The Houseparent Bulge-Update

It has been three weeks since I went to the Fat Doctor and I am proud to report that so far I have been successful.  I have lost 19 pounds, feel much better, and have saved the expense of having to buy new clothes.  Hopefully in another week or so I can trade in my 42’s for the 40’s I haven’t worn in over two years.

I have to admit it is really hard to watch my wife and all the kids eat vanilla wafer/banana pudding in the dining hall, or apple pie, or chocolate pie, or chocolate cake, or ice cream, or brownies, or french fries, or Mac and Cheese, or ….. well you get the point.  But, it is very gratifying to step on that scale and see the numbers get smaller every week and not have my belly peak out from underneath my t-shirt because it is stretched so much side to side that it is not long enough.

Hopefully, by the time vacation comes at the end of June I won’t have to live with the fear that the ride attendant at Six Flags in St. Louis will have to say, “I’m sorry sir but you are too large to ride.” 

Hopefully, I can help be a motivator for somebody else out there.  If you have become a victim of “The Houseparent Bulge” fear not, there is something you can do about it. At least until you fall off the diet wagon, and gain it all back plus some later on, like I have so many times in the past. 

Hopefully, this time will be different.

Civil War

I don’t need a calendar to tell you spring is here. It’s always this time of year when every kid loses their minds. Never fails, they know school is less than a month away from being dismissed for the summer and if they have even mediocre grades they can cruise for the last few weeks in school and not do squat. Not a pleasant time to be House Parenting.

It has been a rough morning. Rodney wakes up and decides that he wants to wear the jeans that looks like he just finished crawling across a coal strip mine. Then he decides that instead of picking up his room it would be better to break all of his toys and scatter them in a protective perimeter around his bed. That ensures no one, namely ME, will walk in his room without suffering some kind of plastic shrapnel wound to the foot. Glad I decided to strap on the steel toe boots this morning.

Then the rest of the children decide to get into some geo-political fight over breakfast and whether the Quaker Oats guy on the oatmeal box is actually alive. That conversation quickly turned into who had the fastest bike. We did manage to get to the bus without a fist fight this morning, but barely.

It’s easy to sit back and get frustrated by the whole house getting spun up into a civil war. But you still got to remember what it’s like to be kid with summer around the corner. For me, the last day of school was better than Christmas. Every year I would walk out of school and in one violent display of my feelings for the public school system, throw my notebook in the trash. I remember the feeling of pure ecstasy as I walked home with the knowledge of not having to go back to school for the next two months. Those were the days.

But for the kids we care for this is a mixture of emotions. On one hand, they are happy like any other kid over the possibilities of summer. On the other hand, it’s a time of change, and any change is scary for these kids. When you’ve had five or six different families by the time your twelve it’s understandable that small changes in anything would cause anger and frustration.

So instead of giving into the drama of spring fever I think we will spend the rest of this week going over the summer schedule with the kids and making sure they have a say in the things we plan. Hopefully this will calm the waters a bit and help to end our little in-house Civil War thats been brewing between the boys.

Now if I can only figure out why my 11 month old daughter is throwing her attitude all around… -Launch

Going Home

Everyone needs a place to escape, a place where they feel safe and welcome. For most people that place is home. It’s a place where you can walk in the front door and talk with the family, have a meal and kick it old school reliving memories.

For my wife that place is Upstate New York, land of ice and snow. It’s a place she can get together with her family and friends and enjoy the presence of each other. It helps her to re-affirm family roots and to re-charge and reconnect to who she is. The time she gets with her family is essential to help define her past and future.

On the other hand there is me. My family roots are more or less non-existent and is just a part of reality I have had to come to accept. It’s actually not as depressing and tragic as it sounds, I have been blessed with an amazing wife and children. I have friends across the country that truly are salt of the earth and most importantly, I have Christ.

So once I loaded my wife on plane heading North, I drove our mini-van 90 miles-an-hour home, power slid into the parking slot in front of the house and fired up the bike. I ran inside the house and grabbed the saddle bags, a change of clothes and my super high speed sunscreen (80 SPF) and hit the road. Destination- Waleska, Georgia.

As I cruised across the South Carolina/ Georgia border I felt like a million bucks. And then the drama that accompanies pretty much any task I undertake, hit. At a gas station outside of Atlanta, I jumped off the bike and ran inside to use the restroom, least everyone behind me would think the bike had a radiator leak if I continued down the road. When I came out- my saddle bags were gone. Someone in the hood snagged them.

In my bags I had a digital camera, an ipod, digital recorder and my Crackberry cell phone. I also lost my sunscreen which resulted in third degree burns later on in my travels. Anyway, being the hardcore biker houseparent that I am, I pushed on. Soon I was driving up the driveway of Goshen Valley Boys Ranch to have lunch with my old supervisor, Craig.

We had a great lunch, caught up on facility happenings and kids, and other HP type of stuff. After lunch I got an invite to a ranch BBQ that night. No way I’m passing free food up. But first I needed a phone.

I headed into town and stopped into some Mexican store/ laundromat/ check cashing/ unemployment agency and bought me a little pre-paid phone. There was a bit of a language barrier and ultimately my cell ended up being programmed in Spanish. I swear I heard the clerk laughing as I walked out the door. Whatever, I had a BBQ to hit, I’ll think about calling INS later.

As I pulled up to the ranch I was hit with a mixture of emotions. In my life there have been very few places that felt like home to me. Goshen is one of those places. I saw many of the boys that I use to work with and was amazed at how big they have gotten. I sat and watched the kids playing with dogs and playing tag out in the field. I can’t think of a better place to grow up as a boy.

After eating there was praise singing and prayer to cap off an already awesome night. I headed down the road that night feeling very content and very thankful for the fellowship I experienced with great kids and some of the best staff I have ever worked with. For me it was a homecoming.

For everyone at Goshen- God Bless all of you guys. To Craig and John- you both have developed something special that is not the norm in this field, keep on rocking guys cause something this good has to be of God. The impact and ministry the ranch has done in the lives of boys is immeasurable. The BBQ is pretty decent also. -Launch

New Look and an Upgrade!!!

It was brought to my attention that everyone that uses a browser other than Internet Explorer was having display issues with the blog, especially poor Launchpad and his apple.  I am glad to report that I have fixed that issue.  I have gone to a new theme/skin that appears to be compatible will all browsers.  It has a clean look, and I think it is easier to browse entries because it only displays excerpts on the home page.  You can then click on the title and it takes you to the full entry.  If you still have issues please let me know.

I have also upgraded to the latest edition of wordpress.  Most of you won’t notice a difference but it will make it easier for Launchpad and I to post information and create entries.

 I welcome your feedback on the new look.

Born To Be Wild

So it begins- respite. My wife and daughter flew to upstate New York to hang and visit family. I just got a phone call and she said it was snowing up there. Hope she enjoys making snowmen in May.

As for me, I have waited, dreamed and yearned for this moment all month. A chance to jump on the bike in 70 degree weather, take a trip and visit a few places and let go of all the pent up frustrations from the past few months.

First I’m heading towards Georgia to have lunch with a friend and then I’ll flip a quarter to see whether to head South or North, either one is just fine with me as long as I’m in the wind.

I’m a firm believer that every one has to find an outlet to relax and recharge your body and soul. Especially if your in a line of work that consumes your every waking moment, such as residential child care. You need some activity that rolls back the years and makes you feel alive. Something that makes you feel like life is not only sweet but worth living. So for those of you out there that may want some ideas on living on the edge your next respite here is a list.

1. Skinny dipping- A public pool will probably end your life as a HP but a nice quiet creek somewhere would be safe for you and the wife. Watch out for crawdads.

2. Sky Diving- Nothing will make you appreciate life as much as hurling yourself out of a little Cessna that sounds like a super charged lawn mower after a one hour “suicide” class on how to be a sky diver. Be sure to buy the video they sell of you throwing yourself out the door so you can relieve the moment for years to come. Now that I think of it, that would work for #1 also…

3. Get a bike- Call me. I guarantee after a weekend of rolling with me and trying to witness to bar full of bikers, you’ll feel better and probably have a police blotter report to show off when you get back home.

4. Start a “Weird Project”- I have always wanted to take a mini-van and turn it into a Drag car. There’s something to said for doing a school run on an alcohol injected, big bore, mini-van that has one of those “My kid is an honor student” bumper stickers. Will score you major respect points at the next PTA meeting.

5. Bungee Jumping- It’s nice to say that you’ve done it. I recommend you drive your car into a wall at thirty miles an hour, it feels the same.

That’s it for me, time to hit the road. -Launch