1. iPODS. I would sooner loose my cell phone than the hub of all my portable music. I could get a new cell phone and be back in touch by the end of the day. Lose my iPOD and... well, I don't care to think about the ramifications.
2. Free blogging. Everything costs something these days. The fact that we are given a place to speak our minds and not have to put up with fees or mandated advertising is a rarity to say the least.
3. Free wifi zones everywhere. Pretty darned cool if you ask me.
4. Public parks. There's room to play a game of ultimate, bike mountain trails, throw a round of disc golf, wade in a creek, or just practice your jumps off the swing set. And all within a few miles of wherever you live. Nice.
4. Presidential term limits. Thank everything holy that there is no chance of another 4 years of the bumbling oaf we have in there now. Hopefully what he leaves us with is salvageable.
5. Flour tortillas. I eat these 4-1 to regular bread. And if you've ever had to eat corn tortillas for 2 years straight you would understand the difference clear as day.
6. Aspen's stepdad. With Aspen's mother having moved far far away I would be in a big pinch trying to juggle single fatherhood and a career without his help. He and Aspen have a warm loving relationship that seems to benefit them both.
7. Miguel. For some reason the fact that I have a good friend in my old Peace Corps buddy seems to really bother a certain anonymous blogger. At any rate, I'm not the most social of creatures and to have a friend that shares such common interests as music, biking, boating, reading, philosophy, politics and sense of humor is truly something I don't take for granted.
8. A reliable source of income. One of my biggest fears is being homeless. When I cross paths with someone who has nothing I shudder to think how I would cope without money to pay for the basics.
9. Sound mind and body. I may not make the 'eye candy' list for most females and I lock the keys in the jeep at least once a week but I'm not so repulsive people cross the street when they see me and I can readily justify my priorities in life. Hopefully I can say the same thing 20 years from now.
10. My child. Nuff said.

How about you?


UPDATE FOR AWIG (and my other reader)

Aspen's brother and his stepfather recently had a heart to heart, the result being 'bubby' being allowed to try residing at the house again.
This is a good thing. Where he had been staying for the last months was just shy of being a crack house or a meth lab or something of that nature. He had no room to himself so he slept on the couch. It was such an unsavory place that he never brought over his bass guitar or any other items of value knowing they would be lifted by any of the other residents as soon as his back was turned. He had even forbid his girlfriend from going over there when he wasn't around. I don't think she was too big on the idea of going over there when he was there either. The only redeeming factor about the place was the woman who owned it was a kind hearted church going lady who allowed these high school dropouts to live there thinking she was helping them out. Perhaps she was simply enabling them to not make their way in the world. At any rate, she had taken him under her wing, the result being some positive changes in him.
Either way though, it was not a safe nor productive residence for anyone. Hopefully he has gotten a nice taste of what the real world can be like. One would like to think he has gone back to his stepfather's with a renewed appreciation for what he had previously taken completely for granted: his own room, his own shower, a place that is quiet in the night, a place that is clean, a place with a working phone, and a place where he can leave his belongings (and girlfriend) and not fear that they will be damaged or missing when he returns.
I don't know the specifics of what the two of them worked out. If he has to pay any rent, what the curfew is, if he has a vehicle again, what share of the housework he will have to do, etc. Hopefully it is 'yes, 8pm, no, and alot'.
His mother was against the idea of him moving back. She was of the idea that the lady of the other house would be able to give him better supervision than his step dad. Granted, his stepdad is away a bit with his business. But supervision was not the only thing to consider in this situation. The fact that he now has a safe place to reside where there are some rules for him to follow, where there is someone he has to answer to far outweighs how many hours a day there is an adult in the house where he can come and go completely as he pleases.
Time will tell if his renewed appreciation for basic living conditions will remain or he will fall back into his old habits.
I'll keep you posted.
BTW, Aspen and I had dinner at the restaurant where he works the other night only hours after this deal with his stepdad was struck. It was the first time in months that he actually had a smile on his face. It was obvious he was very relieved to know he did not have to return to the drug den any more.



Not content with taking riding lessons, karate lessons and Girl Scouts Aspen came to me the other day really wanting to start wrestling lessons. She's been wrestling her big brother since she was two and is bent on beating him some day.
"Dad, what do I do if someone hits me when we're wrestling?"

"Well, that is against the rules so it would probably be an accident. He or she would get penalized points for hitting someone so I don't think you would need to do anything."

"What if they hit me twice?"

"Well, then you can put your finger in their face and tell them sternly 'Don't let there be a 3rd time!' ."

She gets a bit more excited "Cooool, what if they do it a 3rd time?"

"Then you can hit them back." I says.


Then she pauses

"Wait, only once?"

Hmmm, that depends on how good your first hit was.




Please refer to Section 2, Subsection E of the Child Visitation Agreement created by me and my counsel prior to my child custody court date:
During the odd years, Thanksgiving beginning no later than one day after the Thanksgiving school break until the following Sunday at 4:00pm
In easy to understand terms this means that Aspen's mother may have Aspen visit her for Thanksgiving in this year 2007 from Thursday November 22nd to Sunday November 25th 4pm.
When the judge awarded me full custody on December 11th 2006 he refused to accept this Child Visitation Agreement which I presented him. Instead he left the definition of 'reasonable visitation' up to me seeing that Aspen's mother was not present in court on that day to state what she felt was 'reasonable visitation'.
Having been given the ability to define 'reasonable visitation' as I saw fit (i.e. anytime the mother wants to travel to the child's area of residence whereupon it does not conflict with the child's schooling, for example) I restated that I was comfortable with all the provisions layed out in the agreement and saw no need to make the provisions any less liberal.
Well, the Thanksgiving break of the odd year 2007 is soon to be upon us. And although Aspen's mother is months overdue in child support she has inquired if it is okay that Aspen's return flight be, rather than 'the following Sunday at 4:00pm' (Sunday Nov 25th, 2007), she return at 8pm the following day (Monday Nov 26th, 2007) which would have her miss a day of school and be somewhat unrested for school on Tuesday Nov 27th, 2007.
Seeing that I had already volunteered to take Aspen to the airport on Tuesday Nov 20th (two days earlier than I defined in the Child Visitation Agreement 'beginning no later than one day after the Thanksgiving school break') I respectfully expressed my discontent with the idea of such a late return date and time. I found myself with little sympathy for the thousand or so dollars such a return date might save Aspen's mother's new husband. After all, it was they who decided she should move 3000 miles away from her children... not me.
Furthermore, I was already conceding that Aspen would not have to fly with an adult blood relative before the age of 12 (as stated in Section 4). I had agreed that I would be okay with Aspen flying alone as long as it was a direct flight, hence, saving them the cost of yet another round trip ticket.
Her response to my unwillingness to accept this 3rd concession was to try to convince me that
A- I myself had kept Aspen out of school a day for travel to Colorado at some point over 2.5 years ago (that would be kindergarten. I do not think this is accurate but will look into that)
B- That a time in Spring 2006 when she took Aspen out of school - and out of state - without consulting nor notifying me was only for 1/2 a day (in fact it was for 1 and 1/2 days - I have it documented as does the school)
C- That I was denying her visitation based on the current status of her support payments (which is not legally permissible). In fact a thinking person would realize that I am not denying her visitation at all. I am merely wanting to keep it within the allotted school break periods. I believe a judge shouldn't have a problem with that, particularly when such guidelines are clearly stipulated in the aforementioned Child Visitation Agreement.
I wonder if the sun will ever rise on a day when Aspen's mother sees the undesired predicaments in which she finds herself as a result of her selfish ill advised actions and irrational hysterical rants rather than unfair hurdles that life has thrown at her.
May I remind you that she still makes every effort to blame her son for his lack of interest in having a relationship with her.
Yeah... that wouldn't be the result of anything she did would it? like... having an affair on his beloved stepdad then moving 3000 miles away without him and promptly starting a new family and making no effort to support him financially in her absence?
No... her son is way out of line.



I know the photo is blurry. That's a sure sign that it wasn't me or my camera taking the shot. Here is Aspen and her two best friends as we head out to Tricks or Treats.

What's that? "What an incredibly beautiful and intricate fairy costume!" you say?

That's right, it is! And we have none other than Oregon Celtic Lady to thank for that. Despite various injuries to the wrists and ankles, OCL contacted me in August and offered to make Aspen a fairy outfit. I readily accepted the gracious offer and did my best at measuring all sorts of heights and lengths of my daughter in order to give the seamstress/blogger extraordinaire an idea of what size to make the get-up. After a series of laugh ins and lectures and how-to instructional emails on the proper way to measure one for an outfit I resent all the measurements and applied for me degree in tailoring 101.

Well, the day the package with said costume was supposed to arrive came and went. Then an email update explaining that fairy dust is hard to come by and an assurance that it would be sent in the next 2 days eased my mind a bit. Until that day too came and went. Repeat that process 3 more times until October 30th comes around. Finally, on our doorstep is the awaited treasure from the left coast.

Aspen was very excited... both to see such a wonderful get up hemmed just for her and to know that she wouldn't be spending the hour before trick or treating rummaging through the 50% off bin at K-Mart only to end up with a Godzilla costume 2 sizes to small.

So, thanks to OCL for such a fantabulous gift! Very kind of you!



It is just over a year now that Aspen's mom skipped town to go start a new family, leaving Aspen with me and Aspen's brother with his (3rd) stepdad.
Since having his mother move away from him Ed has had 2 run-ins with the law, has moved out of his stepdad's place (because he didn't like the rules) and dropped out of football (he was player of the year on his team junior year - he's now a senior).
On the occasion when Aspen's mother and I will speak on the phone and Ed's name comes up, she is quick to point out how Ed has let her down by not returning her call or not agreeing to meet with her or cancel plans to meet at the last minute or how he is still angry at her about leaving... there's any number of things that Ed might have done that she is quite eager to bring up to anyone who will listen.
I am at the point now where I tune her out when she goes down that path. It simply amazes me that she doesn't realize that Ed has learned this lack of responsibility for himself directly from his mother's actions over the last years.
Any thinking person can put A and B together and see that if a teenager's mother moves away and shortly thereafter the teen is getting in trouble with the law, dropping out of extra curricular activities and moving out on his own with no way to support himself that the two situations are somehow connected.
Ed's mother really puts herself out there that Ed's problems are completely a result of his own bad decisions. I have never once heard her offer up something along the lines "Well, I guess I shouldn't expect any better from him, after all I was a terrible example of honesty, responsibility, fairness, reliability and trustworthiness. Perhaps if I had done a better job demonstrating these qualities to him he wouldn't be going down the same path now."
Sadly, this would be the last thing she would ever offer up. There was a point in the past when I would have called her out on this kind of thing (like when we were married), but now I just don't see the point. I could try to correct her and stop all the BS as soon as it starts but I've found it's kinda like Whak-a-Mole: As soon as you stop one line of BS two more lines of it start seeping out right afterward. And my arguing with her is going to have zero impact on getting her to see anyone else's point of view anyway so I just let her say what she has to say. Aspen is safe with me and that's all I ever wanted. Well, that and the monthly child support (which as of today is 4 months behind).
As far as Ed goes, it's a very sad situation. He is responsible for his own actions, certainly. And many of the decisions he is making are good ones (he goes to church regularly now and claims he is no longer smoking and is getting all A's in school) but many of the ones are bad (shoplifting, driving with an open bottle of alcohol, moving out of a home where he had free rent & utilities, free car and insurance - so that he doesn't have to follow basic rules like curfew).
He has distanced himself from everyone in his family. He rarely returns a phone call, doesn't show up at family gatherings when he says he will, lies about having to work so he has an excuse to not go to gatherings. His means of separation are long. He needs parental units in his life and I am willing to be one to an extent but he has to allow me in. At this point he doesn't even make a routine call to Aspen to say 'hi' let alone to me so my hands are kind of tied.
The best thing would be that his mom never left here. However, there's no do-overs on that so the best thing for Ed would be that his mom move back. I don't see that happening either, particularly now that her mother has passed. So what the future holds for Ed is uncertain. Hopefully he will get himself into a college and learn to deal honestly and respectfully with peers, especially relationships, despite what has been modeled for him up to this point.



UPDATE (or lack thereof)

Kind of busy here right now...
Service was yesterday...
Aspen did superbly, Ed had a much more difficult time...
A special post on Halloween and Aspen's costume (along with a pic or 2) is coming...
Thanks to Red, Tish, Kalani, OCl and others who somehow managed to realize it was my birthday on Wednesday!
More later.