This Blog is the journal/scrapbook/photo album etc. that is all about my family and our lives together. Here is where family and friends (and anyone else too, I suppose) can keep up on what's happening with us Mannimals! COMMENTS ARE APPRECIATED!! ;) Check back often as we'll respond to comments and make new posts as often as possible!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Swimming Lessons April-May 2008

Here's a post covering April and May.  I remembered liking taking swimming lessons every summer when I was a young kid and so I got Matrim enrolled in a class.  These are almost all the pictures from his class those two months.

So I realized that these posts might be difficult to know just what was happening or what was I feeling, when.  There are several different points of view and matters of time I am writing from since I am writing posts that have past.  Some of it is what was happening then, some what I think now about then, and some about now all mixed with pictures that are past by a ways (until I get caught up).  So readers know, I try to make sure the time the post is about is in the Title.  Then the date on the post will be when I got around to starting the post which I will try to keep as up to date as possible once I get it caught back up.  And some of the commentary will potentially go on up til the date I publish the post.  I will try to keep clear what is what from now on if it wasn't before.

Back at this time I am missing Athena and Aviendha fiercely!  I keep a brave face on for Matrim because I don't want him thinking bad or especially that any of the bad stuff happening during this time is his fault.  I am SO glad Matrim is back though!  We are the best of buds while I still maintain a great balance of being his father, and not just his friend.  We have so much fun together.

And during this time I shake the dust off my cooking skills and I surprised myself with how much fun I was having in the kitchen.  Athena as I have mentioned often is a great cook and so all I ever had to do was come up with ideas of meals and Athena would boot me out of her kitchen and make magic.  So I had not had much time spent in the kitchen for years besides my BBQ and work with the occasional main course.  The kids and I call my meals Dad Espesialles because I like to make things with original twists.  So far, so good because the kids have always approved.

It was great having Mat here too because he helped keep my mind off the craziness that had become of life in the past couple months and how much I was hurt, angry, confused, regretful, and missed my family.  He did his usual great job being a good big boy.  His schoolwork was above par even here in CA where the schools are much better.  Mat missed Athena and Avi too, but not nearly as much as I did is the impression I got after monitoring him closely while doing my best to do everything I could to increase his happiness and the closeness and quality of our relationship.  I know that I would never want the kids separate, long term like that again though.  They are such a(n) smart, adorable, nice, fun, mischevious little duo which I and Matrim miss during this time.  Our only relief until I got both of the kids at the end of summer was when Athena came to town for our court dates (which I really wished we could avoid and still do).

And as for how I feel now?  I miss the kids terribly because I decided that I had to call Athena's claims for the kids as valid as mine when looking at the big picture and I sent them with her for the second half of the school year instead of going into court to battle for the custody during the school year and with her for summers.  I just want things to be fair and for us to be as good of a team apart that we can be.  It's a definite Plan B to me since I would prefer to be a family and working as a team together.  But sometimes when you love someone, you have to accept that you are the only one of the two of you who does.  If that's the case then I figure the only thing to do is try to move on as friends and put your love into wishing them as well apart as you would together.  I hope that is what we are able to do both for us and for our kids.  I hope the outcome of our custody situation is fair and gives the kids access to us both and vice versa to provide them with all we can to make their childhood as successful and positive of an experience as we possibly can.  I sometimes am nostalgic and sometimes sad and sometimes regretful, but for the most part I just try to be positive and happy as I can.  And I try to remember all I have been blessed with including a young adulthood that was as fun, and lucky, and memorable as I could ever have hoped for.

And now for it.  Here is Matrim's swimming lessons post:

Here is Mat's first teacher.  I was super proud of how good Mat did for his first class with how nervous he was around water as a toddler.  

Matrim is always getting the girls flirting with him.  Here is no different.  :)

What a cute little feller!

Time for some learning to swim on his back.

Mat did much better about going on his back than Avi ended up doing her first class even though she was better about water in general.

And here's the end of one class.  After class we would get changed up and go hit the bike back home.  The pool is about a mile from our house so it's an easy bike ride to and from lessons.

Here is Mat's next teacher.  Poor Mat had to get the hippie teacher with the hairy pits.  :)

Matrim  did a great job all thru swimming.  I will be getting both kids back to the lessons when I get my next turn with them.  Actually there are SO many activities.  All the ones we have done in the past have sent out notices that it's time again.  As you'll see in coming posts, the kids have done swimming, day camps, pre school, soccer camp, sports camp, tumbling, soccer, etc. and they have been telling me that they are excited to do them all again!  ;)

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April With Mat After Bringing Him Back To CA

This is a quick post about April after I was able to bring Mat back to Cali.  Athena wouldn't let us take Avi and kept us broken up for the summer.  This time Athena listened to Mat though when he said he wanted to go back with me to Cali and to finish his school year.  I was lucky to have had Rod's help to get out to UT to challenge Athena's abducting the kids.  Unfortunately when she lied to the court, they overstepped their authority for some reason (the usual UT legal B.S. and exactly why I don't live there!!) and granted her temporary custody until I could get the case moved back to CA.  I was SO glad to at least have brought Matrim back, but we missed Aviendha like crazy!!  Sending Matrim back was the first thing Athena did that I appreciated post abducting them.  It's what he wanted and what was the right thing to do.  I hoped it would lead to more good choices and us being able to work thru the mess...

Oh and until I get a new digital camera for my birthday I am stuck using my phone camera.  It isn't too horrible but I fell to 2 megapixels for awhile.

Athena took the car with her so Mat and I turned to walking, biking, and busing.  I still try to do as much of that as I can even having a car.  It was really great getting so much fresh air and exercise.  Mat and I had a great time working together to get places and it made things more adventuresome.  :)

The course is changed up since back then.  They gave it an overhaul not long after this pic.  This is the Manilla course that is right by the bay and ocean.

Rod was staying with us for a bit to get in a visit after our run to UT.

Haha! And this is the grass in our back yard.  It takes so much less time than you would think to get this long!  This is about the longest it has gotten, but it is what happens during winter where we get lots of rain but it is still warm enough to not inhibit growth.  I am finally adapting and getting better at keeping it under control since I moved to this rain forest from a mountain desert.  Here I never water and the grass grows crazy, but in UT it was water all the time and mow once in awhile.  :)  I alway say that my lawn here gets 5 o'clock shadow.   Mow it in the morning and by evening it's ready again!

That's the mower back there behind Mat.  :)

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Last Day Folfing With The Kids Before The Abduction

So the other night I found myself crying unexpectedly.  And it was from watching Mrs. Doubtfire of all things...!  I hadn't seen it since it first came out but I thought I remembered thinking it was pretty funny despite the need to suspend reality to have Robin Williams playing an old woman and none of his family recognizing him.  I got the movie channels for free for a day for some reason, so I decided to save Doubtfire to watch after dinner.  It was a hard watch, to say the least.  I had forgotten much of the show and it was crazy just how close my story of the past couple years matched the movie.  First his wife decides to focus on his weaknesses, faults, and quirks and not the positive and potential side of him and their relationship.  He knows things aren't as good as they could/should be but is blind sided when she decides they should divorce instead of buckling down to give fixing things a chance.  She then proceeds to follow up the divorce announcement with a court battle over custody of their kids.  In the court battle she takes advantage of the courts favoring moms, his quirkiness, and twisting the facts just enough to get everything given to her.  She abuses her court awarded powers and takes the kids (which are more important to him than anything, EVER!) and completely abuses him and the kids and their rights to have relationships and equal access to each other.  She only sees her point of view and doesn't even care when on the one day he gets the kids that she is busy trying to do too much and brings them to him late and interrupts dinner to pick them up early.  He meanwhile does his best to deal with all the B.S., missing his kids, her lack of keeping the kids apart from her negative ideas about him, etc. and still tries to stay positive about her (especially in front of the kids).  Then while still finishing figuring the whole situation out, she starts to date and to replace him with his kids.  He spends his time fixing his faults and improving himself and his quality of job being a dad which she doesn't seem to see or care about and still is primarily concerned with "holding all the cards" because she had the kids who are his heart.  

So much of this was familiar to me and I couldn't help crying, I miss my kids SO very much (and my wife and my family unit being whole)!!  Unfortunately it seems the odds of Athena wanting to give us a good try, even with me being new and much improved and my promise that all the things she claimed to be leaving me for would be gone and all the good things increased to take their place and Athena calling all the shots, are not high.  I do wonder why Athena has involved the kids and done some of the things she has done by going out of her way to hurt me rather than trying to make it work in a situation where she would have no more complaints and could call all the shots?  Or barring that then why not work together just to do our best we can for the kids.  Why try to use an ever changing list of mean tactics to try and get "control" and to hurt me?  From claiming I abuse the kids, then that I would take my anger with her out on the kids, then that I neglect them, then that I starve them, then that I am a criminal/drug dealer over medicinal marijuana, then that being available 24/7 to raise them right is actually a negative thing because they won't learn responsibility like they will watching her slave away at a crap job and having to have others raise them while she is stuck working, and on and on.  I don't understand all the lies and exaggerations and control etc. instead of just being fair and honest.  Like when I answer my questions with the attorneys and courts etc. about Athena.  I tell them what I honestly think: That she is a pretty good mom and anywhere that she has made this mess easier etc., but that I believe the situation I could give the kids raising them here in Cali would be preferable to being stuck back in UT.  About every other time I talk to mat he tells me about wanting me to come and get him and about liking almost everything about Cali better than UT.  And my response is always the same: I tell him thanks for the info, that I cant wait to have him back, and that Mom is fun too right.  The kids both miss Athena some when here in Cali, but they both would choose to be in CA vs. UT despite missing her.  My mom has seen many of the times where Mat, Avi, or both has said without provocation that they can't wait to get back to Cali and she has also seen how (and this is only being honest, not to try and make things a competition) little the kids miss Athena because of how good I do and that they don't miss UT at all except a few family members.  And I really do everything I can to discourage competition between Athena and I or their preferring one of us over the other.  But about the choosing CA over UT, I am open to should they want to tell me about which one they prefer and why (although it seems like Athena usually ignores their preferences since it isn't what I am sure she wants to hear).

Anyway, it is like I said before.  We are both good parents and since we will both probably never agree to giving the other custody, we should do what is fair.  I hope we can come to a good and fair agreement in which access between us and the kids is split and that we will scrap competing and all the crap it entails!

That all being said, here are the pictures of our last folf adventure before Athena left with the kids.  This was our Easter folfing and the kids and I had a really fun time!  We were all sad that we couldn't get Athena to hit the course with us.  We tried for awhile, but finally we had to hit it before running out of time.  This was Avi's first time to get out of the stroller and hike around with us.  After this game I got Avi started throwing at least one hole a game since she did so well out of the stroller and said she wanted to when I asked her.  Now she uses one of my discs and in coming posts you will get to see her throwing.  :)  Mat is always getting better and it wont be long til he is better than me.

Sharing with his Sis! :)  The only thing better than these two is both of them together!!

One of the good mid-flight pics I got this game.

I remember Mat had a great game this day.  I think he even beat me!

He has gotten really good at the side arm shots.  His drive accuracy and distance continues to improve and he even putts side arm!

An Aviendha Monster on the loose! :)

This is one of my favorites.  We were still working with Avi on the thumb sucking here.  Now when she is with me she does great at the no thumb.  :)

So cute and so much fun!  The kids and I have such a good time together.

Avi says she has had fun but is ready to head for home for food and potty.

Aviendha is SO cute and smart.  Lots of times she makes me let her try to buckle before I do it for her.

"I need a little help with the bottom buckle, Dad."

"Thanks, old man!"  My kids have the best smiles!

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easter 2008

Ok here is our Easter 2008 post!  This is going to be a hard one to make and is part of the reason I got so far behind on the posting.  This was the last event we spent as a family! :(

So these are the last things I want to say about the past year to get this blog caught up.  Then I will be wanting to move on to getting to the posts.  There are SO many fun times, cute pics, and wonderful events to show pics from and write about.  :)

First: This is rhetorical.  In this post (and I probably should have said it about the last one too) I am just looking to get out what has happened, to what is in my head and heart about events of the past year or so, up to the present.  I am not looking for specific comments or trying to say anything to anyone.  I am simply trying to make an honest documentation that tries to be objective but is obviously my point of view.  So here I go, and I hope you enjoy the pictures!

So: It is nearly indescribable to try to explain the unexpected and almost unimaginable story of the events of the past year.  I have had the hardest time wrapping my head all the way around how something so incredible and loaded with so much potential is come to such an odd and unfortunate end... How does someone you know so closely, shared so much with, and loved so well become someone who seems so different in so short a time when dealing with you?  I am still baffled by Athena's disconnect, loss of love, betrayal of our relationship & plans & wedding vows, and willingness to hurt and abandon me while I was getting sober and working hard to improve my faults and hold up my end of things.

Besides of course what I have already described in prior posts and in conversations with some of you friends and family.  I just can't figure how someone can turn against and discard someone they supposedly loved and promised to love forever for anything short of an ultimate betrayal and deal breaker such as cheating.  How do you lose sight of the bigger picture and narrow your vision to focus only on a lover's faults when you have a partner who you can trust will always try to be there for you, loves you immensely, is fiercely loyal, honest, worships you, and would gladly lay down their life for you?  How is true love not enough?  Even if it takes some work and patience to get to fully realize it... How and why ever give up on your partner as long as said partner is honestly willing to do what it takes to fix or change anything problematic?

And that is just Athena and I. When you add in the two "best kids ever" to the equation, how do you not appreciate it all and make all the efforts you can to make it a continued success for us all to revel in?  I SO wish there was any way to get Athena to understand just how much I love her and how things between us really were, are, and could be short of her actually getting to be me and see how I think/feel, which unfortunately isn't possible.  I have no idea what else I can do when sincere and heartfelt words, letters, texts, analogies, descriptions, apologies, promises, and logic no matter how tactful, honest, kind etc. I try to express them always seem to be misunderstood, twisted in meaning, or simply fall on deaf ears...  Instead it is as if I was found to have been hiding that I was a complete monster, had defiled the sanctity of our marriage, or done something so terrible as to be pushed away and not to be forgiven at all costs!  Had that been the case, I would understand Athena breaking up our family and I would be resigned to getting what I deserve.  Which would be Athena leaving me and taking the kids and giving me whatever visitation she felt I deserved or was good for the kids.  But that was not and is not the case.  I might not have been perfect, but I truly love(d) Athena with all my heart and would do anything to prove it and to make our relationship and parenting a success.

Now while I do still love Athena and would do practically anything to prove just how much. I am also wise enough to understand that you can't make someone love you short of being yourself and offering all you have to give to and hoping that your efforts will not go unnoticed or unappreciated, and that your love will be requited.  It does no good to harass, or try to force, or to pine away for someone with whom there is no future.  And it does seem like Athena is determined we have no future... But while I am capable of moving on, it isn't going to be easy.  My heart breaks at the thought of it all ending like this!  I have so many good memories and have had so much happiness and appreciation of everything we had together over our 7 year run of adventures!!

I have stood up for myself where I have (such as portions of the last blog post and the few people I have talked about the situation with) because I know while I might not have always had all the right tools to have a perfect past,  I really did have very good intentions (the road to hell really is paved with em!) and I tried hard to see them through!  And I had much more love than even I ever thought I would be lucky enough to feel!  Unfortunately I think that knowing how spoiled I was, and how great I thought I was at being a Dad, and Athena was at her job and as a mom, and so many other good aspects about our family may have led to too much pride on my part.  I didn't think I could be too proud as I had always thought that to be a myth to be too proud as long as you kept it to yourself instead of boasting or gloating.  I just didn't see soon enough what was really happening on some issues.  And I am the first to admit that on those things, I should have definitely have done a smarter job!

So now, if we are going to be splitting the Mannimals up, I think we have the best plan possible for how to do it as fairly as possible.  Seeing that Athena and I will both have to agree to disagree when it comes to where we think the kids are best off (she thinks UT with her and I think CA with me) we will have to compromise.  The plan I have come up with that I think is the best compromise actually favors Athena getting about 6.5 months of the year and me getting 5.5.  I think Athena taking the second half of the school year (actually starting the 26th of Dec) thru the first week in July (alternating turns on who gets July 4) works well.  That way the kids have the end of Dec to get back with Athena and ready for the second half of the year.  Then the kids have the end of summer to get used to being back with me and ready to start the next grade in CA school (where he will get ahead of UT school and can go back to UT that way instead of coming into CA school being behind them all at UT speed).  That divides the sports up well too since the timing works great for soccer and football here and basketball and soccer there to choose from.  Then of course there are the open things like swimming lessons and martial arts that we can both do.

So while I will definitely miss them during Athena's turn, and while I think the kids would be best off here with me, I think that in order to compromise this is the best option.  And since I don't want this to be a contest (although it really does warm my heart and makes me feel appreciated all the times Mat tells me how he likes UT and loves Athena, but that he prefers living in CA and can't wait for me to bring him back!) I think compromising is the fairest thing to do.  I will be visiting back to UT several times on my turn so the kids will still get to see everyone in UT and that will include most major holidays.  That is the plan I have made to try with Athena recently, and I am hoping it works (I can't imagine it not) and that Athena and I can move on and be able to still work as a team and be friends so we can do our best for the kids we possibly can and so we can not have to fight or battle each other.  Also I know that when I have the kids that I make the extra efforts to make it as easy as possible on Athena and the kids to be apart.

I can't wait!!!  It's almost my turn!!!!!  I love and miss the kids SOOOO MUCH!!!!!  I am a lucky, lucky Dad.  Ok, so on with the posts... There are hundreds of pictures I intend to get caught up on in the coming weeks!  :)

Easter with the kids is always SO fun!  It all starts the day before when we get to color our eggs.  Athena was always great fun and a great mom around holidays.  Often she would do crafts and fun activities to make the holidays even funner.  ;)   These first several pics are all from our day before Easter preparations:

:) Mat is still rockin his bi-hawk from Crazy Hair Day!

And now it's time to dye the eggs!

Haha, it's too bad Avi wasn't quite ready in this one or it would have been super cute!

This is one of my favorites of Matrim of all time! :)  Here he is showing off an adorable smile and his spelling abilities.

What a beauty!

Not drinking much at all this year has already started to pay off.  Here I had dropped some weight and am looking healthy.  :)

A super cute one of Mat copying the old Dad.  ;)

It wasn't long after this that I tried going with my earrings out for a bit.  Now I can't get em back in without gaging again... :(

Our super cutie!!

Yay! Cards and money from Grandma and Grandpa Lindley!

What was the story here again Athena?  Were we scrambling to get things ready for morning and you distracted them?  Or is this just a cute one of reading time?

Easter morning, I think.  Time to see if we got a visit from the Easter Bunny!

Yay for the Easter Bunny and our baskets full of Easter presents and candy!

And now it's time for the eggs!

Candy Break!  :)

We usually have to help the kids and often times one or the other of us will forget where one is hidden by the end.

Almost got em all.  "Is there one up there, Mat?" Avi asks.

Leftovers and a Thank You note from the stuff we left out for the Easter Bunny.

Hahaha!  The adorable Mannimal girls!!  :)

Daddy's adorable Easter Girl with her Easter Dress, tattoo, and candy necklace! :)