Well, I will stop using names, I didn't realize it was a problem.
My DH is not at all dramatic. He stayed with his ex, because he knew that in the 1980's custody wouldn't have been granted to a Dad (most likely, at least in Wisc). So, if he would have left his wife then, he would be subjecting his kids to her alone at least half of the time. He didn't want that. He did what he thought was the best for him and his kids at the time. Hind sight is usually 100%. Like I said, at the time he did the best thing that he knew. Looking back, staying with her damaged the kids. Oh, if we could live our lives over!
When the vacation was offered to SK29, I really didn't realize that he had this feeling of entitlement, or definately I would have never offered it. My DH was unemployed at the time of this offer, but I had the cash. SK29 and his DW were having marriage problems, and DH and I saw this as a way to invest in their marriage. He has had several long years in graduate school, and no time alone with his wife, and the burden of 3 little kids. Our intentions were pure. All I wanted was a simple Thank You from them. We thought this was something that we could afford for all of the children. I have already decided that when all of the kids have gotten their turn at a vacation from us for their 5th anniversary, that we are done!
As far as saying right on the spot to SD24 that her brother was only getting $1000, I didn't feel that it was my place as a SM to be the bearer of sad tidings to her. It would only make her like me less. DH and I talked about it, and we decided that if kids want to take a more expensive trip, then the $1000 will be applied to their trip, but they will pay the balance of the trip. My DD said they would like to go hiking in New Zealand, but she up front said they would not expect us to contribute any more than the $1000 towards their trip. That's fair.
As far as never spending one on one time alone with kids, I think somehow I gave the wrong impression. I do not think that when the week end rolls around that DH should leave and go to visit DD and not spend any time with me. I have no problem at all with him spending time alone with his kids. I work in the same community that SD24 lives in, and so does DH. She could phone DD any day of the week and say, "Hey Dad, can you come early to work tomorrow and do breakfast somewhere with me?" DH would be thrilled! I work at a big city hospital, and the hospital that SD24 works at is right next door, they are even connected with a tunnel. I have phoned her to take her out to lunch or something after work, but she never reciprocates, so I stopped. DH has phoned her and asked her to meet him for breakfast and she has, I have absolutely no problem with that. We commute an hour to work. Sometimes I work different times than DH, and he could quite easily spend time then with his DD. I do have a problem with having to travel 200 miles to see SD25 just because she cannot control her tongue, and doesn't want to see me. She travels down to our area, and doesn't call him, or doesn't see him. Then complains that she is neglected. Almost 100% of the contacts made between DH and his kids is made by him! We both are tired of the one sided relationship. So we both are backing off.
No, I really don't want to go and visit my kids without DH. When I get into bed at the end of the day, I snuggle close to him, and we both call this, "The best part of the day". I don't want to give that up to see my kids. I shouldn't have to decide between him and them. My kids don't put me in this situation. But his do. I just had a girls day out - movie, dinner, shopping with my DD, and my son's wife. They paid their was, never expected at all for me to pay. We had a great time. DH wasn't invited. He was at work, he wouldn't have wanted to come. He has an airplane, and offers to fly to see his kids, or take them flying. They usually don't take him up on his offers. We certainly do things apart from each other. But that is different from planning to do things apart in order to accomodate moody kids.
In counselling, it has always been said that the BP should be the one to address concerns with the BC, not the SP. We both feel this is best.
I definately feel that backing off from relationship with my SKs is the best thing. That is what I started to do 6 months ago. I answer communications from them, and polite to them, and try to make them feel comfortable when they are in our home. But I don't go out of my was at all to try to contact them. I am to the point where I don't even want gifts from them, because I know they are only obligatory.
We have been giving gifts of cash to each child and their spouse for Christmas and their birthdays. We took a poll about 2 years ago and this is what they wanted. Now I think that I want to reconsider this at the end of the year. I think that we should give gifts to them in the manner that they give to us. In other words, treat them like they treat us. Give them a dose of their own medicine.