A Root Cause for Fickle Emotions


I woke up this morning feeling emotional.


I usually sleep very well. Extremely well. But last night I woke up around three times that I can remember. I have a faint feeling like I was having bad dreams. But I cannot remember any of them.


Which made me wonder what is really going on in my brain right now. I know I was fairly feisty and moody yesterday. I chalked it up to being tired from the night before. (I was out late on my weekly Taco Ride bike ride.)

But it’s clearly more than that.


I brought my mood up with a couple friends and they suggested that it might be that a lot of the emotions from the past couple weeks’ drama in my house is catching up to me. I’ve been on autopilot up until now.

I do think there’s truth in that. But it’s not the root. But I think I can identify the root.




Micah has been on an extremely low carb diet. This in and of itself has added stress to my life. Always having to think ahead about what he will be eating. What he is willing to eat. Limiting his carbs. And his constant nagging of saying that he is hungry.

Micah’s behaviors are a constant drain of energy. I cannot leave him alone for any amount of time. He has to be constantly observed and entertained, or else things get crazy. So just that in and of itself is a constant source of stress for me. But things between him and his brother have seemed to get worse. They are always fighting and bickering. Punching, kicking, throwing things, biting. It’s a battle everyday.

Micah has had lots of ear infections recently. Ones that seemingly never go away. And so, long story short, he is going to get tubes in his ears soon. They will also take out his adenoids. And while they are at it, they are going to clip his tongue tie. All in one surgery. He’ll be under general anesthesia, which is definitely a source of stress. And for me it’s bigger than I anticipated.

I imagine him lying motionless on a surgery table. His little self. And it really bothers me. I don’t really know why it bothers me so much, but that image is deeply disturbing to me.

Micah starts school on August 13th. He’ll be in a regular kindergarten. Riding a regular bus. All day. Every day. I just can’t imagine things going smoothly. I don’t anticipate it at all. Even within the first day he’ll be up and walking around on the bus. No doubt. And he’ll probably get made fun of by the older students. And I, I’m not doing well with that in my mind.

An entire day of school? Seriously? It sounds really great if it works out. I’m so excited for him. But I just can’t imagine it. He can’t stay seated in a chair for more than three seconds. I have no idea how this is going to work.

That’s probably the tip of the iceberg. But I know that.


Someone in one of the Kabuki Syndrome groups I am in posted that her daughter died. Out of respect I won’t say who or what group, but there’s a part of her post that really was just…I don’t know…so real to me. I can’t help but tear up when I imagine her life at this point.

Last night we lost our sweet ——–. She put up such an amazing fight until the very end. I really don’t know how I will adjust to life without her but my heart is shattered in every way possible. I cannot believe she’s gone, our little girl is gone…. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. What a fucked up life this is… The only thing keeping me sane is knowing that she is no longer suffering. No more pokes, no more pain, no more wires, nor surgery, just rest.

What a post.

Because I do sometimes think, “What a fucked up life this is…”

I don’t mean to be crass. If there is ever a time for using the f-word it is in this context. But man, this world sometimes. The stories. The suffering. The struggle.


Life is just too short to be angry. To buy lots of shit. We have to invest in each other. What else is there?


There are days where I just want to go through all my things and get rid of almost all of it. Cut down my belongings to my computer. camera and lenses. A few sets of clothes and shoes. My watch. My bike.

I sometimes have these nagging feelings to just do that. We have so many toys with so many small parts. The house gets messy every single day because of the kids. It drives me bonkers.

Laundry. Toys. Trash. Mail.

It never ends.


The end.

Spilling the Bucket


Today is one of those hard days because it feels like I’m completely drained of emotional energy. One of our girls is struggling with her behaviors. This morning I confronted her about something and she cussed and yelled at me. She denied everything I was saying about her. Going on and on about all sorts of things.

Now, I was completely prepared for this. None of it was surprising. I probably could have written the script of what she was going to say.

It’s the actual encounter between us as human beings that drains me. On paper it’s nothing. But when you put two humans beings who’ve lived with each other since last September, and she’s talking about how she can’t trust me and how she doesn’t care and she’s cussing at me, yelling, saying I’m setting her up for failure – it does something to me.


Part of this job that makes it vulnerable is that I am constantly rooting for these girls to do well, make good decisions, and build authentic relationships.

So when these girls make poor decisions and show their relationships to be phony and fake, or at best very shallow, it’s disappointing and I’m left with feelings of grief and sadness. I know that’s a constant risk of this job if I’m constantly rooting for them, but there is no other way to do this job. It’s what I signed up for, so these days are guaranteed to happen from time to time.


It’s like our relationship is a big bucket being slowly filled up with experiences and laughter and trust and time. In instances like this today, it feels like she kicked over the bucket and all those experiences, laughter, trust, and time gets spilled out everywhere. And once it has been spilled there’s not really any that can get back into that bucket. You have to just flip that bucket back over and hope to start filling it back up.


But this girl is potentially leaving as early as next week. And so her behaviors are all over the place. When these kids don’t have a solid plan about their future, their behaviors and attitudes shift and ebb and flow constantly. Very few can handle such uncertainty. And so it is for her. But she thinks she’s for sure getting out of her, and it is very likely. But if she basically thinks she’s getting out of our home no matter what very very soon, what does it matter if she tries getting away with things she knows she isn’t allowed to do? At least in her mind.


So here we are. A tough day. I feel drained. But I stay committed with faith, hope, love, and determination.

So I take a deep breath now. Pushing forward with a peace that comes from a sense of integrity and truth.





Last night I met up with some fellow instagrammers from here in the Omaha area to take some photos of the stars and the milky way galaxy.

Before yesterday I had never done any astrophotography. But I was very excited to get a chance to do it with others out in a very small town about 45 miles east of the Missouri river in Iowa.


I don’t really have a lot to say other than throughout the evening I got better and better with understanding what made a good quality shot. It’s a balance, and you have to learn your camera.

But here are some of the photos I took last night. Let me know which one is your favorite.


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup


Astro Meetup

Chugging Along


Saturdays can feel very long around here. Well, weekends in general. But honestly, today wasn’t all that bad. We only had three girls for most of the day, we had an assistant working with us, and Sarah’s feeling better. (She had been sick and in bed for almost two weeks as of a couple days ago.)


It was Omaha Railroad days today. We took them all there today. It was a hot day, but overall it was quite pleasant. Micah’s attention was still as short as ever, but he we were able to move around to different exhibits enough to overall keep him satisfied.


I was thankful today that one of our girls, the girl that has been with us the longest, really acts like a big sister to Micah. She kept her eye on him when he’d run away. She’d convince him to come back to us if he did.

I remember thinking back before we worked at Boys Town that Micah was such a handful it potentially would feel like less work to me if we fostered or even adopted a teenager. Someone that could be a big sibling to Micah. And here at Boys Town, Micah has a number of big sisters that really watch over him well. I am extremely thankful for that.


If I could, I would go out and take pictures as often as possible. Unfortunately I’m too busy. And even when I am out taking pictures it’s hard because I can’t publish any pictures of our girls publicly, and when I’m with the boys I feel like I can’t stand still long enough to take pictures because I’m always chasing them around.


Tomorrow there is a meet up for Instagrammers from Omaha. It’s a astrophography meet up, something I’ve actually never done and have wanted to do for a very long time. I got a cheap tripod today because my boys ruined my other one. Good timing for something like this. I hope to come back tomorrow night with at least one good photo from the evening.


This evening, before the girls went to bed, I was contemplative. I had just been joking around with them a bit as we reflected on their behaviors throughout the day. And I thought about really how great this job is most of the time. I still haven’t lost that sense of privilege it is to live with and raise this girls. I love what I do. I love being able to do it with my wife. I love the support that we get in this role. And I love that my sons have big sisters that are with them all the time.

What a life.
I’m so thankful.

Until next time. Peace.


Pictures from the day:

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Omaha Railroad Days

Processed with VSCO with 7 preset


Uncorking the bottle

When life is busy I get to the point that I feel like I have to write or I’ll go insane. I doesn’t even have to be about anything substantial. I just need to put my fingers on the keys and let whatever needs to come out, come out.

So what’s on my mind? Let’s find out together.

Staying afloat

The work Sarah and I do is a like a machine. There’s all sorts of moving parts. All of them need to be monitored and maintained for the machine to continue working properly. It doesn’t take much for the machine to break down.

Sarah has been sick since last Saturday. And over the weekend we were working with a new Family Teaching couple, training and helping them prepare to have a home of their own here in a couple weeks. That takes a lot of extra energy and attention. At the same time I was making sure Sarah is ok, while also making sure our boys aren’t destroying the house.

We have a different assistant working with us than we typically have. Which, it’s super great to have the help. It really is. But at the same time, we are definitely missing our normal assistant and how we just gel with her so well. It’s really a bummer that being an assistant is an entry-level position because we’d love to have her for a very long time. But she’s skilled enough that she won’t last too long with us.

I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, so please don’t read it that way, but sometimes it feels like I’m juggling ten things at once. Despite the extremely hectic week we’ve had, we’ve stayed afloat. We’ve learned how to kick into this mode when one of us is down for the count. But it’s not sustainable.

Last summer we were without an assistant for the entire summer and I’m not sure how we did it, honestly. It was extremely hard. And this time without Sarah being able to contribute much has reminded me of the worst times of that period of our life at Boys Town.

Lifestyle changes – Micah

Last week we started Micah on a very restricted diet. It’s a modified Atkins diet in which he cannot have more than 10 grams of carbs each day. This is an extremely big shift from his typical diet. It has been suggested and approved by his dietician and nutritionist. There’s some exciting studies being done and about to be done regarding this sort of diet (keto) with mice that have Kabuki syndrome, which is what my oldest son Micah has.

The study of genetics right now is exploding. I wish the world knew just how much information we are getting and learning how to decipher these days in regards to epigenetics and genetics in general. It’s extremely specified studies with all sorts of amazing and promising results.

Micah just had his annual cardiology appointment and his genetic appointment. His artery is looking better. It was too large, but it is closer to the size it should be in one year, which is hopeful for the future.

The geneticist said she’d like to have Ezra tested, too. That he displays enough of the visual components of Kabuki syndrome that it seems very possible he would have it. In the end it would help the entire community to better understand the scope and spectrum of Kabuki syndrome and how it presents in various cases.

If he does have kabuki, then I think we’ll also have Sarah tested because she too has a number of the physical symptoms of the syndrome.

I can’t help but wonder what all this will look like in like 20 years. When they are in their 20s. What all will we know? How standard will these tests be? What will we know about what can change about our genetics?

Lifestyle changes – me

With Micah’s big diet shift, I too have made some changes to my diet. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but just never had the motivation or dedication to make the shift. But I have made the shift. I’m committed in a way that I never have been and I’ve been very happy with my mindset and ability to maintain overall. My goal is to lose about 40 lbs. We’ll see how this journey goes. But I’m encouraged by my progress thus far.

My hobbies


Photography has been the main one I’ve had over the last few years or so. And I’ve really been trying to keep up with that lately. The culture in our home is finally to the place where the girls want me to take their photo, something I’ve wanted since we moved to Boys Town.

The other night we went on a quick photo walk right around sunset to take some nice portraits of them for putting up on our wall. They were so excited about it. Even the one girl who hates having her picture taken told me that she thinks that the photos turned out really well and that she likes the way she looks in them, which is a huge thing for her to say.


I recently picked up a boosted board. It’s a longboard powered by an electric motor. It was made famous by Casey Niestat on YouTube. It’s been extremely fun for me to ride around on. I use it to get around on campus and also at the various parks and bike paths around Omaha. I hope to use it more and more. I get an intense dopamine kick when I ride my board, and I find myself wanting to ride it all the time. Thankfully I haven’t had a big fall or anything. It can be pretty intense because it goes 22mph. I’ve only gone up to 20mph so far. I eventually will get confident enough to go faster.


I’ve been faithful with my weekly bike ride. It’s a ride called Taco Ride. I’ve been every week this summer that I’ve been in town. It’s a bit of a ritual for me now. Bike, get fried cheese curds, maybe some nachos, a couple pitchers of margarita, and then bike back.

I love it. I go with the best friend I have here at Boys Town, and we talk about work and then about life, and a bit more about work once a few drinks have settled in.

I’ve been enjoying myself thus far this summer for the most part. But it’s hard work. And it definitely makes me look forward to the school year starting up again. This is all the stuff I’m apparently wanting to talk about today. Honestly, this will just help me write a more thought-out post for my amseaman.com blog which has been long neglected by me. So thanks for anyone who followed along with this post. Hope you’re doing well. Blogging seems to be dying away. So I appreciate those who still have hung around.

Forgetting to be happy

I like the feeling of being happy, but I sometimes forget to be happy.

It’s not hard for me to experience happiness because my life is filled with blessings. But for whatever reason the pull to be grumpy and annoyed is weirdly strong. I say weirdly because being grumpy isn’t fun. There’s nothing fun about it. And sometimes all it takes for me to not be grumpy is to simply remember to be happy.

How can I forget to be happy? Why do I forget to be happy?

Emotions are so fickle. I’ve written and pondered about this before, but they are frustrating things. It’s amazing how quickly I can go from happy to angry and from angry to excited and from excited to sad and so on.

Anxiety is a happiness thief.
I hate that.

I was sitting with a group of friends on vacation the other day. One of my best friends was there with me and as we were sitting around chatting and laughing I was thinking about how much I enjoyed being there in that moment. I felt like I belonged, I wasn’t just trying to fit in.

One of my best friends was in the mix of people there. He’s been working at Boys Town for over 18 years now. As we talked and laughed about stories of the past, people would mention previous couples who had been here.

Someone mentioned, “You were really close with them, weren’t you?” and he said, “Yeah, I was.” And I immediately went from feeling happy to feeling anxious and like I didn’t belong. Was I just another one of the couples that has come into his life, and will leave eventually, and just be someone mentioned for a few seconds as someone that he used to be close with?

I’m not sure what it is exactly about that thought that makes me feel so uneasy and sensitive and anxious. But whatever it was, it caused me to forget to be happy about the moment I was in. I was with my friends, enjoying life, telling stories. And I forgot to be happy.

The next day I found out that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. I didn’t know a lot about him, but I know enough that I was still shocked by it. Reminded again how powerful the change of emotions are in shaping our behaviors and decisions.

There are moments recently that have made me very happy:

  • An incredible morning boat ride on lake Okoboji in Iowa. The waves were super choppy and at full speed kept hitting them letting tons of water splash us inside of the boat. We did this for nearly two hours. It was so much fun.
  • Simply being one of the adults at a camp made me happy. Throughout my entire childhood I went to camps and gathering in which I was never in charge. But now I’m one of the adults making the decisions, leading groups of teenagers. And sometimes I would simply pause and take in that fact with deep satisfaction. Whether it be in the dinner line, or as kids walked up to me to ask me if I would drive them on a boat. What a life I have!
  • Seeing Ezra play on the beach and keep himself entertained was so much fun for me. To see how joyful and happy he was made me so happy.
  • Being with my wife, Sarah, and having a group of six teenage girls with us that we together call a family.
  • Having three other guys there with me who understand what this job is like, and the challenges and joys that come from it.
  • Riding in the van hearing the girls laugh while dancing to songs on our Okoboji playlist.
  • Seeing an amazing sunset the first night while I rode on my Boosted board.
  • Great food.
  • Seeing one of my girls win “Camper of the Week.”
  • Taking pictures and video of moments with the girls on the trip.

Those are a handful of moments that helped me remember to be happy. To be grateful.

The struggle is to continue to remember to be happy because there are great blessings all around me.


Remembering the Journeys

Usually our girls are allowed to sleep in on Saturdays until about 10:30 am. Sometimes however, they get to go home for the weekend or for most of a day to spend time with their families. When this happens, they usually get up before 10:30, which means that I get some rare one on one time with them as they make breakfast and get ready to get picked up for their visit.

These times are special to me because I often get to have very real conversations with them. Yesterday was a prime example of that for me.

As one of my girls was waiting for her mom to come pick her up for the day she told me much of her mom’s story, and therefore much of her own. I can’t provide revealing details publicly, but I can say that her life’s story was full of struggle and perseverance.

I hope one day she is able to publicly tell her story. It’s a powerful one, and she’s a great storyteller.

But her story was a very good reminder of the stories and the journeys these girls carry with them each day. We have high expectations for each one of our girls, as we should, but sometimes it’s good to remember where they’s come from and how they got here.

Finally Friday


Tomorrow Sarah and I have our weekend off. (We get one weekend off a month.) It’s felt like a very long month, so we are really looking forward to tomorrow. On top of that, my mom is going to watch our boys for the weekend so that Sarah and I can have a nice weekend with each other without having to worry about the boys.

Our best friends here at Boys Town also have the weekend off, so we are going to get together on Saturday evening for a double date night out. This is the first time we’ve been able to do this, so it should be pretty nice!


One of my goals since starting to wake up with the boys and writing is that I’ll also take time to write letters or postcards to friends and family. I am not too bad at writing letters to people. But for whatever reason, I am horrible at making sure I get the letter or postcard into the mail.

So my goal should not simply be writing letters, but making sure to get the letter in the mail within 24 hours. I have a letter a wrote a dear friend of mine who was about to have a baby. It was a letter of encouragement as she prepares for her little one to arrive. And I didn’t get the letter in the mail. Time went by and she had the baby! And I didn’t get the letter in the mail in time.

I’ll still send the old letter, but I need to make sure to write a follow up to her and her family as well.


Today is our citizenship ceremony on campus. It’s the time when the new youth on campus swear in as “citizens of Boys Town.” They talk about behaviors they plan to work on and improve on campus and about what they are like about Boys Town thus far. It’s kind of a neat thing for them because they get provided lunch and after the ceremony they get to go into the gift shop to choose a Boys Town shirt or sweatshirt to be able to wear to various events or activities.

Two of our girls are swearing in today. So they’ll get dressed up and we’ll get dressed up to hear them swear in. After the ceremony they’ll also receive a certificate that we frame and put up next to their rooms in our home.


Today is the second Friday of lent, which means no meat. Cooking is sometimes a hassle on lenten Fridays, so a number of the girls’ houses get together on Fridays for a potluck. They play games. They all hang out together. It’s a fun time for everyone, and it makes each Friday during lent go very quickly and something for the girls to look forward to rather than being bummed their not eating any meat.


Every Friday I take the girls who had a good week to a late night trip to Taco Bell. That means they had to complete every homework assignment, they couldn’t have had any major behavioral problems at home or at school. This works as a surprisingly good motivator for our girls. In fact, one of our newest girls talks about it constantly as a reason why she wants to have a good week.

During lent it isn’t as much fun because they can’t have any meat, but I like to joke that they could still have anything on the menu because whatever Taco Bell uses isn’t truly meat.

Marathon Days

Yesterday was a marathon day. Once a month each girl in our home has a team meeting. A team meeting is where we meet with a girl and all her supports – her family, her PO, her GAL, her therapist, our consultant, and any other supports that might be involved in her life.

Yesterday we had five of those meetings.

Also, the girls didn’t have school because of their conferences. So I met with each one of their teachers and talked about their behaviors in class and about their effort and grades.

I met with a lot of teachers.

Micah has been throwing progressively worse and worse tantrums each day when he has to get dressed for school. Yesterday’s was so bad that Sarah didn’t know if she was even going to be able to get him dressed in time to get on the bus. It took me coming home in a rush from the conferences and practically forcing clothes on Micah to be able to get him dressed. And even then he kept saying over and over that he didn’t want to go to school.

He eventually got on the bus and got to school. But it was a struggle and a half.

With the girls home from school we had to feed them lunch and have tasks and work for the girls who were in trouble and had lost their privileges for the day.

That actually takes up a good amount of energy.

We were down a good amount of ingredients for the house, and so Sarah took all the girls as well as our assistant to go to the store. I stayed home with the boys. It takes a while to go shopping for a family of 13 (if you count our assistant).

One fun thing about the day is that my cheap little lens adapter for my Fuji camera came in today. So I can now use my favorite 50mm F1.7 manual lens from my Pentax on my Fuji. Really makes it fun to shoot with my manual lens again.

I went out last night with my friend Jeff after a long day. It is so nice to have a friend to go out with every week to debrief and unwind. It makes me better at my job and it makes  me a better person.

Asking for Help

Even though we work with teenagers that struggle with their behaviors, and it is literally or job to help teach them how to change their behaviors and make good decisions, I still believe the hardest part of our job is knowing how to raise our own two boys.

Their behaviors recently have sometimes even seemed unmanageable. If we take our attention off of them for even the time it takes to go to the bathroom, they either make a huge mess or break something. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Micah, our five year old, has a genetic syndrome called Kabuki Syndrome. And some of his behaviors can be accounted for because of this. Ezra, his younger brother, seems to get joy from destroying things.

It feels overwhelming for a number of reasons.

For one, my wife and are I family-teachers, which our boss loves to tell people is being “professional parents.” So when we feel we are unable to manage our own kids, the shame feels multiplied.

Another reason is that many of the parents we know do not have this struggle with their kids on a constant basis. Yes, some kids have their moments. But it’s not a constant issue like it is for us.

Another reason is that it seems we are able to teach and help teenagers fairly well, but our own toddlers seem to be eluding our parenting and teaching.

So we’ve had to ask for help. A skill that we teach our girls on a daily basis.

We began seeing a behavioral therapist quite a few months ago to help with Micah’s behaviors. The strategies we would be using would be coming from the same model we use for our teenagers, but just adapted to younger kids.

And in many ways it has helped give us strategies with how to deal with Micah and Ezra, but it also has given us permission to address some behaviors in a way that I didn’t know to go about initially.

One issue we’ve been trying to address is when they wake up. They get up near 5:30 most days. And it’s tiring. They come out of their room and get into mischief. So our therapist suggested we get an alarm clock that has a red light and a green light. And you can set the time for the green light to go off, which tells them they are allowed to come out of their room. If the light is red, they are not to get out of bed or their room.

I set it for 6:15 this morning, and although Ezra and Micah had gotten up earlier to go to the bathroom, they both went back to their room and only came back out at 6:15 when the green light turned on.

I am thankful when strategies like this work out, even if only in the short term.