Monday, June 30, 2008

Where has my summer gone?

It seems like only yesterday that we'd just gotten out of school. The whole summer stretched gloriously before us. Now, June's about gone. July is knocking at the door. And, since we are on an alternative school schedule, we go back to school in late July. YIKES! So the arrival of July officially indicates that summer is almost over. Well, summer break anyway. Nothing says summer like recess duty in August. Sitting on the playground, supervising a couple hundred 4 and 5 year olds in 99+ degree heat definitely feels like summer. (Truthfully, it feels like Hell some days.)

We have lots of things to get done around here today. My mom got back from Brazil yesterday and went straight to bed. We are trying to get a cookout thrown together and invite her over to tell us about her trip. The only detail I have so far from her is that she got a stomach virus there and sick for about 5 days. Alli and I have a little shopping to do. Tomorrow is Boy Wonder's birthday and I need to get him something.

I'm doing some creative refinancing on my rental property and some debt consolidation. This, of course, requires an appraisal of my house. Let's just hope the appraiser can overlook clutter and chaos. My house is fine structure-wise. We do need to do some basic cleaning and straightening before he/she comes "some time early this week." (Things the appraiser will just have to ignore: the fact that my kitchen, laundry room, and my bathroom walls have been stripped of their wallpaper but not painted yet, the huge pile of Cori's stuff that needs to go to her new foster home, the insane amount of equipment belonging to Elvis - wheelchairs, standers, bath chairs, and adapted toys all take up lots of space, and the leftover construction materials that are still hanging out waiting for disposal.) (Things I hope to have done before appraisal: rehang my bathroom mirror, install new bathroom light fixture, haul huge pile of stuff to Good Will, semi-organize leftover construction materials so they appear to actually be leftover construction materials and not just junk I choose to decorate my home with.)

It's going to be a busy day!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Camp Rock

Just when I'm beginning to accept that Beth is grown, she makes a u-turn and becomes a kid again. Her entire day today has been planned around the Disney Channel's airing of the movie, "Camp Rock." Seriously...She is home with me on a Saturday night because Camp Rock was coming on at 7:00. She even went to the mall this afternoon with BFF only after asking me several times if I'd pick her up in time to come home and watch this movie. I'm not complaining. I'm actually enjoying this brief trip back in time. I know it won't last. Next time I walk through the den she'll no doubt be watching some trash on MTV.

I watched Camp Rock with her tonight. It's basically a knock-off version of High School Musical. Same basic plot. Same basic characters. Not as good, though, because I LOVE HSM. Yes, I'm 40 years old and will watch HSM 1 or 2 anytime I'm flipping channels and see it on.

However, the "hot" guy in Camp Rock is Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers Band. I just don't get the draw to him. You can see a picture of him here. I think it's his hair that bothers me. I think it looks a lot like Carol's hair on the Brady Bunch. Anyway, I couldn't really think about enjoying the movie because I looking at him and thinking he's a goth version of Mrs. Brady? I'd hoped the 70s shag haircuts were a thing of, well, the 70s. I understand about retro being cool but that hair shall never, never, never be cool again. Perhaps someone should tell Joe Jonas?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Twice in two days

I've now been to a local cemetery twice in the last two days. We were actually there twice within a 24-hour period. Beth and I went yesterday to visit Blair's grave. Beth hadn't been since the funeral and wanted to stop by. I'm making a onetruemedia montage of Blair's...(is "life" the right word?)...Let's just say a montage of all things related to Blair. I lacked a picture of her temporary grave marker so I took the camera along. We stopped and bought some flowers for her on our way. After that, we drove through the cemetery on our way out. Beth had never seen the mausoleums/crypts/whatever you call those things that look like **drawers or shelves. I drove as close as we could and explained to her what I knew of them (not much, I guess, since I don't even know what they are called). As we left, she mentioned that her (bio) uncle was buried in that same cemetery. It's a big place and the office was closed so would couldn't look him up. She came home last night and called a bio cousin who was able to direct her to the general area of his grave. We went back tonight to find him. We did. It took a while and we had to tour the whole area but he was located and Beth was satisfied. I guess it's just something she needed to do. I was glad to help her do it.

**To satisfy my curiosity, I googled to find out what they were called. I think "community mausoleum" is the correct term for the drawers/shelf burial system...not that you care but it was bugging me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Well, Thursday's over

I guess that's good. Actually, it was a good day. Alli and I got Elvis to his therapy appointments. We left at 9:30 AM for that and got home about 2:00 PM. It's a long haul. We tried to order lunch specials from the local Chinese place for lunch (obviously) but their phone was busy. I'm guessing it was off the hook, as we kept trying for almost 30 minutes. Instead, we came home (Chinese-less) and had sandwiches for our late lunch. Not quite the same.

Elvis got his communication device at therapy today. I haven't had time to play with it yet but I think he's going to love it. I'll try to get pictures of it and his new wheelchair and share them with you soon. Technology is pretty darn awesome these days.

Beth texted me as we were almost home and told me she was "dieing" (her word) her hair. I usually don't strictly police what my high school age girls do with their hair. I mean, it's only hair and it will grow back, fade, or can be shaved. However, her appointment for her senior pictures is in a couple of weeks. I asked what color she was "dieing" her hair and she said, "Light blond...just a little lighter than my natural color." This concerned me because her natural medium blond hair has been "died" medium brown. I feared the light blond would combine with the medium brown to create a hideous shade of orange. I'm not really up on hair coloring matters as I've never colored my hair. I had Alli call her and try to talk her out of it until after her pictures, just in case. Alli talked to her a minute and said, "Too late. It's already on her hair." She came home later when BFF went to work. Her hair wasn't as bad as I'd feared but both Boy Wonder and I think "orange" is the color it actually is. Alli and Beth call it blond but I'm not buying it. It's not carrot-orange but definitely has an orange tint to it. Once again, Little Miss No Impulse Control will have to live with the consequences of her actions. Maybe we can find an outfit for her pictures that will make her hair look less orange? Maybe we'll look at her finished pictures and call her a confused (orange hair, not skin) Oompa-Loompa for the rest of her life? Time will tell. I just keep reminding myself that it could be worse. She showed my the box from the hair coloring she used. It was labeled, "Ultra-Light Blond." Her hair could have turned out the color displayed on the box. Then she'd have Marilyn Monroe hair.

I braved our newly remodeled Wal-Mart today. I hate that place under the best of circumstances but with construction going on, I've avoided it for almost a month. Beth needed a little more hair "die" because she missed a spot by each temple. I needed a couple of things, too, so we went for a quick trip. The construction appears to be almost complete, but everything is in a new place. The pharmacy is temporarily located in a plywood box inside the front doors - Seriously! Makes me glad I don't work there.

I ran into my kindergarten teacher today at Aldi. I was just thinking about her the other day. I was so shocked when she called my name in the store. It was nice to see her and catch up. Not only was she my teacher when I was five, but she also helped me get my first job when I graduated from college. We worked together for a few years at that point. She's a neat lady. I was glad to see she is still able to get out and about.

My mom is still in Brazil and I miss her. I don't usually see her every day. However, I miss knowing I can just pick up the phone or drop by her house to see her. Beth and I've been watering Mom's flowers. I have the opposite of a green thumb. (A black thumb, maybe?) She must have seriously been out of options to put me in charge of watering her beloved flower gardens. Even I had to laugh at her directions (TWO pages). She even included specific instructions for me to assess whether or not certain plants needed to be watered on certain days. ("Stick one finger in the dirt in the pot. Pull your finger out. If there is dirt on your finger, do NOT water. If there is no dirt on your finger, water the plant." Thanks, Mom.) I go back tomorrow for what I hope is the last time. She'll be home late Sunday. I'll be glad to hand that responsibility back over to her.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I've barely left the house in the last week. I've run here and there to drop a kid off or grab some groceries. But, that's it. And, I've enjoyed being a hermit. Is that bad? I haven't been lonely. There have been lots of people here. Various members of Boy Wonder's family have been in and out. One of my nephews spent the night (and kept us entertained). Beth has had friends come and go. I've been social with all of them. I just haven't had the desire to go anywhere. I'm not avoiding anything or anyone. I'm just content here. The house, while no where near spotless, is decently clean. We've completed a few major cleaning/straightening projects. I feel good about all that.

I guess I shouldn't worry too much. It wasn't that long ago that I was wanting to be anywhere but here. I guess this is a change in the right direction. There is no one living at my home or visiting regularly that I'm actively trying to avoid.

I do have to break my hermit habits tomorrow. Elvis has his therapy appointments. I'll drive 120 miles, round-trip and spend 3 hours sitting in the waiting room. Alli is going with (she did last week, too) and I'm looking forward to having that time with her. Our relationship (from my point of view, anyway) is gradually getting closer to normal. That makes me happy. Beth has been home more lately and has been quite funny. That makes me happy, too.

So, in retrospect, maybe I'm happy staying home because I'm happy at home, for a change. I'll go with that. Whatever the reason, I'm just glad. I really thought that late May/early June was going to be the death of me. I'm feeling a lot better these days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Playing musical bedrooms

Elvis moved in with me a few weeks back. He was refusing to sleep and just being generally uncooperative with Alli. So, I took him. He does fine with me. He knows I won't put up with his nonsense. Anyway, he's been sleeping in my bed with me.

We didn't start out like that. I was one of those people who didn't believe that kids should have to sleep with someone. He came home from NICU and started sleeping in a co-sleeper in my room. He did that for the first year and then the ear infections started. We couldn't clear them up. They would start to get better and then get a lot worse. He spent so much time screaming during that 2nd year of his life that he started sleeping with someone. Once he moved from my bedroom into Alli's, he never slept alone again. Now, at age 5, that's all he has known.

Last week, I decided to stake my claim and take my bed back. We moved his toddler bed into my room and put it beside my bed. He's done quite well with it. He still goes to sleep in my bed but then I move him to his bed. He woke about 3:00 AM the first night and came back to my bed. The next night, he stayed in his bed until 5:00 AM. Ever since, he's stayed asleep in his bed until time to get up in the morning (8:30 AM or later). He's doing very well! I'm so excited. Once he's established the ability to sleep through the night, I'll work on getting him to actually fall asleep in his own bed, but, for now, I feel good about his (our) progress.

And, isn't his bed just the cutest thing? (Look closely and you can see my booger-green bedroom walls in the background.)

In other developments, Beth decided that she wanted to move into the room Cori recently vacated. I have no idea why. It's smaller than her room and is close to the den. I can see no benefit of moving into that room but she wanted to so I let her. She packed up the rest of Cori's stuff and has it neatly stacked, waiting to be transported to her. She cleaned out the rest of the room AND painted it Monday before moving in Monday night.

Beth is not known for her painting skills. That has always been a joke in our family. The girls' bio parents were painters when the kids lived with them. Alli paints quite well but Beth seemed to lack that gene. When she's attempted to paint walls before, they were covered in drips and missed patches. However, I have to admit she did a good job with her new room. It's not the colors I'd have chosen but she just used paint we had left over from other projects so it didn't cost a thing. And, it turned out kind of cute. The walls were the yellow color, still visible at the top. The blue is left over from Alli and Boy Wonder's new bathroom. (I know, wild color, but Alli picked it.) The purple is left over from the hall bathroom. So, Beth has a cute, new room for absolutely no cost. You have got to love projects like that!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obviously it's been a while...

since I cleaned out our freezer. It's not even a big freezer - just the little one on top of our fridge. (I'll fill you in on the demise of our chest freezer later in this post.) Anyway, back to my story. I'd noticed last week that our freezer was looking yucky. Nothing outright gross. Just crumbs and spills that all combined to give that overall look of nastiness. How, other than the mess, do I know it's been a while since I cleaned that thing out? I found this:

(It's hard to see but the sell by date is in 2004!)

And then, I found this:

(Use by date was in 2001.)

And, just when I didn't think it could get any worse, I found this:

(Yes, that expiration date is in 1999.)

I'm happy to report that everything was removed from the freezer. The entire freezer was washed out with warm soapy water. I returned to the freezer the things that weren't older than Elvis. (I'm sure the thermometer is older than Elvis but it doesn't have an expiration date so I put it back in. I only have it because at one point in my fostering career, they were required. Do you know how many people have checked it in my ten years of fostering? ZERO! That's so typical of fostering. They want to obsess over freezer thermometers while overlooking the basic care of some of the kids in their custody.) Anyway, now my freezer looks like this:

What does this picture tell me? That I really need to do some shopping.

Now, for the story of my former chest freezer. It died a few years back. (I don't remember the exact year but I had both Beth and Alli so it's been in the last 4 years.) How did we know it was dead? Because we smelled the rotting food after it had quit working. Evidently, it had quit working a long time before we discovered it. I know this because we smelled it from the next room. YIKES! We all tried to clean it out. We all gagged. My mom even called my cousin who is a mortician and asked about masks/cleaners/deodorizers to cover the smell long enough to empty the darn thing. In the end, my saint of a mother cleaned it out. She didn't use the heavy duty (and thusly very expensive) respirator the mortician recommended. She double-bagged all the things formerly known as food in construction-grade trash bags and tossed it in our city-issued trash container. We took that thing straight to the street and didn't go near it until after our pick up day.

That just left us with the dead freezer. It was empty but still reeked of the bodies of it's former occupants. How do you get rid of a dead freezer? If I'd bought a new one, that store would have hauled the body off for me. Believe me, the last thing I wanted to own at that time was another freezer in the storage room. I was not ready for a repeat performance. Our city sanitation department does a pick up day for over-sized items. However, they won't pick up anything that contained a refrigerant. I tried my best to assure them that anything that had been a refrigerant had long since left the freezer...that was why I needed it gone. No dice. My mom tried calling them and got the same answer. She finally snapped and asked just how we were supposed to get rid of it. Do you know what the lady at the sanitation department told her? She said "Everyone seems to have an Uncle Bubba or Uncle Someone who will haul things off and make them disappear." Sadly, my family tree lacks an Uncle Bubba.

Fast forward to this year. The decomposing shell of the freezer was still living in the storage room. The smell had long since faded but the body remained. Until Boy Wonder joined the family. You know what he had? An Uncle Bubba or Uncle Someone (I never asked his name) who could make the deceased freezer disappear! And so, 3 months ago, the freezer left my home for it's final resting place. I have no idea where it went. Uncle Whoever wanted $15 for the service. I paid him $40. Money well spent!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thinking positively

In an effort to shake off the depression that's been hounding me the last few months, I've been working really hard on looking for the positive in everything and everyone. To further that, I'm going to start a post on each member of my family and keep saving them as drafts until each post has 10 good things about that family member. I'll then publish the posts.

On the whole positive thinking idea, my mom could use some prayers/positive thoughts. She's on her way to Brazil today on a mission trip with others from our church. They will spend a week in a slum providing free medical care to the people who live there. She will be 71 next month. She's had one knee replaced. This is her third time to go on this trip. She'll be spending the week in extreme heat helping those who, due to their life circumstances, truly cannot help themselves. That woman is AMAZING!

On the same page

After a semi-tense week with Beth, things are settling back down into a groove. The spending the night with BFF was settled very easily. BFF's grandmother liked my idea of two nights here with BFF, two nights at BFF's house, and the other three nights a week at home with family. She liked it so much, she instituted it at her house, too. Having all the adults on the same page can make parenting much easier. This is the first time Beth's had a close friend who's family is really involved. That's not to say that we know it all. I'm sure they are conspiring to get away with some stuff on a daily basis. It does help to know that the other family cares enough to keep an eye on them, too.

Alli and Boy Wonder's bathroom is fully-functioning now. It's not particularly attractive but it works. All it needs is a mirror, woodwork, and towel racks. It got rather expensive. Just this week, I've spent $465 for the fixtures, $100 on plumbing supplies, and $210 for labor. It adds up quickly!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shhh...I bought something for ME!

I never do that. However, I needed some shoes. I've been wanting some of the Croc sandals. I've been wearing my regular Crocs every day since spring break. I got an email from today offering free overnight shipping and the Croc sandals were $29.95. I picked these but I got the chocolate/khaki color.

They should arrive tomorrow. I'm so excited. I can wear them this summer with whatever but, more importantly, I think I can get away with wearing them with jumpers when school starts back in the fall.

I'm getting new shoes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Beth update and general update

She came home Monday night, 15 minutes before her curfew. BFF came with her and spent the night but that was fine with me. I'd told her she could. Today, Beth's been fine. She's been home almost all day, other than a quick run to the grocery with BFF. She's still here tonight, without BFF who went to work and then is spending the night at her house without Beth, for a change. I have to say it's gone better than I expected. I did think she'd come home but I was expecting bitchy, snotty teenager behavior. She's been fun. You have to learn to enjoy the positive surprises. Goodness knows, she's probably going to be back to bitchy and snotty way too soon for my liking.

Speaking of bitchy...after all my whining and complaining about Alli and Boy Wonder seeming to go out of their way to hurt my feelings, I need to update you on them. I've really enjoyed them the last week or so. They've been chatty and helpful. They've done things with me (helped with nasty chores and fun stuff). They've invited me to join them in things they are doing. Again, I'm just going to enjoy the positive things while it lasts. I've been on this roller coaster long enough to know I have to enjoy the "ups" while they are happening. What goes up must come down but I don't want to waste this time worrying about that.

BW's dad is coming tomorrow to start on their bathroom. They are excited and so am I. It's long past time to have that done. In the interest of time, we're skipping the woodwork and getting straight to the business end of the bathroom. A toilet and shower and much more important than crown moulding and baseboards. Those can come later. Money is still tight so I'm going with the necessities for now. We can "pretty it up" later...when I win the lottery...or sell a kidney.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Expensive day around here

First, I took my dog to the vet this 13+ year old dog. He had some kind of "spell" Saturday - dizzy, walking towards the left, falling down, crashing into things/walls/cabinets. I was really worried about him and called the vet for an emergency appointment. While I ran to get my contacts in and teeth brushed, he threw up and was just fine. Boy Wonder was watching him and said after he puked, he just jumped up on the couch like normal. I called his name and had him hop down and walk to me. Sure enough, he was back to his really old self. So I called the vet back, cancelled the emergency appointment, and scheduled a regular appointment for today. I dreaded the visit, afraid they'd tell me it was time to "put him down." (I HATE that phrase.) However, the vet said he looked good, all things considered. She thinks he's in the beginning stages of heart disease but that she could just treat him for that, skipping the usual battery of really expensive tests. So, we left there armed with heart meds (twice a day), a diuretic (once a day), arthritis medicine (as needed), and a six-month supply of heart worm preventative. Total for the visit, vaccinations, and medications: $167.50 He's worth every penny to me.

I came home and picked up the rest of the crew (Alli, Boy Wonder, and Elvis) and we headed to the local home improvement store. The day had come to buy the fixtures for Alli and BW's bathroom. BW's father is going to do the installation for $16 an hour. I'm good with that. We bought a toilet, vanity, and sink/counter top. Grand total: $464.31

When we got home, we were sweaty and hungry. I offered to buy lunch specials from the Chinese restaurant after we unloaded the van. Grand total: $18.24

So, I've spent $650.05 today. Ouch. However, I think the payoff is well worth it. My beloved dog is fairly healthy and not near needing to be "put down." Alli and BW will soon have their own bathroom and the separation of our households will begin. And, plain lo mein and sweet and sour chicken was very, very good. I guess the day was worth the money. I'm just glad most days don't cost that much.

Beth update

About an hour after our text exchanges about the rules and expectations last night, I got this text from Beth:

"(BFF) and them arent' going to the beach ne more. So i was gunna be gone this week ne ways. So i think i should be able to stay this week with her. I'll come home wen she's at work. How does that sound?"

(BFF and family had invited Beth to go to the beach with them. They'd have left today and come back Saturday. I had approved that trip but they had some things come up and can't go - BFF's grandmother had surgery and BFF's brother has a college registration thing.)

I didn't respond to that text and about an hour later I got THIS text:

"I'm going to sleep good night i love you. Just think about what i told you and i'll text you when i wake up. I love you."

Umm, WTH? Me - think about what she told me? I THINK NOT! She may be legally an adult but I must have missed the part where she's suddenly in charge.

It's going to be a looooong summer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's already starting

Beth's been 18 for less than a week and the testing of the rules has already started. She and her BFF think they need to spend every minute together. As a result, Beth would like to be at her house all the time. I imposed limits - you can spend two nights a week at her house, she can spend two nights a week here. That's four out of every seven nights that they are together. I think that's plenty. On the other days/nights, they can still go out together. Beth just needs to be home by curfew (10:30 Sunday-Thursday, 11:00 Friday and Saturday). I don't see a problem with that.

Beth just texted and asked to spend the night with BFF. I said yes but reminded her that she'd be home the next five nights. She doesn't want to. How am I supposed to respond to that? I know she's just spoiling for a fight to have a reason to move out. Everyone will feel sorry for her if I'm "mean" to her and "kick her out." That would be her version of events if she moves out because I made her spend three nights a week at home without her friend.

So, I didn't really respond to her. I'm not planning to give her the fight she's looking for. I restated the rules. She asked why. I re-restated the rules. I'm not going to argue. Rules are rules. She may have been born 18 years ago but she's more like a 13 year old on many levels. She's going to do what she's going to do. I can't stop her. (I can stop her phone service if she's not home.)

She's 18. She has no license. (She's stopped taking her ADD meds. I don't think she can focus on driving enough to be safe. I won't take her for her license.) She has no education. (She just finished her junior year with grades of 70, 70, 72, and 52. I honestly think she'd failed two of the classes but the teachers gave her 70s so they didn't have her again next year.) She has no job skills. And yet, she knows it all.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hmmm...We've got ourselves a mystery

Our forks have disappeared. Where in the world do forks go in a home? Before our new-to-us dishwasher was installed in the spring, we used plastic forks. However, when we got the dishwasher up and running, we discovered that sometime during our plastic-fork-lives, the real forks disappeared. My mom came to the rescue with two good size tubs of yard sale cutlery. (I know "used" forks kind of grossed me out at first but a) they were the right price - free to me, and b) I ran them through the new-to-us dishwasher on the "super-hot/kill any living organism/peel the Teflon off your skillets" cycle a couple times and decided they couldn't have anything on them that could hurt us.) Our silverware drawer was full and happy again.

Tonight, after making a meal that remotely resembled spaghetti, I reached into the silverware drawer to grab a fork. I came up empty. I looked in the dishwasher. There were a few forks in there but probably no more than 6. None were in the sink. Where have our forks gone again? I assumed the last time they came up missing, it happened slowly. Maybe I was wrong? Are forks being traded on the black market? Do forks have a street value? Are those crazy kids ingesting some type of new drug that requires a forked delivery? I just don't get it.

We have no functioning garbage disposal, so that's not the problem. Cori's been gone over a month so I don't think she did anything with/to them. (I think I'd have noticed before now if she had.) I have forked a few yards in my time but I always use plastic. I've even owned a key chain made from a fork (with the tines bent to look like a hand with the middle tine/finger extended - a culinary flipping of the bird, so to speak). However, none of these fork uses appears to explain my missing cutlery.

Please be on the lookout for my forks. They are silver-ish colored, made of some type of econo-metal, have about 4 tines each and the none of the handles match each other. If you find them, send them home. We miss them. Eating a meal that resembles spaghetti with a spoon just didn't work out well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Eat a Frosty from Wendy's this weekend

Thanks for the reminder Monica and Ana! Father's Day isn't really celebrated in our house. This is the first year we have a household member who even has a father (Boy Wonder). However, any excuse to help recruit adoptive homes for kids in foster care is good to me. And, honestly, do you really need a reason to eat ice cream?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

All quiet on the southern front

I'm almost afraid to write about the peace that exists in our home for fear of jinxing us. I have to say the last couple of days have been free of drama and trauma. I have actually enjoyed my family!

When we last spoke (OK, when I last wrote), we'd survived the family birthday party for the June birthdays and Beth had gotten herself tattooed. Wednesday and Thursday have been nice days. We hung out in the house most of Wednesday. Alli and I did make a quick Target run that afternoon. (Boy Wonder watched Elvis for us again!) It was nice to have her alone for a few minutes. No exciting conversations - just chatting, but that's a big step from where we have been. Thursday was busy. Elvis had his therapy appointments which are 110 miles away (one-way). Alli was going with us but overslept. She did get up and get him ready which was a big help. We dropped Beth and her friend off at a wave pool near his therapy appointment. (Alli and Beth's bio cousin's daughter turned 7 today and her party was there.) We went on to therapy and then picked them up afterwards.

We had house guests from Tuesday night until Thursday night, or rather Alli and Boy Wonder did. His brother and cousin (both about 18?) spent two nights with them. They spent a lot of time playing X-Box and some time swimming. I asked Alli if she felt like she was living in a boys' dorm. She said a little but they were nice kids and she didn't mind them being here. Before they left, BW's brother came back through the house to find me. He wanted to thank me for letting them come and for the food. (They ate leftovers from the birthday cookout almost the whole time.) His brother is really shy and quiet, at least around me. I think it's the first time he'd said more than one sentence to me at the same time. I appreciated the fact that he came and thanked me. He is a good kid.

I discovered late this afternoon that I think our neighbor's house is on a lawn and garden tour this weekend. I really wish she'd told us, as I'd have made the front of our house look a little more presentable. I plan to get up in the morning and trim some shrubs and pull the weeds. Her yard is beautiful! She works out there all the time. Alli's point of view is that by our yard looking so bad, we make her yard look even better by comparison. I guess she's right, but I hate for the neighbor lady to be embarrassed by our yard. It looks better than in years past, but it desperately needs to be mowed. Two flower beds are just weeds. We'll hide the trash cans at the end of the house and find a way to camouflage the pile of junk waiting for the next oversize-item pick-up day. And, despite all my efforts, the sad shape of our yard will still just make the neighbor's yard look that much better. Perhaps that is my lot in life. I'll be the Goofus to her Gallant.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

18 and grown?

At least Beth thinks she's grown. She's also tattooed, thankyouverymuch! It's in the middle of her upper back, between her should blades. Since it's covered by a t-shirt, I paid half as her present. Tattoos are expensive, by the way. The little gem featured below on my daughter's back was $120. And cost her two weeks of swimming. And, as I kept reminding her before the deed, will let 18 babies die. (To explain, Beth has always - well, in the 4 years I've known her, had a serious fear of needles. When she turned 17 last year, I kept saying, "Hey, you can give blood now!" She laughed it off until she came home from school on their blood drive day wearing a sticker that said Kiss me, I gave blood today! I asked how in the world they convinced her to give and she said they told her that every pint of blood helped save 3 people. She said she just pictured Elvis as a tiny baby being saved by someone else's donation and decided she needed to save some babies, too. That's my Beth - such a sweetheart!) Of course, now she's 18 and tattooed and can't donate blood for a year.

We had a good day. She'd requested a banana pudding so we had it for breakfast. Boy Wonder's mom, sister, and nephew came over to swim. His sister and nephew stayed into the afternoon and we had a good time with the Wii and a computer game. I kind of enjoyed having them around! They left as my family started arriving.

We had a joint party for the June birthdays in our family tonight. Both Beth and my brother had birthdays today. Alli's was last week. My aunt's is Thursday. We swam and cooked out. My mom did most of the food. All I made was macaroni salad. It was a nice evening for me. An aunt, uncle, cousin and the cousin's daughter came, too. They live here in town but we rarely get together. We need to do this more often. None of us are getting any younger...ask my brother who turned 43 today - LOL! Ask my mom who gave birth to him 43 years ago.

Tomorrow, it's back to the real world. Alli has to get blood drawn in the morning and then go back to the OB in the afternoon. She miscarried the baby Sunday night (Blair's due date) but they still want to see her and make sure all is well. I have no real plans for Wednesday. I'm hoping for a calm, peaceful day at home. I'm sure someone will come up with a plan to keep that from happening but that is my plan for now!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Today is my last day as the mother of a "child"

Beth turns 18 tomorrow, God help us all, and will legally be considered an adult. All that means to her is she can get a tattoo. Do you know how proud that makes me? I'm filled with dread as I wait to see what and where the tattoo lands. Her BFF has one on the top of her foot. I thought about offering to pay half the cost if the tattoo is placed where it can't be seen when she is wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Honestly, if she comes home with a marijuana leaf or Playboy bunny on her foot or arm, I will just die.

I have nothing against tattoos. I don't have any (or want any) but that's my choice. My choice is not right for others. My concern in this is that she only wants the tattoo because she can get one. Her friend talked her into it. If she'd been saying for months, "Man, I want a tattoo," it would be different. This just popped into her head and she's going for it...because she can.

Her sister has two tattoos. Her best friend has one. Her friend's brother has a huge one. She's following the crowd and I understand peer pressure. I just wish she was in a phase of her life to do this logically. Choose a tattoo that won't be embarrassing later and place it discreetly on her body. Sadly, she won't listen to anyone right now. She's so manic right now, she's likely to come home with something tattooed on her face. Of course, she has to live with the consequences, not me. She says she has to make her own mistakes and learn from them, so I'll sit back and wait to see it. I'm to the point that I just want it to be over with so I can stop dreading it.

I think it's going to be harder to parent adults than kids...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What might have been...

Today was to have been a big day in our family - It was Baby Blair's official due date. I don't think there was any way Alli could have carried her to the due date, but I certainly didn't expect her to be born at 21 weeks gestation. And, since we lack the date that she'd have actually been born, today will forever be the day of things that might have been.

**I want to warn you now that at the end of this post, I plan to add a picture or two of Blair. That warning is for the squeamish or those who would be incredibly sad looking at a picture of a dead baby. However, it's my blog and she's my granddaughter. I can put them there. You don't have to look. I'm warning you at the top, so feel free to skip them at the bottom.**

Dear Blair,

June 8, 2008 - at date that, in our family anyway, will live in infamy. I never thought a single date would result in the whole gamut of feelings I've experienced about it. I'll be the first to admit that when I first learned of your existence, I wasn't overly thrilled. Shocked, disappointed, even angry, maybe, but not thrilled...not thrilled at all. However, as time passed, I came to some realizations. I realized that your mom was an adult and had the right to make the decisions she did. I also realized that, while I didn't have to agree with her decisions, I couldn't change them, either. And, as time went on, I became excited about your pending arrival. Sure, we didn't really have the money or the time for a baby. But, a baby was coming and babies can be fun, too. Lacking the option to do anything else, I began to look forward to your arrival.

On my 40th birthday, I went with your mom to her doctor's appointment and I heard your little heart beat for the first time. At that moment, you became real. You were really in your mom's stomach and you were really coming into our lives. What a gift that was for me.

In early January, I went with your parents to your ultrasound appointment. To say things were a little tense between us would be a hysterical understatement. However, we dealt with that tension and were all there together because you were that important to all of us. We got to see your sweet face for the very first time that day. Shoot, we got to see your sweet everything that day. (The ultrasound tech was very thorough!) And, finally, the big moment came and you were deemed a girl! I was so excited! After having been trapped in world full of grandsons and nephews, I was finally going to have a girl in the family - a baby girl! I could buy all the frilly pink outfits I could afford (and then some)!

Then came the terrible day in late January. Your mom came home from her first day back on the job and announced that she thought she needed to go to the emergency room because she'd felt something "drop." We got to the hospital and discovered that yes, she really needed to be there. Her cervix was opening and you were headed out...way, way too early.

We spent the next several days in two different hospitals - one in our home town and then she was transferred to one about an hour away. All the doctors at both hospitals did everything they could to keep you inside your mom. You mom did everything they asked, including the really unpleasant stuff, like standing on her head for over 4 days. Everybody involved did everything they could but you had other ideas. You were coming out, no matter what.

In the wee morning hours of Monday, January 28, 2008, (4 months, 1 week, and 3 days before your due date) you entered the world. You didn't stay long. Your entire life was to be just a few minutes, all lived in one hospital room. Your whole family came to spend some time with you during that day. People came and went. People held you and talked to you and loved you. Everyone thought you were beautiful. I have to agree. You were absolutely perfect.

Now, here we are on your due date - all thinking about things that might have been. We all planned to be holding a perfectly healthy, perfectly beautiful, perfectly perfect little girl today. We aren't. However, I do think good things have come from your short presence in our lives. Until you started trying to sneak out early, I'd met you dad only once - at your ultrasound. Suddenly, we were living together in the same hospital room, along with your mom. From my side, I think that we did okay. (If you were to ask him, he might have a different opinion.) However, all these months later, there is sometimes a little tension, but we get along fine. Thanks, Blair.

We also met some nice people along that journey. The doctor here was a putz, but the one at the other hospital was wonderful. We met a nice nurse, who turned out to be your dad's cousin. We met another nice nurse who helped us be ready for what would happen if you insisted on coming early. Through all those days in the hospital, we were surrounded only by helpful, compassionate employees. We were blessed by an unknown volunteer who spent a lot of time crocheting a dress, blanket, booties, and bonnet to help families at that most difficult time.

All in all, we had quite the journey with you. Would I want to do it again? No, not really. Am I sorry you died? Absolutely. Do regret that you came along? Absolutely not! All things happen for a reason. I will probably never understand why you died so young, at least not in this life. I have to believe that I'll see you again one day. When I get to Heaven, we're going to do all the grandmother stuff - tea parties, mud pies, bake some lopsided cakes, sneak chocolate chips into your oatmeal, and maybe even cruise around on a 3-wheel bike like I did with my grandmother.

This is not a goodbye, my sweet Blair. It's a "see you later." We have good times ahead..I just know it!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dull Saturday planned but I'm looking forward to it

Nothing big going on here today, at all. I've GOT to do some grocery shopping. In fact, I think I'm headed there as soon as I finish this post. I need to get it done and the sooner I go, the less crowded it will be. I've just about finished my menu plan for the week. Elvis is still asleep so I can leave him in bed. Shopping is much easier when you just have to push the cart. Pushing him in his wheelchair and pulling shopping cart behind you ups the ante quite a bit. It's definitely a learned skill. Nothing in my normal life prepared me for that kind of shopping trip. Especially when you are going to two different stores (I go to a discount store, Aldi, first, and then go to a big chain store to get whatever Aldi didn't have.) Unloading and loading his new wheelchair at two different stores is a big pain. Trying to fit a week's worth of groceries in the van around his wheelchair is a whole other pain.

After shopping for the week, I have to bring in and put all that crap away. Yes, I just referred to groceries as "crap." However, I'm always overwhelmed at the amount stuff to haul in and put away after a big shopping trip. We are out of odd stuff this time so it will be extra fun!

That's my day. That all I have to do today. There are other things I want to do. I want (need, really) to swim today. I'm sunburned from swimming yesterday so I'll need to wait until this afternoon when the sun goes down a bit. Alli and Boy Wonder got some movies last night and, along with his usual choices of disgusting manly movies (Rambo, The Hills Have Eyes 2), Alli got 27 Dresses and asked me to watch it with her. I'll gladly do that! I need to pick up my oldest nephew and drop him off at work. That's no big deal as it will take less than 30 minutes, all together.

Beth spent the night with her friend last night, so she'll be gone until late this afternoon. Alli, BW, and Elvis are planning to go to BW's mom's house and visit with one of his little nephews who is spending the day there. It looks like I might get a little time at home alone today, too. That's not something that happens often.

So, that's my plan for the day - some serious grocery shopping, some exercise, dropping my nephew off, a DVD with Alli, and a little home-alone time. Sounds like a decent day. I hope it goes like I planned. Of course, very little in my life goes as planned so I probably shouldn't get my hopes up.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Fielding, I'm thinking of you and your family this week. *waves toward Heaven* I guess experiences in my family this year have made me think of you more than in years past. Look in on Blair for me. She's on my mind today, too, as what should have been her big date is coming up later this weekend.

Resolution accountability post - Day 5

I meant to post this last night, so, pretend I did!

#1 Going well. I've written down every cent I've spent and I'm keeping receipts so I can divide things into appropriate categories (like Wal-Mart so I know how much I spend on, say, paper goods vs. groceries).

#2 Done. I still don't like water but I've had at least 50 ounces and usually at least 60 ounces every day this month.

#3 Done! Actually, I'm over my minimum on that one, too. I've done at least 30 minutes of physical activity (over and above my normal level, which isn't hard because I think I'm related to a sloth) four out of the five days.

Things I've learned: Contact lenses (more accurately, the solutions to keep them clean) are very expensive. I still don't like the taste of water but if I make myself drink it before the Diet Dew, it's easier to get down. And, thirty minutes of paddling around in the pool goes much faster when I'm balancing Elvis at the same time.

Movie date with Alli today!

She's been wanting to see the new "Sex and the City" movie. She's watched the whole series so, of course, she wants to see the movie. I've seen some of the (edited for network TV) series so I think I can keep up with the movie. I'm sure it's pure trash, but sometimes watching pure trash with your adult daughter can be fun.

I'm excited! Can you tell?

We need some shared fun. I'm tired of feeling angry and hurt. I've got to find a way to have a better relationship with her. This is step 1. She agreed to go (and Boy Wonder offered to watch Elvis while we are gone) so it does look like a step in the right direction.

Where's the guy from "Dirty Jobs" when you need him?

After Elvis' therapy appointment yesterday, I took Beth and her friend to a water park near his therapy office. This was part of her birthday celebration. She'd never been and was really looking forward to it. (I didn't realize she'd never been. This is a hazard for foster families. I knew I'd been. Turns out it was before I got Beth or Alli. It had been longer than I thought, evidently.)
Anyway, it was hot but that just makes water parks more fun, right? The big girls took off to do all the activities. I hit the kiddie pool with Elvis. He was happy as a clam, snug in his life vest, letting me tow him around the little 1-foot deep pool. We did this for what seemed like an eternity. I had a couple of conversations with other parents, also trapped in the mushroom pool by their small ones. I got one lady's complete reproduction history. Thanks for sharing, Ma'am.

Elvis, who has zero body fat, started shivering in the pool, in the 93 degree heat. I got him and out we sat on the edge with my feet still in the pool but his wet body was snuggled up against mine. He fell asleep. Still in his life vest. In the 93 degree heat. With hundreds of kids laughing and slashing all around us. The lady with a history of child-bearing difficulties helped me untangle him from his life vest straps and we got out of the pool.

Within five minutes, the lifeguard started frantically blowing her whistle and yelling for everyone to evacuate the kiddie pool. Turns out, some kid on the other side of the sizable pool had pooped in the pool. It was like Caddyshack for the toddler set - there was a piece of poop just floating around the area.

It was comforting to know they have a system in place for emergencies just like these. Once everyone was out, a park worker took water samples and tested the chemicals. Another lifeguard showed up with a skimmer on a long pole and an empty 5 gallon bucket. He tried to...catch the offending substance in the skimmer net. It must not have worked as he left and came back with a brush on a long handle. He worked for a while and must have corralled the poop but was unable to move it from the pool to the bucket. Pictured here is how he finally managed to get the poop into the bucket - he put on his blue gloves and just picked it up. He looked to be about 20 and I'm sure this was the grossest thing he'd ever done. The look on his face was priceless. I have no doubt he spent the whole time wishing he'd taken that job on a dairy farm rather than to have to use his gloved hand to fish poo out of the baby pool with hundreds of folks watching...and laughing, bless his heart.

After the...removal, more chemicals were added and the water was tested and retested until all was deemed safe to re-enter the kiddie toilet, I mean pool. Many people chose to go back in. I, did NOT.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Going to the beach!

I'm splitting the condo with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, 3 nephews, and, if she's still around, Beth. That will work. We don't go until the middle of next month. It will be nice to have something to look forward to. I'm hoping if Beth goes we can squeeze her friend in, too, so she has someone to hang with.

I'm excited! I get to go to my condo! It's really not what most people would be so excited about. It's in an older building, but well taken care of. It's not one of the super-huge buildings but I like that. That means there are fewer people sharing the beach space in front of it. We've been there so many times that we know where everything is. We even tend to run into some of the same people each year. (Including the couple who got into a raging fight in the condo above us two years ago. A BIG fight with their two small children watching the whole thing. A big enough fight that the cops came. They were back last year but skipped the fight that time.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Devil, himself...

I just got a call from Satan...OK, not THE Satan, but close enough in my world right now. The local guy (former realtor, sold me my house) who rents vacation properties just called me. We've rented from him quite a bit. We've stayed at one of his condos in the mountains for several years for spring break. We've stayed at one of his beach condos every year for the last 6 or so years. It's just awesome. It's my very favorite week of the whole year. It's on the beach. The kids are old enough to supervise themselves, leaving me to enjoy myself as saw fit, even if it was just hanging out in the condo working on scrapbooks. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that week in his condo! That one week allows me to put up with the crap in my life for the next 51 weeks of the year.

This year, for several reasons, I didn't call to book my week. I have NO extra money right now. At the time I usually reserve it, Alli was pregnant with Blair and planning to move out. Beth was (and still is) threatening to move out on her 18th birthday next week. I was really sad about this but have comforted myself with the fact that there is nothing I can do about it anyway. I mean, the whole summer there is usually booked by the end of January. No since fretting about it now. It's too late to get a week..............

And I was OK with that. As OK as I could be, considering the circumstances of my life for the last few months and right now. Until I just checked my answering machine. To find a message...from him....Satan in the form of a property owner with with not just one, but TWO open weeks at my idea of heaven. Oooooh, the temptation! It's taking every bit of my willpower to not call him back and scream, I'LL TAKE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still can't for basically the same reasons as before. I have zero disposable income right now. My relationship with Alli is stormy, at best. Beth could still move out with no warning on Tuesday. (And then why do I need with a 3 BR, 2 BA beach condo by myself?) But, man, I want to go to the beach. I was so OK with not going when I thought all hope was lost. Darn him for calling and causing me this anguish! If you know me IRL and are intersted in splitting a beach condo with me, let me know. I WANT TO GO!!!!!!!!!! *insert a very big whine here*


The beach-goers were home by a little after noon. They've been home less than an hour and I'm ready to send them back.

They came in, dropped their stuff off in the den, went back to their room for a minute, and then left to return the rental car. They never once saw or even asked about Elvis. When they got back, Elvis was in the den with us. The only comment was, "Damn. His hair looks awful."

Beth asked Alli about the rest of the money for Elvis-sitting. Alli told her that she (Beth) would have to go get it because she (Alli) was not going out again today. So, Beth took Alli's bank card and left. Five minutes later, Alli came through the house looking for Beth, saying, "Did she leave already?" I said yes. "Damn, they better get back quick. I want some food and I need my card." She stomped around, complaining because Beth had done *exactly what Alli had told her she could do.* In the spirit of making peace, I asked her to relax and told her I could lend her the money until Beth got back. I was totally ignored.

About 5 minutes later, Boy Wonder comes by, grabs Elvis from the chair where Alli left him, and took him to the bathroom "to see what we can do to help your hair." A slam from BW...just what I didn't need. I NEED A PLUMBER! I'm getting their bathroom finished this month if it kills me! I'm locking that door between our homes and staking my claim!

The day after

I survived Alli's birthday-that-I-wasn't-allowed-to-be-a-part-of yesterday. She's 21 now. Big whoop. Anyway, the day wasn't anywhere near as hard on me as I had thought it might be.

Beth, Elvis, and I hung around the house for the morning. Our local library kicked off it's summer reading program with a mini-carnival yesterday afternoon. We loaded up and went to that. Most of the time there was spent waiting in line for balloon animals but it was well worth it. Those two men were creating the most awesome balloon animals I've ever seen. Elvis got a monkey on a palm tree. Beth chose a large pink rabbit and she got a frog for her friend. (We used all of Elvis' free tickets on the balloon critters but that was okay because he couldn't actually do the other games there.) And, he LOVED his monkey/palm tree balloon. The balloon guy...artist...whatever you call grown men who make those things, did a great job, even modifying Elvis' to leave a long balloon piece that he could hold onto well.

After the carnival, we needed to buy gas and pick up Beth and Alli's cousin (Cousin It) and take her to work. Her father was in the hospital and her sister is less than reliable in transporting Cousin It. It's always fun to check in with this young lady so I was glad to help her out.

After that adventure, we took Elvis to get a hair cut at our local mall. He was past due for one and looking a lot shabby. Beth and I both told the stylist to just trim a little. We didn't want it too short or to look "buzzed." She didn't use the clippers but managed to make it looked buzzed, anyway. We kept saying stop and she kept saying I can still see my scissor marks. So, Elvis' hair is too short. I think it looks fine but Alli will be pissed when she sees it. So what? She should have gotten it cut herself. He definitely looks better than he did.

We came home and had friends over to swim and grill. That was a nice way to end our evening. Beth actually was home last night without a friend and it was nice to catch up with her a little, too.

We have no plans today. Elvis and I have been up for hours. Beth is still sound asleep. Elvis had strawberry waffles for breakfast and I had leftover bratwurst and macaroni salad. He's watching a favorite movie and I'm goofing off online. There's plenty to do - grocery shopping, cleaning the kitchen, laundry - but it will wait for a bit. Right now, I'm just enjoying having a little time to myself.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New month resolutions

Shamelessly stolen from Theresa (who got the idea from Claudia), here are my June resolutions. I have to admit I had a hard time deciding what to choose. I have so many things I need to change in my life. I chose these because I think I can stick to them for a month and they are all actions that will lead to me having a better life. So, here they are:

1) For the month of June, I will write down every penny I spend. I feel like my money just disappears sometimes. I need to know where the heck it is going.

2) For the month of June, I will drink at least 50 ounces of water daily. (I don't like water but know I need to be drinking it instead of the copious amounts of Diet Coke or Diet Mt. Dew I currently consume. The idea of cutting those out completely crossed my mind but I don't think I would stick to that. Instead, I won't eliminate my favorites. I do, however, expect to discover that I'm drinking less of them by the end of the month.)

3) For the month of June, I will engage in 30 minutes of some type of physical activity on at least 4 days of the week. I know this seems like a tiny goal but, for my current lifestyle, this will be a giant leap in the right direction.

So, there they are. If you know me IRL, please feel free to hold me accountable.