Sunday, September 30, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. 18.6 pounds to go - resisted ice cream temptation last night. I am the man! Anyway, I have found my dream car. I know you've probably heard me say that before, but this time I mean it. I may have been fickle in my automotive choices, but there comes a time when a man must stop gallivanting through the junkyards of life and settle. Here it is.
A 1971 Gremlin. Yes - when I get one I will be the coolest person ever. No you may not drive it until your sixteen. Then you may have at it. You, my darling, must learn how to drive a manual car. I learned a bit later then I should have. Your Aunt Crystal taught me. The car isn't too expensive to get and there are old parts for the thing everywhere. Why would they name a car after an imaginary mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for an unexplained mechanical or electrical fault? I don't know, but they did. Your Aunt Crystal told me that your Aunt Jenny used to date someone who drove one of these babies. Your Uncle Michael must have been quite the stud to take her away from such a man.

I plan on watching a little football today and get some cleaning done. With a game that has one hour playing time and two hours of commercials - that shouldn't be too hard of a task. Your Aunt Crystal has off tomorrow for the boy's court date. I hope school is going well for you. Have a great Sunday.
I love you much and miss you always,
                                Uncle Justin

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. Today I'm taking the family to an indie-craft festival. There's a lot of things for the kids to do and hopefully we'll find some unique Christmas presents. It should be a good day. The boys slept in a half hour later than normal - It was a beautiful thing. Your Aunt Crystal has to get up very early for work and the house is fully awake by the time she leaves. It's not her fault. The little ones are very light sleepers.
I didn't reach my goal of finishing the rough draft of my novel by my birthday. I'm going to try and get it done by the end of October. We'll see.
Monday is the Little ones court date. Hopefully we'll get some answers as to their future.
 - Got back from the festival an hour ago. The boys played outside. I threw around the football with Elijah and now the little ones are down for their afternoon nap. Elijah is angry that we're not letting him play his video game. He's getting a little too reliant on passive entertainment and you're Aunt Crystal and I are pretty quick to cut the cord on that when we notice it. He'll get over it.
Later we will clean the house and get ready for company. My sister Theresa and Her husband Jason are coming to visit us next weekend. It should be a great time.
Tonight were going to walk down to Frontier park for Octoberfest. We were there yesterday and it was fun. The kids liked the music. Your Aunt Crystal said your great-grandmom would know all the German words to the songs and would be singing as loudly as the band. She said your Grandpa would pretend to know all the words, but would sing just as loud. :)
I love you much and miss you always,
                             Uncle Justin

Friday, September 28, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. As you know, the most important holiday of the year - my birthday - has come and gone. When you have your birthday you take stock in yourself. When I stepped on the scale this morning, I found I had too much stock IN myself. Especially around my middle. The scale read 222.4. It's not an earth shattering weight, but I remember how much better I looked at 190-200 range. I'm also thinking about my heart. I need to keep healthy.
I would like to get back down to 200, my fighting weight. I have a small gym set-up in the garage with heavy bag, speed bag, weights, treadmill, jump rope, etc. My neighbor and I try to get out there every other day or so and work out.
I 'get out there' more than he does. He says he has family stuff to do. I tell him he should get his priorities straight.
My neighbor is a drafter. He's also a talker - which is good because I only say about 500 words a day. I need someone to fill up all that empty air. Now stick with me on this one. The last time we worked out he told me he went to the doctor because his hips felt stiff and his posterior hurt. No, Temple, I don't know why we were talking about his butt. HE brought it up. I find that talkers tend to give you way to much information about things because they run out of things to talk about so eventually they fill the air with personal reports. Anyway, His doctor told him that it was because he sits all the time at his job and that butt muscles contract when you sit.
"Did you know that your butt muscles did that?" He said.
"No," I said.
He went on to tell me at length that the workouts were helping him loosen up and that he could really feel a difference. I asked him if we could stop talking about his butt for awhile. He said okay, but I'm sure I'll get a full report the next time I see him. I can't wait.
Elijah and I are planning an Indiana Jones movie. We're doing it for his homeschool. We're going to set a story line, shoot it, then use Windows Movie Maker to put it all together. It will be awesome.
I plan on posting my weight as the days go by. If I fail you have my permission to look at me disapprovingly. Just not too disapprovingly. Don't break your Uncle's heart.
I love you much and miss you always,
                               Uncle Justin

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. Today the boys had a visit with their biological father and his current girlfriend. Their workers was late getting there and their father isn't allowed to see his children unless he's supervised, so Elijah and I had to stay for about 30 minutes or so. Their biological father is a nice man. He has an issue with drugs and alcohol, which he's currently in control of. He's not a very nice man when he's using drugs and he hurt the children who are in my and your Aunt Crystal's care. If there's one thing I need you to do, Temple, is to stay away from using drugs. They will change you. The biological father I met today is dying because of them. His liver is failing, his teeth are rotten down to stubs and he has several unfortunately glaring facial ticks. He is a sick man - and I feel for him.
I have a hard time with forgiving him for what he did to the boys. I'm sure God has a problem with that. I help them cope daily with the abuse they received. Children are resilient but they can be damaged so much from so little at so young. I would probably be a little more in the forgiving mood if I knew that the boys were safe from him. They are not. He's still very much a part of their lives with the visits and in a few months to a year could be moving back into his home. This man has a history of being okay for a time, then not being okay. He is like a wave of good then bad then good again. Ups and downs. It's just too bad that the downs are so damaging. I have a really hard time with people who hurt children, let alone just handing a child over to someone who I know will probably hurt them again.
I know that I have required a lot of forgiveness in my life. Sometimes I've gotten it. Sometimes I haven't and I have to be okay with that. Forgiveness can't be taken, only given. Here's what I believe about forgiveness. I believe that God forgives and forgets. I don't think people can. I think we can go halfway and forgive, but forgetting is impossible. There are some relationships in my life where I've forgiven somebody but don't have them in my life anymore because it's not safe for me or my family. I remember growing up my parents had people like that too. It's a hard thing to do, but worth it in the end. Now, that's not to say that it's always that easy. Life isn't black and white, which I would so much like it to be. It's all shades of grey and you have to make the best decisions you can under the circumstances. Go with your gut girl - it's usually God talking to you.
Forgiveness is also about trust. God commands us to forgive even when the circumstances don't allow for a clean break or easy terms. These are the times you have to trust God that he will take care of things. Trusting God is not an easy thing to do. It takes practice. It also takes a steel reserve. I like to handle my own problems but sometimes I have to open my fists and drop my hands and allow God to take over. I have to trust that God won't let my forgiveness allow a person to harm me.
THAT is a lot of trust.
Like everyone else, I'm working on it.
I love you much and miss you always,
                              Uncle Justin

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. Forgive me for not writing you earlier today. If you're still awake then you should be in bed. This letter will keep until tomorrow. The little ones gave me a hard time today. I let them live. They are lucky. Elijah got a perfect score on his math test today. I'm very proud of him. He's working hard.
Today is my birthday. I'm 33 years old. Birthdays are never as good as when you're young, so enjoy them now. When you get older nothing really stops for you on your special day. Your Aunt Crystal, my family and friends all took time to let me know they cared and the presents were nice. Birthdays have all felt a little different for me since my father passed away.
My dad was a great person. You met him a couple times when you were really small. He liked you, which means he was also a man of good taste. He passed away suddenly from a heart attack when he was 58. I spoke to him on the phone the very evening he died. Just hours before. Your Grandma was staying with us that night, so I'm sure she remembers it well. I remember a time several months after that when your Grandma was again visiting us and the phone rang in the middle of the night. It turned out to be some trivial thing thank goodness. Before I picked up the phone I told your Aunt Crystal that if someone else died your Grandma wasn't allowed to visit any more. :)
Anyway, there I go on a tangent again. When you have a parent that passes early you can't but help watch the clock on your life at little more poignantly. I was 27 when he died. You do that math and at this point, if I go around the same time he did, I've lived over half my life. Strange, I don't feel that old. I bet he didn't either.
My birthdays since he died have felt a little off to me. I can't quite put a finger on why, but I think it has to do with him. There's nothing wrong with feeling a little off. Smiles are easy to fake. It's better than people asking you what wrong and you don't know why. Then the well-meaning people start giving you suggestions as to the reason of why you feel off, and then you feel worse since you didn't realize just before that there was so much for you to feel down about.
There's always reasons to feel down and depressed. It's much harder to feed the positive side of yourself. It takes more effort for some reason. I don't know why God set up the good and valuable aspects of a person to be the more difficult to attain, but he did. If there's one thing I know about God, it's that he likes to keep things interesting.
Really, it's that God knows that everything worth something takes effort. The harder you work for something the more precious it is.
Your Aunt Crystal got me a shaving set. It's nice. She wants me to shave more. Your Grandparents gave me some money which I will save for my next project car. My mom got me an Ebay gift card. My sister got me an Amazon gift card and my other sister is sending her husband, my brother-in-law, down to take me to a Rams game. My Grandparents sent me a nice card. Not a bad haul.
The babies cried and screamed for hours. Maybe it was a birthday present to show me how much they needed me. Maybe not.
I should go to bed. My typing is keeping your Aunt Crystal awake. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day for the boys. Tomorrow will not be my birthday so I'm sure whatever odd feeling I have going on will pass. God willing,I'll make it to 34 (I don't see why not - I've made it this far) and I will have another opportunity to feel odd. Joy of joys!
I love you much and miss you always,
                            Uncle Justin

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. Your Aunt Crystal is coming home today from her conference trip. Last night she asked me if I really missed her or if I only missed having help with the boys. She is a funny lady. Of course it was her that I missed more than what she does to ease my existence. It's good to reassure people. It would be a bad thing to be gone for a couple days and have people not notice. Believe me, I noticed.
The baby is able to pull himself up now. He's everywhere and into everything. I have to keep a lot of pillows around him because he topples over constantly. He is an intense and steadfast little guy. I like his spirit. I just wish he was a little bit of a happier kid. He has two moods; angry and not angry. He has a sleeping mood too. I don't know if you count sleeping as a mood. I do.
The toddler has a cold. Elijah complained before because he was a slobbery kid. With the cold he's now more like a typhoon. Hopefully, when he gets over it, Elijah will be thankful he's only dealing with spit.
I watched the movie The Grey last night. You can't watch it, you're too young and impressionable. I can - I'm old and impressionable. It's about some men who survive a plane crash and are now being hunted by wolves. The previews for the movie promised a good and manly action flick but I was pleasantly surprised that it was really more of a drama. Set a date for seven years from now and we'll check it out. I'll bring the popcorn. Don't stand me up.
The sky is clear right now but you can smell rain in the air. Looks like we're in for about a couple days of that. It will allow me to do what I love the most, watching the rain from my front porch and smoke a pipe (a filthy disgusting habit - editorial for Grandma).  Like most people I really enjoy doing what I love the most.
I love you much and miss you always,
                                              Uncle Justin

Monday, September 24, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. Your Aunt Crystal went on her business trip and won't be back until Tuesday. We originally thought her return would be Wednesday, so Tuesday is a nice surprise. Taking care of the boys by myself isn't easy, but we'll be fine.
I don't have that much to tell you about today. Since I left work to take care of the boys and writing to try and make a dollar, my world has become pretty small. That's not a bad thing. I'm just a little worried that I may become weird(er) from the isolation. We get out every day and the boys are well socialized. It's me I'm need to keep tabs on. When I do speak with adults we usually end up talking about our kids anyway. Where did I go in this situation? Didn't I have a life of my own? That's up for debate. Maybe I'll try and figure out who I am and what I need when the children move out in about fifteen years. By then you might have children of your own to look after. Let's not think about that.
It's my birthday on Wednesday. I'll be 32 years old. It's an odd age. It's kind of a middle ground age where you're both young or old depending on the age of the audience you ask. To you - I'm old. To your Grandpa, well, it's best to not say anything he'll drive across state lines and beat me for. :)
Your Aunt Crystal got me a birthday present but won't tell me what it is. I don't really need much of anything at the moment so I should be pleasently surprised. I don't want to set my sights too high. If I had my drothers I would like a jet black 1970 Lincoln Mark III. I doubt that's what's coming.
Short letter, the baby is crying, got to go. Your Uncle is running the ship 24 hours-a-day with your Aunt gone. Scary thought.
I love you much and miss you always,
Uncle Justin.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. I've been thinking about things lately. Vague statement, I know, bear with your Uncle. Sometimes I go out on a tangent, follow it a while, and just leave it off somewhere. I like to think of it as endearing. Anyway, things are kind of interesting around here lately. Especially with the little ones we have at home. The little guys won't be staying with us forever, even though we'd like them too. It will be hard to let them go but we're trying to enjoy the time they are here.

Everything in this world has an end. As difficult as that can be, it's a fact. It's something we like to forget and we do most of the time. Then something happens and life as we used to know it has changed. Change is hard. Change is also a fact.

I think the boys leaving will be particularly hard on Elijah. He loves his brother's and I don't know how he will cope with them going. Your Aunt Crystal and I try to be as open as possible with Elijah. This way he'll have time to process the information and the change won't come as quite a shock. I'm sure he will be fine, but life is life and pain is pain. As much as I would like to shield him from the hurt of things, sometimes I just can't. There is a lesson in everything Temple. According to my experience you learn the most from the times you struggle.

Comfort teaches nothing. Maybe thankfulness - but you're usually only thankful when your not comfortable anymore and your thankfulness is nothing but wistful nostalgia.

Your Grandpa told me recently that you should try and learn something from every experience. He told me to always be on the lookout for new experiences and chances for learning. He's right - and I do try to pay attention while life zips by.

I always put it another way. When life makes you pay for living it - make sure you get what you pay for.

I love you and miss you very much,
                                     Uncle Justin


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. It's the weekend and as much as I like having your Aunt Crystal home with me, she will be going on a work conference trip on Sunday all the way to Wednesday. I never really feel quite like myself when she's gone and we're one day closer to that happening. I will miss her and so will the boys. We will carry on though. We are made of sterner stuff than crying away the hours until she comes home.

What will I do while she's gone? I'm glad you asked that. I've decided to stay up way too late and play video games. I haven't played video games in a long time. Your Aunt Crystal and I only really have the hours between 8 and 10. Playing video games when I could be spending quality time with her would be a waste.

It's getting colder here by us. I'm sure it is by you too. Missouri is very beautiful in the fall. If you visit us while the leave are changing I'll take you out on a drive in the country. It's really something to see. If you think that's boring, we'll do something else. I don't care. Maybe it is boring. Maybe I'm boring. What's so special about clumps of different trees displaying varied colors? It's hard to say. I just like it. Bring your hiking boots.

I've been planning to take Elijah camping but I may have missed the boat. It gets ungodly hot around here then all of a sudden, and I mean KAPOW! Fall hits. Hot during the day - cold at night. I know from the last couple of years that the boy steals all the covers at night and I end up waking up in the middle of the night blanketless and cold while that little toaster oven of a boy sleeps comfortably. Do I wake him? No. Why? I don't know. There's something parent's see about the peace of their child sleeping that they don't disturb them. Even if it means their discomfort.

I love you and miss you,
                      Uncle Justin

Friday, September 21, 2012


Dear Temple,

I hope this note finds you well and happy. I've been lax in sending letters. I’m out of stamps and can claim no other reason than sloth as for why I haven’t gone out and purchased new ones. Sloth isn’t a good thing - means laziness or apathy. I can rationalize. Going to the post office, or anywhere for that matter, is an ordeal now with three children. Did you buy it? Am I off the hook? No? smart girl.

There is a bonus to writing you this way. I’m sure your grandma and grandpa will enjoy reading a letter that they can actually read. My handwriting is very poor. I could do better but I just don’t take the time to be neat. I guess we’re talking about sloth again. So far this letter is making me out to be a lazy person, which I am not. I guess there are good and bad points to every person and it’s all really in how you view them.

When I was in administration I had a little speech that I used to give my employees when I was teaching them about conflict resolution. The gist of the speech, I don’t want to bore you with the whole thing, is that finding fault in another person is easy. It’s all in your attitude. I used myself as an example. When I was working I was the best supervisor at my level. I had excellent relationships with my staff and the families I worked with. I went above and beyond in all tasks and never shirked or passed off work. However, if my boss wanted too, he could label me as a bad employee. He could do this “Justin, I’ve noticed that you make coffee in the morning and get several cups during the day. If I put a rough estimate on it, I would say that you take about twelve minutes per working day just getting coffee. That means that in a year’s time you are doing noting but getting coffee for 48 hours of working time. That’s a week and a day or working time just you going back and forth getting coffee. Is that a good use of company time? What you are doing is stealing from us. You give me one good reason why I should pay you to go back and forth getting coffee for a week.”

No matter how good a person is, if you want too, you can find bad in them.

If you want to hate someone, it’s pretty easy to find a reason.

Love is much harder. Isn’t that funny? Everything virtuous takes real effort. I think the reason is that hate isn’t as much of a commitment. People will tell you that this is wrong, but it’s not. When you hate someone you write them off. You don’t feel any real responsibility toward them. When you love someone, it almost requires you to take care of them. Help them when they need it. Check in on them to show that you care about them. It takes real effort. Love is responsibility. It’s also something God likes in you. The more you love and help others, the more God will give you the opportunity to do so. Sometimes I beleaguer the loss of free time, the little of it I have, when someone asks me for help.

But I’m pretty bad with free time. I am a person that needs to be kept busy - like your grandpa. So the work is a kindness to others, but it’s also a good thing for me.

The boys are down for nap. They are still a little sick from getting their shots. Elijah is working on his home school. He has a math and language test today. I think he’ll do well. His last couple of math tests are kind of throwing me. The first one he didn’t finish in the time allowed, but he got everything right. The second test he finished on time but got a problem wrong. What’s better? To be accurate and a little slow, or to be fast but not wholly accurate?

I don’t know either.

I love you very much and miss you,

Uncle Justin