Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 2015

The end of the year is finally here.  2015, like seemingly each of the last 7 years, has been a year of change and development.

Emma, our oldest, is in 7th grade. Next month she turns 13. I'm not sure that I'm prepared for that; not really even sure that the world is ready.  But like much of what else she does, Emma will put on a face of confidence and face it.  She is in an interesting person.  She oscillates between who she wants to be.  At home, she is opinionated and sometimes even smug - but then minutes later sweet and comforting to her younger siblings.  She is an avid reader and in incredibly hard worker. This fall, she began Confirmation at our church.  It has been a blessing to see her faith evolve.  We've had to adapt the way she is taught because of schedule conflicts with her mother, but Emma is getting it.  She makes me very proud. At school and her relationships there, she seems to move between peer groups with ease. But then, there will be the occasional moment when I see much of myself reflected in her.  I'll see her shyness, her reservation, sometimes even her self doubt.  She will find her way.  She is strong and determined.

Carter is in 5th grade and his last year of elementary school.  He has matured greatly in just the last 6 months.  Having a male teacher for the first time has helped.  He also started hockey this year and I think that has given him something to look forward to as his own each week. Our deal has been that he has to maintain high grades if he wants to be able to play.  So far, so good.  Next week, will be starting level 3 (of 4) for learning to play hockey.  Hopefully, this time next year I will be writing about him playing on a team.  He's never been able to do that, and it something that I know he yearns for.  He will also be making the jump from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts in the next couple of months.  I am very much looking forward to this for him.  The relationships he develops in Boy Scouts will be relationships that he will literally carry forever.  The values that he learns, he will carry with him always.

Caraline is in 4 year old preschool and just turned 5 last week.  She will continue to go to Immanuel Lutheran for school when she completes preschool.  We've been members at Immanuel since Kate and I were married.  Knowing that she will be able to go to school at what has become our "home", is reassuring.  The foundation of her faith is incredibly strong.  I can only imagine how it will continue to blossom.  It's funny - she is Kate's carbon copy.  She looks like her, talks like her, thinks like her, acts like her - loves like her.  She's my little Lina Bean.

Coleton is a bouncing ball of a two year old. More accurately, he's like a bottle of coke that has been shaken up.  At some point, you have to open the top of the coke and watch the excitement - well, Coleton is what that excitement looks like....all the time.   His personality is constantly evolving but this kid likes to GO.  His little engine just doesn't stop.  He has learned that as #4 he has to make his voice heard to ensure the gets what he wants.  He clearly learned that very early on and has refused to let it go since he was born.  He's definitely the fireball of the family. This year, he has been doing a Mommy and Me class with Kate.  I know that she cherishes the time she gets to spend with him every Wednesday.   I will always be grateful of the time that she spends with all of them.  Its cliche, but these moments really do move quickly.

Kate has been busy as always. She is splitting time between the Macomb Intermediate School District as a contract SLP and for a private company doing home based therapy.  Both are good fits for her.  She is much more of a talented Speech Pathologist that I can ever hope to be. While I often talk about working within my bliss in my job, all you have to do is listen to Kate talk for 30 seconds about the kiddos that she gets to work with and know that God has her placed exactly where he know she needs to be.  She's that person that gives hope.  I'm very proud of her.

As for myself, 2 months ago I returned to the field as a practicing Speech Pathologist for our Detroit patients at Residential Home Health.  From a career perspective, this was the best move I've made in my life.  People want to knock Detroit.  Sure, its rough. It's old.  It's full of burned out houses and building marked with every color of graffiti.  But you know what?  Its full of people.  And the people that I see are just like your brother, your sister, your father and grandmother.  They share the same hopes, the same fears.  They are good people.  It is an honor to work with the people that I do.  Everyone has a story and when you are in the business of helping them communicate their story, well, you really can't be in any better place.

Friday, May 1, 2015

As usual, I have waited a year to provide any updates to this blog.  Facebook seems to be the medium that both Kate and I use to share the adventures of the Michigan Southerns.  Yet, going back occasionally to this blog and reading though some of our own adventures is almost like taking a read back at an old diary. 

The last year has been full of transitions.  Emma is now in 6th grade and a middle schooler.  She's had a great year and is doing well - even Advanced Math! She clearly did not get that skill from me. She has been learning to ride horses for the last 2 years and is loving it. Unfortunately, it got a bit chilly this winter and she decided to take a little bit of a break.  It has FINALLY started to warm up in Michigan, so hopefully she will jump back into it soon.  I know that she misses the 90 minutes of "doing her own thing" each week.

Carter continues to wander through elementary school. I mean that lovingly.  I'm still not convinced that he knows he's alive yet. He does well - don't misunderstand - but he seems to careen from one extreme to the other.  We are hoping that 5th grade will be the spark that he needs to find some consistency.  He is such a good kid.  And, as my mother says, is the carbon copy of myself.

Caraline has been attending pre-school at Immanuel Lutheran.  It has been great to see her come home each week and share the small seeds of her faith.  She is our prayer leader at most family meals.  We've gone from the "Moravian Blessing" to a sing-song modified version of it to the tune of the alphabet song.


Coleton, aka Colie, is almost 2.  He's such a dynamic little guy.  While Caraline got the talkative nature of her mother, Coleton got his father's persistence.  He doesn't take "no" for an answer.  His speech is coming along fine and his language acquisition is just fascinating to watch.  Between the two littles, Colie definitely has Dubay in him.  Its slightly weird at times to look at him and see the baby version of your father in law looking back at you.

Elizabeth Klein's photo.

Kate continues to work contractually for the Macomb ISD.  Luckily, this year, she is only working at one school.  I really do admire what she does.  She works with population of kids that I simply don't possess neither the skill set nor the understanding to provide effective interventions. I've seen her in action before and it is beyond amazing to see your wife working within her bliss. 

Myself?  I've transitioned from a field SLP in homecare to a therapy supervisor at the same company.  I supervise the Detroit team of PTs, OTs, MSWs and SLPs.  The engagement level is different, but in the end, the objective is still the same. Provide the best possible interventions and deliver the best possible outcomes to our customers.  I simply love it.

Kate has made me promise to do this with a bit more regularity.  We'll see how that goes.  Until then...

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 2014

The time has come for me to update the blog again. (Yes, Kate is scrapbooking.) 

We are now in mid-January.  Last week, we survived some of the coldest temperatures that I can remember during my time living in Michigan.  Some of the daily low temperatures were -15 with a windchill of -33!!  To put that in perspective, think about it this way.  I had to stop at the ATM on my way to a patient's house on the coldest of those mornings.  When I reached my hand out of the window of my car to use the keypad on the ATM, I swear that I lost feeling in my finger tips before they ever hit the keypad.  It was literally the craziest sensation ever.  Miraculously, 20 minutes later I was on a ferry crossing the river between Algonac and Harsen's Island.  It was very interesting to see a completely frozen over river on either side as we passed to the other side.

Caraline is scrapbooking with Kate at the moment, singing her favorite song, "Hairy Christmas". It is a Duck Dynasty song that is on their Christmas CD.  She is in love with "Willy's song" as she calls it.  Constantly were hear, "Hunt you down a Christmas tree. Thank God Mama's cooking is free. Round up your redneck family and watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! Like Jesus and Santa Claus, we got love behind these beards. Wishing you a hairy Christmas and a happy, happy, happy New Year."  While it is cute, it is also, well, obsessive. Kate picked her up a free DD poster yesterday at the Christian book store.  It now adorns one of the walls on the basement stairs.  Last night, Cara had to tell Willy goodnight....

Emma and Carter have both done very well so far in 5th and 3rd grade.  They love their teachers.  Emma is continuing with horseback riding. She is now taking weekly lessons.  Next week, in fact, she will get to "canter" for the first time.  For those of us who don't speak horse, that means the horse will essentially be jogging.  She loves it and though it is a bity pricey, we are beyond happy that she has found something that is "hers" to enjoy.

Carter is continuing with Scouts.  This year he is a Bear Scout.  He really enjoys the meetings, but this year has proved to be a little difficult because of logistical changes in our den schedule. We now meet on Sundays once a month and our den leader really tries to accommodate us regarding the parenting schedule.  He is super excited about the upcoming Pinewood derby race in April.  Hopefully we will finally break the Southern Family curse of producing cars that finish dead last every race.  Seriously. This is our goal. DO. NOT. FINISH. LAST.

Kate is back working with MISD again this year.  She is working at 3 different schools on a part-time basis. As crazy as that sounds, she actually loves it. The part-time aspect allows her to take Caraline to a Praise and Play pre-school at Immanuel. That has been a blessing in and of itself.  Watching her faith bloom has been amazing to watch.

Coleton had his 6 month checkup today. He weighs 17lbs and is 26 inches long.  Percentage wise, he is in the 25th percentile for height and 50th percentile for weight.  His head circumference is in the 75th percentile.  He is getting quite good at a few baby tricks.  He can say the most important word in his early vocabulary, "da-da".  He rolls to get where he wants to go. He's almost figured out how to crawl, but does more of a rocking motion at the moment.  It is quite entertaining to watch. The older kids love him.  He still hasn't figured out how to sleep through the night yet, but we are really hoping that he gets it together shortly.  We have faith that he will.

Until next time....cheers!

Monday, July 29, 2013

And yet again, I have let almost a year get between me and a new post to the blog.  Kate and I have this deal, you see.  Each time she scrapbooks for the kids, I am supposed to do a blog post.  I'm somewhere around 4 million posts behind at present.

We've been living at the new place for about 18 months now.  So far, so good.  The drive took a little getting used to for the kids, but they have accepted it as the new normal.  We've made changes all over the place. Just off the top of my head, I've stripped wallpaper in the kitchen (and repainted it),  painted each kid's room, stripped and stained the front porch, built a mudroom cubby, changed primary lights in the kitchen and our bathroom, new ceiling fans in two rooms, added ventilation to the bonus room and new windows throughout.  In other words, we've had nonstop projects.  The only one that I didn't do myself was the windows. I have to admit, I have found that I love doing this all this stuff.  The mudroom and ventilation projects proved that I could build and expand on to something and not destroy anything else in the process.  I already have a list for the next 6 months that I'm working on.  We'll definitely have to add blog posts as I complete them.

We have a new addition.  Not a house addition, but a family addition!  On July 11, 2013 at 2:58pm, Kate and I welcomed into the world Coleton William Southern.  The little guy is two and a half weeks old right now and changes every single day.  Once again, it has been amazing to watch the miracle we call a baby come to be a part of our lives.  Emma, Carter and Caraline have been fantastic with him.  Emma is the mother hen of the house now.  She so wants to please and be helpful with Coleton.  She's doing very well so far.  Carter is excited that the numbers are back to even for boys vs girls.  I can't blame him.  More potential estrogen in the house could have really tampered our boy time. 

And then there's Caraline.  She's struggling a little bit with the focus not being on her as much.  We were completely potty trained and doing very well, but have had a few regressive moments lately.  Oddly enough though, she's yet to have an accident at night.  Just in the middle of the day.  Like when Mama is feeding Coleton in the living room and Cara walks to the bathroom, says she has to go potty and when Mama tells her to go on her own because she is a big girl, she turns around and pees all over the floor. Of course, she then tells Kate that she's happy for her in response to Kate saying that she is NOT happy with her. I am so glad I was not home today when this happened.  Don't think I could have contained myself.

Emma just spent two weeks at a day camp learning about horses.  She seemed to really love it.  Ironically, her horse's name was Carter.  He was stubborn and often required constant redirection from Emma to keep him on task for what they were doing.  She said that when she got out of the car each day, it was like she was never leaving her brother.

Carter is, well, Carter.  He seems to float through life living oblivious to the future and not really paying attention to the past.  He literally has to be the most carefree person that I know.  Hopefully, 3rd grade will be not too much of a shock to him.  2nd grade was a breeze. He may actually have to apply himself this year and study.  Or, who knows, he may not need to. 

Kate is looking for a school job again this year.  She worked for the Macomb ISD last year, but in a substitute SLP position.  She's looking for something more permanent this year.  Keep you fingers crossed for her.  Any place would be lucky to have her on their staff. 

As for me, I'm going to start a new blog here shortly.  10 years ago, I finished what I thought was my first novel.  I really liked parts of it and hated other parts. So, I decided to put it away and not look at it.  Last week, I pulled it out of the closet, read through a bit of it and decided that its time to revamp it and tell the story a bit from a different perspective in some parts.  To keep me accountable, I've decided to publish the novel as part of a new blog.  Keep an eye out later this week for the first installment.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Once again, it has taken me over 6 months to update the blog.  So many things have here we go.

In February, we sold the house on Dunhill in Macomb and moved out to the country.  Riley Township to be specific.  It's a quiet little town that doesn't even have a main street its so small.  The metropolis of Memphis is about 3 miles south of us.  Memphis maybe has 3000 residents. It does have a nice little mainstreet.  I've even picked out a little building that I'd love to open up a private practice clinic at some day.  We'll see. Maybe one day when income doesn't matter...

We absolutely love the new place.  I guess you would consider it a Cape Cod Colonial.  The house sits on about 5 acres.  The lot is about 5 times deeper than wide.  Lots of grass.  So much so, that I was able to purchase the coolest thing that every country living man needs...a 61" Husqvarna zero turn mower.  I maintain about 4 acres of it weekly with the mowing.  The awesome thing is that I can mow the whole thing in about 90 minutes, including trimming.  No more push mower...ever!

About the same time we moved out here, I also started a new job at Residential Home Health.  To be honest, I wasn't really sure about it when I was considering the offer.  Something about going into random people's homes seemed intrusive.  However, I fell in love with it quickly.  It really is some of the most functional speech-language pathology intervention that you can provide.  Think about it: in a clinic we talk about making our intervention functional when they go home for the day.  If you're already at their home, the functional deficits that they may present with and have to deal with daily are staring at you in the face.  You have no choice but to affect change quickly for them.  You know every single session how functional the intervention you provided that day really is to them.  Plus, when they got me certified in both the Lee Silveman Voice Treatment (LSVT) Loud program as well as VitalStim (neuromuscular electrical stimulation), it makes it very hard not to like the company you work for. 

Kate's work has changed a bit lately.  She is now part-time at Children's working on Tuesday and Thursday.  She has taken another part-time position with Therapy Solutions Unlimited and is working at a charter school in Flint on Monday and Friday.  Both positions have a good bit of driving for her to get to, but I think that's part of the trade-off with living where we do.

Emma and Carter are in 4th and 2nd grade now.  Emma took piano last year and did pretty well with it.  She decided not to do it this fall, but we are hoping to have her enrolled in a different extracurricular at the end of this grading period.  4th grade has been a little bit of a transition for her thus far - we want to see where she stands before adding something else. Carter has just started his 2nd year of CubScouts.  This year he is a Wolf.  He's super excited and already trying to convince me to start working on his Pinewood Derby car.  He didn't like the fact that we came in 3rd from last this past spring...can't blame him.

Caraline is just growing and growing and growing.  It's very cool being able to watch her developmentally now and know what I'm looking at.  She's in that language explosion stage now and I swear literally learns and uses 5-10 new words a day.  It's the coolest thing ever to watch. She spends 4 days per week with "Miss Nee-See", aka Mrs. Denise.  Kate and I are thrilled that she has such wonderful experiences there.  Denise is awesome and she certainly helps make our schedules a little less stressful because of her care.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fall 2011...

Once again, the time has passed relatively quickly between these posts. The Michigan Southerns are staying busy as's the rundown.

Emma is in 3rd grade this year at Sequoyah Elementary. As we all know, 3rd grade is a tough transitional year for most kids. This is the year that they go from "learning to read" to "reading to learn". So far, so good. Parent conferences were a week ago and the report from Mrs. Fleming was outstanding. Em has mostly all A's with a sprinkle or two of B's. (This is also the first year with letter grades!) She's having to learn how to study this year. Mom used to tell me to study when I was younger and my standard answer was "Sure, I looked it over." I understand now, why should we get so upset with me when I gave her that answer. To Emma's credit, it took one test for her to understand the importance of studying days in advance of a test.

Carter is just motoring along in 1st grade.
His teacher, Mrs. Woodruff, reports that he is doing fantastic We need to work on his hand writing a little, but other than that, he's doing great. His reading is awesome! It really makes me proud to hear him read each night. He doesn't shy away from words he doesn't know. He'll give it his best attempt by using strategies he's learned at school. We didn't accomplish the bike riding objective this summer. While I want him to do it, I'm not going to traumatize him in the process. I guess we'll give that another try this spring. That and swimming.

And Caraline is just growing and growing and growing. Her little motor doesn't stop. In the past month alone she has gone from an army crawl to a hand and knee crawl. In the last two weeks she's getting more and more adventurous with the walking attempts. She'll stand up on her own by pulling on a chair or pushing against a wall. In the last week she's advanced to pushing the laundry basket or chairs around the kitchen. All bets are that she'll have it together sometime between Christmas and New Year's and will be walking on her own.

Kate and are doing well. We put the house up for sale right before Halloween. The plan is to find a place a bit farther out in the country - hopefully something on some acreage that will give us the freedom to be out in the yard much more for years and year to come. Time will tell....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Catching up!

Well, Kate's working on scrapbooks, so whenever she breaks those out, that usually means its time for me to get back on here and blog! I really need to get better about this...

The last 6 months have passed in the blink of an eye. In January, we were welcoming home Caraline. In July, we're celebrating the kids completing another grade in school and me graduating and having a job.. Three years ago, who'd have thought that things would turn out the way they have? I'm certainly living the life of a million blessings.

Here's a rundown of the last 6 months for everyone....

Emma just finished 2nd grade. She did an outstanding job all year improving her reading and
writing each and every marking period. About half way through the year, she really began to start liking football. It started with wanting to watch football with me every now and
then, and over time she began to want
to get football trading cards. Now, she has a little collection of them started and trades with the boys at school. Hopefully, this next school year will allow her to participate in some more activities outside of school like soccer or basketball. She's a good little athlete. We kick the soccer ball around in the yard and she's actually quite good. With school for Kate and I finally settled down, the sky is the limit for what she wants to do.

Carter finished kindergarten. He attended a full-day version by going to his regular teacher in the morning and then spending the afternoon in "kindergarten plus". I think it will certainly ease the transition to first grade and actually having to pay attention all day to what you are supposed to be learning. It was interesting to watch his interactions with his peers as well. The two years at Merrill Palmer at WSU definitely set him up for success both academically and socially. He seemed so at ease from the very beginning. His interests are as variable as ever. Some days its his Matchbox cars, the next day its his Nerf guns, while another its football. One thing he LOVES to do is help Kate give Caraline a bath. She does the bathing, but he helps her get prepared and get the lotions and towels ready. It's like he's her little helper. On the flip side, one thing that he HATES to do is ride his bike. Last time I got him on it, he screamed as loud as police siren while I ran down the street with him...while he was steadied by training wheels. That's my middle of the summer project for get him to not be so terrified of the bike.

Caraline is GROWING! Kate took her in for her check-up a few weeks ago and she's up to 26.5
inches and 16.8lbs. She's babbling like crazy too. One of my favorite things to do with her is to sit her on my bed when we all get home from work/school and ask her about her day. She obviously has no idea yet what I'm asking, but she just jabbers, and jabbers and jabbers to me. The more I vary my pitch and inflections, the more animated she gets. It is quite entertaining. The big event of the last 6 months for her was her baptism in February. Nana 'Pock and Aunt Jenny came up to Michigan with Mom and Dad to spend the weekend with us and share in the celebration of marking her as one of God's own.

Kate is still going strong at Children's Hospital. She has such a cool job. Not to knock the SLP's in schools, but she gets to see the really interesting stuff at her place. Her days are long (10hrs), but the 3 day weekends are nice. I know that she really enjoys it - even on days when her caseload is slammed and reports need to get done...yesterday. It's cool to watch her come home and know that she is exactly where she needs to be in her career. It fits her personality, intellect and beliefs perfectly. I'm proud of what she does and how she does addition to being Mom of the Year everyday to all three kids. I'm darned lucky.

I finally finished up grad school at Wayne State in May. For the Winter term, I did my clinical internship at Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield, working primarily in inpatient care. It was a very good experience and I learned a TREMENDOUS amount from my supervisors and CFY's who I had the opportunity to work with. Two weeks prior to graduation, I accepted a Speech-Language Pathologist
position with Encore! Rehabilitation Services working at the Martha T. Berry Medical Care Facility in Mt. Clemens Michigan. I graduated on a Thursday and started work the next Monday. I gotta scream this to everyone who will listen: I love my job. This is exactly the reason that I went back to school. I view my job like this: Everyone has a story to tell. In some cases, their ability to tell that story becomes impaired because of an event that they didn't ask for (i.e., stroke, TBI, etc.). My job is to help them reclaim that ability and go on telling their story. To have the opportunity to do that everyday...I'm living the dream.

The last bit of news....I got a new truck!!! Actually, I just got it this past Thursday. Kate says that I've been smiling like the Cheshire Cat for 3 days. I can't help it.