Bones, bones, bones, bones. Yummy bones, bones, bones!

Hey, guys. It’s Ben. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
So much to tell you.
Let’s start with our new student. “Lissa” is officially with us now – and she’s added a whole new dynamic to our group. She and Bella have become “fast friends” and, I swear, it’s like the ladies have taken over. Having a new student has been wonderful and I can’t wait till we eventually have the 12 – or maybe 15 students our little school needs!
Then… there’s the addition to Chad and Raef’s house. Alex had insisted their home needed a couple more bedrooms and baths, and volunteered to provide materials “left over from the Koala Cove project.” Anyway, he did a bunch of sketches and got in touch with Nathan about the job. Nathan told him they have a big project starting December 1st, and said “Why don’t we just knock out this addition right now?” So, Alex talked with Jim and they got a building permit for a “minor residential remodel – with no inspections required.” Gotta love Jim and his contacts! Nathan and his crews descended on the house and, like magic, it’s almost done. They’re artists who can do it all – carpentry, electrical, plumbing… everything. The addition is beautiful – as Alex promised – and it’ll be wonderful for them… with Lissa and Matty each having a bedroom and bathroom of their own.
We’ve talked with the grandparents – and they’re not coming for Thanksgiving. They’ve all been watching the warnings from the CDC about Holiday gatherings and don’t want to risk bringing covid into our group. We’ll do a family “Zoom” on Thursday afternoon – and plan a real “get together” at Christmastime.
Now, Some really personal stuff you may (or may not) want to read. It’s o.k.- whether you want to read this… or just look at the boners above.
It’s like this: David, Dub and I are HUGE fans of Rachael Maddow and her show on MSNBC. Recently, she had been absent from the program because she had been isolating while her partner Susan Mikula was battling coronavirus. Rachael said, “Susan has been sick with COVID these past couple of weeks. And at one point we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her. That’s why I’ve been away. She said, about Susan: “She’s the center of my life. She’s the organizing principle of my life. My relationship with Susan is the only thing at the end of the day that I would kill or die for without any hesitation.”
Which brings me to a couple of weeks ago when I dropped David off at the St Lukes emergency room – thinking they’d just check his heart arrhythmia – and we’d be headed back home before long. The next thing I knew, he had been moved to the main St. Lukes Hospital on the Plaza and was in “intensive care.” They wouldn’t let me see him for two days and I was frantic. When they finally moved him out of “intensive care” to the cardio care ward, they finally let me see him. When I saw him, he looked AWFUL. He was hooked up to a heart monitor and had an IV in each arm. He was pale and groggy and looked terrible – although he (sort of) managed a smile when he saw me. Then, of course, they escorted me out of his room and I wandered around in the parking lot for a while and then went and sat in my car and just cried for a long time – because I didn’t know if he was gonna live. And, I totally get how Rachael was feeling about Susan. And I totally understand when she said Susan was the “center of her life.” Because that’s what David is to me. He’s my life, my love, my everything. He’s the smile I wake to in the morning and my strength when things get tough. He’s the one I spend my life with – and want to grow old with – and spend forever with.
So… today… we’re thankful. David is well and things are good. We went on a long walk this afternoon with Dub and “Buzz the wonder dog” and came home and took the turkey out of the oven and made dressing… and watched Jeopardy and gave thanks.
We hope this THANKSGIVING DAY is special for you. We wish you happiness, good health, and good cheer. We love you. Ben, David and the gang.

Dude. It’s a “White Out”!

Hey, guys. Sorry we haven’t posted in a while. David and Keon have been in Minneapolis at a trade association meeting and I’ve been at a private school educators conference in Miami. While we were gone, Dub stayed with Tra, and he tells us Tra is in charge of pictures of the wedding. I’m sure he’ll get lots of help from Pop-pops.
For a while now, we’ve been talking about doing a new series of “Colors” posts. Over time, we’ve done lots of “colors”, but apparently never a “White” one. Probably a good place to start the series 🙂

So much has happened lately here in the Northland…it’s kind of mind boggling. We’re going let our friends bring you up-to-date. This is gonna be long so you may want to just look at the pics for now and read this when you have time.
FROM CHAD: On Valentines Day, Raef surprised me asking me to marry him – and, of course I said “Yes.” We got our Marriage License that day. I told Dub Friday night and asked him to help me plan the wedding and to be my “best man” at the ceremony. He was thrilled and is taking his new responsibilities very seriously. Since we know there’s going to be a crowd, Ty suggested having the wedding and reception at their new cabin at the Lake. He said “It’s about 99% finished and our “great room” is really big. You could say your vows by the waterfall if you want.” We love the idea of “getting hitched at the Lake” so that’s the plan, and the wedding will be on Saturday, February 29th.
Keon, Rick, Raef, our attorney and I met with the DSS people on Valentines Day afternoon. The DSS folks were a little pissed that we brought our attorney 🙂 The meeting was over an hour long and ended with the bureaucrats agreeing to a “provisional placement of Mateo” with Raef and me. They’re requiring “weekly in-home evaluations” by DSS personnel and bi-weekly meetings for Mateo with a child counselor. Our attorney felt the requirements were acceptable, so the deal was done. After the meeting, Raef and I went over to the Church to meet Mateo. “Mary Katherine” (one of the Catholic sisters) introduced us and told Mateo we were going to be his new Papas. He’s a neat kid and seemed pleased to be moving to a “real home.” He speaks fluent Spanish and broken English. Raef and I speak fluent English and broken Spanish – but communicating with him wasn’t a problem. We’re guessing that over time we’ll all end up being fluent in both languages. The DSS people will bring him to his new home at our house next Monday afternoon. I don’t know who’s more excited – Mateo – or Raef and me.
FROM ALEX: The Northland gang is very excited about Chad, Raef and Mateo. We wanted Mateo to have one of the world’s best new homes, so after they met over at the Church, I called Sister Mary Katherine and asked her if she knew what his favorite color was. She said she had no idea… so I asked her if she could find out. She called me back about an hour later and said “I showed him a box of crayons and asked him which one he liked most. He picked the green one.” So, green it is. The gang converged on Chad and Raef’s house last Saturday with paint, rollers and brushes. Mateo’s room was painted a soft gray-green in three hours flat. I knew where there was some awesome boys room furniture at a consignment store over in Shawnee, so we went over there – bought it – and had it in the room by late Saturday afternoon. On Sunday we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target and Kohls and got a tartan green bedspread, throw rugs, new window blinds, and so-forth. The room was finished by late Sunday afternoon and it’s awesome. Mateo is smaller than Dub and Austin so they donated a TON of clothes – and we bought him new undies, p.j.’s, etc., so his closet and dresser are full of neat stuff. I can’t imagine what he’ll think when he sees his room and clothes.
FROM RAEF: Ummm. I’ve never written anything for a blog before, but Ben asked me to tell you about “Mateo,” so I’ll try it. The State people brought him over to the house Monday afternoon. The sisters had him excited about living in a “real home” but he was still real nervous when he got here. Right off, “Bud” ran over and started licking him and he started laughing and got down on the floor to play with him. Then we showed him his new room and stuff – and he said “mi habitation?” And Chad grinned and said “si es tuyo.” After the State people left, we had a chance to get to know each other and I told him we’d go fishing soon – and showed him pictures of Dub and the rest of the Northland kids and told him they’d be his new friends. After a while, he said “You could call me “Matty”. That’s what my madre always calls me. I said “Matty it is.” Then we fixed tacos and brown beans and rice and he ate like a horse and started smiling a lot. I think this is gonna work out real good!

You’re never fully dressed without a smile!

Saturday was the boys’ monthly sleep-over at Austin’s house” Ty and Damien do a great job on this. They take the boys out to dinner – then to the “Main Event” for games – then the boys spend the night in the media room playing video games and watching movies. They even have a theater style popcorn maker the guys think is about the neatest thing since crank ice-cream. So, Austin, Dub, Erik and Travon had a big night for sure!
Since the boys were going to be gone, Ben and I invited Rick, Keon, Chad and Raef over for home-made pizza and to watch NFL games. Of course, Keon and Rick made the salad and put in a bunch of “special greens.” After the Bears heartbreaking loss to the Eagles, we made a huge pitcher of margaritas… grabbed some joints… and headed to the hot tub. We didn’t know what Raef would think about being naked with a bunch of dudes in the hot tub, but he seemed o.k. with it. After we’d been in the water for a while, he wanted to talk so we turned the pump down to “recirculate” so it wouldn’t be so loud. He said he’d never been around any gay guys before. Said he didn’t know what to expect – but he said “Hell. You’re just regular guys. I mean, you like sports and dogs and have kids and… umm…I don’t know. You’re just not what I thought gay guys would be like.” Keon grinned and said “What did you think gay guys would be like?” Raef thought for a couple of minutes and said, “I don’t know. I mean, I guess I thought you might be all swishy and dress up like girls and do stuff like that.” Keon said “Well. Sure we do that kind of stuff. But only when there’s a full moon.” We all laughed and had another drink. We asked Raef if he’d ever been married and he said he had been. Said it lasted almost five years but they broke up because he wanted kids and she wanted a career. He said it got to where all they were doing was fighting, so they called it quits.
Anyway, Raef said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with guys being gay. He said he guessed he could even understand dudes having sex with each other. He just didn’t think he could ever kiss another dude. He thought that would probably be too weird as far as he’s concerned. We turned the jets back on… drank and smoked some more… and after a while, Chad surprised us – (and Raef!!!) – by putting his arm around his neck and giving him a big, sloppy kiss- right on his mouth. It was real quiet for a while… then Raef had sort of a silly grin on his face and said “Fuck. I guess maybe I was wrong about that, too.” We all thought it was hilarious.
So – despite the Bears’ loss, it was a good evening. The whole gang is planning to get together over at Chad’s house for the Chiefs-Colts game on Saturday. There’s supposed to be snow. GO CHIEFS!