was baking cookies, lol! We also attended his 9th birthday party and found out what the heck some of the items were on my youngling's Christmas Wish List! I celebrated the release of Teacher's Pet with cupcakes and karaoke. Granny took a turn for the worse on the 16th, and my mother wasn't doing well, so I went up to spend five days with her. I ran errands; did her last-minute Christmas shopping; and helped her clean the house. Granny passed away peacefully on Christmas Day, and this past week spent an emotional week between my aunt's house; my parents' house; and the funeral home. We also cleaned out Granny's apartment yesterday and I'll be writing another 'Treasures Found' post in a week or so. Celebrated my birthday away from my kids, and then with my karaoke friends as I did a 'Best of' night. Daughter's resolve lasted 3 weeks this time, but two days ago was already beginning to regret her decision to take him back. We'll see what 2012 brings for those two as they prepare to bring another life into our family. Yes, you read that correctly. Our first real grandchild will be born June 11, 2012. And yes, my daughter will finish high school if I have to chain her to her desk(s). Got word Love Finds A Way will be released Jan 3rd, 2012. Which is good; I wouldn't have been able to promote it very well the past week! Edited half of Forbidden Love, and will continue once everything settles down. I also received a contract for Balancing Act, book #4.
I'm tackling a mountain of laundry today. I've not been home, nor have done any laundry since last Saturday. While I was gone yesterday, the only thing the kids and spouse did was clean up the kitchen. So today will be Operation Laundry and Clean Up. Hopefully, we will also be going to the store so I can make some appetizers for everyone to eat while we watch the ball drop....and I've been invited to join three friends for a drink tonight at eleven. There shouldn't be any fireworks, since S's boyfriend has moved an hour south of us. Here's hoping 2012 will be less turbulent for us all!