Sunday, August 31, 2008

I love weekends, especially long ones

It's nice to have 3 days off. I went to school for a while on Saturday. Alli went with me. I've been needing to sort my classroom library, as the books were all jumbled together. I've lacked the motivation to get it done. Asking Alli to go along got me going. We spent a couple of hours there and got the job almost completely done. It feels good. We are planning to go back for another couple of hours tomorrow and get it finished up. I'm so busy during the days with the kids there and I've had an after-school duty almost every day. I hate feeling behind. I can't catch up during regular school hours. I'm determined that this is going to be a great school year...even if I do have 30 students in my class before the year is over (just kidding...I hope).

Beth's been out tonight and just got home. Alli and Boy Wonder are at his father's house, camping somewhere on his property. (I'm glad it's them and not me. I like flush toilets and hot showers too much.) Elvis and I have had the house to ourselves and not done a single thing. He's watching a Blue's Clues DVD on my bed. I'm watching Diary of a Mad Black Woman on TV in the den. (One of my guilty pleasures. "Call the Po Po, 'Ho" is one of my all-time favorite movie lines.) Mostly, I've just enjoyed knowing I have tomorrow off, too.

A new low?

My lawn guy mowed yesterday. He came early in the morning (about 8:30ish). I wasn't awake enough to find my checkbook. I paid him in cash...including change, sadly. He got his $50 fee in the form of two $20s, one $5, three $1s, six quarters, and five dimes. I couldn't face him so I sealed it all in an envelope and taped it to the front door...while he was mowing the back yard. On the upside, it gave him a little cash for the holiday weekend.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The highlights of my week at school

~ My termite (the one who ate his popsicle stick last week) moved out of state unexpectedly.
~ Another student with really difficult behaviors moved out of state, too.
~ A child (who, sadly, didn't move) took off his shoe and threw it at my head.
~ I took the shoe-thrower to the office because of his behavior...something I'd never done in my teaching career. The office staff noticed that and almost fell over themselves to get the principal to hurry and take the child from me, saying, "Ms. (ME) NEVER brings anyone to the office. This one must be a doozy!"
~ I started off Tuesday morning with a note from a really angry mother who said another child had grabbed her son's penis and she was demanding justice. (From the tone in her note, I think she wanted the offender put to death.)
~ The assistant principal was gracious enough to deal with the penis-grabber (and the mother of the "grabee"). Gotta love her!
~ A stomach virus has already made the rounds in my class and I didn't get it!
~ The shoe-thrower did get the stomach virus and was absent the next day!
~ I amazed my class by being able to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom without ever even turning the book to see the words. (I did NOT sing it for them, though.)
~ I've now read (actually recited) Chicka Chick Boom Boom and Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 more times this week than I care to count.
~ A student asked me if I stayed at school all night. (I assured him that I had a house and even kids. He didn't seem to believe me.)
~ I sat in on two IEP (special ed) meeting for kids in our preschool class. One of the assistants from that class covered my room during the meetings. When I got back, after not quite two hours, he said, "I don't know what you get paid but I know it should be tripled!"
~ Alli subbed a day at my school. I loved getting to see her off and on during the day, as well as in the van coming and going.
~ The long holiday weekend starts today!
~ I can't imagine having any other job in the world!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Girls' Night Out

I took my girls (plus Beth's BFF) to a movie last. We went to see The House Bunny. No, it won't be nominated for any Oscars this year and, yes, I was probably too old to "get it" but it was still a nice treat for us all. Beth and I have been planning to see it together ever since we saw the first commercial for it. She's a big fan of The Girls Next Door and I knew this was her kind of movie. While it's not my kind of movie, there are sacrifices you make to have fun with your kids. Beth even gave up a evening out with her non-genius boyfriend* so we could go to the movie on a discount night. Inviting Alli along was an idea we both had Monday night. She's been hanging around the house waaaay too much lately. She'd asked Beth about going to a movie together sometime. Beth and I agreed we just needed to invite her to join us.

I do believe a good time was had by all. There are a few jokes from the movie still circulating among us. Everyone laughed...a lot. Parts of the movie were really stupid but other parts were actually good. I don't plan on ever seeing it again but I did enjoy the evening.

Surprisingly, Boy Wonder volunteered to watch Elvis while we went to the movie! When we got home, Elvis had helped him play a lot of video games and had been bathed and dressed in pajamas. Wow! It was a nice surprise ending to our night out.

* More info on the non-genius boyfriend - He works at a pizza place in the next town over. He's worked there quite a while - at least a year. Tuesday at work, he reached into a pizza oven BARE-HANDED to remove a pizza. Needless to say, he's pretty badly burned. Not the sharpest tool in the shed. Duh, Honey, ovens are hot when cooking.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just the way I wanted it to go

I had a nice, boring weekend. I loved it. I went to get my hair trimmed yesterday morning. Since I've been growing my hair out the last couple of years for donations, this is something I'm having trouble remembering to do. My hair had gotten a little scraggly since I donated in July. Alli and Boy Wonder took off early Saturday morning to spend time with his father. Beth was supposed to watch Elvis while I got my hair cut. However, she wasn't up when it was time for me to leave. Elvis went with me. We got to the salon at exactly the right time. The stylist was 30 minutes late. Once she got there, she got me trimmed and Elvis and I were on our way.

I dropped him at home with Beth while I made a quick run to Aldi - my favorite, cheap grocery. It's not a big store and I haven't mastered pushing a shopping cart and Elvis' wheelchair through there by myself. And the checkout lanes tend to be backed up and Elvis is just in the way at that point. He and Beth ate a late breakfast while I did the shopping.

When I got home, I pulled the van up near the front door to make unloading the groceries a little easier. I didn't think about the vicious wasps in our front yard when I did this. As soon as I turned the engine off, I was swarmed by several wasps. They continued to circle me, waiting to attack when I opened the door. I finally pulled into the driveway, well out of the territory being guarded by the wasps, and took the groceries around the house and into the back door. It was a pain in the a$$ but better than a pain from being stung. (Last week's sting in still quite itchy.)

I spent the rest of my Saturday doing things for school. Our state has new curriculum standards that we have to start using next year. Our group decided to start using them this year. We have to document what standards we are teaching in our lesson plan books. The easiest way for me to do this is by printing the standards out onto tiny return address labels. I can then "peel and stick" them into my plan book. I lost count of the number of hours I spent this weekend typing and printing those little boogers. I do think I'm done, though.

I finished my marathon Netflix movie - The Tenth Kingdom. It was okay. I'm not sure it was worth seven hours of my time but I liked it. It does feel good to have finished it and to get them back in the mailbox in the morning.

My mom came by this afternoon with two cans of wasp spray. I thanked her for the toxic chemicals but refused her offer to climb up a ladder and spray the nest herself. They weren't out in the open today -maybe because it had been raining, but I did spray quite a bit of the stuff into the area where they seem to hang out. If the exterminator calls me back, I'm going ask him to hold off until I see if this fixes my problem. That would save me a lot of money.

Now, I'm trying to get myself back into the mindset of school. I'm not dreading going back so I guess that's a good thing. The days are busy but the kids are getting into the routine. That makes things so much easier. We don't have anything weird this week that I know of. School during the day. No after school or night time appointments. I hope it goes well (and speeds by - LOL! Next weekend is a long one!).

Friday, August 22, 2008

I made it!!!

I made it through the week with my whole class. There were times I had my doubts but feel it went well over all. I did have one child who ate the stick along with his Popsicle this afternoon. I didn't see it happening but he came over to me with little wood pieces all over his face and hands. That was the only explanation. I'll be sitting at his table next Friday when we have Popsicles for snack again.

We're having wasp issues at our house. We can't get from our front door to our cars (or from cars to the front door) without being swarmed by what appear to be red wasps. Beth and I have both been stung this week. We aren't provoking them. I never even saw the one that got me. We've learned to duck and run now. I don't want to continue living like that. I'm afraid they have built a huge nest under the eaves of my house. My mother offered to come try to spray them. (Doesn't that sound safe? My 71 year old mother on a ladder spraying poison at the world's largest wasp nest.) Instead, I think I'll call the kid who lived next to us growing up. Obviously, he's not a kid now. His father worked for Orkin when we were kids. He later owned his own pest control place. Now his son's in the business, too. I think he'll give me a fair price and he's usually rather entertaining. What's better than that? (Other than my mother on a ladder with a can of Raid.)

No one from Beth's school called me today. I guess that's a good thing. She said the principal came and talked to her yesterday. I don't know why he bothered. She said he asked her for her side of both issues from Wednesday and afterwards said, "Well, I believe the teachers." He did tell her he knew she wasn't usually a problem kid. (He actually thought she was new to the school since he didn't know her.) She's going to have learn to do as she's told in situations like that. I'm just chalking this up to life experiences and moving on. I just really want her to graduate. Her boyfriend is working tonight so she's out with BFF. They've gone to a movie and to see what else they can find to get into. BFF has to be home by 11:00 so they won't be out too late.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Twice in two days

Beth's school has called me twice in the last two days. Yesterday, her English teacher called to tell me she'd given her a detention for eating in class. She also said Beth had "gotten smart" with her. (I know this teacher. She wouldn't know "smart" if it bit her on the butt. I did NOT share my opinion with Beth, though.) Today's call was from the attendance clerk but it was regarding Beth's behavior yesterday afternoon with a substitute teacher. She got another detention because the sub reported that Beth was "unruly." I'm sure she was a little frisky with the sub. The other kids probably laughed and that egged her on. My greatest fear is that Beth will give up on school. There's nothing I can do about this. She's 18 and knows it all. I just hate thinking about how hard her life is going to be anyway with her impulse control issues. Add lack of education to that and she's destined to be like her bio father - a raging alcoholic because he self-medicates with alcohol to cope with the world.

Alli completed the process to be certified to substitute teach in our county today. I don't know that she's cut out for it but at least she's doing something. She's been doing nothing for months now. She's really excited. When I reminded her that she really doesn't like kids she said she's just so happy to be doing something. It's worth a shot, I guess. We are always short on subs. Sometimes the people they use as subs can barely be considered human beings. Alli can do this if she puts some effort into it. If not, they won't call her. I guess it's up to her. And, yes, that statement applies to everything in her life. It's just so hard to watch sometimes...a lot of times lately.

My class is experiencing some bumps along the way but we are slowly getting into the routine. I still have 22 students but was told today that number 23 will be starting on Monday. I have 5 boys who I'd consider to be extreme behavior challenges. I've got to get them under control before we can move on. (One of them has actually growled and lunged at me a couple of times when things didn't go his way.) I think the others will quickly fall in line.

I'm sooooo glad the weekend is almost here. I forget every year how hard this first full week is. With so many kids, it's even harder. I'm planning to hole up in my house this weekend. I'll probably go get my hair trimmed but that may very well be the only time I leave the house. I've Netflixed a 7-hour mini series and plan to watch the whole thing. I think I'll be involved in lots of sleeping this weekend, too. I've got to rest up for Monday. It's almost like starting over after they've had the first weekend off. It gets better after that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tomorrow's day 3

I've survived two full days with my whole class. The number of my students keeps jumping up and down but we are hanging in there and trying to get into some type of routine. I started my day Monday with 23 students. Fifteen minutes into my day, I discover I'm down two boys. One moved to another county (I knew he was moving soon) and another moved to a different classroom (don't know why, don't care why - one less kid I had to keep up with). By the end of the day, I was told I had a new student starting today. So, I'm holding at 22 students right now. Another is planning to move out of state but it may not be until some time in September.

I really don't have a good feel for what kind of class I have yet. These days are strictly survival. If I get them all home the right way and alive, I consider the day a success. I have several students with assorted issues. It's hard to address those issues with 21 other kids in the room. It will take a little longer but we'll get it done.

Beth, Elvis, and I braved Wal-Mart this afternoon. We needed a few things that couldn't be gotten elsewhere. "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" was on again tonight so Beth and I had planned our evening around that. We picked up P'zones from Pizza Hut on our way home and settled into our appointed seats to watch tonight's episode. I'm loving having this little routine with her! It's been quite a while since we've had something like this to share.

BFF's brother is still in jail. They charged him with 40 separate counts, many of them felonies. His bond was set way too high for his grandparents to afford. (Plus, they think since he did the crimes, he needs to hang out there a bit longer and let him see what can happen if he continues with this wild lifestyle.) I'm still so sad for them all. BFF is truly distraught. She's also embarrassed. Embarrassed enough that she's changing schools. I hate that for her. This is her senior year. She shouldn't have to do that. My heart just breaks for their grandparents. They have raised these kids well and taught them right from wrong. He just chose to take the wrong path with the wrong friends.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Now I really want to beat him

The following is from our local newspaper regarding Beth's BFF's brother:

"(BFF's brother's name) was arrested and charged with underage consumption of alcohol, public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property of more than $1,000, vandalism of property of more than $500 and fraudulent use of a credit card."

WTH was this kid thinking? He graduated in the top 10 from a HUGE high school in May. He is so smart and has so much potential. He has grandparents, a sister, many aunts, uncles, and friends who love him unconditionally, yet he chooses to do this. BFF is embarrassed to go back to school. She's staying home tomorrow. She wants to change schools. I'm so sad for them all. I'm so angry at him. I wish I had a magic wand and could fix this. Yet all I can do for any of them is pray.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The price of help

Of her own accord, Alli has been getting up in the mornings and getting Elvis ready for school. (I'd planned to require this of her but she offered before I could tell her.) Really, it's the least she can do. It takes her about 20 minutes and then she's free for the day. A pretty good deal, I'd say. If you have any questions about what she does to get him ready in the mornings, just look at the picture below. And remember it was taken about 8:30 on Friday night (and it's after 10:00 Saturday morning and it still looks the same).

I'll start the tour at the bottom and move clock-wise.
~ bag of Cheetos she gave him as a snack Wednesday night
~ orange towel from his bath... Wednesday night
~ pajama bottoms he slept in Wednesday night
~ diaper he slept in Wednesday night (she removed Thursday morning)
~ (in chair) diaper he slept in Thursday night (she removed Friday morning)
~ (arm of chair) Pediasure can she gave him for breakfast Friday morning
~ chocolate milk bottle she gave him for snack Wednesday night
~ bottle of extra strength Excedrin (which I don't own but could probably use)
~ (other arm) bottle of water used to rinse his toothbrush Friday morning
~ pajamas he slept in Thursday night
~ (floor by backpack) toothpaste tube - used Friday morning
~ top to chocolate milk bottle from Wednesday night and that brings us back to
~ striped pajama top from Wednesday night (on the floor)
So, she's helping...but at the expense of my house. I'm no where near to being one of those people who have a spotless house, (people who know me IRL are laughing hysterically at that thought) but I do generally pick up after myself. I was just struck by how well that scene around the chair captured her helping with Elvis. I do appreciate her doing that. I just need to get her to pick up after herself along the way.

Annoying morning

After having to get up every weekday morning at 5:30, I was really looking forward to sleeping in this morning. Sadly, it was not to be. Beth (who is spending the night with a friend) left her alarm clock set. It began chiming loudly at 5:30 this morning. Despite the fact that I can hit snooze on my alarm at least 3 times and doze back off, I could NOT go back to sleep even to doze this morning. I guess it had something to do with the fact that I had to get up, go to her room, and try to find the "off" button on an unfamiliar alarm clock. (I ended up just unplugging the darn thing.) Anyway, after doing all that - and, honestly, being really angry with Beth for leaving it set, I was unable to go back to sleep. (The only good thing is that I was able to get Elvis back to sleep. If he had stayed up, I'd probably have driven him to the friend's house and left him with Beth.)

So, now it's a little after 7:00 on a Saturday morning. I sure hadn't planned on being up this early. I had a frozen burrito for breakfast. Now, I'm bored. Ordinarily, I'd watch a movie in this situation. However, Netflix had some sort of gigantic meltdown this week and I don't have a movie here. I'm waiting for The Tenth Kingdom. It was highly recommended by a friend. However, it's 3 discs long (pushing 9 hours, I think). If I'm going to watch it, it will have to be over a weekend. I'm still holding out hope that disc one, at least will arrive today but that still leaves the others until next weekend, when I'll likely have forgotten what happened on disc one.

I've also got something else weighing on me this morning. Beth's BFF's brother is a good kid. He and BFF have been raised largely by grandparents but they've done a great job. The kids are smart, well behaved, attend church regularly, and are just generally good kids. The brother graduated from a large high school in May and was 8th in his class. Really smart. He planned to attend a nearby university and become a nurse practitioner. All that being said, he was arrested early yesterday morning. He and a friend were in a truck and pulled over for driving erratically. The officer searched their truck and found items connecting them to a string of vehicle robberies at a local apartment complex. This makes me so sad. I'm not completely shocked. I've watched him slide downhill all summer, but I didn't expect this. He graduated and then moved out of his grandparents' house, rather than live by their rules. He stopped working as much. He hung out with the wrong crowd. I'd like to spank this large man/child. Sure, he ended up with sucky parents but he had wonderful grandparents who gladly stepped in and did all the right things for him. I'm sure at this point, they feel like it was all for nothing. Bless their hearts. They don't deserve this. I do hope this serves as a wake-up call for this young man and he can get his life back on track. It's not too late now but it likely will be soon.

And, truthfully, perhaps his situation bothers me so much because it fear it's likely that Beth will follow the same pattern. I can so see her in the same situation. I've done all I know to do but realize that she doesn't have the same values I have. She doesn't see the logical side of most situations. She's so impulsive that it scares me. She knows what she should do but doesn't often take that path. She's drawn to the bad kids. She easily falls in line with them. She has no desire to do anything else. And that breaks my heart.

A first

Alli and Boy Wonder have been "involved" with each other (as evidenced by Blair's conception) for almost a year. They've been married since the end of March. He's been living in my house since then. Thursday night, for the first time ever, we ate a meal together. How bizarre is it that we've been living under the same roof for 4+ months but have never eaten together?

The only reason it happened is that they were on my side of town as I was getting out of school. I offered to buy them dinner at the new Cracker Barrel if they wanted to hang out until I finished my after school duty. They agreed. Beth opted to go with a friend from school rather than join us but Alli, BW, Elvis and I had a nice meal together. I'm guessing it will be another 4+ months before it happens again. Oh, well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ready for the weekend

It's been a decent week but long. Once I got past the parent orientation Monday, I'd hoped the week would fly. That was not to be. I feel like it's the longest week ever. The good news (read with sarcasm, please)? Next week will feel much longer!

Elvis continues to L.O.V.E. school! I'm sure he's wondering why we've kept this hidden from him all these years. I really think he's going to be angry when he doesn't get to go on Saturday. He hasn't cried a single time. That's a big deal considering he's over 5 and a half and has never been in a group setting. He hasn't even been with a sitter outside our family since last November. I never imagined he'd do this well just being dropped off in a classroom. I'm sooooo thankful he has, though.

Just to keep our week lively, some fool robbed a bank down the road from our school yesterday. Get this: The robbery happened at 11:00 AM. At 12:30 PM, they decided to lock down our school. Like the dude, who fled the scene in a vehicle was going to be hanging around an elementary school an hour and half later. If he'd been on foot, I could see the reason for the precautions. However, unless he'd run out of gas or had some kind of mechanical failure, he was long gone from our area by the time they even notified us. (They called it a modified lock down and we could still move around inside the building but no one was allowed outside the building...except our school cop who paced laps around the outside of the building pulling on each door to make sure it was locked securely. I jumped every time he yanked on my door. He smiled and waved, amused at my being startled. I guess he had to get his entertainment where he could.)

I pulled off an awesome gymnastics move yesterday afternoon. I hit a small puddle of water in our school hallway and did the splits! I spend my days watching kids fall and hop right back up. That's not the same for adults when they fall. Old, fat adults like me are even worse. You'd think I'm well-padded enough to bounce when I hit the floor. I did not bounce. I'm quite sore today but not as bad as I'd feared at the time. The only good point (besides the fact that I wasn't seriously hurt) was that no one was in the hall to witness the event. I'm sure it's all captured on the tape from the security cameras, though.

I've hobbled around a bit today but I'm fine overall. I am really glad that tomorrow is Friday and that I don't have kids tomorrow. Tomorrow is my day to get everything together and ready for the chaos that will be my Monday. 23 kids vs. 1 adult. Those are not good odds!

Monday, August 11, 2008

After literally years of worrying...

Elvis started school today and did GREAT! He didn't cry when I left him and he didn't make an unpleasant sound all day. He loved everything. I'm guessing he was ready to go. Tomorrow is day 2. I'm hoping it goes as well as today.

While Elvis didn't cry this morning, I did. I was fine up until it was time for me to take him to his room. I just lost it. His room is right across the hall from mine. As the principal pointed out, he was a lot closer to me than he ever had been before. I knew all that. It's just that he started school. He's the first (and now obviously will be the only) one I've had from the very beginning. There were a couple of times early on that the doctors told us he wasn't going to live. And, now here he is in school. It was emotional on so many levels.

I had to go back to school tonight for parent orientation. I dread this night every year. I'm not a public speaker. I can talk to small kids all day long but something about talking to groups of parents makes me really nervous. However, I survived. I don't have to worry about this night for a whole year. That feels good. I had 6 kids all day today. Tomorrow, I'll spend my day with 7 boys. It promises to be a fun day - loud and rowdy but fun!

Beth and I have plans tomorrow night. We've discovered a show on the ABC Family channel that we both like. It's called The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I'd heard about it but hadn't really watched it until last week. They did a marathon of all the episodes and Beth and I watched it together and were hooked. A new episode comes on tomorrow night. We are planning a fun dinner and then watching the show together. It seems as she grows up and grows away, there aren't many things we can still do together. I'm glad we discovered this one.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Long, but worth watching

Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman lost his 5 year old daughter in May. Her 17 year old brother accidentally ran over her in their driveway. The family recently appeared on Good Morning America and Larry King Live. The links below are to the LKL appearance.

All I can say is, "Wow, what a family!" They are obviously special. I've always liked them because of their adoptions and their foundation to help others with the costs of adoptions. I so admire the way they have supported the son who was driving. I don't know that all families could do that. Their faith is inspirational!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Week One - DONE!

I've survived the first week of school. That is an accomplishment every year. I've given each child a 30 minute test. I get so darn tired of asking the same questions over and over and over (20 more times). However, I never get tired of their answers! Asking 23 kids (ages 4, 5, and 6) to "Name a fruit that is yellow" is a blast. The most common answer this year? ORANGES! WTH? Every year a kid or two says that but this year's crop gave it more frequently than the last few years combined.

Another fave is to complete this analogy: "A lemon is sour. Candy is ..." The correct answer is sweet, obviously. Evidently my new kiddos don't get the obvious stuff. Answers included: "not good for you," "good," "hard," "not sour," "sour," "yummy," and "like suckers and stuff."

"What do you call a worker who grows food?" The answers ranged from "God," to "that guy that likes to dig in the dirt."

When asked to repeat the sentence, "A tree has green leaves," at least 5 of them said, "That tree gots green leaves."

See why kindergarten is fun?!

My plans for the weekend involve going back to school to finish getting my classroom together. I'm not ready for my small group on Monday. My classroom library is a mess. The books are all in the wrong baskets, a little going away gift from my last class. A church rents our school building on Sundays and my classroom is the 2nd/3rd grade Sunday school classroom. Not my idea and it certainly complicates my teaching. I have no choice in the matter, though, so I just go along with it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Having withdrawals

Having noticed that I spend waaaay too much time watching The Gilmore Girls DVDs and too little time doing things that needed to be done, I'm attempting to get through this school week without any visits from "Rory" and "Lorelai." That would explain why I'm awake and on the computer at almost 11:00 tonight. I usually fall asleep listening to them. At this point, I've watched every episode of all seven seasons at least FOUR times each. I won't do the math but there are 21 episodes in the first season and 22 in the other six seasons. That's a lot of Gilmore.

Truthfully, I'd have to admit I'm watching them to escape. I don't know exactly what I'm escaping - the drama that is my life, the chaos that is my life, the chaotic drama that is my life? All of the above and then some, I'd have to say. At least it's not a terrible vice. I could be drinking or smoking or engaging in any number of other, much more dangerous vices. So what if I like to spend more time in "Stars Hollow, CT" than in my actual home town? The people are friendly and they are much more weird that the folks I know in real life.

Anyway, tomorrow after school, I have a date with the set of season 1 DVDs. Elvis will probably join me, as he loves the theme song. Yes, my life is a little dull right now but it hasn't been in over 10 years. I think I've earned a little dull. I think I need a little dull to learn to live with it. So, TGIF and to each his own!

Starting Monday...

Elvis will be a student at my school. We had his IEP this afternoon, instead of tomorrow. While I didn't get everything I wanted (he's certified as multiply handicapped) I'm perfectly happy with his classroom placement and services he'll receive. His speech therapist seems excited to work with him and that makes me happy, too.

Wish us luck as he transitions to a classroom. He's never been in a group setting so this will be quite the shock to his system. There are 5 other kids in his class - 3 of whom I've known for a couple of years now. I think, after an adjustment period, he'll be just fine. Then I can relax until time to re-certify him in the spring. However that battle is a few months off. For now, I'll just work on processing the fact that my baby is going to school.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

School has started

We've survived two full days. Beth has met dress code standards both days. I have to admit the students look very nice in their neat jeans/khakis and polo shirts. Only 171 more days to go in the school year. I hope she makes it. My class is coming together, too. This is the week the new kids come individually for short testing appointments. Next week, they come in small groups and stay all day. The following week, everyone descends together. That will be the longest week of the school year. After that, things start getting better...usually. With 23+ students, it may take a little longer.

I got a call from Cori's adoption worker today. Cori is moving to an adoptive placement tomorrow and they want to stop by and pick up what she has left here. I'm leaving it on the porch, as they won't be here before I have to leave for school. Happy trails, Cori.

I'm doing something for the first time tomorrow. I'm going to a movie by myself. I haven't ever done that but I really want to see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. No one else in my life seems to want to see it. It starts tomorrow and I plan to be at the first evening showing at our local theater. I'm actually looking forward to it. And, it's during "Happy Hour" so the ticket will only cost $5. I'm worth $5. (Just don't tell the theater staff that I'm sneaking in a snack.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

On to the next phase of my life

As the saying goes, "No good deed goes unpunished." That has hit home to me especially hard this week. I got the following email from the licensing worker at our county foster agency:

"Hello (ME),
We haven't spoke since your last placement left and at that time I understood you wanted to take a rest. I realize you have done a lot for your children and still continue too. I know dealing with children can be very frustrating and stressful while still in the same breath they can be very fulfilling for you. But with all you are doing I don't want to be the cause of making your home unstable due over working you with more placements. This could just be overwhelming especially with school now starting back. I thought a true break from DCS fostering might be in the best interest for you. You know you must take care of yourself first to so that you can care for others. I am wondering if you would like to close your home for now so I don't add to your stress with more children placements (because you know we would overwork you). You would have the option to have us re-evaluate your home again within the next two years if you decided you were ready to take this on again with out having to go back thru (foster parent classes). If you could let me know ASAP since I am due to re-assess and visit your home but if you wish to close this could be avoided.


As I read this email, several things came to mind. I wasn't due for my foster home reassessment until November. And, they never get it done on time so that part just didn't ring true. I emailed him back and told him that I hadn't intended to close my home. I'd only asked for a few months break after Cori left. However, reading between the lines, I felt something else was really up and I asked if he was actually just giving me the chance to close my home before they closed it for me. Here is his response to my question:

"Hello (ME),
I appreciate your willingness to consider your home closure and I really do think a good rest from all the drama is what is called for here. With the last placement there arose a S.I.U. investigation and caused a lot of stress for you, your family, FSW and the children, so, I do feel an extended break would help heal all. I know you have dealt with a lot over the years and this would take a toll on any one. Without over stating everything, yes, I do believe it is in everyone's best interest for you to close your home for at least one year. After this break from fostering and getting your household settled in (and giving your children a break form the stresses of fostering) if you feel you want to reopen, you could give me a call and I could go about reopening your home. If we do this within two years you wouldn't have to retake (foster parent classes) and this way you wouldn't have to continue taking the 15+ training hours that are required.
So let me know what you think.


My response to the second email was just two letters..."OK"

I'm not going to fight them. They'd win. I have no doubt about that. And, I really think I was through fostering. I hadn't planned on taking any more kids. I just wasn't sure I was ready to close my home. I love the part about the investigation causing a lot of stress for me and my family, as this email was the very first time I'd heard about the investigation. Stressful, huh?

I've really let this get me down this week and I hate that. I just don't like that they think less of me because of false allegations made by an already disturbed teenager. A child that I fought to have returned to my home because NOT ONE SINGLE FAMILY IN THE WHOLE STATE would take her in. I had to go to 3 separate court hearings in another county to get approval for her to be placed in my home with other kids. I spent hours writing safety plans and hauling her to out-of-town counseling appointments. My relationships with my other kids deteriorated badly because she was such an expert at dividing people and pitting them against each other. And, it was all for nothing. As soon as she realized I wasn't going to finalize her adoption, the smear campaign started. In the past, when she lied about the DCS workers, it was just "the rantings of a troubled girl." The minute it became about me (taking the heat off them), every word from her mouth was considered the gospel. By blaming me, the workers are off the hook and they can tell her next family that "it was all the fault of the previous foster parent."

OK (there are those two letters again), the whining is over and it's time to start looking forward to things I can do in my life with all my free time. (LOL! Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!!!!!!!!!!) I'll start the list. Please feel free to add suggestions in the comments section!

#1 Get myself in better shape - lose weight, become more active

#2 Do a better job of educating my students. When my home life is in disarray, it affects my job, too. This school year is going to rock!

#3 Get my house in better shape and keep it that way.

#4 Find a hobby and actually do it

#5 Have a life that doesn't revolve around the comings and goings of foster kids. I can actually make plans and buy tickets for things that are more than 2 weeks in the future!

#6 Un-childproof my house. I'll never again have to struggle with a kiddie lock. I can leave dangerous chemicals and medicines in plain view all over my house.

Ok (two letters, again, LOL), folks. Take over from here. What are the good things about not being a foster parent any more? Come on, I know you have suggestions!