Category Archives: family life


What, you mean that doesn’t look like a comfy sleeping position?

Disability is relative and not a  good determinant for value.

Our family recently found ourselves in need of a new dog to be a companion to the hyper one we already had.  With our family’s make up of various medical conditions, we got excited when J saw pets with disabilities.  When we  realized they were close to it, J started combing through their dogs looking for an ideal match.  We all piled in the van and headed off to meet a one-eyed dog in need of a home.  However, the one-eyed dog was intimidated by our loud and crazy 4 kids and hyper dog.  It wasn’t going to work…but thankfully the lady who runs the place thought of another of their dogs who might match.

Ziggy had his back legs/hip hurt when he was younger, but he is such a bundle of happiness.  He loves everything and everyone.  He trots after our hyper dog or plays stationary defense when he gets tired.  He lets our two-year old lead him around.  The biggest “disability” he seems to suffer is an inability to jump.  When I talked about him to my coworker, she said, “That’s a disability? I wish my dog had that disability.”  I figure his making the most of life without being able to do something other dogs take for granted just means he belongs with us.

Last week, I had a conversation with my son about MS in my life.

O: “Do you ever wished you didn’t have MS?”

Me: “I used to wish that I didn’t have MS, but over time I have come to accept it as just a part of the hand I was dealt.  I realized getting angry about the head aches, lack of dexterity, poor memory, etc. was not really helping me.  In fact the more I focused on it, the worse I felt.  In truth, I think I hit the lottery when it comes to the hand I have been dealt to live.  I grew up with parents who cared about me.  I’ve always had enough to eat and opportunity to learn.  Now I have a beautiful wife, four kids, a good home and some dogs to keep us company.”

O: “The headaches and stuff suck though.  I wish you didn’t have it.”

Me: “At this point I think wishing things like that is about as useful as wishing I had been born with the talent to be an NFL star making millions of dollars.  Wishing to be other than I am seems to belittle so much of what I am and can do.  I am probably not going to gain fame from my singing unless you can figure out how to make me famous for how poorly I sing and dance.  My bet is you will not grow to be the tallest man in a generation.  I think there are still a ton of things you can do with your life.  Should I waste time wishing you were a giant or just appreciate you for the smart, athletic and empathetic kid that you are?”

O: “I guess that makes sense.  It’s your whole thankful for what we have bit again isn’t it?”

Me: “Yup.  Our family all came together bonded by our ability to live with medical conditions.  I can not wish too hard for us never to have had our conditions.  Without them, we might never have met, much less become a family.”



Stone Soup

Manna from heaven for a starving man?
Manna from heaven for a starving man?

Last week, I was in an interview where I had a chance to recount one of my favorite stories, “The Stone Soup.” It was fun for me because I rarely get a chance to tell a story in a job interview because they so rarely seem to fit the question asked. When I had to chance to pass along this cool story from my in-laws, I could not resist.

“Stone Soup”

It seems there was an old beggar whose sole possession outside of the clothes on his back was a large pot. He went from town to town, village to village with the story of how his restaurant had burned down to the ground leaving him with only this pot. He insisted cooking was his love and joy, and he could make the best soup anyone had ever tasted with his special ingredient and his pot. He would bet anyone in the town willing to take him up on the bet, and when he had enough participants in his wager he would begin using whatever stove, oven or fire they provided.

He would start with water in the pot and add his special ingredient hidden from the betters into the pot. Then people would come offering him spices, vegetables and even some meat. When he served the soup, people were amazed how good their ordinary fare tasted when combined with his special ingredient.
As a result, he became somewhat of a welcome guest traveling from town. When he was old and could no longer travel from house to house, much less town to town, he made a deal with a large family who agreed to let him stay with them if he would tell them his secret ingredient. He told them the secret was just a rock he found on the road to wherever he headed next. The reason everyone loved the soup was their part in its making. Often what is needed can be found at hand, and even if he did not like the taste, he never starved.

As for what question in interview this story fits, they asked me, “What do you do when you are instructed to do something for which you do not have the resources, and the requester isn’t giving them to you?”

“Have you ever heard the story of ‘Stone Soup’?” I add what I can to the pot, and thus far, I have not starved.

For me, the story has always been symbolic of our family. We all bring something to this soup we call a home, and we cherish it because of what we have invested of ourselves into it. We value it not because of what it costs in dollars. We value it mostly because of what it means for us, and the comfort and nurturing we find there. When we foster other kids into our home, they add another ingredient into the soup that I still find the best I have tasted.

My son gave me this for my birthday.  I was reminded of a speaker who once told the crowd to cherish what your kids give you, even if it is a rock.  Likely, the gift meant a lot to and from them.
My son gave me this for my birthday. I was reminded of a speaker who once told the crowd to cherish what your kids give you, even if it is a rock. Likely, the gift meant a lot to and from them.