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.


DVR – The greatest thing since sliced bread

10 06 2008

You ever heard the expression, “The greatest thing since sliced bread”?  About 99% of the time when I hear that expression, I think to myself…”no, I can think of a lot of discoveries or inventions that have come along since sliced bread was introduced that are better than that.

There is one item, though, that, I have to admit, really could be considered the greatest thing since sliced bread. 

Digital Video Recorders have completely changed my life for the better.  Tivo specifically, in my case, has revolutionized my television watching habits.

Everyone knows now what a DVR can do for you, so I won’t bog with the details.  But, suffice it to say, that this device has allowed me to maintain the real priorities of my life – wife, kids, work, church, friends, etc, etc, and not miss the television programs that I really love.  It’s not that I had my priorities out of whack before (although my wife might want to argue the point in regards to my sports viewing); it’s that Tivo has made it extremely easy to clearly draw those lines of importance in my life.

I tried for years to convince my wife to allow me to get a Tivo.  Nothing I said would convince her.  Then one day, a pastor friend of ours (the man who married us) used the words, “Tivo is the greatest thing since sliced bread.”  It carried weight coming from him because within a couple of weeks, we had our first Tivo.

Tivo has been a part of our lives now for a few years.  This is one of the few things my wife will now admit that I was right about.  Tivo is a benefit to everyone in our family.  We have 3 of them in our house now, all networked together.  We have a Tivo just for the kids with all their cartoons on it.  We have another main one in the Living Room for us and then another one in the bedroom.

I never miss a Mavericks or Cowboys game.  My wife never misses any one of a multitude of home improvement / home buying / home flipping shows.  Neither of us misses an episode of Survivor or Lost or any of the shows we enjoy watching together.  My kids always have a cartoon to choose from at the touch of a button.

In short, DVRs really are the greatest thing sliced bread.

My weed

10 05 2008

My WeedLet me state right up front that this post has absolutely nothing to do with marijuana.  Sorry for anyone that may have stumbled their way into my blogosphere thinking they were going to hear all about my stash of hash.

OK, now that that is cleared up…

Mowing the yard used to give me a small sense of pride and accomplishment.  Now, it only makes me feel like a complete failure.

I just came in from mowing my weed.  One weed…singular.  As in my entire lawn is one big weed.  I honestly don’t know where I went wrong with this lawn.  And, it’s not like I don’t have any experience in this area.  Afterall, mowing yards was my main source of spending money during high school.  But, somewhere between then and now, I have completely lost control of my landscape situation.

I feel like I have covered all the basics.  I fertilize. I water. I edge, weed-eat and mow…but it just keeps getting worse.  This spring, I even aerated the entire surface.  And, it even worked…now my weed is growing like never before.

So what the heck do I do now?  Do I throw my hands in the air and hope the problem just goes away?  Do I pay a professional landscaper to swoop in and rescue this miserable turf?  Or maybe, do I just rip it all out and lay completely new sod?

I wish I had the answer.  Oh well.  But, I do know one thing for sure.  In the grand scheme of the world, there are certainly worse problems I could be facing.  I am very blessed to have a roof over my head, let alone a luxurious weed to encircle it.  I am even more blessed to have a beautiful family who, truth be told, probably takes my time and attention away from that wild plant growing outside our windows.  And, if that raging source of frustration between my house and the sidewalk is nothing more than a sign that my priorities are in fact in the correct order, then I guess it is what it is.  This weed may grow wild, but maybe it’s best if I simply aim to contain it.  Instead of trying to get my arms around this as a problem, I will focus more on keeping my arms around my wife and kids.  Instead of trying to attack this issue at its core, maybe I should just let it go…let the weed go where it will.  Maybe instead of feeling like a failure whenever I try to tame this out of control growing patch of chlorophyll, I should feel like a success where things really count.

I don’t know.  Maybe I am just trying to cheer myself up and make myself feel a little better.  But, it may have even worked…now my weed is growing like never before.