Thursday, July 02, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day

Not only does Katie turn 19 tomorrow, but she is moving into her first apartment! Yeah for her!!! I am both proud and worried about her for this big step. It isn't easy, but it is necessary.

As I've tried to share here, things at home have not gone well. It is at worst a battle zone, at best a DMZ. Most of the time Diane just avoids Katie completely, spending her free time up in our room.

Katie is nervous, to say the least. But this is an important and necessary step. I'm hoping it gives her the incentive that she has lacked, to get a job, to get her driver's license, to get her school loans completed. We had a bit of a talk last night - and even though she is good at bringing up the line "I'm an adult" - as of tomorrow she will HAVE to start acting like one.

I'd have preferred an apartment closer to home, or even better a college dorm, but that isn't to be. This opportunity came up, was extremely reasonable (which a lot of others weren't) and she took it.

So tomorrow will be spent packing, moving, unpacking, and then taking her out for her birthday dinner!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Well it has finally happened. Wearing her red gown, mortarboard and tassel, Katie graduated high school.

There were times I never thought it would happen, that she would end up dead, dropped out on drugs, or pregnant - but so far none of those has happened.

Was this success because of or in spite of the program - that is a question that can never truly be answered at this point. I do feel that I have done everything in my power as a father to give her all the opportunities to suceed, and protect her as much as I was able.

Next steps? She is enrolled at the local community college for fall. She needs to get her financing for it done, as well as get a job. And an apartment. Just like her older brother and sister, I know expect her to move on with her life, and that means living away from home.

At this point I don't have much more to add. Like a butterfly, it is time for her to climb from her protective shell and fly away to a new life.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, June 05, 2009


Yesterday was the day finally. Katie is now a high school graduate.

As a father, I'm proud of her. Her graduation party is next Saturday.

In addition, she got her class schedule for the local community college the other day (along with the invoice). So the next steps are to get a job, and apartment, and a student loan for school.

It has been a very rough ride, and it still quite bumpy. Katie and Diane don't get along at all any more, and pretty much avoid each other. The same is basically true with her brothers.

Katie turns 19 next month - and like the proverbial butterfly it is time for her to leave the cocoon and fly.

I've tried to teach her what I can, but I fear that the lessons she needs to learn now can only be learned on her own.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hmmm - an on topic update

*Shock* Actually talking about what is happening.

Things seem to be stable, though far from ideal. As she has stated, Diane has once again checked out - spending most of her time upstairs in our room. The boys and Katie are typically at each other most of the time. The youngest boy gets along the least with her - neither of them seems capable of NOT commenting when the other says something. He jumps all over her when she says anything - she in turn jumps all over his case (though usually a bit more visciously, laced with profanity) in response. Fun times - NOT.

The middle son is spending as much time away from the home as possible - part of this because of his new girlfriend (and I'm happy that one of my boys finally has a girlfriend). She is actually someone Katie knew before she left from one of the churches she went to. While she is also Katie's friend, Katie does not seem to realize that she comes over to see her brother, not her.

The younger boys and I are going up to see their older brother this weekend. Katie claims that I'm throwing her to the wolves by not taking her. She asked me if I expect the house to still be standing when we get back Saturday night - to which I responded that it will be if the people living here expect to continue that.

I'm actually not worried - Diane will either be upstairs (friday night) or working, while Katie will spend all her time on the computer in the basement, or sleeping. They will barely see each other, the same as if we were home.

I am tired of my home being a battlezone. I believe that once Katie is on her own, then there will be a chance for some healing on all sides to occur, and for some relationships to begin to build. I'd like to see Katie taking steps toward this goal, preparing herself for it - but things are to the point that unless she wants something from me she won't listen to anything I say.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The sad victimization of America

I'm not sure if Dan Rather created the phrase, but I first heard it from him when his book came out about "The Greatest Generation", talking about the men and women who lived during and fought in World War II.

This was just after the great depression, when the New Deal came out to put people back to work, and the beginnings of the modern welfare state were created. While being the son of two democrats may mean that I can't reject the concept outright; I look at the results that I see now in America, and I just think how sad the Greatest Generation must feel looking at what they fought and died for.

We have become a nation of victims. You hear about it every day on the news. Constantly, people who are victims. Be it crime, natural disasters, personal tragedy or what have you - everyone is a victim. The media loves to analyze everything, and blame it on anything they can, from the comic books of the 1950's to video games and movies of today.

Look at the people in New Orleans who are still whining and complaining about being victims of Katrina. These are the same poor, helpless victims who wouldn't leave when they were told to, and who (while not all of them) started looting and even shooting at the helicopters sent to help them later. These poor victims years later still can't take care of themselves.

Our grandparents should be ashamed. No, that isn't right. We should be ashamed - ashamed of what this nation has become.

Years ago, if you spilt coffee in you lap, it was your fault. Now you are a victim and suing the restaurant who gave you the hot coffee. If you lift up a running lawn mower and try to trim a hedge with it and cut off your hand - you are a victim of the company who made it because they didn't tell you not to do it, an build in safe guards to prevent it. If you are fat you are a victim of the fast food companies for putting the trans-fats in the food you shoved into you mouth.

What happened to personal responsibility? What happened to people saying they were responsible for their lives, their own decisions? Sure things happen. But it is always our choice how to deal with it - as a victim or to take responsibility for our decisions and actions.

One thing I have discovered in the past few years is that I am not a part of mainstream America. I don't fit in. I don't watch American Idol. I think Dancing with the Stars has to be one of the most boring concepts for a television show in my lifetime. Most of the things I tend to enjoy, I find that very few others do. I like to make my own decisions about things. I take responsibility for my actions, responsibility for my self and responsibility for my family. I do not let my heart rule my head, and I try to think through all my decisions, based on the best evidence I have at the time. I don't do what I feel is best, I do what I THINK is best.

These don't seem to be the normal things for American society these days. I don't believe in suing somebody because I don't like what they did (and I think that the huge amount of frivilous lawsuits are one of the worst things going on in America today, and should be stopped immediately). I do my best to pay my bills, put food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over the head of my family. I work hard at my job, and expect to be paid a reasonable amount for it.

I don't think that I deserve millions of dollars for sitting on my butt. I don't think the world owes me anything. I don't expect anyone else to take care of my family. I am not perfect, and I make mistakes. I accept the consequences of my actions. I don't blame others for my actions, for my successes or for my failures. I don't ask for your permission to live my life the way I choose, nor do I ask for your approval of my decisions, as neither of those are yours to give.

I am not a victim, and I am doing my best to see that I am not raising my children to be victims either.

This may not seem appropriate for this forum, but me and my family have come under attack recently (and quite visciously) because of decisions I have made - all of which I have been sharing for the past few years here, and this has been on my mind the past few days. I've tried to make this a resource for those other families who might also be struggling with troubled teenagers, not to promote any school or solution, but to simply say "You are not alone". Yes, in the end you have to make the appropriate decision for yourself and your family, as I did. You have to be responsible for your actions, whatever they may be. But here is one story, here is how one family struggled (and still struggles) so perhaps it might ease the burden on some other family to know they aren't the only ones.

I do not apologize for taking the actions that I thought best, nor do I ask anyones approval nor forgiveness. The choices I have made may not have given me the results that I wnated, but I accept that. I will continue to make choices to attempt to achieve the results for my family that I want, as I have always done.

Once more I find myself rambling, and realize that this sounds like a goodbye. As much as those who have attacked me lately wish it, this is not. It may be a rant, but I'm not going anywhere. I'm simply going to continue to be the best father that I know how to be, the best husband that I can be, and the best person that I am capable of.

I will not swear back at those who swear at me, will not curse back at those who choose to curse at me. I will not respond to anonymous cowards who attack others while hiding. I will not attack back those who are choosing to attack me - because in my life - they do not matter. Like mosquitos or gnats, they are but a momentary irritation, and worth even less consideration.

I will continue to personally respond to those who are at least open and honest enough to identify themselves, as I have done, and wish to discuss things without resorting to personal attacks.

One last note - anyone who thinks they have some deep and meaningful insight into me or my family because of a few posts I have made in a blog is sorely mistaken. It takes much more than a brief glimpse at someones lives to understand them. Many people may think this is a detailed account of everything that has happened in the past five years, and it is far from it. It is an attempt to share some of my feelings, and some of what we went through. Like anything else, there is so much, much more beneath the surface. If anything, this is an outline of one part of the story of my family, not the whole story. And while I may sometimes go on too long, as I have today, I am not a writer, and most of the story will never be told.

So for those very few that have been reading for these past five years, thanks. To those who have just started reading - well I wish to welcome those who will read the purpose of this and take it for what it is.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Katie's Story

Katie has found a very anti-program discussion group, and has decided to start writing up her story. Not necessarily a bad thing. I encouraged her (as did at least one of the people there) to actually create a blog to do it instead - but she refuses.

If she decides to create a blog, then I will gladly link to it from here, as I think it is important to have a chance to see all sides. Her story is not my story, and what she remembers is often not what I remember. However we are human, we see and note different things. Watch the movie Vantage Point if you want to see a great example of this.

Unfortunately, as long as she only puts on it on that site, I will not link to it. Aside from the personal attacks that are currently ongoing there (yes, internet death threats - I guess that means I am somebody now :-) ) I refuse to subject my readers (although my readership has probably doubled because of that site (what, to maybe 4 now?)) to that. And where at minimum the site is libelous - the vast majority of people on it post anonymously (though they feel that they have the right to put up MY personal information on the site while hiding themselves).

I'd again like Katie to put it on a blog - so it is as open as this one is - and people can begin to see all sides of a story. Of course, to see all sides, we would also need input from people at the school - and I know that won't happen.

Parts of her story are very well written - she does still have that talent (like I've been told I have) - if she chooses to truly work on it (she does not accept any kind of criticism well at all, and will never improve if she believes that it is already fantastic. There is some that is good - but everything can be improved) and makes an interesting read. More so for me because it gives me some more insight into her - even where it does not match the things I know and remember.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Well, it looks like for the past week or so I have been a very popular (15 pages worth) topic of discussion on this message board devoted to bashing all teen help programs.

A bunch of anonymous people calling me evil and a child abuser, hiding behind made up accounts. Posting my name, my father's name (that is uncalled for), and even Diane's work information.

What amazes me is how they know all the answers and all the solutions. Too bad I wasn't able to let them fix Katie four years ago since they are all so perfect. I guess I just have to continue to be human, and fallible.

I am reminded of when I was getting my divorce 10+ years ago though. I was accused of spousal abuse then as well (the entirety of the complaint was that I "grabbed her arm and pushed her on the bed."). I was vindicated by the courts, who found no evidence of it whatsoever - and in fact awarded me full, unconditional custody of all four of my children.

If there were ever an impartial judge of this (which I doubt there ever would be), I believe they would find the same thing.

If nothing else, it may give me more reasons to post again :-).