Monday, March 31, 2008

The day after

OK, it's the day after Alli's wedding. It's time to get back into life. I slept later today than I have the whole break. Of course, I was up playing the Wii at 2:00 this morning, so I'm no better rested but the day did start later. Beth is off with her bad-influence friend for a few minutes this afternoon. The friend is leaving tonight for her dad's out of state and I'm looking forward a few days without the female version of Rebel Without a Cause being in or around my house. It'll be nice to have Beth back for a few days. Cori is super-excited about her birthday tomorrow. That means the happy voices are talking in her head. That's a nice change, too.

Alli and Boy Wonder are headed home tomorrow. Beth and I are considering an April Fool's Day surprise for them. We're thinking we might cover every available surface of Alli's room (now "their" room, I guess) with Silly String. It might release a little stress to spray the stuff everywhere and it will be really, really funny.

I don't think I've addressed what our living situation will be now. Alli's room is huge. When the house was built, it was a two-car garage. The original owners converted it to an mother-in-law apartment for one of their mothers when she could no longer live alone. It's at the far end of the house from the rest of our bedrooms. You walk through our laundry room to access it from inside the house. Adjacent to her room is a room that has no name. It's used mainly for storage - freezer, access to the attic, huge cabinets/peg board storage for tools and pool chemicals. It also has has an outside door. We only use this room to store junk. It has no functional use to us. Beside that is what was a dark room for the original owners. It has a sink with a plywood base under it. Again, we only use this room to store junk that we really just need to toss. So, the plan is that this will become their apartment. The dark room will be the kitchen. (It has a fridge in there. I'll add a microwave and toaster oven for now.) The un-named room will be their "den" with the entrance, a small table and chairs, and maybe a futon down the road. The ginormous bedroom will be the main living area. It's furnished with a decent bedroom suite, two closets, and has the newly remodeled bathroom. Elvis will also share this space. Beth and I are hoping to create him a space of his own in Alli's room. We are trying to figure out some sort of room divider that will afford everyone some privacy but still allow for air flow.

For time being, (until the alcoholic carpenter finishes their bathroom) they will still have to come to our part of the house to use the facilities. After that, I plan on them living in their part and paying their rent on time. Their bathroom is almost done. I repainted it this weekend after the alcoholic carpenter made a few sheet rock repairs. I need to buy the trim and get it painted. I also need to buy the vanity. After he installs those, we'll need the million-dollar plumber to come back install the sink and toilet. And then Alli and Boy Wonder will be on their own.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm a mother-in-law

The only reason I know this is because Alli texted me about 6:00 tonight and said, "You're Boy Wonder's mother-in-law." Gee, thanks for thinking of me, Honey. I did ask if everything went okay and she said it was nice. That's all the details I have of my daughter's wedding - it was nice. I really hope I can get over this. I never imagined this would shake me like this.

My day hasn't been too bad. I stayed busy this morning making lunch. My mom stayed a while after lunch and we chatted and read the paper. I tried to introduce her to the Wii but she said we looked funny playing it. (Thanks, Mom.) Beth came home from her friend's and I'd hoped for some help with Elvis but she napped after lunch. I ended up lying down with him to get him to sleep. I watched the clock the whole afternoon, wondering what Alli was doing. All in all, even though my feelings are hurt, I'm glad today is over. I'm glad I'm upright and able to be semi-social. Tomorrow, I've GOT to get out of the house. I haven't seen any non-family people since Thursday morning. It's time to re-join the real world.

I've also got to do something about Cori's birthday. It's Tuesday and I don't have the first present for her. There are a couple if issues working there. First, my thoughts have been on Alli's wedding and nothing else. Second, I'd planned for Cori to be in respite and I thought I wouldn't need them until the weekend. And, third, I just don't have much extra cash at the moment. My paycheck should go in tonight so I'll be okay but I couldn't do much ahead of time. I guess I'll spend tomorrow doing some online ordering with fast shipping and just tell her things haven't come in yet. I will grab the Tracfone at Wal-Mart tomorrow so she will have it to open on her birthday. That's all she really cares about anyway. She's having a friend spend the night on her birthday and is very excited about that. She wants a cheesecake instead of a birthday cake so we didn't have to order that. I'll pull off a decent celebration. I always do. I'm just usually a little better prepared than I am this time.

My night

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Elvis wouldn't go to sleep. Cori kept turning her music up too loud. I got snippy (via text) with Beth. I was aggravated with all of them and it really had nothing to do with them.

Elvis finally passed out about 11:00 PM. I ignored Cori's music. I apologized to Beth. I haven't slept a wink.

I'm up this morning. I plan to shower and put on makeup. I've got lunch in the crockpot. I have unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher. I need to run to the store for a few necessities. Mom is coming for lunch at 11:30. I'm going to play lots of Wii. (It IS addictive.) I am going to get through this day. It's not the end of the world. However, it is the end of a dream and I've got to deal with that.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

1888 Days

Alli has been with me approximately 1,888 days. Today is the first of those days that I haven't spoken a word to her. Obviously, if I've taken the time to add that up, I need to find a hobby.

Aside from a few teary episodes, I've been okay today. Beth is staying with a friend again so that leaves me as sole caretaker for Elvis. He is missing his mom and his Aunt Beth so we've been teary together a few times today.

I've primed and painted the new bathroom. It's swimming pool blue. I need some work at looking at paint chips and deciding what they will look like in real life on my wall. Actually, it's not too bad and, since it's Alli's bathroom, I don't have to look at it. I haven't made much progress on my bathroom. I took the light fixture down yesterday to remove the wallpaper that was behind it. Today has been a grey and stormy day and I couldn't really see what I was doing in there.

I've also moved the Wii into my den and Cori helped me make myself a Mii. I've bowled and played tennis on it so far. I really like it but fear it's going to make my arms hurt. (Those muscles are already tender from all the painting.) It's been a nice, fun distraction though.

My immediate concern is getting through tomorrow. I know I'll spend the whole day wondering what Alli is doing - putting on her dress, fixing her hair, etc., and wishing I was there. I've invited my mom to lunch tomorrow thinking that will distract me a bit.

A new day

I've survived 25 hours since Alli left. I guess that's good? I'm working on getting my bathroom ready to paint. I hate the prep work. I want to just walk in and start painting. This room is requiring more prep than the others I've painted in the last week. I've actually put off painting it for years. When I moved in, it was wallpapered. Ugly wallpaper, but I left it. A few years back, I just started grabbing loose pieces of it and pulled it almost all the way off. So, for the last several years, it's been in that condition - mostly un-wallpapered but with a few stray pieces left here and there. So, to prep for painting, I'm having to scrape off the paper, sand to remove the leftover paste, and fill the holes and uneven parts of the walls. I worked on it quite a bit yesterday in short bursts. About noon, I had to stop because I was crying too hard to see. That was only true meltdown. I made it through the rest of the day, tearing up sometimes and truly crying some, but still able to continue with what I was working on. Today, I plan to finish the prep work and get it primed. The new bath also needs to be primed again because the alcoholic carpenter isn't good with sheet rock. He's had to re-mud and sand large parts of it. That means I get to prime it again before painting it again.

It was just Cori, Elvis, and me at the house most of yesterday. Beth was spending the night with a friend and left about noon. I haven't heard a word from her since then. I probably don't want to know what they were up to last night. I'm just glad the friend is going out of state to visit her dad Monday through Thursday and I don't have to worry about Beth then. Cori and I had a decent day. She was helpful with Elvis. However, due to a court order, her contact with anyone under 18 has to be supervised. Since I like being a teacher and foster parent, I take that supervision very seriously and was in the same room or the next room the whole time she was feeding or playing with him. We did get takeout for dinner. I'd not eaten all day and there was nothing in the house. We loaded up (I was in paint clothes. She was in pajamas. Elvis was the only one fully dressed in appropriate clothing.) and went through the Long John Silver's drive-thru. Big night out, huh? I can't remember the last time we went there. It's horribly bad for us and really expensive, but it was nice treat last night.

I did hear from Alli a couple of times yesterday. They'd been gone about 5 hours when I got a text thanking me for the condoms. Not having a clue of her tone in that (laughing, angry, annoyed?) I didn't respond. She texted Beth to tell her I hadn't responded but that they thought it was really funny. Evidently they'd blown a few of them up and left them at a rest area. I sure hope they know how to use them for their intended purpose and don't use them all to make balloon animals. She texted again a little before 8:00 PM and told me they'd gotten there safely. I thanked her and told her I loved her and missed her. She said she missed me, too. I replied "Yeah, right," and she again insisted she did and pointed out that she and I had never been away from each other this long. We had one more text exchange late last night. They'd gotten to the egg in the basket that contained a little cash and she was thanking me for it. I wonder if I'll hear from her today? I'm not planning to initiate any contact with her. They've gone to these drastic measures to get away from me/us. I don't want to intrude.

I am going to jack the Wii from Alli's room and hook it up in the den today. I still haven't tried the darn thing but it looks like fun. I have a friend whose 7 year old son is dying for a Wii. He's even saved enough money to buy one from a store but can't ever find one in stock. I thought I'd invite them over either Sunday or Monday to play. The little guy will love it and maybe I'll enjoy the company of his mom. I need a distraction.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My day

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They are gone

At 6:40 this morning, a big piece of my heart drove away in a silver Mustang. Before she left she hugged me and told me not to cry. I told her to bite my big butt. Just like she could make the decision to run off and get married, I get to make the decision about how I spend my weekend. It's going to be a looooooooooong weekend at my house.

I did cave on my earlier decision not to give her an Easter basket. As they left, I handed them the biggest Easter basket I could find on clearance sale at Wal-Mart last night. It was filled to the brim with clearance plastic eggs....and EACH of those eggs contained a condom. Cori, Beth, Elvis and I will spend the weekend eating the candy that Alli and Boy Wonder thought I put in those eggs.

I am working on some plans to salvage the weekend. While we still have lots of work to do around the house, we need to have a little fun, too. The girls want to go buy "vacation food." (When we travel, to cut costs, we stay in hotels with microwaves so we don't have to eat out, thereby saving some money. To keep that from getting monotonous, we buy what has come to be known as vacation food to eat at hotels. These are things I'd never buy to eat at home - Easy Mac, ramen noodles, pizza rolls, ravioli, Hot Pockets, etc.) So, in between painting today, we'll run to the neighborhood store and load up on junk food. We're all hoping it makes the work a little more fun and takes our minds off what we are being excluded from at the beach...and the the simple fact that we aren't at the beach.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

12 hours

That's how long before Alli and Boy Wonder leave for the beach. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change..." That's my only thought at the moment. Alli and I have actually had a good day. We got up, had breakfast together, and took Elvis to therapy. When we got back to town, we stopped at Wal-Mart to redeem her last WIC voucher and for me to buy some window shades.

I've gotten more info on the wedding today. She showed me the rings this morning. She tried on her dress for me this afternoon and had me pin the shoulder straps that were a little too long. She told me they have the marriage license form and that she put me down as her mom/next of kin. (I guess she shared that to reassure me a little.) She borrowed my suitcase. The ceremony is Sunday afternoon at 4:00 on the beach. I've helped her make a list of the little things that she's likely to forget to pack and we've rounded things up. This is sooo hard but I don't want to have any regrets. She can legally do this and I just have to deal with it. All in all, the day has gone well. Alli, following advice from the counselor last night, made a point to thank me for helping and told me she's enjoyed the day with me. Why this is so hard for us, I just don't know.

She has a friend lined up to watch Elvis the whole time they are gone but I'm not going to do that to him. I could be petty and refuse but that wouldn't be fair to him. He doesn't know Alli's friend well and he's not going to understand what's going on. He's going to spend the nights here and parts of the days with her friend. That will allow Beth and I to keep working on the house without having to stop and care for him constantly. My mom has offered to watch him a few hours at a time, too, so we have even more back up, if needed. (Elvis loves my mom.)

So, tomorrow morning, they are off. In the 5 years that Alli has lived with me, we've never been apart 5 days. I know, time for me to let her grow up. I'm working on it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I've cried so much this evening, I think I'm dehydrated. My eyes are red and raw. My tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth. Alli and I have finally talked. I feel better. She may feel worse. We'll see what tomorrow holds.

Beth had counseling this afternoon - her standing Wednesday afternoon appointment. It was almost time to go but Alli wasn't home and Beth had Elvis. I just left Beth at home with Elvis and took myself to her appointment. I started crying as soon as I made contact with the counselor. I stopped, for good, about 30 minutes ago. She met with me for an hour and a half. She felt Alli and I really needed to talk (duh) and decided to make it happen. She had me text Alli and ask her to meet me at her office at 7:00 tonight. Alli refused. After exchanging several more texts, I decided Alli wasn't going to change her mind and sent the counselor on to her dinner that she was already late for. I sat in her parking lot and continued texting Alli. She finally agreed to meet with us. I called the counselor's cell and got her voicemail. I left a message but didn't hear back from her. I knew who she was having dinner with so, I used my connections (my mom) and got the friend's cell number. She physically tracked down the counselor and she met us at her office at 7:30 PM. God bless her.

Things were awkward but we talked through several things. My biggest issue is still that I'm so insecure in my role as her mom when she has regular contact with her bio mom. Having only had one mom my whole life, I just don't see the need for two. We talked through her wedding plans and have agreed to disagree. She's getting married on Sunday. I'm spending Sunday lying across my bed crying. At least we each know where the other one stands. She's an adult and can make those decisions and I have the right to be hurt. We worked our way though several other things. We left a little before 9:00 PM. I'm exhausted - physically and emotionally.

And, to top everything else off...I've painted my bedroom booger green.

No families

We had a meeting today to update Cori's permanency plan. We had the meeting at the residential school for people with developmental disabilities where her sister (Twin A) lives. (As a side note, I got to see Deb while I was there. The worker was running late and we were waiting in the lobby. Deb walked by a couple of times and was quite happy to see me.) The worker finally arrived and Cori and I had to sit through the meeting for the sister. It didn't take long. We did Cori's meeting next. It didn't take long, either.

Her goal was changed from "adoption, family identified" to "adoption, family not yet identified" to reflect my decision not to adopt her. They are, no doubt, hoping to guilt me into adopting her. I just can't. I can't meet her needs and can't keep her safe (from herself). I'm NOT the best placement for this child. Me adopting her would get her off their list of waiting children but it would also finish me off - permanently! I just can't do it.

A few weeks back, Cori told me they'd held a selection, which is where the team reads over the home studies sent in for her and choose the best family for her. After the selection, they meet with the number one family and present her to them. They, after hearing her info, say yes or no to adopting. If they say yes, she starts transitioning to that home. If they say no, her info is presented to the number two family. Evidently all 3 families, after hearing her history, declined to take her.

So, here she is. She'll be 16 years old in a week. Her social history reads like a horror movie. Her behaviors are off the charts. I believe she has the ability to become violent. She must be supervised around anyone under 18. Where does she go from here? I was holding on by a thread, waiting for her to move to an adoptive placement. I just knew it was close. Now, not only is it not close, I'd guess it's even unlikely. Where do these kids live? How sad that there are situations like this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Progress on the house!

Done so far:
~ hall bathroom - primed and painted
~ my bedroom - painted
~ new bathroom - primed and being painted by Alli as I type
~ my bathroom - ceiling scrubbed

Still to do:
~ paint my bathroom (walls and ceiling)
~ strip border, prime and paint laundry room
~ sand, patch, prime, and paint kitchen walls
~ paint new trim
~ toss junk lurking in storage room/soon-to-be-kitchen for apartment

For alcoholic carpenter to do:
~ grout new bathroom tile
~ install new trim in new bath, laundry, and my room
~ install vanity in new bath
~ haul away junk/former parts of my house

What's more important?

Does the best interest of DCS or the best interest of the child have more importance? I've known of this situation for a couple of months now but have just now gotten the nerve to blog about it.

Cori has two sisters (twins) who were removed from their home along with her just over 6 years ago. Both twins have BIG issues - mental retardation and mental illness. They were placed together in therapeutic foster care. They bounced from foster home to foster home for the next several years, as no one home could handle them together. Eventually, an adoptive home was found and they were placed there together. That home, like the rest, couldn't keep both twins. They had one removed and legally adopted the other. The removed twin was placed in a residential school for people with developmental disabilities and, within her abilities, is doing well. The adoptive mom of the other twin died last year and the adoptive father surrendered his rights so that twin is back in foster care, too.

So, to sum it up: Cori and Twin A are placed here in the same town. Twin B is in foster care at the other end of the state where her adoptive parents lived. Here comes the power play among the different DCS offices. The other end of the state, claiming that Twin B has sisters here in the middle of the state, want to "return" her to the jurisdiction of our DCS. Our DCS, knowing how hard these kids are to place, doesn't want responsibility for her. Our DCS office refuses to take her saying she (due to adoption) is no longer the sister of the two girls placed here. (And, legally, they are right, but, to the kids especially, they are WRONG!)

To prove their point, our DCS is not allowing any contact between the girls here and the one girl at the other end of the state. They feel, that by allowing visits, they are acknowledging that the girls are sisters. If they acknowledge the girls are sisters, then they lose their argument and have to take jurisdiction of Twin B and be responsible for placing and maintaining her.

So, Cori and Twin A are here, very upset that they can't see their sister. Bureaucracy is over their heads. All they know is they have another sister who lives 3 hours away and they aren't allowed to see her. I'm not usually one to stir things up, but I've encouraged Cori to call her GAL. I'm thinking, since she is appointed by the court to represent the girls' best interest, she is the only one who can push these visits through.

Bureaucracy be damned. These girls lived together until they were 9 (Cori) and 7 (twins) years old. The only parent in the home was their mother. She did a few months after her rights were terminated. The only thing they have from their past is each other. And, due to financial/supervisory issues of adults (the adults charged with meeting all their needs, by the way) they are being denied contact with each other. That just sucks.


I got distracted on the way to paint my bathroom and ended up painting my bedroom. I was shooting for sage green but the color, Pesto, is definitely brighter than I planned. However, I think I like it. If I don't actually like it, I think I can live with it. It's better than repainting, for sure. I'm almost done. I lack about 12 feet of wall (with a big window in the middle) and I'm done. It's taking forever because I'm just moving the furniture out, painting the wall behind it, and moving it back after it's dry to the touch. I know, that's not the easiest way to paint but the idea of emptying my room, with everything else out of place in my house, was just too overwhelming.

The alcoholic carpenter continues moving slowly in his (my) quest to get the bathroom finished. He laid the tile yesterday (finally) finishing at 6:00 last night. The mortar has to dry 24 hours before he can grout it so I don't expect him here today. Once the tile is grouted and that dries, we can prime then paint. We still need to buy the woodwork and paint that before he installs it. We're in the homestretch...I hope so anyway! Of course, the million-dollar plumber still has to come back and install the sink and toilet. (First, I've got to do some creative budgeting to buy the sink and toilet!) I'm so glad this project is almost done!

I'm up this morning, having taken Cori to the dentist at 9:00. We're back home now, waiting for Alli, Beth, and Elvis to get dressed so we can go to Wal-Mart. We need paint for the new bathroom and more primer, along with more painting tools. After Wal-Mart, I plan to finish painting my room while Beth cleans the ceiling in my bathroom. After that, I can start priming in there. My hand is going to be permanently fused to a paintbrush or roller handle before this week is over.

Alli and I are talking...slowly. We had a good day yesterday. She was pleasant and helpful. I'm still struggling with missing her wedding, but keep reminding myself that is her choice. We've weathered a lot in our relationship so I hope we survive this, too. If not, life goes on.

Beth is showing her butt these days. She seems to think she can run loose and do as she pleases. She's pushing all the limits and being a brat. She was late getting home Sunday night, claiming I didn't tell her when to be home. Umm...That's why you have a curfew. I don't have to tell you each time. You need to be home by curfew unless you hear something differently. As a result, she wasn't allowed to spend the night with her friend last night and had to be home an hour earlier. She wasn't happy but she complied. I guess that's all I can hope for. My sources still tell me she's leaving on her birthday in June. Again, life will go on.

Cori actually had a great day yesterday. She was chatty and pleasant. If she'd act this all the time (or even most of the time) I'd not be shipping her to respite for spring break. I'm planning for her to go to respite tomorrow or Thursday for about a week. The respite provider is in our county so that will make things a little easier. I'll send a frozen cheesecake and a couple of presents for her birthday and we'll have a proper celebration when she comes back from respite.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fingers crossed

After another stressful evening at home, Alli and I have an appointment to talk tomorrow. She readily agreed that we need to talk. I'm hoping we can get some stuff out and feel a little better. If not, I may explode!

I have to admit that since we have scheduled our talk time tomorrow, I feel better. The knot of rage that's been in my stomach since Friday seems to have eased a bit.


The hall bathroom is painted! I finished this afternoon. The color is called "Spellbound." Most normal people would call it purple. Actually, it's light purple so let's call it lavender. I'd rather have a lavender bathroom than a purple one. Beth picked the color. I did the work. Seems like something is backwards there. Actually, as she grew up, her bio parents worked at painters. That gene must have skipped a generation as, bless her heart, she can't paint worth crap. I've learned to involve her in the primer step as it makes her feel a part of the action but it doesn't matter so much what it looks like. Tomorrow I'll assign the first teen that makes me angry to scrub that floor on her hands and knees. The next whiner will get to iron and hang the new shower curtain in there. The one that whines the loudest will get to scrub all the tiles and grout with a generic version of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. By tomorrow night, we can call it DONE! And maybe the whiners will be too tired to continue whining.

We went to my mom's for lunch today. Actually, when the day started, I was going alone. I'd uninvited all my kids. I went over early to help Mom get things ready. (She's been sick and wasn't going to church.) Beth woke up and texted to ask where I was. She mentioned that she wanted to go eat ham so, I let the guilt win and and I ran home and picked up Beth and Cori before we ate. Lunch was good and the company was nice. After we ate, Beth passed out on the couch and Cori disappeared somewhere in the house. I enjoyed (for the most part) chatting with my mom and sister-in-law. My nephews were hilarious, as always. The youngest is 7 and is a hoot. He's created two super heroes - "Torrnato Girl" and "Lithgning Boy." (his spellings) He's even drawn all their arch enemies. My favorite was "The Evil Dr. Pumpkin."

Alli, of course, disappeared early and was gone all day. Early last week I'd made two requests of her. I wanted her to bring Elvis to the Comfort Inn Friday night for 30 minutes to see my friend. The other was that she come to Easter lunch at my mom's. She agreed to both but showed up at neither. I'm working on not caring but it hurts. I'm just now quite sure how I became so foul that she can't stand to spend 30 minutes with me.

Tudu, I like your idea of the strike. It just might occur this week. We'll see how it goes.

The Easter Bunny didn't hop this way

I've giving myself a pity party. I'm in a terrible mood. I'm tired of being hurt and used by my children. I've taken to hiding in my room, just to avoid them. It won't go on long, but, right now, I need this time off.

I started priming the hall bathroom yesterday but got mad because no one was helping. So, I just went to my room and shut my door. (My door is never shut.) I heard Beth go and work on the painting some but I stayed in my room and took a nap. She texted me and asked if I was okay. By the presence of her friend's car in our driveway, I knew she was really just sucking up before asking if she could go out. I just told her to go on. She did, very proudly tell me that she was "almost finished" priming the bathroom.

After she left, I went to finish priming. She'd done one wall but that was one wall I didn't have to do. I finished priming the bathroom before retreating to my room again to watch the Sound of Music on TV. I own it on VHS but haven't seen the whole thing in years. I enjoyed my solitary evening. Alli, Elvis, and Cori all drifted into the house as the evening went on. Cori checked on me. The others ignored me.

Thinking back over the last year of holidays, the kids have given me something exactly ONCE. Last year on Mother's Day, Alli got me a card and Hershey bar. (She bought them from the store she worked at as she got off on Mother's Day. I know this because she left the receipt in the bag when she gave them to me. She did sign the card with her name and all the other kids' names.) I know they don't have a lot of money. But they have enough to do what they want to do. I'm not expecting diamonds or expensive electronics. A card would make me perfectly happy. In the last year, I've given them birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, Easter baskets, and Valentine's bags of goodies. Am I asking too much for a card for my birthday or Christmas? Even a comment on myspace would better than nothing. Those are free! I think I'd even feel better if they had just thanked me for something. On Valentine's Day, the only ones who thanked me for their bags were Cori and Boy Wonder - the two who should be the least likely to thank me.

As a result of my pity party, I decided to have the Easter Bunny skip our house this year. I feel totally childish for it (and really guilty) but I'm done. If I continue giving without expecting even common courtesy in response, I've done nothing to make things better. It just makes me angrier. I know they are teens and some of this is to be expected. However, it's gone beyond a typical teen being self-centered. My feelings count, too. The worst part is, I've already bought everything for their baskets. I should have decided to stand up for myself earlier!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chillin' at the Comfort Inn

Over my 10 years of foster parenting, I've stayed at many a Comfort Inn/Comfort Suites hotels and never had a bad experience...until last night. I'd booked my room a week ahead. I'd even paid more for a room because they claimed to be out of no smoking rooms in the cheaper room configuration. I paid for a no smoking, king hot sub suite with a roll away bed. I got a very smokey, king hot tub suite with no roll away. They had no extra pillows, blankets, or sheets. I slept in a bed with Beth and her friend who was staying with us. Due to my allergy to cigarette smoke, I spent the night coughing, sneezing, and wheezing. Not at all the relaxing evening away from my problems that I'd hoped for. Choice Hotels will be hearing from me!

I did have a good time with my foster/adoptive parent friend from IN, though. We met at the Cracker Barrel next to the hotel for dinner last night. (Ever try to get a table for a party of 12 at 6:30 on a Friday night? It was also a holiday, to make it even more fun!) However, we got seated a little earlier than their estimate of 45 minutes to wait. Dinner was wild, but fun. We got to visit a little more at the hotel while the kids swam.

Her family got up and hit the road this morning to continue on to the beach. Beth and I hung out in the smokey hotel room until check out time, just to get our money's worth. We're home now and have lots to do but lack motivation to actually do anything. We've GOT to get the hall bathroom primed today. I won't accept anything less. However, I'd much rather be on my way to the beach.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The alcoholic carpenter

Add the alcoholic carpenter to the list of people who knew about Alli's wedding before I did. I only took her in, treat her like I would treat a child I birthed, support her physically, emotionally, and financially, put up with her crap, raise her son, etc. And, after all that, I rank waaaaaay below her bio mom and the alcoholic carpenter. I don't even know why I care any more. I sure wish I didn't.

After the alcoholic carpenter announced the fact he'd been keeping her secret, I managed to hold it together until he left. Now, I sit here crying. If I'm this upset now, I can't begin to imagine what I'll feel like this time next weekend when she's off to the beach and I'm left to sit here and wonder if they are married yet and what the ceremony was like. This parenting stuff is really starting to suck.

91 minutes

I totally wasted 91 minutes of my life last night. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how, but I will. I watched the movie, "Bad Santa." Not just the regular Bad Santa version but the enhanced (and extra vile) Badder Santa version. Generally, I'm not one to watch movies like that. I Netflixed it because it has Lauren Graham from the Gilmore Girls in it. I've watched all 7 seasons of the Gilmore Girls now and moved on to movies that the actors from the show were in. That was the only reason I got this movie. Once I'd gotten it, I felt the need to watch it. I did wander around a bit during it, however, I saw pretty much the whole thing. They tried to pull it off at the end and make you think he'd been rehabilitated but I didn't buy that. Billy Bob Thorton is either a really great actor or a really gross person.

I feel like I should be standing in front of a room full of people saying, "Hi. I'm Me and I watched the Badder Santa version of Bad Santa."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another unexpected Deb update

Deb was 8 years old when she was placed with me in January 2007 and they promised me she'd be a one night placement. She stayed over 9 months before I requested her to be moved. Her erratic and violent behavior told us all she needed a therapeutic placement. I last saw her in January. She'd been gone from my house for 3 months and was on her way to her 3rd placement after my house.

Tuesday night, I dropped a friend's kids off at a soccer practice for kids with special needs. I did a double-take at the time, thinking I saw Deb on the field but knowing she'd been placed in another county. Tonight, another friend texted me from the game for that soccer league and told me that Deb was now living in a local school for people with severe developmental delays. That was her on the field! It makes me sad, though, because even though she could be a handful, she was able to function better than the people who usually end up living at that school.

Maybe when Cori is finally gone for good, we can establish some sort of visiting relationship with Deb?

Spring (and spring break) have arrived!

Even though I was off today, spring break officially started tonight. It's not met with the joy an extended break from school usually is. We're usually so excited to have the pretty days and looking forward to our trip to the mountains. This year, that joy just isn't there. Granted, I'm looking forward to the time off work. However, there is no trip to the mountains this year. We've gone every year for a long time and this is one of my favorite vacations each year. Not going just doesn't feel right. The lack of a wedding invitation (to my daughter's wedding) casts another shadow on me. And, the sheer number of home improvement projects I need to accomplish during the next two weeks is another downer. It's all stuff I can do. It's also stuff I don't want to do. That's why it's all backed up and I'm so far behind.

We do have one night away planned. A foster parent friend from another state is driving through my town on her way to the beach. She's stopping here to spend the night on her way. So, tomorrow night, Beth and I are spending the night at a Comfort Inn out by the interstate. We'll be really close to home - still in the same zip code, but we'll be in a hotel and enjoying the company of friends we only see once a year. It's not much of a vacation but I'm looking forward to it! This year, it will have to do.

Sick-of-it Day

Beth had counseling last night and barely 10 minutes into the session, I got called in. Beth was explaining to the counselor that she was worried about how would be keeping Elvis while Alli and Boy Wonder go to the beach to get married. (I'm not offering and I'm not willing to let Beth commit to it.) Alli says her friend is going to watch him. She's of interesting character but is a good mom. She'll be fine with Elvis for a couple of days and, she knows us well and knows she can call us in case of an emergency.

All of that to say, I ended up getting some counseling along with Beth last night and ended up having a weepy kind of evening. I can accept that Alli and BW are getting married. I'm having trouble accepting that we can't come to the wedding. That really hurts my feelings, more that I even let my let myself admit. If she'd just say "yes," I'd load Beth and Elvis into the van and head south. I'm even willing to stay out of their sight. We'd stay in a neighboring state, drive over for the ceremony, and then disappear again. I don't want to intrude. I just don't want my daughter's wedding witnessed by total strangers but not by anyone who loves her. It just doesn't seem right. I cried myself to sleep last night but didn't sleep well. I was awake often and don't know that I was ever really sound asleep.

I felt rough this morning when I got up for work. However, it was a teacher training day so it was a day without kids. I don't love those days but can usually endure them, especially knowing that spring break starts tomorrow. I was ready for work and went to wake Alli to take me to work. (Thursdays is Elvis' therapy day and she needs my van to get him there.) She said she decided not to take him because she just wanted to stay home today. In truth, I think she was avoiding being alone in the van with me after our awkward discussions about her wedding yesterday. I was beyond mad when I left for work. She didn't take him last week, either. He NEEDS this therapy. I started driving towards work and started crying. It didn't take me long to realize I was not going to be able to pull it together enough to function at work. I called in and took a sick day. Only in this case, it was more of a "sick-of-it" day.

I went to Lowe's and bought the tile and grout for the new bathroom. I went to a grocery and got the ingredients for French toast. I returned home at 8:00 AM, having spent $100 already. I woke Alli again and told her I was taking her and Elvis to therapy and to please be ready to leave by 9:30. She didn't argue. While she got ready, I cooked breakfast for all (me, Alli, Beth, Cori, Elvis, and Beth's friend who spent the night). We had a nice breakfast together and then I hit the road with my therapy crew, leaving a nice to-do list for the ones who stayed home.

The drive to therapy was a bit awkward. We were both trying to avoid discussing the wedding. We did ok. The day was nice. We came home (to a decently clean house) and picked up the others for a group Wal-Mart trip. We bought paint for two bathrooms and the laundry room. I'm not digging one of the bathroom paints and it may not be used. It looked tan in the store but rather "orangey" in the light of day. Money's tight but I'm not going to sweat it if I decide not to use it. I'd rather buy another one that I like than to have an orange bathroom for years.

There's a little peace in the house right now. Cori is spending two nights with her grandmothers! That makes me happy! Beth is spending the night with a friend. We dropped them both off after Wal-Mart. We came home and all was quiet. However, upon getting home, we realized that we'd forgotten to buy laundry detergent so Alli offered to go back if I'd watch Elvis. He's stretched on Beth's bed watching Stick It and laughing hysterically.

I'm debating what I want to do tonight. I wish I wanted to prime the hall bathroom. Then I could paint it tomorrow. However, I want to read a little more Harry Potter (I'm half way through book 4). Maybe I'll do a little of each? Or maybe I'll just finish the book!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Still alive

Alli did finally, after receiving a scathing myspace message from my SIL, tell me (via a myspace message) that she is getting married. Here's a slightly edited copy of that message:

"I love you very very much. I'm so sorry for how I have treated you. You have been there for me when my real mom never was. You never left my side when I was in the hospital. You even slept on the freakin floor so you could be there with me. You watched me give birth to my beautiful baby girl. I watched you hold your dead granddaughter and listened to you talk about how pretty she was and what your favorite part about her was. You take care of Elvis when I don't think I can anymore. (I know I don't have the patience i used to) I couldn't ask for anyone better.

I know you'll never give up on me. I guess i just keep expecting you to because everyone else has. I know that you will support whatever it is that I do no matter how ridiculous you think it might be. I feel like I got a second chance at having a life when I came to live here. I want to make you proud of me. I'm going to make something of myself. You'll see. I love you so much. Thanks for being there for me for the past 5 years. With out you I don't know what I would do.

I'm gonna go back to work and I'm going to start paying you rent again. Honestly I'm terrified to go back. I m scared I wont be able to keep myself together long. That's why I have been putting it off for so long. I know you have spent a lot of money on me. I'm sorry I flunked out last semester. I didn't go to school because I was on bed rest. If I had told you I was pregnant we probably could have gotten around that.

I'm going to marry Boy Wonder. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you to your face. I know that you support me no matter what. Like (SIL) told me, that was pretty shitty. I love you and I'm sorry for every thing:( "

So, there we are. She's been made aware of my feelings and apologized. Where, exactly, we go from here, I don't know. The first 15 years of her life can't be undone. However, I can't switch to her way of thinking, either. We've got to find a way to meet in the middle if our relationship is to continue.

I'm still oddly okay with them marrying. Well, maybe not okay but not devastated, either. The Serenity Prayer keeps running through my mind and I guess that helps. There is truly nothing I can do in this situation, other than to accept her decision. I just wish, if they are going to do this, they'd do it here or, at least, invite us. How sad they feel the need to run off and do it alone. It's not the end of the world (for me, anyway - LOL).

Cori is still here. Her worker is obviously dodging me, as she hasn't returned my calls or emails. I'm still counting on respite to start next Monday. I'll likely be suicidal - maybe homicidal? - if they don't keep up their end of the bargain. I NEED that break...more than they could ever know. She's actually levelled off some. I guess since she knows she leaving. Her big thing now is to totally soak the bathroom when she showers. (Of course, compared to the spontaneous vomiting and the cutting, a wet bathroom floor is nothing!) I refuse to correct her, since she knows exactly what she's doing. She's waiting for the reaction and I refuse to give it to her. (When I report I've broken a hip sliding on the wet bathroom floor, feel free to remind me of that decision.)

Beth has her ups and downs but continues to be a good kid. She's in a mood tonight. All she says is there is drama at school. Luckily, tomorrow is the kids' last day of school until April 7th. Perhaps the drama will have subsided by then.

While the kids are out after tomorrow, I have to survive Thursday, too. Those are the longest days in the whole school year. They will trap us in meetings all day and act like the info they are presenting is going to make or break us. To us, it feels like they are just finding ways to torture so we appreciate the break a little more. Whatever, the true purpose of the teacher training day, it will feel like it lasts 15 hours but, the feeling when it's over and we've survived is out of this world!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Unexpected guests today

I heard a car in the driveway and looked out to see an unfamiliar car. I couldn't see the driver, as she'd gotten out and was leaning in the back seat. I continued watching and was happy to realize she was removing a small boy from the back seat and the driver was a former (long-term) foster daughter! She was with me for over 4 years (51 months, to be exact) and she left right at 5 years ago to be adopted. She was 15 and a half when she left. I took two days off work to cry.

She didn't disappear from my life when she got adopted. She stayed in our county and Alli saw her at school every day. She came home with us a couple of times after school. She invited us to her new house for cookouts, horseback riding, and her 16th birthday party. Things didn't go as well for her as I hoped. Her new parents were not used to dealing with kids from the system. She really needed more supervision. She turned out okay but she didn't get her high school diploma, which I really think she should have.

The small boy with her was her 13 month old son. I saw him when she was still in the hospital after having him and then a couple more times, the last one being early last summer. After that, they just disappeared. She reappeared today, just as unexpectedly. She has little/no contact with her adoptive parents. She's made some allegations involving the father but I don't know how much truth they hold. She's back involved with her bio mom. She's held a variety of low-paying jobs but none for very long. She's bounced through a vast array of living arrangements.

It was good to see her but it made me sad, too. Is this what the future holds for many kids adopted as teens? I have to admit that I fear it happening with mine. I've tried so hard to show them how good life can be when armed with the right tools - education, family, God, hard work, etc. They can verbalize what they need to do. However, when it comes to carrying the plan out, they seem to falter. It's too easy to slip back into their "old" world where things are fun and no one tells them they should be doing better. Why is that? They have certainly enjoyed the benefits of life with me. Why can't they see with just a little bit of self-control and effort, they can have that for themselves, too? Do they not think they deserve it?

Super Target

I shopped at the new Target today. I left the house at 7:30, picked up my SIL and we hit the road totally kid-free. It was nice. The store was beautiful. I think this was my first time in a Super Target. I spent $81 but basically stuck to my spending plan. I bought two shower curtains, two shower curtain rods, two sets of shower curtain hooks, and three shower curtain liners (the one in my bath is a little funky, too). Lest it be an all shower curtain trip, I did stray from my plan just a little. I bought Cori a $15 shirt for her Easter basket that my mom will probably reimburse me for. (Growing up we always got a new, short sleeve shirt in our Easter baskets. Mom continues this tradition for my kids but has me buy them because I'm more likely to know what they will wear.) I also bought a pack of sponges with a scrubber on one side. I'm still working on removing the inch of wallpaper paste left of my kitchen walls. I'm about ready to just pay to sheet rock over it if I can't get it off. That was all I got for my $81.

We also went to the new Kohl's that is next to the new Target. (Isn't my little town growing up? We have real stores now!) SIL did some major damage there with money she'd gotten for her birthday. I spent $15 on a shirt for Beth's Easter basket. Again, probably to be reimbursed by my mom.

Cori was in a good mood all day because she had a dance at her school tonight. She's been looking forward to this dance for a long time. It was originally supposed to be a Snow Ball and should have been held in January. However, our Director of Schools put all school dances on hold after an unedited version of a naughty song was played at a middle school (grades 5-8) dance in December. So, it's now the Spring Fling dance or something like that. She got up and showered early. She's tried her dress on dozens of times today. She's tried so many hair styles that her hair almost looks dirty. However, she's dressed and styled and dropped off at her little school. Beth is spending the night with a friend and I'm without any children I need to supervise until I pick up Cori at 10:00.

I had planned to be home alone tonight. However, for the first time ever, Alli and Boy Wonder are hanging out here, instead of going to his house. They never do that. As much as I would have liked being home alone for a few hours, I don't mind having them around. They are in the next room playing Wii. Boy Wonder even just came and asked if I want to play! I declined for now but I'm sure I'll attempt it soon. Elvis is passed out on Beth's bed. He'll be a bear tonight and refuse to sleep after napping so late but he was really cranky.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My 100th post and man, it's a BIGGIE

I just checked my myspace page and notice the status on Boy Wonder's page. It was "getting married on the beach." I read it to Beth who texted Alli. Yep. On March 30th. I don't even know what to think.

It's not the end of the world. I actually like Boy Wonder. It is the end of what I thought Alli would do with her life. She'll end up in a low-paying, dead-end job and likely lose or give up custody of Elvis.

Just keep reminding me I can't prevent her from making mistakes. She's legally an adult and can (and will) do whatever she wants.

What a way to start a weekend!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Back to Lowe's

The employees in certain sections know me now. I guess that's a good thing. Sadly, the guys in the flooring department aren't my friends. Two nights in a row I've been unable to get some help there. To be fair, I'm looking for help in the last 15 minutes before closing and I'm sure they are getting things put up so they can hit the door at 9:00 sharp. I did get my faucet exchanged tonight. I think I've picked a tile all by myself (well, with phone consultation from my SIL). I bought one tile to bring home and look at in the bathroom with the paint samples.

After being chased out of Lowe's at closing, I went to buy gas. We needed some and the prices seem to rise each morning. I figured better tonight than tomorrow. I also needed to solve another problem. The van smelled like a big fart, for lack of a more socially appropriate description. Before pumping the gas, I performed all sorts of gymnastics maneuvers attempting to locate and remove all visible and partially-hidden trash, hoping in the process to remove the source of the unpleasant odor. My dismount from the third row seat lacked grace but I got extra points for a high degree of difficulty. 10.0 all the way, baby! I even managed to hold on to the no less than 6 partially-empty water bottles I'd removed from the various cup holders back there!

I came home and continued to de-junk the van. Elvis had a booster seat (not car booster seat but one we use in restaurants/people's houses), 3 lunch boxes, 2 cups, 1 pair of socks, and 5 blankets all loose in the van. No wonder we didn't have room to move. All that was on top of his huge car seat and his wheelchair, both of which stayed in there. I dragged the rest of the junk into the house and planted it in a big heap outside Alli's room. I did turn the light on in the room where I dumped it all so she has a fair shot of seeing it before she actually trips over it. (Remember, you may say passive-aggressive. I call it entertainment.)

As for the source of the big fart smell? I think I narrowed it down to either the sippy cup of Pediasure that has been in the van for about 2 weeks, the open but not empty bottle of chocolate milk, or the huge bag of trash that possibly contained the badly decomposed body of Amelia Earhart. I hope I was successful but I won't know until tomorrow morning. We'll run out the door, late, no doubt (when my weather guy says it's going to be raining) and open the doors to judge my success, or lack thereof. We'll either enjoy the sweet smell of success or drive to school with breathing through our mouths. Life is an adventure. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another Wednesday night Lowe's trip

We've decided to tile the floor in the new bathroom. Ordinarily I wouldn't bother but the new sub flooring is almost an inch lower than the old, making a fairly significant difference between the bathroom floor and the floor in the adjacent bedroom. This, of course, will mean more money and more decisions. I went to Lowe's tonight to peruse my tile options. I've found two that I like (and can afford) so I've got to decide. I'll do what I always do - have someone else make the decision. My sister-in-law has a knack for all things decorative. She's hoping to carve out a little time to go with me Saturday and make the final decision.

I actually left Lowe's without buying a thing. First, I forgot to take the faucet that I needed to exchange. Second, the tile backer board that I was going to buy was too big and awkward to fit in my van since I already had two car seats and a wheelchair (all Elvis', by the way) in there. I'll leave cash at home in the morning and ask the carpenter to run get them in his truck. He'll be gone two hours to do it and I'll be paying his hourly rate for them, but I just couldn't deal with it tonight. I did grab some paint samples while I was there. Beth wants her bathroom lavender. I think I found one that I can live with. The new bath is going to be a tan color and I've narrowed it down to 3. (SIL will make the final decision by choosing the one that will look best with the tile.) All in all, to not have spent a dime, I was in a decent mood when I left Lowe's. That's good these days.

I got home and was about to put on my PJs when I remembered that I'd forgotten to fill Beth's ADD med. She went without it today and said she needed it for tomorrow. She got dressed and we ran to Walgreen's at 10:00. She even drove. Despite wishing I was in bed, it was a fun trip.

Tomorrow is a loooong day at work. After teaching all day, we have parent conferences until 7:00 PM. I'll leave home at 6:50 AM and get home a little after 7:30 PM. I don't usually mind parent conferences but we just had them about a month ago and not much has changed in those few weeks. The only family I need to see has the flu so they can't even come. I do hope to get some filing done in my classroom. I'm way behind on that kind of stuff.

The weekend is already looking to be a busy one. Beth wants to bring a friend home from school on Friday and then have another friend come to spend the night with them after she gets off work. Cori has a dance at her school on Saturday and wants to have a friend come over Saturday afternoon so they can get ready together. I can then drop them both at the dance. Somewhere in all that I have to squeeze in the Lowe's trip with my SIL and - the big one - a trip to the brand new Target near my school. It's been open a week and I haven't been in the doors. I've decided to buy our new shower curtains there. That's all I'm allowing us to purchase. I can't get sucked into buying things. Two shower curtains, two rods, and two sets of hooks. The end. (It's been a long standing dream of mine to have a Target in our town. Now, I get to drive past a Super Target twice every work day. Who says dreams don't come true????)

I resisted!

DCS called my cell while I was on the home phone with the drunk carpenter. They then beeped into my home phone but I didn't answer. I finished the conversation (about needing to buy something else, of course) and then checked the voicemail on my cell. The call was from a placement worker two counties away. All the message said was she was trying to place a child. I didn't call her back. It wasn't hard, really. Wednesday is juvenile court here and that's when all the teens removed on unruly charges have to be placed.

We ate dinner and the phone rang again. By now, it was well after 6:00. I answered the phone, listened to her sales pitch, and was able to turn her down! Go me! She was looking to place a 16 year old girl with a criminal history that horrified me. She had domestic assault charges from beating up her mom when she was 12. Almost every crime was represented during the explanation of this child's history.

I just can't go there again, especially right now. There are too many things going on in my life. I'll pray for the child and hope she finds a home that can meet her needs. But, I'm going to bed tonight relieved that she's not my responsibility. Now, if the call had been for a 7 year old girl...

Words that strike fear in my heart...

Alli started a sentence last night with, "If Boy Wonder and I get married...." I honestly don't remember what else she said. I was waiting for my heart to start beating again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


That is the grand total for the far. He still has to come back after we get the flooring down in the newly repaired/remodeled bathroom. YIKES! That man is worth a lot of money. Granted, he did a lot of things while he was here but that's less than a week's work. My mom had to float me a loan to pay him. I get paid on Friday and will have to hand my check over to her. Guess we'll be eating whatever we can find in the pantry for a couple more weeks.

Despite the sticker shock, it is nice to have 2 working bathrooms with the promise of a third within a week or so. The dishwasher is making me very happy, too. I hope to never wash another dish. Of course, we seem to have lost a lot of our dishes and silverware since we've been filling the landfills with paper and plastic ones. The only "real" plates in my cabinet are the survivors from a set of Corelle I got when I went to college (peach and country green hearts stenciled around the edges, thankyouverymuch) and a few leftovers from two different sets of winter/Christmas plates from many, many years ago.

I got to school today and wasn't feeling well. I got a sub and left half-day. I picked up cheapo Chinese lunch specials on the way home and Alli and I sat on my bed and ate them. It was a nice break in our stressful existence. We'd barely finished when Boy Wonder showed up to pick up her and Elvis. She took off, not even thanking me for lunch. However, they'd been gone about 30 minutes when my phone announced I had a new text. It was from Alli and said, "Thanks soooo much for the lunch. It was wonderful! :)" I felt a little better. And, for the record that was the first time she'd eaten a meal with me since before Baby Blair. (By the way, that is the new way of marking time in our house - before Blair and after Blair.)

Less than two hours later, Alli and Elvis come in the front door and I hear it slam loudly. About that same time, I heard Boy Wonder's tire squeal as he left our driveway. She just said she was okay and dodged me for a while. Elvis was screaming so I took him and he fell asleep within 10 minutes. My best guess is that he was screaming at BW's house and BW couldn't play the video game with the screaming so he brought them home.

Alli asked to borrow my van for a while. She said she needed to go walk around by herself. I told her to be home by 5:30 because I needed to pick Cori up from her school at 6:00. Alli offered to go get her so I agreed. She was home with Cori by about 6:20. Alli has been rather cheerful and talkative. She gave the hall bath a good scrubbing and chatted with me while she did it. She says she's going back to community college in the fall. She wants to go to her friend's baby shower on Sunday. (Man, that's going to be hard. The friend is having a girl and is due about a month before Blair was due.) And, she's willing to call about a local preschool program for kids and their parents. I worked there when I first graduated from college and it's a great program. She and Elvis will have something to do and she'll get some adult time and some help in dealing with this cranky little guy. Elvis will get some preschool time which he will love and he will have something special to do with his mom. I'm going to keep encouraging her until she calls and gets on the waiting list.

Cori came home from school, ate supper, and disappeared into her room. I'm not complaining.

Beth has spent the evening on the phone and myspace after finishing her homework. Despite some of our recent adventures, she's a good kid.

Monday, March 10, 2008


THE DISHWASHER WORKS! It's happily washing my dirty dishes, as I type. I do keep opening it to look in, but I don't know why. I'm just enjoying the sight of a modern appliance at work. I guess I'm just excited to not have to wash dishes. It's been a long two years at my house! Thanks R. family!

In other news, the hall bathroom is now fully-functioning. The shower works with some tremendous water pressure. One of the kids said felt like a fire hose. The sink is the proud owner of a new faucet set, replacing the one with the broken-off handle. The vent fan over the shower functions and provides light. We're uptown now!

And, I have my bathroom back to myself...or so I thought. For some reason, possibly just to piss me off, Cori showered in there tonight. Now, I know I should just be happy she showered, but while she was at it, she sprayed water all over the floor. I came darn close to water skiing just now when I stepped in there.


As of this afternoon, there are NO appliances in my living room! Both the tub and the dishwasher are happily installed in their permanent homes. It doesn't take much to make me happy these days, does it?

Cori is still Cori. I woke her for school this morning and she announced that it was her day to go to counseling. (Her worker picks her up from home for those appointments and gets to sleep later on those days.) Umm, no one told me. You are going to school. (Turns out she did NOT have an appointment today. I don't know if she really thought she did or if she was trying to manipulate herself into a day off, knowing once I left for my school she couldn't come back to get her to her school.) Whatever her plan was, it didn't work. Tonight about 5:30, she asked if she could go to a program at her school tonight. It started at 6:00. Again, no. They have known about this program for more than a week, I know. She never mentioned it to me until then. Dinner wasn't done and her school is almost 30 minutes from our house. She went to her room to pout over that. Didn't bother me. Beth and I ate dinner in peace!

The countdown to spring break is on. We have 7 more days of school with the kids there and one day of teacher training before we get a little over 2 weeks off. This is the first time in years that we haven't headed to Gatlinburg for part of our spring break. My mom rents a condo there and we have a great time. However, this year, things are different. Cori will be in respite. Alli can't bear to be away from Boy Wonder for 3 days. If Alli's not going, I'm not taking Elvis. Mom, Beth, and I could still go. However, I fear Beth might die of boredom without someone to do things with. (Mom and I are good with hanging out in the condo and working a puzzle. We've always had several kids who seemed to entertain each other.) I don't know what spring break holds. I'm looking forward to being off work and having Cori in respite. We have plenty to do around here - painting, scraping, cleaning, stripping, etc. While it will be nice to have all that done, it's not what my spring break usually looks like. I have to admit I'm rather sad.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

We have a Wii

Alli can't pay rent but she and Boy Wonder are the proud new co-owners of a Wii. I don't want to know how much they paid but it arrived by mail on Friday. They've played a lot Wii this weekend. They take it back and forth between our house and his. I've watched some but haven't played. It looks like fun but I fear at 40, I'm too old and uncoordinated to play and not make a fool of myself.

Cori has spent most of the weekend on the phone. I can't begin to imagine how she can have so much to say to someone. I'd given her permission to have a friend spend the night Friday night. Evidently, no one could. One friend did come home from school with her but she had to be back home by 7:30 PM. That meant I had to drive to the middle of nowhere in the sleet/snow mix to take her home but I did. Almost all day Saturday she was in her room on the phone. She talked so much the battery in the phone died. She would have to come out and let it charge before she could continue talking on it. At one point she dared to say to me, "Since I've been being good can I get on myspace for a little bit today?" Umm....NO FREAKIN' WAY! Let's see....Over 8 months of refusing to follow the rules before she got permanently grounded from myspace. She's "followed all the rules" for 3 days and that's supposed to make up for it all? I don't think so.

I don't know why she asks things like that. I've been very consistent with consequences. The warning was one more f-word on your page and you are off it until you leave my home. She posted the f-word. She's off myspace until she leaves my home. Why is that so difficult to understand? Her attitude baffles me. She's got to learn to live with the consequences of her actions. Police and judges aren't going to care that she spent her childhood in foster care when she's an adult and breaking the law. She sees the consequences as me being "mean" not as me trying to teach her to live within the laws of civilization.

She has been impatiently waiting for her 16th birthday because that is when you can have a cell phone in my house. Of course the rest of the requirement is that you are behaving appropriately in all that you do. She doesn't get that she's not. I ordinarily add the kids to my existing Sprint account. I can usually get the phone for free and it costs $10 a month to add the extra line and share my minutes. I like this because every month I get a print out of who they called and when. If they aren't following the cell rules (calls late at night or during school) I yank the phone and they owe me $12 a month (extra line + tax), for a period to be determined by me based on their attitude and behavior. (Beth lost hers for 6 months once!) Anyway, since I know she's leaving, I'm NOT adding her to my plan. There is no way in heck she will be here a year. Honestly, if she was staying, I wouldn't even consider getting her a phone. It's just going to cause more drama and she's already the drama queen of the house.

I have decided, however, that I think I'll get her a prepaid cell for her birthday. This is her one wish and I hate not to provide it. I figure if I get her the phone and a limited amount of minutes, she can enjoy it while they last and then have to come up with her own way to get more minutes. And, since she's not going to be with me much longer, I won't have to deal with the drama she creates with it. Am I taking the easy way out? Absolutely. I think I've earned at least one easy thing from all my years with this difficult child.

Phone call at 11:30 last night

I'd just had a horrible night. Alli was being extremely rude and disrespectful. I'd kept Elvis (even worse - sick Elvis) so she could have a break last night. She got mad because I asked her to take the used towels to the laundry room before she left. There was lots of stomping and huffing before she left, making a point to tell Elvis goodbye but ignored me.

I actually packed a bag to leave last night. I don't really know where I would have gone. My mom's, I guess. I'm just so tired of being treated like the enemy. I spent the evening caring for cranky Elvis and getting my clothes washed and packed, fully planning to walk out the door as Alli walked in. Thankfully (or sadly, depending on how you look at it) I calmed down and grew up a bit. First, I realized that it was MY house and if anyone was going to leave, it needed to Alli. Second, I'm the adult in this situation. (Yes, she's the age of an adult but her development was stunted around age 13.) She's had a lifetime of adults walk out on her or send her away. She needs to grow up herself and decide if she's willing to put forth the effort required to live here.

She came home late and continued to ignore me and Elvis. She put Elvis in Beth's room to watch a DVD and went back to her room. Elvis started fussing and I knew she couldn't hear so I texted her that he was fussy and his meds were over an hour and a half late. She came and got him but didn't acknowledge me at all.

I got in bed about 11:00. I read some Harry Potter before taking my contacts out and snuggling in for the night about 11:20. At 11:30 my cell rang and it was Beth, who was spending the night with a friend. She asked if I could come get her. I asked if everything was okay and she said yes, so I got up, put my contacts back in, stepped into my shoes and left the house in shorts in 28 degree weather. Beth's friend lives about 18 miles from us. When I got there, Beth was standing on the front porch waiting. She never did tell me exactly what happened. She just said the friend's mother was in a bad mood and she wanted to come home. I didn't push her for more info. I want her to know if she's ever in a bad/dangerous situation that she can call me and I'll be there - no hesitation and no questions asked. We stopped at a Taco Bell drive-thru and had a beefy cheesy melt for a midnight snack. When we got home, she thanked me, hugged me, and headed for bed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A teacher's favorite words:


Yes, I realize it's the weekend and it will all be melted in plenty of time to return to school on Monday, but it's SNOW. Real snow. The most snow we've had this year is less than a half an inch. We haven't had more than an inch anytime in recent history. I need this snow. I need to know that it can, in fact, still snow here. I was beginning to think the Heat Miser had taken over and we were doomed to warm, wet winters.

I also love the feeling of being "snowed in." You people from the north, don't laugh, but it only takes a couple of inches to pretty much keep us housebound. Obviously it doesn't snow much here. We don't have equipment to clear the roads. We probably have less than 5 snow plow/salt truck combos for the whole county. People here don't know how to drive in the snow, either. You're really much safer staying in for the day until it melts. It never lasts long but it's so fun when it comes!

So, go about the rest of your weekend. I'll be in my chaotic house pretending all is well. I'm declaring Saturday a SNOW DAY! I'll drink hot chocolate by the gallon, maybe work a jigsaw puzzle, and read the second Harry Potter book until I'm done. There will be plenty of time later for reality to hit me - wallpaper paste to be removed, border to be stripped, sheet rock dust to be vacuumed, and a long, hard talk to have with Alli. But all that will wait until I've been refreshed and renewed by my snow day!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

2 years

For two years, everyone who lived in my house has been using the same shower. It's a 3 bathroom house but 2 have been out of commission for about 2 years. We've had up to 8 people living here at any given time and we've all bathed in the same tub. One of the problem bathrooms is the one we are currently repairing/remodeling. It had a plumbing leak and, turns out, a roof leak at the vent pipe. The combination of these leaks had rotted the floor. Over the years, we've discussed having it repaired but there never seemed to be a convenient time or enough spare money. We did okay without it. It was in the mother-in-law apartment added by the former owners so, since it didn't directly affect me, I wasn't overly concerned.

The second problem bath was more of an issue. There was just no water pressure in the shower. The sink and toilet still work just fine so it helped some but everyone who wanted a shower had to use mine in the master bath. It wasn't very convenient and we had to do some creative scheduling but we made it. Since the plumber is already working here on the back bath, he said he'd fix the hall shower, too. He'd already warned me that he thought it was going to be a big repair. He checked it out today and had it fixed in about 15 minutes. Turns out something had come through the pipes and clogged up the inside of the shower head. He can't identify the substance or it's origin but he removed the "clot" and we have water pressure again. TWO YEARS of sharing my shower with this herd of kids and it was just a mystery clot. I took pictures of the clot. If I ever get around to uploading my pics to my computer, I'll post one here. It's rather gross looking, but when I look at it all I see is less money I'm going to owe the very expensive plumber.

In other remodeling news, I have a bathtub in my living room. It's okay, though, because it's keeping the dishwasher company. You wouldn't want a lonely dishwasher in the living room, now would you? The carpenter now refers to my living room as the "appliance waiting room." There is a logical explanation, of course. I think I posted earlier that my dishwasher hasn't worked in forever. A friend was remodeling and getting a new dishwasher to match her new kitchen. She was discarding a dishwasher that worked just fine but didn't match. I'm not proud. Cori and I dashed over to pick it up. The carpenter is going to install it after he finishes the bathroom, so it's just hanging out in the living room. My other friend picked up an delivered the tub today but the plumber didn't quite get to the point of installing it yet. So, the tub sits by the dishwasher in the living room that we don't use often but is the room you walk into from the front door. Again, I never said my life was anywhere near normal...but we do have a lot of laughs!

If you need another laugh, let me explain my carpenter. He's a raging alcoholic. I've never seen him that I didn't smell beer on his breath. Why did I hire an alcoholic carpenter, you ask? Well, he rents a house from me and tends to not pay his rent. I sued him this time last year and the court garnished his wife's wages to pay me the back rent. During 2007, they got behind on the rent again. So, I've hired him because he is working off some of what he owes me. He charges $15 an hour. I pay him half that and we are taking the other half off what he owes. And, despite the drinking, he's really good at what he does. I have no complaints about the work that he and his 12-pack do every day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cori update

I called her worker to check the progress towards her new family. They have 3 families that are possibilities. They are supposedly in the process of contacting each family to see if they want to be considered to adopt Cori. (These families are just matches from the computer system. They are certified to adopt and have stated that they would be interested in adopting a child that meets some of Cori's characteristics. Kind of like computer dating but for matching a child to a family.) Of course, they move at the speed of a dead turtle when working on things like this.

I told the worker that I was going to be Cori-free for my two-week spring break. They had 3 options: 1) have her moved to an adoptive home, 2) find a respite home for her, 3) move her to another foster home. After some grumbling, they opted for #2. Here, foster parents are supposed to find their own respite providers. I don't know any foster parents who I think could keep her for two weeks. (She has some court-ordered safety measures that prevent her from being placed with younger children.) They (DCS) can find the provider and I'll pay for the respite. Best I can offer. I told the worker if they were going to make me find the provider, I'd just request they move her.

So, on March 24, Cori is going away until April 6. After we had it arranged I realized that she would be in respite for her 16th birthday. This made me feel a little guilty but not guilty enough to keep her home. I NEED this break. Her birthday is right in the middle of the two-week vacation. I'll just have to continue to feel guilty but send her on to respite with a cake and a couple of gifts. We'll do a proper celebration when she comes back. At times I'm ashamed of myself for feeling this way about her. She's child, for goodness sake! However, she has a lot of needs that I'm unable to fill. I know I'm doing the right thing by having her move on. I just have to keep reminding myself it's the best decision for all involved.

Momma time

As in, I needed some time with my mom. The bathroom repair/remodel is reaching epic proportion and I needed to go to Lowe's tonight to buy a bathtub. I've never bought a tub before but I had to have it here tomorrow morning for the plumber to rough-in. Coincidentally, the last place in the world I wanted to go tonight was Lowe's. I was in a foul mood anyway. We had a busy afternoon. I still don't feel totally well. I just didn't want to go. I ended up calling my mom and asking her to meet me there. That's one of the downfalls of being single. I have to make all the decisions. I hate making decisions. Mom did come and we wandered through the plumbing section like we knew what we needed. (My mom is good at things like this. As I grew up, she supplemented our income by owning and maintaining rental property. She's quite experienced in all things related to home improvement.) We looked and discussed options. A very nice employee named Jon really helped us out. He even knocked $26 off the price of my tub/shower faucet set because the box had been opened (after he looked in and made sure all the pieces were there). We left there 40 minutes later (and $439 poorer), owning a tub faucet, vent fan with light, and a bathtub. I still need to buy a vanity, counter top with sink, and the toilet. My new buddy Jon gave me his work schedule and told me he'd cut me a deal on a certain vanity that is already on clearance. I like that guy!

After nearly having a stroke after spending that much money, I stood in the Lowe's parking lot and talked to Mom. We talked about almost everything...for 45 minutes or so. Our lives are so busy we rarely have time to talk like that. It was nice. I guess everyone needs a mom sometimes. I so glad I still have access to mine. I'm sure I take her for granted way too often, but plan to do better in the future.

The bathroom should begin to take shape tomorrow. A friend is bringing my tub home for me, saving the Lowe's delivery fee. (Over the years, I've hauled some odd things in my minivan but a full-sized tub/shower combo was just too much.) The plumber and the carpenter will help him unload it and when I come home from work tomorrow, it should be installed. Now, I've just got to find a way to pay the carpenter, electrician, and plumber on Friday and still feed the kids. Good thing Food Lion has Hamburger Helper on sale this week. I'd better stock up - LOL!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cori mail

I found a letter addressed to me on my bed Saturday night. Cori had written two pages of all the things she thinks I've done wrong to her. I don't know how to or even if I should respond. She's not thinking clearly so I really think she will ignore/discount any attempt at explanation I might make. She said she doesn't know why I'm so mean to her. She said she has done everything I've asked of her and she has never done anything wrong. Should I respond point by point and give her my version of what happened? I could list the multiple rules she's broken, including the long distance phone calls she made last night, "because I wanted to." She just doesn't get that she can't do whatever she wants. She's convinced herself that whatever she wants to do is alright, just because she wants to do it. How do I convince her otherwise? Do I even attempt or just let her move on believing what she wants. I truly don't think that talking to her or even writing her back will do any good. Her thinking skills are so disordered that she just doesn't get it.

I called her case worker today but she didn't call me back. I'm guessing she won't call me back, either.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sweet moment with Beth

Since I've been griping about her publicly, I feel the need to share the sweet side of her, too.

We were leaving to pick up Cori from the mall, where we'd dropped her with her friend. Beth was going along just to drive. I walked out of the house ahead of her and saw that our cats had a tiny chipmunk cornered under a shrub. I looked away and quickly walked toward the van, assuming they'd already injured the little thing and it was best to let nature take it's course. Beth walked out a minute later and immediately started stomping at the cats and tossed a stick towards them. Seeing her so determined to help Chip (or Dale?) I got out of the van and went to help. Would you believe we were able to hold up a stick and the critter jumped onto it? Together, we carefully carried the rodent-on-a-stick to a huge tree in our yard and the chipmunk jumped off the stick and quickly scampered up the tree out of the reach of our intellectually-challenged cats.

We continued on our journey, picking Cori up just a little late. She, predictably, didn't care that we were running late because we'd saved a life and was extra sullen on our trip home. Who cares anymore? It got even better when she asked what was for dinner. I told her we'd had Chinese but there were lots of leftovers in the fridge and lots of canned stuff in the pantry. (You'll remember that due to her spontaneous vomiting, guaranteed to happen after consuming Chinese food, she's not allowed to eat Chinese food at my house ever again.) She stomped off to her room and slammed her door. I'll be calling her case worker Monday. I need to know where they are in the process of moving her on. Not far enough for me (or Cori), I'm sure.

Beth's ADD

I've always known Beth had attention difficulties. From the time I first got her, she'd ask a question and then, as you were answering, she'd say, "Wait, I forgot to listen to the answer. Start over." We laughed about it. She wanted (and got) a shirt that said, "They say I have A.D.D. but they just don't understand...Oh, look. A chicken!" In 8th grade, she stayed in trouble for chewing gum at school. I let it slide because when she chews gum, she can focus much better. She figured this out and it worked for her. (Her teachers figured it out, too, and backed off. They even gave her an award at the end of the year party. Her award was for "Most likely to get caught chewing gum" and the prize was - you guessed it - a pack of gum.) Then came high school and gum just wasn't working for her anymore. We've tried several different meds for ADD over the last few years. They have helped some but she doesn't like taking them. She's on Concerta now, it seems to working and she hasn't mentioned any side effects.

All that to say, I got a little peek into her world yesterday when we were about to leave to come home from school. She walked outside ahead of me, asking me if it was raining. I asked why it mattered because it had rained all day and if she was going to drive home, it was going to be wet, whether or not rain was actually falling at the time. She said it wasn't the wet that bothered her, it was the windshield wipers. "I'm afraid I'll watch them and not the road." I just stared at her, slightly amused, and she said, "That's all I can do when I'm riding and they are on. I don't want to risk doing that while I'm driving." She's got a valid point.

Hostile Momma

The weekend is here and our house is just a barrel of laughs - NOT!

We picked Cori up from school yesterday. She was silent all the way home, not even responding to direct greetings or questions. When we pulled into the driveway, she asked if we could talk. Beth took off into the house and Cori and I sat in the car. She said, "You used to be someone I could look up to." I didn't know what she expected me to say to that. I waited a second before saying, "I haven't changed. You chose to break the rules. You will have to deal with the consequences. You knew when you put that word on your myspace what the consequences would be, didn't you?" She screamed, "I'm not talking about that!" When I asked what she was talking about, she screamed, "NEVER MIND!" and took off into the house. She spent a few hours in her room throwing things and screaming (and, no doubt, cutting). Then she came out and asked if a friend could spend the night. WTH? Um, no. She can come over for a few hours on Saturday but no overnights. So, she's up way too early this morning, pretending to clean the house. I'm not helping at all.

Beth is a little better. We got some time to talk Thursday night and she settled down. I assured her she was a good kid and doing well but everyone screws up from time-to-time and there were consequences for those screw-ups. She cried and pouted (and argued) just a bit more but came around. She was pleasant the rest of the evening and yesterday before and after school. She still has her permit and she drove home from school. (She's really nervous about driving so this is good.) Cori was staying at school late so we stopped at Quizno's for Beth's favorite snack. She was on the phone a lot last night (after the free nights and weekends minutes started) and I did hear her telling different people she was grounded this weekend. Overall, she was sweet and helpful. Thank goodness because I couldn't handle bitchy and pouty from anyone else. My feelings are still really hurt by the whole "real mom" thing but I can't talk to her about that just yet. I guess because I really do expect her to go to her bio mom's when she turns 18 in a few short months and I just don't want to face that yet.

Which brings me to Alli. It's been a month since Blair died. I really think she needs to be back in the real world. She spends her days doing nothing and her evenings with Boy Wonder. I barely see her but she still lives here and I'm still supporing her. And, that brought me to my breaking point last night. Her bathroom repair has gotten way out of hand - one problem lead to another and a quick floor repair is going to end up being $2,000 probably. Not her fault, I know. However, she's not paying rent. She's not paying for her cell phone. She contributes NOTHING to the family income and yet takes a LOT. She still has WIC vouchers from her pregnancy. I called the WIC office and told them the situation. They said that they continue the vouchers through a post-partum time and for her to go ahead and use the vouchers she had left. (That was one for January, two for February, and one for March.) I didn't even mention the January one to her since Blair died at the end of the month I knew she would not be able to use it before it expired. I waited until mid-February and started asking her to go use one voucher. She didn't. She'd say she would but didn't do it. This week we were running out of time and I renewed my efforts, asking her to use both February vouchers. I even offered to watch Elvis while she shopped. Again, she'd say ok but never got it done. Yesterday was the last day. I asked in the morning to do it. She said yes. I texted her after school. "Shoot, I forgot. I'll do them tonight." She came home from Boy Wonder's about 9:00 last night. She was just too tired.! I'm bleeding money (a lot of it for her bathroom) and she can't spend 20 minutes in a grocery to help me out? I just don't get it.

Bottom line is, I'm tired of being the only one who seems to want to keep this family together. If they don't want to be in my family - fine. I can't stop them from going. However, it's time to stop them from using me. They have either got to be in or out. My feelings count and they don't seem to know this or care. I'm not going to keep knocking myself out to do things for them if they are not going to "show up" physically or emotionally. I'm tired of being hurt and sad. I don't respond well to threats. It's going to be hard but I'm going to learn to stand up for myself! Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me. It's going to take some time but I'm on my way!