Category Archives: Family

The Power of Half: Review and Philosophy

In the life of this single parent, even nights where I don’t have my daughter, I still have a lot to do.  There are flash cards to prepare for a spelling test on Friday, clothes to wash and put away, a little girl’s bedroom to organize, and tonight, serious project work to complete.  It’s the same thing that I do every other night that Grace is away; work like a fiend to get ready for the nights that she is here.

Somehow, though, through this, I managed to pick up and read a book called The Power of Half by authors Kevin Salwen and his fifteen year old daughter, Hannah, on their family’s unusual quest to give away half of their assets to fight poverty.

Hannah is the spiritual leader of this often tumultuous journey, which in some ways validates a belief that has at times has ruled my life, which is this: if an adult listens carefully enough to a child, teen or otherwise, sometimes their seemingly innocent observations can spark profound positive change.

From the quest to sell their opulent home and move to a house half it’s size to the Salwens’  interactions with adult and younger friends and co-workers, this story tells a frank, humorous, and altogether human tale of one way that a family begins to grow, communicate, and share on a different level than many of us will ever even attempt.

Inspirational,  remarkable, and to some people, no doubt, ridiculous, the story recounted in this book just might have the ability to give the reader the spark and gumption necessary to change the world for the better in their own way; perhaps not on the scale that the Salwens’ hoped to achieve, but in a way that’s appropriate for them.  In my world, the steps to a better place for us all is measured not just by miles and feet, but by inches.

I enjoyed the The Power of Half, and whether you are like me and believe that giving hope is one of the most profound gifts, or if you are often disappointed at the lack of positive stories that the world occasionally has to offer, I have to think that you would enjoy this book as well.

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What Do Families Do In Denver?

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m rapidly becoming the “doing things” Dad for my 4 year old daughter. I’m not sure how it started, but I kind of morphed into the fun persona as I only get Grace with me a limited amount of time a week, usually on the weekends. Of course, we’ll still do things like read books, color, and watch various cartoons or movies (Disney! Oooh, they’re cunning ones, they are), but I also like to take the the little one out for excursions to art museums, festivals, parks… anything that the Rocky Mountains have to offer.

Of course, doing these things usually takes time, for researching the various activities, and money, for paying for them.

Or, at least one would think.

In my sidebar you’ll notice a link to KidsPages.org, an organization that has a website with various tips, hints, and activities both paid and free for families. They have become my weekly lifeline to largely free stuff – perfect for a guy like me that is busily trying to save money for his daughter’s college choice, lose money from my 401(k), and still maintain a relatively happy techno-geek life with his girlfriend. Yes, it’s all a challenge, but KidsPages.org makes it much easier.

Take a gander over there this weekend. I’m pretty sure that they have a dead tree (paper) version out there as well.

Yet Another Of The Talks That I Hope To Give My Daughter

Hey, all! Yes, I know, it’s been quite a while.

I could probably type until my fingers were sore on what I’ve been doing lately, since I was such a regular blogger and all for such a long time, but I won’t. Not because it’s boring (it isn’t), but it’s late, and I’m a bit tired, a bit sick, and a bit blue. But only a bit.

The thing that I forgot, though, was that writing always helps, and so, lo, again I’m here to write to you all, apologizing for my long absence from blogging. Hope that you all are doing well!

Here we are, in the midst of the American Silly Season (others might call it Election Year), and I’ve been spending a lot of time with the 4 year old, Grace, to whom this blog is dedicated. It’s been a trying year, but one of change, and that is, I think, a good thing. But my thoughts turned to post that I wrote quite a while ago called One Of The Talks That I Hope To Give My Daughter and, by jove, I think I have another one.

That post was about drugs. This one is about a topic just as dangerous: relationships.

Being that I’m a single dad, one might surmise, correctly, that my luck with women has not been the best. But, as this man approaches 40, I’m beginning to catch a whiff of what might be a working theory. I’m pretty sure that it would work for women, too.

It would go something like this, I think:

“Grace, you’re getting older now, and I’m sure that you’ll want to date, if you haven’t already. Most of those you might not even tell me about. I hope that you do, but you might not. Before you do, though, let me give you a little advice from an old dad who has been dating for a while.”

“You’re going to meet a lot of people. Some of them will like you for who you are, and some, compulsively, will try to change you. Of those two types, realize that once you realize who you are, and you probably haven’t yet, you won’t change too much. You might pick up or lose a habit; you might gain or lose an interest. Fine. But the whole of you, the person that is you, won’t change, so finding someone that you have something important in common with might be…big.”

“But that isn’t the lesson.”

“The real lesson is to try to not be that person who tries to change the other. That path will not make you happy, and I doubt that it will make the other person happy. Be the best person that you can be, care about the one that you love, respect the relationship that you have, never be afraid to communicate with that person, but be ready to drop and run if you have to.”

“Grow together, improve together, encourage each other, and share everything. EVERYTHING. From the dash of your hairspray, to the bills in the mail, to the joys in your lives. Share it and relish it all. Because, Gracie, if you don’t share it all, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, you’ll have secrets, and you will not be a couple. You might be a relationship, but not a couple. In the end, that will probably not make you happy, when your being happy is the only wish that I will ever have for you.”

I think, think that is what I might say.

I don’t know, though. Seems a bit long winded. What do you think?

Back To Bringing The Goods

I took a pretty extended break from blogging for a little bit (my most significant break since, oh, 2004 or so) but after a vacation to SXSW, spending an increasing amount of time with my four-year old (that’s about to go up too – more on that later) and trying to concentrate on work, I found the exact article to ease my way back into the writing gig when I saw this this little educational nugget about the public educational system, or lack of it.

WASHINGTON – Seventeen of the nation’s 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland, according to a report released Tuesday.

MSNBC gets the cite.

Let’s see.  I live in Denver.  It’s one of the most highly educated cities in the nation, I’ve heard somewhere.

Denver:  Denver County School District – 46.3 percent graduation rate.

43.6 percent graduation rate?

So I’m going to have to try to send my daughter to private schools for the rest of her days?

Public education.  My wallet.  I weep for them both.

A Fact And Forgiveness

I would expect that one of the things that lots of divorcees with kids grapple with is relationships with the ex. Speaking from experience, I can say equivocally that this happens… everywhere. You broke up with your ex for a reason, be it infidelity, finances, emotional abuse, or whatever it is… and if you have kids, there is some sort of split relationship, most likely, involving them.

People. People. Let me enlighten you on one irrevocable fact.

You WILL be dealing with your ex for the rest of your life, unless you are in one of the extreme cases where it’s unsafe for you, or your children, to be near the ex. You can’t avoid, ignore, or otherwise shut them out. You may think that there is, but there is not, because the kids are involved, and will be forever.

What does this mean for you, the traumatized, or on the other hand, insufferable other parent?

It means that you will have to get over it. Deal with the other parent. When you have to, converse with the other parent. In fact, consider the other parent, as distasteful as it might be for you or them, part of your family, because when it comes down to it, that is exactly what they are. Not a conventional family in the way that you might like, but a family, nonetheless. Existing children will guarantee this fact. Surely, you will still recall what it is that made you so unhappy with them, fine. You can remember that if you like.

But the key emotion, and the hardest to learn, is this, with all apologies to Don Henely:

Forgiveness.

Even if you don’t love them anymore.

Protect Your Name And Your Reputation

Something that you need to definitely have to do when you divorce is watch yourself, and watch your name. Google it if you have to. I have personal experience with this phenomenon.

My present girlfriend had the wonderful experience of being stalked by her ex. He started a website solely for the purposes of trying to make my girlfriend look bad, put her down, and talk about personal information. He would put pictures on his site and allude negatively towards her work habits, personal experiences, and et cetera. Absolutely a prince, you might say. Eventually, it took a threat from the FBI, local law enforcement, and various websites being pulled from free sites for violations of terms of service to make him cease and desist.

My ex is similar, but does a different kind of stalking. On her MySpace page, (a page that which I read regularly) she describes how miserable she is and attempts to slam me as having a drinking problem and being an irresponsible and deadbeat dad… despite my regular OVER payments for child support – never missing a payment, regular visits, and general overall support. The reason that I am not with her is that we don’t get along. I DO want to be with my child 24/7. It’s a huge difference, and an emotionally and legally expensive one.

Solutions? I’m not sure that I have one, and if anyone has any great ideas, then I’m all ears. I’m already considering legal action.  However, if your breakup with your ex was acrimonious, then learn to use Google. Be your best private detective. Keep a journal It can be a little annoying and perhaps may cause you fume a bit, but make sure that you have all the possible information. At least that way, if you decide to follow through, then you’ll have all the information. Over at WiredSafety.org, they have a lot of great information about cyberstalking and a number of other Internet crimes.

Here’s one that you can write down; despite any odd thing that I might see in her behavior, actions, or choices, you will never see me slam her in print. That’s no better than gossip, and despite the fact that our relationship didn’t work out, she does have good qualities for someone else. That won’t stop me from being the dad of a three year old.

Remember as well; self improvement is the best form of revenge.

Back From The Holidays

Hello everyone!  Back from the holidays.   They were busy.

I certainly didn’t get a whole lot of everything, but come to think of it, I don’t really need that much.  The real highlight of my holiday was spending time with my daughter.  Now, SHE cleaned up.  Is it a popular vice of co-parents that they completely and totally overspend for the holidays?  I think that Grace has every Princess toy known to mankind now.  Yet, I still am finding that I need to get her more.  She really needs a tent.  Also some new clothes, even though she already has quite a few.  but the temptation to keep buying clothes (she’ll be four in a few months, and she’s always growing) is ridiculous.  I’m never sure that her mother is going to buy her clothes.

Anyway, I’m back.