Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet & Watch

I married a Methodist this time. Not a Muslim or a Baptist or even a Jew. A Methodist.

You would think this would make us fairly equally yoked. (Christian termed for basically sharing the same beliefs.) We are both Christian and both of our church services have an order to activities.

You knew I was Catholic, right?

When I moved down here, I thought for certain I would find a Catholic church to get involved in and all would be well. Tim didn’t seem too concerned, until he actually attended mass with me. Once we exited the sanctuary he said, “What just happened?”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

For a South Georgia Methodist, his little head was blown. He said, “There was a lot of up and down. Why can’t I take communion? What’s the deal with the incense? I’m so confused.” And so it went…

To be a good sport I went with him and his mom to her church in the tiny town of Preston. There were probably 20 people in the congregation, none overly friendly. (I thought small Protestant churches were supposed to be friendly?) It was Easter Sunday and their Pastor (a woman,) gave the sermon. She stumbled, she mumbled, and I felt there was something lacking. No problem – small church, new pastor, a nice training ground.

I didn’t feel a spiritual connection.

Then I decided to try out the local Catholic church in Americus. Smallish congregation, very diverse, so much so that I am pretty sure that day I was one of the few English speaking gathered, and a really interesting priest. Then the music started. It sounded like a folk concert and probably the single, worst choir I have ever experienced. God bless ’em. Probably not my cup of tea.

At this point, I’m starting to get worried. Would I find my way? We visited an Episcopalian church in Americus. Beautiful building, decent service, semi-friendly people… but it was Episcopalian. As a Catholic, I just couldn’t. I kept thinking back to King Henry the VIII and all of the ruckus he caused with the church.. blah, blah, blah. (Yeah.. I can be so petty sometimes.) 😉

We attended yet another Episcopalian church, this time in Albany. Really nice people, decent service, but lord have mercy – They were hard selling us. You could smell the desperation to have a youngish couple join. Yeah, we never went back.

After we got into our new house in Plains, about one week later we got a request for our first visitor. (I didn’t even have my paintings up on the wall yet.) That visitor was a certain Super Power.

No seriously.

A Nobel laureate also.

Former President Jimmy Carter came over. (He lives 3 houses down.)


I thought this was a “welcome to the neighborhood” meet & greet, and it sort of was. But it was a little more than that, he wanted to personally invite us to his church. Sure thing, I’ll give it a go. But I warned him, “Mr President, I want you to know I am Catholic.”

“Nicole, denominations don’t really matter. It is about our love for God.”

His church is a Baptist church. And if you know my past experience with Baptist churches, you will know they were never very positive. Very anti-Catholic. But he assured me his church was different. I thought, “Well, if this guy can make peace in the middle east, then surely it can’t be that bad.”

So we went.

And I really, really liked it. Outside of the several layers of Secret Service security you have to go through (which I have since learned is common around here. Most of us even know the SS by name.) Then we were given assigned seats. Yep. Guess which aisle they put us on? HIS and Rosalyn’s. Very cool, BUT… everyone visiting kept staring at our pew. And of course, us, probably wondering who in the world we were.

Guys… I have a little thing called Panic Disorder. I sometimes get super anxious and begin to have a panic attack. Guess what happened? Yep. Mind you, you would never know, I just coughed a little more than usual (trying to get a deep breath.) Even with all of this attention and my need to feel invisible when I am not in a comfortable space, I persevered and we did return. A few times. I was even considering joining, but in my typical commitment-phobe self and the fact that I felt like I did not want to officially leave the Catholic Church, I bowed out.

It was very public. *sigh*

Imagine this: We are standing in a circle holding hands at the night time service. Maybe 30 people, the Carters being 2 of those people. Suddenly, the preacher asks if anyone would like to join the church, to speak now. I was just smiling and watching and suddenly….

JC: Nicole?

Me: Yes sir?

JC: Well?

Me: Um… we really like it here. But.. um.. we are just visiting.

I look at Tim panicking. 

JC: We would really like you to join.

Me: That’s really sweet of you guys. Thank you, but not at this time.

Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I freaking told one of the most powerful men in the world NO. I felt like such a putz.

I felt that strongly about it.

Needless to say, I did not return. I felt too humiliated.

So we visited the Methodist Church in Plains.

And we really, really loved it.

I made friends there and there was plenty to get involved with. The pastor is very intelligent (I think he would make an excellent priest,) and his wife, as it turns out, is now one of my friends down here. So when I tell you the rest of this story, you will understand why the decision I made was a hard one.

We went for probably 8 months. Fairly often, even started going to Sunday School.

But something was missing.

I also found myself pleading with Tim to wake up and go to church on Sunday. His kids were totally not in favor of going.

Then I joined a bible study and my hope was I would find fulfillment and bond with the other parishioners. What it did was make me question what I really needed in my life. I started reading the Bible again and remembering all of the things I had sort of forgotten. This was a good thing.

Then we took a hiatus.

But I was missing something. With all of the issues going on with his family and me being away from my own, I needed that spiritual connection. So I bit the bullet and tried one. more. church.

St. Teresa’s in Albany.


I loved it. It is definitely not home (home being St. Joseph’s in Macon or Prince of Peace in Birmingham,) but there was something about the space. I felt God’s presence. I fell into a familiar rhythm.

I had a long talk with Tim about church. As it turns out, I was making all of these compromises for him and the girls and really, it wasn’t as important to them.

But it was for me.

I decided on a church. Finally. Back to the old ways – my way. Back to what fulfills me. With Tim by my side (and sometimes the girls,) I will get what I need.

I think at the end of the day, I need to remember that it is not necessary for me to compromise what I believe and need in life. 3 1/2 years living down here and it took us this long to figure it out.

But we did. And that is what is important.

*for those of you not understanding the title, it is the old saying for how to make the sign of the cross. Forehead, abs, side to side. (Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet & Watch.) 


There never was space Part 2

Baby Mama Drama.



Sound familiar? Yep, apparently none of us are immune to it, even when you have zero jealously on your part.

I could understand if I felt insecure about my relationship with my husband, or if I felt like I was somehow not as pulled together as the ex, but folks… that is not the case.

Let’s travel back in time, shall we?

When I first came on the scene, everything was hunky-dory with the future in-laws, as well as with (and again, I hate this term,) the Baby Mama. (Babies include: two biological children, 1 ex-step daughter, and a glam daughter aka grand (non bio.)) In the beginning, she was a little smothering and showed up at the big events. At that time, I was simply being nice and trying to have somewhat of a relationship with her. I thought, “Why not?! It doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Maybe she will like me and I will prove that I am the worthy candidate as a bonus mom.”

Oh how little did I understand.

In classic ENFP style, I go in all smiles and hugs. Positive comments via social media and happy small talk in person. What I didn’t realize was the snake that was just beneath the surface. My husband had warned me that she did not play nice with his second wife and unfortunately, his second wife had snakes in her head. (Southern term for being a little nuts.) Mix the two together and you end up with an explosive situation. That was short-lived and everything since had gotten back to normal.

What I didn’t realize is normal meant the ex was embedded with the family. When I say embedded, I mean she is at most family functions, chats on the phone with all of them frequently, and was still receiving financial support from his mom.


But I let it go. No family is perfect and lord knows, I am not one to judge. I tried to tell myself, “Maybe this is normal. Maybe this is how it is.

You see, I never had kids. Most of my friends did not have children – we chose careers instead. I had heard a few dramatic tales, but for the most part, if one of my friends had a kid, they had one early and the father was not really all that involved, so there was very little of this drama. Of course, I saw things on television and in movies, but never expected it to happen to me.

Well… it did.

Reason #2 I have a private FB page and I am isolating myself lately:The Ex aka Baby Mama Drama. 

I could very easily share with you, dear reader, all of the nasty tid-bits about her. It’s fairly common knowledge about her extra-marital affairs and other dalliances, but that should not matter. That would be character assignation and I am not trying to say she shouldn’t be in her children’s life. (Though…. ) What I want to share is this loyalty thing with the family that I do not understand.

First of all, my MIL still has a relationship with the ex, which totally makes sense. Sometimes the kids need to be shuffled here and there (but let’s remember, they are now 25, 18, and 17 and all have cars.) There is a little less of this needed, but for whatever reason, they still communicate. When you speak with the MIL, she typically trashes the ex. At first, I thought that we all felt the same, but were faking things for the sake of the kids. We all agreed that she had loose morals and was not exactly the role model young girls needed. Everyone in the family did this, so… I thought we were in the clear.

THEN things started to shift when the ex’s oldest daughter (non-bio kid,) moved in with my MIL. She brought with her a baby and her husband. Mind you, both have full-time jobs, but they felt they could save money by living with my MIL. (And save money they do! She foots the bill for most things.)

This shifted the power a little. Now the ex has a reason to visit more often, her daughter and grand daughter live under the same roof as my MIL. Sticky sitch if you get my drift. 

Slowly but surely, as the bio mom/ex starts sifting through partners (oh there are many swinging d*cks coming to the family dinner table. But again… I’m trying not to be petty…)

While this is happening and her life unravels before our eyes, my sweet guy and I are going strong. We got married, built the house, and I continued to succeed at work. We created a stable home life for the girls and followed all of the rules. Not that it mattered.

The ex kept showing up at Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas morning… and of course we have to share birthdays (or do we?!) She and her flavor of the month would even head to the beach house (alone,) for romantic weekends. Personally, I thought this was the most disrespectful thing his mother could have allowed. There are other bits that involve others, but really, what is the point writing it out? It is what it is.

And folks… it is never going to change. 

Recently, there was an opportunity for our family to attend an event at Robins Air Force Base. I was super excited because it is something my family did often while growing up. My dad is an Air Force vet and his love of the Thunderbirds and all things Air Force is something I really admired growing up. My dad has been battling Prostate Cancer and I wanted to meet up with him and we enjoy this – create a lasting memory for ourselves. I asked Tim if we could bring the girls with us. I wanted to share something with them, something that would bond them with my family. A bonding that has been MIL blocked since Tim & I got together. They have never in the five years we have been together been to their home. Of course, the youngest chose to hang out with her cousin and not go with us and the oldest chose to hang with us. I figured this would be how it would end up. It was the 18-year-old’s birthday and we had a blast, but due to a series of unfortunate events, we missed the wrong shuttle to our parking space, then ended up going the wrong way back home – back home to get to her birthday party the ex was putting together at a restaurant. Needless to say, everyone was mad at us for causing an hour or so delay. I tried to be the bigger person and apologize for the stuff happening and the ex basically tried to put me in my place.

Now folks… I am very confrontational and it took everything I had not to rip her a new one. Little did I know, the whole fam was backing her and speaking negatively about us at the restaurant while we were not there.

I was done. Five years of putting up with this mess and I was D-O-N-E. Post debacle, I learned so many things about this family’s dynamics. I learned that they often speak ill of me and find me to be “snobby” or act as if I am better than them. They said other things about me, however, I am not aware of the specifics… and maybe that is best. (I know this because the kids told us.)

The principle of the matter with this situation is the fact that they sided with the ex (and you guys KNOW she was just WAITING for me to slip up and react,) and left Tim and I standing there with egg on our face.

Obviously there is so much more to this… and there are tons of holes, but let’s just say I’ll keep some of that to myself. The best thing that came out of this is: I now know where I stand with the MIL and the non-bio daughter and ex. They are thick as thieves and do not have my best interest at heart. They have never desired a healthy relationship with me, and based on their personalities, would rather swim and play with drama.

That is not my style. 

I cut the toxic out.

But remember, I still have to co-parent with this witch. So how do I do it and not claw her eyes out?

I found an article on Paired Life titled: Baby Mama Drama & Dealing With Your Man, His Ex, & Their Child

Some of the advise they gave is pretty good. I don’t know if you are going through some of this or if you know of someone else that is. But here is a little insight in what we are up against:

The article goes on to say-

  • Oftentimes the baby mama has no boundaries. She does this on purpose, to make you uncomfortable. (Check!)
  • She is nosy. She may even get way too personal with her questions and start asking you things that make you feel uncomfortable. (All. The. Time.)
  • She says negative things about you to others: Instead of talking to you directly, she goes behind your back and tries to turn others against you. She focuses on negative things or just makes things up to make you look bad in front of her children. (Double check.)
  • She gets too close & too personal with your man. Which this one does – she constantly tries to stay in contact with him. (Poor Tim, he roles his eyes and refuses to play into it, but boy oh boy does she push. )
  • She always brings up the past: When you are around her, she always talks about her time with your man. She does this out of jealousy and to make you feel insecure about your relationship with her ex. (In my case, she does it with the family and me around. Constantly proving how tight they were.)
  • She blames you for her problems. (Yep!)

All of these things hit home. But what can you do about it?

They recommend a few basics:

  • Be respectful (even when it is easier to slide down to her level)
  • Understand your role. I am not responsible for the children in the same way that he and the other woman are. I must understand my role to play in all of this and respect the boundaries established by the baby mama. Don’t try to be a second mother to the child. Instead, just try to build a solid relationship with the kid. (Which I believe I am good with and have tried to do.) Who knows what it looks like to outsiders.
  • Finally, they recommend making your feelings clear. Which I have. Agreed upon boundaries have been set (With Tim & I when it comes to her.)

Basically, I won’t be at something she is going to be at, because she does not have my best interest at heart. I will go to graduations and other big things, but we do not have to sit with her (like we have in the past.) We will not attend holidays that she will be attending at his mother’s house. We will not allow the petty drama into our home. Her name is off limits when the kids are around. We will just do us and remember that we really only have 1 & 1/2 more years to get through. Child support will be over in June 2021 and the kids will be off and enjoying life.

As for the the MIL’s house and the ex-step living there… well, that’s another piece of the puzzle. I will continue to set healthy boundaries and not get caught up in their gossip, drama, and petty conclusions.

Man oh man has this transition been a tough one down here. At the end of the day, I have a difficult and strained relationship with the MIL, a non-trusting relationship with the ex-step kid, and a hands off relationship with the baby mama. As for the rest of the his family, we are all “fine.” Neutral. No bad blood, but no real bonds yet. Five years in.

Thank goodness my guy is super supportive and a good man!

Until next time…

There was never space PART 1

It is never easy coming into a new family. I don’t care how fantastic your in-laws are, the initial acceptance is always a little tricky. It is one of the few times in your life when you will question everything from the way you were brought up to every single stupid decision you have made over the past ten years. Ugh…

Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

For the most part, I’ve always gotten along with in-laws or my boyfriend-at-the-time’s family. Sure, there were quirky characters scattered here and there on the relationship road, but at the end of the day, I had very few scrapes and bruises.

I recently came across an article in Psychology Today that has really made a difference for me in dealing with my current situation. This situation is one that is causing a tremendous amount of anxiety and frustration for me, my husband, and the kids. It has to do with the in-laws. (Not all of them, mind you.)

The article is titled: Parents-In-Law Don’t Want to Play Nice? How to deal with your in-laws’ objections. It explains how to set healthy boundaries and to be perfectly honest with you, it sort of validated what I thought we should be doing. The question is… is it too late?

They recommend that you do not budge one inch when it comes to the decisions you make. In our situation, my husband and I are treated like children unable to make decisions for ourselves, and I assure you, I have been living my life just fine for 42 years prior to meeting his family. I find when people try to control behaviors and alliances, it is a sign of insecurity and a need to be in control – to keep you in check.

The next thing they recommend is to remember that we are the authority of our family. This I have no problem making happen, however, my husband is typically more of “go along to get along.” Our kids tend to spend more time with my in-laws and less time doing family activities with us. It is no wonder true bonding hasn’t taken place. We are put in a situation where my husband does not want to “make waves” with his mother and the others, so he lets his kids do whatever they want with the other family members, sometimes with no regard to any plans we may have made.

Then they recommend putting the in-laws in their place. I almost started laughing when I read that. Here again, if you know me, I have no problem putting anyone in their place, but in this case, it would isolate my husband from his family and that is NOT what I want. That one is a little tricky. I suppose being consistently firm on tolerated behavior is the key here.

Then the article suggests that you re-evaluate your boundaries. This is something I did about two years ago. I went to therapy for anxiety and uncovered it was my living situation. My husband and I were living in the family cabin on the family farm. We spent many nights and afternoons with his extended family and to be perfectly honest, it was smothering. We changed our eating schedule and did more things just the two of us, versus all of us. Then we moved in the house we built and this was a nice 9 mile padding.

The next suggestion is to keep your distance. THIS I think is important for me. Let me explain why: The loyalty is not there. The loyalty is with the first wife (the baby mama.. which I hate that term and feel it is trashy, but it fits her.) They constantly look and compare us. I believe you get a green light on behavior if you pop out a few kids, which I did not. Therefore, every move I make is evaluated. Every facial expression is dissected, and every word I utter is twisted to fit their dysfunctional needs. The best thing I can do is simply keep a polite distance to keep the peace. Show up at the big things, put on my vest of protection, and smile.

The next tip is a good one: Only spend time with your MIL if your spouse is present. I think this goes without saying.

I never considered the next tip, and that is to only meet on neutral territory. According to the article, “This gives you more control over the situation, and can help to keep their behavior in check. Your in-laws aren’t able to call the shots as easily in public as they can when under their roof. You’re also less vulnerable in not being a guest in their home.”

And it goes on to say things like: Don’t accept help or loan items, don’t involve other family members (like the kids, his sister & partner, etc.,) to evaluate how your spouse is handling the situation (which is something we are working on,) and finally to remind each other how you feel about one another.

The last two is exactly where we are at. By setting these new boundaries, some feelings got hurt and a mirror was held up to all involved. We have an ex-step daughter (who sees Tim as her father,) constantly stirring up drama via social media and gossip. He called her out on some of this and as expected, she reacted poorly. It made him feel terrible and he has spent many weeks since feeling bad, but also realizing he needed to put a stop to it. And finally, we are trying to remind each other that in the coming decade or two, it will just be us and to remember why we chose each other to grow old together and not let the behavior of others taint something so beautiful.

It is tough folks – dealing with people who may or may not have the skills or self awareness to make changes or see what is actually happening. It is also easy for people with very little outside activity in their life to want to spread gossip. Sticky situation all around.

At the end of the day, I wanted nothing more than to have a happy, healthy relationship with his family. I was hoping that when I left my family, friends, and safety net that I would be welcomed with open arms into a new family. They are so tight knit, I thought how beautiful this new situation would be. Yes, they are generous (financially,) because they can be, but there are emotional strings attached. No, I am not always included in plans and when I am there, it is as if I am just another guest. When I try to share my life by inviting them over or inviting them to see some things important to me, they have reasons or excuses not to participate. *Sigh*

So you see….  something has got to give.

More to come….


Seeking Peace

Has it really been July since I last wrote anything?

Apparently, it has. Sorry about that.

Sorry about not writing as much or writing about real things like I used to.

Sorry about all of it.

Come to think of it… who I am really apologizing to? I suppose… myself. I’ve sort of let myself down in this department and I truly wanted to be more consistent. Blogging used to be my therapy and was a wonderful way to put things in perspective. I have let that go because…

Life. Responsibilities. Fear of looking vulnerable. Fear of people judging. Blah.. blah.. blah.

But blogging/writing… it is so much a part of who I am. It’s sad that I put it up on a shelf.

If you have followed me since Destination Unknown 1.0, you know I used to write daily about EVERYTHING. When I say everything, I mean – everything. I lived in a much bigger city and had a sense of anonymity. When I moved back home, I remember sitting in a interview for a museum job and the director telling me that he Googled me and read my blog. I sat there with eyes wide open. I had written about my abusive relationship with my ex-husband and so much more. He let me know that because of  my writing, he actually wanted to hire me. However, he knew that the town would get nosy and it was best to probably hide or delete the posts. So I deleted them.

I needed a job. It was post recession and I was trying to climb back out of being let go from a job in Birmingham and needed a way to house and feed myself (outside of my parent’s charity.)

I deleted the good stuff. The heart wrenching stuff. The stuff that made my blog relate-able to thousands of women. (I’m not exaggerating. The amount of emails I received from women all over the world was amazing.) I shut it down. I canceled the reality show.

Then I attempted a softer version with this blog. And yes, I keep it semi-real from time to time. You will find more of what I am doing and less of what I am feeling. The jobs turned into awesome experiences, and the bad relationship turned into a healthy relationship, and I hate to admit it, but chaos and drama makes for some awfully yummy prose.

Here is the catch… a lot of that crap still exists (on a much smaller level,) but I have been trapped in the responsibilities/job/small-town/government life privacy trap.


Here is the thing – I NEED to write more. I keep so much more inside due to my age, my position, my location, etc. I have not developed a true tribe outside of work. I pretty much go to work, go home, cook dinner, go to the gym, then go to sleep. Only to get up and do it again – OR attend some event in an official capacity. It looks like a LOT of fun, and it is sometimes a lot of fun, and often if I describe it as fun, it means I probably (actually) did have fun. But it has NOT been easy.

I promised to share what it is like to move to a place where you know no one.

I also promised to share what it is like to live in South Georgia, become a step parent, and to navigate government life. (to a lesser extent/work-wise.)

I’ve decided to hold myself accountable and share those experiences with you.

Attempt: Daily. If I get at least 3 a week, I’m doing great. I won’t always post these on the Destination Unknown FB page. But you can subscribe. Most will make it there, others will just be here. (Unless you are a really, truly close friend and are on my private FB page – that page will see it all.)

Is it worth your time? It just might be!

I will be tackling:

  1. Moving to a small town and what that looks like for a girl that would thrive in a larger metropolitan area.
  2. Marrying someone with teenage daughters, when I never expected (or honestly wanted) kids.
  3. Building a house and what that means when you don’t entertain anymore.
  4. Navigating a super toxic in-law situation/ex-wife situation. DUDE… if you only knew.
  5. Building a relationship with an incredible man. Legitimately incredible and what I have learned this time around.
  6. Working in not just a small town, but sharing that space with a super power. Seriously!
  7. Wanting to be an agent of change, yet surrounded by people who are comfortable with the status quo.

    There is much more. A lot of good to. I promise there is good.

    The truth is, I’m in that not-so-good space right now. Somethings have transpired that were completely out of my control and really have very little to do with me, but it is affecting me. I have a tremendous amount of anxiety right now and have taken steps to set healthy boundaries. As for family: My family is good. Dad is sick, like (really) sick, but otherwise, my relationship with them is fine. My niece is kicking butt at life and I am watching it from a far. I call my friends back home from time to time to have a safe space to talk. Tim is wonderful and I am having to support him as he sets healthy boundaries with family members that have used guilt and co-dependence as a way to control behaviors. Our home is lovely and we are finally moving into the re-decorate stage. As for work, my numbers are awesome (but the support is lacking.) But folks, that’s just the surface stuff.

Nothing is perfect, right?

Here is a sneak peek at a few highlights since July to catch you up:

Made time to hang out with people I really, truly adore. It is a tiny tribe, and we don’t hang nearly enough… but it does happen.
One thing I love about living down here is the farm life. I got to see cows! We even played music for them!
Cotton took ballet and I did get to pick her up once from class. Totally made my day! Full circle and all.
I have been going to the gym regularly for about 4 months now. Very proud of this. Got a bazillion miles to go on this one, but I am attempting to be more active.
I did attend the wine festival with my friend & co-worker, Haley. We had a nice girls’ day.
Salvatore is still in love with me and I remain his very best friend.
Tim and I have found a beautiful spot in our yard to catch the sunset over the farmland. It is our special spot and we sort of use the sun and wine and conversation to heal from harsh weeks.
Still indulging in the good life.

I did attend the Georgia Governor’s Conference in LaGrange. Was so good to see my tourism besties, but totally sucked being in LaGrange. I’m willing to give the town one more shot, but um…

Still indulging in Fall’s goodness.

Tim, Alex and I made it to a childhood delight – the Robins Air Force Base Air Show. Loved it… caused some issues later.. that’s a WHOLE other blog post. 🙂

You know I love a good excuse for a theme party.


Don’t worry, all will be well. All IS well. Just re-shifting and trying to figure things out.

But that’s life, right?