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December 31, 2010

It's still 2010

And here's a quick report.

Many of you knew that Amy and I are about 2/3rds of the way through the process of doing foster care through the PA Bair Foundation, with the intention to adopt. We were on track to be finished with the administrative end of things in the next three months or so, depending on a few factors. One of such "factors" is this whole seagull situation that, yeah,...more on that later.

Anyway, there's been a change in plans. Amy and I prayed and read and thought and wrestled our way through the process of finding some clarity. Most of the answers and understanding came by way of actually going through the classes and other preparatory steps.

And a process it was. I mean is. We tried to seek and listen. Really hard. There was no audible voice telling us what to do. But we did hear from a handful of people who made a difference. How do merge the nag to push past your comfort zone and use some common sense? Are these mutually exculsive?

Our best course would probably (?)  be...the foster kids most in need are the older ones...given a number of guidelines and unwritten recommendations...basically this, that, and the other thing, and we are expecting a new Gorinski in the summer of 2011. We really don't want to lose our fire for following through with foster care. But we did decide to put that on hold for a few years.

Amy is pretty awfully tired and sick. Again. I haven't seen her ill since we had Buggies a few years back. We expected that, and it did pose a challenge in "deciding" all this. Amy's hanging in there, for greater things. Everyone is excited here, the dad down through Maggs.

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December 26, 2010

Clear True

"They discontinued that line of contacts" said the optometrist, "so we're going to have to find another brand that suits."

There's a lot more to contact lenses than magnification strength. Among other considerations, there's axis, diameter, and the fine balance between how much the "bottom" of the contact is weighted and how the lens floats on the cornea. It can be tricky, especially for an eye with astigmatism.

"Better here, or here? Okay there, or there? Now here, or here."

Doc alternately flips pairs of here's and there's until the two of us are sitting there silently waiting for an answer. He's not up for a debate and I'm just really not sure I see a difference.

"Can I see the last there's again?"

Sometimes the best you can do is arrive by questions and end with questions.

I've worn the new contacts for almost a month now. They're both better and worse than the contacts I've worn for the last ten or twenty years. My vision seems a little sharper than before, and it's like that most of the time. But if my eyes get a little dry, the balance of weight and glide is thrown off and things are hazy.

This transition of contacts has made me a little more in touch with reality. I notice previously unseen structural details. But more than that, I'm highly aware of eye hydration status. At times, the clarity of my vision is an objective barometer of my heart.

It happens during a point of clarity from a message or set of lyrics in church. Suddenly the lights come into sharp focus. The hallelujah chorus comes blaring from my old basement TV. It catches me for a few moments and the image appears high-def. I lay flat on the floor in the dark quiet, staring up into the center of our rag-tag, kid decorated Christmas tree. I see lights and individual pine needles deep in the center.

I notice these small changes now because the world hasn't always appeared that way to me.

It's not a full on cry fest, okay? Uh, not that there would be anything wrong with that. Just. Thinking. Nothing. Don't bother me right now. Why is even "good" emotion so painful for guys?

The new contacts have illustrated the fact that emotion does count for something. Emotion changes how I see the world. It brings perspective and understanding and literal clarity about the finer things in this life. You can't deny emotion or write it off with TLC and Star Magazine. You can't scientifically extract and examine a person's "emotional intelligence" without consideration to the whole person.

I'm not changing the new contacts, mostly because I don't feel like bothering with more fine tuning. I'll carry a picture of my grandparents in case of blurry vision. Or maybe think of Old Yeller. A zip-lock bag of sliced onions would be less painful for sharp vision, but not for clarity.

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December 06, 2010

family tree

They woke up knowing this day was promised a Christmas tree. I hear the three brothers around 6:30 and come downstairs a half hour later. They're making ornaments with scissors, paper, and tape. Duct tape. After changing two and feeding four and wrestling through the whole winter coat, gloves, shoes, and hat find game, we're rolling to the tree farm.

Feed the dogs, they've been following me around all morning with heads turned. And I forgot my contacts and money. Trips to the tree farm aren't free.

The hill in Dillsburg is 34 degrees and windy. Each of the brothers has a saw, the sharpest one, it turns out, capable of cutting through warm margarine. Maggie wants carried and how can you possibly say no to any request of a two year-old wrapped in purple puff with hands lost in pink mittens?

"What do you think of all those Christmas trees, Buggies?"

"What trees?"

I advise the older two to pick one, any about as high as dads reach. After snobbing past hundreds of fit candidates, Luke decides on a scraggly thin evergreen that allows "lots of room for presents" on the bottom. Dad redirects him on the holiday, and over to an 8-foot spruce.

The saw is going nowhere and everyone wants to help. There's mud all over my coat and Buggs needs a tissue and Maggs is caught on a thorn bush and why didn't we just go buy a tree at the Upper Allen Fire Department like the last few years?

The tree finally succumbs, slowly and gently bending toward the ground in the most anti climactic fashion - to roaring applause. Everyone wants another turn with the saw. Pulling a tree downhill while carrying a two year-old is easier than you would think. But now she's asking to walk, and pulling a tree while a two year old stumbles through cut trees and plowed fields is much more frustrating than you would think.

Everyone is in the car demanding hot chocolate before the tree is tied down to the roof rack. I let out a deep breath and pay the lady and smile Merry Christmas. Watch what you say during the drive home cross examination regarding lights and ornaments and other logistics that are extremely important to 4- and 6 year-olds.

I notice that Winter Wonderland is blasting over the radio and at the age of 34, how many God forsaken times must I hear this song again?

Hot chocolate buys time for pruning, adjusting the stand, rearranging house furniture, dragging a tree into the house, and vacuuming needles.

A real tree is in our house. Which makes it all worth it. I'm wildly hopeful like that.

After lunch it's 12:30 and some of them are napping because dad needs to break this day up into two. After almost fainting from the combination of running hill sprints with (big) Ben and not having eaten anything for six hours, I literally lay motionless in a glucagon stupor on the driveway. Then on the living room floor, waiting for a Gatorade and handful of Honeycomb to kick in. The older two are decorating, cramming almost every ornament within 20 degrees of tree latitude and longitude.

The sound of broken glass gets me up off the floor and babbling. Something about leaving those kind in the box and putting the Steeler black and gold fake candy canes above where Maggs can try to eat them. I move the small Bible ornament that was hung behind the 90's era Shaq dunking a basketball ornament because that just ain't right. I move Shaq behind a paper and duct tape sled or snowman or something.

The decorations are on, er, "on," and now light must go over top because of the sprinting hang over. I find that only one string of last years white lights works, this and a string of multicolor. I go with all we have, both white and multicolor lights that begin flashing in a few minutes. They're flashing multicolored lights.

Unfocused image. Notice the miniature manger scene, half knocked down.
And it is done. The crooked tree, partially covered by decorations and inadequately lit with an odd color-flash scheme. It's up. It's in our home, center stage before the tired and excited six of us. Yes, the mom is home from her day of work. Hallelujah. Surprise her, we did, in a few ways with that tree.

The dad performance for the day: B- for being present and good memories and hustling over the tree but feeding the kids bologna and ketchup for dinner and in many ways taking on far more than he could handle in a spirit of peace.

He could use some quiet time in the dark, sitting and kneeling low on the floor beside that tree.

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