Tag Archives: life

Summer: Where did it go? by John E. Stack

After a pretty rough school year, I was looking forward to getting some things done around the house. During the school year, I had to learn a new subject area, Social Studies. As much as history does not change, I really do not remember something I studied 20/45+ years ago (college second time and high school). Anyway, most of my normal free-time during the school year did not exist. I even had very difficult time feeding my reading addiction.
Last summer, I was able to undertake a bedroom/bathroom renovation (still haven’t found the right bathroom light fixture). But, I didn’t get the bedroom furniture refinished or the shower door replaced. Those were on my list for this summer. I also wanted to build a couple of new cabinets for the bathroom.
After taking a few weeks for relaxation/vacation, I planned to get things done. We spent a week up in the mountains of North Carolina, visited Chattanooga, Tennessee and a quick day trip to Helen, Georgia.
While in Chattanooga, we visited this beautiful place called Ruby Falls. After waiting in line or a couple of hours, we took a elevator one hundred and twenty-some feet down into the earth. We walked for about forty-five minutes through a maze of tunnels to discover an underground waterfall. It was highlighted by various colored lights but was absolutely beautiful. It was well worth the time and trouble.
On the day before we were to leave to come home, we visited a small mountain town of Helen, Georgia, where we decided to go tubing. The water level was a little low, but we went anyway. About half way through, we got stuck on a rock. Before we could get dislodged we were hit by a large group of adults. Allie was shot out of her tube in into the river. I went in after her but luckily another set of tubers grabbed her and held on to her until I got there. She was okay, just a little shaken.  Walking back down the river to where my wife anchored our tubes, a rock rolled under my foot and down I went. Now, if I were a much smaller guy, I would probably have been okay. Needless to say, I’m not and my foot jammed into the river bed. Ended up with a broken little toe, a broken big toe and a boot. I’m just glad it was the last day of vacation and not the first.
That pretty much destroyed my work schedule. Since then, along with a few weeks of healing, I have been able to refinish all the bedroom furniture and replace the shower door. I may even get to complete one of the cabinets before school starts back in a couple of days.  May be I’ll post some pics when I get it done.

Oh yeah.  In regards to my habitual reading, I’ve completed at least three eBooks and  6 hardbacks.  Even though my foot is not fully healed, life is good.

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure and Cody’s Almost Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.

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Oh Really!! Revisited by John E. Stack

Hi again, last month I wrote about some issues within the foster care system.  This month, I still find my self irritated, and I wanted to make a clarification.  I will start with the clarification first.  I made a statement that it costs the state around $1500 per month per child that is in foster care.  That is a true statement.

What might be misleading is people believing that the foster parents get this money.  We do not.  We do get a monthly stipend to help provide for the children that we have.  For newborn babies up to toddlers around 4 (it maybe older), foster parents receive less than $500 per month to buy clothing, diapers, wipes, and formula if they use over what WIC provides. Most months we are in the red.   We do not get paid to get up three or four times a night when the baby wakes up crying, we don’t get paid for colic, or taking time off work for doctor appointments.

I am thankful for social programs like WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and it may have different names in different states.  We normally have children who need special formulas.  WIC usually allows 8 – 10 cans per month.  One of our recent children needed a formula and the cost is $39 per can or around $390 per month.   Our daughter was on a formula that cost $49.95 per can and she went through a can every two days.  Thank you WIC because who can pay over $700 a month for formula.

What does it cost birth parents? (Remember, they are usually the reason their child is in foster care).  They get supervised visitation from 1 to 4 times a week at government expense.  They do not have to help provide for their child, not even diapers.  Some have to get counseling, take classes, get a diploma, get their license, get a job.  They do not have to get drug counseling, or parenting classes.

Why do we do foster parenting when there are so many problems with the system?  We look at this as a ministry.  We believe that this is a job that God wanted us to do and has provided us with the means to do so.  Most of the time it is hard work, but the blessings we receive make it worthwhile.

Sorry for the rant, but sometime you just have to get stuff out of your system. My wife had a mom ask how much we got paid to take care of the kids that were placed in foster care.  When my wife told her what we were paid, she could hardly believe it.  She had been told that we got several thousand a month.  Only in a perfect world…maybe there would be no need for foster parents.  What a concept.

Okay, off my rant.  Who knows what next month might hold in store.  May you be blessed in all you do.

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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Examining My Own Mortality by John E. Stack

Something happened to me a few weeks ago that I’ve seldom gone through.  I read the name of a friend from long ago in the local obits.  It really threw me off since it was a person that had helped change the direction of my life.  It also from a time over thirty years ago and two thousand miles away on the far side of this United States.  He was distant kin and I was almost half way around the world when I chanced to meet him. Out of respect, I called him “Chief” due to military rank, and he called me “Cuz”.  Often times when old friends pass, particularly when they are not that much older, it sets your mind off on an excursion to rediscover the things that you went through, especially those things that may have had an impact on the lives of others.

I was about halfway through my Air Force career, stationed at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. I would have been described as an arrogant and self-centered young sergeant.  I worked on the high side of construction and design.  We often went on temporary assignments and completed construction projects, such as buildings, roads and utility systems.

Not long after I was stationed in Las Vegas, I came across a brass, cigar-smoking chief master sergeant who had the same last name as my mom’s maiden name “Whitlow”.  A short while later I asked if he was kin to the Whitlow’s from North Carolina.  To my surprise he said he was.  He also said that my grandfather was his uncle.  What a coincidence!  It always gave us something to talk about.

The other things we often had opportunities to talk about was my mouth and attitude.  Both were horrible.  Not a time I’m proud of.  I often wonder now how my wife could stand to be around me back then. I won’t go into everything, but after the second time I lost my temper and said some very unprofessional, rude things to a young lieutenant he came to my rescue.  The lieutenant was extremely angry because of the name I called him and threatened to put me up on charges.  Chief saw (heard) what was going on and moseyed over to where we were having our conversation. He said that I was needed back on the job site right away because there was a problem. I think I was the problem.  As I walked away, I heard, “Excuse me sir, could I speak to you for a moment?”

I don’t know what was said in their conversation, but I do know that after I apologized to the Lieutenant, he agreed not to file charges.  After the butt-chewing I received from Chief, all I could say was thank-you.  I still remember some of the words he told me.  He said, “Stack“, I knew I was in it deep. “This is the last time I save your ass.  You are the best at what you do.  You don’t have to tell people, they can see it in the quality of your work.  You need to grow-up and make sure that you want to make the Air Force a career, because if you keep on this path you won’t last.”  I was surprised that he cared enough to call me out, and I’ve never forgotten.  It was more than just being family.  Even though I lost track of him, I never lost respect.

I often wonder if I have touched people in this way (the caring part, not the rude part).  I started to turn my life around and eventually I became a Christian.  After retirement, I went back to school and became a middle school teacher.  I felt that God pulled me in this direction and now I’m completing my twentieth year.  I’ve taught hundreds of middle-schoolers.  When I think back I question whether my old-school ways had positive effects on these students or was I too tough?  Did I care enough?  I like to think I did but often felt that my standards were a lot higher than the parent’s or kid’s expectations.

And then I think about the children that have lived in our home.  God provided us with a house way too large for just my wife and I, and then asked “what are you going to do with all these rooms?” (no, God did not speak directly to us but as we talked this was what we felt.)  We became foster parents about eleven years ago and have had twenty-two babies get their start from our arms.  I hope these beginnings have been positive.  I often ask myself, “have my fallings and failures affected these babies?”

As a teacher we are supposed to reflect on what we do.  Self-examination is much more difficult, and I hate them both.  I don’t like the feelings of inadequacy that I have when I question myself.  Will I get past this before I’m called to account that final time?  I know that I can’t please everyone, but will I meet my own standards for me?

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody and the Great Zoo Escape and co-authored with his daughter Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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Leprechaun Gold by John E. Stack

For years we have been chasing that lucrative pot of gold.  Who?  My daughter, Allie, and I.  For the past several years we have been trying to catch that little green guy and gain access to his gold without chasing to find the end of a rainbow.  He trashed our daughter’s bathroom for the last two years.  Rainbows and shamrocks on her mirror, green foot-prints on the counter and on the toilet seat. and he somehow turned the toilet water green.

This year Allie decided that we were going to build a Leprechaun trap.  Suzanne did some research.  We used an oatmeal  box, cut a hole in the top, and camouflaged the hole.  Then we painted everything green.  We built a ladder from popsicle sticks and baited it with green M &Ms.

We even stuffed the bottom of the trap with tissues, so he wouldn’t get hurt if he fell.  We set the trap on the bathroom counter.

This morning, the tissue paper was torn and most of the M &M’s were gone.  We checked inside the trap and it was empty.  This time he left some stuff on the counter.

He also left her a note…

And some gold coins.

Well, it didn’t work out this year, but there is always next time.  We are always looking for a bigger and better Leprechaun Trap.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody and the Great Zoo Adventure, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

 

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I forgot I had Something to Say by John E. Stack

What? Is it time again? Already? But, I just wrote a blog a few days ago. It can’t be time again. I have no thoughts, nothing to write about. I’m sleepy, real sleepy. Can I just go and take a nap? The baby is crying again. Baby? I just got her to sleep. Baby? Oh yeah, the noise maker in the swing with colic. What day is it anyway? Is it time for me to go to work? Saturday? Good, then I can sleep in. No, the baby is crying, and someone needs to check on her. But, I just laid her down. Isn’t it Allie’s turn to check on her? Okay, but I really need some coffee. Maybe I can hold her in one arm and feed her, and type with the other. Yeah, that should work at least until she needs to be burped or she spits up. Fun!!  Hey, I’m only a week and a half late in writing.  I feel lucky that I made it at all.

Amid the business of everyday life, we threw a stick in the spokes that help keep things running smooth. We had thought that it was time for us to exit the foster parenting stage of life and maybe try something else. What it would be, we had no idea. Then, back in November, the day before Thanksgiving, we were asked if we could take a short-term placement. She was tiny, but extremely healthy, and we would only have her for about two weeks. It took about two minutes to fall in love with that two-day old and we were sad to see her go.  Including our own natural children, this was the first baby we have ever had that never spit-up.  She had a great snuggly personality and only cried when she was hungry.  Even then, she gave a few minutes of grunts and groans to say, “hey guys, get things ready cause I’m waking up.”  If she got no response, then she would cry.

Over Christmas, our house was empty of babies. That was an unusual feeling, which hadn’t happened for several years. That emptiness was short lived when we received call for another little girl, this one a thirty-three-week preemie. She was eating every two to three hours, so as normal, Suzanne and I took turns feeding her. I often take the late, late night feeding and the early morning feeding. This gives Suzanne time to get some rest since she has the all-day duty. I usually catch a nap or two and drink large cups of coffee.  This little miss is usually awake sporadically from ten at night to around six in the morning.  She also feels that she has to right to be held all night.  We know this because when we lay her down to sleep she wakes up and screams until she is picked up again.  She may scream an hour or until she tires out.  Right now we both stay tired.  In order to stay awake, Suzanne drinks a caffeinated cola.  Cola hurts my stomach so in order for me to make it, I drink coffee.  Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, such a magical potion. This helps me get to work on time and stay awake while teaching a hundred middle schoolers. Sometimes I drink it for no particular reason.

Only within the past ten years have I become a coffee addict. During my twenty years of serving in the Air Force, I seldom drank more than a cup a month. I often made fun of the guys carrying a half full coffee cup with a large brown stain on the front of their dress shirts. They were true coffee drinkers. Most were office jocks with ranks of E-5 (Technical Sergeant) through E-8 (Senior Master Sergeant). What I didn’t realize was that these were the experienced airmen who were often called in for night shift problems and had to work until the issues were resolved. Then they had to also work their day shift. I, later in my career, found out about those long duty days.

Fast forward fourteen years after retirement and our new calling, Foster Parenting.  I find that I am called in for night time problem more and more (it’s that experience thing).  The second child that was placed in our care (ten years ago) was the major reason for my coffee addiction. I’ll call her Little Miss M.  Miss M didn’t sleep except in short bursts. She had the worst case of colic I’ve ever come across, plus milk allergies. This was complicated by a doctor who said, “All babies have gas and eventually, she will get used to the formula”. What a nut job.

Anyway, working as a middle school teacher, I couldn’t just take the day or multiple days off, so I tried coffee. The kick was just what I needed to keep awake after an almost sleepless night. After about two and a half months my attempts at drinking coffee had turned into an everyday thing, whether we have a child in our home or not. Addicted, probably. I’ve thought about giving up drinking coffee (not seriously), but every time I do, we get another phone call, “Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Stack. Would you be ready to take another baby?”  Looks like it is time for a little more experience.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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To Resolve or Not to Resolve by LV Gaudet

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Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Here we are, on the cusp of a new year again.  The time of year where people turn to making their selves promises to better their selves out of guilt over the gluttony of Christmas, because it is their custom to make resolutions for the new year, or simply for a lark.

They count down to midnight, holding glasses to the sky and looking around for someone to play the age old cat and mouse game of “who do I want to lock lips with and who do I desperately want to avoid at the stroke of midnight, and oh no, is that person giving me a hungry I want to devour you look; eww, yuk, don’t touch me.”  Fortunately, those firmly entrenched in romantic-type relationships have a certain sense of immunity.

The new year is often thought as chance at a new start.  Out with the old and in with the new year.  And for some, their yearly resolution is to adamantly proclaim to not have any new year resolutions.

For a month after New Years’, places offering life affirming, soul searching, and body improvements are to be avoided at all costs lest you lose your sanity trying to negotiate the parking lot in endless circles in hopes a spot will open.

By the end of February, many resolutions are forgotten like that dirty underwear discarded and fallen behind the laundry hamper, nagging at the back of the minds of those who remember they landed there but don’t want to dig them out.  you can once again approach the gym without the expectation of spending half an hour or more circling in search of the nefariously impossible to find parking.

 

I am not much of a resolution maker.  I never have been.  I have never really seen the point myself.

Rather than making myself a yearly promise to better myself, telling everyone that I must dedicate myself to something I am loathe to do or give up, I opt for more of a daily simplicity.

It is easier to embrace healthy choices when you don’t make it a chore.  Vegetables are not the enemy, boring food is.  Exercise is an exploration.  Don’t think about how you have to plan it, how much work it will be, just make it simple.  Simple choices.  Chose the positives, not the negatives.

I try to make that a simple part of everyday life.  I enjoy food.  I embrace it.  A good meal does not have to be hard.  Simplify.  Healthy and delicious, rather than lazily bland and over fat inducing.  I enjoy feeling good, not sluggish.  Living, moving, not laying about while time ticks by without me.

 

If I am making any kind of resolution this year, I made it in November, during NaNoWriMo.  It is not a pledge to better myself.

My promise was more of a what do I want to accomplish over the next year.  Over the next years.  Nothing worthwhile comes without some form of compromise.  Nothing in life is ever that simple.

I made a choice to focus my effort on finishing works in progress.  Choosing a story at whatever state of progress it is in, from the first drafts sitting idle to the partially done.  It means sacrificing the nonstop ideas that come up, urgently wanting to be written.  I have too many unfinished stories, put aside when the next story begs to be written.

And, let’s face it, writing is much more fun than editing.  Creating something new, the story flowing through you with no idea where it will take you; vs. re-reading the same story a hundred times over while you work to develop it into the best thing you can make it be.

So, while the new stories clamber to be written, I will try to focus instead on the new discoveries waiting to happen with old friends as I re-explore the stories to be edited, revised, torn asunder and reconstructed, and to be finished.

 

And, just for fun, for the New Year’s Eve glorified resolutions and customs fanatics, for your enjoyment …

 

From smashing your dirty dishes on your neighbor’s door to burning effigies, to fist fights, to who steps first over a threshold, here is a list of 25 strange new year’s customs.  As with anything internet based, take it for what it is, unverified and maybe true maybe not.

 

https://list25.com/25-strangest-new-years-traditions-from-around-the-world/

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Blessings by John E. Stack

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)

As much as we want Christmas to be a happy, joyous time, often it is not. Life is tough and no matter how hard we try, sometimes grief and pain over-shadow that happiness. People experience tremendous loss, whether in a loved one or in their livelihood.

Even in my own life, loss is prominent around Christmas. Many years ago, my dad passed away a week or so before Christmas. A few years later, my wife’s brother was found dead a couple of days before Christmas and a couple of years later her mom passed on Christmas eve. I even applied for a job with NASA, but even though I had a good shot and was fully qualified, I didn’t get the job. I was extremely disappointed. Yeah, the events of life can certainly dampen the spirit of Christmas.

It is so easy to focus on all the bad going on or how cruel employers can be when they let employees go just days before Christmas or burying a loved one on the day after Christmas. It is easy to lose sight of the great blessings that we receive.

I’ve come to realize that no matter how devastating something may be to us, it did not take God by surprise. During these times he wants us to refocus on Him. When we do that, we can begin to see all the blessings that He has provided.

In the death of a loved one, new bonds are formed between all of those connected to that person. Comfort can be found in those bonds and grief shared is not quite so devastating. The job loss gives one the opportunities to refocus their priorities and to concentrate on the blessings God will provide.

The passage from Luke shows the great gift that God gave us because of his love for us. A Savior. His own son. Could he foresee the death of His Son? Again, these things don’t take God by surprise. He had/has a plan. He already loves you. His gift proves it.

I pray that during this season that you look for the blessings. They are there, you just need to look. Maybe the blessing you seek will be that baby in a manger. Be a blessing to someone, look for ways to help those less fortunate, and yes, there are those less fortunate.

By the way, not getting the job at NASA resulted in great blessings. We didn’t realize that God had his hand in that decision. That job would have required us to move to Houston. If we would have moved to Houston, we would not have become foster parents. We would have missed out on taking care of twenty-one babies, including one wonderful now eight-year-old little girl that is my daughter and a special nine-year-old young man that is my grandson. What blessings.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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Some Last (Written) Thoughts About Bill by John E. Stack

 

Bill has been out of our house for a little over six months and our lives are so vastly different now that we only have one child.  That is on child living in the house.  We have opened our house up again for a new child that has been displaced from their parents and their home.  We notified our agency about a month or so ago that we thought we were ready, but whether it is by the decision of the agency or just God’s will, we still have an empty nursery.  The one thing our agency may not understand is the longer our nursery stays empty, the easier it is to let it stay empty. 

 

For those of you that are reading my writings for the first time, or maybe have forgotten, Bill is a young boy that my wife and I took into care.  We work as foster parents and Bill was our twentieth child.  Bill was a micro-preemie and weighed only one pound twelve ounces at birth.  When we met him, he was up to a little over four pounds. And about two and a half months old.  He was the smallest baby we had ever seen, much less held.

 

We went through a lot with Bill.  He had about every type of therapy you could imagine.  It seems like my wife was running to appointments about three to four times a week.  Bill had a very difficult time gaining weight (not a problem that we have in common).  Since he was very tiny at birth, the doctors wanted him to gain as much as possible as quickly as possible.  Along with being tiny, Bill had (has) sensory problems, particularly with food textures.  He was also very, very active.  Finally, the doctors decided that if he was gaining any weight, it was better than losing it (in his case).

 

Well, approximately two and a half years went by and we began working a permanent placement plan for Bill.  His birthday was rapidly approaching, and he would soon be three.  I guess the Department of Social Services went into panic mode.  If he was still in foster care at three it would really mess up their statistics.  Normally, a transition lasts three to four months.  Bill’s was less than five weeks.

 

Bill’s new parents have had him for the past six months and his adoption recently went through.  We get to see some real cute pictures of him and his new family.  We don’t believe that he is fully bonded with his new mom and dad, but it shouldn’t take much longer.  Once they are ready, we will skype and if that goes okay then we will try for a short visit.  We think they are going to make it.  They may have some rough roads to travel, but we all do once in a while.

 

How are we doing with all this?  Do we miss him?  You bet.  Our house has never been so quiet.  I don’t think a day has gone by where we don’t mention him in a conversation.  He is very much missed, and not by just us.  Family, church family, friends, workers in stores we frequent all ask how he is doing and say how much they miss him.  This life we live affects lots of people – more than we ever knew.

 

Some ask, “why didn’t you adopt him?”  Our response is usually, “why didn’t you?”  You know, it was never in our plans to adopt, but we didn’t know God’s plans for us.  Now that we do, I wouldn’t change a thing.  Will God put that in front of us again?  Only he knows.  Plus, we are getting kind of old to be stepping out like that again.  So, for now, we wait to see the next step in his plan for us.  We never know what to expect!

 

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and the soon to be released (hopefully) Secret Lives (of Middle school teachers).

Hey, by the way, if you enjoyed, this share it with a friend or group of friends.  We are always in need of foster or adoptive parents and some of these posts may inspire them to step out of their comfort zone and change someone else’s life.

If you really, really enjoyed this, click on the link and check out some of the great books published by Indigo Sea Press.  That too could change someone else’s life.

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Honey-Do’s Part II by John E. Stack

I posted in a previous blog that when I completed my honey-do list, I would post pictures.  Several readers responded that they would like to see some of the work. I thought I would be done by now, but I’m not.  Well, I don’t think I will ever finish the list.  For some strange reason it, like a child, keeps on growing.  Even though I have completed a few items, there are more that I need to finish and a few that I need to start.  If I can keep the appliance repair guys away and the car repairs down, I might be able to get some things done.

School started and life got in the way.  Work got in the way.  I am teaching a new subject this year, changed from math to social studies, and I have never had so many papers to grade in my life.  So, now I work to find time to complete the master suite.

I wanted to get the shower door installed before I had to return to work and as it turned out the maximum width of the shower door was 1/2″ shy of being wide enough.  So, my daughter ordered me a new one and I repacked the one I had been given.  The new door finally came in and was delivered this week.  Hopefully, I can get it installed within the next few days.  There is hope!

I also wanted to get the bathroom vanity lights changed out, but we are still searching for one that we really like,   I hate to settle for something I really don’t care for.  Maybe soon.  Maybe.

We did refinish the bathroom vanity and it turned out much better than I expected.  We sanded down the old finish and used a medium gray with a sponge roller. Only a little touch up and I think we are good.

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The floor is a light gray vinyl panel system and the colors go together quite well.  The wall are an aqua blue, so the gray is not over powering.

The sliding door replaced an ugly pair of 18 inch doors.  If you only opened one door there wasn’t quite enough room to get in, and opening both doors just seemed to be a waste.  Anyway, problem solved.

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It looked kind of like this, so I built a barn door,

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stained and mounted it.  I installed the track and it actually ended up level, so the door does not open or close by itself.  I watched a few on-line videos on installation and saw several fails.  Guess I got lucky.

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The door received a paint wash.  I diluted some gray satin paint with water 1:1 and painted as normal.  It gave it a gray stain which allowed the grain to pop.  I thought it turned out nice.  It was extremely heavy; solid wood that measured 43 inches by 84 inches.  If it doesn’t pull the bolts out of the studs, it should last a while.

The bedroom is a textured gray sandstone with an aqua accent wall. We installed an engineered hardwood that looks like weathered boards.  Then, added a few pieces of antique furniture and I am almost done.

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I don’t believe I’ve had a project go smooth from start to finish and this was no exception.  I was excited about building my first door and had no idea how to do it, but after a lot of delays and a lot of sawdust, it is done.

Well, I need to get back to grading papers.  Hope you all have a great week.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.

 

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That Special Girl by John E. Stack

That special, one-of-a-kind girl showed up in my life a few years ago and totally changed my life. She had been badly hurt, even though there were few outward signs. You could tell by looking into her eyes that she felt unloved and was ready to give up on life. God had given my wife and I  a mission – to love. From the moment we laid eyes on her, we fell in love. I will call her Katherine.
My wife and I first met Katherine at a hospital about an hour away from home. Her room was at the end of the hallway. There was a nurse’s station right outside her room, but it was not being used. The lights were out and the hallway was dark. Even though it was daytime, her room was completely dark. Her bed was situated where she could not even see the door.
About the only visitors Katherine ever received were the nurses or the med tech’s coming in to check vitals or to draw blood. The doctors had given up on her and expected her to die, said they figured about three weeks. The nurses didn’t come in unless they had to because they didn’t want to become too attached. So, she was picked up in order to change her diaper, stuck with a needle in order to draw blood. She didn’t know many good touches. Katherine was four months old when we became her foster parents and became totally involved in her life.
My wife and I worked with the nurses and changed a lot of things, even to the point of having her removed from that hospital and transferred to one closer to home. Even if the doctors expected her to die, we weren’t going to give up. God had a different plan. There was something very special about Katherine. I went through a crash nursing course and the nurse supervisor had to sign-off that I knew how to complete certain tasks. It was tough but she was worth it.
Within a few days after having her airlifted to the new hospital, she was discharged and was able to go home with us. She was now six months old but only weighed nine pounds. When Katherine was less than two weeks old she developed a condition, which caused her intestines to die. The doctors removed almost eighty percent of both her large and small intestines. It took a while, but things started to improve, and her health started to improve. We fell deeper in love.
The adoption went through right after her second birthday. She was stuck with us forever.
Fast forward to about three weeks ago. Katherine was watching a video about kids going into foster care with her mom. As the kids were brought out of their homes they carried black garbage bags. “why are they carrying those black bags?” she asked. My wife explained that when social workers remove children from their homes, the kids don’t have much time to pack. They also don’t own suitcases.
Katherine was shocked, “What do you mean? Those kids have to carry their clothes in a garbage bag? That’s not right.” Katherine was upset about this when she went to bed.
My wife had been talking to me about finding someone that would supply some type of bag that social workers could have on hand to give kids if they had to be taken into custody.
The next morning Katherine woke up with an idea. She decided that for her birthday, she wanted her party guests to not buy presents for her, but to buy things that would fit in a string bag. She wanted to have people by tooth brushes with tooth paste, small blankets, small stuffed animals, toys for little kids, etc. She also figured her mom could make or buy some simple string bags and we could give these to social workers or police officers to give to kids when they were removed from their homes.
Her mom asked her about her birthday gifts and she said that those didn’t matter because we would buy her some things. So, on her birthday party invitations, we put a note explaining Katherine’s wishes.
More than anything we received a wonderful gift. We got to see a heart that was willing to give pretty much all she had and hoped to give to other kids that she didn’t even know. She’s my new super hero.
Happy 8th Birthday, to my beautiful, sweet, and wonderful daughter. We love you.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.

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