PSA: Tax time and Co-Parenting. What you should all know.

It really is true, what they say. There really are two sides to every story. But why? Why can’t there be one undeniable, unequivocal truth, that cannot be altered or mislead? Why do people have to “come up” with something better, bigger or more elaborate just to justify themselves in some other way? Why not just be happy with yourself? And if your not happy with the life you lead, then change it. Own up to the things that you have done and fix it for your future self, so you never have to deal with it again. Why is that so hard for people?

This question really comes up around tax time. Yes, I am bringing up the dreaded “T” word. As you look at your earnings from the past year, you tell people an “estimated” number of your earnings. Why? Because in some cases, you wish you made more and want to be important, or whatever your reasons may be. In other cases, you downplay the amount you made because it makes you fit in better (don’t ask me why someone would do this, because I really don’t know. It’s crazy. However, there HAS to be two sides to every story.). Other people might claim a dependant child that they really aren’t able to legally claim, and yet they do it anyway. Why? Because they need that extra child credit on their return so they can get something they want to get, or whatever their reasoning is. Ok, that was random, but it’s true. That really is the personal experience of hell I am living right now, because some people are complete morons. I am also completely positive that someone out there shares my pain. Because of that, I am looking into the “other side” of this particular story.

There are rules and regulations impeded upon us, by the good old IRS, that regulate who can and cannot claim a dependent child. For example, if in the tax year that you are filing for, you have financially supported said child, for over 50% of that year, and they physically live with you, as the custodial parent, you can legally claim them as a dependent. If you haven’t, or do not have a specific form giving permission to you, by the custodial parent, to claim said child for that tax year, then you may NOT claim that child as a dependent. It sounds like a lot, but its really quiet simple. Either the child lives with you and you pay for at least half of that child’s daily well being, or have permission by the custodial parent OR you don’t and you can’t. If you lie on your tax filing, then you will ultimately be screwed and could possibly face jail time, but will face an audit of your earnings and pay back any and all of the child credit you received and spent. Not too hard to understand, right?

And yet we still have people who are either too stupid, stubborn, egotistical or just plain ridiculous, try to “pull one over” on the parent that DOES have the right to claim the child as a dependent. And guess what? They will. Guess what else, El Stupido? You will get caught. Because when that letter comes and it says, “This child has been claimed already on a tax return. Please send us supporting documents to show you have the legal right to claim this child as a dependent.”, and you say, “Oh s&$%, I don’t have supporting documents, because the custodial parent never gave me permission and this child doesn’t live at my address (Handy Hint: the school records will show that, stupid), and I do not have any legal right to claim this child and I just wanted the extra money!”, Uncle Sam will say, “Well now you have to pay all of that extra money back, plus a penalty fee. Oh and we are going to audit your whole return and your prior returns too, just in case.” Now, do you want to rethink your bad judgment call? Because I definitely would.

And for the Parent who is trying to do the right thing? Yeah, your going to be screwed for a little, while the IRS figures all this out and finally sends you your return. But in the long run, the idiot that decided that they wanted to do it their way, is going to get it in the end. It’s really not your problem. Even after they called you up and told you they were planning to claim the child, and you tried to be the nice person and talk them out of it, because its illegal. And their response was, “Well I know a guy that claimed 6 kids that aren’t even his and he didn’t get in any trouble.”, just nod and smile and think about how nice the sunny west coast is and tall all the beautiful palm trees are and forget about the utter stupidity you are hearing. It is not worth stressing over.

Because seriously, you don’t know the other side of this story. Maybe that person has had a serious brain hemorrhage and cannot comprehend factual logic anymore. Or maybe they are being misinformed by a crooked family member and cannot handle the truth. So do not be quick to judge, my friends. For there really are two sides, to every story.

::Insert face palm here::

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Common Sense and Parenting

When you have children, it seems all common sense flies out the window, doesn’t it? A child falls down, and you need to trust your common sense to kick in and say, ” Hey! Don’t freak out. Just take a look at the new boo-boo and go from there”. It is really hard to let yourself react to any situation with an unabashed sense of natural human nature, especially when your children are involved! When you have a co-parenting situation, you have to trust the common sense of the other parent when your child is not with you. This can be significantly harder to accomplish. Luckily, I have had a recent event in my life to blog about, so you can understand exactly how hard common sense comes to some people.

In my household, we have a very unique family. A Mom, a Step-Dad/Dad, 2 boys and a little girl. I have joint shared custody of my 12 year old son and I get along great with his Dad (we were never married and very young.). No I was not promiscuous as a teenager. I was in a relationship with this man for almost 4 years before I got pregnant with Cole while I was in college. So hush up and let me finish my story. Now then, where was I? Oh yes. I got married while I was in the Army to a person I knew from home (no he was not in the military) and we had my 8 year old son, Cameron. Needless to say, my marriage ended 8 years later when Cameron was 5 years old, Cole never liked him, he never liked Cole (I found out later) and I have never looked back. I have full custody of Cameron, because his Father cannot handle him/does not want to handle him, whatever the reason may be, he is very much not the “Daddy-type” and has confessed as much himself. However he does see his son every other weekend when it suits, and is slowly starting to come around to Cameron’s special needs schedule and habits. Very, very slowly. But hey, progress is progress and I can’t complain about that! Last, but not least, is my husband Paul and our 1 year old Ellie (Ladies, I have been through the wringer and back when it comes to relationships and let me assure you, true love is worth the wait! I do not and have not regretted anything that I have been through, because I wouldn’t be where I am right now. And no matter what else happens in my life, I know that I have a real man standing right beside me.). Paul loves Cole, Cameron and Ellie equally. Even with Cameron’s special needs, which can be trying on any parent, let alone a step-parent. He’s one in a million folks!

Now, let’s get to the common sense issue. This past weekend, Cameron went to his Dad’s house to see his Dad’s family and what not. However Sunday morning, I come out of church to my cell phone blowing up with missed calls, text messages and voicemails. Apparently, according to one voicemail, Cameron has a “little fever” and he does not have any children’s Tylenol, so what do I want to do, because he is “out of options”. He sounds as though he is pacing the floor and chewing his finger nails. Well, my friends, my first reaction is to laugh hysterically and say, “Go to the hospital and tell them he is dying”, with as much sarcasm as I could possibly obtain in one sentence. Looking back now I probably should have said that in a very serious way. When I finally got the “story” out of him, I come to find out that my 8 year old son has a temperature of 104.4 and can barely see straight because he is dizzy.

For those of you that do not have children or have not yet had the pleasure of your child being sick with an unusually high fever, your first common sense reaction should be to call a doctor or in this case, go directly to a hospital. Post haste. Why? Because in infants, any temperature over 100.4 can be a cause for alarm. In children 4 years of age and older, a fever of 103.0 and over. These high temperatures can cause seizures in children. A special needs child of Cameron’s age, you should be going to the emergency room after 102.0. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to wonder what you should do, then call the doctor. See? Common sense. It works wonders.

So I went a picked up my son, who was given nothing, was not wiped down with luke warm cloths (a very handy trick to get a fever to break when your big kid does not want to move and you can’t pick them up for fear of breaking your back), and I took him home where I took his temperature and it was at 102.4. I called the doctor, the doctor told me to monitor him closely, give him children’s Tylenol and put his butt to bed (Cameron was luckily drinking plenty of fluids and passing fluids on his own). His fever broke within an hour and he has been fine ever since. Common. Sense.

So now we come to the question of, “Well what are you supposed to do in a co-parenting situation? Not let the child go see the other parent because of their blatant lack of common sense, responsibility and brain cells?!”. No, my friends, unfortunately  that is not always an option. Unless the child was physically or emotionally harmed in some PROVEN why, you have no choice but to let your worries consume you every other weekend. What do I do? Well I do a lot of praying. No seriously. I cast my worries upon God in the fervent prayer that he will keep my little boy safe from harm and healthy and undamaged. Now with that being said, let me point out that I am no where near being the Christian woman I want to be, and I still worry. So it also helps that Cameron has access to a computer and a free texting program where he can communicate with me anytime he wants. I strongly suggest going that route. He is 8 years old and does not need a phone, but he needs a way to get a hold of someone when needed.

So with that being said, you can’t control anyone’s level of common sense, but your own. There is no use in trying. Cameron’s Dad still has no idea why I was upset about him doing nothing for Cameron. He called me and figured that I would take care it. And I did. Maybe he has a little more common sense then I thought.

Books, Fan-based blogs and sites I am currently experiencing.

I am an avid book reader. I love the way you can forget your reality for a little while and disappear into another world. Whether it be a historically accurate biography, a spiritual self-helper, or a fictional novel with a mysterious plot, I am quite content to turn off Doc McStuffins, Max and Ruby, Aristocats or Dumbo, put away the toys, pour a fresh cup of coffee and curl up on the couch to just forget my life for a while. There is also something very special in finding a particular book that stirs your soul. It might be the authors use of language, the story line itself, the tone of the book, the setting in which the characters are engulfed in or maybe its as simple to you as the names of the characters. You find yourself rereading the book (or if your lucky, a whole series), a dozen times or more. The characters becoming more like friends then a fictional story. Well my friends, I have found that series, and let me tell you, that although I read a lot and I continue to enjoy all different genres of books, this one has made me completely crazy.

I started reading the Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon, in 1999 (I think). My ex-boyfriends Aunt had the 3rd book of the series (which I did not know was a series at the time), in her bookshelf and I was horribly bored. I was a senior in high school at the time, I m pretty sure my ex was working and so was his aunt and I was stuck at her house. I grabbed the book (because it was the most interesting one), and next thing I knew, my ex was home and I was just finishing the book. I could not put it down! I then informed my ex and his aunt that I was keeping the book (she didn’t care), and I promptly went to the local book store to get the first 2 books. Needless to say, book #8 is coming out June, 2014, I have the rest of them in my bookcase (proudly displayed), and they are making a TV series on Starz which is also coming out this summer. I have also joined up with other fans on websites, social media and emailed newsletters and I feel like a complete lunatic for even admitting to all this. BUt seriously, if I could ever recommend a book or series to anyone who loves a mix of genres in a reading experience, this one is it! It’s a fictional novel with factual historic value. It has time travel, a passionate love between the two main characters that spans generations (literally), and a mystery in the story line that will keep you guessing in every chapter. And ladies, it is based in the Scotland Highlands featuring men who wear kilts. I mean, come on already

However, my kids think its awesome. I let them watch the trailer that just came out for the TV show (although they will not be watching the show. The producers have made it clear that they are staying true to the books and it will not be child appropriate. Trust me.), and because they see me with these books all the time, they are starting to become good readers as well! You can’t lose! Now, there choice of books are a lot different then mine, but I think it’s neat how I can pick up a book and sit down to read it and next thing you know, my 12 year old has his current favorite out, my 8 year old pulls out the latest library selection from his bookbag and my 1 year old sits in her tinkerbell chair with her board book of baby animals. It never lasts for long, but I can maybe get a page read before something breaks my concentration. Oh, and in case any of you other Moms and Dads out there, that may need some help getting your older kids to actually read, the rule in my house is this: If there is a movie coming out that you want to see, and it was a book first, you must read the book BEFORE you can go watch the movie. Works everytime and it will even help them along academically in school. 

You get a great sense of camaraderie as you dive into these public forums and social media groups. Questions and theories that you have had are all of a sudden shared and answered and it doesn’t matter how dumb you feel in the “outside world”, theses women (and yes, men too), understand you and accept you wholeheartedly. No matter what age, background, experiences or even political views, we all share a common love. Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. ‘Nuff said. Now I don’t normally post on the feeds, or read every single comment, but I do read most of the main posts and I will comment on things that may bring a different insight into a thought. My main goal is to learn more for my own reading pleasure. Yes I know thats selfish, but thats what reading is to me. My own selfish pleasure. It’s my time out.

Point being, if I choose to be part of a “fandom”, immerse myself in an ill-logical reality and decide to travel somewhere to meet an author so I can giggle like a schoolgirl and make myself look like an idiot, then so be it. I will. And I am going to. Because let’s face it, there are worse things in this life to be obsessed with. Like Justin Beiber and Kanye West. Those people just need a freaking Intervention.

 

Patience is a Virtue……and one I have yet to learn….

It’s really hard to put such things as “Patience” in perspective. You can’t see it, but you sure do know when its gone! Now, I have openly admitted (to almost everyone I know), that I am not perfect. In anything. I screw up dinner (especially the big ones), my house is never as clean as I want it to be, I can’t sew, the Christian I want to be is no where close to the Christian I am and I have a lot of growing to do when it comes to being a good Mom! Speaking of being a “good Mom”, let’s talk about kids today.

 

I have 3 wonderful, hilarious, beautiful, handsome and animated children. My oldest is Cole. He is 12 years old and in the 7th grade. He is well-mannered, mature beyond his years, funny and you really can’t embarrass the kid (trust me, I have tried!!). He can’t stand conflict or arguing and he loves hunting, being with his little sister and watching way too much TV. In other words, he is a typical 12 year old. My youngest is Ellie. She is 16 months old and a little spitfire! She loves her brothers, she is spoiled already (hey, she is the baby ya know) and she loves everyone.

Now you might have noticed that I left out the middle child. Cameron is 8 years old, has an unbelievable imagination (literally), is creative, a fantastic drawer, can write lyrics to songs that could make you cry (depending on what mood you are in), can talk…a lot (he is going to make an excellent lawyer), loves animals and very smart. He also has been diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder- NOS (PDD-NOS) which is on the Autism Spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). WHich all that winds up to mean that he doesn’t listen, he can’t stay still and if he doesn’t get his own way, gets frustrated or has any other intense emotion, he will act out by being verbally and sometimes physically aggressive. He has the mentality of a 4 year old with no social or behavioral skills what-so-ever. He is on medication to help him control himself and to sleep through the night (he has some serious night terrors sometimes) and he also participates in peer social groups at school to help him learn to make friends. To say the least, life in my house can be very challenging.

I am extremely thankful and blessed to have such wonderful children. ALL of them. Yes Cameron tries my sanity (or whats left of it), every single day. There are more days then I care to admit, after the kids are in bed, when I feel defeated, stressed and I want to ground myself for the way I reacted to Cameron’s antics. Part of me says, “He can’t help it. He is special needs and I should cut him a break.” The other part of me says, “He needs to learn the rules. No one else in this world is going to cut him a break! He just needs to work a little harder then everyone else.” As you can tell, I haven’t figured any of this out yet.

What I have figured out, is that Cameron cannot advocate for himself. Yes, he tries my patience, my Motherly love at times and maybe even my sanity. Sometimes my reactions aren’t what a Mother with a lot of patience would necessarily hope for and I have often walked away from the situation instead of doing something I might regret. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love him. It doesn’t mean I won’t do everything I possibly can to get Cameron all the help he needs in order to succeed in life. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t look for every single parenting class available in order to help myself and Cameron. Because I do all those things. Plus more. I have repeatedly called old schoolmates parents to try and put together playdates for Cameron. I have made the horrible decision to admit my son when he became a danger to himself and others, in order to help him move forward. 

So I guess having patience isn’t on my “To Do” list. But I do think that I really have the most awesome kids ever. I would not trade for all the patience in the world.

Mel

 

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The Musings of an Obsessive Compulsive Planner

Ok, so let me start off by saying, that in order for my brain to completely function throughout the day/week/month, I have to have a game plan. I believe that it is essential to ones life, to be able to have a structure or agenda to ones day. It makes things go smoother. Lets you breath a little bit easier. Maybe even gives you a sense of euphoria, like a well-oiled machine, puttering along the road of organization.

Reality: This never happens for me. Ever.

It’s a fine idea, to be sure. However I have quickly (and recently), learned that no matter how organized, structured and well-oiled you want your day/week/moth/machine to be, if the other people involved in that plan don’t care, then your screwed. With a capital S. Take for example, date night. The one night Paul (my husband) and I get to go out on the town and live it up a little. This happens very infrequently, despite our best intentions to make it a monthly occurrence, but it is what it is. With 3 kids ranging in age from 12 years old all the way 16 months, you can’t be picky. We plan on getting showers around 6, having dinner around 7-7:30, then picking a place to go line dancing (depending on if it is a Friday or Saturday night) and home by 1 at the latest. Ok when I say “We” I mean, me. I plan this. Because I tell Paul when I want him home and what the plan of attack is, and he says “Ok dear. Whatever you want.” He knows me so well.

Next reality: We are farmers. That is NEVER going to happen.

Paul rolls in the driveway around 7:15, we get to dinner around 8:45 and we never make it out line dancing because we both don’t want to drive very far or no one else we know is going out either. The other issue: I am so upset about being thrown off my planned out schedule, that I don’t want to go have fun. I literally have had the excitement of date night flushed out of my by a high powered fire hose. It depresses me.

No mind you, Paul does not do this purposefully, or to upset me. He doesn’t intentionally drag his feet or is just unaware of what this does to me. He knows very well actually. But he is not being mean. It just doesn’t make sense to him, why anyone on God’s green earth, would want to rush around to beat the clock. Take your time. Don’t live by a schedule. Enjoy your life!!

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

They say opposites attract and I am assuming they are correct. I am an OCD type of person. I’m not very over the top with most things, but I do like things on a shelf or a mantle to be arranged correctly and neatly at the correct angles and intervals and things wiped down and cleaned the way they should be. I like organization and things to be planned out. But if my toddler pulls out all the toys and leaves them scattered in the living room, I don’t go rushing around like a mad women, trying to pick them all up while she is taking a nap. Why do that? She is just going to pull them all out again when she gets up. I clean up when she is in bed for the night. So it’s not like I am not able to “handle” my schedule going on the wayside. Yet, it does. A lot.

Then I got a very good piece of advice. Actually I remembered this advice more then anything. I dreamt about a memory of a 7 year old me and my Mom-Mom at my Mom-Mom’s house (My Mom-Mom Trimble was the most knowledgeable, gracious, loving, strongest women I have ever met. I guess I showed these compulsive tendencies as a young child). To this day I don’t remember what I was doing, but she said to me, “Melissa, you can’t be upset with other people, when things don’t go your way. You can’t control their reactions no more then they can control yours. If you could, then everyone would be machines. Find someone to marry who reminds you of that. It will be good for you.”

Did I mention she was really smart?

It is as I remembered this, that I realized this compulsive planning tendency doesn’t hurt anyone but me. I just because I don’t get to my Mom’s when I wanted to, is not the end of the world. It’s not going to rain sulfuric acid if Paul does not walk through the door at the exact second I asked him to. For that matter, the kids will not get a shower exactly at the time I want them to. Because we are a few minutes last to a friends party or get-together, is only going to cause a few jokes at our expense. No biggie!! If you haven’t noticed by now, I can dish out as much as I can take it.

Its really kind of nice to be able to relax and get into a more “go with the flow” state of mind. I notice things more. Like I play with my baby girl more often and I do not hound my autistic son to get things done quicker all the time (relax people, he is high-functioning and is on the spectrum).  Now do I still geek out a little bit when it comes to appointments and such? Yes. Ask anyone. But thats not as bad as it was, and I have 2 people to thank. Mom-Mom and Paul.

So if you ever feel like things are out of control because no one is sticking to your agenda, don’t stress! Take a deep breath, look to the sky and realize that it will be ok. Then you can focus your attention on something else. Like that cupboard with all the labels facing towards the back of the cabinet…now who can get anything accomplished when the labels are unreadable?!?! Gotta go……

 

Mel

The first blog….so what am I supposed to do now?!

Well I have gone and done it now!! I got ambitious and have started a blog. I took my time…made the front look all pretty, did a front page of my intentions and aspirations of why I have made my decision and NOW I am ready to type up a new post. My first blog….

I got nothing. Let’s call it writer’s blank. I am not sure if I can get away with that, since Im not a writer, but let’s go with it. 

Do you want to know what my real problem is? It’s 10:21pm (EST). Yes, all my Mommy and Daddy friends, that’s right. The kids are in bed, I have rushed through cleaning up the house, doing the dishes, picking up the toys and greeting the husband when he comes through the door. I have moved my laptop from the office to the kitchen table in my formal dining room, next to the fireplace because it is my favorite spot in the house and I feel relaxed here. And now I realized that all my hopes and aspirations and ambitions for this whole project has come to right now: What will I blog about first?

That’s when all the emotions and thoughts and feelings and memories come rushing back and honestly friends, it’s freaking hard to pick ONE thing to talk about! Should I talk about my ridiculous relationship failures that brought me to my soul mate? Or how about when my oldest son was born and it made me take a long, hard look at my 19 year old self? Or when I knew something was really wrong with my 3 year old son, but felt like if I said it out loud, it would be real? How about when I finally DID say it out loud 4 years later and found out he had ASD? Planning a wedding with a newborn? Having your entire young adolescent life crushed because of a knee injury? Finding religion? Moving 2,736 miles away from your best friend? My friends, the possibilities are endless!

Yea, I have been through a lot and then some. But I have never regretted anything. If I did, then I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Do I have a lot of money? Heck no. We are Farmer’s for goodness sake. But I have a roof over my head, clothes, my kids, the love of my life and a phone to call/text/email that best friend whenever the hell I want. I used to think saying that was so cliche’, but now I really understand it. You can’t be grateful for something until you have lost it once or twice. Mistakes happen, but learning from them is divine intervention in itself. 

Most importantly, you can’t make a change in your world, until your willing to change yourself.

I did a lot of changing. Now it’s my turn to help someone else make a change.

Don’t forget to pay it forward people! Good night

Mel