Oh The Pain.

I loathe all that is Mac.

Nothing but system errors and messages that seem to mock me; System error, System Timeout, Network Unavailable, Contact someone that loves you- AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I have lost spreadsheets that I have poured my very soul into. Spreadsheets that were formatted perfectly. I had layouts that were pleasing to the eye, a tapestry of color. Gone forever.

I have tried, oh how I’ve tried, to get my Mac to do something as mundane as download music, back up my Blackberry or merely connect to the internet (I’m borrowing a laptop at the moment). It’s no use. Everything the Mac touches it destroys.

The final straw came last night. I had just finished unplugging my Blackberry from the beloved Mac only to see all my contact data was erased. As I gently threw my Blackberry across the living room at the wall, I grabbed my Paul Simon CD and put it in the CD drive in the hopes that old Paul would soothe my soul and stop me from chucking the Mac into the backyard.

Instead, itunes starts ripping the CD and formatting it into some evil Mac language and refuses to play the CD. Desperately I tried to eject the CD but the Mac refused to give it up. My wife got a worried look on her face and quickly walked out of the room saying she thought the baby was crying. She wanted no part of this one. I know now what must be done, I can’t risk another human being being cursed with my Mac, it must be destroyed.

I have spent the last few hours trying to think of a fitting demise for my little Mac. Perhaps I should give it to the boys and let them have their way with it. But if I did that, parts from the Mac would be all over the cottage and serve as nothing more than painful reminders for years to come.

Fire would be a decent way to go, but I’m pretty sure I would go to jail for torching it in my backyard.

Maybe a long drive, a nice quiet field and a box of ammo would be a more fitting end. I’m actually leaning that way because it combines my hatred of Mac with my love of firearms, a win-win situation.

I’m open to any suggestions as to how the Mac will meet it’s end. If anyone would like to donate a PC drop me a line. -Launch 

1st Annual Houseparent Network Retreat

Houseparent.net retreat

Houseparent.net technicians in front of secret lair

It’s finally beginning to come together, the first annual Houseparent.net retreat. Rest assured my expectations are set incredibly low as to what the turnout will be, but I figure worst case scenario if only a couple of us show up in Alabama to split a hot dog and share a few war stories around the fire it will be well worth it.

Over the last few years I’ve heard it said more than once that trying to get a bunch of HP’s to gather in one place would be impossible. As a rule we are busy with the kids and meetings, and generally most HP’s don’t care enough about networking or being involved in any community outside of their own living rooms.

If your one of the people that believe that it’s hopeless to try and gather the masses for a time of fellowship and fun, you may be right. In fact it will better for you to stay home, because hopelessnesses of this magnitude is just insane. Besides your facility probably could not function without the joy you more than likely bring to those in your presence.

As for the rest of us, don’t be expecting Dr. Spock or Father Flanagan to make a guest appearance. This is after all the first annual HP retreat. No fancy hotels or speakers, just a bunch of families getting together to fellowship, compare notes and hopefully plan out something more substantial for next year. This is the first step in what I hope turns out to be an annual event that we can all get something worthwhile from- and look forward to the next year.

The one tradition I want to start now is a “House Parent Of The Year”. This individual (or couple) will encompass all the quality, skills and attitude of a professional HP. The lucky recipient will have smack talking rights of being the universally accepted uber HP of planet Earth until the following year. I will look into setting up some kind of email or post a topic on the board for HP of the year submissions.

In the coming days I will be PM’ing everyone on the forum board and sending out emails and mailings to all the facilities I can find. Details will follow in the mailings and emails.

If you and your family are unable to attend, please encourage someone else to go that may have vacation or off time during August 7- 11. Bring your kids, the facility kids, your second cousin, whatever. Just come with an attitude of connecting with fellow brothers and sisters in an awesome ministry. -Launch

Chilling At The Waffle House

Waffle House

One of the things I look forward to every week is our mens bible study. We have a rather odd time for it, 9-pm every Monday and we sometimes stay until 1 or 2-am kicking it.

There is always a bible study and we cover many great topics that we face as men and as HP’s. And even though there is not a deck of cards anywhere in the vicinity, it has developed into our version of poker night, boys night out if you will. It’s our chance to get together with other guy’s and be- guys.

This past week I was reminded of how awesome it is to work at this facility with the group of HP’s that are here. I would venture to say that the majority of HP’s at other child care facilities do not communicate on a regular basis as much as we do here. Understandably, after most people tuck the kids in there is still a stack of paperwork to fill out before collapsing in your own bed.

I have found though that the more I am able to talk and hang with a group of guys that are involved in the same ministry, I am strengthened and validated as to who I am and what I’m doing. Couples groups are great, but if your a guy, sometimes you just need to leave the wife behind and hang with the boys.

We had some issues at first with the mens group and some of the wives feeling left out. We encouraged them to start their own study and to leave us alone. Thankfully they have done just that and we are back to being able to gather as the mighty men we are. Some of us have a curfew, but we still enjoy the freedom to talk with the fellow bros that we get.

All of this has strengthened us spiritually. Without wives being present we can talk about issues that affect us as men. Past subjects have included pornography, masturbation, Death, eternal salvation and the various roles of men being the spiritual leader of the family. Most if not all of these subjects would have been impossible to talk openly and freely about if our wives would have been sitting right beside us. It has also created an atmosphere of trust, accountability and understanding from others who can relate.

Three years ago I stumbled across the House Parent Network while looking for a way to get out of the Hell-Hole facility I was in. I stayed active on the network because I found place where people understood what I went through on a daily basis. Most people on the outside of this profession will look at your house as just a large blended family, you are the babysitter. The truth is you end knowing just as much, if not more, about child psychology, psycho-tropic meds and behaviors than most psychiatrists. You learn to live in a Bi-Polar environment where moods and temperaments can change in a second without warning.

It is important to stay connected to other HP’s and to create those friendships that will help you get thru a day that not many other people can relate with. The Network and the Mens group at my facility is my life-line for being able to maintain a balance in my life.

It’s also the most fun you can have sober at 2am at the local waffle house. -Launch

The Belt

My Battle Gear

I catch a lot of flak from the boys about what I call my super HP belt. They say I’m a cross between Batman and a fat Inspector Gadget. Personally I believe I’m more of a Macgyver type of guy, possibly even better looking (I don’t know why my wife always laughs hysterically when I say that). She just shakes her head and goes about her duties knowing it’s futile to even try and talk some sense into me.

The problem is I love gadgets. Actually I love efficiency and being prepared. That is how the “Belt” has developed over the years.

 I wear a two inch wide black leather belt. I thought a white one would look better, but my wife refused to be seen with me and told me that my “Bee Gees” record collection was all she was going to tolerate from the seventies.

Here is my basic combat load I strap on before entering the cottage along with a brief explanation;

1. Retractable key ring. (I lost my keys HOURLY before busting old school custodial style).

2. Blackberry Cell phone. (I get all my emails immediately, my wife is always able to beep the walkie talkie and get me back on task and I can read the news/ HP network when I have a few moments in the day- usually alone in the restroom).

3. Chain Wallet. (Not only does it look Uber cool, I NEVER lose my wallet anymore).

4. Zippo Lighter in a leather case. (We burn lots of incense in the house. Anyone that has a house full of boys will understand. I also BBQ a lot and I take the boys camping very often. I also like having the power of fire at my disposal).

5. SOG multi tool pliers. (I really got tired of searching for a screw driver every time I had to tighten a screw. My wife got tired of me using all the butter knives for heavy construction purposes. We both can agree this is one tool that has been very cool. Works for every HP task, from tightening a bolt to ripping out loose baby teeth)

6. Clip on six inch folding knife. (I like to cut open cereal bags very dramatically).

That is the belt.

Now all of that does weigh a few pounds and my complete lack of a butt and bulging pot belly caused me to constantly be pulling my drawers up, so I have the Dickie Suspenders attached. 

Even I have some sense of style. I cover all my tools with a leather vest I wear all the time so I don’t look quite so nerdy. I also have a pen protector but that is whole other blog.

All of this may seem over the top, but it simplifies my life and gives the tools I need at my disposal in an instant. And that is worth the price of looking like an idiot. -Launch