Category Archives: Visitation

To The Man Who Demands It All


I’m writing in the hopes that you will understand how important gymnastics is to Em. NOT to me, to our daughter.

Em has been taking gymnastics classes for a little over 1 year. It started out as a gift from my parents, a trial summer once-a-week-class to see if she enjoyed it. Em loved it SO much she dropped dance in favor of twice-weekly sessions. She learned quickly and worked extra on her own at home and at my parents’ house to improve her skills. This fall she was invited to compete in 3 competitions. At her current level, the gymnasts are awarded ribbons of color instead of the standard number score you see in televised meets. There were 5 different colored ribbons you could earn based on the individual’s performance and execution of the apparatus: rainbow ribbon was the best, pink 2nd, purple 3rd, blue 4th and green 5th. Out of three competitions with 4 apparatus at each, Em earned 6 purple ribbons, 4 pink ribbons and 2 rainbow ribbons! Her personal best was the rainbow ribbon she earned for her beam routine at her final competition which was an improvement from the purple she earned at the first competition! She was so excited and proud of herself for earning that ribbon!

I’ve attached videos of each of her apparatus, the best of all three competitions.

Em has been invited to move up to the next level, almost tripling the amount of time she currently spends in the gym and making her eligible for competitions with formal numbered scoring. Em knows how much time and work this will take, but she wants to do it. Please reconsider your request to have her with you all summer vacation. There are intensive gymnastics camps that are available during the summer that really help the gymnasts to grow and strengthen their skills. While attending both camps is not mandatory, attending at least one is recommended. If Em cannot attend an intensive camp, it can really set her back among her peers, increasing the amount of work she has to put in to catch up to their level and decreases the likelihood that she’ll be invited to more competitions.

I ask you to talk to Em about her gymnastics the next time you two speak on the phone. Listen to the excitement in her voice when she talks about what she’s learning. And if possible, ask her to show you IN PERSON what she can do when she visits this Christmas. Some of the things she can do, like back walkovers, she learned outside of the gym; many of her peers in her level cannot do that yet.

Em knows that I am sending you this email with the videos, so be sure to tell her if you enjoyed watching them.







My not-so-serious Christmas dilemma

The last couple of days I haven’t been able to get Christmas out of my head. Not (just) because every department store except Nordstrom’s is blasting the holiday music already, but because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year and it’s throwing my core belief system off-balance.

I’m a firm believer in attending church on Christmas when it lands on a Sunday. You stop opening presents, you change out of your Christmas Eve pjs and you get your butt in a pew. If you consider yourself a Christian and your church is having worship on Christmas Sunday, you go to church!

Here’s my dilemma: as of last summer, “Jake” now has “Em” from 2:00 PM Christmas day until the night before school starts again…

If Em flies to her dad’s house, she can take a 5:05 PM flight out of John Wayne airport and be at his house around 8:00 PM; there are no earlier flights on Christmas day after 2:00 PM. If Jake chooses to drive down and pick her up, then they’ll leave town at 2:00 PM and not reach his house until 8:00 AM the next day at the earliest if he drives safely.

My stress is this:

I haven’t heard from Jake on his pick-up plans for Christmas day. Lately he doesn’t talk to me or respond to anything unless it’s Em calling him in response to his text message to me asking her to call him. And every time they talk, Em and Jake talk about how much closer Christmas is, but never about how she’s going to get to his house. I don’t know if he’s already purchased her airline tickets yet; if he hasn’t, it’s gonna cost him a pretty penny to do so closer to Christmas (currently nothing less than $300 round-trip). If he pulls what he pulled last year, I won’t know for certain when she’s coming home and I’ll have to pay half of a very expensive last-minute return ticket because he didn’t plan (again) in advance. But, at least I’ll be able to spend Christmas morning with Em and my family and still attend church.

If Jake chooses to drive down to pick up Em, then do I still go to church in the morning? My Christmas morning with Em will either be shortened or we’ll have to get up a couple of hours earlier than usual. As it is, I don’t go to bed on Christmas Eve (or, rather, Christmas morning) until around 2:00 AM because I attend the 11:00 PM service at my church on Christmas Eve (non-negotiable in my mind), then have to wait for Em to fall asleep before Santa delivers her presents. Getting up an extra 2 hours (the average worship time including post-worship mingling) to guarantee that I get a decent Christmas with my daughter would probably mean I’d be functioning on half of my brain cells.

A part of me wants to talk with Jake about his travel ideas for Em, but knowing that he doesn’t like talking to me and has yet to discuss anything about Christmas with me, I kinda just want to wait until he starts the conversation. As a father of two in his 30s, one could expect that he would already have the round-trip plane tickets purchased (being that Christmas is just a little over a month away) and he’s just so busy with his infant son that he’s forgotten to send me the confirmation email.


Probably time to start saving money now to bail out his butt when he realizes that the plane tickets are so expensive and I’d rather pay half than get to deal with Em’s realization that her father has, once again, been late on the planning aspect of his time with her and her hopes of meeting her little brother are dashed.


Foolish Games

1. to defer action; delay
2. to put off until another day or time

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” – Mason Cooley

A few days before Thanksgiving “Jake” called to tell me that he didn’t want to drive down to pick up “Em” for Christmas; he was concerned about the weather. When I was pregnant with Em, Jake and I drove up to his parents’ house for Christmas. The drive up wasn’t so bad; it was the drive back down. It was raining and the wind was blowing so hard that freeway overpasses were shaking and high-profile truckers had pulled off the road to wait out the storm. It took us a day longer than expected to make it back home. So when Jake said he wanted to have Em fly to his house for Christmas, I agreed.

So less than a month before Christmas we split the cost of an unaccompanied minor plane ticket. When we divorced, Jake and I did the paperwork and processing ourselves; we didn’t have much to split up and we had agreed on my moving back to Orange County to be with my family and his visitation with Em. However, because we did it ourselves, when we made changes before filing the paperwork we forgot to make the same changes other places in the documents. So one section shows that Jake is responsible for all of Em’s travel costs to and from visitation with him, and another section says that we split the cost. However, most times I pay for her plane ticket since he has to then buy himself two round-trip tickets for his travel with her on the plane. He doesn’t work very often, so funds are limited on his end. If I didn’t pay for all of her plane tickets, she’d never get to see him. But because the cost of the one-way unaccompanied minor ticket was less than what he’d normally pay for two round-trips for himself, we split the cost.

But we never talked about how she’d get back home. I just assumed that he would drive her down since he never mentioned it.

A week before Christmas he said that he’d be buying her return-flight ticket. It would be done on Monday, December 20th. When I called that night he said he’d do it the next morning, Tuesday, December 21st. I talked to him on Christmas Eve, concerned that I hadn’t heard anything about the ticket. He said that he’d been working on ceilings for a guy and he’d just received a check and would cash it on Monday, as banks are closed on Christmas and Sundays. (My assumption as to why he’s cashing instead of depositing is because he’s behind on his support payments and if he deposits money into his account, the child support folks will send me a good portion of it, leaving him with not enough for the plane ticket. Cashing it means he can give the money to his dad who will likely be purchasing the ticket on his credit card.)

And now it’s Tuesday, December 28th and we still have no ticket for Em. I’ve left messages on his cellphone voicemail and his parents’ house message machine (where he lives). It’s no concern of mine if he pays up the nose for a short-notice flight. It is however my concern if she can’t get on a direct flight (click here for rules on unaccompanied minor travel) because they’re full because everyone else bought their tickets 6 months ago! According to the modification to visitation we did in July, she has to be returned to me no later than 6:00 PM the day before school resumes session. So finding a non-stop or no-change flight before 6:00 PM on Sunday, January 9th that is within his budget is inevitably going to be more difficult the longer he waits. And paying for a last-minute ticket for her to fly home is not within my budget. So he either has to buy the ticket soon (like yesterday) or plan on driving her down and allowing for enough time due to possibly inclement weather to do so in a timely manner.

A small part of me is concerned that he won’t bring her home. NOT that Jake has ever given me any reason to think he might violate the physical custody order we have in place, but it does happen. And Em is old enough now to know what day it is, how long she has left of her visitation with Daddy and she’ll be very upset if she doesn’t come home. And it’s not like I don’t know where he lives, or that he has any way of funding a run-and-hide scenario. But that doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t creep into my mind when he doesn’t return my phone calls. I’m sure he’ll end up buying a plane ticket or decide to drive her down. I just wish I didn’t have to wait for him to get his act together.

Then again, this is Jake I’m talking about. There’s nothing new about him keeping me in the dark about matters that concern both of us. Just because he’s a bit older doesn’t mean he’s grown up enough to stop playing these stupid games.