Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sometimes it's all I can do...

just to live my life. Blogging about it can be too hard. This is one of those times. I've put it off but need to get it off my chest now. Perhaps typing it will help me let go of the anger.

Alli and Boy Wonder left at 4:00 this morning for the beach. Why does this anger me? First, they didn't even tell me that they were going until Thursday afternoon. (And, she didn't actually tell me. She texted me. This was the entire message: "I think we are leaving for the beach Saturday." That's all.) Second, Elvis did not go with them. Third, Alli's birthday is Monday and they'll be gone for it.

So, here I sit. I have Elvis full-time. (That's not horrible. I was really concerned they would treat him badly while they were gone. However, it really ties me down.) I hate knowing they've had this planned for two weeks and I get less than two days notice. Those things annoy me but it's not what makes me so upset. It's the part about missing her birthday that really makes me sad.

Birthdays are a BIG thing around here. Alli and Beth both have birthdays in early June and we started making plans in late April. Per their request, each girl was to have her own pool party on or near her actual birthday. In the days between them, they were going to have a joint party for any bio family members they wanted to invite. (Both are having significant birthdays this year - 18 and 21. I just seemed to be the thing to do.) Anyway, they scoured the Oriental Trading catalog and chose assorted decorations/novelties/junk to go with a luau theme to be used for all 3 parties. Now, there is no Alli. I know she's an adult and can decide what to do on her birthday but she should have given me more notice. Letting me plan and order all that crap for a party she wasn't going to attend was just the icing on the cake for my relationship with her lately.

She has not attended even ONE family event since Boy Wonder joined our lives. No Easter, no Memorial Day. She was here on Mother's Day but stayed inside with BW's family while all the rest of us were outside. Immediately after eating, she left to go to his mom's house for the rest of the day. She's made a point (extreme points) to exclude me from any type of celebrations - her wedding and now her 21st birthday. However, I'm fully expected to pitch in with any difficulties - illnesses, hospitalizations, keeping Elvis a lot. Having her cake and eating it, too, so to speak.

I'm done. As of right now, I'm planning to ignore her birthday all together. If she says anything, I'll simply remind her she chose not to be here for it. We'll continue with plans for Beth's birthday (as well as my brother's and aunt's). The bio family party will not happen. (Beth wasn't really excited about that anyway. I feel abused enough without doing something I know will cause me more pain.) So, I'm taking a stand on this one. It's about time. I feel a little immature and childish but that's where I am right now.

And, oh yeah, the doctor fully expects her to miscarry this bizarre pregnancy this week. I haven't experienced that myself but I wouldn't expect it to be fun, even at the beach.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alli and Beth's doctor visits

Alli went back Tuesday for more blood work. They called her Wednesday afternoon and told her that her beta level was extremely high and she needed to come back in Thursday for another ultrasound. I asked her what that meant and she said, "I don't know." Way to ask the doctor for information about your health, honey.

Today, after the doctor's appointment, she called and said they couldn't find the embryo. It wasn't in her uterus or either tube. WTH? Her blood work still indicates she's pregnant. They just don't know where the baby is. The doctor did say there is a small chance it's a normal pregnancy. However, he strongly feels she'll miscarry in the coming week. He wants her to come back next Thursday for another ultrasound. At that point, if no baby is seen, he'd like to do a D&C but that it would be her choice.

Yesterday, the physician's assistant at Beth's doctor's office turned in a stunning performance. He looked to be about 15. (Does that mean I'm old when I refer to young medical professionals as infants?) Anyway, when the nurse asked why we were there, we pointed out the ominous rash on her legs and told her that she'd gone fishing in the woods and now looked like this. When the newborn fake doctor came in, he spent 30 seconds looking at her legs and feet before giving us this diagnosis...are you ready?... He said, "Looks like you got into something while you were fishing." Yep, that's what she's got. Something she got into while fishing. Like we didn't know that before the appointment. Thanks, Doogie. He gave her oral steroids and a cortisone cream and said to come back if it wasn't better in a few days.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No more pencils, no more books....

No more students' goofy looks! LOL! Okay, so that's not how the rhyme originally goes. Everything is different from the teacher's perspective. Today was our last day of school. The teachers worked a half-day. The kids just had to stay long enough to pick up their report cards. I like these days (and not just because it's the last day of the school year). We are all (grades k-2) in our school cafeteria. Our students from this year stop by and pick up their belongings and say goodbye. We also, however, see our former students. It's nice to check in with them, too.

After the kids had come and gone, we had to stay until 11:30. The office staff called us by grade level and turn in our records and other items for storage over the summer. After that, we just sat around talking to other teachers.

I'm home now, waiting for Round 2 of today to start. Beth has a doctor's appointment at 1:30. She has poison ivy/oak on her legs from an ill-fated fishing trip. We've been treating it with over the counter medicine but it's still itching and spreading. Obviously time to get professional help. Something nasty must be going around, though. When I called for the appointment, I was #9 in line to have my call answered. When they got to me, the only doctor in our favorite office was already booked for the day. They do have a new physician assistant there this afternoon, so I agreed to take an appointment with him. Surely he can treat this stuff. After that appointment, Beth wants her hair cut. I have counseling at 3. She has an appointment at 4. After that, I'm sure she'll go to church with a friend. I'm planning to come home and pass out.

We've had a bit of drama around here this weekend and into the week. I honestly slept NONE last night. I'm hoping to stay awake until we've finished what we need to do and then I'm out for the night. I really don't care what the kids get into tonight.

Tomorrow is an exciting day for us...Elvis gets his new wheelchair! Odd things excite me these days. I can't wait!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Good day

Our Memorial Day plans didn't go exactly as planned but, from my viewpoint, everyone had a good day. First, I had NONE of my kids present at our gathering. Alli and Elvis went with Boy Wonder to his mom's house. Beth was running around with her friend. She was in and out but didn't eat or play with us. Instead, I spent the day with friends and their families (plus my mom and nephew). We had a total of 13 people here most of the afternoon/evening plus Beth and her friend who came and went. The ages ranged from OLD (older than me, anyway) down to 7. A variety of special needs were represented. Everyone got along well.

Our original plan was swimming at 1:00 and grilling at 4:00. The weather didn't cooperate much. There was quite a bit of swimming until the thunderstorm hit us from no where. It was honestly sunny and bright one minute and dark and menacing the next. We piled everyone into the den and watched Nancy Drew on DVD. I would never have thought that would have gone as well as it did. Other than some impressive lightning and winds that knocked the power out 3 separate time, things went well. Sadly, it continued raining most of the rest of the evening. The kids did get to swim a bit more before leaving. The food was good. The company was pleasant. Great day!

I got to see Cori for a minute today, too. I was supposed to go to her foster mother's daughter's house and drop her stuff off. However, I kept putting it off, hoping the rain would stop. Finally, Cori called and asked if the foster mother's daughter-in-law could bring her by to get it. I said sure and they came right over. She took the stuff I'd packed and grabbed a few more things, too. There is still a lot here but she has what she really needs. I'll drive the rest over to her this week. She was sad but pleasant. After she got everything, she hugged me and told me she missed us. I assured her we missed her, too. I do hope we'll be allowed to stay in touch. She's part of my family in every way but legally.

I keep forgetting I have to work tomorrow. I can only remember one or two other times (since childhood) that we've gone to school after Memorial Day. Of course, it's just tomorrow and half a day Wednesday. I think I'll survive! I hope so, anyway.

Sunday, May 25, 2008 knows me well

I got an email from them today with recommendations of things they think I would like. Here are the top 5 items from the list:

1. Kotex Security tampons
2. A kids' book called "Kindergarten Rocks!"
3. The DVD of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
4. "An Unlit Path" (a book about foster care and adoption)
5. "Cerebral Palsy: A Complete Guide for Caregiving"

How odd. They are right. Those are all things I would like. Have fostered 25 or so teen girls in the last 10 years, I've bought enough tampons that I should own stock in the company by now. I teach Kindergarten, so #2 was right up my alley. I'm currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (but I don't have to buy the DVD because I borrowed it from a friend - Thanks, K.). I'm always up for a good book about other people's fostering/adoption experiences. And, Elvis has big-time CP so #5 also applies. Wow! I think knows my better than my kids do.

Okay, no Cori today

But at least they called and I didn't have to drive to a far away county with gas approaching $4 a gallon for nothing. Cori called early this morning and left the message that they had to be somewhere at 3:00 this afternoon so not to come. They will be in my town tomorrow for to visit the foster mom's daughter, so I can just take the stuff to them there, saving me from a lot of expensive driving. I'm good with that.

Of course, this also allows me to put off packing her stuff up. Her room is FULL of things. I have to go through everything to weed out the contraband items. I'm ready to get it done. I just haven't had the heart to spend the time to do it. It will wait until tonight, I guess.

Beth has friends coming over to swim tonight. I don't mind them coming but I do dread it a bit. Groups of teenagers tend to get stupid in a pool. I worry about someone getting hurt. On the plus side, Beth is busily cleaning the house today in anticipation of their arrival. So, I guess a few hours of supervising wild kids in the pool is well worth the clean house.

I'm seeing Cori today

She's been gone since April 30 and I still have almost all her stuff. I hurriedly packed a bag of clothes when she went into the hospital. When she got out, I hurriedly packed another bag of warm weather clothes to send to her new foster home. Almost a month later, everything else is still here. Her worker has emailed and called a time or two asking when she can pick the stuff up. I tell her and then she has something else come up that needs immediate attention. I'm not complaining about the worker. She's one of the best our county has. However, she spends most of her days putting out fires. Transporting the belongings of a child who was moved almost a month ago doesn't rank very high on her list of impending explosions. So, I offered to fill the back of my van and take as much as I could.

Cori called Friday night but I missed it in all the chaos of our evening. She called again last night and I did talk to her. She was okay with me bringing her stuff. So, I'll spend the morning packing and loading what I can. She told me where to start - with the stuff she needs right away. Her foster mother said to bring it at 3:00 this afternoon. This foster mom is notoriously hard to deal with. I'm totally expecting them not to be home when I get there, even though she picked the time. If they are not, I'll just stack the stuff neatly on the porch and move on.

Cori sounded good. She lived in this home for about 6 months a couple of years ago. She has friends there still. She likes the woman's church and her extended family. She was generally positive. She has a friend spending the night tonight and they are going to a family cook out tomorrow. She did get a little teary on the phone, saying she was so sorry she'd pushed everyone away. I take that as progress, though, because it's the first time I've ever heard her admit that she had pushed anyone away. Perhaps she's catching on. Perhaps they have her with a good counselor who can help her understand what's going on and why. She's a bright kid with a horrible past. I hope they can help her get going in the right direction. She's capable of big things...I just hope they are good big things and not bad.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The endless Friday night

Due to a scheduling issue, I was on Elvis-duty last night. I didn't mind and was glad to do it. Alli and Beth's bio cousin (Cousin It) was graduating from high school at a large school in the north end of our county. Beth wanted to go. Boy Wonder's younger brother was graduating from a rural high school at the other end of the county. Obviously, Alli and Boy Wonder needed to attend that ceremony. Elvis and I hung out at the house. He was tired and cranky so after reading his favorite books, we both got into our jammies and snuggled up in my bed about 9:00. He was knocked out by about 9:05.

Alli and Boy Wonder arrived home about 9:35. They brought with them many, many members of BW's family. They came to swim. At almost 10:00 PM. In our pool that backs up to two houses occupied by elderly people. I hid in my room as I wasn't dressed. I did text Alli to have her keep reminding the swimmers that old people were sleeping right by our pool. They were still incredibly loud. I could hear them in my room (other end and opposite side of the house). They finally left about 10:30 and I asked Alli to get Elvis by 11:00. She said she was going to get something to eat and would be right back. They left to make a "run for the border," leaving me with the sleeping Elvis in my bed.

They got home right at 11 but hadn't eaten yet. She finally came and got him about 11:20. I settled in with a book I've been wanting to read. At midnight, I hear Elvis screaming. Something has woken him up. Instead of staying in their part of the house (bothering BW) she's brought him into our part of the house (bothering me). She got him quiet and put him on Beth's bed (unoccupied because Beth was spending the night with a friend). She LEFT HIM THERE watching a DVD and returned to her room, promising not to fall asleep before getting him. I shut my door, not wanting to be a party to her neglect. At 2:30, I woke up to more Elvis screaming. He was still alone in Beth's room. I called Alli. No answer. My call did wake her up and she eventually came to him. I shut my door and went back to bed. She slept in Beth's room with him the rest of the night.

This morning at 5, the dog woke me up. He was aggravated at being trapped in my room by my shut door. I got up and let him out. I'd just drifted back to sleep when I heard the front door open. Alli's bio mom was letting herself into MY house to drop off Little Sister! I'm assuming she'd called Alli's cell and Alli (answering the cell I pay for when her bio mom calls but not when I do) had gotten up and unlocked the door for her. Instead of waiting at the door to get Little Sister, she'd headed back to bed and given bio mom instructions to just come in and bring Little Sister to her room. (Violated is the best word for how I feel on that one.)

So, after sleeping 3.5 hours on Thursday night and about 4 hours Friday night, I got to face the day with Little Sister and Alli's constant references to "Momma." Not good. Not good at all. I did hang around the house this morning. I napped a little around lunch time and then took off. I ended up going to my classroom but not doing anything productive. I'd taken a Gilmore Girls DVD and sat at my desk and watched it. Not anything I needed to do but on some levels, it was exactly what I needed. ESCAPE!

I've mellowed and I'm home now. I've been home for almost 20 minutes and the entire time, Elvis has been on my bed screaming. Alli hasn't checked on him once. He was screaming when I walked in the door so I have no clue how long it's been going on. Mother of the Year, huh? I'm off to snuggle with him and see what's up. Bless his little heart!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Emotionally raw

Alli and Beth's little sister (almost 6, living with their bio mom) is coming to spend the day with us tomorrow. She's done it a few times before. It's never really bothered me before. For whatever reason, I'm having a really hard time with this visit. Hard enough that I'm actually planning to go to school and work in my classroom, just to have an excuse to not be here.

Why these feelings? Why this time and not the others? I don't know. I've had limited contact with the girls' bio mom over the years. Alli, in particular, seemed to have a lot of anger directed at bio mom. Then, just over a year ago, they became best friends. This hurt my feelings horribly but I dealt with it as best I could. I didn't have any direct contact with bio mom but hearing Alli say, "Mom says this..." or "Mom did that.." was like a knife straight to my heart. Sometime over the previous four years, I'd let myself believe that I'd become her mom. Reality bites. However, we drifted along in semi-peace. My feelings were hurt on numerous occasions but I kept quiet and moved on.

Then came Blair. Suddenly the absent bio mom was at the hospital, playing the role of dedicated mom and grandmother-to-be. She even dared to thank me for being there for her girls when she couldn't. If she's just stopped there... Instead, she continued by telling me that she had her life together now and she was ready to be their mom again. To say my feelings were hurt would be a huge understatement. I never told either girl about the conversation. I didn't see the point.

The whole hospitalization resulting in Blair's birth and death was the hardest thing I've ever been through. I stayed awake for well over 60 hours before falling asleep on the tile floor of her hospital room. I anticipated and tended to her every need. I held her hand while she delivered her daughter. I held Baby Blair while she died. Alli's first words to me after the nurses took Blair to clean her up? "Will you call my momma?" I'm surprised I was still breathing after that. I did as I was asked, though.

In the months since, every time I hear Alli say "momma" it's caused me a little more pain each time. That woman is soooooo far from my definition of a mom. Moms can't just be moms when it's convenient. Moms can't say that they don't feel like taking care of their kids. Moms can't put their own needs before the needs of their kids. At least that is what I've always believed. And now, I know I was wrong.

No matter what I do for Alli -No matter what I give to Alli - No matter how often or how much I help Alli, I will never be her mom. And that hurts like you would never believe. When she texted me yesterday that she was watching Little Sister on Saturday, I started crying. Today, she was telling me, "Momma says (Little Sister) is so excited to come tomorrow." I realized by reaction to that statement that I needed to not be here tomorrow.

So, I'm letting myself be chased from my own house tomorrow. I'm a little angry and bitter but feel it's the best decision for ME. Maybe it's time to take my needs into consideration a little more often. I need to stop putting myself into the position to get hurt and used.

Okay, my whiny, sniveling little "momma-rant" is over. Again, some days this parenting stuff (even my obviously fake-parenting stuff) just STINKS. I'm off to snuggle with Elvis and read him as many books as he wants. At least he's happy to see me most days.

Peace. (God knows I need some peace in my life.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I touched on it briefly in the meme...

But, here is more detail of my recent piss-off point with one of my kids. Alli, who just delivered a 21-week baby in January, is pregnant again. The doctor told her to wait 3-6 cycles before getting pregnant again. She waited one. She didn't even tell me she was pregnant - Boy Wonder did. And he was excited about it. I, the voice of doom and gloom (also known as reality), was shocked and saddened by this turn. All I want is Alli to be healthy and get some education. This was certainly not a step in what I consider the right direction.

She went to the doctor last Thursday. The pg test was positive but they couldn't find the embryo on the ultrasound. They drew blood and scheduled her another appointment in a month. They called back later and said her pg hormone was low and she needed to come back in for more blood work. She went back Tuesday and they told her if this test was lower, she was definitely going to miscarry. They called her back yesterday and told her the level had risen. They had her come back in today for another ultrasound. The result? Ectopic pregnancy.

They haven't scheduled the surgery yet but that is the plan. She goes back for more blood work on Tuesday and I guess they will schedule it then. Despair. Shock. Hurt. Even anger. I don't know what to do with these feelings. In the end, there is nothing I can do. She is an adult and can do as she damn well pleases. I just wanted so much more for her. Am I bad person for that? The first 15 years of her life were full of hurt and disappointment. I really thought the last 5 could turn that around. I thought I could just love her enough and help her make the rest of her life a little easier. Evidently not. She seems so angry AT ME, for whatever reason. This is so hard to deal with.

The only good news in my life right now? Today was the last day of school with the kids there. I have administrative days tomorrow and Tuesday. The kids come back Wednesday for report cards. Come on, summer! I need you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The number 1 sign your life isn't going well?

That would be when your counselor physically comes to find you and schedule an appointment for you. This happened today. She didn't call. She didn't leave me a message. She didn't send a message via Beth, who she saw today. She actually came to me and gave me two options for appointments. It's like she's psychic. I go next week.

Meme of Five..because I'm boring and uninspired

I keep encountering this on others' blogs, so maybe I should answer it? School's almost over and I don't have the extra brain cells to compose an original post anyway.

What were you doing five years ago? Let's see...Alli had been with me for 4 months and was still having illegal contact with Elvis' sperm donor. I'd spent a few weeks playing detective and we had a court date scheduled to discuss the consequences of these actions. (NOTHING happened in that regard, by the way.) Elvis had been out of the hospital for almost 2 months and I was adjusting to living with a tiny crying baby for the first time. The parental rights of Cori's mom had just been terminated and DCS was preparing to place her in the first of a string of failed adoptive homes.

What are five things on your to-do list for today (not in any particular order)? It's late so I'll give you tomorrow's list: 1) last day of school with students (YAY!), 2) have a birthday party at school for all the kids with summer birthdays (because your kindergarten experience just isn't complete without getting a paper birthday crown), 3) survive our end-of-the-year party with my students and parents, 4) watch the season finale of Grey's Anatomy, 5) find out if Alli is still actually pregnant or if she's miscarried

What are five snacks you enjoy? 1) strawberries, 2) Cup Noodles, 3) Diet Dew, 4) apple slices, 5) cream cheese fruit dip (with strawberries and apple slices)

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire? 1) set up fund to help GOOD foster parents pay for the extra fun stuff their kids want/need, 2) assist our county's special ed program with providing quality educational programs, 3) hire someone to clean my pool (never mind, Boy Wonder and Alli have that covered), 4) a transitional housing/employment program for kids aging out of foster care, 5) a shiny red minivan of my very own - complete with accessibility features for Elvis and his wheelchair

What are five of your bad habits? 1) compulsive eating, 2) doubting myself about everything, 3) denial, 4) staying up too late, 5) poor financial management

What are five places where you have lived? Boring - except for college, here in the same town. We lived in one house til I was 1. The next house from 1-21 years of age. Another house for a couple of years and then two different local apartments before buying my first house. Here in this house for the last 8 years.

What are five jobs you've had? 1) billing/receiving clerk at family business - started in 5th grade and worked for a penny a minute, 2) hostess/waitress at a Chinese restaurant, 3) K-mart cashier, 4) day care in the summers during college, 5) teacher - kindergarten and preschool special ed

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Elvis' addiciton issues

Elvis is ice cream! We hardly ever have the stuff in the house. Not one of us, except Elvis, needs the fat and calories. However, one day this week, a friend showed up with a half-gallon of Oreo ice cream from Baskin Robbins. It sat, untouched, in the freezer until Elvis woke me up screaming Friday night about 10:30. I knew he needed a snack before bed (we are always looking for ways to get more calories into him) so I scooped some ice cream into a bowl and he ate every drop of it. He fussed a little when it was gone. I showed him the bowl was empty and, there was a little more fussing, but he gave it up. I brushed his teeth and he went on to sleep.

Last night, before we started his bedtime routine, I scooped him out a big bowl full of ice cream. Again, he ate every bite, even saying ice cream (sounded like "ice eem" but I got what he meant) several times. When it ran out, more screaming headed my way. I showed him the empty bowl. Screaming. I kept telling him it was all gone. More screaming. I offered him milk to drink. He pushed the cup away and screamed some more. I tried to brush his teeth but he kept biting down on the toothbrush. He cried - long and loud, for about 30 minutes all together. None of my usual tricks worked.

Tonight, I'm almost afraid to offer the ice cream. Maybe he can have it early? I've got to work tomorrow so I can't stay up all night trying to make him forget the ice cream. I don't want to skip it all together. He has so few things in life that make him this happy. I can't keep buying the expensive kind from the ice cream shop, though. He's going to have to learn to make do with whatever is on sale at the grocery store. However, if it makes him happy and maybe even helps him gain a little weight, I'll happily indulge his "ice eem!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008


That's been my weekend so far - sleeping. I enjoyed my silent house last night and was sound asleep before Alli, Boy Wonder, and Elvis got home about 9:00 PM. I woke up about 10:30 because Elvis was screaming on his Aunt Beth's bed and his mother was at the far end of the house with 2 doors closed between them. I got up, grabbed him, and got him ready for bed. He snuggled up with me and we were both asleep by 11:00. Alli came and got him about 11:30ish.

I woke up early this morning because there was chaos in the house. Alli and BW were going fishing. Beth was on Elvis duty and had to be home by 8:00 so they could leave. She brought her friend that she'd spent the night with. After the fisher-folk left, I did get up and make pancakes and sausage for the rest of us. I piddled around the house, completing some tasks and ignoring others. I ate a leftover pancake for lunch and went back to bed about 1:00. I woke at 5:00. It's 7 now and I'm considering eating some dinner and going back to bed.

I have a few theories on why I'm so tired. (I never nap so this is definitely out of character for me.) First, I'm just tired. I haven't been sleeping well. I'm up on school mornings by 5:30 and rarely in bed before 11:00. I'm sure part of my problem is depression. Also, there is just so much going on at this time of year (end of school, doing some creative re-financing on my rental property, the stress of Alli's heath issues and Cori's departure, etc.) Whatever the reason, I'm just going to relax and go with the sleepy flow this weekend. I need the sleep. It feels good. I'm just going to go with it. Monday morning, I'll be up and at 'em early. This is the last week of school for the kids. They go only Monday through Thursday. I work Friday, am off for the weekend plus Memorial Day, and then work Tuesday and half of Wednesday. Then I'm DONE until late summer. Feels good. Feels real good!

Guess I should explain...

I got a phone call from my sister-in-law Monday morning that caused me great panic and I closed my blog for a few days, for lack of knowing what else to do. In the call, my SIL told me that the teachers at her school had received an email that morning saying that Cori was returning to school that day. That news did not panic me. It was her next sentence: "And, by the way, Cori has found your blog, printed it out, and is passing it around school telling everyone you have made up names for them and are telling bad stories about them on the internet."

That struck me hard. I honestly don't know how I made it on to school without having a stroke and wrecking the van. I've never taken any steps to hide my blog from my kids. I've just never told them about it. I stand by the information on it. I've taken steps to hide their true identities. The names are fake. The basic circumstances are there but I've left out anything involving details of specific types of abuse. My name isn't on here. My state isn't on here. Unless you know me in real life, I don't think you could identify me. If you do know me in real life, you probably already know my kids and, goodness knows, you aren't learning anything new on here. My kids are my kids. I love them, warts and all.

My bigger concern is anticipating the response from DCS on this. If Cori passed my blog around school (breaching her own confidentiality, I'd say) she's no doubt passed the information on to her worker. This would explain the odd circumstances under which she was removed. I'm expecting them to close my home. (It would also explain why Cori keeps texting Beth asking if Beth is still allowed to talk to her. Why would she ask that unless she thinks I'm angry because she's gotten me in "trouble?")

While I hate having this hanging over me, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I've been struggling with that decision for a few months now. Them making the call would just take the responsibility for making the decision off my shoulders. I've fostered a lot of kids in the last 10 years. I'm not perfect but I sure do my best with the kids. Confidentiality rules prevent me from sharing and venting to people in my real life. Venting anonymously on the internet has been a nice release for me. I still say I haven't violated anything with this blog. If DCS chooses to say I have, so be it. I won't argue or make a scene. I'll sign the paper and close my home - ready to see what the next phase of my life has in store for me.

So, I'm here. My blog is open. I'll keep you updated!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Do you hear that? No, you don't, because I hear NOTHING! I am home alone. Don't tell anyone. They will likely show up and start yelling. I'm sitting in my house and I don't hear a sound except the keys on the keyboard as I type. Do you know how often that happens? N.E.V.E.R.

I've been home alone for over an hour. I don't know what to do. I don't want to do anything that makes a noise. No TV, no cell phone, no music. Silence. It's great! Maybe it's not so much the silence as it the lack of stress. No one is here for me to worry about. I'm not in charge of Elvis. Alli and Boy Wonder are out (with Elvis, I assume). I have no clue where they are. They just weren't here when I got home from school (after a stop at Target). I could call and see where they are...but that would require making a sound. I don't want any sounds. I do know where Beth is, at least in general terms. She's spending the night with a friend (whose grandparents are more strict with curfew that I am). Their school's football team is having a practice game tonight. They are going to the game and then watching movies at the friend's house.

And me? My plans for tonight? Silence. That's all. And that's wonderful!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


In the midst of my financial issues, God sent a blessing. We've been struggling with transportation issues for a while. Alli's car has been off the road since November. Boy Wonder's car is a stick and Alli can't drive a stick. My van is, at best, becoming unreliable. It's well past 140,000 miles and needs it's third transmission. I do have a wonderful mechanic who is doing all he can to keep the current transmission hanging in there. I've come to terms (I think) with the fact that I'm financially better off to go ahead and put another transmission in when it finally dies. A new transmission is much cheaper than a new van! Especially when you consider that I've replaced almost every part of my van in the last two years.

Anyway, Beth's counselor brought her home after yesterday's appointment and came in to talk to me. Her 21 year old son is going to start driving to college in another city and they are getting him a new car that is better on gas mileage. That means they will no longer need his current vehicle - a 99 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's old but they've taken care of it and have had zero problems with it. She thinks the only thing it might need is, you guessed it, a new transmission, sometime down the road. She even has a family friend who is willing to help maintain the existing transmission to keep it working as long as possible. She was thinking I might be interested in buying it for Beth (actually letting Beth get a part-time job and paying her for it).

With my current financial issues, the last thing I need to be thinking about is coming up with $3,000 for a used car for Beth however, the counselor says they have no pressing need for the cash up front. Her parents are helping her son buy his new car and they are more than willing to owner-finance it and let Beth/me make payments. She said even $50 a month would be fine. I'm leaning towards buying it but it would be ME buying, not Beth. It would be with the understanding that, for now, Alli and Beth would share the costs of maintaining it and share the driving time with it. Ultimately, when Alli and BW move out, it would be all Beth's. I think this will work.

Beth doesn't need a car full-time. Her school is by my school and they are both far, far from our home. In this time of unheard of gas prices, we don't need to drive two vehicles 20 miles each way every week day. We'll continue to ride together whenever practical. However, with Beth searching for a job, those days will be numbered. Alli doesn't need a car full-time (at least not one funded by me), either. She will have to make do with using this one when it's not in use or plan ahead and work around my schedule and Beth's for when she does need it.

All in all, I think a second car will really help our driving situation. This vehicle sounds fine. The financing can't be beat. We're going to look at it this weekend and I'll probably have our mechanic check it out. I trust this lady completely. She's been a friend for several years and wouldn't intentionally lead us astray. Like she said, she doesn't need the money right now. (A position I've never been in, for sure!) She wants to help someone with this car and said Beth immediately came to mind. I would ordinarily think we needed our second vehicle to be something a little smaller that gets better gas mileage but with Elvis's wheelchair and his giant car seat, he's not going to fit in a small, zippy car. We're forever going to need something big and clunky that hogs the gas. I do think, though, that for now I'm better off being the one who owns the car and helping the girls work out a schedule for using/maintaining it. (Although I'll likely title it in Beth's name for liability reasons.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Good day with my kids yesterday

I took off work because Elvis had a neurologist appointment. Last time, Alli took him by herself but this time, I had some questions I wanted to ask. Beth needed an orthodontist consult so I scheduled it for the same day - killing two birds with one day off, so to speak.

We had to leave home at the regular time to get to Elvis' 8:30 appointment that was well over an hour from home. We got there just in time. We parked in the giant garage and got into the medical building and signed in at 8:29. Perfect! As I was signing in, I heard crying. Yep, Alli had lost it in the waiting room. See, Elvis' neurologist just happens to be located in the medical building attached to the hospital where Blair was born and died in January. Beth took Elvis and I hugged Alli. There were no words for that situation, just hugs. The actual doctor visit went well. The doctor (who has NO personality and seems to have written Elvis off as just above vegetable status) was actually human! SHOCK! It did help that Elvis (who usually just stares at him like a lump) was "on" during the appointment. For the first time ever, he interacted with the doctor - responding to to him when spoken to, refusing to cooperate at times, and even sticking his tongue out when the doctor teased him about looking like a monkey. He's referring Elvis to a surgeon for a surgery that I had asked about years ago and am now terrified to even think about. To reduce the tight muscles in his thighs, the surgeon will take out a few of his vertebrae and cut the nerve rootlets that control those muscles. Freaks me out just to think about it. We also have to settle where this surgery will take place. This surgery, a selective dorsal rhizotomy, was pioneered by a surgeon in Missouri. He's perfected the technique and has had huge success rates. I'd much rather make the drive to have the surgery done by the expert. However, Elvis is on our state's version of Medicaid. They used to pay for the surgery in Missouri but now, a hospital in our state has sent surgeons to study under the expert so the state insurance generally refuses to cover services in Missouri. Hmm...I'm asking a human being to remove my grandson's vertebrae, go into his spinal column and trace nerves past their roots into their individual rootlets. Do I want the master or someone trained by the master? Duh. So, the battle is on. The neurologist made the referral to the Missouri hospital. We're waiting for them to contact us. We'll start the process and see what they'll do. I think as long as I'm willing to cover the costs of transportation and lodging, I don't see why the insurance won't cover the medical and hospital costs of the far-away surgeon.

After Alli's mini-breakdown in the waiting room and the decent (for once) neurologist appointment, we went to a nearby park, armed with two loaves of cheapo bread to feed the ducks. This is one of my favorite things to do and, thankfully, my girls have come to enjoy it, too. After the bread was consumed by various forms of fowl (ducks, geese, blackbirds, and pigeons all joined in the fracas), we loaded back into the van to hit another park near the hospital. This one has a handicapped-accessible playground so it was worth the drive. We took turns entertaining Elvis on the various play structures before heading to a shelter for our picnic lunch. We ate sandwiches, chips, and lots and lots of strawberries.

We still had time to kill before Beth's orthodontist appointment so we headed to a mall about half way between the two appointments. We spent the extra time wandering in and out of stores. Alli bought herself a pair of shorts but we didn't spend any other money. They mall had added a play area since I'd been there last. Elvis and I hung out in there for a while. There was a little boat I could prop him up in. He loved it. The other kids were good to come and sit with him a bit and entertain him some, too. we window-shopped and people-watched until time to move on.

Beth's appointment went okay. It was just a consult. The doctor talked to us and looked at her mouth. He took pictures and made impressions to send off to the insurance company. Now, we wait 4-6 weeks to see if insurance will cover the braces. The doctor did say he felt fairly certain with her issues, she would get approved.

Driving home, Cori's social worker called and asked if I could "run by the office" for a quick meeting. Cori was released from the hospital and they were placing her in a higher-level foster home. They needed me to sign a form, waiving my right to 14-days notice before moving her. I did. It was a stressful meeting. Cori was agitated, to say the least. My heart breaks for her, but she needs more than I can give. The sad fact is, she's not going to have her needs met at the home they are sending her to, either. She's been there before and the placement failed miserably. Pray for her. She certainly needs it!

So, my day ended. I'd had a great time with Alli, Beth, and Elvis. We got some things accomplished. I wrapped up some loose ends with Cori. All in all, it was a good day. I need a few more of those! I guess we all do.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bittersweet part of Mother's Day

I enjoyed my day with my current family and friends but have to admit, I got kind of down last night after all the fun ended. I've had 33 other kids pass through my home in the last 10 years. I have to admit I was glad when some of them left, but, overall, I miss most of them. I was their "mom-for-a-while." I was not meant to be their "forever mom."

My thoughts last night were mainly with Deb and Cori, the two most recent kiddos to leave. I really wanted to be Cori's mom. I tried hard. In the end, I felt I couldn't meet her needs. She deserved someone better than me. Someone who could give her the attention she needed. I knew she needed to be an only child but there seemed to be no homes for her that would let her in that spot. I tried because I love her. My best just wasn't good enough. I'm torn between being glad I tried and upset because by trying and failing, I was just another adult that disappointed her along the way. No wonder she trusts no one. I probably wouldn't either, in her situation.

Deb has haunted me since she left. I couldn't meet her needs, either. I don't know what she needs. She's ended up in a residential school at 9 because no one else could figure out what she needed either. At least I wasn't alone in that.

Motherhood (either for for-a-while version or the forever version) isn't for the faint of heart. There are times I wonder why in the world I got myself into this. And usually, just when I think I'm absolutely crazy, I look at the faces of some of my past and present kids and I remember why I do this. They just need someone - anyone - who cares. I'm not perfect. I can't save the world. I can do my part, though. It doesn't always turn out the way I want it to. I've got to learn to accept that. It's hard but it's the only way I'm going to survive.

I have a quote taped by my computer monitor. It's from Franklin Graham. "You can't help everybody, but you can help a few. It's that few that God will hold us accountable for." As I deal with each child and their...eccentricities I try to keep that in mind. In the end, I have to believe it was worth it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day = Frost Bite

Wouldn't you know it? The first time in forever that our pool is "swimmable" by Mother's Day and we invite family and friends over to grill and swim. The high temp was about 65 degrees today with winds of 25+ miles per hour. It was not a good day for swimming. A friend's two little boys did brave the water for about 20 minutes but that was it. They were freezing and got out. No one else even went near the pool.

We had a good day. Over to celebrate were my mom, my aunt, Boy Wonder's mom and brother, and a friend and her family (one husband, five kids). We still grilled and most of us ate outside. Thankfully, my house forms an L shape around the patio, protecting us from the coldest of the winds. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, baked beans, potato salad, orange nut salad, chips, and other things I can't remember right now.

The kids went to Wal-Mart yesterday and got me a gift. They got me one of those cards that sings, several pairs of earrings, and a key chain with the Serenity Prayer on it. (I wonder if that last item was supposed to tell me something?)

You want to know my favorite thing today? Alli walked up to me as they were leaving to take BW's brother home and hugged me and thanked me for being her mom. Proof that it really is the little things that matter.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

If it's not gangs, it's the weather

The hoopla from the recent gang threats has finally died down in our county schools. I can send Beth to school without actively worrying (well, more than I normally do) about her surviving the school day.

Today was rainy and stormy almost all day. About 1:35 the power flickered and our principal announced a tornado drill. I was in the computer lab with my class so I stowed the small children under the desks against the inside walls and proceeded to get online myself to check out the weather. Our county had a severe thunderstorm warning and two neighboring counties had tornado warnings. While the kids were still shoved under the furniture, I hit the web site of our only local newspaper. It's breaking news section was reporting a tornado had actually touched down in a tiny, unincorporated town in our county. The only thing of consequence in that tiny town is...Beth's high school.

When all is said and done, I'm sure the damage will be declared to have been caused by "straight line winds." That's what they always call it here. Despite that fact, no fewer than 50 local residents will be on the news tonight telling the mid-state area that they themselves actually saw the "tornader" as it almost sucked up them and their "mama's brother's cousin, Bubba." Their lives flashed before their eyes as they cowered in the bathtub with 10 assorted relatives. In actuality, the damage was contained to a one-and-a-half block area. Granted, that area is literally in the front yard of Beth's school but the kids were fine and there were no reports of injuries.

I guess it's human nature to look for the drama in these situations. There were news vans from 3 networks in the parking lot of a gas station that sustained some damage. All that news coverage contributes to the drama. I'm just glad my kid (and the hundreds of other kids in that school) were all safe. It could have turned out to be an actual drama if the winds had shifted just a tiny bit.

Wow, this parenting stuff can be nerve-wracking!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Five-year-olds think I'm cool

I made my lunch to take to school today. I don't do that often but we happened to have things I actually wanted for lunch (wheat bread, honey turkey, spicy brown mustard, and strawberries and apples with cream cheese fruit dip) so I took a few minutes to pack my lunch today. When I got everything made and bagged, I went to the shelf where our lunchbox collection lives. We have an odd assortment - a few gender/age neutral, many for Elvis (Diego, Backyardigans, Cars, etc.), and the one I bought a couple years ago (pink) but haven't used much. None of those were on our shelf today. I had to take the only one there. It belonged to Deb but didn't get sent with her stuff when she left for some reason. I took my lunch in a High School Musical lunchbox.

I was a little embarrassed but, it held my food and still had room for a couple of ice packs (which were shaped like a football and a basketball, thank you, Elvis). So, I loaded up my lunch and hit the road. I only thought about what adults would say or think when they saw my fashionable lunchbox.

However, when my students saw it, you would have thought that the stars of the movie themselves were standing in our room. One child saw it and I immediately heard her tell a friend, "Ms. (Teacher) has a High School Musical lunchbox!" That phrase was repeated many times and the news traveled across my classroom quickly. Kids literally sprang from their seats to come and view the holy lunchbox. I was asked many times who the lunchbox really belonged to, as if there was no way a teacher would ever be allowed to own such a cool lunchbox. The excitement spilled over into the cafeteria as I heard a student tell the lunch assistant that her teacher had a HSM lunchbox.

Who knew that my lunch would have created such a stir. I'm not taking my lunch tomorrow. I'm not sure my class could handle the excitement.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My fault

Still not over my anger enough to blog about the biggie at my house right now, but I have plenty of other stuff going on.

Beth got her cell phone taken away at school today and, honestly, I guess it was my fault. I'd texted her to tell her I'd gotten her an orthodontist appointment. Technically, she shouldn't have been checking her texts at school. But, she did and a teacher saw her and asked for her phone. There are differing versions of events after that. The teacher said Beth was argumentative and refused to hand over the phone. Beth said she just told him it was a message from her mom and she wanted to check it. Either way, she was sent to the office and threatened with being thrown out of school. She sat in the office for an hour and a half before the principal got to her. He didn't know her name and knew she hadn't been in trouble before. She gets to stay in school but, as per policy, the school holds her phone for two weeks and then I can pick it up. No complaints from me. The school handled it exactly like we knew they would.

Cori was withdrawn from school by DCS today. That is my official notification that she's not coming back. (I already knew.) You do think they would tell me, don't you? Whatever. Now that she's withdrawn, I'll take that as my cue to pack her stuff and drop it at DCS. I still think she's made allegations against me. I've never had the moving of a foster child happen like this. Every time the phone rings, I expect it to be an investigator. I wonder if that feeling will ever wear off? Even if I don't get investigated, I have no doubt she's told them horrible things about me. I don't know why I let that bother me, but I do. You'd think after 10 years, I wouldn't let things like this get to me. I do.

In today's bright spot, our school fund-raiser ended today. Our principal had to kiss a pig. The PTA moms did a great job rounding up the pig. We were visited by 1,002 pound pig named Gilligan. Gilligan was a sight to behold. After letting our good-natured principal kiss him on the snout (twice) the pig proceeded to drink a 20 ounce bottle of Mt. Dew - right from the bottle. Things I thought I'd never see...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

*&#^$%# *$#($*&##

Stressful times around the house this weekend. It should be lovely and peaceful with Cori gone but, instead, I am so angry with one of my kids that I can't even blog about it yet. I'm not just angry, I'm shocked and disappointed and incredibly sad. I've come to the conclusion that no matter what I do, these kids are predestined to continue their streak of monumental screw-ups. Is it genetics? Is it the 13-15 years of living with bios before getting to me? Is it me? I wish I knew.

Give me a few hours/days of meditation, deep breathing exercises, antidepressants, and moping and I'll update you. No one is dead, dying, or in jail. I guess that's the bright side? I'm trying very hard to find one right now.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cori's room = bio hazard

After dropping Cori's overnight bag off at DCS yesterday afternoon, we came home to have a peaceful evening. Cori did call Beth for some reason. She told Beth what hospital she was going to and that she was going to a new foster home when she got out. She also told Beth not to tell me that last part. (Hint: Never expect Beth to keep secrets.) I don't know why she doesn't want me to know she's moving. I've been telling DCS since mid-December that I am not an appropriate home for her. She knew that. She was in the meeting. Anyway, that is the last I've heard from her. I'm guessing someone finally took her cell away.

Today at school, I got a message from her case worker. She says Cori needs more pants. (Cori had told me to pack the clothes in her chair. I did.) At the hospital, she's not allowed to wear shorts or capri pants or clothes with any kind of drawstring. There goes most of her wardrobe. I think she owns two pairs of jeans that fit that criteria. I guess someone at the hospital will be washing a lot. When I got home, I rounded up a few more things of Cori's that she might want with her - some comfy pajamas, her tennis shoes, jeans, etc. Her worker stopped by to pick them up. She offered me no information other than the name of the hospital Cori is in. (Of course, I already knew this.)

Finding her clothes necessitated digging through the pit she called her room. We've been having a severe towel shortage recently and couldn't figure out where they were. As of this evening, I've pulled 11 towels from the crap she has heaped in her room. To make it even more fun, I lot of what I'm pulling out has various spots of blood on them. I guess it's from her cutting and then wiping with whatever she has this case, ALL our towels. I really feel like I should have the full haz-mat suit to go in there. I've been leaving her door open, hoping that anything alive in there might walk out on its own while I'm not around. It's also helping dilute the smell. I'm nervous about touching much of anything for fear I'm going to encounter one of her cutting instruments. I sure don't want to be her blood sister. I do plan to remove all said instruments from her belongings before packing her stuff.

So far, I haven't found many cutting tools. One razor blade and a straight pin. I did find an empty pack of cigarettes and a box of matches. (Making me all the more thankful she didn't set us on fire as we slept one night.) I can't imagine where she's getting this stuff. We have just about everything locked up. No one here smokes. She really needs one-on-one attention and to have someone check her belongings daily for things that might harm her.

I've still got to deal with her bio grandmothers. Her mother's birthday is Sunday. She was planning to spend the day with them and take flowers to her mother's grave. I need to tell them that is off. They are going to be very sad to hear she's back in the hospital and even more sad to learn she's moving from here. They liked having her here. I let them be an active part of her life. They needed that. She needs it, too.

How bad does life must suck to be 16, in foster care for over 6 years, be separated from your bio siblings, have 4 failed adoptions, have multiple foster placements in the last two years, and not have the ability to truly love and trust someone. She's come by her problems honestly but that knowledge doesn't make living with her much easier.

Happy birthday, Dad

Today is my father's birthday...or, rather it would be if he was still alive. He would have turned 72 today. He's been dead for just over 8 years.

While I was growing up, I'd never have nominated him for a "Father of the Year" award. Life in our house revolved around him. He wanted to sit in his recliner and watch TV in silence every night. I remember I was still young when I started looking forward to Thursday nights because he would be gone to his civic club meeting, leaving the rest of us to enjoy ourselves. He was never physically abusive. I don't think he planned to be emotionally abusive but that was how it felt often. I remember dreading being around him at times. He was insistent that the "outside world" know only what a great man he was. He was always funny and talkative to others. To his family, he was grumpy and snarly.

As a child, viewing things with a child's understanding of things, there were times I almost hated him. Now, looking back with an adult's viewpoint, I realize he was truly mentally ill. I heard the words as a child but couldn't (or didn't want to) process what that actually entailed. With some prodding from my mom, he sought some treatment and, I guess, did the best he could. (My mom did most of the parenting and I have no complaints in that department.)

Now, I see things from a different point of view. The negative stuff has faded or dulled. It's still there and there are memories that almost take me right back to the bad times. However, my overwhelming memories now are better. He worked long hours and contributed to the family income. My mom had two bouts with cancer when I was in elementary school and I remember Dad being helpful during those rough times. I worked in the family business he owned, and even though it wasn't always a pleasant atmosphere, there were lots of good times, too. There were a few memorable vacations. I remember trekking though woods to cut down the world's ugliest Christmas tree. He took me to get my ears pierced when I was 12. He got me a duck for Easter one year.

I think of my relationship with him often as I deal with my kids. They've come to me via the foster care system and that alone speaks volumes about their pasts. We just seem to have such different views of the bad stuff from our pasts. Even as a teen, I knew I never wanted to be or do anything like my father did. The foster kids (including the one's I've adopted) seem hell-bent on doing exactly what their bio parents did. They are able to verbalize what went wrong in their bio families and can even say, "I never want to be/do that." However, when the time comes for them to start making their own decisions, I see the exact opposite. I see them doing things exactly like their bio parents did. I wonder why I was able to see what was wrong in my family growing up and make some changes to insure I didn't turn out just like that. I guess the stabilizing factor of my mom made that possible. By the time kids get to my house, both parents and all extended family have been exhausted as placements for whatever reason.

Anyway, now that I'm old and wise (hahaha), I can view my father for what he was - my father. He contributed to my life in many ways - biologically and environmentally. He wasn't always perfect, but I choose to believe he did his best. As an adult I can make that choice. Dwelling on the negative hurts me. Fondly remembering the positives may be giving him a little more credit than he is due, but it helps me move on, so to speak.

He did contribute even more after his death. He left his body to a medical school. After he died, they drove down and picked him up. I have no idea what they did with him. They had to option to keep him up to three years. The best I can remember, they kept him about two. After that, my brother got a letter that our father's "cremains" would be arriving via parcel post. He did. Not everyone can say their father was mailed to them. We disposed of his ashes, as he requested for the most part. Most of him is where he wanted to be scattered. A little of him is where my brother and I wanted.

He also left us some cash. My brother and I split it without any major problems. I decided to use my share as a down payment on a new house. A few months after he died, I started looking for a bigger house. I had 3 foster daughters crammed into one bedroom at my old house because the teenage foster son had to have his own room, obviously. We looked and looked. I was hoping to find one closer to my school but those houses weren't the quality of home that I wanted. I wanted something built in the 70s that could handle the abuse dished out by a houseful of foster kids. I found the perfect home less than two miles from my old house. It had been on the market for a year. The owners (who had the house built) had retired, built a new house, and had already moved out. I made a low offer and the real estate agent just wrote down a random date for the estimated date of closing. She picked May 1st, telling me it likely wouldn't actually happen on that date but that she had to write something down. Wouldn't you know it - I closed on my home, using money my father left me, on his birthday. It just felt right.

Now, eight years later, here I am in my house that I love. I think of Dad from time to time. He wasn't always easy to get along with but he was my father. I'm choosing to remember the good stuff and move on. By adopting my daughters, I've become a mom in this house. He never met my forever kids. He'd been gone almost 3 years by the time I got Alli. I have to think, if he was able, he'd have enjoyed my girls. They are definitely good for a few laughs from time to time.

So...Thanks, Dad. Happy birthday!