Friday, October 31, 2008

The H-word

Ahh...Halloween in Kindergarten. Such a delight - NOT! I'm lucky to have survived the day. It's always wild but usually fun. Not this year. We have a "non-celebrator" in the room. That meant we had zero fun. We don't usually do anything scary but we read the fun books and dance to the Batty Bat and make a cool book about what everyone is going to be on Halloween. However this year there was none of that. I don't think I even said the word "Halloween" out loud in the classroom this year. Kind of bums me out. It's not that big of a deal. Our school outlawed Halloween parties. It still would have been fun to do the other stuff, though.

And, the bumming by the holiday continued on the home front as well. I bought Elvis' costume. I practiced trick-or-treating with him (using his communication board). I did all the "work" involved in the holiday. Alli and Boy Wonder did the fun part. They took him "trunk-or-treating" at a local church. (BW's family went along. I wasn't invited, even though they took my van.) I did request they take him by my mom's house. I guess I wasn't specific enough, as they technically took him by my mom's house. They just called her and had her come see him in the driveway. They made my 71 year old mother go down a flight of outdoor stairs at night rather than walking their 20 year old butts up to her. I can't believe Mom delivered their treats (She had a treat for them, as well as for Elvis.) I'd have told them if they didn't care enough to get out of the vehicle to just do without.

So, everyone was out celebrating and I was home...alone...watching idiots on the Food Network build a 19 foot replica of Mickey Mouse out of popcorn. Happy Halloween, All!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blogging during the school day? There must be a story to tell!

I was minding my own business this morning. Driving to school, just like I always do. My cell phone rang but I didn't recognize the number. It was local so I answered it. It was the Officer Xxxxx with the (our city) Police Dept. He asked if I knew where my mother was. I thought it an odd question but he soon filled in the gaps. Her house alarm was going off. My aunt was there with him. (The alarm company had notified her.) The house appeared to be secure. Mom's car was gone. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have thought anything about that. Mom is rarely still a minute and I'd have assumed that she was out trying to beat the crowd at the early voting place... except for one small detail. The house key she has hidden for emergency use (her "emergen-key, if you will) was missing. That key is ALWAYS there. Seriously, always! That missing key brought to mind all sorts of horrible scenarios. (I was afraid someone had used her emergen-key to go in, hurt Mom, and then taken her car keys and stolen her car.) It didn't help that she wasn't answering either phone.

I drove on to school, calling her cell constantly. I couldn't find anyone else. My brother's phone was off. My sister-in-law was already at her school, which is out of cell range. I left a message with her school office but I doubt she got it before her students arrived. I got to school, threw Elvis into his classroom and asked his teacher to feed him his breakfast. All the while, I was calling Mom's cell constantly because I didn't know what else to do. I realized I was going to need a sub for the day so the teacher next door went to the office. They snagged a PTA mom who also subs and she agreed to take my wild ones for the day. I typed out some rather pitiful lesson plans as fast as I could and left, telling my students that my mom wasn't feeling well and I needed to go check on her. (OK, technically a lie but: a- you can't tell 5 year olds that you lost you mom, and b- there was the possibility that I'd have to hurt her if I found her and she was just ignoring my phone calls.)

I left school and started down the highway headed to Mom's house. I tried her cell one more time as I arrived and...she answered. She still owns the house I grew up in and rents it out. The furnace there has been giving her troubles and she was in the basement there with a repairman. Whew! I got my heart to stop pounding and went to her house to look for the emergen-key, hoping my aunt had just overlooked it. Nope, it's not there. So, while relieved that Mom is okay, there is still the matter of the missing key. If she doesn't find it this morning, she needs to have her locks changed. Bottom line is, her alarm did go off. That happened for a reason. I'm just sooo glad she's okay.

So, it's just after 9:00 AM and I have a day off. I have plenty to do but I think I'll spend the next hour or so just doing nothing. Elvis and Beth are in school. Alli and Boy Wonder are in their part of the house. I may go flop across my bed and finish the book I've been reading. After that, I've got plenty to do for the rest of the day. And, I have that teacher training tonight after school. I'll go back for that because if I miss it, they'll take another half-day of sick leave. I'd rather not burn my sick days on the little things. And, after having today off, I should be nice and relaxed for the (usually) boring meeting tonight.

And, I guess I should apologize to Beth because when I first realized a police officer was calling my this morning, my first thought was "What has that girl gotten into this early in the morning?" I don't know why I thought that. The police have never been involved with her. That was just the thought that popped into my head before he finished telling me about my mom. So....Sorry for mentally branding you a criminal, Beth! I love you!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

'cause I'm bad like that

Boy Wonder is a HUGE Colts fan. I don't know why. I never asked why. I just know he LOVES the Colts and HATES the TN Titans. The last part of that fact? That makes me a Titans fan automatically. Now, I hate football. It's boring and I don't really understand the game. Don't actually care to understand the game. I just keep up with scores enough to know that the Titans are having a tremendous year. And that last night, the Colts and Titans were playing each other. And guess what? THE TITANS WON!!!!!!!!!!!! And the only reason I care? Because that means the Colts lost. Like I said....I'm back like that.

As I'm up pondering that thought before 2:00 AM, it makes me realize how some of my foster kids have felt over the years. It's not as simple but it's the same premise. They are grossly unhappy with their lives and the lack of control they have over their own lives. Instead of being oppositional on some minor point, like preferring one sports team over another, they end being oppositional over major things in life, like following the basic rules of society or being able to live peacefully in a family setting. I'm an adult and I'm able to understand the basics of my new found fondness for a particular sports team. (Boy Wonder and I, at best, have a very contentious relationship. We live in the same space in relative peace but often find ourselves at odds. Evidently I go out of my way to be at odds with him - at least on this one topic.) And, this rivalry doesn't interfere with life to a major degree. However, with the stream of kids I've had over the last 10 years, their decision to be oppositional to the fine points of family life DID have a huge impact of the quality of their lives (and, of course, the lives of those who actually tried to live with them).

That brief moment of introspection is now over. I need to go address the real reason I'm up long before the crack of dawn...Elvis is wide awake. I'm hoping I'll feed him some yogurt and give him a little Pediasure and *hopefully* he'll go back to sleep. I just couldn't resist checking the Colts/Titans score while I was up. (I'd gone to bed before it was over and at that point, the Colts were winning.) GO TITANS!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I did my civic duty today

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Voting didn't feel as good today as it usually does. I usually leave feeling proud of myself for participating in our country's government. Today, I was just glad it's over. There wasn't a clear-cut choice for me today. I ended up voting not for the person who I think would make a great president. That would have been "none of the above." Instead, I had to vote for the person I believed to be the lesser of two evils. It could end up being a loooooong 4 years.

On the upside, early voting went very smoothly. Alli, Elvis, and I went. We were in and out in under 10 minutes. The only snag was Alli's last name. (She's 21 and has had 4 different last names.) The last time she voted, she was still going by her alleged bio father's last name. Since then, she's had my last name and now her husband's. We did a lot of name changes but evidently forgot to change it on her voter registration. They let her go ahead and vote but had her sign everything by the last name she was registered under. Once we got past that section, things went quickly.

This is my long week at school. We have a teacher training Wednesday from 3:30 until 6:30 and on Thursday, we have parent-teacher conferences from 4:00 until 7:00. Then Friday is Halloween and, even though we aren't celebrating it at school, the day promises to be wild. No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the kids know.

And, just to make this week even better, it's gotten to be cold weather. We have freeze warnings, even. Ordinarily, I would love this (and I do love the cold) but it caused a minor disaster this morning. Realizing that it was going to be 48 degrees with a 20 mph north wind on the playground, I knew I'd need a jacket. I dug around and found a suitable one but it had been wadded up and tossed around for a few months. I tossed it in the dryer with a dryer sheet and continued getting ready. Beth (who likes her clothes to be warmed before she puts them on) threw her wardrobe for the day in with my jacket. When she went to retrieve her clothes, there was much fussing and gnashing of teeth. She wanted to know what was all over her clothes. Upon further investigation, she discovered the source of the black film on her clothes...a black crayon that had evidently spent the summer in my jacket pocket. It escaped the pocket and melted all over the inside of the dryer and the contents of said dryer. Yuck, yuck, yuck!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another (much more important) miracle

Check out Annika - Day 16 with her new liver. Isn't it amazing?

God sent me tomato soup

Well, my mom helped. I have a recipe for beef stew that I just love. The kids love it, too, and it's finally cool enough to have it. Alli and I did some shopping yesterday (without a list) and I thought I'd gotten everything I needed. I got up this morning and got busy assembling the stew. It has several ingredients and I cook it in the crock pot (because our oven is broken) so it takes a while to cook. I got everything together and I was missing the two cans of tomato soup the recipe calls for. (Okay, so it's not exactly home cooking but, I assure you, this stew is wonderful!)

Aggravated thinking I was going to have to rush and get ready to go back to the store, I started cleaning the kitchen. It desperately needed cleaning. There were dirty dishes lying around and several bags of unknown items stacked in various places. I guess I worked off some tension as I cleaned and I was feeling better about the extra trip to the store for the soup. The kitchen looked better and that made me feel better. I was a lot less aggravated when I picked up the last bag that needed to be unloaded. I knew what was in it - my mom had given me (two weeks ago) a grocery bag of instant pudding because she knew Elvis would like it. I picked up the bag, ready to store the pudding in the pantry and it felt oddly heavy to have only contained boxes of pudding...yep, that's right - along with the pudding, the bag contained exactly two cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup.

So, the kitchen looks a lot better and we had the yummy stew for dinner. Thanks, God...and Mom.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tense PTA meeting

The meeting was really stressful. You could feel the tension in the air. However, no one came to blows. The police officer stayed in the area just in case but spent much of the meeting picking at the kids who came.

Our PTA has never been like this before. In the past, most meetings were attended by most of the teachers, all of the PTA board members, and (maybe) a couple other parents. That was it. And, truthfully, the teachers were only there because the principal said we had to be.

Fast forward to last year - we had a really active PTA board and they planned lots of activities. Most of them didn't want to serve again this year so we have a lot of new folks on the board. They continued with the enthusiasm of last year and things were going well. Then, a group of negative parents got together and seem to take delight in causing problems. One parent (the spokesman for the group) literally questioned every statement in last night's meeting...EVERY statement. You could almost hear the eye rolls from the others in attendance.

Seriously, if the best thing you have to do with your life is cause big trouble by fighting against the PTA and administration of your local primary school.....GET A LIFE! It was so frustrating to watch them aggravate and belittle the caring parents who are doing a great job of supporting our school. I plan to be at every meeting I can this year. They are not convenient for me and I have to do a lot of extra running to be there but I feel it's the least I can do. I try to live my life avoiding confrontation whenever I can. It's shocking to watch this group go out of their way to annoy others. It's almost foreign to me. And I'm glad. I don't want to be one of those people. I can only assume that their lives are boring and unhappy to make them get such joy out of this mess they have created.

I'm soooo glad today is Friday. It's been a long week. The kids came back from fall break and are wild. I got a new student Wednesday (giving me 23 students) and he's something else. That gives me two students with significant behavior issues. I had to call the office and have our school cop come remove one of them from my room today as he was throwing chairs and cursing. It's hard to teach with that commotion going on. I'm not one to send problem kids to the office. They miss educational time while they are there. However, this child is one of the toughest I've ever had. The principal told me to start sending him up there so they can document what's going on. I'm still hesitant to do it but he was way over the line today. If he was one of 18 students, I'd have him settled down by now. As one of 23 students, he'll move on to first grade next year with the same or maybe even worse behavior problems. Sad. It's not my fault. It's not his fault. It's just the way the numbers lined up this year. And, while I'll have a difficult year (and maybe use a bunch of sick days) the child is the one who will suffer...and, of course, his first grade teacher!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Still around

Wow! Fall break is over and back to school is BUSY! I've barely had any time to get on the computer. When I have had a second to get online, I've checked on Annika quickly and then gotten off to deal with real life. Nothing's wrong here...I'm just tired and busy.

Fall break gives me time to fall into bad habits. I love staying up late and then sleeping in. Many mornings, I (and Elvis) slept until almost 10:00 A.M. To add to my sleep-deprivation, Elvis (who missed school and was really excited to go back) decided to get up at 2:30 AM for the day. I swear he was saying "school." (He kept repeating what sounded like coo-el. I think it was Elvis for school.) So, I faced my first day back at work with less than 2 hours of sleep the night before. Monday went fairly well but Tuesday morning I felt like I'd been run over. Today was better. Elvis and I are going to bed really early, trying to catch up. I was asleep by 9:15 last night. That's possibly a record for me.

We did do something fun this week. The girls have a bio cousin who they are still close to. She was a positive part of their lives and we stay in contact. Her husband is in the National Guard and he's being deployed for the second time. I think he's still in the states for training right now but he's far from home. The girls and I packed a box of Halloween junk and sent to the cousin and her two little girls. They got it today and we got this text message: "The girls just opened their box and they are both so excited. Thanks. (7 year old) says ya'll are the best cousins ever. (2 year old) said "Wow, mama. Look at this!" So, we've spread a little joy to them. It's my plan to send them a box every month. I hope we can keep up with it. It is fun to shop for the boxes.

Alli and Boy Wonder are still doing nothing. I get bored just watching them. I can't imagine how bad it is to actually live like that. As much as I enjoy an occasional day off school, I like having that structure in my life. Getting up every day with nothing to do would make me nuts. BW reportedly has a lead on a job. Alli has an interview next week at a temporary staffing company. We'll see what happens next.

Beth is back in the swing of school. She's still madly in love with Spider-Pig. (tee hee) She's half-way looking for a job. I haven't been really pushing that. She's not driving so a job for her means more work for me. I also don't think she can keep up with school and hold a job. After Christmas, I'll push her harder to find work.

Elvis has been practicing trick-or-treating at school using his communication device. I was coming back from lunch yesterday and ran into him and his speech therapist. He was wearing a mask and I saw new icons on his board. She handed me a piece of candy and told him to tell me trick-or-treat. It took a few seconds but he hit the correct button and the therapist's recorded voice said, "Trick or treat!" I put the candy in his bucket and (with a little prompting) he hit the button for "thank you." Next, she told him to tell me what he was dressed as. He hit the button that said, "Devil." Not only did he hit it once, he hit it over and over again(devil....devil.....devil....devil) so the whole area heard he was a devil. I laughed...a lot. So much that the therapist sent the mask home with him so I could continue to enjoy it. He's getting better at the whole trick or treating thing. Guess we'll have to take him out on Halloween so he can do it in the real world.

I have a PTA meeting tomorrow night at school. I usually dread these but am looking forward to this one. There's been some kind of drama between the PTA board and the school administration as well as some drama among the PTA itself. We also have on parent who comes to these meetings just to stir things up. Rumor has it the cops may come to the meeting. I wouldn't miss it for the world. I spend all my time and energy avoiding drama that involves me but I'll all excited about watching it when I'm not directly involved!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Too much cole slaw

The trip to my grandmother's went very, very well. We were just a little late (about 10-15 minutes ) leaving home but the drive over was fine and actually got to her assisted living place right at noon to have lunch with her. She was sitting at her table waiting for us when we got there. Our plates were already on the table - chicken, mac and cheese, a roll, and...slaw. I hate the smell/taste/idea of slaw. It had touched my chicken, roll, and mac & cheese, so I had to eat around those parts. My plate looked funny when I was done. The whole serving of slaw was there and it was bordered by a line of the other foods. Yes, I know I'm weird.

The assisted living place was rather nice. I'm usually a little skeeved out by nursing homes but this one was very "home-y" and the employees were very sweet with the residents (and visitors). My grandmother was happy to see us but kept saying she didn't feel well. I don't think I'd ever feel well at 92 years old. She loved Elvis and Elvis loved her. She even held him quite a while (and he's not easy to hold). Her room was hot and she was wearing a sweatshirt. I was sweating like a pig. (Side note: My aunt always insists that women don't "sweat" - they "glow." I guess she'd have said I was glowing like a pig. Whatever!) We stayed and visited about 3 hours. My grandmother kept telling Elvis how pretty his eyes are. You could almost see his head getting bigger each time she said it. He's quite conceited. We left at 3:00 because her Bingo game was starting - LOL! Last time, she won a box of Moon Pies. She was hoping for something else this time. I left hoping she won a R.C. Cola . Then she could go here. (More than I ever really wanted to know about Moon Pies and R.C. here.)

We said goodbye with a quick hug and an "I love you." (We had to hurry because the Bingo caller had already started. This disturbed my grandmother a bit.) I couldn't help but wonder if I'd see her again. I am very glad I went! The drive home was rainy but we didn't have any trouble. Elvis slept a little. We got home right near dinner time and my mom offered to buy us dinner. We went to a local catfish place that we all enjoy. Guess what comes with every meal...that's right - SLAW! I ordered my catfish, requesting white beans instead of slaw. Wouldn't you know it - they brought me the beans and the slaw. For the second time in one day, I had to isolate parts of my meal that had been too close to the enemy (slaw).

Today, I slept til almost 10 (a habit I have to quickly break) and then went to school to work on my classroom. Alli had agreed to come help and Beth had planned to watch Elvis while we went. Neither of those happened. I guess neither of them really wanted to do their part so I went alone. It wasn't a bad day. It would have just been more fun with someone else along. I must be about to hit that empty nest phase of life. The girls had rather do their own thing than to hang out with me. Guess that means if I'd rather spend my money on me instead of them, I can do that, too! This empty nest thing might not be so bad.

Tomorrow, I'm going back to school to finish my classroom. (I just never got things organized the way I wanted them when school started. I lived with it the first 9 weeks but I need it to be better.) It's a little aggravating to spend my fall break days there but I will feel so much better when it's done. On Sunday afternoon, I hope to attend the games of the local baseball league for people with special needs. Last year, Deb was with me and played on the league so we went to all the games and practices. This year, Deb lives elsewhere but is still playing. Cori's little sister plays, too. I also have a few other friends and former students playing so I really enjoy the games. Elvis likes to watch, too, so it will be an enjoyable afternoon. Then, Monday comes and it's back to school. I'm ready. I'll miss sleeping in but I'm ready.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Over the river and through the woods...

To Grandmother's house we go...Well, to Grandmother's assisted living condo we go. (But that doesn't fit in the song, does it?) My mom, Elvis, and I are setting out on an adventure tomorrow. Keep us in your thoughts, please. We'll be driving my ancient van about 160 miles each way to visit my grandmother. We're figuring almost 3 hours in driving time each way and we are hoping to get there in time to eat lunch with her in their dining room.

I've been sitting here trying to remember exactly how old my grandmother is. How sad is it that I don't know? I do remember that her 80th birthday was before I ever started fostering. I fostered over 10 years so she has to be at least 90. YIKES! I can't even remember the last time I saw her - SHAME ON ME! She didn't come to our 4th of July this summer. She didn't feel up to the trip last Christmas, either. The summer before that, I had to leave the 4th of July party before she got there. (I had a very physically and verbally aggressive foster child at the time. I couldn't stay there and let her call my grandmother every dirty word in the Dictionary of Dirtiest Words Ever.) So, I'm guessing I last saw her Christmas of 2006. Again, SHAME ON ME!

So, we're loading up at the crack of dawn in the morning and beginning the big trip. It promises to be an adventure! Luckily, Elvis travels well. I still may lose my mind before we get home tomorrow night. Now, I need to go clean out my van before I get the world's longest lecture from my mom on the mess floating around my van. I have to admit there is quite a collection out there. I counted 3 lunchboxes the other day. (Yes, I just counted them and left them there. Welcome to my world.) Along with Elvis' wheelchair, which has to make the trip with us, he has a booster seat to be used in a chair and another booster seat to be used on the floor. (No, they don't make one for both purposes. That's how the companies make lots of money - bilking the parents of kids with special needs for every single penny.) There is also an expired car seat in the way back. Mom was going to donate it but I pointed out it was unsafe. I took it, thinking I can use it in my bathroom. It's hard to hold the very long Elvis and brush his teeth. I think I can put him in that car seat on the counter and save my back a little strain.

I think we'll risk it with just the wheelchair tomorrow. Taking out the other seats will allow room for the cooler. (My mom never goes anywhere without a cooler - LOL.) And, yes, I'm laughing now but when I'm thirsty tomorrow and Mom pulls out that icy cold Diet Cherry Pepsi, I'll be oh so glad she packed and brought the cooler.

Get a life

As evidenced by this:,2933,435164,00.html Some people really need to get a life of their own and stop trying to just annoy others for their own entertainment. Here's an idea: Don't like the doll? Don't buy it! If you bought it before you heard it? Return it! Problem solved. Running to the every news outlet in a 50 mile radius? (Want to hear the "satanic" doll spouting evil mutterings? Go here. )

In my real life...Fall break is winding down. I'm not ready to go back to school but in some ways I am ready to go back. Weird, huh? I miss the predictable routines. I miss knowing when Beth will be coming and going. I miss knowing that Elvis is in his classroom across the hall from me. (And Elvis really misses being there. The boy LOVES school!)

Everyone is out today and I'm enjoying some peace at home alone. I'm watching Gilmore Girls DVDs (that I've seen many, many times before) and doing a little housekeeping - washing clothes, changing Elvis' sheets, a little cleaning in the kitchen. Absolutely nothing exciting but still comforting and quiet. I guess if I wanted to liven things up I could go check all of Elvis' toys. Surely he has at least one talking toy that, if I listen to hard enough, would sound like it's saying something controversial like, "Adults who listen to dolls need serious help."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oooh, a quiz!

From Badger:

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are an Ingrid!


You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.

  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.

  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.

  • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.

  • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

What I Like About Being an Ingrid

  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level

  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people

  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life

  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor

  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others

  • * having aesthetic sensibilities

  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid

  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair

  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved

  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people

  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me

  • * expecting too much from myself and life

  • * fearing being abandoned

  • * obsessing over resentments

  • * longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often

  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games

  • * are very sensitive

  • * feel that they don't fit in

  • * believe they are missing something that other people have

  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.

  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood

  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

Ingrids as Parents

  • * help their children become who they really are

  • * support their children's creativity and originality

  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings

  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective

  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Weekend surprise

As I was leaving the ill-fated cemetery tour on Saturday, I got a text from Beth asking where I was. She'd taken off with friends when she was angry at ME because she was smoking last Wednesday and I hadn't seen her since. (She'd been home during that time span but I hadn't been home at the same time.) Anyway, she was home about 2:30 Saturday afternoon and is still here this morning. I don't know if her friends are all busy (I do know Spider-Pig is working a lot) or if she felt guilty for being so ugly to me. For whatever reason, she's been around for a couple of days.

It's been pleasant. We watched a movie on TV together Saturday night (The Five People You Will Meet in Heaven) and it's a loooong movie. I'd put her favorite beef stew in the crockpot Saturday morning, never dreaming she'd be home to have some but she was. She slept most of Sunday morning but was still around the house and pleasant all day. She wanted to go to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon to get hair dye. (She's still blond from the summer and wanted to have light brown hair for fall.) We accomplished that task and I let her choose the fast food of her choice for dinner last night. We picked up Long John Silver's really greasy fish on the way home and ate it while we watched America's Funniest Home Videos. Afterwards, she dyed her hair back to "light natural brown" (according to the box).

So, it's been a nice couple of days. She's still smoking but she's staying outside a little longer to air out a bit and is staying away from Elvis when she still smells like smoke. I'm going to miss her helping with Elvis but I'll live. It was nice to see her this weekend. I'm still ready to get back to school and have a more predictable routine.

Alli and Boy Wonder were gone all weekend. They are both unemployed but went to Indianapolis to a Colts game. It had to have been expensive trip. They rented a car. Those tickets aren't cheap. Gas is down some but still expensive. It wasn't exactly the responsible thing to do, eh? They had a good time, though. And I enjoyed the peace around the house.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday's Adventure

There were several things in our community yesterday that sounded like fun. There was a "Touch a Truck" event at a church that involved all the various types of trucks being opened up for visitors to go through and explore. They were going to have all the emergency vehicles as well as more everyday ones like ice cream trucks and repair trucks. It looked to be something Elvis would enjoy. Another fun thing was a greyhound meet and greet at a local pet store. Since my greyhound died, I've had no desire to see others. However, this one sounded like fun and I think Elvis would have enjoyed the dogs because they would be at his eye-level when he was seated in his wheelchair. The third possibility was a walking tour of a local, very old cemetery. The events were all about the same time and there was about a 30 minute drive between each of the three. I obviously couldn't do all so I chose the cemetery tour. I'd been on one in the same cemetery years and years ago and loved it. But, alas, I made a bad choice.

To begin my explanation, here's the article from our local paper that described the event:

"Walking tour of (Xxxx Xxxx) Cemetery slated Saturday

The Xxxx Xxxx Cemetery Association's board of trustees has planned an event at Xxxx Xxxx in conjunction with the (our) County bicentennial celebration. A walking tour highlighting the final resting places of notable people in (Our) County history will be held from 1-4 p.m. Saturday. The event is free and open to the public. Donations for the maintenance, groundskeeping and improvement of the cemetery will be accepted. Young ladies dressed in period costumes will be stationed at each stop of the tour to share interesting information about the deceased. Women in black mourning attire will talk about mourning customs of the time. Local re-enactors in military costume will be set up in the section of the cemetery where the Confederate monument is located. An honor guard will be stationed at the graves of war heroes. Music from the 1800s will drift through the air, along with the fall leaves.

"Please join us for a date with history and a walk through time. This is the perfect time to enjoy the fall and learn some (Our) County history," said Big Fat Liar, Xxxx Xxxx Cemetery trustee."

After attending the event, all I have to say is, "Liar, Liar, Pants on fire!!"

My friend, two of her sons (ages 10 and almost 9, big fans of all things military), Elvis and I arrived right at 1:00. We signed in, got our map, and waited to be told to start. Watching the trustees scurry around, it became all too obvious that they were not ready for this tour. They literally asked people who were there to take the tour if they would volunteer to play the part of some of the deceased whose graves were on the tour. So much for the "young ladies in period costume" who were to be stationed at each grave. A local school board member and his wife were drafted into service. I can't be totally sure but I'm willing to bet that our local Civil War hero didn't actually wear jeans and a Polo shirt. The grave of the first undertaker in our county (how's that for important historical fact?) was manned by an older gentleman in a tropical (think Jimmy Buffet) shirt. Three of the graves were being manned by one girl in period costume. She was trotting back and forth between the three graves and was usually out of breath as she attempted to describe the historical importance of the people buried there. Sadly, her reading skills weren't the best. Besides mispronouncing many words in the blurb she was reading, she also repeatedly mispronounced one of the NAMES!

The "local re-enactors in military costumes" did, in fact, exist. Of course, it was just two of them. To their credit, they knew their topic and did the best presentation of the day. There was, however, no "honor guard" stationed at the graves or war heroes. There was one odd man who sat in his very modern car right in the middle of the cemetery and every 30 minutes would step, play "Taps" on his trumpet, and then hop right back in his car. Perhaps in the minds of the organizers, that was their "honor guard" and "the delightful music of the 1800s" because no other music was heard drifting through the air "with the fall leaves."

And (not that is was their fault) but the temperature was 86 degrees yesterday - way too hot to pushing Elvis and his wheelchair through a cemetery with broken sidewalks and huge curbs.

I was sooo disappointed in this tour. The last time I went, it was done perfectly. The community band was set up and kept period music drifting along. A guide took groups of the tours. As you approached a grave on the tour, people in period costumes stepped from the shadows or from behind the marker and (in the role of the deceased) told you a little about the life and death of the resident of the grave. It wasn't spooky or scary - just historical and informative. I can only assume that the organizers of yesterday's disaster had hoped to recreate that tour. Sadly, they failed....miserably!

I wish I'd done the greyhound meet and greet and taken Elvis to touch a few trucks.

A little late, but here's the story of my Friday

I got to the restaurant first and went ahead and got our table. It had only been open for about 15 minutes at that point, so I had plenty to choose from. I got one with a view of the front door, hoping I could recognize her. It had been 20 years, for goodness sakes! She arrived about 10 minutes after me and, even with a hair color change, I recognized her. (I have to admit that if I'd randomly run into her in the mall, I probably wouldn't have recognized her.) After a few moments spent in greeting, the catching up began. Almost 3 hours later, I'd say we were about half-way caught up but Autim (her own spelling - it annoyed me, though because it was waaaay to close to "Autism" and not close enough to "Autumn" which is how she pronounced it) the waitress was more than ready to have her table back.

We both brought pictures from the last 20 years but she did a much better job with hers. She had one album and it contained all the important events in her life - school, marriage, her son, and extended family. I have no such all-inclusive record of my family. My story is defined by the different foster kids and what we did while he/she was here. I couldn't decided what to take to show her. I ended up with the middle volume of a long-ago foster kid's scrapbook set. It gave her an overview of my life at that point. I also took along pictures of my forever kids over the time they've been with me. It did make me realize that I need to spend some time this winter documenting the last 10 years from my perspective. All the foster kids who have stayed a while have a scrapbook to take with them. (Except for this odd exception - I never started a scrapbook for my Alli, Beth, or Elvis. I bought the albums but have never put anything in them, either. Perhaps I can do one for me along with theirs? I can just picture the blank pages to represent the almost 3 years of un-backed up digital pics we lost in the great computer crash of 2007.)

We covered almost every topic in our extended lunch - immediate family, extended family, health updates, houses, neighbors, vacations, and plans for the future. It was really great to catch up. I'm soooo glad we did it. I'm just sorry it took so long. It's definitely something I'm glad we did and plan to do it again SOON!

Since I got back, I've been trying to remember how/exactly when we parted so many years ago. I can't remember the last time we saw each other. I'm sure at the time, neither of us realized it would be the last time for 20 years. If we had, I'm sure we would remember it. I have no doubt in was on campus at the university we both attended. I'd go even further and say it was in our dorm building. (We went to the same college but hadn't planned to go together. As a result, we weren't roommates but ended up 2 floors apart in the same dorm. We saw each other a lot the first year but gradually began to drift apart. By the second year, we just saw each other occasionally in passing. I don't remember seeing her after that second year.)

Hindsight being 20/20 and all, if I had it to do over again, I would do it differently. She's done fine without me, obviously, but I would have liked to have been around. It's even more odd to realize that, other than a few years she spent out of state right after college, we've never lived more than an hour's drive away from each other. Not only that, but I've been in her city many, many times. I drive through it when I go to visit my mom's family. When Cori moved back to my house, she came from a foster home in that city. I bet I was there 15 times before Cori finally moved it. And, Cori continued counseling in that city and I was there several times a month. All that time, we were so close and yet so far.

I can't change the past. I can only make plans for it not to happen again. I know where she is. I have her cell number and email address. I will not let her disappear again! She bought lunch this time so I told her that meant we'd have to meet again so I could buy. Before we meet again, I want to go to my mom's and dig through her box of pictures. I know she has many of us from the "good old days." I want to take them and share with her.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Second Solo Movie

I'm officially tired of fall break. Beth doesn't do well with the loose schedule and uses every opportunity to escape. She didn't come home last night...because the car of the friend she was visiting didn't have working windshield wipers....of course it didn't rain here last night so I'm not sure why she didn't come home. She's out again tonight. I'm almost to the point of not caring any more.

Anyway, I got out of the house today because if I didn't, I was going to have to kill someone (anyone). A friend needed her kids dropped off at her office in the next county. I left home just to do that and got home almost 7 hours later - LOL! I dropped the boys off and headed back home. Along the way, I stopped at my school to unload some stuff I'd bought for my classroom. (Parents take note - teachers spend a LOT of their own money on items for the classroom.) I unloaded the folding rocker and rolling storage bins and hung out in my room a little while, working on my class website. (I'm still really enjoying that.) While I was there, I started a website for the teacher next door who seemed unable to figure out how to do one.

While I was at school, I decided I'd just stay until time the happy hour (meaning $5 admission) showing of "Nights at Rodanthe." I'll not spoil the movie for those who want to see it and haven't but let's just say I was angry at the movie by the end. I guess I'm just not cut out to be a fan of Nicholas Sparks books turned into movies. "The Notebook" (which every I know loved) bored me. This one pissed me off. It really surprises be because I'm a sucker for romantic books/movies. I think I'm done with ones by Sparks now.

After the movie, I stopped by Wal-Mart, just to pick up some pictures I'd had printed. I managed to spend another $36 on groceries while I was there. I left Wal-Mart and headed to Aldi to do the bulk of my grocery shopping for the next week. I got home and got the cold stuff put away just in time to watch the new Grey's Anatomy. Now, I'm ready to go to bed but I can't because I need to do laundry for tomorrow. Alli/Boy Wonder have clothes in the washer and the dryer. Again, I may have to kill someone.

Big plans for tomorrow! I'm meeting my friend who I haven't seen or actually talked to in about 20 years. I'm excited and nervous. It's odd how we were practically best friends for the first 20 years of our lives and then went the next 20 years with no contact. We didn't part angry at each other. I don't know that either of us actually meant to part. We just drifted apart in college. We've done some preliminary catching up via email but I'm looking forward to some real life catching up tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Home less than 24 hours

Beth finally got home from her trip yesterday afternoon about 3:30. By 10:30 this morning, she was angry enough at me to have killed me. YIKES!

She's been smoking. I've known for quite a while. I'm highly allergic to tobacco smoke and can identify it almost a mile away. I can sure smell it on my daughter who had just showered, walked out the front door, and came back in 5 minutes later reeking of smoke. I've not confronted her about it. She's 18 and can legally smoke.

This morning, she went out to smoke and as soon as she came back in, she picked up Elvis. All I said was, "Please don't hold Elvis right after you've smoked. He's already sick and that can make him worse." She almost threw the poor child at me and ran to her room. She refused to speak to me or reply to my text messages. She started getting ready so I assumed she'd called a friend to come pick her up. I texted her one more time and told her she had to spend 5 minutes with me before she could leave. (I don't know what I could have/would have done if she hadn't but, thank goodness, she did.) I asked her why she was so angry. She didn't know. I asked if she thought Elvis needed to be around the smoke. She said no. She barely spoke to me all and teared up instantly. I was really shocked by all this.

I tried my best to not sound like I was judging her. This is nothing new. I've always kind of known she'd be a smoker, for at least a while. The very first time I ever saw her, she was smoking and she couldn't have been older than 12! Bio mom and dad are smokers. The "cool" kids she hangs out with smoke. I didn't make a single comment about her smoking or my feelings about. I just let her know that the smoke on her clothes could harm Elvis. And, she LOVES Elvis. I knew she wouldn't want to intentionally harm him. I didn't tell her not to smoke. I just asked her to not hold Elvis while she still smelled smokey. (To be fair, she's fully aware of my feelings regarding smoking. She's lived with me over 4 years, she has to be. I didn't, however, direct anything towards her today.)

~Elvis info for the new readers - He was born at 26 weeks gestation and has all the usual ailments of a micro-preemie, including chronic lung disease. On his best days, he's asthmatic. He'll never be anywhere close to "normal" in the respiratory department. We can't undo that damage but we can do our best to avoid doing further damage to his lungs.~

So, she's out. She had settled down a bit before she left. She said she'll be home tonight. I guess we'll see. Geeez. Parenting kids who think they are grown is hard!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Proof of Number 20

Please read number 20 on this post and then read the following article. For extra fun, follow the link to see the t-shirt the idiot was wearing in his mug shot.

10-Year-Old Flips Van At 90 MPH
Adult Told Police He Drank 15 Beers
POSTED: 2:14 pm EDT October 7, 2008
UPDATED: 2:30 pm EDT October 7, 2008

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. -- A 10-year-old was driving up to 90 mph when he crashed a van carrying a man who told police he had drank at least 15 beers and a woman who was trying to swallow as many pills as she could when deputies arrived at the scene, Tennessee authorities said Tuesday.
The young driver lost control and the vehicle rolled, coming to rest on its top in northeastern Tennessee, Sullivan County authorities said. The two adults and three children in the van were taken to Bristol Memorial Hospital with minor injuries following Sunday's crash.
Police charged 43-year-old Randy Lewis of Bristol with seven violations, including third offense DUI and felony reckless endangerment. People can be charged with DUI in Tennessee if they own the vehicle, even if they are not driving. A booking photo released by the Sheriff's Office showed Lewis wearing a T-shirt that said, "Buy this dad a beer."
Paula Elaine Evans, who is 38 and also of Bristol, faces charges that include aggravated child abuse or neglect.
Lewis and Evans were being held in the Sullivan County Jail after a judge increased their bonds on Tuesday to $50,000 each at an arraignment hearing.
County jailers did not know if Lewis and Evans had retained attorneys and no one was immediately available to answer questions at the Sullivan County Public Defender's office.
The sheriff's office said Lewis acknowledged drinking liquor besides the beers.
The children -- two 10-year-olds and a 6-year-old -- were related to the adults, said authorities who declined to further detail the relationships.
The children were released to the Tennessee Children's Services Department after being treated at the hospital.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I've dressed my blog for fall. Maybe I do need to get a life? LOL! Anyway, the old template was getting boring so I snagged the link off someone else's blog and fancied mine up. If you can't read something, let me know. It took me a while to get the color of the dates changed, for some reason, but I think they are visible now.

The front ramps are built and the workers went to lunch. They just came back and are attempting to fix my storage shed out back. It's placed on a hill and the water has eroded the dirt underneath allowing the columns of concrete blocks that support the shed to fall over. They are using planks to divert the flow of water and then they are going to build the columns back. We've been just staying out of the shed since it's been hanging off the hill for a few months now. Maybe I'll get that darn thing cleaned out some on fall break now.

We're being "ramped"

Our church has a program called Tangible Differences. They combine retired people with teens and send then out in the community to do repairs to homes to help people out. (They actually send them out of state from time to time to help with major projects.) They are at work today because schools are closed for fall break, freeing up the teenagers to help.

At 9:00 this morning, two trucks pulled into my driveway. Each contained an older gentleman and a teen. As I type, they are building two ramps at my front door. (One from the sidewalk to the porch and the other at the step from the porch into my front door.) Elvis will be able to be wheeled in and out with two rather jarring bumps each trip. There is only one step at each place and we've been making do but it's still hard to get him in and out gently. He's going to LOVE these ramps!

Thanks, Ramp-Builders!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

If I were "Carnac the Magnificent"

The answer is......"Buy new pillows."

The question is...."What do you need to do after your grandson, who is propped up on your bed eating M&Ms, vomits a disgusting mixture of chocolate and phlegm on every available surface?"

Seriously, if I hadn't been there to see the chocolate snot fountain live and in person, I probably wouldn't have believed that one small boy was responsible for such a mess. I had to use both my hands to keep the mess from flowing down the rest of my bed. I was able to call for Alli who came running with a huge stack of napkins. (She couldn't find the paper towels quickly and we needed something disposable, obviously.) We got him wiped off and cleaned up as best we could. Even though each pillow had a case and a protective cover on it, both pillows suffered damage.

Conveniently, Elvis woke up at 5:30 this morning. We hung out a while before heading to Wal-Mart, rather than sit around and be bored. He was still in his jammies but is always willing to go to Wal-Mart. We came home with new pillows for me and breakfast for all.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

In other news...

Besides the horrible death of the student at my school, the rest of my life is just plugging along. We're officially on fall break now. The kids were off yesterday but teachers had a professional development day. In a startling event, I actually enjoyed some of what we did. We got to spend some time making a web site for our classrooms. I loved it! Mine is already online! I've still got a couple more pages under construction but I'm pleased with what I did. The teacher next door offered to pay me to do hers. I actually told her I'd do it for free because I really, really enjoyed it.

Beth's out of state for a few days. Her boyfriend's sister has been living in FL and is moving back to our state. Boyfriend (who really needs a blog name) and his parents were going to pack her up and move her back. They invited Beth to join them. They left Thursday night and will be home some time tomorrow. I miss her but she's checking in regularly and is having a good time.

Elvis has been sick again. Just like last time, he spiked a fever in the middle of the night. It was 102 degrees at midnight and still 101.4 at 2:00 AM after having had Motrin. Adding Tylenol to the mix helped get it a little lower. Alli took him to the doctor Thursday and she said he had the flu. (Meaning I was wrong, as I just knew his ears were going to still be infected.) So, no extra meds. We've been treating the fever and pushing the liquids. His temp has stayed down today so I guess he's on the mend.

Alli and I nearly came to blows this last week. She and Boy Wonder and still doing NOTHING. We had a big talk, however, about how badly things are going and she's vowed to turn things around. We'll see. Since our talk, they have been doing better about helping out. That helps me a lot. Still, I wouldn't be totally surprised to come home one afternoon and find them gone, having moved out to live with someone who has no expectations for them. Whatever. If you're going to live here, you need to be functioning in the real world. I've got to have my standards, such that they are.

And, me? I'm just rejoicing in the fact that I have two whole weeks off work! I do have some plans. I'm hoping to repaint my room and actually get it sage green instead of booger green this time. (Yes, I just painted it in March but I still really dislike the color.) I'm meeting an oooooold friend for lunch one day. (And I mean really old friend. We stayed with the same sitter as newborns, attended the same preschool and elementary school until she moved across town in 4th grade. I didn't see her again until I walked in science class on my first day of 7th grade and there she was. We were best friends through junior high and most of high school. We drifted apart during our senior year but were still friends. We went to the same college but, again, had different friends. I don't recall having seen her since our second year of college. That would have been around 1988!) We've reconnected online recently and she suggested meeting for lunch half way between our homes. I'm looking forward to that. A volunteer group from church is building a ramp to our front door so we can get Elvis and his wheelchair in and out without a jarring bump each way. My van needs some work so I have to schedule that. And, to finish off the break, Beth and I (accompanied by Elvis, of course) hope to run away to visit a long-ago foster daughter and her family near the beach for a few days, if we can get it scheduled and afford the gas. After all that, I'll probably be ready to go back to school - LOL!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Never again

I saw something today that I hope I never have to see again...a 7 year old child in a casket. We've had a rough few days at school. On Tuesday morning, I was in my hall, waiting for my students to arrive. The first few came in with tales of an ambulance in the drop off line. A sub came down the hall saying she'd seen a man performing CPR on a child at the entrance to our drop off line. Speculation and rumors abounded. No one knew if it was a walker who'd been hit by a car or a parent whose child had a medical emergency in their car. As the day went on, it all became clear. The rumors I'd heard had the wrong first name for the ill student and I thought I wasn't going to know her. That was not to be the case.

When all had settled down, we were told that a 2nd grader had choked on the top to a water bottle in her father's car. She was eating breakfast in the car and drinking orange juice her father had poured into an empty water bottle, and had been talking and singing along with the radio, as usual. When they got to the beginning of the drop off line, he looked back to make sure she was ready to get out and discovered she was blue and non-responsive. He immediately pulled over and tried to revive her. Someone called 911. The paramedics arrived and were able to clear her airway and get her heart started again. She was flown to our nearest pediatric trauma center. We were simply told, "Things didn't look good." We left school Tuesday with the knowledge that she had no brain activity but still hoping for a miracle.

Reality hit when we arrived back at school Wednesday morning to be greeted with the news that she hadn't survived the night. He parents were able to make the brave decision to donate her organs and we've been told that five other children, ages 1-14, received a blessing from this sweet little girl.

I didn't teach this little one. Her kindergarten year was spent in a room across the hall from me. However, almost all the teachers knew her. She was a bubbly, spunky little thing. Her dark eyes sparkled constantly and she charmed all she met. She had a gift for fitting in with everyone. She liked to be in charge and knew how things should be done the right way (meaning her way, of course).

It's so hard to believe she's gone. It's even harder to believe why she's gone. I'm forever telling kids to take things out of their mouths. It's just what grown ups are supposed to do. I just can't comprehend that her family got up Tuesday morning and their day started out as usual and then things went so horribly wrong, all because of a top to a water bottle.

Visitation at the funeral home was this afternoon. Her funeral is tomorrow. I didn't make plans with any other teachers but went to the funeral home when our school day was over. I ended up going in with a group of about 15 others from our school. There we were - teachers, custodians, cafeteria workers, guidance counselor, substitute teachers, and assistant principal- a widely varied group of individuals all there to say goodbye to a little soul who touched us all. The sight of that tiny casket was hard to take. The sight of her little body so still in it was even harder to take. She was so active and vibrant in life, it seemed impossible to process that she was gone. It's even harder to process that we lost this young lady because of such a common, everyday item - a top to a water bottle, for goodness sakes!

So, hug your kiddos extra close today and be thankful they are still around. I know we have a family here in town that would love to have that chance. Truth is, we never know when or how we are going to leave this world. I do know that our school will be a little quieter and even a little lonely when we get back after fall break. We'll still have 500+ kids but we'll be missing the big presence of one tiny little girl.