Monday, December 9, 2013

I'm back.......

Wow has it really been since Thanksgiving that I published a blog post? I guess so. Well I guess it is only fitting that I choose the eve of the start of our boys basketball season to post again. Tomorrow we start our season with a road trip to Ashley. I doubt that I will sleep a whole lot tonight. I seldom sleep much during basketball season anyway. Even though I am only an assistant coach I still over-analyze and go over and over our game plan and then pretty much every play after a game. I love it though. I am excited and anxious all at the same time. I can't wait for tip-off tomorrow.

I got a little bit of a teaser tonight though as I was able to watch the girls teams play. I hadn't been able to watch my daughter's first game last week so I made sure that I went tonight. Her team played pretty well and won by a sizable margin. I love watching my daughter play. I will actually get to see a lot more of her games this year then the past couple of years now that she is in high school.

I hope to do a better job of posting on a regular basis going forward. Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I leave you with a quote from the late Nelson Mandela.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


By the time I finish this post it will officially be Thanksgiving so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about my feelings on Thanksgiving.

Now anyone that knows me really well knows that I am not a big holiday person. I tend to be a little "bah humbug" no matter what the holiday is. The reason for this is that holidays have just become commercialized days that bring big profits to retailers. Family takes on less and less significance as retailers open earlier each year, to the point now that it seems more are opening on Thanksgiving night than are waiting till Friday morning. I prefer to stay home and do nothing on holidays. On Thanksgiving, I want to sit in front of my tv and watch the Lions (always hoping for a win, but usually disappointed) and eat a bunch of food with my family. Those are the only two things that really matter to me. I don't think Thanksgiving is really that different from any other day. I don't know about you but I am thankful everyday. A day doesn't go by that I am not thankful for something. I don't need to wait till November and then post each day something I am thankful for, and there is nothing wrong with that. Those of you who have done that and are doing that, good for you, I enjoy reading them, but it isn't for me. I want to be sure that I am thankful everyday. I am thankful for the ability to get out of my bed, no matter how painful it is. I am thankful for my wife, who as much as I am a sarcastic jerk to her some days, I could not live without. I am thankful for my kids, who make my life something new everyday. I am thankful for my entire family, without whom I would not be the man I am. I am thankful for my vehicles, my home, my clothes, and my possessions. Most of these things I could survive without if necessary, but they make life a lot easier than if I didn't have them. I am thankful that I live in the United States of America, the freedoms that we have should never be taken for granted. I am thankful for a lot of other things too, but most of all I am thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that he made for me.

We should be thankful everyday. I try to remember to thank the Lord everyday for his blessings, but sometimes I forget, which reminds me I am thankful that God is a forgiving god. What I fail to do is thank those people around me as much as I should, especially my wife and kids. I need to do a better job of showing and telling them my gratitude each day. So I want to challenge all of my readers to be more conscientious over this next year to show and tell your gratitude to others each and everyday. It doesn't have to be anymore than just saying thank you more often. It really isn't anything difficult. Let's not wait till next November to be thankful.

Philippians 4:5-7

New International Version (NIV)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

retrieved from

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This isn't good-bye, it's just a see you later.

This week has been emotional. Monday was the official start of basketball here in Michigan as we had our first practice of the year. This is one of my favorite days of the year. Then I got the news that my Grandma Catherine had had a stroke. Then on Wednesday the word came that she had passed from this life. With this news came great sadness, some regret and some guilt. Earlier this year I had contemplated the idea of making the trip to Indianapolis to see my Grandpa and Grandma Catherine but decided against it and truthfully I am not sure why I didn't go. I remember thinking that I would see them at Christmas so that probably weighed in my decision to not go. Wednesday afternoon I must have mulled that decision over in my mind a 100 times. Catherine was a special woman. She was not my biological grandma, but that didn't really matter to me and I don't think it mattered to her either. She met my grandfather in 1994 and they were married that year. Nicole and I were dating at that time and she accompanied me to Indiana for the wedding. I remember meeting all of her family and thinking either this woman was crazy or something special. Who has 9 children? Catherine did. Well, that thinking may have been a little telling of my family's future, since we have 6 kids and have had as many as 14 or 15 here at the house on any given summer day. Turns out she really wasn't crazy but she was definitely special. Catherine was always excited to see Nicole and I and our many different kids over the years. We never got down as much as we wanted but we always felt loved when we were there. We love Catherine. She has been a part of our lives for 19 years and we will always cherish the times we spent with them. The Christmas Eve party, our Memorial Day trips, and the various other times we were able to visit with Catherine will not be forgotten.

Today, we laid her to rest. The service was wonderful. I was honored to have had a small part in the service. That meant a lot to me. So thank you to all of Catherine's family for that. Thank you also to the family for sharing Catherine with us these past 19 years. She was an amazing example of faith and love. I only wish I could have had more time with her. But it isn't good-bye, for we know that one day all of us that believe and follow Christ will be reunited. So until then Grandma Catherine, see you later. We love you.

The reading that I read at the mass was from Job 19, I wanted to share that with all of my readers tonight. Now this isn't the exact translation that I read, because I don't know what translation that was but the meaning is all the same. The are 2 verses that  I really like, verse 25 and 27.

23“Oh, that my words could be recorded.
Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument,
24carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead,
engraved forever in the rock.
25“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and he will stand upon the earth at last.
26And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
27I will see him for myself.
Yes, I will see him with my own eyes.
                                     Job 19:23-27 (NLT)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Person of Interest

Okay, so it has been a few days since I have posted. I don't want to bore you with excuses but I have been fighting this crud and sleep (or at least attempts at sleep) have taken precedence. 

Just finished watching the latest episode of what has probably become my favorite television show, Person of Interest. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any means but I am intrigued by that sort of thing a little. I often wonder if "Big Brother" is watching. (side note - I have read 1984 twice) Anyway, when I think about the government or some other agency spying on me or just the public in general I don't get to worked up about it. I like to believe that for the most part I am not doing anything that I would be ashamed of or would get in some kind of trouble for. I was raised that someone far more important than the government was seeing everything I did both in public and in private. Beyond that, I was raised to believe that He would know my thoughts. From a very young age this was made evident to me. See my mom had this knack of knowing what I had been up to even before I got home from being out with friends. I remind you this is back in the 80s when basically no one in Vestaburg had cell phones or used the internet. I think she had her own spy network set up and they were all world record speed dialers (on rotary dial phones at that). I couldn't get away with anything. She took pleasure in interrogating me and getting me to fess up to things without me knowing I was confessing anything. She was subtle that way. I eventually learned it wasn't worth trying to hide anything from mom, she always found out, always. Between my healthy fear of my mother and my belief in an omniscient, omnipresent God I don't fear a government spying on me. I strongly believe that we have a right to our privacy and I don't want them spying on what goes on inside my home, but I don't really have anything to hide. In public, I don't even think about whether they are spying on me or not, I don't go out of my way to avoid security cameras, I am not worried about those here on Earth that may want to spy on me (I don't really have anything that fascinating going on in my life anyway) I worry about what my Creator sees, hears and knows. I know that I am a Person of Interest to Him and I am perfectly okay with that.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lasting relationships

One of the reasons I decided to keep doing this blogging thing is that I thought that there would be times that I could encourage others using my own experiences. Today I got some of the greatest hugs ever. I got to see the person that is my closest friend that isn't my wife, my friend Melissa. Usually we go quite a while between visits due to our crazy schedules and the fact that we live over an hour and a half apart. Melissa and I have known each other for 20-some years. We met in the summer of 1990 or 1991 I believe on the campus of what is now Kentucky Christian University. (It was KCC back then.) We haven't seen each other a ton over the 20 plus years but we have stayed in touch and talked about a lot of personal things over the years. She is always the one that tells me I am being a jerk to my wife and I better knock it off. She is one of the nicest, most generous people you will ever meet. (She even took me to lunch today.) Even though I just saw her a couple of weeks ago it is always great to get a hug from her when I see her.

Then this evening, Nicole, the kids, and I went to a birthday party for Shaun-Thomas and Leo, two of our former foster children. These boys have a real special place in our heart. I believe I mentioned them in my blog last night but too bad you are gonna hear about them again. We had the pleasure of having them live with us for somewhere around 15 months I believe. We always treated them like they were our own flesh and blood, just like all of our foster/adopted kids. But it was really tough to have them leave us. Fortunately, they have a great mom and she has allowed us to remain a part of their lives. We love her and her family and their willingness to include us in the lives of the boys. Their birthdays are 1 day apart and so the family throws a big party for them each year and tonight was the night. When we walked in their faces were beaming, not sure if it was us or just the excitement of the party, but I am going to go with us. Regardless, the hugs I got from those boys tonight were special. They are growing up so fast and are doing so well. I can't wait till December 21st when I get to see them again. Their mom is so awesome that she lets us bring the boys to our house for a couple of days for our family Christmas celebrations. The boys love coming and we love having them. So tonight, Stephanie, I don't know if you read my blog's or not but I want you to know how much Nicole and I appreciate you letting us be a part of Shaun's and Leo's lives. We love all of you! Thank you.

Now these were just a couple of incidents of hugs today, I had more, but I could go on all night. Hugs are a gift from God. Hugs can do so many different things, from comforting and supporting, to loving and encouraging and everything in between. I love hugs from my students, my friends, my loved ones, but most of all I love them from my kids. And I don't care what any of you think or say, my kids give the best hugs!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

4 days...

Tomorrow many of my friends will be sitting in the great outdoors waiting patiently for an unsuspecting deer to come close enough that they can shoot it. I must say I am a little jealous. I used to hunt myself but when I started working in the newspaper industry I was too busy to get out into the woods much. I hunted a couple of times during my newspaper years but never with any success. I have often thought that I should get back in the woods but just have never found the time to do so. I loved being in nature, having time to meditate and think as I enjoyed all that God had to offer through his wilderness. Maybe next year I will get back out there but until then I wish the best of luck to all the hunters and be safe.

On another note, we often go through life doing things that we love and a lot of the time we don't know if we are having an impact or not. So when we get some validation that our hard work is paying dividends it really is rewarding. One of the things that I have always loved about coaching and now teaching, is hearing players or parents say that I have had a positive influence on them or their child. It makes the long hours and hard work and sacrifices that I and my family have made worth it. That may sound a little selfish or egotistical but I think we all like to get that "stamp of approval" from others. I had one such incident tonight. It actually caught me off guard a little. I ran into a parent of one of my students and struck up a conversation with them. As we were talking about how their child was doing in school and how much I enjoyed having her in class the mother of my student says "she loves having you for a teacher." She went on to say that her daughter, in past years hasn't always been excited about going to school but this year she wants to go to school. I have to admit, it made my day. Today was a bit of a rough day at school. A few of my students just didn't want to follow directions and work together in groups and were really making the day a not so pleasant one. We plugged away and got through the day, but it was exhausting. Then, in the parking lot of a gas station, in a small moment of time, my day was redeemed by one mother's story of her child's desire to come to school every day. What a rush that story gave me. It makes me almost wish we had school tomorrow. But, I will take the day off.

I am excited for my day off tomorrow, though I am going to be pretty busy. My day will probably start in my classroom (I can get a lot of work done in an hour or two when I don't have any kids) before heading to Pinckney for a Turkey Bowl wrap-up meeting. I will get a "small dose" of my friends and then I will head back to Lansing/Okemos area to do some shopping for a couple of cool little buds of mine. Then on to their birthday party. Leo and Shaun are two special kids. They were foster kids of ours for almost a year and a half. Their mom has been great about keeping us involved in their lives since they went back home and I am forever grateful to her for it. It is awesome to see how those two boys have grown and matured since they lived with us. It is a true success story of foster care.

So, despite the fact that I feel like crap tonight with this head cold, I am feeling extremely blessed. I have a great job in a good school, with an awesome group of coworkers, and 19 wonderful students. I have an amazing family and the best extended family through all of the foster care connections we have made. I am loving life and it's only 4 days till basketball season! God is good!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

College basketball

I love watching college basketball. Tonight was a great night for college basketball. Four of the top teams in the nation are in action against each other. I watched the entire Michigan St./Kentucky game and have been watching bits and pieces of the Duke/Kansas game. It almost feels like March. The talent on the floor in Chicago tonight has been impressive. I think the big difference in the MSU/Kentucky game was the experience of Michigan St.. They played a very good game from start to finish. They never went on a sustained drought and were able to fend off or answer the runs of Kentucky. Izzo has this team already in midseason form. I liked the fact that they were running the floor every chance they got. The first few minutes of the game State's experience was evident and Kentucky's inexperience was probably even more evident. Regardless of what school you root for one thing is certain, the Big Ten is going to be the best league in the nation this year and the battle for the Big Ten Championship is going to be a great one. MSU, UM, Ohio St., Indiana and Wisconsin are all going to be good teams I think. The eventual champion may end up with 4 or 5 losses. Then when it comes to the Big Dance in March it is even going to get better. Kentucky is only going to get better, as will Kansas. Both of those teams are so young right now. This year's college basketball season is here and it is going to be a great one!

And, closer to home, high school girls basketball started yesterday and Monday boys season starts. I can't wait for practice to start. I love coaching and I am ready to go. It's going to be a good year!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. A day we recognize all of those that have sacrificed of themselves to protect this wonderful country that we live in. All of the men and women in the history of this great nation that have enlisted in the armed services, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, have put our freedom ahead of their own. They weren't free to go and see their loved ones whenever they wanted to, they weren't free to do what they wanted to. They sacrificed so that we could see our loved ones and do the things we want to do. We all owe them a thank you that can't be expressed in mere words. Our government has set aside this day to remember and honor all of them but they deserve more than a day. A day is not enough. So I want everyone that reads this to join me in being more intentional about thinking of all these men and women whenever we hear the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. Don't just sing or say the words out of habit or some sort of sense of obligation. Do it to honor those that have served and those that currently serve. Do it with a grateful heart. Lastly, never forget that their sacrifice was for you.

To all the veterans I want to extend my deepest, heartfelt gratitude to you for the sacrifice's that you have made so that I can continue to live free. I can never express with words how much your sacrifice means to me.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Impressed and thankful

I was extremely impressed today with the turnout for the sports boosters apple pie making event. The middle school was swarming with workers like it was a beehive. Everyone doing there small part to make something like 2500 apple pies in what had to be world record time. It was amazing. There were volunteers of all different ages and even some that really didn't have much of a connection to our school or sports programs. My son Logan and I even helped out for a little while. I must say I think I was getting pretty good at rolling out dough balls to make the crust. The first one took me a little while but I got the hang of it. Logan was running around helping with what he could too. It was a fun. What a great organization! The people behind this event, some who I am sure I am not even aware of, should be commended for what they do. I am sure I would miss some if I tried to mention them by name so I won't try. I do want to thank all of them though for all of their hard work to help support all of our athletic programs here in St. Louis.

Thank you St. Louis Sports Boosters!

Go Sharks!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Overwhelmed and the organizational guru

How often do you feel overwhelmed? What do you do when you are overwhelmed? What does it even mean to be overwhelmed?

These questions seem to be coming up a bit lately. Some days, I admit, I feel overwhelmed. I get home from school and realize, there is work to be done in the house, in the yard, in the garage, and so on. Then there is the assignment(s) due for my masters class, is there a meeting or class I need to go to, what are the kids doing, do they need to be somewhere...... It just keeps going. Life has a way of bogging us down before we realize what is happening. But where do you cut back, what is gonna give? That is the tough question. Many people ask my wife and I how we do all the things we do. It all comes down to one word:


My wife is the organizational guru in our family. She keeps us all in line as to where we need to go, what needs to be done, and all that stuff rich guys pay personal assistants to do for them. My wife is way underpaid, because I am not one of those rich guys. And I definitely don't make it easy for her. But she still makes things work. I wonder if she thinks I just throw stuff at her to see if she can handle it. That is not the way it is, I just tend to forget what I have told her and what I haven't. (I am getting better though.)

I love my wife and I really don't think I could survive without her. We joke about that a lot but it is weeks like this week that make me realize it is a fact. Heaven forbid anything were to happen to her, my kids and I would probably be in a world of hurt. So honey, if you're reading this, and I am sure you are, I love you and thank you for keeping me in line and headed to where I need to be going.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


One thing that I have struggled with since starting this blogging thing is remembering what I have already blogged about. When I am deciding what to write about, I sometimes feel like I have already written about whatever it is that I am contemplating. I am too lazy to look back through most nights and that is the case tonight. I don't know if I have talked about the finality of adoption before tonight or not but if so, then I am sorry, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

Today I read, with great joy, that some friends of mine had their adoption finalized. It takes me back to when Nicole and I stood before Judge Arnold in Ithaca and Aggie and Gwen became official, legal members of our family. What a joyful and exciting day. I can imagine how Lori and Jean feel today as they reached that finality in the adoption process. I love the definition of finality that I found when I was checking the spelling. The definition on Google was "the fact or impression of being an irreversible ending." Irreversible, they are officially family. Though they were family from the minute they came into our homes, there is an overwhelming joy that comes over an adoptive parent when it comes to that irreversible ending. I know, I cried a lot that day in the courtroom. I celebrate with you tonight Lori and Jean, congratulations.

There is another feeling that is weighing on me tonight though. It is for the families that are waiting for their adoptions to be finalized. We are there ourselves. We kind of know the timeline for ours, as others do, and that makes it easier. But there are others who have no idea when finality will be reached. For some, they wait, not even knowing when they will see their kids. Government red tape, regulations, and bureaucracy stand in the way. Even though all of these things are preventing the joyous occasion they wait patiently, trusting that God is in control and His plan is unfolding in His time. I pray for them and their children.

Adoption is a wonderful experience and I encourage everyone who knows someone going through adoption or that has recently adopted, lift them up in prayer. Encourage them when you see them, it isn't always easy. And probably most importantly, welcome the newest family members the way you would a biological member of the family, because as far as the adoptive parent is concerned, they are biological.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Writing is therapy.

"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation." - Graham Greene

I found this quote and thought it was fitting for this past month or so. That said, I am going to sit tonight out. I am exhausted, and I hear my bed calling my name.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beaner and Louie

My youngest two sisters might try to kill me for this post but I think I can still take them.

Beaner and Louie are my youngest sisters. When we were younger I gave all 4 of my sisters nicknames. They may not really like them but they are stuck with them, at least for as long as I can remember what they are, Beaner and Louie are twins and I don't get to see much of them together. Beaner, better known as Anna Lee, lives in Illinois and doesn't get home too often. Louie, aka Lois, lives a lot closer, (about 15-20 minutes away) and I see her quite often. Well Anna's work involves a lot of traveling throughout the country and it just so happened that she had to come to Michigan for work this week. So tonight, the two of them, Lois's kids, and my parents all came over for dinner. In the great Koutz tradition it was pizza and chips for dinner. Then a challenging game of Apples to Apples. Challenging due to little ones interrupting, wanting to play, and just making it difficult to hear each other. But that is pretty much the norm when we get together. I love having my family over. It is always a good time. We joke, and kid, and harass each other about anything and everything, but above all there is just an abundance of love when we are all together. I am so blessed to have a great family. So I would never be forgiven if I didn't mention the missing members Festus and Zit. For those of you who don't know, that would be Sarah and Elizabeth. We missed you tonight but look forward to Christmas when we will all be together.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

An open conversation with God.

Prayer has been a big topic lately in many areas of my life. This past summer we had a sermon series on prayer at my church. Very good one too. Then I came across an article earlier this fall about prayer. Today the minister at my church started another series on prayer. Unfortunately I missed it. I went to church with my friends in Pinckney and probably not by chance the sermon was on prayer. I will be very open, my prayer life is not what it should be, but I imagine a lot of us can say that. I see a lot of requests for prayer on Facebook, the passing of loved ones, illnesses, injuries, and life decisions. I will usually pray for this specific thing right away and post a quick comment to let that person know I am thinking about them. But then I go about my day or night and sometimes I forget about it. I try not to but it happens and I apologize for that. I do get reminded though when someone else posts and I get an alert on my phone. I try to say a little prayer for that situation again. These prayers are all good and I am sure they help but that isn't enough. I am not really being intimate with my maker. The minister I heard this morning talked about praying the Psalms. It is a really great idea. I think I may try to do this occasionally. I am also going to try and be more intentional in my prayer life. Praying for wisdom, praying for my wife and kids, praying for all of the things that I have been neglecting in my prayer life for far too long. Most importantly though praying for and working at a more open conversation with God. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Turkey Bowl 2013

What a great day!

Today was Turkey Bowl 2013! For those of you who don't know the Turkey Bowl is a charity flag football tournament in Pinckney. They raise money and collect canned good to donate meals to needy families. I have helped with this tournament for 3 years. The first year I officiated, last year I did a lot of different things (I was coming off knee surgery and couldn't officiate), and this year I was the football coordinator. I am not sure why they asked me to do it but they did. I must have had sucker written across my head or something. So I had a lot of pressure this year to handle this since I live almost 2 hours from Pinckney and couldn't be at meetings or look at things in person. There were a lot of phone and email conversations the past couple of months and one meeting at a kids playscape place call the Treehouse before this week to try and get things organized and planned. Things were going good until we got the forecast for the week. Rain, rain and more rain was predicted. So, now we needed a plan B. Thanks to the athletic director at Pinckney High School, which won their first ever playoff came last night (Congratulations Pirates!), we were able to use their fabulous stadium and practice field instead of the soccer fields we have usually used. The rain was annoying all day but not terrible. It was cold and windy for the majority of the day too. In spite of the rain, cold, and wind the tournament went great. I think everyone had fun and there were only minor issues throughout the day and only minor injuries. The amazing thing today though was the 65 year old man playing with a bunch of guys that were basically his grand kids ages. He was their QB and he was actually really good. His team ended up finishing second in the adult male division. I give that man props for what he was doing today. He was unbelievable. We had a good turnout and I am very pleased with how things went. I do want to give a shout out to the two ladies who have got me involved in this, Melissa Bolen and Tricia Richardson. These two ladies have done so much with the Turkey Bowl and putting it on every year. They are a great team to work with. Tricia is the head honcho basically. She just does an amazing job running this event!! Thank you Tricia for letting me heave a part in this great event. And then there is Melissa. She is probably my best friend that I am not married to. We have known each other since high school, when we met at a summer camp program at Kentucky Christian College. We discovered we were both from Michigan and became friends and stayed in touch for all of these years. It was her idea for me to come down 2 years ago and help officiate the games. Little did I know that I would be getting roped into a yearly thing when I said okay. Of course, I don't think she did either. I love it though. I look forward now to coming down for the weekend and camping out on Melissa and her husband Ralph's couch, hanging out with them and their 2 sweet girls, and working the Turkey Bowl with a great team of volunteers. So Tricia and Melissa, props to you for your dedication to this awesome event and thank you for your letting me be a part of it and finally I would prefer larger doses, these small ones are just not enough! (inside joke)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Live from Pinckney, Michigan....this is 40!!

So I am now 40 years old. It really doesn't feel in different, but it certainly sounds different. I am not sure that I really like saying I am 40. I have had some pretty funny comments directed at me today, but the best one was my dad's. He posted this on Facebook:

"Happy birthday to my favorite son. So proud of who you've become. Just wish it hadn't taken you 40 years to get there."

Definitely the best comment I received so far today. I celebrated with my wife and kids with brunch at a local restaurant, after doing report cards in the morning. Then I traveled to my friend's house in Pinckney, where I am at now. This has become my home base the first weekend in November the past couple of years so that I can help out at the Turkey Bowl. The Turkey Bowl is a charity flag football tournament that raises money and collects can goods to supply needy families with a Thanksgiving meal. It is a lot of fun and the bonus is that I get to see my friend and her family. 

Keeping it short tonight so....

In closing, I want to thank everyone that has wished me well today. I am truly blessed with many wonderful friends and family.  

One last thing....


Thursday, October 31, 2013

I made it!

31 days, 31 posts, I did it!

This has been a challenge some days and other days it has been easy. Regardless, this challenge has been worth it. I have learned some things about myself. It has been therapeutic, and relaxing at times. The blogging has brought back some memories and created some new ones. As I sit hear tonight, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I reflect back over the past month and the stories, thoughts, reflections, and other things that I have shared with anyone wanting to spend a few moments reading them. This month, though extremely busy has given me a new look on things. The medium of blogging is really an interesting avenue to speak to others. I really don't have much of an idea of who is reading what I am writing. Some people have encouraged me with their compliments and "likes" and I thank you for those. I have a few people who have even messaged me when it has gotten late and they haven't seen the blog yet. It is kind of a thrill to know that other people are wanting to know what I have to say. I really don't think that I have anything all that important to share, but I am willing to share it. And that is the important thing. Willingness. I want to challenge anyone reading this blog to give blogging a try. Maybe you start by just writing and not publishing it to the web or maybe you just dive in and go for it. Whatever your comfortable with but I want you to try it. Do it once a week or maybe even once a month. I was asked this week whether I was going to continue after tonight's post or if I was going to stop once I met the challenge. I don't know if I will blog every night going forward but I know that I will continue to blog. I don't want to stop. It has become a new outlet for me. I will share a little secret with you. What I publish is not always what I originally write. I find it helps to vent in my writing then delete it and write about something else. It helps me to cool down, so to speak.

So I have completed the challenge successfully, so now I need a new goal. I haven't decided on one as of yet, but I have some ideas in the works. I will just have to think them over a bit before deciding. I have a little trip in the plans this weekend so I will have time to think while driving.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

30 for 30

Not only is it the number of days that I have blogged but it is a pretty good show on the ESPN family of networks. I haven't watched a lot of them but a couple I have seen were pretty good.

So the goal is really close, so close I can taste it, wait that is just the donuts and cider all of us 2nd grade peeps at CK are going to be indulging in tomorrow morning. I love my fellow 2nd grade teachers. They have this brilliant tradition, not sure how old it is, to have donuts and cider for our treat on Halloween instead of having a bunch of parents volunteer to bring in a bunch of different things. It makes it really easy and stress free. Parents don't have to scramble to worry about a treat when they are trying to get costumes squared away and making sure lunches are packed, backpacks are set, and all those other things parents with 2nd graders worry about. Plus, I love donuts!! Anyway, today and tomorrow and I will have met my goal. A little preview of tomorrow's blog: it will be a reflection on the month.

Today, I want to send a big shout out to all of the parents of my students who came to parent teacher conferences this week. 17 of the 19 students had a parent or parents attend. I even had a grandma come with a mom. All of my conferences were positive and productive. I am blessed to have some really good parents in my class. Like my previous post about the role of parents talked about, the role they play is so important and I feel really good about what we can accomplish together for their children this year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Three left and a word or two of caution

Three posts left to write. Tonight I am blogging from my iPad. Not as easy to type on, but it works. So please forgive any typos.

Tonight I wanted to write about something that is bothering me but I have decided that it would not be productive. This led me to think about something my principal mentioned in an email a few days ago and then in his blog. He also mentioned it a few weeks ago. He talked about resting on things before sending them or posting them. This is a practice that I regularly follow. Sometimes I don't always do that with my mouth though. In todays digital world it is more important than ever to police ourselves and what we are putting out into the world wide web. What. Some people fail to realize is that once something is out there it is always out there. You may be able to hide it from the general public, but it still exists. So, tonight I decided to wait and hold off on the original topic at least for now. I may come back to the topic down the road somewhere but the temperature needs to subside. 

I do want to leave you with a warning, especially to my younger readers. 

Think twice, maybe three times, before you post anything online or send that text or email. Reread everything before pushing send or post. The extra few moments it takes to do that can save you from the possible repercussions or effects of a mistake. 

You may have the opinion that what others think doesn't matter but the 'others' that see what you send or post may be that person that you are sitting across from in an interview or someone else in a position that affects your future. The old saying better safe than sorry really applies. A good rule that I have used is "What would my mother say or think about this?"

Monday, October 28, 2013

And then it was 4

4 left to make it to 31.

Today there was no school for the kids so they stayed at home and gutted the pumpkins they got from Grandpa Joe. They are now all set for carving. Now we just have to try and squeeze that in sometime before Thursday. Might be a late night or two this week. We might have been able to fit it in today except that I had parent-teacher conferences and then had to turn in all the football gear afterwards.

Speaking of parent-teacher conferences my wife went to Aggie's and Logan's and got overall good reports for both. I was glad to hear that. Will find out about Gwen tomorrow or Wednesday. And Nicole hopes to make it to the high school to check on Taylor's grades. I am proud of all my kids and how well they are doing.

My parent-teacher conferences went really well. All those scheduled showed up and the conversations were very positive and productive. It is awesome to see parents take an active interest in the child's education. Which brings me to the subject of tonight's blog, a parent's role in education.

Now I don't profess to be an expert in any way, shape, or form. I am a 2nd year teacher, the son of an educator, and a parent. I don't proclaim to have all the answers and I know that I have a lot to learn about being a great teacher. So what am I saying? I am saying that I care deeply about all of the students in my classroom and because of that I want to talk a bit about the role of the parent in their child's education.

Parents are the key to any successful educational partnership, and that is what it should be, a partnership. A partnership between the teacher, the school, the student, and the parent. All of these players have a role and when one of them isn't fulfilling that role the outcomes won't be as good as they should be. I think parents play the most important role in the partnership though. The parent needs to be encouraging, supportive, firm, stubborn, and loving (among other things) all at the same time. The parent needs to encourage their child to be the best they can be, to try hard, to go to school, to do their work, and so on. The parent needs to support their child whether the grades are good or not so good, in the good times, and the bad, when the child is right and even when the child is wrong. Children need to know that their parents are going to be there for them. Support can be allowing the child to endure the consequences of their actions but being there on the other side. Parents need to be firm and stubborn when the child doesn't want to study or do their homework, or doesn't want to go to school. The parent needs to above all else love their child. Students are going to have times of struggle, times of frustration, that is when they need love the most. When they are hurting they need that hug to let them know it's going to be okay.

I am blessed with some really great parents in my classroom this year. Their desire for what is best for their child rang loud and clear today. I want to thank all of my parents for all that they do for their kids, and especially for allowing me to be a part of their lives and their educational journey. Thank you!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

5 to go

Including tonight's post, I only have 5 posts to write to reach my goal of blogging every day this month. There is one negative to this realization though. There are only 5 days left to my 30s. On Friday, I turn 40. I have dreaded this for quite awhile and for the past few weeks, I have tried not to think about it too much. I really don't know what the big deal is, but for some reason I am not looking forward to turning 40.

So then today, to make me feel worse, I discovered that I have ruined a planned surprise party my wife was planning. Evidently she had forgotten that I am headed out of town this coming weekend for a flag football tournament. This has become a yearly trip for me on the first weekend in November but she was thinking that it was the following weekend not this weekend. I feel bad about it, not about the party, because I think I have told her several times in the past I didn't plan to do anything for my 40th, but because I know how she works at planning things and she probably has spent quite a bit of time working on this.  So I am sorry sweetheart. Maybe you can save your ideas for when I turn 50.

So there won't be any big doings for my 40th, just a nice breakfast or lunch with the wife and kids before I head out of town and some last minute helping with prepping for Saturdays Turkey Bowl. And that is all fine with me, it is really just another day.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Awed and amazed

I am continually awed and amazed by the things I see and hear being a foster parent. Last night we had our 2 little ones' sister and brother stay with us. They are being adopted by Nicole's "foster" brother and his wife. They have had quite a road this past year plus as they were removed from their home placed into foster care and now are finally in their forever home. The journey has been full of love but it is still a hard journey for kids to be on. The constant not knowing where or when they are going or where they are going to end up, and so on. It is sad that they have to go through this, but I strongly believe that it all happens for a reason. And this weekend M made a comment to me, it wasn't anything profound or off the wall, she just simply said my Mom Laura, and I don't even remember the rest of what she was saying. It just melted my heart. Then a little while later, B said something like "not you Matt, my dad Matt." To see this two children finally start to get some finalization to this process and be at peace with it and actually proud of it makes all the crap that we go through as foster parents, under the microscope of the state, worth it. It may not seem like it on certain days but these moments, even when they aren't "my kids" remind me why Nicole and I got into this in the first place. We have been privileged to have 14 children come through our home and we have adopted 2 of them and are in the process of adopting 2 others and we have even been able to help a couple we love become parents of two special kids. I am so blessed for all of this. God is good!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The heat is on....

Well I broke down tonight and turned the heat on in our house. My goal every year is to not turn it on until November 1st. I almost made it this year. Today when I got home from getting finger printed for our adoption and picking up B and E (our foster children's siblings) I vacuumed out all of the registers and got everything set to turn on the heat, except the furnace filter. I didn't have an extra filter so I had to go to Wally World after the football game to get one. I picked one up and took it home, put it in and turned on the beast. As I sit here I can hear it roaring through the door.

I want to focus the rest of my blog tonight on some good men in my community. I have had the privilege of learning from some of these guys over the last 3 years and tonight I watched as they led their boys in their final game of their season. Three years ago when I started helping coach Logan's football team I didn't know a whole lot about coaching/teaching football. These guys have started to build a program that encompasses all of the levels of play in the community, from flag on up to varsity. And even though the record was not really a great one, I see a lot of growth and a lot of positive things happening in the St. Louis football program. Aaron, Mike, Phil, Ed, Donnie, and the rest of the coaching staff, thank you for what you have done, are doing, and are going to continue to do for the football program here in St. Louis. Great job this year and I know that we are only going to continue to get better as we move forward.

Go Sharks!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A little late

Well, again it is technically tomorrow but I am still considering this Thursday's blog because I haven't made it to bed yet.

One of the things that I look forward to each year (this is actually only the 3rd year) is the first weekend in November. See on that weekend I go to my best friend's house in Pinckney to help her and a group of people put on a charity flag football tournament. It started with me officiating games the first year I helped but then last year I had to change roles due to having had knee surgery last July. Then this year they put me in charge of the football side of things. So tonight I was putting the finishing touches (I think) on the brackets and schedules. It is looking like next Saturday is going to be a good day. We have approximately 25 teams that will be participating in 3 separate divisions (Adult Men, Adult Coed, and High School) throughout the day. The money raised goes to provide Thanksgiving meals to needy families in the Pinckney community. It is a lot of fun and the bonus is I get to hang out with my friend and her family.

Update on the phone situation:

I received the Galaxy S4 that I agreed to today and my wonderful wife took it to MP to get it set up and my contacts and stuff transferred over. I am happy that I now have the phone that I was told I would get originally but I am disappointed in the phone. It is not the G. I am sure I will be fine with it after I use it awhile but I don't like it nearly as well as I did the G when I first got it. I hope that I learn to like it but we will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Threats and magic words

Let me preface this by saying that I don't necessarily condone making threats but sometimes it is needed. As some of my readers may know, I smashed the screen on my phone yesterday at some point. So last night I drove to the cell phone store in Mt. Pleasant to do an insurance claim. I was helped by a very nice and professional young man. We spent several minutes over 2 separate phone calls, they hung up on him once, dealing with the company that handles the insurance claims for my carrier. The problem was that they could not replace my LG Optimus G due to it not being in stock and LG is evidently not making anymore. So they wanted to replace my phone with a inferior product. I was not interested in an inferior product if I had to pay my full deductible. Finally after talking to 2 different ladies myself I agreed to a Samsung S 4 in place of my G. I was not 100% satisfied with the deal but thought it was probably the best deal I could make sense they weren't willing to budge on the deductible. So today when my wife opened the box and found a Motorola Photon, which I specifically told the lady I did not want, I was not happy. I called and the lady said she was sorry and to go to the store and the store would take care of it for me. I was hesitant but she assured me it would be okay. I went back up to MP tonight and we called the company again the sweet young lady who helped me tonight was met with resistance to getting the situation resolved and they hung up on her. So we called them back and she gave the phone to me when they weren't willing to make things right. I explained the situation to the lady on the other end quite bluntly and told her that they would be sending me the phone that was agreed upon. She seemed like she was going to take care of it till I mentioned that I felt like I might need to call the Better Business Bureau. She quickly said she could no longer help me, when I questioned as to why she said because I said Better Business Bureau. I thought oh, those must be the magic words. She said she needed to transfer me to someone else. Okay, I can complain to them to then I thought. She came back on and introduced me to another lady. This lady identified herself as the CEO, wow, those were some magic words. So this lady was very apologetic and was glad to be able to take care of my situation. The whole tone was different than what I and the cell provider employees had experienced. Well in the end they are sending me the S4 and it should be her tomorrow. I made her say it a couple of times and I spoke loud enough everyone in the store knew what was taking place. (The store is pretty small) She also gave me her name and a phone number and said that she is the only one by that name at the company and that I should ask for her by name if I ever need to call back. So we will see if I get the correct phone tomorrow or not. I have not ruled out calling the BBB at this point. But I was left with a question I have had for years. How do educated people not know that MI is Michigan not Missouri?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Coloring Song

Do you ever have random songs pop into your head at odd moments? It happens to me all the time. My students probably think I am weird because I will sometimes start singing the song that pops in my head. Today, while my students were working hard on a graphing assignment I was sitting at my desk observing them working together one of them said "red is the color...." I don't remember what she said after that, she was talking to her partner, but I heard those first 4 words and it immediately brought to mind a song from my younger years. It was a song that was introduced to me by my youth minister at the time. Chris is probably one of the wisest men I know. He introduced me to the Christian rock band Petra. I loved them from the first time I heard them in his living room. One of my favorite songs of theirs is "The Coloring Song." It starts with that line "Red is the color..." so I guess it was a natural impulse, if there is such a thing, but the song has stuck with me the rest of the day. I am not going to go to into some big explanation of why I love this song but I want you to check it out if you aren't familiar with it and if you are familiar with it listen to it too. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pictures in the Sky

Have you ever just stared in awe at the sunset or sunrise, or a cloud formation that catches your attention? Sometimes I find myself distracted while driving by some scene played out above me. A lot of the time it comes at a time of stress and it helps to ease my mind. Other times it is just a nice quick reminder of how small I really am. One of my favorite songs of my favorite song writer is called "Pictures in the Sky." Rich Mullins wrote some of the most honest and impactful lyrics in contemporary Christian music. I had the privilege of meeting him when I was probably 11 or 12 years old. I talked with him a few times over the next several years. I remember one conversation in regards to the song "Pictures in the Sky." We were sitting on a picnic table at Rock Lake Christian Assembly one summer in the late 1980s. Here's my account to the best of my recollection. He had done a concert the night before and I asked him why he hadn't sang the song. And what he told me was really quite funny. He said, because I forgot how to play it. And he started laughing. I couldn't believe it. How do you forget to play a song you wrote? I was young and a bit naive. It is my favorite memory of Rich. See, I looked up to Rich and thought he was almost perfect. It was that conversation that made me realize he was just a normal man with an incredible gift. We all have incredible gifts. It is our job to find those gifts, foster them, make them grow, and use them for our Lord and Savior. I love just sitting and listening to Rich's music. Rich passed away in an automobile accident in 1997. But the legacy that he left in his music, his lyrics, and the other wonderful things that he had his hand in lives on. Another one of his songs talks about "Who God is Gonna Use" and it speaks to the fact that God can use anyone at anytime. I know God has a purpose for you, just as He does me. I just don't know that I really know what that purpose is sometimes though.

So back to the title of tonight's blog, here is a video of Rich's song "Pictures in the Sky"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I survived

Well I survived another weekend without my wife. The best part, no trips to the emergency room, urgent care, or the vet. No one even got hurt. The only problem, due to my success I am sure she won't be cancelling plans to take another trip in January. I guess I will have another weekend of being a single dad. I guess that will be okay. I am proud of her and all that she does with the VFW. The weekend was actually a lot of fun. I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. My two youngest and I spent a lot of time in my rocking chair cuddling. It was rare that I didn't have one of them on my lap while watching the various ball games. Even Gwen spent some time cuddling with me. We watched a movie together and we had my parents and one of my sisters and her kids over for lunch, and we enjoyed the day together at church today. Don't get me wrong, I missed my wife. I don't sleep well when she is gone. I think it is because I am so afraid that I will not hear something, like E crying, or M falling out of bed or getting into something he shouldn't. Whatever it is I am always really tired by the time she gets home. Today I am actually doing better than normal, thanks to a nice nap this afternoon. Then when Nicole did get home she brought me some nice goodies. She brought me a chocolate rat. It was actually a extremely rich brownie covered in milk chocolate, it had almonds for ears and a cherry stem tail. It was delicious. I am actually finishing it right now. It was too rich to eat all at once. The other thing she brought me was a four back of sodas. As some people know I love classic sodas, especially root beers. One of my favorites from my youth is Sioux City Sarsaparilla. In the four pack was one of those, a Stewart's Root Beer, a Stewart's Orange Cream, and a Cherrywine. I am going to crack one open now, I am just not sure which to start with. Thanks honey.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tigers Thoughts

Okay, so technically it is the 20th already, but I am counting this as my post for the 19th. If you don't agree, too bad, get over it, my blog, my rules.

So the Tigers blow another game and therefore their season. A season full of inconsistencies. Some people will blame the manager, some the star players that didn't perform to their potential or the price of their salary, but you can't put the blame in anyone specific place. It was a lot of things that compounded themselves and everything finally just caught up to them.

It goes back to the last off-season when not enough was done to shore up the back end of the bullpen. Too much hope was put in Rondon being the man, which didn't pan out. There was never a plan B and that was a mistake. That one mistake was the beginning. All season long there were issues with the bullpen. Moving Benoit in to the closer's role did help to calm things but now there was no solid 8th inning guy.

Leyland's managing cost us some games throughout the season. I have always thought that he is a decent manager, I don't really like him, but he is a proven winner. I think though that his weakness is his handling of a pitching staff. He is terrible at it. So he is really dependent on having a good pitching coach and we really don't have a good pitching coach. Which leads me to the hitting coaches. Our hitting has been up and down all year. You expect there to be slumps and hot streaks but I think there was more than the normal this year. The lineup that the Tigers has should be able to withstand those downs but there were too many games where there was simply no offensive production whatsoever.

So what I think needs to happen is to overhaul the coaching staff completely. I would be glad to see a whole new staff by the start of spring training. The next thing that has to be addressed is the bullpen. The closer role has to be decided and then figure out the set up man. After those two positions are set you can fill in the missing pieces with guys that are going to throw strikes. Too many times this year a guy comes in to the game and walks the first batter they faced. A relief pitcher has to throw strikes, plain and simple.

Finally, they need to figure out left field and the lead off spot. Do they go after a left fielder or go with what they have. I think they could stand pat with the position players they have now and save the money to go after the bull pen needs and resigning any position players they need to keep. I am just going to throw out there what I would like to see for next years opening day line-up.

1. Iglesias - SS This kid is going to be special. The only thing he lacks is power and that may come.
2. Hunter - RF The perfect #2 hitter
3. Cabrera - 3B If he gets healthy this off season he is a threat for another MVP season
4. Martinez - DH This guy just hits, he had a slow start after a year off but he showed his true colors in the end
5. Fielder - 1B He has had a rough year on and off the field but he will be back to himself next year
6. Peralta - LF He needs to go play some winter ball and work on his outfield defense but he could be a good serviceable OF and his bat is a proven commodity.
7. Avila or Pena - C I like both of these guys, the key is which one is going to hit, this may be a spot where you play the match ups or it depends on who is pitching.
8. Infante - 2B The DP combo of I & I is going to remind everyone of Trammell and Whitaker
9. Jackson - CF I like having a 2nd leadoff hitter in the 9 hole. He showed this postseason he does better with less pressure, he could become the best #9 hitter in the league.

The next season has really begun already for the Tigers. Dombrowski has his work cut out for him but he has done a good job for the most part in his time in Detroit and I don't expect anything less this year. I just hope he starts with the coaching staff. We will have to wait and see.

Friday, October 18, 2013

As it comes to a close.....

Tomorrow is my 5th grade football teams last game. It has been a good season, long, but good. As it comes to a close I look back to where we were in August and see where we are now and I am pleased. We have come a long way these past couple of months. At the 5th grade level it really isn't about wins and losses, though we all like to win, but rather, about getting better. One of my assistants got us to start talking about working towards "Friday night lights" very early in the year and that was kind of my mind set all season long. It is about getting better each and every day, whether it was practice or a game. Our record may not be great but we have played hard each week, we have worked hard in practice, some days more than others, and we have gotten better. I can't say that I am disappointed that the season is going to be over, 7 games is a lot of football for these young men and lady. Focus has been a constant battle and with age that should improve. My hope for tomorrow is that we come out fighting and we don't stop till the last whistle blows. Win or lose, it doesn't matter. I count this season as a success. My players are not just better football players today than when we started in August but they are better kids. See football, and really all team sports, are not just about the sport, they are about life. Team sports teach participants a lot about what life is really like. We constantly talk to our players about that and how the lessons we learn on the football field, basketball court, or baseball field don't just stay there, they go with us throughout our entire lives. 

So, 5th grade Sharks, go get 'em, I am proud of you!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Single dad..........again

Well for the 2nd time this month I have become a single dad. Nicole and Taylor left this morning for the VFW Big Ten Conference over in the Chicago area. They will be there till Sunday. So the other 5 kids and I are stuck together for the weekend. Nicole leaves us quite a few times throughout the year to tend to her VFW responsibilities and we are okay with that. We support her and the phenomenal work that she does with that organization. It usually goes pretty good when she is gone, due to some great friends and family that step up and help me out. Though this past year or so has had some interesting situations take place while she has been gone. One trip Aggie ended up breaking her thumb in a little wrestling match with her siblings. Then this summer, while she was in Kentucky, the family dog slipped his collar and got hit by our neighbor. Morris only suffered a broken foot and has recovered very nicely, as did Aggie, so really they weren't major incidents, no one died on my watch. So tonight went well, had all the kids in bed by 9:15 and I am sitting watching the Tigers game and doing a little writing.

Now I joke about the single dad bit, it really isn't that bad. We do things that mom wouldn't let us do and we watch movies that mom doesn't like very well and won't watch with us when she is home, and basically just pretend mom doesn't exist for the weekend. It can be a lot of fun. Of course that means Sunday we have to scramble to get the house back together and picked up a bit before she gets home so we don't get in too much trouble. Might be interesting this weekend though. This is Taylor's first trip for a whole weekend and I typically get a lot of help from her when mom is gone so hopefully we survive. Pray for my kids they might need it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Long day

Today seems to have been an extremely long day, and I didn't even teach today. I took a day off from school today to take our foster children to Lansing for allergy testing with Nicole. We didn't have to leave till about 8:30, and I had an IEP scheduled for 7:30 so I was able to go to that. The day didn't start out the greatest, I got almost to the door at school around 7, only to realize I didn't have my school keys. So Gwen and I went the big long drive back to the house to get them (approximately 3 blocks). We got back to school and then as I was going over things with my sub I knocked my favorite Mickey Mouse coffee mug onto the floor breaking it beyond repair. This day was not shaping up too well. Well the IEP was quick and we got headed out on time for Lansing. We got to the doctor's on time too. So then allergy testing commenced and things got pretty difficult. For a 2 year old M is extremely strong, or as an almost 40 yr old this dad is getting weak. So we battled that for about 10-15 minutes. He actually did a lot better than I expected. E must have done okay too, I didn't hear too much screaming from her room. Both made out pretty well. E has some fish/shellfish/shrimp allergy issues and M seems to be just environmental/seasonal as he didn't test positive for anything specific but the doctor wants him to start on Zyrtec, and E too. So not too bad. Then we took them shopping and got M a tractor and E a new baby. They picked them out. We got some lunch and headed home. Nicole then made the brilliant decision that M needed a haircut. Even though when she took him the last time it took 3 trips to get the haircut completed. He doesn't like getting his haircut and won't sit still. Nicole's rationale for doing this today, "well you're with him today," referring to me. Great, I just went a couple rounds with him this morning getting testing done now you want me to battle a few more so he can get his haircut? Didn't seem like a great idea but I went anyway. Sure enough, battle royale ensued in the barber's chair. Basically I was done in by a 2 year old, though he is almost 3. We almost got through it but I needed to go pick up the kids from school so we decided to take a break and try to finish later. Good decision. After picking up the rest of the kids, getting Nicole on the road to her meeting in Westland (or wherever she was going tonight), we headed back to finish the haircut. I don't know what happened to M after the first go around but he was a totally different kid when we got back there. No kicking or screaming when I got him out of the car, he even said go see Kelly, as we walked to the door. He started playing with the toys as we waited our turn. He picked his toys help when it was his turn and walked, on his own to the chair. He waited for me to sit down, jumped up into my lap and sat pretty still and allowed Kelly to finish what she had started earlier in the afternoon. (Of course there was a 2nd Tootsie Roll Pop involved.) After all of this I still had to go to football practice. I was already exhausted. Regardless, I have made it through my day, quite tired, and the Tigers are winning, so it was a good day. Now if I can just stay awake long enough to finish watching the game.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Are you ever frustrated? I think everyone can say yes to that question. Well tonight, I am frustrated. I am frustrated with a lot of things but the big thing tonight is the school that I am getting my masters degree from. I am basically a couple of classes and my practicum shy of having my degree finished. I have been taking classes online at the university since 2009 and now they decide to change the whole set-up of the class. And basically with no warning. I got an email less than a week ago telling me of the change. I knew it was probably going to happen because my wife's classes had changed a couple of months ago, I just figured I would get a little more heads up. The new design is not user friendly at all. I can't find anything. It is like nothing I have ever used before. I spent almost an hour on the site tonight trying to figure out what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to do it. I am still not sure what my assignments are. I finally posted a comment, out of pure frustration that the set up was crazy and I was ready to quit. After posting it I logged off and started writing. A little therapy you might say. So after I post this I am going to have to get back on the site and see if I can't figure it out. So I apologize that tonight's blog post is short but I must figure this stupid site out.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Ads for haunted houses are popping up all over the place these days. Obviously due to Halloween is just around the corner. I guess I really never got into haunted houses. I went to a few over the years but they were never really my cup of tea. Scary movies were never really my thing either. I remember Freddy and Jason, I even read a couple of the Halloween books. I just never really was into that sort of thing I guess. Maybe I was a pansy and just didn't like being scared, I really don't know. I heard an ad on the radio today for a haunted house of some sort and I got to thinking. What scares me? What do I fear? For most of my family that I don't get to bugged or worried about things most of the time. But some things really get me. So I really started thinking tonight what am I scared of? I used to have a fear of speaking in front of people. I still get nervous sometimes, and I have been known to get pretty emotional when speaking to groups, but I am not afraid to get up and speak. Heights bother me, but I don't think that I am scared of heights. If I have to I will climb on a roof, or up a tree. I am not going to volunteer usually, but I am not really afraid to do it. My dad might differ since I made him do all the really high up painting this summer. I can't think of anything that I am actually fearful of, except one thing. It really isn't one thing but a kind of an all-encompassing thing. See I am afraid of that which can adversely affect my family that I have no control over. The attacks that come from other people, agencies, or elements that I can't see coming, have no way of stopping, and can't control. I like to have a sense that I have at least a little control over things in my life, but there are a lot of things that I have absolutely no control over. That is what scares me. These things require me to have faith and trust in other things. This is something that I have always struggled with. The helpless feeling that comes when you have no control of a situation, it makes me uneasy just thinking about it right now. When that feeling comes I try to think about a portion of Scripture that calms my spirit. 

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

The "them" refers to the nations that the nation of Israel will encounter as they enter into the Promised Land, but I think that we can apply that to the things that scare us in our lives today. We don't have to be afraid of anything. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV)

So what are you afraid of? Who or what do you put your trust in? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Psalm 150

One of my favorite chapters from the Bible is Psalm 150. I remember memorizing for camp as a youth. I don't think I can quote it word for word now but my favorite verse is verse 6. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." (NIV) Today we opened our service with this passage of Scripture. Praising my Creator is the best way to start out not just any week but any day. Unfortunately, and totally my fault, I don't start every day that way. Sometimes it is because I am running late, or I just can't stand the alarm, and continuously hit the snooze or whatever the reason they are all just excuses. There is no excuse that is good enough to allow me to forget to do the one thing that I was created for, praising Him. Tomorrow a friend of mine from high school's baby is going to be undergoing a pretty serious surgery. I don't know a ton of details but this little girl has gone through a lot in her very short life and the road ahead is not going to be an easy one. He posted an update earlier today asking for prayer for Grace. So please lift Grace and her family and the doctors and nurses up in prayer tonight, tomorrow, or whenever you feel led to. But also, I praise God for this precious little girl and for her mom and dad and the witness and example that they are. The story that they are going to be able to continue to share is a great one. We don't know how it is going to end but their faith and trust is amazing. Josh, thank you for your witness and your faith. I am praying for Grace, you and the rest of your family. Reach out to God and rest in the peace that only He can give.

Psalm 150
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A time for change...

So I have been sitting here for almost an hour trying to decide what to write about tonight. I have so many things going through my mind tonight and my emotions have been all over the place today. I want to go back to something I posted Friday night, I believe. It was inspired by some things I had read about adoption over the past week or so. It was a summation of my thoughts really on adoption, my family, and what I feel has been my calling. 

"Our children are not ours because they share our genes, or because a piece of paper says they are. They are ours because they are a part of our soul. It was not an accident that they came into our lives. It was God's design that led them home. It was Him who placed them in our soul even before they were born."

I have really been thinking about this a lot lately, with our impending adoption, and my two brother-in-laws and their families impending adoptions. These words describe exactly how I feel about my kids. I don't think of any of my kids any differently based on how they came to be my children. God brought them to me in His way, in His time. I love them all the same, they are my children. My wife and I have been called to be foster parents and we have loved the experience. We have had a lot of ups and downs but the experiences have been very rewarding. We have fostered 14 children since 2007, adopting 2 of those 14 so far, and if all things continue as they should we will be adopting the 2 we have now. This has led to many questions about whether we are done with foster care if the adoption does go through. Though we have never specifically sat down and discussed it to the point of saying yes or no I think in our minds we have. We have said it many times that yes we are done. Our license is good till August of 2014, so we basically have until then to change our mind. I am sure that we will ultimately have that discussion and decide if it is over or not. Personally, because I don't want to speak for Nicole, at this point I am done. We have been blessed with 14 of God's creations spending time in our home, and 4 of those will be with us forever. The other 10 will also be a part of our lives forever. Though we didn't have the best of relationships with some of them we still love them. They all have a special place in our hearts. But I am tired. I am tired of the system and it's hypocrisy. Our system is broke and it needs fixed. This has weighed on my mind for some time now. So I believe that it is time for us to be done with foster care, at least for some time, and just be a family with our 6 beautiful children. I think this will be a welcomed change for all of us.

Speaking of children, my oldest just asked me what I was doing and when I told her she asked why. I told her I am telling my story. I asked her if she had read them. I know she sees them through my Facebook posts. She said no, they are too long. So I told her I was going to have to start writing more about her in my blog posts since she wasn't going to be reading them. So I am going to start by telling all of my readers that she is a pretty good daughter. She does a lot to help out around the house and with the younger kids. I am very proud of the young woman that she is becoming. But, if she is reading this, Taylor, this is a warning, I can and will post things about you if I want. Including, but not limited to moments I am proud of you, mad at you, disappointed in you, happy with you, and especially moments that embarrass you. Love you Munch.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Drool can be cool

So tonight the kids begged me to have a movie night. Since I really didn't have anywhere I had to be I agreed. We ended up getting Parental Guidance off the On Demand of our cable company. (It was free = Bonus) So while watching it we decided for a little information to have some ice cream. After returning to watching the movie M began to get a bit sleepy so I got him ready for bed and told him to grab his blanket and lay down on the couch with me. Within minutes he was sawing logs and putting my arm to sleep. That is when it happened. It was about the point where you really can't feel your arm because the circulation has been cut off but you still feel it. All of a sudden my arm started to feel wet. Sure enough M was drooling like Pavlov's dog listening to a recording of a bell that is stuck on repeat. Even though it is gross, drool from my little boy is pretty cool. Anyone that has ever heard me tell the stories of how hard it is to get M to go to bed at night will understand this. I love it when he falls asleep in my arms or on my lap. See our case worker has expressed some concern that the kids haven't bonded with us. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bond that M and I have is awesome. I love his hugs and cuddles and tonight watching the movie with him and him falling asleep in my arms was amazing. It reminded me of when Logan was younger and would fall asleep watching ballgames with me. Being a dad is truly one of the greatest things in life!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Double Digits

This makes post number 10, double digits. Almost 1/3 of the way to the goal of 31.

So I got an exciting phone call a little earlier tonight. My mother-in-law called to let us know that my brother-in-law and his wife's adoptive twin daughters will be born tomorrow morning. I am so excited and happy for them. They have been eagerly awaiting their arrival. I can't begin to tell you their story so if you are on Facebook you need to check out their page. Search Jeremy n Leslie's Adoption Journal. I can't wait to meet and hold these two little girls. They have no idea what a crazy and fun family they are going to be joining. (I mean that in a good way.)

It is going to be an amazing next few months for the family, 6 additions. It started with our 2 foster children coming to us last October, and we are now in the process of adopting them, then my other Daniels brother-in-law and his wife (Matt and Laura) are in the process of adopting the siblings of our 2 and now Jeremy and Leslie's 2 will be arriving in the morning. I am sure that my father-in-law and mother-in-law would accept any and all donations to their Christmas fund.

God is so good. Not a day goes by anymore that I don't see a blessing from Him. Sometimes it is just something small and other days He blows me out of the water. Regardless the blessings are abundant. Today I thank Him especially for the gift of life of these two little girls and also for the biological parents and the decision that they made to choose life for their babies instead of the alternative. I don't know their story and it doesn't really matter. I just thank God that they made the decision they made. 

Adoption is a special thing. If you have never experienced it firsthand I don't know that I can explain it adequately with words, so I won't even try. It has truly been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Nicole and I felt called to foster care and adoption and even though we have had a lot of trying times throughout our almost 7 years as foster parents we don't regret it. We have truly been blessed beyond measure.

Our children are not ours because they share our genes, or because a piece of paper says they are. They are ours because they are a part of our soul. It was not an accident that they came into our lives. It was God's design that led them home. It was Him who placed them in our soul even before they were born.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Stepping up for others

About this time a couple of years ago, I was kind of asked/told that I would need to take over the 3rd/4th grade football team. I was helping with the team, as my son Logan was a 3rd grader at the time. I really didn't have much of a background in football outside of watching the Lions every week. I was willing to take over the reigns but I had to be sure that I would have some football smart coaches working with me. So I began to assemble a staff of dads of the kids Logan played with. I got a commitment from a couple of dads and by the time the season rolled around the next summer had a pretty good staff assembled. I only intended to do it for Logan's 4th grade year. I figured I would get one of the dads to take it over. Well that didn't happen. But that was okay. Towards the end of last season I had a conversation with a couple of the dads, one who was already helping me and one who was willing to help the next year. We had a handshake deal to work together this year. What a blessing these two guys have been, as are my other coaches. My total staff is comprised of myself, 5 other dads and a high school student. All of us have commitments beyond our 5th grade boys football team that make it hard to schedule practices and other things. It never ceases to amaze me though how regardless of what is going on we step up for each other. Work schedules have changed for some, last minute needs have arisen, and other unexpected things have come along, but regardless of what it has been I think we have had at least half of the staff at every practice. These guys are great to work with and we all get along and compliment each others strengths and weaknesses. So tonight I just want to say a big thank you to Paul, Phil, Chris, Todd, Tim, and Chris for all you do for me and our players. And I expect all of you back next year.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What a day!

Today was probably one of my favorite days as a teacher. Our new teacher, Tina Doughty, and I took our classes to our school woods for the day. The kids had a blast, some probably had too much. Hopefully none of the parents are upset about the muddy clothes. A couple of the girls from my class really got into their work at the pond and brought some of the pond muck home on their clothes. It was kind of funny to see the girls really getting into the mud and gunk and the boys were a bit more cautious. The morning was a bit cool and really wet with dew but the afternoon was perfect. We had a great group of parents, friends, and even my wife, helping out during the day. We also had some high school students who, along with their fearless leader Sandy Dubridge, oversaw our pond center. A few of them even helped with some of the other centers. They were great with the kids and I think they had a lot of fun too. Even one of the girls who had to make a morning trip to the doctor with an apparent allergic reaction. Her hand began itching early on and then began to swell. So off to the doctor she went. But she was a trooper and was back and was right back at it helping all of our 2nd graders. This time she wore gloves. A big thank you to all those who helped make today a huge success.

This trip to the woods is a lot of fun and the kids learn a lot, but one thing that I really like about it, is it reminds me of the nature trails that I used to run around in as a kid back in Vestaburg. As kids a bunch of us used to meet up in the nature trails and do all sorts of stuff. Most of the time it was good, clean innocent fun, but I can think of a few times that our parents wouldn't have approved of some of the things that went on. Don't worry mom and dad it wasn't anything too bad. I won't mention any names, in order to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent. But regardless, it is always nice to recall the great times with great friends.

Well I think I will stop there for tonight. My feet are killing me. Plantar fasciitis and walking around the woods all day are not a good mix. I see another cortisone shot in my very near future.

Monday, October 7, 2013

One week down...

Sometimes my job is fun, sometimes it is hard, sometimes it seems hopeless, sometimes it tears at my heart, but most of all my job is satisfying. Everyday I get to spend several hours with 19 of the greatest kids. Today we learned all about fire safety. The local fire department brought their smoke house and a couple of their trucks to the school and talked to the kids. It was a lot of fun. My students were so intrigued by all of the equipment. What was really cool was that the fire department brought all of the kids a t-shirt. The kids loved them. Thanks to all the guys that gave of their time to come and teach the kids today.

Tomorrow my class will be headed to our school woods for the day. I am so excited to see how they react to all of the fun activities that we are going to be doing. It is going to be sunny and in the 60s according to Weather Bug so weather should not be a factor.

Random thought - what ever happened to quality television? Don't get me wrong I enjoy several of the shows that are on tv now but why are shows that are rated TV 14 on at 8:30pm? I am not really watching tv tonight but it is on. I primarily watch sports on tv so I don't see a ton of shows but I do have the tv on a lot. I am sitting here tonight working on my blog and in the matter of a few minutes I am appalled at what I am hearing. I remember shows like The Cosby Show and Family Ties. Those shows were funny and family friendly. The other night I turned the channel because what was on was not appropriate for my kids and it was before 9 pm. Why is this? I have a theory.

I believe that our society is headed in a downward spiral to hell. Society is decaying morally. It has become more and more acceptable to use offensive language openly, regardless of those that are in ear shot. I am a firm believer in the freedoms that our forefathers worked hard for but I think we are totally off track from where they intended things to be. The number one problem in this country is that we have lost our focus. Our forefathers had God in the center of what they were trying to accomplish. They wanted religious freedom. They wanted to be able to worship the way they wanted. Now there were some other desires that they had too but the central intent was religious freedom. Everything they did had religious undertones. They understood that this nation would only succeed if they trusted in God. Were they perfect? Absolutely not, none of us are. But I believe that we wouldn't be in the predicament we are in if we had stayed true to the intent of our forefathers. I pray for our country, I pray for our leaders, not as much as I should but I pray. I pray for us to change direction, to refocus on our Creator. "In God We Trust" is the official motto of our country. Reaffirmed by a vote in the House of Representatives 396-9 in 2011 (New York Times, Nov. 1, 2011). So why aren't we living like it?