StudySkills Articles

The Story of Us… and SOAR
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Five years later, the dreams I thought would take a lifetime to achieve, had already come true! (Thanks to lots of support from you and family.) Very soon, it became evident that the child I once thought would get in the way of my dreams, was actually the North Star to guide us to much BIGGER ones.

Susan looking at her newborn baby.
Our North Star
I just didn’t know it, yet.

Remember when

We had no money, I had no job, and you took lots of extra “baby duty” so I could write? *I* barely had a vision of what I was doing; it would have been impossible for you to understand it.

Surprise Mural! 2006
While I spent a weekend away visiting my brother and sis-in-law, you painted a mural of SOAR’s original logo on the wall of our home-office. There had been many setbacks getting SOAR off the ground; this was your (very bold) declaration of encouragement!

Then, after we used all our money to print our first round of books, I convinced you to let me sign-up for a really expensive marketing course. You agreed, mostly because of their outrageous guarantee.

And then…

They made me sign a waiver on the guarantee because I was so green! But we met their “guaranteed outcomes,” anyway.

And now…

The person hosting that marketing class has become one of our best friends, with whom we’ve shared many adventures!

Brian and Perry Marshall in London
The Royal Society of London – May 2019
Perhaps the most unexpected adventure… you and Perry Marshall on your way to dinner at the Royal Society of London, an institution of science established in 1660. Perry was invited by the Society to announce his Origin of Life X-Prize. You went along to help our dear friend celebrate his pinnacle achievement, to date.

Remember when…

Driving south on I-275, we suddenly hydroplaned into the narrow embankment, at 75 mph?

And then…

We didn’t die! Didn’t even have damage to the vehicle. A couple years later, our Little Dragon had an explanation. “I know what saved us; Princess Wild Card was in Heaven and wanted to be a part of our family; she was our guardian angel that day.” <3


Remember when…

You were a Detroit Lion’s fan?

And then…

After eight years of marriage, you finally saw the light! You converted to become a Green Bay Packer fan!

Packer Game at Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field – October 14, 2007
The day you became a Packer fan… when we all kidnapped my Dad (WI native) and took him on a road trip to his first-ever Packer game!

Remember when…

You wanted a second child… and I did not?

“Only when YOU can have it!” I argued. (Pregnancy was 24/7/9 “morning sickness” for me.)

You even bargained, “I’ll take all of the mid-night feedings.” But it wasn’t enough.

And then…

My cousin, Ann Marie, tragically passed away. My two brothers and 26 first-cousins rallied STRONG to help us with the memorial service and reception; the support was completely overwhelming, in the best way possible.

I realized, our child would have zero first cousins, on either side. The least I could do was give him a sibling.

And then…

9.5 months later, we learned how boring our life had been when Princess Wild Card entered this world! I will always consider her my gift from Ann Marie, complete with all of Ann Marie’s fire and sass!

And then…

18 months after PWC was born, we got a niece! My brother & sis-in-law (the “former roommate”) had been certain they weren’t going to have children. But, after they visited Princess Wild Card the day she was born, they changed their mind.

Two gifts from Ann Marie. <3

Two little girls
Our Two Precious Gifts “from Anne Marie”

Remember when…

We were trying to move into your school district and finally got an offer on the “forever house?” (In the Detroit/Flint area, in the ’08-’09 recession. That, alone, was a miracle!)

The realtor called to say she’d be right over with the paperwork. You replied, “Okay, I’ll pick up some pizza.”

And then…

I said, “I think I might be pregnant.” 

You froze and stared at me, stunned. After a moment, you shook your head in disbelief, smacked the table, and declared, “Well, I guess I’m getting a pizza AND a pregnancy test!”

And then…

“Congratulations! You’re gonna be homeless AND have a new baby!”


Remember when…

During the first pregnancy, we were in-between houses and living out of the too-warm-for-pregnancy-in-the-summer, second level of your parents’ house?

Five years later, we decided to move into your school district, in time for our son to start kindergarten.

And then…

You jinxed me. In your effort to convince me for Baby #2, you taunted, “We won’t sell this house until you are pregnant.”

Da*n you!

..back to the 2nd story of your parents’ house.


Remember when…

Your grandfather was dying?

We had already said our final goodbyes. But, as we drove home from the ultrasound, I looked up to see Square Lake Rd splitting north (to our house) and south (to Grandma & Grandpa’s house).

“We need to see Grandpa!” I spontaneously declared.

It was the last second. You shot across several lanes of traffic to shift directions. Only then did you ask, “Why?”

“We need to tell him we are having a girl!”

“But, he hasn’t been responsive in days.”

“I know. We still have to tell him.”

At his house, we knelt on opposite sides of his bed. Each clenching one of his hands, you spoke… “Grandpa, it’s Brian & Sue. We are here to tell you that we are going to have ‘Great-Granddaughter #1!’”

And then…

A single tear fell from each eye.

He began to speak, for the first time in days! His sounds were not forming words, yet we both understood; he said he loved us and promised to be our “entrepreneurial guardian angel.”

(He had been an entrepreneur, himself. And, though he didn’t understand anything about the internet or what I was doing, he was my biggest fan!)

That spectrum of emotions was over-the-top: tears of joy over the news that I was getting the girl I had wanted since my second brother was born… and bawling over the loss of my #1 Fan.

You summed it up beautifully during Grandpa’s eulogy, “While he knew he would not see her on this Earth, he had already made a place for ‘Great-Granddaughter #1’ in his heart.” (Gah… gonna cry all over again…)

Family Photo with Great Grandpa
Grandma & Grandpa’s Anniversary
You were always “Grandson #1.” So, I assumed the title of “Granddaughter #1.” Our little guy became “Great-Grandson #1.”

Remember when…

While expecting Princess Wild Card, we did some math?

We discovered she would be graduating from LOHS the same year you would be eligible to retire. I instantly pictured the two of you doing the “Senior Walk-Out” together…

And then…

Just a short time later, a guillotine would fall on all ties to our school district. (Details to follow.) It would all happen less than 18 months after we took a major loss on the Forever House, specifically to GET INTO the district. God has a wicked sense of humor!


Remember when…

You promised to take all of the mid-night feedings?

And then…

You did. <3

Daddy’s Little Angel
You with your five-day-old, Princess Wild Card.
Pink tie to celebrate our new addition!
(Well, tie for the wedding. Pink for the new addition.)

Remember when…

Your five-year-old son told you (with a mild lisp and a *giant* spark of pride in his eyes) that his teacher told him… you were her son’s favorite teacher?

And now…

Many of those students have grown to become our friends and “Lake Orion Family!”

Brian At his Students' Weddings
Your Students’ Weddings
At the start of your career, you said, “I want to be the kind of teacher that gets invited to my students’ weddings.” Several years later, you’ve been invited to MANY. <3
L: Kyle Hagan, Katie Garry (we attended her wedding two months later)
R: Jacki Spencer

Remember when…

Our son’s principal pointed his finger in my face and scolded, “YOU are holding him back! His mother is the one holding him back!” Then, threatened us with child abuse charges?

I cried all night. You tried to console and reassure me. “You’re going to see… this is happening for a reason!”

I replied, “My head knows that. But, right now, my heart is hurting. Give me 24 hours to cry, then I’ll be ready to kick his (principal’s) *ss!”

And then…

We eventually did see that it happened for a reason… or two.

For one, the experience has allowed us to help a lot of other families facing similar bully tactics.

Secondly, had we not been driven out of the district, we never would have found the remarkable school where we finally landed.


Remember when…

At the very beginning of your tenth year at LOHS, you came home with crushing news?

The district had specifically pegged YOU to build their latest program. After spending all of your free-time that summer to have it ready for the new school year, they canned it in the 11th hour. Political reasons.

It was the final straw. Another one of your efforts had been cut down by a few, toxic coworkers. We didn’t want it to be true, but we knew it was time for you to leave. You stuck it out for one more, very l-o-n-g year.

That was eight years ago and I can still shed a few tears over the death of that dream, for you and for our community. It was the right decision. But even with all of the interim blessings, it still stings.  

And then…

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