Sunday, December 30, 2007

The official end of the Christmas season

We made our 4 hour round trip to my mom's family Christmas event yesterday. This was our last holiday event. It was a nice day, other than it being so far away. The people were friendly. One cousin had a new baby for us to snuggle. Plenty to do there (real arcade games, pool table, and lots of good food).

For the first time ever, I didn't have a grandparent there. My grandfather died about 10 years ago, but my grandmother has always been there. However, she wasn't physically up to the trip this year. She lives in an old-people condo an hour or so from where we were getting together and she just couldn't do it. She's pushing 90 so I understand. It just feels like losing another little piece of my childhood.

Who knows what today holds. Alli complained last night of "pressure" in her lower stomach. I offered to take her to the ER but she didn't want to go. If it's still there when she gets up today, I AM taking her. If Alli is feeling well today, Beth and Cori have her day planned. They are armed with Christmas cash and gift cards and have a list of places they want her to take them to blow it. My plans today involve watching 4 hours of The Gilmore Girls that I rented from Netflix. I just discovered this series on cable and love it. I'm attempting to see all the episodes in order. Today is season 1, disc 4.

My break from school is almost over. I go back on Wednesday for an administrative day and the kids come back on Thursday - whether I'm ready or not. (Truthfully, I'm ready to be back on a little more structured routine. I've enjoyed the days of hanging out but function better when I know what the plan for the day/week/month is.)

The Ups and Downs of 2007


~ Beth snapped out of her hormone-ravaged teenager phase and once again became the sweet young lady I knew was in there somewhere.

~ We had some great vacations - beach, mountains, indoor water park.

~ Some interesting foster children came.

~ Some interesting foster children left.

~ Alli is being more pleasant and treating me like a human again.

~ Getting to know Alli and Beth's biological little sister


~ Obviously, Alli's unplanned pregnancy

~ Alli dropping out of college (that I paid for).

~ Due to recent events in my family (most specifically Alli's pregnancy) my friendship with my best friend is ending.

~ Cori's whole "Screw the world" motto for her life

~ Two months of misery with Alli being horrible. (I now know she was trying to hide the pregnancy from me but at the time I had no clue as to what was going on.)

~ The reappearance in our lives of Alli and Beth's birthmom

~ The crashing of my computer hard drive and the loss of our digital pics (back yours up, folks!)

After the chaos that was 2007, I'm scared to even try to predict what will happen with my family in 2008. Despite my fear, I'll give it a shot:

I think Alli will make a horrible decision and move in with the large child that is the father of her baby. How many ways can you spell disaster??

I think Alli will give up/lose custody of Elvis if she does this.

I think Beth just might go to Brazil this summer on a mission trip with people from our church.

I think Cori will leave my home under some pretty dramatic circumstances.

I think Elvis will start kindergarten in the fall.

I think Alli will have a baby (duh!)

I think I may be done fostering.

Buckle your seat belts and stay tuned. Anything can happen but it's guaranteed to be a wild ride!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Boring rainy day

We had thunderstorms off and on all last night and this morning. At one point or another everybody was up because of the really loud thunder. It literally shook the whole house. I love to sleep during storms but a few of these made me nervous, too, just because the thunder was so loud and long.

The storms lead to a grey, rainy day. It stopped raining about noon but stayed dark and gloomy. We'd not left the house since Christmas Day so we really need to get out. Our options are limited when the weather is bad. We settled on a movie (like we haven't been there a lot lately). Thank goodness they have the cheap matinees. (Also, thank goodness we take our own snacks.) We picked Enchanted. The previews looked good. We needed a feel-good movie. My 3 nephews met us there. That is guaranteed to liven things up. Everyone enjoyed the movie and enjoyed the fact that we were out in the real world for a couple of hours.

Tomorrow, we will be out a long time. We are driving two hours each way to have Christmas dinner with my mom's family. They are very nice people, but unless someone dies during the year, this is the only time we see them. It limits our conversations because we don't really know each other. Everybody but us (my crew, my brother and his family, and my mom) all live there. They see each other regularly and know each other well. We are the outsiders. They are very nice and my kids LOVE one of my aunts there, but it makes for a long afternoon. Despite my complaining, I don't mind going. I just wish my life was set up that we could go more often and actually get to know them.

Cori continues to push the limits. I had to crack down on her my space page. She's obviously been watching too much Tila Tequila trash on MTV, as she'd changed her display name to Cori Corona. Umm, no way. She huffed and she puffed but was unable to blow my house down (much to her dismay). She changed her display name to something that is probably just as bad but I don't understand the code. Someone will rat her out if I wait a day or two. She tends to burn lots of bridges behind her and someone is always willing to narc.

Alli's ultrasound is coming up in about 2 weeks. I'm still planning to go. I haven't yet been allowed to meet the baby's father but I guess I will that day, as he is still planning to go, too. We've had some indirect communication through Alli and via myspace. He's not a bad guy. I'm just not sure he's father material. I also don't think he's husband or even monogamous boyfriend material. He seems rather like a large child. He's 23 and still lives with his mom, brother, and cousin. His interests are "football, women, and 'wrastling'." My sources tell me he's pushing Alli to move in with him (them). That has disaster written all over it. Where in the world will they add her and Elvis to the existing space. I'm willing to bet he's already sharing a room with someone.

Cori's new trick

****Not for those with a weak stomach****You have been warned!****

Cori's family has a huge history of faking/forcing themselves to have medical problems to gain attention. There was a time in her life when she was at the doctor's office/walk-in clinic/ER 28 times in 25 days. No actual medical problem was diagnosed in any of those visits. Granted, she was just a child so it wasn't her fault. She was removed permanently from her mom at age 9 (actually a couple of months from turning 10) and remembers most of that. (Ironically, she did break her arm once and was supposed to go back in 3 weeks to have the cast removed. No one ever took her back. The cast stayed on for almost 10 weeks. Yuck!) Anyway, off and on the whole time I've had her, she's come up with imaginary medical complaints. I've told her caseworkers she may very well die from some illness because I just ignore all her complaints now.

Once, she went to a church-sponsored overnight camp out. My sister-in-law, who had taken her there, got a very angry phone call from one of the chaperones about 3 hours after dropping her off. They wanted to know why in the world her permission slip didn't include the fact that she was diabetic. SIL said, because she's not. Cori had very dramatically staggered into the medical tent and, with what appeared to be her last breath, said her blood sugar was low and she was about to pass out. I understand why the chaperone freaked, but I had filled out the required paperwork and written "none" in the part that asked about ongoing illnesses requiring treatment.

She pulled a very similar stunt at a psychiatrist appointment. I'd had an emergency come up at work (sub called in sick) and Cori's case workers said she could take her to the appointment. As the doctor and Cori were walking down the hall, Cori suddenly started staggering and bumping into the walls. Doctor asked what was wrong and Cori announced that the Adderall (which she'd been on for almost a year) was affecting her blood sugar and making her dizzy. This time, I received the panicked phone call.

There are numerous other events like this in our years together. You'd think she would know by now that I know she's faking and I'm not falling for it. And, I guess she has come to some awareness of it, as she doesn't tell me about her new trick. I just find the evidence of it later...much to my shock and horror.

She's started throwing up. Randomly. She's NOT sick, physically anyway. She's just doing it. (She's always had the talent to vomit at will.) However, it's when no one is around this time. TWICE this week, someone has gone to get in the shower only to discover puke in the tub. Hello, the toilet is right beside the tub. She's thrown up in her bedroom. She washed the towels/clothes she threw up on in her room without throwing away the...solids. The washer can't dispose of those. I don't know how to react to this. Obviously, I make her clean up the mess. That is not stopping this behavior. I try to let her see very little reaction from me because I think she is doing it for the reaction. I just matter-of-factly tell her to clean it up.

In truth, I'm very angry. She's been back with me for 6 months. In these 6 months, she's done nothing but the exact opposite of anything anyone has asked of her. She's perfected the art of opposition. I know the reason for the behavior but am just becoming weary in dealing with it. Yes, her childhood sucked. There is no better way to put it. However, she'll soon be 16 and she can't go on forever whining about how bad things were when she was 6. Future employers and teachers aren't going to care. It's time to grow up and start looking forward. If not, I fear she's going to go down the exact path her bio mom did - welfare, drugs, and DCS. I hate it for her but I can't change her. She's the one who has to do it. She has to want to do it and I think that is the problem.

However, if I step into a tubful of vomit again, she may not live to be an adult....(just kidding)!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Santa was good to all

Christmas Day went well. Everyone got lots of loot. (Of course, now we need to do some major house cleaning to make room for the new stuff.) I was up until about 2:00 AM getting things set out and organized. Cori bounced into my room about 6:30 and I sent her back to bed. I just wasn't ready. Everyone got up about 7:00 so then I had to get up. It seems everyone got something he or she wanted and several things he or she needed. Alli, Beth, and I all got new cell phones. Cori got a pink digital camera. (She would have loved a cell phone but the minimum age for one of those here is 16.) Elvis' favorite gift is a train set. He loves to lie in the middle of the oval track and watch the train as it goes around and around and around him. He's already worn out one set of batteries.
We opened gifts and then drifted off to our own devices. We were to meet at my mom's at 2:00 for a late lunch. My SIL called and asked if we could push that back to 3:00. Sadly, we were even later and didn't leave home until almost 3:30. Once we got there, things were fun. We'd given my 3 nephews each a can of fart putty. That kept things hopping. We stayed and talked until about 9:00.
By the time we got home, I think everyone had had enough family togetherness and again drifted into our neutral corners. Alli was in her room fighting (via phone and text) with the father of her baby. I don't know why. I just stayed out of it. Cori hit the computer. Beth changed Elvis into his new Mater jammies. (For those with no small boys in your home, Mater is the tow truck from the movie, "Cars." His name is Tow Mater. Elvis loves all things Cars.) Once they were both in jammies, they took off to her room to watch Elf one last time for the season. I wandered through the house, picking up, straightening, and promising myself that we would get the house in order today. I did a couple of loads of laundry before chasing Cori to bed.
Christmas 2007 was good. I can't wait to see what 2008 has in store for us....a new baby, final decisions on Cori's role in our family, a trip out of the country for Beth...We'll see!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sar far, so good

It's 11:00 AM on Christmas Eve. Cori had me wake her at 7:30 and her grandmothers picked her up at 8:30. Their next stop was the residential school where one of Cori's sisters lives. They have a full day of eating and gift opening planned. This is the first time they've had Christmas together in about 6 years. It was long overdue.

Beth is with my friend baking and decorating gingerbread men. I dropped her off there at 10:00. Then, I braved the local grocery for the last few things for our evening of fondue fun. All I have left to do for dinner tonight is make rice krispie treats. We are planning to dip these in our chocolate fondue (along the Beth's gingerbread men). I've never made rice krispie treats but I've read the recipe, gathered the ingredients, and I'm ready to give it a shot.

Alli and Elvis are still asleep. I'm enjoying having a few minutes to myself before the Christmas crazies officially start in a few hours.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It was fun!

The family Christmas event last night was really, really fun! It was nice to see everyone again. No one was obviously drinking or sloppy drunk. (Well, there was that one uncle but he's like that all the time. I think it's his medication.) No one smoked in the house. The food was good. Everyone was friendly. I'm already looking forward to it next year.

I even met 4 children of various cousins that I'd never met and saw a 4 year old that I'd not since since she was 1 month old. We really should all get together more often.

The kids scored a little cash from one aunt and a couple of gifts from the others. Elvis got a drawing set and a toy phone that does math that he is going to love. The boy loves to draw and loves anything to do with numbers.

Today, we'll finish up all the little errands we need to do before Christmas. I want tomorrow to be a low-key day. Cori will spend most of the day with her grandmothers. They are picking her up at 8:30 AM. Beth is going to a friend's house to make gingerbread cookies. (Beth has never done this. I have a friend who makes them every year. She is so excited to go help!) The rest of us have no Christmas Eve plans until dinner when we go to another friend's house to odd Christmas Eve tradition but we love it!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I showered today

I'm sure you are glad to know that. Ordinarily, that is not news because I shower almost every day. However, it is not unheard of for me to not shower sometimes on a weekend day/holiday when I'm just staying home anyway. However, yesterday, not only did I not shower but I left the house. And I didn't just leave once. I actually appeared in public three different times without a shower.

The first was my trip to Wal-Mart. If I'd taken the time to shower, it would have been packed before I got here. Luckily, I got through the whole trip without running into a single person I knew.

The second public appearance was not one that I planned to do without a shower. As I was leaving Wal-Mart, I was thinking about what else we had planned for the day. When I realized it was the 21st, I knew I was in trouble. Cori had an ultrasound scheduled, as a follow up of an ongoing medical issue. It had been scheduled for about a month. I knew she had it. I'd just lost track of the days since we've been out of school. By the time I remembered it, I really thought we'd already missed it. However, I dug frantically through the crap I keep piled on top of my sunvisor. (Not the best filing system for important papers, but it works for me.) I found the appointment card at exactly 9:02 AM. The appointment was for 10:00 but it said to be there by 9:45. I drove home as fast as I could and dragged Cori out of bed and pushed her toward the bathroom telling her to take the fastest shower she'd ever taken. She speed-showered and started drinking the required 32 ounces of water. We checked in at the clinic at 9:43. I sat in the waiting room and tried my best to keep my distance from the others.

We were back home by 10:40. I knew the only other thing we had planned for yesterday was to see the movie but that wasn't until 1:50. I had plenty of time. I goofed off online, organized some Christmas presents, and went to my bedroom to sort some mail. The next thing I knew, Alli waking me at 1:30 asking if we didn't need to be leaving for the movie. Yes, we did. So, for the third time in one day, I appeared in public without having showered. We sat on the back row. I sat by the wall and kept an empty seat between me and the rest of civilization. I felt that was the least I could do.

But today, I'm showered and dressed in clean clothes. We're headed out for the family Christmas event. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas is coming - ready or not

We've been out of school since noon on Wednesday. At that time, it seemed like we had all the time in the world. Now, heading into the weekend, things are getting rushed.

To celebrate our release from prison, I mean, school, we went to the movies to see Fred Claus. This was the kids' pick, not mine, but it was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. It was not as good as Elf, but it had its sweet moments. We actually tried to see August Rush Thursday night but the theater had screwed up its schedule and there wasn't a night showing of that movie. Elvis screamed bloody murder when we left without seeing a movie. I never knew he enjoyed them so much. His little heart was evidently broken. I felt horrible that he was so upset but had no other option. There was no other movie starting within an hour that was even remotely kid-friendly. (So, we went to Sonic and bought him a cup of ice cream and then took him to visit my mom. He felt better after that.) We went to the movies again today to see P.S. I Love You. It was okay. Ordinarily if I see 3 movies a year in the theater, it's unusual. Now that I've seen 2 in 3 days, that is really unusual!

I went to Wal-Mart really early this morning. I think I've finished shopping for my kids. I still need to buy for a friend and her family. I need a little something to go with what I bought for my mom. I think my nephews are getting either cash, or gift cards to favorite restaurants. I just need to finish it all off and start wrapping.

Tomorrow night, for the first time in 4 or 5 years, I'll be going to the Christmas gathering of my father's family. For longer than I've been alive, this event has been held on Christmas Eve. In recent years, we've had other plans that were more appropriate for my family so so skipped the family event. (The family event isn't bad. However, there are a few smokers and a lot of drinkers there. My kids come from backgrounds where a few drinks turn quickly into a bad situation. I try to shield them from events where alcohol is involved. They need to see you can have fun and celebrate and still be able to remember it in the morning. Plus, my father has been dead about 7 years. Partying with his brothers and sister doesn't rank high on my must-do list.) Due to family work schedules, this year's festivities will take place on the Saturday before Christmas. Since I can't use the scheduling conflict as an excuse this year, we're going to try it. The kids are older. They have better boundaries. And, it will be nice to see everyone. Many of them live here in town but I rarely see them. A cousin, who lives less than 5 miles from my home, had a baby in January or February of this year. I've never seen the baby. And, honestly, at the first sign of trouble, we're outta there!

Cori has a big day coming up on Christmas Eve. Her grandmothers have gotten permission for her and one of her little sisters to spend the day with them. She's very excited. She has only been to their house once since she came into foster care almost 6 years ago. Their house was the happy place of her childhood. She's so happy to get to go back for the day. She's guaranteed to have major behavior issues when she comes back. That's the way it works for kids like her. She gets to do something that she enjoys so I'm paid back with a couple days of worse-than-usual behavior problems. Don't ask me to explain this. I can't. All I know is that it will happen.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My daughters' sister

I had one of those surreal experiences today that only happen to families who are built in non-traditional ways. My adopted daughters' little sister spent the day with us. Their bio mom and her boyfriend were both working and their usual sitter needed a day off. So, Alli left home at 7:00 this morning to go pick her up from her bio mom's house. She's the only one of the bio mom's six kids who still lives with her. Over the years, DCS has actually called me a couple of time to see if I would take her because they were considering removing her from her mother. Each time, though, they were able to put safety measures in place and left her home. I do have to admit the mom seems stable at this point and the little girl is doing fine.

She's 5 years old and quite a handful. However, we planned the day around her and it went well. They attempted to build a gingerbread house from a kit. It didn't go well. There was a tragic roof collapse that led to a whole house collapse. It spent the rest of the day lying in a pile on the table with the kids breaking a chunk off as they walked by. I guess the idea of the project was the process and not the product. If so, they were successful. A good time was had by all.

My girls have never lived with this sister. She has a different father than my girls. She was an infant when Alli moved in with me. Alli had a few visits with the mom and infant but those didn't last long. By the time Beth joined us, we didn't have any contact with bio mom. She did have two visits with bio mom when Little Sis was a toddler but, again, this didn't last long and I'm sure Little Sis has no memory of them. She is well aware that they are her sisters now. I guess this has been rekindled by Alli's frequenting the bio mom's house. As weird as the situation is, I don't mind having the kid around. She is fun. It's nice to spend a day with someone who likes princesses and Easy Bake Ovens. Bottom line: Family is family and it is important, especially for kids who know from experience that not all families are forever.

2.5 more days

Of work, that it, before Christmas break. I hope I make it. I feel oddly unprepared for the upcoming holidays. The kids are getting just a couple of big gifts this year (big in price, small in size). It feels like I haven't bought them enough when, in reality, I've bought them plenty. I still have the small, junky stocking stuff to pick up but it's so hard to get to a store alone. Most of my shopping has been done online and shipped to friend's house.

Alli paid her rent today! (For the first time since June, I think.) Of course, she only paid it because I said, "Give me the money." She paid rent and her texting fee. It doesn't come close to supporting her but it helps. It felt awkward demanding money from her but in the long run, hopefully, it will teach her a little responsibility. She's really been pleasant and fairly helpful around here lately. She's still not letting us meet the father of the baby. We even invited him to go out to dinner with us tomorrow night. He said yes but Alli said no. I wonder if she's hiding him from us or us from him? Time will tell, I guess. Her ultrasound is scheduled for early next month. He's planning to go and so am I. I guess I'll meet him that day if not before.

Beth continues to be a blessing. She is funny and keeps us all entertained. She has such a caring heart. (Hopefully she'll be the one to choose my nursing home. I think the others will toss me where ever is cheapest.) She has actually asked for help with schoolwork recently. (My kids are always shocked that I actually like to help with assignments. Heck, I'll even do some of them!) I now know more than I ever hoped to know about Thomas Jefferson. I've even helped prepare a PowerPoint about his career. However, Beth is sick this weekend - congested, sore throat, and coughing. She's never sick so this is an even harder blow for her. She needs to get better soon as finals are coming up this week.

Things are coming to a head with Cori. We had a meeting with DCS last week. As of the end of this week, she will have been with me six months. That is the magic number for DCS to be able to finalize the adoption. Surprisingly, at the meeting, Cori said she would agree to being adopted by me. (In our state, kids 14 and older have to give written consent and swear before the judge that they want to adopted.) The whole team agreed with me adopting her...that is everyone on the team except me. I'm just not sure this is what is best for her, me, or my other kids. I feel like she is dangerous or is going to be. Her cutting scares me. She's not compliant with her meds. There are truly times I make eye contact with her and a shiver runs down my spine. She is dark and brooding, and just way off from my idea of normal (and my idea of normal is pretty scary to start with). She's failing half her classes but tests out advanced on the end of course testing. She spends so much time trying to do the exact opposite of what is expected of her. I just don't know what is going to happen with this kid. I'm sure some of her issues are from being bounced through the foster system. Others are probably biologically based, as her bio mom and grandmom have many similar symptoms. I understand why she has issues. I just don't know how to parent her with those issues.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Busy, busy

The trip went well. We enjoyed the break from Cori and the break from our wild lives. How can you not have fun at an indoor water park? Everybody could pretty much do what they wanted, when they wanted. There were no major squabbles or explosions.

Today was Alli's doctor appointment. I took off school to go with her. It was the world's quickest appointment. The doctor was literally in and out in less than 2 minutes. He was oh so helpful - NOT! I did get to hear the heartbeat. Her next appointment is in 4 weeks and it's the big one - the ultrasound. I'm guessing I'll get to meet the baby's father that day, as we both plan on going with her.

I also survived turning 40. It was oddly painless. (Better than the alternative!) After the doctor appointment, I spent the day with Alli. We went to two different Goodwill stores, looking for clothes for her. (She's growing out of her current wardrobe but not ready for maternity clothes yet, either.) We struck out there but spent the rest of the day shopping around. She got a few clothing items at Target and K-Mart that will be her Christmas presents. She's wearing them for now but I'll take them away and wrap them on Christmas Eve. They just couldn't wait. She has one pair of jeans and they are way too tight in the waist. We did have a nice day together, even when we were stuck in traffic.

Tonight, we went to our local mall to watch my nephews sing with our church's kids' missions group. They were great, of course. After that, we ran through the Krystal drive-through for a lovely birthday dinner. Ain't 40 grand? Krystal burgers and kids singing Christmas songs. It truly doesn't get much better than that.

Sadly, my 40th birthday wish of a shiny red minivan is not meant to be...for several reasons. With a grandchild on the way, it's not the time to spend money foolishly. My current van is fine (ugly and old, but fine). With just a few exceptions, it gets us where we need to be. Also, I want a Chrysler Town and Country. Ordinarily, a 2007 model would be fine but they have completely redesigned the 2008 model. Since I refuse to buy a brand new van, I need to wait until the 08s start to filter into the used car market. And, I haven't had a car payment since 1993. I've accepted the fact that I will have to get a loan to buy a van, I'm just not ready to commit to a car payment. I'm close, but not there yet. So, I'll continue to drive my oooold van, at least for another year, if my wonderful mechanic can keep it on the road.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Welcome Break

Tomorrow we head out of town for a few days break. It's our annual trip to an indoor water park. We usually drive all the way to Wisconsin but the hotel we stay at recently opened a new branch in Ohio, so we are trying that one this year. It will not be exactly the same but it will cut our drive in half. That will help a lot.

Not all of us are going. Since the kids will be missing two days of school for the trip, I'm only taking the ones who are actually passing. Cori will be staying with my mom. (Keep my mom in your prayers, please. She might be in for a rough few days.) Turns out she couldn't have gone anyway. There is a hearing to ratify her permanency plan and her case worker insists she has to be there.

So, Alli, Beth, Elvis, and I (along with my friend, her husband, and their 5 kids) will be hitting the road really early in the morning. I can't wait to have a couple of days to lounge around and not have to do anything I don't want to do. That doesn't happen often in my life and I've learned to enjoy it when it does. Due to her "delicate condition," Alli can't do much there (no hot tub or water slides) so I guess she'll be able to supervise Elvis in his idea of Heaven (the kiddie pool area).

This will be the first time I've ever been there without a little one (or a big one with issues) who needs constant supervision. I'm planning to soak in the hot tub as long as I want! I'll be home in time to celebrate my big 4-0 and finish off the semester at school. Christmas break is getting closer...I hope I make it!

Friday, December 7, 2007

RIP computer

My ancient computer bit the dust...taking ALL my digital photos with it. I'm so sad. Alli cried when the repair guy told her that. She said these are the best 5 years of my life and now all the pics are gone. I'm really, really sad but I'll be okay. It could be worse. If the house had burned down, we'd be without pics and everything else. This way, we just lost the pics and learned a huge lesson. All future pics will be backed up twice and stored in a fireproof container.

So, I'm in the market for a new one. Dell offers a discount to educators, so I'll probably go that route. I've loved my last Dell and hope the new one will be good, too. The timing stinks - Christmas, new baby coming, Alli not working, etc. but we'll get by. We always do.

No news on the pregnancy front. Her next appointment is on my 40th birthday so I've taken the day off to go with her. I can either let this situation get me really down or I can accept that I have no say in this and get happy about the coming grandchild. It's not the path I'd have chosen for her but I love her and want the best for her.

Beth (the "forgotten child" of my blog) continues to be a blessing. I hardly ever mention her here but I love her dearly. She makes me laugh every day! She has been the bright spot in many of my recent dark days. I can spend time with her alone and forget for an hour or so about all the crap in my life. She's got a big dance coming up at school this weekend - it's called the Snow Ball and she's all excited. Sadly, her date got grounded for failing history but she's going anyway with a few friends and will have a blast, I'm sure.

Cori continues to cycle between depression and mania. Some days I think she's making ME bi-polar. She's been on her new med for a few weeks and I'm hoping for it to kick in and help some. I've had a long talk with her case worker and told her at this point, I don't feel it would be in Cori's best interest for me to adopt her. She needs more than I can give her. She's into things I just don't understand or know how to deal with. I don't think I can keep her safe. She's failing half her classes at school. Honestly, she's so angry sometimes that I'm scared of her. That keeps me from being an effective parent, as there are times I truly fear for my life. I'm not asking for her to be moved and I'm not saying I won't ever adopt her. I'm just saying that at this point, I will not finalize.