My Journey into Darkness

I led a very quiet and uneventful life until I was 46 years old when a tide would wash over me so immense it turned my life upside down and inside out. To this day, I’m still trying to recover and pray to God every night to just carry me through the next day – certainly no way to go through life. My personality changed and dreams for the future have been banished. Somehow, my wife has stuck with me, but even that is hanging on by a thread (I can definitely understand). I’ve acted like a fool for five years and still don’t know when the suffering and foolishness will end. I have the most beautiful family you will ever find – a beautiful wife and five great kids, yet I have a hard time appreciating any of it. I’ve turned on myself and continue to beat myself up day after day. I have a tendency to live in the past and just cannot face my present situation. When things get bad, ruminations attack me and tell me I should have never made the decision. I’ve tried to go back in time a million times and undo the hurt, but it just never works and makes things worse (ruminations at its best). The one thing with ruminations, though, is that for just a moment I never made the bad decision and for a few seconds the pain goes away and all is well. It only lasts momentarily, but in an odd way it seems worth it. Please God, I pray, just let this pain end, but do not have any sympathy for me as this was all self-inflicted (which makes it worse).

The long journey started in the Spring of 2011. I was a little worried about my current job going away sometime in the future and was feeling not very challenged by my position (like I was too good for it). It paid very well, though, and I enjoyed all of my co-workers, but I constantly perused around job boards looking for other employment (without any success). I finally started hitting the government web site – a job with a retirement would be great. My usual search involved looking for any jobs in Atlanta as it was just too expensive to move. Finally, a job came up which seemed to fit my skills (or somewhat closely). The only problem was that the job was in Fort Bragg, NC (Forces Command or FORSCOM) and I had no intentions of moving there. On a lark, I decided to fluff up my resume and see if I could actually get a response (as I’d never even got a response back from any of the jobs I’d applied for on the web site). Part of the process involves going over a questionnaire where you rate your skills. Since I had no intention of ever taking this job, I decided to pump up my ratings (again, just curious to see if I would actually get some feedback). After completing the questionnaire, there is a little section where it says you confirm your answers are honest and truthful. For just a second, I held up and almost didn’t hit submit, but then told myself what the hell and pushed the button. I soon forgot about the job.

Several weeks later, I was sitting at work early in the morning (before anyone else was in the office). The phone rang and I picked it up – it was the human resources department for FORSCOM. The HR lady spoke about how the job was not in Atlanta, but was actually located in North Carolina and if I did not want to interview, it would not hurt my chances for any future job prospects. The entire time she was speaking, I sat there with the thought, “I’m content” going through my head – ready to say no to the interview. Finally, she was done speaking and just before I uttered the words “I’m content”, a thought passed into my head that I should do a practice interview to help my interview skills. I then uttered, “I’ll do the interview.” We set up a phone interview for the next day at 4 PM at my house. I don’t know what it was, but I remember just feeling this odd presence in the room after I said it – it was as if I actually felt evil for taking the interview.

The next day, I got stuck in traffic coming home and barely made it home for the 4 PM interview. Since I had absolutely no plans of ever taking this job, I was perfectly calm during the entire interview. As a matter of fact, I even acted a little cocky. The interview zipped by and I said to myself, “That is the best interview you’ve ever done!”

The next day was Friday and I got home a little early (to avoid Atlanta traffic). Sitting at my computer, I checked my email and noted one from FORSCOM. I quickly opened it up and sure enough, they were giving me a job offer. I immediately told myself that I was not going to accept the offer and prepared to send them a reply email rejecting the offer. My head told me, “Don’t ever take that job – it is evil. Nothing good will ever happen.” I usually don’t think such things, but the thought just crossed my head. I started to write the reply email and then for some reason told myself it was pretty rude to reject the job immediately. I should wait a day or two as if I was thinking about it and then reject the job – it would show that it wasn’t just a show interview and I’d been serious about the position.

Several days went by and I didn’t think about the job, but then re-addressed the email. For some reason, I decided to think about it. After all, my job wasn’t real secure and I was a little worried about my skills. Maybe this might not be such a bad job after all. The only problem was that it ranged from a low salary (you’re step level in the government to a salary which, although not bad, wasn’t nearly what I was making at the time). I decided to talk it over with my wife anyway, because it did have a retirement plan and I’d really not accrued enough for a comfortable retirement and was running out of time.

My wife, Michelle, and I discussed the job. We went over the pro’s and con’s and thought we might look into it a little more. I did not mention any of my earlier worries or thoughts. We’d always wanted to move to Florida and be closer to family and besides, most of our neighbors were big parties and were not very nice to my wife. It might be an opportunity to get the kids into a better environment. The main concern was the salary and the moving expenses, could we afford it! I looked at housing costs and my first thought was, “This house is a big anchor holding us here – there is no way we can afford to sell the house.” It was also one of the worst times ever in the Atlanta housing market. Short sales were all over the place. We thought it over and thought it over, and thought it still might be a good idea because I’d get some needed training and skills update.

After not thinking about the job for another week, I decided to look back into it. My first concern was the low salary regarding which step you received (from Step 1 to Step 10). I called up HR and they said you could negotiate your step level – just send in a written statement explaining why you should be a higher step level and also include a W-2 so they can see your current salary level. More out of curiosity than actually considering the job, I decided to try and negotiate a higher step level. I thought they might offer me a step 5 which would be way too low of a salary. I also looked at my current salary and thought I make way too much money and this job was not worth it. Just out of exercise, I decided to type up a letter justifying a higher step position. Naturally, since I wasn’t going to take the job, I really fluffed up the letter with all kinds of achievements.

Surprise of surprises, they came back the next day with a Step 9 level – unheard of in government offers. I still thought it was too low of a salary, but put it on the back burner. About a week later, I started thinking about the job again. It wasn’t a bad salary and I was really lacking confidence in my IT skills. For some reason, I doubted I could even get a decent IT job with my skills (crazy in hindsight). I knew that at some point in the future, my job would probably go away – it might be a year or it might be 15 years. This might be a nice secure job I can have the rest of my life – maybe it is a good move. The only problem was that it did not include any moving expenses and I couldn’t really afford to move. We called some movers and got a quote of $6,000 to move our house. I called up FORSCOM and said that moving would bankrupt me and I needed some help moving. Low and behold, they came back with a $10,000 moving bonus. Problem solved. Still I did not accept the job, my wife and I would talk it over.

For the next month, my wife and I mulled it over. I did a spreadsheet and determined if it was financially a good decision – my calculations showed it to be an even proposition if we moved. Of course, my calculations were based on me being able to sell my house at its asking price and finding a comparable house for around $250,000 wherever we moved (actual cost ended up being $350,000). I also did not factor in all the additional costs of moving. My wife asked if we should have someone else look over my spreadsheet and check my numbers – naturally, I said they were good and there was no need (another big regret).

The next factor to consider was what we could sell our house for. Although it was a really bad market, we were in a prime area (great schools) and had a very nice house. We went to four different realtors and they all quoted $225,000. We owed $180,000 on the house and the money we would make on the house would allow us to pay off our credit card debt. The house looked good, so we thought on the decision a little bit longer.

After about a week, we decided to make a decision. I was looking at all the numbers and told myself that there was no way we could afford it. I was just about to tell Michelle that we could not afford the move when out of the blue a thought crossed my head, “There is no way we can’t afford this move.” My entire careful decision making process and this random thought appears in my head and I tell Michelle we should take the job. We were ecstatic and decided to tell the kids the next morning.

That very week-end, we were having a birthday party for Amelia. As fate would have it, one of our friends, Beth, brought along a friend we had never met. For the entire party, the man raged on about one of his friends going to take a job in San Francisco for the same exact salary – he thought he was a fool for doing it and raved on and on about it (could it have been a God whisper to stay). I sat there and listened and didn’t mention that we were taking a job for considerably less money. After the party, Michelle brought up about the gentleman raving about the lower pay and asked if we should consider this – naturally, I said we were fine (another regret).

Before putting the house on the market, we called Michelle’s sister Maggie in Florida and told her about our move. Since we were moving, she thought we should ask her friend, Dan, about getting a job in Florida (he has a copper business). I thought it was worth a try and gave him a call. We talked on the phone and he set up an interview with one of his managers up in Tennessee. I took a day off from work and ventured up to Tennessee. Then we waited and waited and waited for Dan to respond. He didn’t get back for about a month and finally said he couldn’t afford me. Michelle was incensed and thought it didn’t give us enough time to sell the house before I had to take the job (at the end summer). I saw her hurt in not being allowed to move and immediately decided to say we could still move (as it would make her happy). Another God whisper ignored.

We finally put the house on the market after carefully selecting from six realtors. Just after putting the house on the market, people from the Department of Army called me up and I had an interview for a security clearance. The interview went through in record time and I was assured of getting my clearance (after taking names and numbers for employers, friends, and neighbors).

Another month went by and I still had not told my boss about my decision – for some reason I just felt like I shouldn’t tell him yet (another God whisper). One day, my boss walked in and was in shock. The DOA had just called him to verify my employment at Wilson LLP as I was going for a security clearance. He asked me if I wasn’t paid enough or what the problem was. I hesitated before saying, “I still haven’t made up my mind. It really isn’t about the pay, but this is our bridge to get down to Florida to be closer with family.” I still had an out of the job (another God whisper). I decided to go and look at the job description. I looked it over and immediately said to myself, “What the hell am I doing taking this job. Not only is it way over my head, but I’m selling my house in the worst housing market and the move is going to kill us. There is no way in hell I’m taking this job!” I looked at the phone and got ready to call Michelle about the job. I sat and looked at the phone and looked at the phone. Then the thought, “Well, I already promised Michelle we’re moving” crossed my head. I didn’t pick up the phone and call. This moment in time really bothers me to this day. I shared everything with Michelle and to not call about this important of an event just ticks me off to this day. I still cannot believe I did not call her. In my head, I’ve called her a million times since then, but it does not help. Over and over I call her in my mind – it just doesn’t work no matter how much I run it through my head.

Meanwhile, Michelle and I talked about all the benefits of being in the government – perhaps I could get a job overseas for a while and travel with the whole family. The job seemed to be getting better and better – I entirely forgot about the job description. Finally, I decided to go up and look for a house in Fayetteville. I called the person who was to be my supervisor, Holly, and got a recommendation for a realtor. I called up the realtor and scheduled a meeting the next week-end. I went up and met with the realtor and remembered driving around Fayetteville. I really didn’t like the area and was surprised that the houses were more expensive than Atlanta. I stayed the night and came back the next day. On the drive back, I remember feeling very funny – like there was a slight fog in my head. I just ignored it, but it was the beginning of depression and I didn’t recognize the signs. I remember driving up to the house and thinking to myself, I should pull down those for sale signs right now. I like it here much better, but I hesitated again and said maybe tomorrow. I went inside and went to bed. The next morning, I woke up and the thought was gone from my head.

I told Michelle about the area, but we decided to both go up and view the houses. We took the whole family and drove up to Fayetteville and met with the realtor. Michelle was not impressed. She didn’t like the houses and did not like the area. We were about to call off everything, when we decided to go and look at Southern Pines – a small town in the area some people had recommended. We drove into downtown Southern Pines and loved it. We had found our small town. Again, the whole trip I felt a little funny (more depression setting in), but waived it off to being nothing.

Michelle was beginning to show the house, but there weren’t any offers coming. We kept pressing on. I finally decided to tell Wade of my decision to move. I went in that afternoon and told him I was going to take the other job. On the way home that afternoon, my Fayetteville realtor called me up and told me that I should not take the job – to stay in Atlanta. It was too late.

It was still several months away before I had to take the job. During this time, we were having a surprise 80th birthday party for my mom. Rather than take the whole family (which was the original plan), I decided to go myself. It was a grand party, but I did feel funny the entire time (depression setting in more). My parents even noticed it, but didn’t say anything. They thought I was just sad because I didn’t have my family with me.

Finally, my last day at work arrived – a Friday and I was slated to start the next Monday. During the meantime, we had one rental property in Southern Pines which ended up falling through. He called me up and expressed concern that we had five kids and didn’t want that for his house (which is totally illegal – just did not know it). We did some online research and found one in Whispering Pines and decided to rent it sight unseen – probably not the best decision.

On Sunday, I was all happy and left for Whispering Pines. I loaded up the car, kissed the wife and kids, and out I went. On the drive up to Whispering Pines, the devil began to play with my mind. During the drive, I started thinking about all the times I went to turn down the job. All of the do not take this job to this job is evil started running through my mind. By the time I got to Whispering Pines, I was a nervous mess. The depression had set in and robbed me of all my confidence. I didn’t want to take the job, but felt I was stuck. I didn’t think I had any skills and couldn’t get another job. Every night, I had panic attacks running up and down from my stomach up through my chest. They all said I’d lost the ability to support my family. I went into work and everything was already in a cloud. I called my wife and told her it was a miserable rental place. Every morning before work, I’d shake like a leaf before going in. But I proceeded on, thinking it was the only option available to me. After a week, I came home to help with packing. I walked in and did not kiss Michelle – she thought it was awfully weird. I couldn’t sleep that night and called my old boss in the morning. I asked him if I could have my job back. He said he’d think about it. He called back about an hour later and said I could have my old job back until December (about four months). I told him I’d take it (wish I would have followed through).

I went and told Michelle about the offer. She asked if I could get a job after that and for how much. I wasn’t really very confident and said I could probably get a job for $60,000. Naturally, that wasn’t enough money for our family (although in hindsight, I would be happy to live on that much money); however, she said it was my decision and I had to decide before the movers came later that day. I sat there and thought and thought about it and finally decided to press ahead with the job. The movers came and I sank further into depression. I barely slept that night. The next day, Michelle loaded up the van with the kids and took off for Whispering Pines. I stayed home to finish cleaning the house. I was so depressed, I could hardly move. Finally, I finished and took off for Whispering Pines. I determined I was going to drive into a median on the way and end it all. I drove for several hours and stopped for a bathroom break. Amazingly, I drove by and there was Michelle and all the kids. It saved my life. I followed up the rest of the way and we arrived at the rental. By then, I was deep into the depression. The moving van came and started unloading the furniture. I let Michelle direct them all and I just sat there – empty.

Maybe I’ll finish this later, it is just too painful to even write.

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Merry Christmas 2014

Dear Family, Friends, Liesl, Freidrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, Gretl, Maria, and the Captain,

The Von Scott family continues to thrive in sunny Florida as Tim masters control of whistle commands – one short whistle blow means let’ eat; one long whistle blow means let’s eat and don’t make me blow this whistle again; two short whistle blows means football’s on the TV; two long whistle blow means drop that remote and start listening to Mom; three short whistle blows mean let the dog out; three long angry whistle blows means somebody forgot to let the dog out; four whistle blows mean … (absolutely nothing as Tim can’t carry a beat longer than three notes).

Gently sandwiched between laundry, dishes, yard work, house work, cooking, supervising homework, shingling the roof, volunteering at school, singing “Do-Re-Mi”, and entertaining the children, Maria (aka Michelle) found time to teach her passion – an art class. Matisse (aka Michelle) is inspiring an entire generation to explore the wonders of art while she has re-invigorated her design career! Tim actually saw Michelle sitting still for a moment, but then he woke up and heard her singing “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” to Sophia.

14 year old Gavin continues to grow like a garden weed as he nears the pinnacle of success – surpassing his Dad’s verticality. He also tried and loved football, setting several school records including best snack by a Mom and best male rendition of “Sixteen going on Seventeen”. He’s even managed to maintain a high grade average with slightly questionable study habits – reading text books while watching videos, listening to music, playing computer games, antagonizing siblings, and completely baffling his parents on how he does it.

Luke continues to “Climb every mountain” on his goal of receiving a Duke scholarship (or could it be his parents’ goal – hmmm). A natural engineer, Luke constructed a full-size crossbow using nothing but toothpicks, Elmer’s glue, and gummy worms – squirrels tremble with fear! Additionally, he has taken up cross country where, like his brother, he’s already setting track records such as runner with the most cousins and least annoying girl siblings.

Laurel can be summed up in one of her quotes, “Things that should scare me make me excited!” Mom and Dad are very scared. She’s our daredevil and wants to always go faster on the bike, faster on the boat, higher on the ladder while shingling with Mom, and faster while in the car – a sports car will not be in the family future. Laurel is also our soccer star and despite playing goalie, she tied for the team lead in scoring (zero goals in 10 games – guess how many games her team won).

Sing the song “Maria” and you’ll be describing Sophia – a big personality tucked into fifty pounds of girl! Sophia the great (as she is called by classmates) has never met a stranger (in today’s world it means she can’t leave the yard until she’s 24). Sophia also joined soccer this year and surprised all with her aggressiveness – leading the team in tackles and yards after contact. She is a real go getter and we’re all starting to get her!

Amelia continues to lead the family in both hugs and smiles. Only in kindergarten, she already counts to a 100 (who cares about those silly odd numbers and the sixties) and shingles roofs with the best of them. She is also a speedster and Mom and Dad are teaching her to use her speed wisely (running away from the boys). Amelia played soccer and led her team in both ‘Excuse me’ and ‘Pardon me’ utterances. A true bonus baby, Mom misses her everyday while she’s in school!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, So long, farewell auf wiedersehen, adieu!

The Scott Family

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Christmas 2013

Dear Family, Friends, Bearded stranger who visits in the night, and small toy making people (not including Tim),

It’s been an adventurous year for the Scott Family in sunny Florida and the Scott Family decided to share some of their blessings:

1.       Gavin is turning into a young man and has really taken a liking to Junior ROTC.  He loves doing sit-ups and performs a push-up on every step he runs across.  He’s starting to turn into a little Arnold Schwarzenegger (without the accent).

2.       Luke had a very successful school science experiment.  His initial idea of monitoring the health status of his siblings by rendering them sleepless for three nights was quickly nixed by Mom and Dad.  It was certainly an A project, but not really considered an A in parenting skills.

3.       Laurel  had a fantastic emergency room doctor who was really good at sewing!  After climbing a tree (which Amelia had just fallen out of), Laurel slipped and fell out of the tree.  Luckily, her fall was broken by a limb.  Unfortunately, her lip slowed her descent.  A mere one hour of cleaning out the bark and seven sutures later – as good as new!

4.       A dramatic cold spell hit Central Florida and forced everyone to bundle up.  It was tough, but everyone was able to brave the 60 degree high.

5.       Michelle continues to squeeze work in between her VPK and 1st grade room mom gigs, house cleaning, dish washing, clothes washing, tutoring, and bike riding the kids to school every day.  She also decided to become a volunteer fireman and night time paramedic.

6.       Sophia is becoming a sophisticated little lady full of surprises (losing all of her shoes, leaving her socks in the middle of the living room, doing a week’s worth of homework the morning it is due, and jetting off on her bicycle without waiting for Mom).  Her teachers say she is perfectly well behaved in the classroom.

7.       Amelia is still the little lover of the family.  She has to hold hands, cuddle in the morning, give hugs at night, and love all over Lulu our dog (whether she wants it or not).  If she’s not at the top of Santa’s nice list, she’s pretty darn close.

8.       Tim grew an inch last year.  He was pretty darn excited until he figured out he was still wearing cowboy boots from the Christmas party.

9.       Lulu no longer runs away.  Now she just kinds of limps down the road and only makes it a few houses away before deciding to dig into somebody’s garbage.  It’s nice because now we can actually walk and chase her down.

10.  We found not just one fabulous church, but two fabulous churches.  We can now pick and choose which service we want to visit and what kind of sermon we would like to enjoy.  Do we want the wise 75 year old priest or the young 28 year old priest full of energy?  It’s a nice choice!

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Training Day

Day one – casual training (Part II).
I need no training in casualness (parental verifiable); however, postal work reaches new casualness depths.  A mentoring program is employed with each casual assigned to a seasoned full-time mail carrier, accompanying him several days en route to mastering postal delivery etiquette.  On day one, I promptly arrived at 9:30 AM and met my mentor – Joe.  A senile letter carrier approaching the ancient age of 40 years.  Joe was still casual at heart and priorities were immediately established.  Before departing, we participated in a secret initiation rite rooted in postal antiquity and veiled tradition – a game of cribbage.  Joe and I gathered our belongings and immediately stopped in the break room.  The skill, agility, and finger dexterity amazed my pliable mind.  Never before had I witnessed the counting of fifteen in such a fashion. Callused postal fingers, strong from skimming letters, shuffling, dealing, and counting cards in a fashion unimaginable to the outside world.  Joe pitted me against a gruff, experienced file clerk sporting a USPS tattoo on his right bicep, two naked blonde envelops on his left bicep, and a cigarette lazily hanging from his lips.  Nervous and disoriented, the clerk took advantage of my youth, quickly crushing, demoralizing, and humiliating me while constantly blowing smoke rings into my face.  Gratefully, Joe ushered me from the break room before my spirit was completely destroyed (although he was a little upset with only a thirty minute break before work).
Upon departure from postal hallowed ground, Joe introduced the true Postal Workhouse.  A two-seat blue and white miniature sport-utility government vehicle possessed of bone jarring 22 horsepower, dwarfish leg room, English sided steering wheel, and magnetic sex appeal to every desperate old maid in town – the do everything Postal Jeep.  Reinvigorated from cribbage, Joe directed me into the passenger seat while he manned the steering wheel.  Loaded with the day’s mail and two USPS mail bags, we blew out of the parking lot heading at white knuckle speed (or maybe 2nd day mail speed) toward Sioux City’s notorious West side.
Our first stop was a three story, square, camouflage green, cinder block apartment building with small, squarish, and plywood boarded windows.  Anxious to please, I grabbed a mail bag and prepared to leap out of the jeep when Joe forcefully grabbed my forearm and sternly commanded, “Not Yet!”  Calmly extending his index finger, Joe whispered, “Leave the bags.  We have other business first.”  Joe guided me to the back of the building where we stopped at an alley entrance.  Joe scanned the surroundings, noted no observers, and guided me further down the alley to a plain, unpainted, wood door with a small peep hole.  Surveying for observers, Joe found none and proceeded to deftly knock on the door with a distinct pattern – knock, pause, knock knock, pause, knock, pause, knock, knock, knock.  Immediately an eye appeared in the peep hole followed by the sounds of several bolt locks being unlocked.  The door swung open and without fanfare or noise, Joe jolted into the room and I dutifully followed.  It was a large 30′ square room with drab gray walls, bright fluorescent lights, one large refrigerator in the near corner and a plywood bathroom door in the distant corner.  Their artwork was impeccable – a single framed velvet picture of dogs playing poker.  Within the room were four round, brown plastic tables surrounded by men slouched in fold-up steel gray chairs, clutching their next winning poker hand.
Joe slowly surveyed the players and chose the table nearest the bathroom – was it for convenience or were the players patsies?  Perhaps it was both – genius in Postal Blue!  Unfolding the metal chair, Joe positioned it at the poker table while I stood quietly in the background – his 5’7″ 150 pound muscle in case any funny business arose. Extending his index finger, Joe slowly elevated his hand and within seconds, two full glasses of beer were placed on the plastic table.  The teacher then commanded his pupil, “Have a beer!”  Mystifying myself, a moment of temporary insanity washed over me and I meekly replied, “No thank you.”  A sensible, mature choice – my college buddies would be appalled given it was already after 9 AM.  Except for the slight raising of an eyebrow, Joe remained emotionless, returned focus back to the poker table, and entered his first ante.  The cards were beginning to fly and Joe was intent on supplementing his government benefits.  Five hands later, Joe was broke and  both beer glasses empty – these weren’t your average government cribbage player.  Joe uttered one word, “Damn!”  He exited the game and we exited the building – mail was waiting for delivery!
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Christmas 2012

Greetings Family & Neighbors, Optimists & Naysayers, Friends & Enemies (’tis Christmas),

It’s another year and the Scotts are trading pine sap in for love bugs.  Yes, we are moving again, but this time it is orange trees and Orlando.  Tim is still working for the government; however, he’s only Secret now instead of Top Secret (could say what he’s working on, but it doesn’t impress the kids).  If you’re visiting Mickey Mouse, feel free to stop on by and say hello – we can always use a babysitter (just kidding, sort of).

Tim has been trying a few new hobbies, but Michelle wasn’t too fond of the afternoon nap (special hobby lobby pillows).  Soon a hobby will be picking fruit trees – orange, grape fruit, fig, cherry, pomegranite, carrot, and lego (everything grows in Florida).  Lucky for Tim, Michelle can get the fruit up high.  Tim’s motto is “If it isn’t reachable, ask Michelle to put on heels.”

Michelle has really enjoyed North Carolina, but is looking forward to a parent trip of 1 hour versus 9 hours.  Nothing says fun more than five young kids squeezed into a van for nine hours with periodic stops in those always clean gas stations.  Michelle even experienced some time by herself this year when Amelia was in pre-school.  Taking advantage of the freedom, she ran chores for the family (Tim married well).  Michelle’s motto is “Just one more cup of coffee.”

Our twelve year old, Gavin, has now entered the “I think I like girls, but not enough to actually talk to them” stage.  He wants to be a vetinarian; however, his motto is “Feeding and watering pets is why God made little brothers and sisters.”  As a matter of fact, that is his motto for all chores (do older siblings ever change).

Luke is still our perfectionist ten year old.  He’s shed tears when a teacher gives him a B – just like his Dad (except Dad’s were tears of joy).  Luke’s motto is “If it ain’t broke, go fishing.”  Our fisher boy has already developed a fisherman’s acumen – ask him about the one that got away when he was four!

Our tomgirl Princess, Laurel, is now seven.  She loves to play with her dolls as she jumps over burning ditches or tackles her brothers.  A whimper wouldn’t leave her mouth if she broke a leg, but one timeout brings hours of torrential tears.  Laurel’s motto is “I’m a sweetheart and don’t make me hurt you to show you.”

Kindergartner Sophia proudly earned the first red (inappropriate behavior) card of the year in school.  Incredulous the teacher wouldn’t let her jump into the puddle, she let the teacher know what she thought as she tromped through all the puddles.  A quick learner, she hasn’t received a red card since the puddle pickle.  She has also turned into Ms. Popularity – last week a 1st grader asked her for an autograph.  Sophia’s motto is “Timeouts are fun!”  Thank god she loves hugs.

Amelia has burst out of babydom into three year oldness.  She is a big mix of Laurel and Luke with tinges of Gavin and Sophia.  A supreme snuggler, she’ll never pass on a hug.  She even told Laurel how she liked the polka dots on her face (freckles).  Amelia’s motto is “Hold me and don’t let me go (even if I’ve been on your shoulders for six hours).”

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will  be for all the people.”  Luke 2:10

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

The Scott Family

Tim, Michelle, Gavin, Luke, Laurel, Sophia, Amelia, and Sister Lulu

PS – A quick follow up.  The Scott family has found a home in Oveido, Florida.  The schools are great and the weather is even better!

 

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Trials of life

If I faced the Lions or martyrdom, would I choose my faith?  The decision would have been easy and my faith would send me to the lions.  Fortunately, do or die faith decisions seldom venture into our lives.  Our true test today comes in series of small trials and tribulations.  Do we speak up when someone disparages our religion?  Sitting down for dinner at a restaurant, do we say a prayer?  Do we complain to our school when they teach items contrary to our belief?

I really believe faith is tremendously more difficult in this day and age.  We are being tested by a thousand nicks rather than a single blow.  Each nick in our faith is easy to ignore, yet it makes it easier to ignore the next nick.  It would be much simpler if the test was direct and upfront.  Perhaps someone asking us, “Do you believe in God?”  It would be a simple answer for all of us Christians, yet it is easy constantly ignoring our faith in comfortable surroundings.  I’m at a party and someone is disparaging priests or my Catholic faith – do I stand tall and confront them or is it just easier to ignore them because they are my friend and neighbor.  How often have I ate lunch with friends and never said a blessing?  All these little nicks erode our faith a little piece at a time.

Eventually the nicks get larger and larger while we find excuse after excuse to ignore.  Rather than scarring us, the nicks begin changing our character.  It’s a fight we must all begin fighting before our day to day faith evaporates into a secular society.  We may be facing mosquitoes rather than lions, but mosquitoes have killed millions more than lions.  It is time to start taking these nicks seriously and fight back against the pesky mosquitoes because they are not going away.  Rather than band-aiding the nicks, we should be throwing salt into the wound, reminding ourselves of the seriousness.  Personally, I’d much rather face the lions, but I’ll have to start with salt and a mosquito net.

 

 

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Sister Lulu loves me crazy – a post by two year old Amelia

I love Sister Lulu and she loves me! Wherever I go, she is sure to follow.

Lulu might be older than me, but she still follows me around the house.  Mom and Dad love her too.  They adopted Sister Lulu when she was five.  They thought it was a little strange she had Sister for a name, so they changed it to Lulu.  Now we call her Sister Lulu!

We all love her, even if she has a few bad habits such as eating off the table or eating her own (can’t even say it – yuck).  Who trained her to do that?  Every once in a while, she likes to run away. Dad usually catches her, kicks her in the bottom, and makes her sit in the garage.

My older brothers like calling her Sister, while Mom and Dad call her Lulu.

A few years older than I, she still follows me around like a lost puppy dog.

I love pulling on her ears and jumping on her when she falls asleep on her pillow – oh how she loves me!

We love to lay on the floor in the sunshine and then go dig together in my sandbox. We get so dirty we have to take a bath.

If it’s warm outside, Dad will just rinse off Sister Lulu with the hose, but he won’t hose me down no matter how much I beg.

Neither of us are allowed to cross the street.

I always share dinner with her (Mom and Dad get a little upset), but Lulu loves me even more!

Mom and Dad don’t understand me, but sister lulu does.

We’re both quiet and we both love running outside.

Mom gets mad because Lulu likes to bark and wake me up before my nap time is over.

Sister Lulu loves me and I love her!  Wherever she goes, I will follow.

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Christmas 2011

Dear Family, friends, neighbors, and all who believe everything they read on the internet,

It’s been a very quiet year for the Scotts, unless you count quitting your job, selling the family house, moving to North Carolina, and starting a new career as something out of the ordinary.   Selling the house was a piece of cake (739 showings with 1 lowball offer three times over) and the new job gave Tim more jitters than his first date with Michelle (but he couldn’t bring his friend along with him this time).  The house miraculously sold (prayers answered), Tim’s jittery scale is down to ‘Michelle 3rd date’, and the Scott’s now live in Mayberry with a touch of granola (not a single stop light, five lakes, and a country ice cream, movie rental, fishing bait, and Thursday night wine tasting store).

Gavin’s, Luke’s, Laurel’s, Sophia’s, and Amelia’s Mom (aka Michelle in a previous life) has adjusted nicely into small town life despite the daily 5:07 PM major traffic jam (Aunt Bea pulling out of her driveway).  When not busy watching kids, cleaning house, reviewing homework, making dinner, cleaning the garage, walking the dog, changing diapers, or washing clothes, Michelle likes to do something (she just can’t remember what because it’s been so long).

The kid’s Dad (aka Tim in a previous life) still struggles with his verticality – the kids are catching him and Michelle refuses to slump.  Luckily, he’s very tall for his height and actually reached the salt shaker on the highest shelf (looking fabulous in Michelle’s leather high heels).  In his free time, Tim likes to do whatever Michelle is doing in her free time.

Our eldest, Gavin, devours both meat and books in his free time.  During Thanksgiving, he gorged three turkey legs (a stool turkey) and ate the Chronicles of Narnia (fiber keeps him regular).  For desert, he gobbled two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.  Note to readers – invest in meat (teenage years ahead).

Lego Luke has no idle time.  Santa’s elves are hard pressed matching Luke’s productivity.  Just last week, he built a mock Lego school bus and eight kids actually boarded (three were kicked off for throwing spit wads and all were late for school).  Next week he’s working on a Lego time machine, but we already saw it last week.

Laurel is our mountain climber and adrenaline her middle name.    With pony tails flying, she hit 80 driving Luke’s Lego bus (they were late for school).  In cheerleading, she volunteered to be at the top of the pyramid (the coach and girls didn’t even know they were doing a pyramid).  Amazingly, she always performs her acrobatics while giggling (Cirque Du Soleil shall not be calling).

Sophia is still, well, Violet (as she calls herself).  She is the family’s leading scorer in vocabulary, singing, time outs, big kisses, mischief, and bathroom pit stops when travelling.  Sophia knows where she wants to go and it’s usually where Mom and Dad don’t want her to go.  Although only four, she’s a natural born leader and loves to practice her skill set on two year old Amelia.

Amelia oozes affection.  A normal day includes multiple bear hugs for Mom, Dad, sisters, brothers, and Sister Lulu (beloved dog) and that’s just her breakfast routine.  She really warms up for bed time!  Although not yet three, La Li (as she calls herself) loves playing with her siblings.  She reads with Gavin (nearly lost a hand); rides shotgun with Laurel (two speeding tickets); travels with Luke (no need to watch the upcoming super bowl).   She is Christmas bundled with Easter wrapped in polka dot pajamas!

May God continue to bless us all!

The Scott Family

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Ouch!

Holy cow batman, that hurts! I guess the kids will have to wait another month for those new shoes.  It cost nearly as much as my urgent care visit the previous night (only five stitches).  Ramen noodles for dinner again?

A visit to the pump

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Cloverleaf Farm

In a previous posting, I raved about Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor (ICE) to all of my loyal blog followers (essentially writing notes to myself). Not only is ICE a great tool, it has an unbelievable price – free! Combine it with Microsoft’s free online Photosynth program (mashes photos together to make 3D images) and you can do some pretty cool stuff.  Photosynth allocates 20G of free storage space – enough space to stitch together a Kirstie Alley profile shot.

Posted below are a few pictures stitched together with the ICE program. The creation process took an infinite supply of patience (nearly a minute each) and required my own highly refined technical skills (drag and drop pictures). You may want to experiment on the process at home (or at work when the boss is not looking).

The image directly below is only partially displayed – double click on the picture to see in entirety.

Cloverleaf Farm's front yard

The cabin

After creating each image, I posted them onto Photosynth. I could not figure out how to embed these into the blog, so you’ll have to actually click on the link (hopefully it isn’t the only physical thing you’ve done all day). Once the picture is opened, remember to scroll around the photo. Photosynth has a tutorial, but what kind of guy would I be if I actually read the directions? Enjoy the view!

Cloverleaf Property
The Barn
The Trees
Log Cabin 1
Log Cabin 2
Yard and Cabin

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