Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We have a hearbeat!

Alli and her "baby daddy" (gee that makes me so proud) went to her 12 week appointment today. They were able to find the heartbeat. Her risk of miscarrying is greatly reduced. Mixed emotions on my part. The last thing we need is a baby in the house. However, it's my grandchild. So, the roller coaster continues.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tomorrow's the big day

Alli's 12-week doctor's appointment is tomorrow. It's the one when they listen for the heartbeat. This is all the more important given her spotting and back pain. They have warned her that they don't always hear the heartbeat at 12 weeks so not to panic if they can't find it. We'll see.

I so don't know what to do. I just keep praying, "God's will...."

Sunday, November 25, 2007


As Alli gets more comfortable with my knowing about her pregnancy, I'm getting more and more details.

~ She's due in June.
~ The father is 23 and still lives with his parents.
~ She is 12 weeks today.
~ She's been spotting for a couple of weeks and the doctor only gives her a 50% chance of having the baby live.

Why does this last one make me sad? If she'd told me this last week when she first told me she was pregnant, I'd probably have done a dance of joy. Now it's different. I guess I've had time to adjust and realize that while I wouldn't have chosen for her to have another baby, it's not the end of the world. I've also had time to process that this baby is my grandchild. Life is so complicated.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Great day yesterday!

Given the current situation in my house, I'd never have expected Thanksgiving to go so well. I can honestly say we all had a great day! My brother and his family were at his in-laws' house so we were down a few in attendance. We had only 10 people there. My mom (obviously, since we were at her house), me, Allie, Beth, Cori, Elvis, Cori's bio grandmothers, and a young couple (from the Dominican Republic) who join us for holidays every year. (They briefly rented an apartment from my mom a few years ago. The only family they have in our area don't celebrate holidays. We've become their holiday-family, and wouldn't have it any other way!)

The food was plentiful and yummy. The people were friendly. We ate about 1:00 and spent the afternoon talking and dozing, before having leftovers for a late dinner. Nothing unpleasant was discussed. No cross words were spoken. I had a great day!

Today, we slept in and then had take-out Chinese for lunch. I laid down with Elvis at his nap time, hoping to doze off with him. He had other plans, though, and had a big seizure a few minutes after falling asleep. We let him seize for almost 10 minutes before giving him the emergency meds to stop it. (The meds knock him out for the rest of the day and make him sluggish and cranky for a couple more days. We don't give it until we realize the seizure is not going to stop in its own in a timely manner.) After that production, I was wide awake.

Now, Elvis is passed out on my bed, probably seeing the psychedelic animals from Fantasia marching through his drug-induced dreams. The girls have gone to get their nails done at a new, cheap nail salon. (While I fear they will catch a nasty fungus from the cut-rate shop, it's nice to have a little solitude around here for a few minutes.)

My thoughts about Alli and the pregnancy are still all over the place. At times, I think we'll be okay. At other times, I just don't know.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Checklist

Finally, a few days off work. Many, many things to do during the time off but I'm loving having the extra time. We go to my mom's for dinner so she does the hard stuff (cleaning, turkey, dressing, rolls). I'm good with bringing the easy stuff. I did my shopping last weekend so I'm basically down to just needing to do the prep part.

~ Mac and cheese - Boil the noodles. Cut the cheese (insert fart joke here). Melt the cheese over the noodles.

~ Green bean casserole - Open cans and bags. Stir together. Microwave ingredients (because my oven doesn't work). Take to Mom's to put under her broiler to make the topping crunchy.

~ Deviled Eggs - The eggs are boiled, cut, and the yolks are already mashed and mixed. All that is left is to pipe the yellow mush back into the white part after we get to Mom's. It travels much better that way.

~ Party Potatoes - I'm using instant potatoes for these. That is why I love the recipe. It's much easier and still tastes great. I just need to measure, mix, and microwave.

~ Cranberry salad - I made this last night so all I need to do is find the top to the bowl and it's ready to go.

~ Coax pregnant daughter home from bio cousin's house - This is the shock of my holiday season. Alli, age 20, mother of Elvis, age 5 with multiple special needs, has recently disclosed that she is knocked up. This distresses me on several levels. First, she didn't tell me. She told my brother, of all people, and had him tell me. Second, she and the baby's father aren't together. They never were really together (except physically, obviously). He's the guy she falls back on when she breaks up with someone she's really dating. I've once heard her refer to him as a "friend with benefits." It breaks my heart that she engages in behavior like that. However, she is an adult and I can't control her life. Third, she doesn't even like children.

My emotions are all over the place on this one. My initial gut reaction was to toss her out on her behind. I am hurt, and angry. She's dropped out of college (that I paid for this semester) and the doctor doesn't want her to work right now. She was already not supporting herself and her son financially. Now she can't even begin to. I'm not made of money. I teach. She has been getting an allowance from DCS to help with living expenses. She hasn't paid me any rent from that in months. (That living allowance will be discontinued now, since she quit school.) She gets SSI for Elvis, too, but is still unable to pay the $300 a month rent she is supposed to pay. She has NO plans as to what she will do to support herself and her children. Her only answer is, "I don't know." That is sooooo frustrating! There have been a few times in the last couple of days that I really thought the answer (to my frustrations, anyway) was to just pack her stuff and send her on her merry way.

I've calmed a bit, though. As angry and hurt as I am, losing my daughter would hurt even more. She took off with Elvis Tuesday night and didn't come home. I worried all night. Yesterday, after two hours of exchanging text messages, she agreed to come back if we could not discuss the situation until after the holiday. So, here we are, not discussing the elephant we all know is in the room.

Honestly, I don't know how this situation will turn out. My emotions (and hers) are all over the place. She's determined to keep and raise this baby. The father says he will "help." (No, I'm not holding my breath on that one.) She's been with me not quite 5 years at this point. She may be chronologically 20 but she's no where near that emotionally. As much as I would like to at times, I just can't toss her out on her rear. Her life has been filled with adults who did just dump her when the going got tough. The first 15 year of her life were filled with abuse, neglect, and the role models that have gotten her into the shape she's in. (Her bio mom has 6 children by at least 3 different men. She only has custody of one.) Five good years with me doesn't undo what she witnessed/learned in her early years. We're going to have to find a way to make this work. Yes, she needs to learn responsibility and to prioritize her life. But, she also needs love and support. If she's on her own, bouncing from friend to friend, sleeping on any available couch, she'll learn to survive. However, I want more than survival for her and her kids. If I tossed her now, all the struggles from the last five years would have been for nothing. It's time for me to be the role model who doesn't berate her for mistakes. I need to be the one who supports her and helps get her life going in the right direction. Sounds good. I just hope I can do it. Maybe, just maybe, by her due date, we'll be excited to welcome a new little one into the world?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

She won't be a rocket scientist

The girls are excited about the upcoming holidays and put the Christmas tree up today. I don't mind. It's fake and can stay up as long as we want it to. (This is the first time ever that I've had the tree up before Thanksgiving.) The lights from previous years wouldn't light so I sent Alli and Beth to the store to get all new ones. They all spent the afternoon putting on lights and ornaments. For some reason, amongst all the ornaments, we had only one red ball ornament. We commented on how it must be the lone survivor from at least a dozen. I promptly knocked it off while trying to straighten the leaning tree. It fell onto another decoration and shattered into a hundred pieces. R.I.P. little red ball. Sorry I killed you.

Cori wasn't in the room but heard the crash and we gave her all the details about the death of the one sad little red ornament. Later, she was holding two gold ball ornaments. I reminded her about the recent death of the red one and cautioned her to handle them gently. I heard her say, "They don't feel like they'd break. They feel like plastic." Before I can stop her, she bangs them together a couple of times and, of course, they exploded! She seemed so surprised. Duh, we'd just told you what happens if you aren't careful with them. She had a mini-meltdown, ordering Alli and Beth to get the vacuum and clean up the glass. Um, no. You knew better. You made the mess. I don't care if you are barefooted, you and you alone will clean this up. She got a tiny cut her finger in the process and began demanding I get her a band aid. Again, no thanks. You are 15 years old and chose to do something stupid. (As Cindy would say, - "She's stuck on stupid" That fits so well.) I just let her deal with it all. I never flinched, never moved. She'll no doubt tattle to her counselor that I made her (and only her) clean up broken glass for no reason and that I almost let her bleed to death. Sadly, the counselor will believe her and probably hotline me for abuse. With some kids, I really think I'm just wasting my time and energy.

In the meantime, though, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around our house...even though it's not even Thanksgiving yet.

18 and knows it all...

My blogging has gotten behind. With Frannie sleeping on the couch right next to the computer, my time to blog has been limited. Anyway, she had her long-anticipated 18th birthday this week. She's a typical professional foster kid and just knew that when she turned 18, the world was going to magically begin going her way. Needless to say, it did not.

She had the option in our state of signing herself into "post custody services" with the county DCS office. If she had, they would have helped her get set up in an apartment, helped her get a job, and paid her a monthly stipend for the next 4 years. In return, she would have been required to check in with a case worker once a month and stay in some type of educational program (high school, GED class, college, trade school, etc.). She opted not to go this route. They then offered her transitional living services through another agency. They would have provided more intensive assistance (meeting with worker every week) but had no other requirements. She must have declined this, too. Anyway, DCS gave her permission to stay with me a couple more days until she could find a place to live.

On her birthday, we woke her with singing and the non-traditional doughnut cake and one present. After school, we went out to eat at a restaurant that offers free dessert and public humiliation for the birthday girl. She loved it! We came home and she opened the rest of her presents and the proceeded to call everyone she knew to see if she could live with them for a while. From her end of the conversation, I couldn't tell that she found any.

She got up the next morning and left for the bus (or so I thought). The rest of us left for our schools. When we got home about 4:00, Frannie, along with all her stuff, was gone. That's it - POOF and she was on her own. There is nothing anyone can do as she is 18 and legally an adult. Sadly, the only thing 18 about her is that she was born 18 years ago. She functions on the level of a delayed 8 year old. She is unable to write the most basic sentence. Here is a bit of an email she sent to a friend complaining that no one will help her,

" i proable sta some where i dot even kno where i a going to liv they stel have not help me get a jod so not monethat no house apartpnet so ye so how was you day gone so far"

I can only imagine what the job market would look like for someone with those literacy skills. She has no education, no marketable skills, and no social supports. I feel so bad for her. Her first 18 years have been a huge struggle. The rest of her life looks to be even worse! She's 18 and thinks she knows it all. We've all tried to explain it to her but she won't (can't) listen. What can you do?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Let me start out by saying I never see movies in the theater. I have waited over a month to see the new movie, "Martian Child." It's so rare to find a movie that relates a little to my life but this one looked to be good. I wanted to see it opening day but the kids had things going on and I wanted us all to see it. So, I proclaimed that our activity for family night tonight.

To keep costs down, we ate dinner at home. Being the practical (and poor) parent that I am, we stopped at a drugstore to get cheap candy to smuggle in the theater. (Sorry, I'm paying over $30 to get my family in 6 in the movie. I can't dip into my retirement fund to buy a seriously overpriced pack of M&Ms. I make it okay in my head by saying I'll smuggle the candy in but buy the drinks there.) At the drugstore, I ran into another teacher from my school and invite her to join us.

We got there, bought tickets and drinks, and got into the theater just as the previews started. When we walked into the theater, there was only one other person in the room. It was dark but I could see it was a man and he was there by himself. Wouldn't you know he was sitting in the seat beside the only wheelchair space in the whole place. I briefly consider finding the manager and asking him to boot the guy from the wheelchair slot. However, the rest of the place is empty so we stick Elvis and his wheelchair in an aisle about half way down, thinking if the usher asks us to move, I'll explain the dilemma and let him move the odd man in the back. As the movie starts, I realize the guy has moved from his seat and is sitting behind Frannie. All of a sudden, it hits me that this is the sleaze she's been talking to on my space! First, he's an adult! Second, she has obviously told him where we were going and what time we'd be there! (I'm obsessive about my kids and my space. I even monitor Alli's account and she's 20. However, Frannie is just here for a few days and I didn't have the time to keep up with hers.) Obviously, she's off the computer. I think she's just here for one more night after tonight anyway.

Anyway, I ruined my time at the movie. I was so careful to keep my eye on her that I couldn't actually watch the movie. Elvis also got bored and ended up in my lap. No movie watching can occur when you are trying to quietly entertain a 5 year old with special needs. Dang it. I just wanted to watch one movie every couple of years. Am I asking too much?

By the way, what I saw of the movie was really good. I plan to see it again (alone, maybe?) and see the whole thing.

Monday, November 5, 2007


New foster daughter, Frannie, has the ability to eat more than a full-grown man. She's very thin, so I'm not worried about weight gain. I am worried about my ability to feed her and the rest of us on my grocery budget. She ate anything and everything she came across this weekend. When I would go to the pantry to get the ingredients for a meal, at least one necessary item would be missing. I've resorted to this:

Saturday, November 3, 2007

You've come a long way, Baby!

Elvis turns 5 today! I haven't known him quite 5 years yet. His mom was placed here when he was two months old and still in NICU. We spent the next two months driving back and forth to his hospital. Finally, on his 4 month birthday, we brought him home. His life hasn't been easy and it never will be. In his five years, he's dealt with PVL, CP, reflux, seizures, low blood sugar, asthma, ROP, RSV, MRSA, and whole bunch of other letters I'd rather not remember right now. His doctor says he'll never be "functionally ambulatory" - fancy doctor talk for he won't walk. So what if he won't walk? We'll get him the fastest, shiniest red wheelchair and help him face life on his own terms. He is one well-loved little boy. I'm blessed to have him in my life!

It's a girl!

I really thought I was done fostering. We spent all last weekend moving each teen into her own room. Each room was set up with only one bed. All spare beds (I know, only foster homes have spare beds) were taken to the shed for storage.

Wednesday afternoon, my cell rings and it's DCS. I answer thinking it's Deb's worker calling to ask a question about her meds. Nope, it's the placement worker. He's trying to place a 17 year old girl. She's turning 18 in a couple of weeks and has burned through every therapeutic home in the area. They need someone to hold on to her until she turns 18 and signs herself out of custody. I said no, really I did. However, he called back an hour later (it's now 5:30 PM) and he's still at the office with her. He asks if I'll take her just for the night. I say yes but only if he is okay with her sleeping on the couch. He is, of course.

I drove to the office and picked up...let's call her Frannie. She actually has the same first name as Cori, so it's going to be a little confusing, but we'll survive. Her previous foster mom had just dropped her and all her belongings off at the office that morning. She'd sat there most of the day in an unused cubicle surrounded by all her worldly belongings. I took her and one bag of dirty clothes and headed home.

She is a handful. She's borderline IQ and talks nonstop. This is not a good combo, but it's only for one night. She's pleasant enough. You can tell she's a professional foster kid - She just came in and made herself at home. She's not the least bit shy or standoffish. She hops in, takes care of her needs, and moves on. The night went fine. She did sleep on the couch and Alli dropped her at school Thursday morning. After work, I called the worker to see when and where I needed to drop off the things she left at my house. He stammers around a few seconds before admitting they have no place for her to go. He asks if I will consider keeping her a week if he gets me more money. I say no, that the money isn't important. I list all the reasons I don't want to keep her - she's a bad influence on my kids, I have no bedroom for her, I don't have anyway to pick her up after school. He said the couch is fine for the week and would I keep her if DCS picks her up from school and keeps her at the office until I get off work. I agree.

So, it's Saturday morning and as I type this, Frannie is snoring on the couch beside me. She was supposed to get a home pass to see her bio family this weekend but the dad had to work. I feel so bad for this girl. She's been in and out of foster care for 14 years or so. She's not very bright and has almost no high school credits. She's 10 days from turning 18 and being on her own. How in the world will she survive???