Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Cori has been really emotional the last week or so. She's swinging wildly from happy to sad with no apparent reason. Her bio mom's birthday is approaching. We'll never know what else is going through her head.

Anyway, as I type, Cori is on her way to a psych hospital. She needs to be there. I almost took her one night last week but she promised she wasn't going to hurt herself. She went to her weekly counseling today. She cried all the way back so her worker took her to the DCS office rather than taking her back to school. I don't know what happened from there. About 1:00, I got a text from Cori saying "They tryna take me 2 the hospital." That was all it said. I replied and gradually got a few more details out of her - like where she was and who was trying to take her. I told her I thought she did need to go because they could help her feel better.

I still don't know all the details. I quickly packed up some clothes and personal items and tossed them in one of her bags. When I got to DCS, her worker and another worker just met me in the parking lot and took the bag. They didn't offer any other information. There is no telling what she told them about me. And, I'm to the point that I don't really care. They need to make it my fault so they don't have to tell the new family about it. They'll say, "Her last foster mother was the problem." And, the new family will believe her...for a while, anyway.

So, adios, Cori. At least for now. (And, to further reinforce my decision not to adopt her, all I felt as we left DCS today was RELIEF. I'm sorry her life is so hard but I didn't cause that problem. I did my best to help...whether DCS believes it or not.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

High temp today was 65 degrees

It was 35 degrees this morning when we were driving to school. Exactly 10 minutes ago, the first of my children jumped into our partially-filled pool. It was Cori, of course. Oddly, she did ask first. I didn't care, as long as she took a towel out there. I'm not ready to start dealing with the sopping-wet foot prints in my carpet this early in the season. Just moments ago, Beth joined her in the deep end. The way I look at it, it's not going to hurt them. They are having a good time. I know where they are and what they are up to. They are 16 and 17 years old and should have enough sense to come in before hypothermia sets in. Dive in, ladies!

On a funny note, Cori was perusing the pool supply catalog earlier and told me I needed to buy one of those automatic pool skimmers. I tried to hide my delight as I told her I already had 4 automatic pool skimmers but I preferred to call them Cori, Beth, Alli, and Boy Wonder. Why in the world would I need to buy another?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pool fun continues

The pool finally got empty sometime Sunday afternoon. We bought a shop vac to get the last few inches of green water out. The bottom of the pool was well-scrubbed and the filling of the pool began Sunday afternoon. It's looking good. Alli and Boy Wonder really spent the whole weekend working on the pool and patio. They rented a pressure washer today and cleaned the patio. BW even dug a little trench in an area beside the fence where water tends to back up and sit on the patio. Now, the water drains away from it!

So, now we wait - for the pool to fill and the water bill to rise, as we put 33,000 gallons of water back into the huge money pit. We are all committed to keeping the pool sparkling clean this summer. I hope we succeed. It will be very disappointing if we let it get gross again.

BW is very excited about the pool. He had his mom and brother stop by this afternoon to see it. They are excited, too. It looks like we will have frequent company this summer, but I don't mind. The more, the merrier! And, honestly, we are much more likely to keep the darn thing clean if people are coming over.

Now, we just have to get through the last weeks of school. As of today, there are only 3 more Mondays before we get out! (An odd way of telling time, but it works for us!) Allergy season is in full-force and we are all snotty and sneezy. What fun! Not!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What a day!

Alli, Boy Wonder and I hit the rental place this morning to get the pump to empty the pool. It was a big pump! BW and the rental place guy loaded it and two huge hoses into the back of the van. We came home and Alli and BW got right to the pumping. It moved fast...almost too fast. The water quickly ran down the hill and flooded part of the neighbor's yard. We moved the discharge hose around the yard as each part got saturated with green, slimy, smelly water. Of course, no matter where we directed the hose, gravity took the water right down the hill to the same neighbor's house. Let's just say the neighbors aren't our biggest fans right now.

While Alli and BW did the bulk of the pumping work. I did all the running. I feel like I spent most of the day in the van.

~ Drove to rental place to get pump.
~ Back home to drop off Alli, BW, and the pump
~ To gas station to buy gas for pump
~ Back home because I discovered there was old, wrong-grade gas in our gas can
~ Back to gas station after (illegally, no doubt) disposing of old gas
~ Back home
~ To pizza store to pick up lunch for all
~ Back home
~ To local coffee house for Beth to apply for a job
~ To dollar store for cleaning supplies for pool
~ Home only to discover we needed more cleaning supplies
~ Back to dollar store
~ Back home
~ To Wal-Mart to buy a little, fun gift for neighbors with 3 inches of our pool water standing in their yard
~ To friend's house to borrow rakes to remove mucky leaves from bottom of pool
~ To Cori's school to drop her off for prom
~ To nephew's friend's house to pick him up from a birthday party
~ Back home to collapse!

All that with gas at $3.55 a gallon!

Aahh, the weekend!

We finished the week without any drama. They made us keep our doors shut and locked at school. It made for a few miserable days. The temp was in the mid 80s and with doors shut and no air conditioner, we were very sweaty! They finally did turn the air on at the end of Thursday. The high Monday is supposed to be in the 60s.

Beth's school was back to normal by Wednesday or so. I didn't hear any updates on the other big school, but I assume it was, too. All the extra law enforcement and news trucks left about that time, too. Rumors are still flying via text on the kids' cell phones but no one pays them much attention anymore. I wish I thought all this nonsense was over. Instead, I'm afraid the fools are just waiting for all the hoopla to die down.

Today is a fun day at our house...It's Pool Draining Day, I hope. We never covered our pool last winter and the water is so green it's almost black. The pool guy said our best bet was to drain the thing and start over. So, I get to spend the money to rent a pump to do the draining and then pay the huge water bill to refill it. (Sadly, my brother did all this last summer and we didn't take care of it over the winter. Sometimes, life just gets in the way of doing what I need to do.) It rained here early this morning. I'm waiting to make sure the rain is over before we get the pump. The forecast looks promising, so, I'm about to drag Alli out of bed and make her go to the rental place with me. I figure at least two of us need to hear the pump directions. It promises to be a fun day...well, maybe not fun but interesting, at least! I'll try to remember to take before and after pictures to share with you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No gunshots yet

Beth went back to school today. She said everybody was back. The law enforcement presence was greatly reduced. In fact, I didn't see any when I dropped her off this morning. The cop at her school told the students that just because we didn't see them, it didn't mean they weren't there. Yeah, right. That one school-cop was on his own today, I'm sure.

There are still all sorts of rumors flying. Beth got four texts this afternoon telling her not to come to school tomorrow. Our janitor's kids (who go to the other big high school) heard that Friday is going to be "the day." What can we do? All I can come up with is send her to school and pray, pray, pray!

Cori (who is a little bummed that her school doesn't have the threat of gang violence) is, of course, seeking attention in other ways. Today's drama is that she misses her bio mom. I'm sure she does, but there is nothing I can do about that. She's been dead for years. I take her to the cemetery whenever she wants. She has free reign to visit her grandmothers when ever she wants. She attends grief counseling. I sat and listened to her this evening. I offered whatever consolation I could come up with. She stopped talking. I went on with my chores. She yelled loudly that I didn't care and ran out of the house, slamming the door behind her. I have to admit her actions made me care less...

Alli and Boy Wonder are plugging along. I see little drama between them. They are helpful and polite. They are making some interesting financial decisions but as long as rent is paid on time, I'm staying out of it. We are still struggling with our roles in caring for Elvis. We'll work it out. It will take some time. Alli is working on getting readmitted to our local community college and getting financial aid worked out. She wants to take the EMT classes they offer. I've offered assistance with writing the letter they require to readmit her but I'm leaving the rest to her. We'll see how it turns out.

Seems like that's all we do these days - wait and see how things turn out. I've always been a planner. I love lists. I make lists. I do what's on the lists. I mark them off. The last few months, no matter how many lists I make, things happen that aren't on my list. We've made it though, so I guess it's not the end of the world. It's just not following my plan. I'm trying my best to roll with it, even though I'm not generally known for my ability to just go with the flow.

Monday, April 21, 2008

LOL! My lawn guy thinks I'm a 'ho!

I hadn't thought about it. I haven't seen him in years. Other than high school (which was many, many, many years ago) I've only seen him once before last week and that was many, many years ago. He has no clue that all my kids have come to me via foster care. He sees that I have kids of assorted races and that they obviously can't be full biological siblings. I've never been married, so I still have the same last name. I'm guessing he thinks I've been very wild in my past.

I probably still wouldn't have thought about it but he saw Alli yesterday for the first time and told her she had to be my daughter because she looks just like the rest of my family. (He's known my brother since high school and knows my mom. It's possible he actually encountered my father at some point years ago, too.)

I don't feel the need to clear that up. Why does it matter? I'm sure the parents of some of my students think the same thing. As awkward as it may feel at times, it's really none of their business. They can think what they want about me. Some parents in the school do know my kids are all foster or adopted. Some I see socially and they just know. Others have point-blank asked. Some of them have met my kids and my kids have volunteered the info. If they choose to do that, it's fine. It's their story, not so much mine.

When I adopted Beth, her adoption worker asked what I wanted to put on her new birth certificate in the "father" section. She said I could leave it blank or they could put the word "adoption" in that space. I had them leave it blank. At the time of the adoption, it was a very big deal around our house, but as time has passed, so has the excitement over the adoption. It's not part of our daily lives. Despite the fact that she still calls me by my first name (remember, I was her temporary foster mom for well over two years), I am just her mother, not her adoptive mother. She may not call me "Mom" but she refers to me as her mom and I definitely function as her mom. When she's 25 and needs her birth certificate to apply for a passport or some other exciting endeavor, will she want the world to see that she was adopted many years ago? Of course, my family was quick to point out that by not marking her as "adopted" I was essentially marking her as a "bastard." Beth and I found that rather funny, so I guess it doesn't matter.

What to tell my students is a whole other issue. I get asked frequently if I'm married. I answer truthfully that I'm not. They know I have kids. (My kids are in and out out my room during the school year.) Every year, one of my students will eventually ask how I have kids when I'm not married. How do you answer this question for a 5 year old?

As a parent, I appreciate my kids teachers refraining from discussing certain things with them. I hate when unmarried teachers discuss with their students that they live with a boyfriend/girlfriend before marriage. Old fashioned? Yes. Do my kids know people have sex outside of marriage? A big, fat, obvious yes! Do I think a teacher has any business discussing any of those facts with students in a classroom? No way! There are home discussions and there are school discussions. Sometimes it is hard to separate them but they need to be separated.

I do my best to dodge questions like that. Every year questions about Santa and the Tooth Fairy come up. This year, for whatever reason, my students have frequently asked about God and Jesus. Let me assure you there is NO WAY for a public school teacher to answer those questions for a small child. I wouldn't even try. I fall back on my "Ask your mother when you get home" response. Of course, that doesn't work in the situation of how I got my kids. Their mother likely doesn't know.

I have to admit that it does sometimes bother me that some parents likely think less of me because it appears that I have many children by many fathers. While it's true that most of them have different fathers, that wasn't my doing. Truth be told, they have different mothers, too. Wouldn't that blow the minds of some of my kids and their parents?

I'm a paranoid parent but not the only one, obviously

The official word is that 70% of students at the other big high school were absent today. 66% of students at Beth's school were absent. Our county absenteeism rate was 20% - an unheard of high.

We are all scared. We have good reason to be scared. But we can't keep the kids out forever. Beth and her friends are planning to return tomorrow. I haven't heard of anything happening today. Of course, with a majority of the kids absent, there weren't many people to do anything. Or many people to do anything to.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Call me paranoid

I'm keeping Beth out of school tomorrow. I know. Nothing is going to happen at school. I'm just nervous about taking that risk. Beth says all her friends are staying home. I called the co-worker with a kid at Beth's school and she's keeping both her kids home. Her daughter called one of her teachers who said, as a mother, she'd keep her kids out. I've had contact with a city police officer who is keeping all his kids (middle and high school) home tomorrow. I can't help but believe that he knows something the rest of us don't. It's just one day....I hope.

She doesn't get a free day to lounge around, though. She's going with me to my school. If we end up locked down, she can help me entertain my students. I do think it's quite likely that they will try to keep us inside the building and in our own rooms as much as possible. We have several kids in our school who have parents in one of the local, scary gangs.

How can this happen in my tiny little town? If it is happening here, it must be happening everywhere.


It's almost 1:00 PM on Sunday afternoon. I really can't decide on whether or not to send Beth to school tomorrow. I keep going back and forth. (Cori is going. She attends a tiny, rural k-12 school that is far removed from the nonsense of the big schools.)

On one hand, I realize that with the HUGE presence of every available law enforcement agency (city, county, state, and federal levels are all represented right now) that our schools will probably be the safest place to be this week. I've also been told repeatedly that gang violence does not occur at school. (too many witnesses and it's all captured on the video cameras)

However, it only takes one incident of violence to hurt someone. Just because they haven't done it before, it doesn't mean they won't start. Yes, supposedly gangs have "rules." However, by their very existence, gangs prove they don't like to follow the rules of society. How can I trust them to follow their own rules? I'd be trusting gang members. Is that logical? Am I willing to bet my daughter's life that they will follow their rules?

But, it's school. I can't keep her out forever. Goodness knows she can't miss much. She struggles to keep up when she attends every day.

I've almost decided to base my decision on someone else's opinion. The book keeper at my school has a daughter at Beth's school. I've known her for years and we think a lot alike. She tends to be just a tad more overprotective with her kids. I'm planning to call her later and see if her daughter is going. I may or may not do whatever she's doing.

I'm just still a little shocked that this is happening in my town. I've lived here my whole life. What happened to the good old days? We used to be worried about the kids who hung out in the Kroger parking lot and drank. That's a problem I can handle. This gang thing has me thrown. I can't protect her from all the evils in today's world. However, what if sending her to school (normally the right thing to do) is actually putting her in harm's way?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gang Retaliation Watch 2008 continues

Things are still odd here in town. Beth received multiple chain texts last night warning her not to go to school Monday. As of right now, she's going. I'm all for safety but we have to live. Her school was not the primary target of the threats that mobilized all the law enforcement Friday. The other big school was.

Every where you go today in town, your see some type of officer. Police, state troopers, and sheriff's deputies seem to be around every corner. This is definitely not the norm in our little town so I have to think there is still a reason to be cautious. We're all home tonight and for once, I'm glad to have everyone near by. I don't have to worry about who is where and doing what.

Beth is still bummed about missing her movie last night and wanted to go tonight. I won't let her. I did offer to take her tomorrow afternoon and she was good with that. Perhaps I'll be seeing "Prom Night" tomorrow. Or, perhaps I'll sit in the van and read the 5th Harry Potter book.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lock downs, gangs, and other nonsense

We had a shooting here in town last weekend. (This shooting happened right in front of my mother's house.) Two young people were killed (ages 16 and 24) and two others were injured. The victims were members of one gang and the shooters were members of another gang. Four people (under 22) were arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder. The two victims were buried today in a neighboring county. Evidently, there were some substantial, credible threats that some retaliation was going to occur today in our county's two big high schools.

Our state's version of the FBI took charge of one high school. Our highway patrol was in charge at Beth's school. Seriously, IN CHARGE. They landed two helicopters on the football field. There were literally dozens of marked patrol cars there and numerous unmarked cars. Officers patrolled both schools, inside and out. My school (a primary school a couple of miles from Beth's high school) was kept on a modified lock down. That meant we could move around inside the building for necessities (lunch, fine arts classes) but other than the walking time through the halls, all adults and children were to be in the correct classroom with all doors shut and locked. (Nothing says fun like being trapped in a classroom with 19 small children in 80 degree temperatures with the darn heat still on! We usually open both classroom doors to get a little air moving.)

Our county spends the bucks to have an officer stationed full-time at every school. (Ours is well past retirement age but I guess they don't expect much action at a school with only grades K-2.) Our little officer spent the afternoon walking the perimeter of the building pulling on every door handle every time he passed. I have to say I'm glad they took the actions they did. Much better to approach the situation head on than to wonder if something could have been prevented. As nervous as I was knowing those officers were swarming all over Beth's school, I was comforted by the fact that they were there.

I drop her off every morning and watch her walk into the school. I then pray as I drive to my school. I pray that she is kept safe and that she stays out of trouble. I pray that she makes the best choices she can. I pray that the people in charge really do put the best interest of the kids on top of their list. Some days it is so hard to watch her walk into that big building, knowing that gangs, and drugs, and not-so-nice people are waiting for her. I wish so much I could do something else. All I can do is pray.

Now that we've gotten through the school day without incident, we're being warned to stay in tonight. The officers say that NO public places are considered safe this weekend and into next week, even. Beth is spending the night with a friend and I've already touched bases with that friend's family. The girls are staying in. I'm going to stay home and try to lose myself in a trashy movie I Netflixed. I'm so sad that my county has come to this. The normal (if you call me normal - LOL) people are having to hole up at home to avoid the drama of others.

I know it's so cliche, but what is this world coming to? Is really the direction we want to be moving? Is it good that our kids are armed? Is it okay that so many are sexually active at such young ages? What can we do?

I'd love to hold my kids tight and lock them in the house. I can't, though. I have to send them out in the big, bad world. I'm just thankful that, for the most part, they are good, decent kids who know right from wrong. They aren't part of a gang (that I know of, anyway). They aren't the ones terrorizing the city. However, they attend school with the scary people. They know who they are. Beth likely sits next to a gang member in each of her classes. All I can do is pray that Beth doesn't get caught in the crossfire. What a wish for my daughter.

What is this world coming to?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Long time, no blog

It's been a busy week but it's also been a good week. I've felt good and the kids haven't gone out of their way to make me extra crazy.

Monday, I left from school (with only Beth with me) to drive an hour and a half to a funeral home. A co-worker's father had died and I really felt like I needed to make an appearance at the visitation, at least. Beth didn't grumble too much about being kidnapped, although I'm sure she'd rather to have been at home on myspace. I handed her the mapquest directions and made her responsible for telling me where to turn. She did pretty well...better than I'd expected anyway. I let her choose the snack and fast food dinner of her choice to make the trip a little more fun. We also worked on that geometry project along the way. (She had to photograph examples of geometric concepts that we could find in the world. Like we used a picture of a tire to represent a circle. The Target logo was an example of concentric circles.) So, we had some fun and some bonding time. It was well worth the effort.

Wednesday was the fund-raising walk-a-thon for my school. (For those without kids in elementary school - Rather than sell overpriced, useless crap, the kids ask people to sponsor them. They can pledge a flat rate or a certain amount per lap the child walks/runs.) I tend to dread those days ahead of time but enjoy them once we get to it. Beth ditched school to come help. (And it ended up being an excused absence because she had a doctor's appointment that afternoon.) A good time was had by all. Beth and I are both sunburned. The kids had fun. We had fun. Another success!

I was expecting a regular school day today but got a little surprise. As I was starting my day with the kids, our literacy coach came into my room and announced that one of our school assistants was on her way to cover my class. The principal had chosen me (for whatever reason) to do an audit of all the classrooms in the school and look for classroom items/teaching practices that we are all supposed to be using. I was to go in every classroom and look for the four items on a checklist. I hate doing things like that but didn't have a choice. And, other than now being really behind in what I need to get taught this week, I enjoyed having a break from my students and our routine. Luckily, the checklist was fairly simple and no teachers really griped at my presence, as has happened with others chosen for similar tasks.

I had a four-hour foster parent inservice tonight on the administration of medication to kids in state custody. I dreaded it all day but it wasn't too bad. As I pulled in the parking lot, I spotted the truck of one of my favorite foster dads in our county. (He and his wife take kids with medical needs. We have traded off respite and child care since we are each used to the issues with special needs kids.) Anyway, I enjoyed catching up with him and met a new foster father who seemed pretty cool, too. He's an Air Force recruiter and has great people skills. It was a nice evening with adult conversations, even though the actual training was all stuff I already knew. Just for fun, I took the post test while waiting for the class to start and got them all right. Waste of time? Yes. However, it was required and I'm glad to cross it off my to-do list.

Tomorrow is Friday. It's been a long week and I'm ready for the weekend. Elvis hasn't slept well all week. We've all (except Cori, of course) taken our turns with him at night. Alli finally took him to the doctor today just to get me off her back. One of his ears it still infected. The doctor prescribed his 3rd round of antibiotics and said if this one doesn't clear it up, we'll have to bring him in every day for 3 days for Rocephin injections. I'm hoping this one works. And, I really hope he sleeps tonight because I really want to sleep tonight.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Please, please, please!!!!!

Rain, snow, sleet mix possible tonight/Monday morning.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Cloudy with a light rain / sleet in the evening. Changing to light rain / snow overnight. No significant accumulation expected.

MONDAY: Cloudy with light rain & snow continuing in the morning.

I'd LOVE a snow day! We still have a couple to burn. We don't need a lot of snow/sleet. It just needs to fall at the right time...

$15 an hour

My shrub/chainsaw issues were solved. Last night, as I struggled with the little electric chainsaw and the ginormous shrubs in the back and side yards, I got to the point that I just wasn't sure I could it. The trunks were huge and the tiny chainsaw didn't much like them. I continued working along until dark but was praying for inspiration and ability to get the job done.

My prayers were answered by a knock at the door this afternoon. It was the neighbor of the alcoholic carpenter. He landscapes and mows yards for a living. He was asking if I would hire him to mow my yard this summer. He's willing to do it for the same price as the guy I usually hire and I'm willing to bet he does a better job. (Honestly, he could do much worse than Ed. Last year I really thought Stevie Wonder could have done a better job with the trimming.) So, I hired the new guy.

While he was here, I asked if he had an hourly rate for other yard tasks. He said $15 an hour. I took him out to the back introduced him to the enemy. He said he'd have them down and to the street and trim my other shrubs in about 3 hours. As he left to go get his fully-grown chainsaw, I thanked God for sending help. Sometimes half the battle is knowing when to quit. $45 is a small price to pay for sanity and the continued presence of all my limbs and fingers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spoke too soon

You won't be hiring me to do any chainsawing for you. I ate dinner and went back out to cut down just one more shrub. I got the stupid saw stuck in a branch. Like it cut half way through and it looked like the chain stretched out or something weird. I ended up getting a coping saw and cut the branch off on both sides of the saw. The saw is free but the chain is obviously too loose to start again. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Now, don't tell my mother I killed her saw. She won't be happy.

Working my nerves

It seems one (or more) of my kids is always working my nerves. Thankfully, for the most part, they do it one at a time. Today, Beth is the one making me nuts. It's not usually her but when she does it, she does it BIG.

She asked to spend the night with friend H last night. I called H's family and confirmed curfews and supervision. I dropped her off at school yesterday and she went home with H with the understanding that she was to be home before dark tonight.

She texted me about 4:30 this afternoon and announced she was leaving a local restaurant with the idiot friend who disappeared last weekend. I had not given her permission to be with anyone other than H. She had not called to tell me she was going with Idiot. She texted me, not to say she was on her way home but asking to spend the night with Idiot. Hell, no! She then wanted to go to the hotel with Idiot and her father's family who is visiting from out of town. I told her no. She then asked if she could just go for a little while. No. Come home. It's been plenty of time for her to get here. I was expecting her any minute and she just called again and said, "You mean I can't even go out to eat with them and to swim at the hotel?" I said that yes, that was exactly what I meant. I don't know how I could have been any clearer than, "No."

As much as this aggravates me, it isn't Beth. It's the friend. She evidently badgers her hard-working Nana and/or her hard-partying mother until they let her do what she wants just to shut her up. That doesn't work here. I think we'll do a written contract that states if she isn't home by the assigned time or if she pushes the limits (asking for more time, being 5 minutes late, etc.) that she will be automatically grounded for a week.

I am holding out some hope that this friendship is fading. Idiot never did tell Beth where she was while she was missing last weekend. She's told her two different places but they were both places that her mother told Beth she'd called and Idiot wasn't there. Obviously, she's lying to Beth. They also had another disagreement in the middle of the week. Idiot had lied to Beth again about where she was and who she was with.

Why, oh why, can't my kids make friends with kids who follow rules, do well in school, and respect their parents? My kids have all (through all my years of fostering) seemed to gravitate towards the trouble makers who are either failing or barely passing. Perhaps it's a self-esteem issue? Maybe those are the kind of kids they were friends with while living with bio family? Maybe it's just to piss me off? I don't know why or what to do about it.

I am woman...Hear me chainsaw?

OK, the chainsaw was a lot of work but a little fun, too. I've sawed a good part of the day (minus the time it took to find my brother to fix the chain when it came off). I didn't make it to the shrubs in the back, but the front yard looks much better! I'm tired, sore, have a blister on my hand, and am quite dirty, but I feel good. I guess I worked off a little stress and anger today, too. Maybe I should do this more often?

There is a huge pile of branches by the street to be hauled off. There is also a huge pile of junk from the storage room out there. Everything should be picked up by the city this week, as it is our regularly scheduled pick up time for brush and big junk that won't fit in our trash cans. We have a LOT of big junk!

Progress on the house and yard...It feels good!

A peaceful Friday night

I survived the first week back at school without a scratch. Beth went home from school with a friend, so I was driving home by myself. (I'm never alone in my van.) I stopped by my mom's house. Her neighbor has recently moved and gave my mom a bunch of draperies to see if I wanted them. So, I looked at the drapes and, I think, I can use all that she left. Yay! Free drapes for me! I also needed to borrow my mom's chainsaw. I feel the need to decapitate some ugly shrubs and that seems the easiest way...even though I've never used a chainsaw. (Mom's is a little electric one and I really think I can handle it. We'll see.) As I was ready to leave, Mom went to the basement with me to get the chainsaw and she couldn't find it. I had to run get Cori from my SIL's house. I wasn't 2 miles down the road before Mom call and said she'd found it. I went on to get Cori, planning to return to Mom's immediately after. However, I called and asked if she would eat pizza if we brought it back and she said yes. Cori and I decided to go get Elvis and take him with us. He LOVES my mom and it would give Alli and Boy Wonder a little time off, too. I finally got back to my mom's with Cori, Elvis, and pizza. We ate and talked. Cori helped entertain Elvis when he got cranky. It was a nice evening. Mom gave me chainsaw lessons before we left.

We got home and discovered that Alli and BW had gone to his mom's house. Elvis wanted to watch one of his movies so he did that in Beth's room. Cori watched trash on MTV. I settled in for a few episodes of the Gilmore Girls. It was a nice evening. Alli and BW showed up a little before 9:00 to pick up Elvis and "go ride around a few minutes." I have no clue where they went but they were gone until midnight. Not that I cared. I was tired and went straight to bed.

I'm up this morning waiting to chainsaw. I'm sure the neighbors don't want to hear that noise very early. I'm thinking 10:00 is an appropriate time to saw? I don't have a lot. There are three really ugly, really tall shrubs between my house and a neighbor's. I'm sure they were planted to provide privacy, as her house basically backs up to my pool. They just aren't attractive to look at though. I'm planning to cut them all the way down and have the alcoholic carpenter make some nice privacy screens from lattice to replace them. There is also an overgrown, unattractive shrub in the front yard that serves no purpose. It's coming down, too.

Beth and Cori have some work to do this weekend to pay for their phone service. Beth is choosing to text a lot so she has to earn the money to pay for unlimited texting to be added to her phone. Cori needs minutes for her prepaid cell. They can start by hauling the shrubs I kill to the street for pickup. They also each have a list of other tasks to be accomplished. We are in the homestretch of de-junking the back storage rooms so they can haul the last of that out, too.

It's going to be a busy day around here. I hope we get a lot done and feel better about the house. I also hope all parts of my body are still attached after my great chainsaw attempt!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Let's get ready to rumble

I asked Alli last night if she was talking Elvis to therapy. She said yes. Rather than go to bed on time, I stayed up to get some things together to make the day a little easier on her. I packed Elvis' food for his feeding therapy. I got Alli a little kit together of things to do while he was in therapy. (She hates the time sitting in the waiting room.) I charged her laptop battery. I got two movies that she's been wanting to see and put them with it. I dug through the pantry and found the last, hidden package of microwave popcorn. I dug through the junk drawer and found a set of headphones. I had her a complete movie kit that could be used in the waiting room at the therapy center.

This morning, ten minutes before time to leave, I texted her to ask if she was up. I got no answer so I went back to wake her. She said she wasn't going. I was FURIOUS! My blood pressure was probably 300/200. I guess I'm lucky I didn't stroke out.

I just have so much trouble dealing with her attitude. I realize she's probably clinically depressed. (Of course, so am I but I get up and work and run the house every day.) However, she is also Elvis' mother and he has things he needs from her. I don't think this once a week therapy is asking too much. It costs her nothing but her time. And, she's not doing anything else anyway.

I left for work crying. That's not a good way to start the day. I had mellowed some by the time I got to work. She was texting furiously apologizing. I apologized, too. I'm sure this crew of kids had never seen me that angry. We've talked some this evening. I tried to make her see that Elvis needs this therapy. To the right person, her skipping it without a valid reason could be deemed medical neglect. It's also not fair to the therapy center to lose that money.

Things are better now. We've hugged and made up, so to speak. I just don't get what she's thinking. Elvis deserves better.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I feel like I'm just drifting along. I do what I need to do and chill the rest of the time. I guess that's good. Things are fairly calm at home. Work is good. I'm sure not complaining. I guess I should be celebrating!

Cori's worker called and wanted me to take Cori to her psychiatrist appointment tomorrow night. Hmmm...Add a four hour (travel+waiting+appointment) adventure at the end of a day with 19 kindy kids? No, thanks. I've told her several times that if she switches to a local doctor, I'll be glad to do the appointments but I will not take her to these out of town ones.

Beth has a big geometry project due next week and hasn't started it, of course. I've done this project before with a former kid and I loved it so I'm looking forward to doing it with Beth. Sadly, my enthusiasm isn't rubbing off on Beth. She'd rather just not do the project. She WILL do it.

Boy Wonder was off work today because rain was in the forecast. It did rain a little this morning. I can't tell that he and Alli accomplished anything today. They were watching a Friday the 13th movie when I got home. Alli has been a big help this week. She's doing all the little errands/phone calls that I hate to do. Tomorrow is Elvis' therapy trip and she is planning on taking him.

Oh, Elvis has big news. We got a letter from his insurance today that his new wheelchair has been approved. Hopefully, he should get it in about 3 weeks! It takes forever. (We started this process in November.) His old wheelchair is literally falling apart. It also looks like a stroller with some adaptations. His new one will definitely look like a wheelchair but I'm working on accepting that. It will help him sit up and face the world. He got to pick the colors. It has a red frame and black upholstery. He's going to love it! I never thought I'd be this excited about a wheelchair but I am.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Back to work

I've worked two days and am happy to say, they have been good days. You never know how the kids will be after an extended break, but my class came back happy and fun! They had lots of little tales to share but my favorite involved a little girl with some language delays. It took me the whole morning on Monday to get the story but she'd left her window down in her mom's car and a stray cat hopped in and gave birth to five kittens in the driver's seat. I love kindergarten kids!

Things are mellowing out at home, too. We're falling in to a routine that involves Boy Wonder. Alli has relaxed a little and is spending some time hanging out with us, too. That has been nice. I've missed that time terribly. She's also helping around the house. If I make her a list of things to do, she does them. Imagine that! Beth has settled down and is fun to be around, too. I know it won't last but I've learned to enjoy it while I can. Elvis is just being sweet and lovable Elvis. He's a great kid. Cori's still on her birthday high, which would be good news but, experience tells me that that only means a crash is coming. I can't wait! (Please read that last sentence with every bit of the sarcasm I intended!)

Now that I reread that last section, I notice a problem in how I react to the girls. When Beth is being pleasant, I enjoy it while it lasts. When Cori is being pleasant, I brace for the fall out. Self-fulfilling prophecy, maybe? Hmmm. I'd never thought about it before. Sadly, just more proof that I am not the best placement for Cori as I don't have the mental energy left to think about changing the way I react to her. She's exhausted me.

So, tomorrow is Wednesday. We'll be over half way through the week. I just might live to tell about it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


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This is me the last 5 days. I've accomplished nothing really. I've hung out on my bed and watched the Gilmore Girls on DVD. (Yes, I've already seen them all. I'm watching them again.) I haven't neglected the kids. I've met their needs. I've just felt the need for huge amounts of alone time. I can't remember the last time I put on makeup. I've showered every couple of days, at least.

And, yes, I know this is probably depression. However, I'm not suicidal or homicidal, so I think I'll skip the meds for now. I think (hope) it's just situational with all the issues of spring break and that getting back into my wild and crazy daily routine will help shake me out of it. I need something to force me to get up and get ready each day.

I've got several things I've got to do this week:
~ Light a fire under the alcoholic carpenter and get him to finish the bathroom.
~ Light a fire under Alli and get her to rejoin the living, too.
~ Find money somewhere (probably another payday loan from my mom) and get the last things bought for the new bathroom (vanity, sink, woodwork, and toilet).
~ Get Alli and Elvis signed up for the preschool program.
~ Cancel the newspaper that is delivered every day but only read about once a month.
~ Pay the cable bill before they cut us off. (Everything else comes directly out of my checking account. I have so much trouble remembering to write a check for this one.)
~ Get on DCS and make them start finding another home for Cori. At this point, I'm willing to hang on until school is out (7 weeks) but really want her gone as summer starts.
~ Teach 19 five and six-year-olds how to read. (Actually about 13 of them are fine. It's the other 6 I worry about.)

Looks to be a busy week. Wish me luck. At this point, I'm just hoping to survive.

P.S. I did accomplish something today. I installed shades on my bedroom windows. I've had the shades for at least 7 years. They have been hanging out in my closet. I've just never taken the time to put them up. I did it today. After 7 years of waiting, it took me all of 20 minutes to install all 3. I wish more things in my life turned out this way!

Oblivious to even the obvious

Cori was standing in the kitchen last night looking directly at the scene pictured and asked, "What's for dinner?" I know you can't tell from the picture but in the black pot, ground beef was being cooked. The cooking meat and the box beside it really should have been a big clue for her. Hamburger Helper has become a staple around here since the Great Bathroom Remodeling Project of 2008 began. Not great nutrition, perhaps, but the local stores put it on sale 10 for $10 and it's what we can afford right now...and, it tastes good.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Message from God

It really pays to listen to those, you know. Beth went out with her idiot friend yesterday. I know little about the friend, other than, from my observations, she's pretty much allowed to run wild. Her mom spends as much time partying as the daughter, leaving her Nana to handle the teen-watching. But Nana works full-time and I think the teen watches herself way too much.

Anyway, as Beth was leaving yesterday, I broke the news to her that she needed to be home by 9:00 PM. I don't know why. I just had that feeling...that message from God, that told me to have her come in early. Our town hosts a "festival" for lack of a better word on this weekend every year. In addition to the local freaks, we have lots of imported freaks in town this weekend. Someone gets shot every year, and I didn't want it to be Beth. She grumbled under her breath a little and I'm sure there was some eye rolling behind my back but she verbally agreed. (Not that she had the choice to disagree because I would have just made her stay home all together.)

About 7:00, the texting started. "Can I please spend the night with idiot friend? We're going to stay in at her house. Her mom's ordering pizza. We won't go anywhere." Rather than argue, I responded to every text with "Home by 9:00." She finally gave up and was home by 8:40. She wasn't overly friendly with me but wasn't outright bitchy either.

Today about noon she announced that idiot friend was missing. She and the other idiot had not been seen or heard from since they dropped Beth off last night. Both of their phones were going straight to voicemail. Neither was returning calls. Idiot friend's mom had called Beth several times starting at 8:00 this morning to see if she'd heard from her. She got her daughter's phone record and called all the numbers from the last few days. No one claimed to know anything. The 2nd idiot had told her mom that she was spending the night with her father out of town. They called the dad and he hadn't seen or heard from them.

All afternoon, I worried about and prayed for those girls and their families. I could imagine how I would feel if Beth had been missing, too. I'm so glad I listened to that little voice telling me to have her come home early. Beth would not have been the one who said, "Hey, let's take off for the night." But she would have been the one to follow the crowd and do what they were doing. But for the grace of God, I would have been in those parents' shoes.

The girls did surface late this afternoon. I don't have details yet but I know they are both back home. They aren't telling where they were. They are still claiming (even to Beth) to have been with Idiot2's dad in the next town, even though they know their moms called him.

Where they were is any one's guess at this point. I do know this experience has changed Beth's sleepover pattern for the rest of her school days. I will talk to the mother of any girl she wants to stay with. I will have the assurance of the mom that they will be home by curfew and be checked on frequently. I hope the moms ask the same from me. Two years ago, we had a group of teens in Beth's school that slipped out in the middle of the night, tried to outrun the police, and two of kids died in the resulting crash. I don't want that to be Beth. I don't want to be their parents. Yes, she's almost 18 and needs to start making some decisions for herself. However, she's shown me time and time again that she doesn't make logical choices. I'll do my best to protect her from herself as long as I can. I do hope the idiot friend is, at least, grounded for a bit. It will be a nice break for me.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Reality bites

Cori's friend that suddenly cancelled on her birthday was rescheduled to come tonight and spend the night. She called last night and said she couldn't come. Cori asked her why. She made up several different excuses before finally admitting the truth. "My mom thinks you are a bad influence on me."

I've tried telling Cori that in her quest to be different...edgy...hardcore...not mainstream, she's going to put some people off. Not by the person that she is but because of the way she appears to society. Cori looks for ways to separate herself from the norms of society. If it's new or out there or shocking, Cori embraces it as her own. She spends her life trying to look like she doesn't care what others think. Part of it is her attachment issues (and goodness knows, she comes by those honestly). She feels the need to reject others before they can reject her. This attitude, usually reserved for parental figures in her life, is carrying over to her friends. She is hard to deal with. She thinks she's wonderful...perfect...and always right. She refuses to listen to what others think. Her thinking is just so skewed that most people can't figure her out.

I have to admit, I probably agree with the friend's mom. I know a lot more about the situation than she does, but I don't think I'd let my daughter spend the night with Cori. To my knowledge, this mom has seen Cori twice for a total of 5 minutes. Evidently, what she saw in those 5 minutes, combined with what her daughter has told her about Cori and what she does, was enough for her to decide to limit her child's exposure to Cori. I can't fault the mom. She's doing what she believes is best for her child and that's her job.

In the meantime, I'm left with a 16 year old who truly doesn't understand what I'm talking about or why this child's mother won't let her come. We've talked and talked and talked but, due to her emotional immaturity, she just doesn't get and may never get it. I can't begin to imagine what she will be like on her own as an adult. Especially when you consider that her adulthood begins in two short years.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

An afternoon out

We'd sat around the house and griped at each other way too much this morning. After Alli, Boy Wonder, and Elvis left to go to BW's sister's house, I got the others up and ready and we headed out for some fun. We ended up going to see a movie first.

We saw "Shutter." I'm not sure why we picked this movie. It's a horror movie (which I usually won't see) and Beth had already seen it but wanted to see it again. I thought it might help get me out of the funk I've been in for the last week or so. It wasn't too scary but it also didn't have the distraction factor I'd hoped for because it is all about a ghost showing up in pictures, thankyouverymuch. So much for getting my mind off things...

After the movie we drove across the county to eat at the new Cracker Barrel. Yes, we were that hard up for entertainment. We went there because the girls' cousin (Cousin It) works there. Wouldn't you know, it was her night off - LOL! The food was good anyway and we all brought home enough for another meal.

We left Cracker Barrel, headed home but drifted off course. Leaving the shopping center where the restaurant is, you have to drive around a circle. A round-about, perhaps. Beth was driving and feeling a little giddy, so she drove around it several times. While making the rounds, we decided to visit the new Target in that shopping center. So, Beth made one more round and we went to Target. We had no money to actually buy something there, but it was fun to look. We did end up spending $3.28 on tea bags to go with the Splenda I bought last night. I did see one current student, the parent of another current student, and 3 former students while I was there. Leaving Target required several more trips around the circle. I'm still a little dizzy but we made it home in one piece. (Beth's attention difficulties may not make her a good driver but they do make her fun.)

So, now we're home. Boy Wonder brought the Wii out of their room and hooked it up in the den for us. Beth and Cori are playing something to do with Mario. I'm waiting for them to drift off to other pursuits so I can try to beat Alli's high score on bowling.

Three more days off and then it's back to school.

Elvis is not going to therapy today

According to Alli, he is not going because:
1) He's not feeling well.
2) He keeps screaming. (I haven't heard him a single time.)
3) He'll cry when he leaves there.
4) He needs a day off.

I heard each of those excuses at various times last night when I asked if they were going.

Do you want to know the real reason he's not going?
Boy Wonder is off work today. Alli won't leave him long enough to take her son to his once-a-week appointment. You see, I'd think this would be the perfect opportunity for BW to go with them to therapy so he can be involved and know what goes on there. However, Alli won't ask him and he sure won't offer.

Now that's some stellar parenting.

Cori's back in action

We've had a lull in the spontaneous vomiting. There have a been a couple of episodes but nothing on a regular basis. Her birthday has started this up again. It's not unusual for kids from foster care to struggle on holidays and special days. While most people have fun, pleasant memories from growing, kids in the system do not. They probably remember no presents, daddy getting drunk and beating mom (or them), or having the special day totally ignored.

The night before her birthday, Cori couldn't sleep. I heard up and rambling around many times during the night. She got up for good before 4:00 AM. She had counseling that day and came home in a decent mood but was unable to sit still or even complete many coherent thoughts in conversation. Then came the crushing news that her friend couldn't spend the night. (I have to admit I was soooo tempted to use this as an example for her. She goes to great lengths to prove herself different from the rest of society - cutting, revolving sexual orientation, drugs, etc. that parents and even some kids, are not going to feel comfortable with her around. However, I resisted that temptation as it would be kicking her when she's down and, goodness knows she's not going to get it anyway.) She pulled it together.

We ate out at a restaurant she chose. We went to Wal-Mart and she picked out the cheesecake she wanted. We got home and she put the candles in the cheesecake and then doubled over saying her stomach hurt. We sang and ate. She was fine but made a mad dash to the bathroom before long. She came out and ate more then dashed back to the bathroom. She couldn't sleep again that night. She was up and down, eating and vomiting. I know I shouldn't but I get so aggravated at stuff like this. To me, the answer is simple - STOP EATING. She doesn't get it. She's not physically ill. I can see the emotions on her face. This only happens at holidays or social gatherings. It's a pattern.

She was fine most of yesterday. She burned a lot of minutes on her new cell. She was helpful around the house. She started back up last night after I returned from the 1 hour trip to the trash can. Call me "Dr. Me" because I fixed the problem, for the night, anyway. I gave her two Benedryl capsules and sent her to bed at 9:00 PM. (Don't freak out. I have permission from her psychiatrist to give her this in the event she has trouble sleeping. I've just never done it.) After two nights of no sleep and two days of being so emotional, I decided it was time to let her sleep. She got up about 11:00 to get a drink last night but that was it. It's almost 9:00 in the morning now and I haven't heard a word from her.

I really need a vomit-free day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I win

I have the least attentive kids in the world. I walked out of the house tonight, carrying a bag of trash to the trash can. At least 3 of them saw me and knew what I was doing - Alli, Boy Wonder, and Cori. While I was out there, I took one of the big cans to the street since tomorrow is pick up day. Then, I decided to run to the grocery and get some fake Splenda. (We drink lots of tea sweetened with fake Splenda. Running out of it is almost a crime.) Anyway, I was in the driveway. My keys were in my pocket, along with my debit card and license so I just hopped in the van and headed for the Piggly Wiggly. I was gone for an hour and 15 minutes. Evidently, not one of them noticed that I hadn't returned from taking that bag of trash out! Or, maybe they did notice and were just enjoying the peace? Anyway, thanks for caring, guys. I'll make sure to return the favor.

I'm ready

I'm ready to go back to school. I know I'll regret those words at 5:20 on Monday morning but I feel the need to be out of the house and distracted by real life a little more. It's too easy to sit here and feel sorry for myself. I need to be back in my routine, away from the kids, and have a real life...or at least as close as I come to a real life.

I have pretty much done what I wanted today. Which was almost nothing. I slept as long as I wanted and then took a nap. I was Elvis-free as his mother is back and knew better than to even start to ask me to watch him. He was extra cranky last night when she got home. Nothing seemed to make him happy. This was explained when he had a seizure shortly after falling asleep. It's been while since he had one and none of us thought that the crankiness might be a seizure warning. He's been known to tip us off like that.

Alli and Boy Wonder got up this morning and ran to Wal-Mart to pick up their pictures from the trip. (You know, the pictures I won't look at.) They went to his house (his mom's house?) and stayed there most of the day. They were back here a couple of hours for Elvis to nap and then went back to his mom's for dinner.

Beth's annoying friend did not go to her dad's so she's still around this week. Beth is our running loose with her tonight. There will be much whining when I make her come home at 9:00 but she'll live.

Cori was a bit disappointed with her birthday gift of the prepaid cell. She's gotten over it a little. She really wanted to be added to my family plan so she had unlimited nights and weekends but I can't trust her with that and I have enough to police without adding extras. She's discovered that she can send or receive 3 texts for only one minute of air time she's texting like crazy today. I think that's made her feel a little better about it.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? It's Elvis' therapy day but I haven't asked Alli if she plans to take him. If she is (and if Boy Wonder is going back to work) I'll ride with them. I don't mind the trip and it's nice to have a little time alone with her. If she's not going for whatever reason, I have GOT to get my bathroom primed and painted. I've put it off all break and I just can't let myself go back to work without finishing it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

They are home

The honeymooners arrived home about 5:30 this afternoon. We were on our way out the door to eat out for Cori's birthday. (Her friends couldn't come so we did a family celebration.) They look tan and happy. They have both asked me separately if I wanted to look at the pictures but I just can't right now. That would be kind of like pouring salt in the open wound. In time, I'll look. That time is just not right now.

We ended up not doing anything fun to their room. Instead, we (Cori and I) spent the day rearranging their room so they and Elvis have separate spaces in the same room. So, they came home to a clean, neatly arranged room. Not fun for us, but nice for them. Alli was properly appreciative and came running to hug me after she saw it.

And, for the record, the Wii is still in the family room!

What's the opposite of a sweet sixteen?

A sour sixteen, maybe? Whatever it is, Cori's having it and I feel so bad for her. I ended up not putting her in respite. She's been so excited about her birthday that she's been great around the house. And, I felt so bad for her after the permanency plan meeting last week when the worker announced there were no families in the whole country willing to adopt her. So, I just didn't send her to respite. She asked to invite a friend over and I agreed. They've talked every day, planning what they were going to do. Today, an hour before the friend was to arrive, she called and said she couldn't come. I don't know why. Cori was beyond crushed. I just sent her to call another friend and see if she can come. If not, the rest of us are going to have to pull together and come up with something majorly fun to do tonight.

Today is her 16th birthday. She has been in state custody since she was 9. She had her 10th, 11th, and 12th birthdays with me. Her 13th birthday was with the adoptive placement that disrupted after 9 months. She came back to me and then a judge ordered her moved to a foster home with no other kids a few weeks before she turned 14. I got to pick her up on her 14th birthday and provided cake and all her gifts. I didn't see her on her 15th birthday but saw her the day after it at court. She's been back with me since June. Now she's back on the internet as a waiting child. Her permanency goal has been "adoption" since 2003. Bless her heart. She makes me CRAZY, but, bless her heart.

You don't know how badly I wish I could commit to adopting her but I just can't. It wouldn't be in her best interest or mine.