When we decided to take on the responsibility of more kids, one of the things that I never took into consideration was the fact that with more kids comes more sick kids. And with more sick kids comes more sick adults.

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It’s Been a While Since I’ve Updated

One of the issues with having a blog is that you actually have to (wait for it) . . . BLOG!

The truth is, I’ve started about a dozen blog posts, but none of them have much of a conclusion and most of them are not even finished to the point where I could HAVE a conclusion. This is not because I don’t think the posts might at some point be valid as much as, frankly, I just have not felt much like writing lately. A lot has happened since we were granted guardianship of the kids and yet, not much reportable has occurred. You know, kind of like real life.

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Congratulations. It’s usually something you say to someone who earned something and achieved their goal. It can be something you say when they won something. It’s even something we say in online gaming when someone levels (although it might be more like a “gratz!” than the full-blown “congratulations”).

Ever since the kids came to live with us, we’ve had people congratulate us and, frankly, it’s always sort of bugged me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always taken it in the spirit with which it’s intended, but the reality is that we would not have these kids if they were in anything less than an ideal situation. And that makes it more of a tragedy than it does something to be congratulated for. When people congratulate us, I have to admit, my first thought is to question exactly what they are congratulating us on. Congratulations that there are three boys that are displaced from their homes because their living conditions sucked? Congratulations that we are lucky/blessed/in a position to have a place to take them in? Congratulations that the fates brought us together for whatever reason?

Don’t get me wrong. I (I say ‘I’ because I have not ever really even spoken to Jessica about this to get her feelings on it) really *REALLY* appreciate the sentiment. And further, I’m not even sure what the appropriate thing to say is in this situation. You want to encourage your friend and “congratulations” does seem, on the surface, like the thing to say to let me know you’re happy for me or I have your full support should I need something. But ‘Congratulations” just feels sort of off to me.

What are your thoughts? If anyone has taken in foster kids, I’m curious if you’ve had the same reaction or if it’s just me being my usual, old curmudgeon-y self.

And Then There Was Kim

There have been several times, especially since we took on the three new additions to the family, that people have commented on the expense of doing such a thing. I have always said to them that I am happy to die penniless if it means that I have standing room only at my funeral. What I mean by that is that, as a general rule, people who have had a tremendous impact on others will result in no empty seats. People will *want* to come to pay their last respects which typically indicates that your life meant something to the attendees. Both of my grandparents had such funerals as have several people I’ve been fortunate enough to know in my life.  I believe that we’re all put on earth in order to have an impact on others. Whether or not it’s positive is entirely up to us.

And then there was Kim. . .

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Decorating the Spirit


Most of you that know us know that we go all out on our Christmas decor every year. It’s simple: You live in a Victorian style house, you are morally obligated to decorate. Jessica and I LOVE putting all the work into decking the halls. One year we had 17 fully decorated, full-size trees and about 1,000 feet of real garland strung throughout our house up north (not to mention the dozens of Santas, nutcrackers and poinsettia plants placed throughout). If it’s a particularly warm winter, I even get to go crazy on the outside. It’s a lot of work but we absolutely LOVE it and so do the kids.

This year, with the three new ones, we thought it would be so cool to give the same experience but, frankly, it just didn’t happen.

Our plan was to “wrap” up all of the decorating two weekends. Saturday was going to be spent cleaning a bit and then Sunday would be the bulk of the work.

The morning of Saturday started off somewhat as we expected. We have a neighbor who lives in the bottom floor next. She and her husband are going through tough times and they have an eight-year old daughter. They are really nice people but times have been tough on them. She is working but has to take the bus to work every day. By car it’s about a five minute drive. By bus, it’s 40 minutes with a transfer in there. Additionally, to make some extra money, she tries to pick up house cleaning jobs on weekends. She’s a good mother and a hard worker. Things are just tough. So, on that weekend, Jessica was asked if she could drive the neighbor to the house that needed cleaning. Naturally, Jessica said she would and when she got home she and I talked about the fact that our neighbor REALLY needed a car.

Here’s the thing. Up in Rhinelander, four hours away, we have a mostly useable car. This car got me through a bunch of driving a few years ago and we’ve loaned it out to people since on a long-term basis. We knew the engine was sound and that all it needed was a decent brake job so, plans for Sunday’s decorating were scrapped and the decision was we’d go up, get the car which has been stored at a friend’s house (Thanks Marshalls!) and come back. Our goal is to give the car to our neighbor for Christmas.

So, that weekend, the last real weekend we’d have to finish decorating the house for Christmas ended up being the weekend we took our first trip back up to Rhinelander in over a year. It was the weekend we did not get our 14 trees up and decorated. And yet, it was the weekend that far more got decorated than our home.

Sometimes, it seems that while for us, all the physical decoration is fun and games, and it gives our family great enjoyment, we forget about our spirits. But this year, I look around and I see the neighbors who have graciously given up the bottom floor of their house so a family who’s hit hard times will have a place to live. People out and about spreading cheer, helping those in need by volunteering time or money. Generosity abounds and you don’t even have to look that far.

I see these things and I realize that while the physical decoration is nice, there’s a lot more “spirit” decorating going on and it’s far more beautiful. So, this year, the house didn’t get done the way we would have liked. We only got three trees up and things are not all in their “proper place.” Yet, I’m surprisingly ok with that.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

It’s Official

The last few days have been quite a whirlwind. I left on Friday to get to Toronto for a conference and then spent the day yesterday trying to get back. Weather caused all kinds of delays and instead of getting home at around 12:45 or something, I ended up not getting home until 5:00. This threw EVERYTHING into a bit of chaos for everyone under this roof. But all of that is a story for another post, because none of it really matters (other than it makes a good tale to tell).

It was really super ultra mega-important that I get back before today because today was THE day. The day that Jessica and I were to appear in front of a judge to petition for guardianship of the three boys. For those of you who have not been through this process (and I suspect that’s most of you), I’ll give you a breakdown.

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I have about three posts that I have been needing/wanting to push out but am falling a little behind. This is one about a thought I had last Thursday and thoughts like this really do help me in the day to day chaos of life.

Brenna has Taekwondo classes on Tuesday and Thursday. She really enjoys them and, for a four year old, I’d say she’s really catching onto it quickly. Our afternoons on these days involve me getting to the school to pick ‘A’, Eli and Brenna up, going home, getting Brenna a snack and then heading out by 4:00 to make it to her class which starts at 4:30. It’s about a 20 minute drive from the house

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Marc, Meet Calendar. Calendar, Meet Marc.

I admit it. I’ve been in love with the IDEA of having a shared virtual calendar for years. In fact, the main reason we got Android phones was because, at the time, Google Calendar was the only fairly robust shared calendar solution out there. Even more, in fact, I’ve embellished a little and told people that the shared calendar functionality has practically been a marriage saver at times.

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The Chocolate Cake Lady

I have not posted anything in the last couple of days; not because I did not have anything to post, but I’ve been a bit busy. So today I’m going to cheat a little and cut and paste a blog post Jessica wrote a couple of years ago on her site. I was just reminded of this story (although I am reminded of it often) because of a card that came from some friends of ours up north where the Chocolate Cake Lady was mentioned and we were referenced as now being “The Chocolate Cake Lady.”

It struck me as sort of a shame that this lady, whomever she is, will never know that she impacted more than just my wife for a few nights, but for a lifetime and that kindness is being passed on. Most of Jessica’s friends have heard the story, but I’m not so sure that mine have. So, for those who do not know the story, I hope you enjoy it.

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The Five Secrets To Highly Effective and Successful Small Business Middle Class Parent People

DISCLAIMER: I really am not claiming to be the authority on any of this. But hey, the headline sort of works so I went with it.

It seems that everywhere I turn there is a list on the “secrets” to this or how to “master” something. My Facebook feed is full of these and, frankly, they drive me nuts. First of all, because I tend to click on them only to find that 99.9% of it is rehashed drabble that seems common sense enough but is being presented in some way, like it’s original thought.  And secondly, because I find myself asking, “who does this person think they are to be an expert?” While once in a while there DOES come an original thought, for the most part, it’s been done; at least when it comes to the mainstream articles I see.

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