Sunday, September 30, 2007

Let Fall Break Begin!

This is the best day of fall break. At this point, I still have two full weeks of nothing to do stretched out in front of me. Of course, in reality, my "nothing to do" time is almost as busy as when I work.

On the schedule for this week:
Monday - Deb has a counseling appointment at 10:00 AM. It will take a little over an hour to get there so we leave a little before 9 and won't be home until after noon.
Tuesday - Cori has a counseling appointment at 5:00 PM. I've been "invited" to sit in on the first part of this one. (With this particular counselor, "invited" means she's going to tell me what I'm doing wrong with this child. She means well, but she's young and inexperienced and this foster daughter has her totally snowed. Everything is my fault.) Anyway, that appointment is also over an hour away and won't be home until after 7, at which time Deb has already started her baseball practice, after being delivered by my friend. We'll come home and go straight to the ball park and won't get home until 8:30 PM.
Wednesday - Deb has another counseling appointment at 2:00 and, you guessed it, it's an hour away in another direction. We should be home (just barely) in time to get Beth to her counseling appointment at 4. I'm glad her counselor is local. Of course, to get it local, I'm paying cash for it, as no local counselors deal with the state's version of Medicaid which DCS kids are on.
Thursday - We are leaving for a few days vacation. We are headed to visit a former foster daughter and her family. She's all grown up and makes me so proud. She and her husband have two beautiful sons and are doing so well. It hasn't been easy but they are making it! Her husband is in the Air Force and they are stationed a few states away on a beach. I'm really looking forward to catching up with them and enjoying the scenery. (Confession - I'm also looking forward to a few days without Deb, who will be staying in a respite home here. She can't handle the unstructured time of vacation. I took her to two different beaches over the summer and she made me miserable both times. This is my Deb-free time. I've earned it. My other kids have earned it, too.)

Before vacation and around the above appointments, I also have to get my van worked on. It's making an ominous clicking sound when I turn sharply. The brakes feel a little soft, too. And, it's been way too long since the last oil change. My mechanic is notorious for taking forever. If I had the cash, I'd just put it in the shop while we are gone and rent a van for the trip. I also have to find a respite home willing to take Deb while we are gone. I've called a couple (ones that have had her before) and they aren't willing. I guess the afternoon will be spent calling/begging.

Next week, the kids will have the same appointments plus, I've offered to drive Cori and her bio sister to a small town 4 hours away to visit with their other sister who is placed there. The three of them haven't been together since their mother's funeral almost two years ago. They need this visit and I don't mind taking them. I offered to do it. I'm just dreading the eight-hour round trip with the one sister who lives near us. She's mentally retarded and mentally ill. It will be hard to occupy her on the road. It will be worth the effort, though. These girls have been in custody over 5 and a half years. Their bio mother died after her parental rights had been terminated. They've had adoptive placements during that time but only one has had an adoption finalized. Then, her adoptive mother died unexpectedly and her adoptive father placed her back in foster care. So, the three are headed for their sixth anniversary of being wards of the state. Bless their hearts!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

50 Random Facts About Me

1. I teach school.

2. Most days, I enjoy teaching school.

3. I love the beach - any beach!

4. I overuse exclamation points! Deal with it!

5. I have a myspace page, even though I'm probably too old.

6. I love to read.

7. Grey's Anatomy is my very favorite TV show of all time.

8. My pool looks like a pond complete with frogs - BIG frogs!

9. My dog always needs a bath but never gets one.

10. The 90 year old woman next door keeps her yard looking better than mine.

11. I'm a foster parent.

12. Some days, I enjoy being a parent.

13. I spend way too much time online - usually doing nothing.

14. Instead of being online, I should be doing something productive in real life.

15. Even if I weren't online, I'd find some other way to avoid being productive in real life.

16. Between us, my best friend and I have 10 children right now.

17. We have sucessfully taken all of them out to eat and gotten compliments from strangers about how well-behaved they are.

18. My children are evidently able to totally fool strangers.

19. Some days I wish I didn't have to feed my children. (Is there a law requiring 3 meals a day or is that merely a suggestion?)

20. I think stupid people should not be allowed to breed.

21. I used to really like to watch movies but lately I can rarely concentrate on one long enough to finish it.

22. I can watch a favorite movie over and over and over - much to the annoyance of my kids.

23. It's quite possible I watch favorite movies repeatedly just to annoy my children.

24. Annoying my children really is just one more service I offer.

25. I'm turning 40 soon and I'm buying myself a present - A RED MINI-VAN!

26. I eat when I'm stressed. I must be stressed a lot because I need to lose about a million pounds.

27. I need to manage my money better.

28. My dishwasher has been broken for over 2 years.

29. I hate to wash dishes.

30. Last week, I bought 600 plastic forks and 600 plastic spoons. I shouldn't have to wash any forks or spoons for a very long time.

31. I just started a two-week fall break.

32. I hope to spend at least a quarter of my fall break days in my jammies.

33. My mother just turned 70 and I can't keep up with that woman. Just watching her makes me tired.

34. One of my foster daughters plays in a baseball league for people with disabilities. I love watching their games and practices.

35. I used to teach special ed and loved it but I can't imagine myself ever going back to it.

36. I love potatoes! If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be potatoes. I have never met a potato I didn't like. (Guess that explains my lack of success on the low-carb diet, huh?)

37. My days start off so much better if there is a cold, 20-ounce Diet Mt. Dew in my fridge.

38. Most of my father's family lives right here in the same small town where I live. If I see any of them more than twice a year, it's unusal. I don't know why. I like them. We just don't run in the same circles.

39. Mothers of teenagers know why some animals eat their young.

40. I voted for Bill Clinton. I might be able to vote for his wife. We'll see.

41. I hate politics. I learn the bare minimum so as not to waste my vote but that is it!

42. Being a foster/adoptive parent, I've come to hate Wal-Mart and the county fair. We are guaranteed to run into a member of someone's biological family at both places.

43. I spend a lot of money and time driving to other counties to shop and for entertainment, just to avoid the chance of running into members of someone's biological family.

44. Time spent avoiding members of someone's biological family is never wasted.

45. Elvis (my former foster son, now my grandson) makes me smile every single day.

46. I wish I could afford to have someone clean my bathrooms. I hate that job!

47. If I don't do some basic upkeep on my house, it's going to fall on our heads. I just hope I have paid up the insurance when it finally happens.

48. I've instructed members of my family to have me committed if I ever agree to foster another teenage boy. (I've tried two and neither went well.)

49. My now 17 year old daughter once asked me who she would live with if I ever got arrested. I'm not sure if that is funny (because I am an obsessive rule-follower) or sad (because she's had to deal with that situation in the past). (To make her feel more secure, we do have a plan. She will live with my mom if I go to jail.)

50. I used to think I could save my kids from their pasts. Now, I'm not so sure. Some don't need saving. Other's don't want it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Hmmm...A blog

I'm not sure why I just created this blog. I am not a blogger. I love to read blogs but have never really considered publishing my own. I guess I'll give this a shot and see where it goes.

I'm me. I'm single, live in the south, and am headed for my 40th birthday really soon. I teach elementary school for a living. For a life, I foster children. I've been a foster parent for almost 10 years. My best count is that 35 children have been offically placed in my home. Others have come to stay for a short time in respite care. Sometimes I wonder if I can name them all. I'm not in the mood to try. I can proudly say I've done the best I could with each child. I've learned something from each of them. I hope they can say the same about me. Most have been teenage girls. Some have stayed a few days. Others have stayed many years. Within the last year, I've made another jump and adopted a teen girl. Her older sister lives here, too, but she had aged out of foster care. We did legally change the older sister's last name (and the name of her 4 year old son) to my last name so we consider them adopted, too.

Life in my house is never dull. Kids who have experienced difficult childhoods don't live life like the rest of us. Their perceptions of everyday life are skewed by their chaotic early lives. Things that are commonplace to me (manners, courtesy, kindness, and caring, just to name a few) are foreign concepts to some of these kids.

Currently living in my house are:

Me (see description above)

*Alli - age 20 - She came here at 15 as an emergency foster placement. A DCS worker brought her to my door (in 5 degree weather) with only the clothes on her back - not even a coat! She had a 2 month old son (born at 26 weeks gestation) in the NICU in a hospital about an hour away. Now, five years later, she's mine. It hasn't been a smooth ride and I expect things to get worse before she finally moves out on her own, but she's still mine.

*Beth - age 17 - Biological sister of Alli. She came to me about a month before her 14th birthday. I legally adopted her last fall. For the most part, she's been a joy to parent. Other than a really rough patch of about 3 months right around her adoption, she has been perfect. She's funny, compassionate, and kind. I fear she uses the humor to mask her true feelings most of the time but we are working on that.

*Cori - age 15 - She is placed here as a foster-to-adopt placement. This is actually the 3rd time she's been placed here. She first came at 9 and stayed almost 3 years before being placed in an adoptive home. That placement disrupted (parents "returned" her) after 9 months and she came back to me. She was with me almost 9 more months before a judge ordered her to be placed in a home with no other children. She was away for about 15 months (and bounced through 4 other placements) before the judge decided she could come back to me. Let me assure you that a lot of damage was done during those 15 months! She came back angry and hardened. I'm not sure the placement will work out but I'm trying!

*Deb - age 9 - She is strictly a foster placement. She came almost 9 months ago and I was assured she was just a one-night placement. Yeah, right. She's a handful. 8 years of living with a psycho bio mom have taken a toll on her. She is developmentally delayed. That I can deal with. My problem lies in the fact that, apparently with the flip of someunseen switch, she changes from the cute little slow kid into a raving, raging lunatic. She can literally scream and throw things and bite and curse for hours. (Her record is 8 straight hours!) DCS is looking for a more permanent home for her - hopefully one that will adopt her when her bio parent's rights are terminated. I hope they look fast and find her one soon. She's about to push me over the edge.

*Elvis - age 4 - Biological son of Alli. He's almost 5 and weighs a whopping 28 pounds. He has multiple medical issues resulting from his premature birth. (When you start life weighing less than two pounds, things don't usually turn out well for you.) He is unable to walk, talk, or even sit alone. He has CP, seizures, and asthma. He's also the cutest, most-loved little guy I know. He runs the house. We all revolve around him and his wishes. Not a bad job, if you can get it - LOL!

*Obviously not their real names. I started with the oldest and went down the alphabet making up names. I changed their names to protect the innocent...or are they all guilty??? They are definitely guilty of causing my hair to turn grey and my blood pressure to spike on occasion.

Well, there it is - my first blog post. Tune in tomorrow to see where it's all going.