Friday, August 24, 2012

Integrating My Blogs

Tomorrow we will be going to visit Chalid.  And it was Chalid who showed me that some things draw every part of my life together.  So I am going to make future posts about being an adoptive Dad on my Army blog.

A lot of what I know about being a Dad I learned by being a soldier, so I will comment on being a Dad, a Soldier and most issues of Life, the Universe and Everything on the Army blog.

If you don't know my Army blog, click here.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking Good in Suits

I wear suits for work, but my kids mostly see me in bike clothes or shorts and t-shirts.  Several weeks ago I brought the boys to the Suit Corner Plus men's clothing store near where I work in Old City Philadelphia.  Two of them are just big enough to wear the smallest size of men's suit--36 Regular.  Nigel and Chalid both got suits.  Jacari is too small/short to fit in a man's suit so he will have to wait for his.  He was crushed.  He likes to dress up more than the other two boys.  Luckily we still have a jacket we got Nigel several years ago that fits him.  The pictures below were taken before Church on Sunday.  Jacari was off visiting his former Foster Mom. I'll get a picture of him when he is dressed up.



Nigel and Chalid

All three of us.
Pictures by Mom!

Back to Posting About Being an Adoptive Dad

I stopped posting in May.  I was about to go to pre-deployment training and frankly felt like I was too conflicted to write about being a Dad.  But currently, I am a NO-GO for deployment waiting for a waiver from Army National Guard Headquarters at the Pentagon to serve in Afghanistan over the age of 60.

My odds of deploying are now much lower than they were in May--though it was never a sure thing.  And I will continue to be a father to all my kids no matter whether I go or not, so back to posting.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Going to Afghanistan

Life just got way more complicated for our family.  Since I last wrote, I got a two-year extension of my Army enlistment.  And today at 4pm I got a call saying I will be leaving for a one-year deployment to Afghanistan later this year.  

My wife said she is ready.  When I went to Iraq, our three daughters were in college and it was just Nigel and my wife at home.  Since then we have added two sons and a daughter, and we are in the process--a very long process--of adopting a boy from Haiti.  Our newest daughter is almost 20, lives at home and helps VERY much with taking care of the boys.  She will be a big help during the deployment year.

As will many other people at Church and at Franklin and Marshall College, my wife's family and our many friends.  When your family is two kids from the same gene pool, you can keep the world away and raise them without much outside help.  Every one of our kids has a parent outside the home--some have foster parents, half-siblings and family we have never met.  Our family needs our community so if I am gone for a year, many people in our lives will step in to help.

If you are reading a blog about adopting you could legitimately ask "What are you doing going to Afghanistan?"  I am a father and a soldier and those roles often conflict.  Citizenship and family have always been in conflict.  And for those of us who think the real point of this life is preparation for eternity, Our Lord warned us that citizenship and family may both need to be put aside for eternity.

My kids know the best and the worst of what it means to be an athlete.  They like cheering for me in races as I like cheering for them in games.  But racing means I miss their games to ride.  Racing also means visiting Dad in the hospital and helping him change bandages.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

At the Richmond NASCAR Race

Tonight we are at the Richmond NASCAR Race.  My oldest daughter Lauren scored tickets for all three of the boys and me through her internship.  We got to meet three drivers:
Bobby Labonte
Brad Keselowski
Ryan Newman

From left in the middle:  Lauren, Nigel, Chalid, and Jacari.  Driver Brad Keselowski is in front.
We are in a skybox with 40 veterans and their families.  It has been raining all day, but the skies are clearing with 30 minutes to go till the start.  Richmond is a 400-lap, 300-mile race on a 3/4-mile banked oval.

We don't know how long the race will run, but when we first met him, Chalid said he wanted to go to a NASCAR race.

Lauren just told me Nigel said, "I don't like Jimmie Johnson.  He's ugly."  I have noticed this before with Nigel.  Drivers he does not like he comes to think of as ugly.  I am not sure why.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chalid's First Bicycle Race--Getting Family Culture

Chalid is adapting faster than a chameleon on a green leaf to life in our family.  He is happily eating dinner as a family, helping with chores and cleaning, thinking of the F&M gym as part of life and riding bicycles a lot.

We are what Chalid's social worker calls an "active family."  Yesterday Chalid saw active means serious about participating in amateur sports.  I entered my fist bicycle race of the year because it was cold and raining.  I put my bike and racing gear in the car the night before and decided if it was pouring I was going, if not, I would just ride.  It rained all afternoon.  At 230pm I put the boys in the car for a 65-mile drive to race in an industrial park in Lower Providence PA near King of Prussia.

When we got there, the organizers were thinking about cancelling the 55+ race.  I showed up at 4pm and said I wanted to race--loudly.  They decided to run the race.  Only five racers lined up at the start.  I have trained so little I was just happy to have a top-5 finish.  We rode together for the first two of ten one-mile laps.  At lap three, the strongest guy took off.  I chased towing my teammate Kevin and the other two riders.  Or I thought I was.  Kevin got a flat.  I towed the other two competitors around, wore myself out and watched them ride away.  I caught third place with two laps to go.  We sprinted for the finish and he won.  

Nigel has been cheering for me since he could walk.  I parked near the course.  Each lap the boys would jump out and cheer as I went past, then get in out of the rain.

On the way home, I could explain to Chalid that showing up is sometimes the most important part of competing.  He wants to race himself.  

I'll ge thim started soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chalid's First Day of School

On Friday Chalid and I went to J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster to get him signed up for classes.  This morning I dropped him off at school.  He seemed nervous.  He was nervous. And he should be.  Starting a new school is no small thing an McCaskey is a big school.

The teacher assigned to show him around seemed very nice, so I think he will be OK.  One of his sisters is picking him up after school--at McDonald's!!!!  Not Mom's favorite place, but the McCaskey driveway is very crowded and McDonald's is right next to the school so Chlid and his sister will have no trouble finding each other.