The niece experiment

31 10 2008

If you know me or follow this blog, you know that a couple months ago we asked our 17 year old niece to move in with us for the school year.  She moved in two days before our baby daughter was born in mid august.  Well, it has been an interesting experiment to say the least and very much a learning experience.  Well, I am sad to report that the experiment is over.  One week ago, she moved out.  Her mother rented a new place in another town and together they made the decision for our niece to move in with her.  She had to switch schools mid-semester which is something she is all too use-to.

My wife and I have a myriad of emotions about the situation.  We have never wavered from our priority of making this a successful school year for our niece.  We put that above everything in our lives and I am happy to say that we have no regrets and that we never changed our stance on that at all.

So, because of that, we are sad that she moved out.  We really did sacrifice a lot to make it work.  And, when we initially invited her to come live with us, we asked her to commit to staying for the year (which she did).  So, we were also hurt by the decision.  It is hard for us to understand how our efforts and sacrifice can be so easily traded in.  It is hard for us to understand how anyone can see it as a positive thing for her to once again switch schools mid-semester, especially considering how good a start she was off to.

But, of course, it is not at all surprising.  The very fact that we pushed for such a commitment from her demonstrates that we anticipated this day would come.

Along with sadness and hurt that we are feeling, comes relief and even some excitement.  There were times in these last two months that we actually looked forward to this day.  We never wavered in our efforts to maintain a stable environment for her, but at the same time, it was an incredible stress on our family.  She brought a drama to our household that we were not used to, and as much as we expected the drama to come, there was really no preparing for it.  For those of you wondering, adding a teenager and a newborn to a household at the same time is pretty much an insane thing to do.

Honestly, I think the biggest sacrifice that we made is one that most people involved will never even know.  We gave up the first two month’s of our daughter’s life.  In other words, instead of being able to enjoy and savor her and welcome her into our family like we did her two older brothers, we had to do it in the midst of other changes and tumult.  My wife particularly has felt this loss the most.  So, now, we have a tingle of excitement in our lives for how we can make up time with our daughter.  We really do have some catching up to do.  I am not writing this because I am angry or because I am upset, I am writing this to get it out.  This is therapeutic for me.

So, what did we learn from this experience?  Wow, it’s a long list.

We definitely learned more about the mystery that is the teenager.  Even though once upon a time, we ourselves were teenagers, there is a world of difference between being a teenage and being responsible for one.

We learned more about how to communicate and motivate a high schooler.  We learned how to communicate with parents of teenagers.  (Or should I say we learned how not to communicate with a high schooler and parents of said high schooler?)  We learned that actions speak louder than words.  We also learned that even actions can very easily twisted and misconstrued.

We learned that teenage boys like teenage girls.  We learned that teenage girls like it when teenage boys like them.  We learned that myspace and the internet have completely changed the high school social scene.  We learned that teenage sexuality at its core has changed quite dramatically since our high school days.

We learned quite a bit about medical insurance and what it means to have someone in your family that may not have it.  We learned how to distinguish between real medical emergencies and those that need to be slept on and checked in the morning.

We learned that you can’t hide good food.  🙂

We learned that it is better to give than to receive.  We learned that despite your best efforts, things don’t always turn out the way you hope.  We learned that my wife and I are a good team (actually we already knew that but it was nice to have it reconfirmed).  We learned that we can set a goal and prioritize it and not falter no matter what is thrown our way.

We learned a lot of things the hard way and in some cases we learned that we already have good instincts.  We learned that we still have an awful lot to learn.

So, would we do it all over again?  I can honestly say that I don’t know.  Knowing everything that we know now, I am still not sure we have enough information to make that call.  I still think we helped her get out of a bad situation.  There is no telling what we may have saved her from.  Further, there is no doubt in my mind that we got her off to a good start for the school year.  We hope and pray that this will carry over to her new school and her new home life.

All I know for sure is that we gave it all we had.  We have no regrets.  We layed it all out and didn’t hold anything back.  Only time will tell whether this will have any permanant results.


newspaper endorsements

30 10 2008

I realize that I have already voted and I stated that I am ready to move on.  But, one more thing has been on my mind that I would like to mention.  Is it weird to anyone else that newspapers make it a common practice to endorse candidates?  I mean, it seems to me, that if a network television station, or even a local affiliate for that matter, made a public endorsement of a candidate that everyone would be all up in arms about it.  And yet, newspapers regularly do this each and every election cycle.  Why is that?  Just seems odd to me.

OK…on to other things…

I voted

28 10 2008

Well, I voted.  For better or for worse, I voted.  Don’t have to think about that anymore…

Episode 2 – What is Right with People

28 10 2008

Isn’t this awesome?  My wife and I are always wishing we had enough money to do random things like this.

Maritan Inn

26 10 2008

Yesterday, even though our schedule was slammed with activity, my youngest son commented that he wanted to go to the “Maritan Inn”.  I love the fact that he enjoys going to the Samaritan Inn so much and that we go regularly enough that he considers it a normal Saturday activity!


25 10 2008

We have had a fun couple of days.

Last night, we got together with my parents to make pumpkin soup.  We got the recipe from our oldest son’s Highlights magazine and we really had no idea what to expect.  Our backup plan was to order a pizza.  The boys seemed to like the soup (and our oldest was certainly proud of his creation) and poppa ate about 3 bowls (isn’t he nice).  The rest of us ordered a pizza!  Then we all had caramel apples my wife made.

Today my wife and baby daughter left the house about 10am to go to a baby shower our good friends put on for us.  The boys and I stayed home and carved pumpkins.  We had a good time.  Each kid used their creative design skills while I tried to follow their instructions with a big knife.  I think they were pleased with the results.

Then, we left and met up with the girls for lunch in the car on the way to a small church function.  We were there for an hour or so.

Then we went home, stayed for maybe an hour before heading out for a pumpkin painting party at another friend’s house.  The boys painted the same pumpkins they had supervised me carve up earlier in the day.

We stayed there until after 7.  Came home then and got a quick dinner in.  Put the boys in bed.  I caught a few innings of the World Series.  Went to the grociery store to pick up a lasagna for pot luck lunch tomorrow.

Finally, I am in bed winding down.  It’s almost 11:30pm and I feel like I have lived a very full day.  What will tomorrow bring?  With my family, I am sure it will be fun!

Tick store

25 10 2008

Gotta tell you a quick funny story:

My wife and kids went to the flea market last Friday.  Several days later, my oldest made a reference to when they had gone to the “tick store”.  It took a moment before my wife understood what he was talking about :).