"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Road to Oklahoma and Happy Birthday!

Today is my dear son-in-law's 32nd birthday!!!!! SIL is a fine young man and daughter #2 adores him. It was a happy day for my family when they fell in love.

The big day is approaching - we leave for Oklahoma at about 4:00 in the morning on Thursday. I've got a busy court day on Wednesday and doubt I'll have the opportunity to post before we leave. So I am doing it now! We don't plan to return until mid July and won't have internet access to the extent needed to blog so I guess I am going to be taking a break.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nothing Sweeter

A few weeks ago, Husband’s best friend, the best friend’s wife and their 14 year old daughter spent the weekend with us. Very nice people. A family member has some health issues they’ve been addressing in the area so the best friend and daughter are spending the weekend with us, again. The daughter brought a samoyed webkin with her and had named it after Evelyn.

The daughter took an interest in my quilting during the last visit and we picked out some fabric to make a small quilt for her. I haven’t had time to get back to it so I’m happy she is back for a quilting lesson. We’ll use “her” fabric and see if we can piece together 2 – 3 simple blocks, today.

It is so nice to have a young person in the house. She has been cuddling with the girls and they are eating it up. I came into the living room last night and she was on the floor with both of them wrapped around her, simply trading life and happiness back and forth. You could almost see the energy swirling gently around them.

I work with so many angry, hurt and confused souls this child’s age. It is a magnificent blessing to me to see one that is healthy and happy. Good for the soul and spirit.

photo - pineapple top on the Gammill

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Look Before You Leap

Like most professionals, lawyers have to take a certain number of continuing education classes per year to keep their license (“CLE’s”). I’m all caught up on CLE’s for the next couple of years but get CLE brochures in the mail, constantly. One came in, today, and I automatically handed it to the dog because she likes getting mail. She spit it out so I picked it up to chuck it into the trash – that is when I noticed the subject matter and perhaps the reason it tasted nasty to her.

“Selecting, Representing, and Terminating the Relationship with Family Law Clients”

Okay, now this I gotta see. In layman’s terms, I guess that would be, “How to avoid crazy clients and how to sh*tcan them when you discover they are out of their mind, a sociopath, a deadbeat, or mean as a snake.”

It goes on to elaborate:

“This seminar will provide ethical and practical advice on client selection, dealing with difficult clients, and termination of representation, including how to get paid.”

Now, I don’t take private clients so this is not something I need to know how to do. However, on a regular basis, I see nice attorneys looking like they are being roasted on a spit trying to keep a stiff upper lip while their client is completely sabotaging the case just being themselves. I genuinely feel sorry for the attorneys although if I know them well enough, I will flash them an evil grin while they gaze at me balefully (if you look at their hands, they are silently clenching and unclenching their fists). A nice thing about being a guardian ad litem is that if your child client/ward is acting like a maniac, you can simply ask the court to have them evaluated and order treatment, if recommended. In contrast, if you represent a parent who is acting nuts or like an enraged pitbull, not only will they frequently refuse to get counseling, they are liable to sue you once they end up losing the case.

As for getting paid, that is another matter I don’t have to worry about. I may not get paid nearly as much as an attorney in private practice, but I am not having to dog a client who feels no obligation to pay his/her bills, either.

So back to the CLE brochure. Inside, it says, “Many lawyers learn that a client is difficult after it is too late to decline representation, but there are red flags that can offer valuable insight throughout the representation, and even during the initial consultation.”

Red flags? No kidding.

How about when they show up for the initial consultation with reams of notebooks listing every slight they ever suffered at the hands of their former partner?

Or when they ask if it would be cheaper to simply hire a hitman?

Or when it turns out that they’ve had 6 other attorneys, 3 of whom are suing the prospective client for their fees and at least two who are defending themselves before the professional responsibility board following a complaint being made by this client?

How about the one who wants to know, first thing, if they can get out of child support if they get custody of what’s her name, who is six. No wait, she’s eight. No, six. I think she’s seven. Anyway, she is in 8th grade…

Or those who don’t have any money because that so and so shakes them down for child support – but if you were a good person, you would represent them without a deposit. They PROMISE they will pay you once they get their finances back in order.

Back to the brochure:

Topics of discussion (some of them) include: “Recognizing untruthful or evasive behavior.” (with some clients, it is when they are speaking). Oh, and here is one: “Championing a client’s destructive cause.” Huh? Can you even DO that, ethically when children are involved??

Actually, I can see from reading the brochure that it is intended to give ethical answers to those questions and addresses the lawyer’s responsibilities towards children affected by inappropriate behavior. I’m kind of making fun of the CLE but only for my own amusement. Most CLE’s really try to do a good job of giving good advice and I expect this one does, too.

Most of the time, when you see attorneys going through hell with a devil of a client, they are either new to the profession or they are representing the client as a favor to the grandparents or someone else with whom they have an established relationship.

I pity them.

Taking the Show on the Road

We are going on vacation for 2.5 weeks and leaving out next Thursday morning. Very exciting times for us. This will be our first really long-distance road trip in 9 years. Before we married I usually made 2 – 3 good sized trips a year and enjoyed them. I am really looking forward to this trip. Husband is not. He is looking forward to the destination, only.

We’d been debating which car to drive and have finally settled on taking the minivan. We just had her serviced and she is in good shape for an 11 year old vehicle. It is probably a lot more comfortable for the girls than our smaller car.

Now that we have more space, I am struggling with temptation of taking my sweet little bernina and sewing stuff. I don’t think it has even occurred to Husband that this is on my mind. What am I saying? I need to get real - he probably knows exactly what I’m thinking (he always seems to) and is just not bringing it up hoping I will let it go.

Let’s see – I’d need the bernina, small cutting mat, rotary cutter, scissors, lamp (yeah, okay, that is extra), preprinted patterns, little iron (I can rig up an ironing board with a towel), tiny pp light, acrylic table and thread. I can buy fabric at the LQS!! Think he’d notice all that? (think he'd care?) I honestly think I could get most of it into a suitcase except the acrylic table, which I probably don't need. Hmm. I could precut the fabric, here, and just assemble there. That way, I’d just need the TINY rotary cutter mat.

I’ll think about it.

Still taking votes on which block I want to do, next (see yesterday).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Choosing a Pattern

Yesterday, I had time to stop by the LQS and while I was there, I picked up some fabric I don't need. I bought the fat quarter pack for ovarian cancer that I've been keeping my eye on.

I convinced myself it was a good financial move but once I got home and redid the math, discovered that I am an idiot and certainly not smarter than a fifth grader. Somehow I had convinced myself that I was paying $2.50 for each fat quarter but I was actually paying $3.00 each. I can take solace that a small portion of the cost goes to ovarian cancer research and having lost my mother to that monster, that is important.

I fell in love with these fabrics.

I am not sure I will put them together but, really, they just called my name.

So anyway, we are leaving for Oklahoma, next week, and will have company coming in for the weekend. Accordingly, I doubt I will get much piecing or quilting done over the next month. What I was thinking was that I would survey the 3 - 4 people who read my blog and ask their opinion regarding which of the following block patterns I should do for my next Patriotic Block. Let me know if you think I should do





Remember, I will make it red, white and blue so it will look different from the samples just posted.

So anyway, drop a comment if you have a preference. In case of a tie, I guess I'll chose. How about I count up any votes on June 25th, before I leave, and let you know which block I will be working on following the vote? If you have any suggestions on color/fabric choices, I'd love to read them!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Quid Pro Quilt

I’m involved in an activity on the HGTV Message Board that is kind of fun but to be honest, I am not sure is going to work for me. We are doing something called Quid Pro Quilt. The object of the exercise is to support each other in losing weight and/or having healthier eating and exercise habits. For every pound you lose, you make yourself a block. Alternatively, some people put money into their fabric stash kitty. Some people measure in inches rather than pounds. It is quite flexible. I suspect some eat a chocolate bar for every pound they lose. If I find out who they are, I won't turn them in. I'll see if I can shake them down for a Dove Bar.

I KNOW that it is good to have a support group and they are just the sweetest, funniest, supportive ladies you could hope for. It is just that I am really not sure I’m committed to doing what I need to do.

My weight is rock steady, although it goes up and down 3 pounds depending on what I am eating, drinking or otherwise. I can starve myself for a week and lose 3 pounds. The next week it is back. I can stuff myself like nuclear winter is approaching and gain 3 pounds. The next week, I am right back on 135. It has been this way for 7 years. The year before that, I weighed 123 pounds. The year before that? 118 pounds. Husband is a great cook. A FABULOUS cook! He cooks with lard, bacon and butter. I married in 2000. I haven’t seen the 120’s since 2001. I am afraid that if I dropped down to the 120’s I would become such a guy magnet that the young boys from the local high school would start texting me.


So anyhoo, I sort of blew off the first week. My weight stayed about the same, probably due to the nachos. I've come to the realization that extreme concentration and prayer doesn't work on weight loss. Of course, about all I prayed for that week related to my weight was for a chocolate bar.

This week I cut back on sweets and ate low calorie frozen dinners for supper and lunch. I could tell the difference in just a day or so. About mid week, I announced to the HGTV ladies that I’d lost 2.5 pounds (it was really 3 pounds) but that my weigh-in day was not for another three days. Sure enough, by weigh-in day, I’d only lost “one” pound. Well, that is what I claimed. It might have been two pounds but I just don’t have faith that this body mass is going to budge, easily. Moreover, even during the time I lost the “two” pounds (claiming one), I took up eating ice cream. I KNOW that will pack on the weight. Plus, we are leaving for two and a half weeks of vacation in less than two weeks. I ALWAYS gain weight on the road and Husband’s family is great about feeding me.

Well, enough of that. At least I lost ONE pound (which will probably be back by tomorrow, she wrote skeptically).

I want to lose 12 pounds so 1 pound a month seems reasonable for a year, and I figured a nice wall hanging for the new kitchen would be nice. I designed a simple block, intending to make it 4 inches square. I drafted the block quarters and somehow wasn’t thinking. Fancy that. When I started putting them together, I wasn't sure if I'd messed up how the fabric lines up. I couldn't figure out how I'd messed it up but it looked like the seam allowance might not cover up a flaw. Now I know better than that but still worried.

Sure enough - worry for nothing. Once stitched, the seams matched fine.

For a four inch block, the quarters should have measured 2.5 inches, each. Like a dumbass, I made them 4.5 inches. So instead of a four inch block I have an 8 inch block.

Oh well – that will work, too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lurking in the Neighborhood

One of my favorite blogging buddies - Bingo Bonnie - just put a signature on her blog. I thought I'd give it a try so this is a test post. I apologize to those people who have me on Google reader and expected something horribly depressing like a child custody description.

Okay, okay. I'll share that I played detective, tonight by sitting in my car, no air conditioning, at 5:00 p.m. to surreptitiously observe a transfer in a visitation dispute. I sat there for nearly an hour in a suit, reading my new Kindle Reader about poor Tim Russert. I am on a diet but I ended up eating an ice cream cone to try to force down my core temperature. The whole thing was pretty anti climatic. Glad it is the weekend.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

Husband has had a massive work project he has been working on for the past few months that he wrapped up, this week. He periodically has projects like this and I am used to him getting a bit, er, uptight and anxious over a period of weeks coming up to the grand finale (they always turn out swell). He was so cranky and anal for weeks before the last one that I was ready to smother him with a pillow in his sleep.

This time, however, he was really just a sweetheart. He was relaxed, he said nice things, he was patient - you wouldn't even have really known he had the project coming up except for the amount of work he was putting in (weekends, nights, etc.).

Being the wise woman that I am, I know that it is important to reward good behavior. This evening, I told him that I really appreciate how sweet he has been - he has said sweet things, has been patient, etc. It was clearly embarrassing him so I clumsily tried to wrap it up by saying, "I really appreciate it. When you act like that, it just makes me feel like you really DO love me!"

He looked aghast.

"Of course I love you, dear! Why else would I put up with you????"

Where is that pillow?

A Day for Making Fixable Mistakes

I didn't have court, today, and the phone is not ringing. Woohoo! I may be going out of business but it FEELS like I am playing hookey!

I made a stab at working this morning - paid bills and cancelled my mother's AOL account. Get this. Mom passed in May 2007. AOl just started billing her a month ago, apparently out of the blue. What is up with that??? I also discovered that she had three credit cards that needed to be cancelled. I thought that had all been taken care of.

I hate the AOL phone customer service site. They have the recorded phone system that is supposed to sound human. By the time I got it to hand me over to a "consultant" the damn thing was swearing at me! I wanted to yell back but it would be like shouting at a toaster - not that I haven't done that, before. But I was much younger.

So anyway, about 10:30, I decided to do the Tennessee block from Carol Doak's star book.

I mark my patterns on the front end of the process so I know which sides to trim at a quarter inch for the seam allowance (here, marked with an X). I learned this the hard way. I cleverly write OS on the edge that is "outside." I don't trim the outside edge until the end to make sure I don't do all that work and end up with a block that is too small and will have the points cut off.

One of the reasons this pattern appealed to me was because it had small enough pieces that I could use some of my scraps. Paper piecing uses a lot of fabric and there is a lot of waste. It is nice to be able to take the scraps and use them in something else.

Some people just hold down the first piece when their are paper piecing, and some use a glue stick. I set my Beloved Janome on the longest basting stitch and baste the first piece down.

I use a cheap little battery operated lamp under the acrylic sewing table to help position the pieces.

I try to place the first piece so that I don't have to trim for piece number 2. It just eliminates a step but it isn't really that important.

I made quite a few goofs - my blood sugar took a dive not long after I started and I should have gone to get some food. See this picture? If you look closely in the circle, that is where I somehow cut off my seam allowance on the white fabric. I honestly don't know how that happened.

I could have ripped apart the piece and started from scratch but I just patched in some more fabric.

I will remember this piece when I am quilting - I think I can hide it and it will be just as sturdy.

But now, look at THIS embarrassment!

I don't know where my mind was. Again, easy to fix.

I really struggled with the colors to use. I am not sure this works but I just wanted the brighter blue (I used it, yesterday, too). My mood must be brighter.

And here she is with some of her patriotic sisters.

I'd planned to go back and work the rest of the day but Husband just called from the train station and is coming home early. He said he'd be here in ten minutes so I better hussle the men, whiskey and ecstasy out the door. I probably ought to run a brush through my hair, too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Feeling Blue

I had a couple of hours this afternoon to unwind with some quilting therapy – and I sure needed it. My mind has been on a particularly painful custody case – one of those where you feel like maybe, just maybe, you are playing god and you know you aren’t qualified. So I pondered the matter, rolling it over back and forth in my mind while I worked on a Carol Doak block (Rhode Island from her 50 Stars book).

In my work, there regularly comes a time when you have to question your own motivations and judgment. For me, that involves getting down to what is real and what isn’t, and deciding if a decision I am thinking of making comes from following my head, my heart or my gut.

This star is for my Red, White and Blue Patriot/Anniversary quilt but you can see it doesn’t closely match the others.

No red. I guess I’m feeling blue, today. Or maybe I just felt the need to be soothed. I am not sure this block will end up in the quilt. I’m afraid it will remind me of today’s case. On the other hand, if things go well and I’ve made the right decision, it may end up being front row center as a reminder that some decisions in life are very painful but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the right one.

Sometimes I stitch too far and end up clipping those stitches with my seam ripper.

My favorite seam ripper is by clover but I haven’t seen it for weeks. How can you lose something like that????

While I was stitching, My girl, Jezebel, stayed with me to keep me company.

For awhile, she was under my feet but eventually moved out of the way. I like being able to reach down and scratch her behind her ears and nuzzle her muzzle. Sometimes she makes it next to impossible to stitch because she practically gets in my lap. Not that I am complaining. She is love on four legs.

So here is the block, squared:

I think this pattern looks like a snowflake, probably one of the reasons I just didn't feel like putting any red in it. I think if I had substituted the darker blue with a vibrant red it would have looked more like a sunburst and less like a snowflake. It certainly would have warmed it up. I deliberately used the background fabric in the center to make it appear to be floating. The pattern called for alternating fabrics in the center.

And here is the block on the back deck with her sister Patriotic Blocks:

Here is a closeup:

It isn't perfect. In fact, I think it is fairly messy compared to some of my blocks. I had to redo the center seam several times and it still isn't really right. Actually, I may end up going back and working on it, some more. I don't like gaps. They remind me that I am fallible.


I've read that the Amish deliberately leave mistakes in their quilting to remind them that no one is perfect. Yeah, I've read that but I think it was just an excuse they made up to explain away their mistakes. Seems pretty arrogant to me to have to MAKE mistakes to demonstrate humility. In my world, the mistakes show up on their own. But maybe that is just me...

The darker blue in the center is some fabric I've been hoarding. I just love it. It was hard to bring myself to cut it - Fabricholics understand what I am talking about.

And of course, here is the highight of this post, for me:

I mean seriously, how can anyone be blue looking at a face like that?????

Evelyn even sang to make me feel better:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Role of Gender

I have been working as a guardian ad litem for quite some time and do you know that I have NEVER been asked the following question?

“Does the court favor mothers?”

However, if I had a dollar for every time I have been told by men involved with custody suits that, “Everyone knows the courts favor women,” I could probably afford a new Samoyed puppy - and they don't come cheap. I don’t want to be too dismissive of the sentiment lest I give the impression that I am not sensitive to how frightening that must be to fathers. Court is terrifying enough without walking into the courthouse believing that you won’t get custody of the light of your life due to your gender. Moreover, I am well aware of the sag in the shoulders that occurs when a desperate father finds out that the guardian ad litem is a woman who he "knows" will side with the mother.

At different times in our history, the courts definitely favored one gender over another. I understand that at the beginning of the 20th century, children routinely went to the father in the event of a divorce. The pendulum swung back by the time we were in the fifties and sixties. A common perception was that older children sometimes went with their father but only if they wanted to and only if they were male. The idea of custody of a pre-adolescent daughter being granted to her father (assuming the mother had thrown her bonnet into the ring) was not only bizarre, it was a little creepy. After all, a girl “needs” her mother. Who else can explain to her about all the changes she will be going through, including … periods?

Recent case in point - Did you see all those photographs of the mothers in that polygamous cult down in Texas who had the funny hairdos and the dowdy clothing? Did you see the pictures of them clinging joyfully to the children who had been returned to them after the social services separated them for several weeks following allegations of sexual abuse? Who among us would be so heartless as to try to separate those mothers from their beloved children? (Was I the only one who wondered why they didn't have pictures of the fathers hugging their children?). I think that is the mentality that many people in the general population still have. In the past, short of her mother being a notorious prostitute, a girl stayed with her mother. Moreover, even if her mother was advertising her services on the sides of buses, if her father was single with no suitable female relative living under his roof, the female child remained at the brothel to protect her delicate sensibilities from the mistakes of her clumsy father.

But let’s discuss the world, today. All states are different, all courts are different, all judges are different. That being said, in my state (and this is pretty uniform) the standard the court uses when deciding custody/visitation between parents is the “best interests of the child.” The difference between most states has to do with how specific the legislature has been regarding what sorts of things the judge must consider. Typically, the court is supposed to consider the specific characteristics of the child (age, health, special needs), the child’s reasonable wishes, the health of the parents, how likely they are to support a relationship with the other parent, etc.

I believe it is absolutely true that most of the time, mothers get custody of young children. There are reasons for this beyond a preference of the female gender by the judge, however. For example, it is extremely common for the PARENTS to decide that the mother should have custody. Moreover, prior to the break up, the parents may have opted to have the mother be the primary caregiver and the court may not want to disturb that. He/she would be just as likely to keep things in place if the primary caregiver was male.

But do judges have a predisposition to favor mothers when it comes to custody/visitation matters? Clearly, a lot of men (and their mothers) think so. If they can scare up the money to afford a female attorney, they do it. Apparently, they think that the judge will think a female attorney wouldn't represent a man who wasn't nice to children (I'd never tell them that in the small legal community where everyone knows everyone that the mere fact that their attorney has the "right equipment" means zilch. Some women would sell their OWN children for the cost of a retainer). Personally, I believe the judges are willing to listen to the facts of the actual situation before making a decision.

Here is the deal: you see it all in family court. I’ve seen mothers (quite a few, actually) inject their children with chemicals in order to cause seizures so that they can “save” them and be hailed as a heroine (also known as Munchhausen’s by Proxy). Some of them prefer the pillow method. I’ve seen very few females willing to give up their heroin or oxycontin for the sake of their children. Women standing by the man who molested their children (male and female) are so common that I am surprised when it DOESN'T happen. Women who cheat and lie and who are exposed by DNA tests as adulterers are so common that I hardly even notice it anymore. The number of bogus domestic violence claims based on nothing but an angry girlfriend’s say so (at the time) is so widespread that it undermines claims by her truly abused sisters. There is a reason police officers are frequently so skeptical and it has little to do with any good old boy network (unless he works for the police department in question). In these days of voice mail and e-mail, it is quite common for the sweet, demure little lady on the stand to be revealed as a ranting, vicious, profane, abusive and furious harridan on her time off.

I am not simply trashing women. I have seen mothers who would fight a wildcat in Times Square wearing nothing but a thong to save their child. Women (and men) are people - as a group they are neither saints or sinners - it comes down to the individual. My point is that family court judges see it all. Any romantic notions he or she might have about a mother’s love and superior parenting skills are subject to proof. Fathers get the same deal. All things being equal, they MIGHT favor a mother with a small child but I rarely see all things being equal when it comes to parents who can't reach an agreement out of court.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Okay, This is Ridiculous

I received an invitation to join the AARP in today's mail. It says I can get a 5 year membership at a discount price. Huh. I should probably check the actuality tables to see if I am likely to survive that long.

For the love of god. Is this the beginning of the end???


OKAY - this is added after the original post. Husband came home, took one look at me and asked what was wrong. I shoved the AARP letter at him and he looked perplexed. "What's the big deal?"

"I'm DYING!" I told him.

"No you're not - you're just getting old... What? What did I say?"

"That is not helpful," I said.

"Just don't send them money," he said, "No sense being old AND stupid!... WHAT? What did I say?"

"They have travel discounts and stuff," I told him.

"Join the NRA - it's just as good," he said, "except you might need one of those scooters and they are probably better to help with that."

He had the grace to come apologize a little later. Or sort of apologize. It was his standard, "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," which is his way of saying he is not sorry for what he said but IS sorry that it hurt my feelings. He thinks I don't notice. I Do notice. The problem is that I forget what he said within seconds.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

New Jersey Star Block

I whipped together this star and it didn't take anytime at all, even though I had to go back and repair a couple of mistakes. Not sure why it went so fast other than that I am getting to the point where practice has taught me to have fewer misteps.

Here is the New Jersey pattern - again, from Carol Doak's Fifty Stars, book:

It was pretty easy to put together.

And here it is on my design wall with the other patriotic star blocks.

Working on these blocks is really soothing.

Death vs. Divorce

Nothing shreds the heart of a parent more than the potential loss of a precious child to a horrible disease or devastating injury. Parents faced with this situation would gladly lay down their own life to spare them. Their entire being is fixated on making that child feel safe, comfortable and loved. The rest of the world stops spinning. They walk on eggshells to avoid arguing in front of the child. Gifts are given, once-in-a-lifetime trips are taken. They want to make their child’s remaining time on earth sweet, soothing and filled with love. They’ve been sucker punched with the recognition of the fragility of life and desperately count the seconds they still have. They spend hours on their knees begging god to spare their child. They turn inward, wondering if their own character flaws somehow caused god to strike down their child. They bargain with the Almighty, promising to be a better person if only their child is spared. They torment themselves with every mistake, every wrong choice for their child they ever made. They grieve the times they lost their temper, the times they put their own needs before their child’s, the times they weren't paying attention, every slight they ever visited upon their child intended or inadvertent.

Then, there is the situation where parents are fighting for custody and/or visitation.

I know without a doubt that the vast majority of parents in the midst of a custody/visitation battle love their children and that if their child was dying of some horrible disease or injury they would react exactly as I just described. Sadly, tragically, parents battling over relatively healthy children frequently have taken their eyes off the ball. They visit a hell upon their children that is inexcusable, especially considering that the child is facing his or her own grief at the loss of his or her family.

Parents in a custody/visitation dispute frequently tend to be completely oblivious to what they are doing to their child. They fight in front of the children. They literally wrestle the child from the other parent’s arms during visitation transfers. They casually describe what a so-and-so the other parent is within the listening of their kids. They tell the child that they can’t afford certain things because the other parent won’t pay child support – and that this is “proof” that the child is not loved by that parent. They second guess the decisions of the other parent as a matter of course. They believe the other parent is undermining their relationship with their child and, to keep things even, do the same thing. They complain that the other parent is trying to “control” them. They obsess and dwell upon the slights they personally endured during the marriage as proof of the other parent’s low character, or as justification for separating the child from that parent. They move to new neighborhoods, change schools, expecting their child to simply adjust.

The non-custodial parent frequently drifts off and fails to keep track of the child’s academic progress or medical needs. They show up late for visitation. Sometimes they don’t show up, at all. Many parents are consumed with their “rights,” and give little thought to the “rights” of their child to a loving, calm, stable existence (beyond pointing out how the other parent has failed the child).

They are frequently distracted by new significant others who have stepped in to fill the emotional void left by the end of the previous relationship. Foolishly, they bring the new significant other with them to visitation exchanges. As often as not, the new significant other tags along because he/she believes the parents will get together for a fling (truth be told, this happens a lot!). The significant other and the adverse parent sometimes get into shouting matches, or worse, in the presence of the child. The parents move in (or move in with) new significant others and expect their child to simply adapt to new pseudo siblings, often sharing rooms with virtual strangers perhaps 3 – 5 years different in age from themselves. The parents smooch with new partners in the presence of their children, expecting them to somehow to understand that “until death do we part” is REAL but for some reason, doesn’t apply in THIS case. The child is assumed to be able to figure it out when it comes time to make their own choices in a life partner.

Unlike the parents with dying children who engage in painful soul searching of the type of person and parent they have been in the past, they focus on the flaws of their former partner, cutting them no slack, closing their eyes to their own flaws. They would deny it to the death but there is frequently truth to what I hear one judge say to feuding parents on a regular basis and that is, “You hate each other more than you love your child.”

I wish more parents in custody/visitation disputes would think about all this.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Highest Form of Flattery - Part 2

I went back to the starburst block that wasn’t cooperating after a bit of head scratching and taking a shower (how many people besides me get inspiration while in the shower?). I realized that the easiest way to move forward on the block was to take off the red triangles, replace them with a background triangle and call it good. Once That was done, it was pretty simple to construct the block. I was pretty happy with how it turned out:

It was a good exercise in constructing a pattern and I think I got it pretty close to my inspiration:

Here it is with all the other Patriotic blocks, to date!