Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Don't ditch your pets!

Last night, my husband and I were sitting around talking and I suddenly started thinking about old PSAs...  One that crossed my mind was about a poor dog whose family just ditched him on the side of the road.  It was a sad PSA that tugged at the heartstrings.

Well... off I went to YouTube to see if there were any other PSAs about pet dumping and lo and behold, I found a few pretty awesome videos.  Here they are in all their glory!



I think this one is my favorite.  It injects a little humor into a very serious subject...


This one is Dutch and shows how pets can be like our kids...


Here's one for cat owners... again, somewhat funny...


And this one illustrates how wonderful, loyal, and loving animals can be.  This one might require tissues.


It's sad that we'd need PSAs to remind people not to dump their animals.  I can't imagine callously ditching my dogs like they were a nuisance.  Anyway, these PSAs are something to think about.

Nexercising... and a foul mouthed YouTuber...

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching The Doctors and Dr. Sears, the pediatrician, mentioned an iPhone app called Nexercise.  Basically, this application records your movements and distance, as well as the time you spend moving.  You can enter a whole lot of different exercises, everything from badminton to housework, earn points, and then earn rewards.

Since I am in desperate need of motivation to exercise, I decided to download the app.  Every time I take my dogs out, do housework, or take a walk, I record it.  While we were at the beach last week, my husband and I took several walks that ran for about 45 minutes and went about three miles or so.  I earned lots of Nexercise points for those days!

So far, I kind of like the app, though I don't plan to use any of the points because they're for things I don't really want or need.  But it is kind of fun to time myself, measure the steps I take, and get credit for moving around.  I doubt it will lead to any significant weight loss, but it is sort of a motivation to move.  Nexercise kind of makes moving like a game, which I find very motivating.  So we'll see how long I stick with it...

I'd just like to lose a couple of inches so I fit better in the plane seat in November when we head to Scotland to celebrate ten years of marriage!

On another note, yesterday I discovered a pretty hilarious YouTube video...



This video was "liked" by someone whose videos I subscribe to.  It runs for 43 minutes.  While I agree there are many reasons not to like Mitt Romney, the main reason I like this video is because it's chock full of swearing.  This guy uses various incarnations of the f-word repeatedly.  My husband actually counted the number of times this fellow said some version of "fuck" in the first five minutes of the video.  He counted 30 times!  Maybe I should have turned watching this into a drinking game!

This YouTuber also likes the word "bullshit"...
 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Four lovely nights at the beach...

My husband and I just came back from a short trip to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  We had a great time, though it was marred by a phone call from our property manager, who said our landlord wants to have his house appraised.  I got kind of nervous about that, especially since the word "lawyers" was also mentioned.  It made me think we'd have to move again next year.  As it turns out, the landlord is just getting refinanced.  We didn't learn that until Saturday, though, so we spent a couple of days wondering what was up.

Despite all of that, we really had fun at the beach.  We have taken a lot of trips together, but this was the first one specifically to go to the beach.  I grew up an hour from Virginia Beach, Virginia, so I love the smell of salt air and the sounds of crashing waves and seagulls.  My husband grew up much further inland, so he likes the mountains.  I like the mountains too...  maybe we should move to the Pacific coast.

The water in North Myrtle Beach was actually beautiful... it was a deep green and I could see lots of fish, swimming and jumping.  The temperature was perfect, unlike it was at Old Orchard Beach in Maine last year.  It was almost like bath water and easy to get used to.  The beach was not quite as awesome as it was in Barbados, but it was somewhat close.  And best of all, I didn't get a sunburn!

So today, the appraiser comes over and hopefully, that'll be the end of it.  I really need to cut the grass and clean the house.  Maybe after I've had a couple of cups of coffee...



I'm already missing this...


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Don't tell me I'm "wasting" my vote!

I really hate it when there's a presidential election.  I mean, every year before Election Day, things have a tendency to get obnoxious.  But when it's the presidential office that's on the line, we get bombarded with political discussions, political ads, and political arguments.  You know what?  I'm at a point now that I don't think it necessarily matters who wins.  I could probably stay home on Election Day and it wouldn't make any difference.

With that being said, I plan to vote.  However, I will not be voting for a Democrat or a Republican, because like I said, I don't think it matters.  If I did have to choose between Obama and Romney, I would definitely choose Obama because I think Mitt Romney is repugnant for many reasons.  I'm not sure Obama is a whole lot better, but at least he's been in office for four years and I'm used to him.

Ever since 2000, I've leaned toward voting for a third party candidate.  I do it mainly on principle.  I know that the chances of a third party candidate ever winning are extraordinarily small.  I just think that when it comes to choosing a president, we need more than two choices.  It's the most important job in the country and the American people deserve to have more than two people to choose from.

I remember getting into an argument with a woman I went to grad school with.  She rather arrogantly told me I was "wasting" my vote by voting third party.  She smugly explained how any votes for a third party candidate end up actually being votes for one of the big party candidates.  I listened to what she had to say and told her that I thought the American people should have more than two choices.  And as long as people maintained the mentality that only one of two people can win, we will realistically only have two choices.

I know the third party candidate is highly unlikely to win, but the reality is, I could vote for one of the main party candidates and still run a good risk that my "candidate" won't win.  What the hell is the difference?  If I vote for a big party candidate that I don't like just because he or she is more likely to prevail, I'm still not really making my voice heard, am I?

Someone on Facebook commented on a friend's political post about how choosing not to vote Democrat or Republican meant that person was not making a choice.  That mindset really boggles my mind.  Again, if you don't like either candidate and you vote for someone whose policies are more in line with your own, how the hell is that NOT making a choice?  To me, voting for a third party candidate is much braver than picking a candidate you don't like just because he or she has a more realistic chance of winning.

Finally, I really think it's rude to tell someone that they've "wasted" their vote.  If I get up, get dressed, get in my car, and go to a voting station to cast a vote, I have NOT wasted a vote.  Shit, if I choose not to vote because I don't like any of the candidates, I have also NOT wasted my vote.  My vote is mine to do with whatever I damn well please.  That's part of what living in a free society is.

So... I will be glad when the election bullshit is over.  I'll be glad to see an end to the political maelstrom... and it also means we will be within two weeks of our big trip to Scotland.  I have a feeling that after this year's election, I'll be needing some scotch.


      

Monday, September 17, 2012

Brently!!

This morning, I was writing a post for my other blog, Dungeon Of The Past, when I remembered a word a friend of mine coined.  If you read that other post, you'll know that today has gotten off to a crappy start... literally!  I spent a horrible night trying to process last night's high fat dinner and dealt with heartburn, indigestion, and lots and lots of morning dumpage.  And then, when I went to brush my teeth, I started dry heaving.  I'm feeling somewhat better now, but this has not been the greatest morning.

So I posted a link to the Carpenters' hit song, "Rainy Days and Mondays", because today seems to be one of 'dem days...  And as I listened to the very sad-sack lyrics of that favorite song of mine, I was reminded of a guy I knew in college named Brent.  I have already written the story of what happened with Brent on my other blog... but the end result of knowing Brent is that there's a special word in my vocabulary dedicated in his honor.

You see, Brent had a habit of being very self-pitying.  He was always moaning and groaning about something.  So my best college friend came up with the term "Brently" to describe people who are overly self-pitying.  Twenty years later, I still occasionally use that word.  This morning, as I dealt with the ramifications of eating short ribs last night, I was feeling a bit "Brently".  Now that I've had some toast and coffee and a couple of laughs watching Dina Lohan on Dr. Phil, I'm feeling somewhat less Brently.

Hey... at least I'm not a member of the Lohan family...


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Me and you... a little rendezvous...

Ever seen this ad?


It's for Ghirardelli chocolate squares.  The jingle is kind of catchy, with some guy singing about a woman privately enjoying chocolate as a reward for "all the things she does"...

My husband quipped that the singer could have just as easily been singing about the woman's vibrator.

Me and you, a little rendezvous... 

That special something that will carry you through... 

That little reward for all the things you do... 

Too funny.  I used to think that ad was annoying, but now I'll look at it in an entirely different light.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Exasperated dad gives adult kid what for...

I've blogged about Weird Wilbur before.  I first discovered him on YouTube when he posted a hilarious video about Mormonism which has since been taken down.  Then I discovered his music, which made me laugh so hard I bought the album and the "Fuck You Texas" ringtone for my iPhone.  And then... I discovered the video that I've played over and over again, because I totally relate to it.

 
Maybe it's not the most constructive bitch out I've ever seen, but it is definitely expressive...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering September 11th...

September 11, 2001...  I was a graduate student at the University of South Carolina.  It was my third and final year of my dual master's degree program.  I remember the weather was absolutely perfect.  The skies were clear and gorgeous.  The temperature was comfortable.  I was sad that I was on my way to spend the day in a weird building doing something that didn't really amount to much, other than credit for showing up that day.  I was wearing a short black skirt, black tights, and a bright blue blouse. I was thinner and prettier back then, too.

I remember my colleague hearing over the radio about the first World Trade Center tower being struck. She was appropriately dismayed.  I was hunched over an ancient computer, looking up information about medical schools.  I was looking at how much medical schools cost for a cost effectiveness study my field instructor wanted to undertake in order to show what medical doctors have to lose when they lose their medical licenses due to drug and alcohol addiction.  

A little while later, my colleague told me about the other tower.  And then the Pentagon was hit.  I was numb by that point, realizing that our country was under attack.  I also realized that my online friend, with whom I had just spent a glorious offline Labor Day weekend the week prior, was in the Pentagon.  Our Labor Day had been magical.  I went up to Virginia to visit my Granny.  He came down and spent the weekend in a hotel.  We went out to dinner and visited beautiful Goshen Pass, where we went swimming.  We had a fantastic time.  Granny, who was at that time 95 years old and still sharp as a tack, told me I should marry this man.

And now, here it was about ten days later and he might be dead...  All day long, I wondered and worried.

I called my mom and explained.  She had never heard me talk about my new friend.  Being an experienced Air Force wife, my mom told me not to expect to hear from him in awhile.  As soon as I got off the phone, he popped up on Yahoo! Messenger to let me know he was fine.

A few months later, we were engaged.  Ten years after that, we're about to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  I love him more today than I did back then.  We've been through a lot and genuinely love and appreciate each other.  I'm so glad I got the chance.



  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Treat cluster B exes like you'd treat small children...

It's only taken about eight years, but I finally discovered why the dynamics between my husband and his ex wife changed so much when, over Christmas 2004, I took a stand.  I have written many times about Christmas 2004, so I'll try not to rehash it too much with this post.  To make a very long story short, my husband's ex wife basically tried to force me to spend the holidays with her, her ex husband, and the kids at my in-laws' house.

I felt backed into a corner because I had no desire to hang out with my husband's ex.  And frankly, I also wasn't feeling all that comfortable with my husband's father and stepmother.  But everyone expected me to comply with the ex's demands, mainly because there were kids involved that they didn't want to alienate.  

This was a very tricky situation.  At the time, I had only been married to my husband for about two years.  I didn't want to alienate his family or his children.  However, I felt pretty sure that the gathering, as the ex proposed it, would be a disaster.  I ended up not attending the "celebration".  My husband went by himself and had a miserable time.  He came back happy that he'd seen his kids, but determined never to attend another "holiday gathering" orchestrated by his ex wife again.

I caught a lot of flack for not going with my husband to this get-together at the in laws' house.  Stepmother-in-law was upset with me because she was under the impression that I was slighting her.  Father-in-law was also upset for the same reason.  The ex was upset for the same reason, but also because I didn't cave to her demands.

I was under the impression that the Christmas gathering was a trap.  It was packaged as a way for my husband to see his kids and his parents at the same time.  Ex could also visit with her new husband and baby and keep an eye on my husband (who doesn't actually require supervision).  I think she was hoping I'd be there, not because she wanted to bond, but because she wanted information about what kind of person I am.  Even if I had gone and sat there without saying a word, she would have gleaned a lot of valuable information about me.  Hell... if I had gone with a resentful heart, she would have won something, because ultimately it would have meant that she got me to do something I didn't want to do. She would have had some measure of control over me.

I'm not saying that all exes are control freaks or have personality disorders.  I truly believe my husband's ex wife is a control freak, though.  And I also think she has at least one and probably two personality disorders.  She seeks control and information.  She acts like a small child on a power kick, so she ought to be treated like a child.

It occurred to me this morning that while it wasn't my original intent, by not giving in to my husband's ex wife's unreasonable demands, I set the tone for how she would be treating me.  Think about it.  When you establish rules for a small child, there are certain things that are non-negotiable.  For instance, children today are required to use seat belts.  It's non-negotiable.  If you start them off by making them wear seat belts each and every time they get into a car, it becomes second nature.  If you punish them each and every time they try to sidestep that rule, they learn not to try to violate it.  They know it's a rule they cannot violate.  But if you let them get away with not wearing a seat belt just once, they remember that and keep trying to get you to let them get away with it again.  Pretty soon, you have no control whatsoever over what goes on in your car.  And you end up paying the price when a cop gives you a ticket with a steep fine or your kid ends up dead in a car accident.

My husband's ex wife tried to manipulate me into giving in to her demands by using her kids and my husband's family.  I certainly felt a lot of pressure to do what she was trying to compel me to do.  It would have been the path of least resistance to give in to her demands, just like some parents give in to their kids who don't want to wear a seat belt.    

But in the end, I didn't give in.  I deprived her of the chance to find out about me and learn where my hot buttons are.  I deprived her of the chance to ruin my Christmas or use me as a reason Christmas was ruined.  I mean, I wasn't even there!  She said the kids didn't like me-- they had only met me once and we had a fine time-- but she claimed they thought I was a "bad influence".  Under those conditions, why would I want to subject myself to a holiday with them?  Why would she want to subject them to a holiday with someone she claims they can't stand?  So I didn't go... and it really upset her, despite her claims that the kids didn't even like me.  Why?  Because I didn't jump when she said jump.  I established a boundary.

If I had given in and gone to that Christmas gathering, it would have been much harder to rein in future ill-advised gatherings.  If I had gone and there weren't any fights, what would stop the ex from trying to make Christmas gatherings an annual event with everyone expected to be there?  If I had gone and there were fights, what would stop the ex from blaming them on me?  It occurred to me this morning that giving in to the ex's demands might have even ruined my marriage.  Because if she managed to get me to bend to her will once, what would stop her from trying again and again?  It could have turned into a constant issue that eventually would have put a wedge between my husband and me.

Like the mom who determines that seat belt wearing is a non-negotiable rule, I set a similar tone toward my dealings with my husband's ex wife.  I let her and my in-laws know that they would not be controlling me.  I, along with my husband, would be deciding how my Christmases would be spent.  They could not use the children as weapons to control me.  They could not use the prospect of my losing their favor as a means of control.    

I am very fortunate that my husband was willing to back me up.  Unlike me, he is very susceptible to peer pressure, especially from family.  And they let him know that they were angry that I had chosen not to bend to their demands.  But my husband is smart enough to realize that he shares a bed with me.  We're partners.  And while he wants to be on good terms with his family, he needs to be on good terms with me... because if he's not, it will eventually lead to another divorce.  He doesn't want a divorce and, in fact, didn't think I was wrong in what I did.  He fully supported me in my decision and acted like a partner.  That made us too strong for the ex to put a wedge between us.

Unfortunately, the ex could not take the fact that we were so strong together.  She was too weak and insecure to do the right thing by her kids.  So she withdrew and took the kids with her.  That's a tragedy, but more so for them than for us.  Those kids will always know they have people in their family they don't really know.  Their mother will try to convince them that she's all they need.  But as they get older, they will find out there's a huge void and the truth will start to come out.  They may or may not be able to avoid it... but somewhere down the line, it's likely someone will be curious and do some digging.  It could be anybody.... a future spouse, a grandchild...  a great grandchild...  especially if they stay Mormons.  Because Mormons value genealogy and my husband's side of the family is the only side they would have the history for... and not everyone involved in a cluster B family ends up being a cluster B themselves.  Someone will eventually go rogue.

Anyway... I didn't realize it at the time, but establishing a boundary and making a non-negotiable rule made it impossible for the ex to interfere.  So if you're in a situation like the one I was in, consider taking back your power.  Try not to give in to peer pressure.  Take a stand.  You may find out you're stronger than you realize.

Colonial Penn... how tacky can you get?



Recognize this commercial?  It's for Colonial Penn Life Insurance.  Colonial Penn has been hawked on day TV for decades.  I remember when Ed McMahon was the pitchman...



But nowadays, Alex Trebek is selling this cheap life insurance with guaranteed coverage that never goes down and rates that will never go up.  I have never bought insurance from Colonial Penn, so I can't speak to the quality of their product.  But boy, have I seen their ads!  They come on all the time!  The latest ones are pretty offensive, too.

I couldn't find videos of the ones I see most often.  They show a couple of women after a funeral talking about how the deceased loved ones didn't have life insurance coverage and how they hoped he could afford to pay for the burial services.  Another one shows women working in what looks like a school cafeteria, discussing the same tasteless thing.  It just comes off as completely tacky and rude, even though life insurance coverage can be very important.  They're pretty poorly acted, too.




I also hate the icky music they play in the background that sounds all sad, yet consoling and compassionate.  Makes me wonder how much ol' Alex Trebek is being paid to shill these policies.  He's been doing it for years.


I think he should stick to Jeopardy...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Forced to be a father?

This morning, I fully intended to write a fun post about those annoying and tacky Colonial Penn life insurance ads where cafeteria workers stand around discussing the financial particulars of a friend whose wife suddenly passed away.  But then I started watching Dr. Phil...

Seriously, folks, I need to stop watching this show.  I know the producers make a serious effort to bring people on who are repulsive and controversial.  This morning, I was hit with a double whammy.

The first show, which I only caught about twenty minutes of, thank GOD, was about a 30 year old woman with two kids who had sex with a 19 year old guy.  Right after they had sex, they decided they had to get married.  The lad's eight brothers and sisters were all opposed to the wedding plans and went on Dr. Phil to say so.

I have to say, the woman involved in this situation was certainly not very appealing.  She came across as a bully with a serious lack of common sense.  She was also not very attractive...  I mean, she was perfectly average looking in terms of her looks, but she had a very unpleasant personality.  And the 19 year old guy she planned to marry came off as not being too bright.

As if that wasn't rotten enough, the next show was about a guy who claims he was forced to be a father by his ex girlfriend.  He says he told his ex girlfriend that he didn't want to be a dad.  She said she had some condition that made it impossible for her to get pregnant.  But lo and behold, the woman got pregnant and had a baby.  Then she demanded child support.  So this guy tries to sue and his case got thrown out of court twice.  Loudmouth women's rights attorney Gloria Allred was there, pontificating about how everything should be about the child.  I have ranted about this subject before, but I think it bears repeating...

I have to say, I definitely empathized with this guy and I thought his lawyer, Mel Fite, who had attended the Dr. Phil taping with him, made a lot of sense.  However, I still think that those who don't want to have kids need to keep it in their pants or take measures to ensure that they can't be parents.  I say this not because I don't think men should have rights, but because it's so clear that in a court of law, they will end up losing their shirts.

When it comes to having kids, men usually do get the short end of the stick.  They are expected to pay and often end up losing their visitation rights.  Or even if they get visitation rights, their kids grow up and decide they don't want to have anything to do with their father.

Dr. Phil's next guests were a married couple who had two kids.  Two years into their marriage, the guy's ex girlfriend stuck him for child support of a child they didn't know she had.  There was a paternity test and, yes, he was the dad.  So he pays for a kid he doesn't know and has no desire to know.  The guy's wife was rightfully pissed about this situation and clearly resented the financial burden.  I can't say I blame her, either... except again, I think that men who don't want to have kids should keep it in their pants or get fixed.  Dr. Phil then read a letter from the ex girlfriend who said she wouldn't go on his show unless he paid her $5000.  It's pretty obvious what she's all about.  Mom of the year, indeed!

As a woman, I definitely can see both sides of the situation.  I have a sense of fairness and I don't think men should be forced to be dads.  After all, we don't force women to be mothers... and as long as abortion is allowed, that will always be so.  However, most people know how babies are made.  I don't know what it's like to be a guy and have no understanding of what compels them to want to have sex with women they're not serious about.  Besides, if we make it easy for men to opt out of parenthood, I imagine there would be a lot of guys not paying child support.

I can only speak for myself in saying that the only man I have ever been with and wanted to be intimate with has been my husband.  But I understand that other people like having sex for fun with different people.  Sex leads to babymaking, though... and if you're not prepared to deal with babymaking, you probably shouldn't be having sex.  Or you should take measures to make yourself sterile.  While it would be nice if there weren't women out there who take advantage of the guys they have babies with, the fact is, if you screw someone, you might end up screwed.  So be careful with your sperm, guys.  Because if she gets pregnant, you're going to be on the hook.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Utah mom potty trains her kids in public...

Just when I think things can't get any weirder in the world, I read a news article that proves me wrong.  The other day, I read a very interesting post on a blog called STFU, Parents.  The post was about a mom in Lehi, Utah who had observed another mother potty training her twin daughters in a Utah restaurant.

I looked up the news story on KSL.com and watched the video, which included pictures of the mom and toddlers in question.  The mother had stripped her kids to the point of almost total nudity and instead of putting them in booster seats, she put them on portable kiddie toilets, right there on the table at a public restaurant.

I don't have kids of my own, but it seems to me that a large part of potty training kids is teaching them when and where it is appropriate to use the bathroom.  And also, a successful aspect of potty training involves teaching them to seek privacy when they're doing the deed.  I can't imagine how this woman could think potty training her daughters in public was okay on any level.  I know twins are a lot of work and it's possible that this mom was simply exhausted and frustrated, but still-- even without hygiene and public decorum considerations, I would be worried about creepers seeing the children undressed and taking pictures...

Yes, that's right.  There are weirdos out there who, unlike the mom who took the pictures of the kids and posted them on Facebook and later gave them to KSL, would take pictures for their own gratification.  It's a sad fact of life.

I don't know what the answer is... but I do think that moms should potty train their kids in an appropriate venue for so many reasons!  If you don't do it because it's simply the right thing to do, do it because other people are watching and waiting... and your kids could end up on Facebook for the world to see.

Happy September to you...

My husband has been off for the past few days, which has been nice...  Of course, when he's home, I get less done than usual.  It also leads to him researching his ex kids...

On Friday over breakfast, my husband told me that he'd found information on his "ex son".  Ex son is actually my husband's former stepson.  My husband had always thought of him as his own kid.  When I first met him, he even said he'd "fathered" three kids, when he'd actually only fathered two.  But no matter... when the ex told my husband she wanted him to think of the boy as his own, he did.  And that extended to paying child support for him, even though he never legally adopted the kid.

Anyway... my husband told me that he had found out his former stepson had a new job as a "district executive" for the Boy Scouts of America. I had to laugh about that. My husband used to think of this young man as his own son, having married the lad's mother when the boy was a toddler. My husband's TBM ex wife convinced my husband that he was a better father to the boy than the boy's real father was. Though my husband never officially adopted the boy, she got her son's name changed to my husband's name and from the time the kid was about 2 until he was 12, my husband lived with and raised the kid as his own. Then, of course, there was a divorce and my husband's ex went on a full blown parental alienation campaign that eventually separated my husband from his ex stepson and his two daughters.

Fast forward a few years. The young man, who had gotten his Eagle Scout because his mother basically forced him to (wouldn't let him get his driver's license until he got it), decided to move out of his mother's house at age 18. He called my husband out of the blue and they started talking again. My husband had been paying child support for him and had plans to keep paying until the lad was 22 years old. The ex later called my husband and demanded that he cut off her son's child support so he couldn't move out. My husband wouldn't do it, and the kid moved from AZ to IL, where he and some friends and girlfriend (now wife) lived for about a year... just long enough to escape some of the pressure to go on a mission. Then he moved back to AZ.

During that time, the young man and his girlfriend, who has since become his wife, visited us for Thanksgiving. We had a nice enough visit. Then my husband deployed. Just before he went to Iraq, my husband told his ex stepson, whom he still thought of as his own, that he could have his car when he got home from the war. A couple of months before my husband was due to come home, ex stepson called me and DEMANDED that I let him come to where we were living at the time and get the car. I told him he couldn't get the car because it needed work and it wasn't mine to give him.

At that time, we lived on a military post and I didn't want to have to deal with the kid, whom I barely knew and didn't really trust. I told him he would have to wait until my husband got back from Iraq. So this kid emails my husband in Iraq and tries to get him to order me to let him have the car ahead of time. Apparently, the kid needed transportation and wasn't keen to wait a couple of months for it. Luckily, his pressure tactics didn't work and ex stepson finally got the car a few weeks before we moved to Germany. Good thing he didn't get it before my husband got back, since it turned out he didn't know how to drive a stick shift.

So then in 2008, the ex stepson turned 21 years old and was still collecting child support from my husband. I remember that summer, he let it slip that come the following summer, he wouldn't be needing financial help from my husband anymore. At the time, my husband took it as a sign the lad was growing up. But as it turned out, he was hatching plans to reclaim his original surname, which he was doing behind my husband's back. His mother had gotten him back in touch with his "abusive bio dad". But he wanted to take a school sponsored trip to China and the $850 a month my husband was giving him was going a long way toward paying for that trip. So he didn't tell my husband that he was going to change his name...

In December of 2008, ex stepson filed with the court where he lived to get his last name legally changed. I had been watching the courts where they lived, mainly to make sure there was nothing going on that might bite us in the butt. My husband's daughters were still minors at that point and refused to have any direct contact with him. I found out about the name change filing on New Year's Day 2009, about two weeks after he'd done it. We kept what we knew to ourselves. Meanwhile, ex stepson made no mention of his name changing plans when he talked to my husband on the phone.

My husband quietly cut off his child support. About a week after he was due the money, the young man sent an email asking where his money was. When my husband finally busted him with his knowledge about his plans, the young man responded with anger. First, he asked how my husband knew about it, then he lectured him about how he depended on "timely payments". When that didn't work, he tried to tell him he was afraid of what my husband would do if he knew about his plans. He also blamed *me* for cutting off his money. My husband made it clear that he wasn't angry that ex stepson was changing his name; it never should have been changed in the first place. Rather, he was disappointed that the kid was hiding his plans and didn't have enough integrity to be honest about what he was doing. Then my husband told his ex stepson that he felt that the name change was an adult decision that indicated that he was ready to be on his own and child support would cease. The kid sent one last desperate plea for $500, with the comment that he was in debt and would "never bother us again". He quit talking to my husband when it became clear the gravy train had come to the end of the line. He later got busted by the police.

So today, as we were eating breakfast, my husband told me that his former stepson had moved clear across the country with his wife and now lives very close to his ex-wife and her multi-fathered brood. Ex stepson has taken a job with the Boy Scouts of America, which makes me think he's probably gotten back into the church. I looked up the values of a good Boy Scout...

I couldn't help but think that the ex stepson doesn't meet a single one of those qualifications of what makes a good Boy Scout... But he is an LDS Eagle Scout from Arizona and knows how to talk a good game and look presentable.

I don't look for information about my husband's ex kids, but my husband does. He shares his revelations with me. It kind of turns my stomach to think this guy is going to be in a position to work with boys and young men. But who knows? Maybe he's changed in the last three years. Perhaps his character is more like the Boy Scouts say it should be. Somehow I doubt it, though.