Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dinner for two

I've always loved Thanksgiving. Growing up, all of our family (mom's and dad's sides) came to our house. I loved the season and getting things ready. It was such a fun time. Seeing ALL the family together. One weird aunt always brought lasagna for some reason. It was just a nice day. Then, I grew up. My parents separated. Big Thanksgivings were a thing of the past. There are honestly a few years that I have no memory of how/where we celebrated. I adjusted.

Then, in college, a long-time friend's parents started hosting Thanksgiving for people who had no where else to go. The wife worked at a hospital that was about 20 minutes from their house and they even invited the people who were working on the holiday to drive down on their breaks and eat a meal. So, in addition to their extended family (both sides) and our family (including my brother and his wife & kids many years) we had a steady stream of people coming in and out during the day. Then, that family moved to FL. And we were without a celebration once again. I adjusted.

Then, my mom took up the hosting duties. For years, we've hauled food and assorted family members to her house for turkey. It was modeled on the dinners of Thanksgivings past at the friends' house. Anyone who needed a place to go was welcome. Our group has varied widely over the years. We've always had a houseful (thanks in large part to my foster kids). This year, however, I have no one to join us. My brother is working. His wife and sons are going to her parents. I'm foster kid-less. My girls have grown up and chosen to join the families of husband/boyfriend for the holiday. And here I am, going to my mom's alone. I guess I'll adjust. I have to adjust. But right now, just for a while I hope, I'm sad...really, really sad.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm a great-aunt...

In a way that can only happen in families built in non-traditional ways. The older sister of Cousin It (girls' bio cousin who is mentioned here quite often) gave birth..unexpectedly Monday. How can you give birth unexpectedly to a full-term baby, you ask? Only Cousin It's older sister can accomplish this!

In late July she showed up here to talk to Beth. She told Beth she was pregnant but didn't want anyone to know. Beth, who has never been pregnant but has more sense than older cousin, told her she need to see a doctor and then decide what to do. Evidently, Older Cousin saw a general practitioner who confirmed the pregnancy but she never followed through with finding an OB. Cousin It found out her sister was pregnant just a few weeks ago. She took a day off work and took her sister to sign up for Medicaid and made an OB appointment for her. Based on the questions they asked Older Cousin, the baby would be due in February. That appointment was scheduled for yesterday. Yes, the baby was born Monday. She said she started hurting really bad and they took her to the hospital. Hospital announces she is in labor. They do some quick tests and measurements and decide that she's 36 weeks pregnant and they are going to let her deliver. She has some problems with delivery and ends up having a c-section and then spends several hours in ICU.

We went last night to see the baby. She was 5 pounds, 13 ounces and 19 inches long. And, even I have to admit, she's beautiful! (not what I was expecting!) They didn't name her for over 24 hours. I got a text this morning, telling me she is now "Alicia." YAY...a normal name with traditional spelling!

I guess since I've told you all this, I need to finish off with the best part of the story. Older Cousin lives with her boyfriend, who is the father of this baby. They live in a trailer with his 3 children and.....(wait for's the BEST part............) and, and HIS WIFE!!! How crazy can it get? So, when Older Cousin and Baby Alicia come home from the hospital, it will be the most bizarre version of yours, mine, and ours ever dreamed up. The kids' father and Older Cousin share a bedroom, the kids have bedrooms, and the wife sleeps on the couch! I swear they should make a reality show about this family. It'll have to air on CMT perhaps right before or after My Big Redneck Wedding?

And, in the middle of all the wackiness, sits Cousin It. She's obviously the most normal member of her little family. She got great grades in school. She's kind, caring, and responsible. She's already supporting her father, who won't work. Now, no doubt, she'll be spending a lot of her money on her new niece. I hate it for her. She spends almost every waking moment in college classes or at work. No one seems to appreciate her but me. I think she's awesome!

I did have one of those surreal "this is my family" moments at the hospital last night. There we were, all in the room: Me, Alli, Elvis, Cousin It, Older Cousin, the cousins' father, the cousins' aunt, and the baby's father. Both the cousins' aunt and father hugged me when we got there. The aunt tends to be on the phone a lot - so much that the family nicknamed her "Ma Bell." I've heard the story for years now and had to laugh with the others when the aunt was on the phone and the immediately clicked over to take another call. I was in on one of their inside jokes. I heard the aunt on the phone telling her daughter who all was there. Several times she referred to me as "Alli's mom." This aunt is the sister of my girls' bio father and yet she is able to transfer me into the role of their mother. Cousin It readily refers to me as her aunt. When the girls became part of my family, I became part of theirs. I forget that sometimes but last night at the hospital was a shining example. We stayed quite a while and I enjoyed it all. A few years ago, I'd have been so uncomfortable in that situation but last night it just felt right. Families aren't perfect. Not all families fit in some traditional mold. They can come in all shapes and sizes and vary widely in relationships. You accept each member, warts and all, and appreciate the uniqueness each one brings. Maybe sometimes, just sometimes, you can pick your family?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

If only I could prescribe...

Elvis woke up Monday morning with a red mark under his lip. I assumed he'd rolled into the wooden rail on his bed and it was just a scratch. By the end of the school day, there were 6-8 little pimple-like things in the red area. My diagnosis? Impetigo. We put Neosporin on it. Tuesday morning, the pimples were bigger. Then one appeared on his lip before we got to the pediatrician's office. Her diagnosis? Impetigo.

He's had a couple of crying spells - one Monday night and another Tuesday afternoon. Not that he never cries but these spells seemed a little out of the ordinary. On a hunch, I asked the doctor to check his ears since we were there. Sure enough. She said his right ear was in the very first stages of an ear infection.

My diagnostic skills have been honed by years of teaching small children and fostering parenting the masses. Now if they'd just let me prescribe drugs, I could have a second job...and a well-paying one, at that!

In other Elvis news, he saw his neurologist today. The man's got the personality of a dish rag but he can prescribe - LOL! Anyway, he made no changes to Elvis' seizure meds. He's going to explore whether or not we can try Botox injections to loosen Elvis' inner thigh muscles. He said different people get different results from them. Man, oh man, I hope they work because if they don't, the next step is selective dorsal rhizotomy. And that? Scares me...a lot.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On a lighter note...

Yesterday, the text messaging on our cell phones wouldn't work. The phones weren't able to send texts to anyone. Beth called me to ask me about it so I knew it wasn't just my phone. Beth called the cell phone company and the recording told her it would be a 10 to 15 minute wait to speak with a representative. After waiting 20 minutes, she got disconnected. I sent an email to the company about the problem. She waited a bit and called again. This time, the recording said there was a known problem with texting and they expected it to be repaired in two hours.

I used to not report problems, knowing they were working on getting it fixed but then I discovered some companies will refund part of your money for loss of use, if the problem isn't easily fixed. However when Beth called back and told me of the second recording, I forgot all about having sent the email. Until I got the reply this morning. And it made me laugh.

It wasn't funny at first. It just told me the problem was a known problem and had been repaired. It was the next part that tickled me. It told me I could now use my text messaging but that I may need to power cycle my phone first. They thoughtfully included the directions for power cycling my phone:

"The steps to powercycle are as follows:
1. Turn the handset device off.
2. Remove the battery from the handset device for one minute.
3. Install the battery on the handset device.
4. Turn handset device on."

Yes, that's right. To power cycle your phone, you turn it off, take the battery out, put it back in and turn it back on. Did I actually need directions for that? Do they actually need to give it a name...power cycling? Life's hard enough without people making it even more complicated on purpose.

Ok, deep

I'm alive. Things are oddly pleasant here in the house. We've not spoken of the pregnancy out loud. Our "conversations" have been via text. Somehow, putting voice to the conversations seems to be impossible. It will happen, of course, just not yet. If I ever doubted that I have secondary PTSD from living with traumatized children, this event erases all doubts. I'm seriously having flashbacks to this exact time last year. I still have clue as to the due date. I've asked no questions...except those related to my concerns about the timing of this pregnancy.

You'll remember that just last week I posted that Alli was likely going to get a long-term sub job at my school. She did, in fact, get that job. I also am 99.99% sure she got that job as a favor to me. I think my principal and our wonderful office staff were trying to help me out. Not that Alli doesn't deserve the job. It's as an educational assistant in a preschool special-ed classroom. She's good with the kids and works well with the teacher and other assistant in the room. I do think that there was at least one sub who has been there longer and would have loved to have the job, too. She got the job legally and, in a non-pregnant state would have been perfect for it. Therein lies the problem - her pregnant state.

Alli's history with pregnancies is full of complications. Elvis was born at 26 weeks. The cause of his early arrival is unknown as she was a young teenager with no prenatal care. Baby Blair was born at 21 weeks, again, cause unknown but she did have regular prenatal care with her and was 20. For whatever reason, she started dilating early. The loss of Blair was followed last June by the conception and really early loss of yet another baby. (I refer to that one as "Waldo" because they could never find him/her on ultrasound. It was like they were playing some freakish Where's Waldo game in her uterus every week.) She did visit a specialist and they discovered that she is low on progesterone and folic acid and they felt that was part of her problem with carrying babies to term. That situation has been remedied with supplements.

So here we sit with her employed in a job that requires the frequent lifting/chasing/caring for children with assorted special needs. I really feel, with her pregnancy history, she's going to be put on bed rest, probably sooner than later. That will, again, leave this class of young, special-needs kids who thrive on order and routine, without a trusted care-giver. And, in my world, that will be all my fault because I helped her get the job. Argh. I really think that is my biggest issue with this baby. I knew this was coming. Truthfully, I was surprised it hadn't happened earlier.

Other than the job issue, my only other issue with this baby is the fact that they are purposefully having a baby without having the means to support that baby. As I type this, Boy Wonder has been unemployed since May. Alli hasn't worked in over a year. She has a temporary job, which may be even more temporary that we'd all like. None of them have private insurance. Alli, obviously, is on our state's version of Medicaid. They are in exactly the same situation as last year with the conception of Baby Blair, except they are married. However, I could excuse the conception of Blair as an "Oops." This baby was no oops. They have deliberately decided to create a child they can't support. That makes me sad. Sad for the baby who is coming into a life that will be harder than it should be. Sad for me who will have to watch them struggle and be able to do nothing about it. Sad for Elvis who already has too little "momma-time" and he's going to be pushed out even more. And sad for Alli and BW because they have no idea of what they are getting themselves into. Raising babies takes maturity and money. They aren't ready in either way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It must be almost Thanksgiving.

How can I tell? One of my daughters must be pregnant. And to think, not too long ago Thanksgiving was my very favorite holiday.

Details to follow when I can string a sentence together properly.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Been a little quiet around here, huh?

All is well. Well, all is normal, so I guess that's good. School, at this point, is just all about surviving until Thanksgiving break. I can't wait! Not that I'm doing anything over the break. I', just ready for the break.

In Alli news, she's been subbing at my school quite a bit and has a shot at a long-term interim position. It's not a lock yet, but things are looking good. She'll be filling in for an assistant in a pre-k special ed class. The regular assistant's wife is having a baby and he plans to take a few weeks off. Works for Alli. She functions much better when she's out in the real world. Since she's been doing nothing work-wise, she's basically been doing nothing house-wise either. However, on the days she's subbed she's volunteering to help with supper and help with shopping. I've thought all along depression has been a huge problem for her. This reinforces that belief.

Boy Wonder had a job interview that seemed to go well last week. He's supposed to find out this week if he got it. He'll be delivering milk for a dairy business. Oh, I hope he gets it! The pay is $700 a week with decent benefits. I know they hear that amount and think they'll be rich with it. I fear they'll have to learn some financial lessons the hard way. (To tell the truth, I have, too.)

Hell may have frozen over because Beth read a book! Seriously! She's been with me over 4 years and this is the first book she's read in all that time...possibly in her whole life. She's just not a reader. I've tried and nagged but she just wouldn't do it. It took the Twilight series to get her reading. In a sentence I never thought I'd say: "Hooray for vampires!!" If she wants to read the whole set, you'd better believe I'll buy them for her. (Truthfully, I'd kind of like to read them, too. I'm sooo not a vampire person but people keep telling me I'd like them.)

I read a book this weekend, too, and it was GREAT. Really. Read. This. Book. It's called The Shack. Not to give away the plot, but a man spends the weekend in a shack with God. I've read many, many books in my lifetime but this is one of just a handful that has affected the way I see the world. I borrowed it from a friend but plan to buy my own copy. I want to read it again but other people are waiting to borrow the copy I borrowed.

Elvis is doing well, too. He still loves school. His speech language pathologist is really working on getting a better communication system for him. She stopped me Friday afternoon to tell me she's gotten the laptop for him. (It will belong to the school system but we'll be allowed to bring it home to use as long as we agree to replace it if we break it.) I'm all for anything that will make his life a little easier. He's so blessed to have this therapist on his side.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Inspired by this blog, I've been almost actually cooking...almost. But, it's closer to cooking than about anything I've ever done before. We usually have a few dishes that we have on a semi-regular rotating pattern. Quick things like spaghetti (with sauce from a jar), frozen chicken breasts dumped in the crock pot with a bottle/jar of some type of sauce (BBQ sauce, honey-ginger dressing, and sesame are the current faves), and generic hamburger helper-type meals are common around here. This blog, however, has given me the confidence to try a few new things.

So far this week, we've had Autumn Sausage Casserole (sounded weird but the crew LOVED it), and Applesauce Chicken (another hit but less popular that the sausage dish). We're giving the crock pot a break tomorrow night (enchiladas - YUM!) but Thursday's menu calls for Brown Sugar Chicken. To make these meals, I've had to buy things I've never bought before...things like allspice and parsley flakes and red pepper flakes and...raisins - LOL! So, despite a few shopping trips that took me to unfamiliar aisles in the grocery stores, I think it's been worth the effort. I love having dinner ready when I get home in the evening. It makes the house smell extra cozy. I also like feeling like I am actually cooking. I mean I chop things and season things. How cool is that? All I need is some EVOO and I'll feel like a Rachel Ray of the crock pot world!

Anyone need ingredients? I've got them now!

A little late

but Happy Veteran's Day to all. It's so easy to get caught up in my everyday life and not remember that I owe my freedom to those who were willing and able to serve.

So, my love and HUGE thanks to:

My big brother - I love ya! You are the best!

The FL branch of my family - Thanks for continuing to serve! I'm so proud of all 4 of you! (And, please come home for Thanksgiving...please!)

My adopted soldiers (Randy, Omar, and Shane) and their families - I've never met you in real life but you are appreciated.

Lynn's husband (why have we given him no blog name??) - He lost his dad in Vietnam and was still willing to serve himself. Thanks!

"G" (the husband of my girls' bio cousin) - He's being deployed (for the second time) in the next few weeks. Stay safe and rest assured that we'll help keep an eye on your family.

And, to all the others - THANKS! My "thanks" seems so insignificant for all you have given and continue to give.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's 9:30 PM

...and the local power & water company is digging a giant crater in the road in front of my house. It's rather disconcerting, to say the least. Obviously they wouldn't be doing this at this time of night unless it was an emergency. However, I fear their emergency will create an emergency for me. (Trust me, if I can't shower in the morning, it's an emergency!) I called my mom to put her shower on alert, just in case I woke up without running water. Warning her seemed the polite thing to do as I figured if I called her in the morning at 5:30, I'd scare her to death. She was more than willing to share her shower but also had an even better idea. She called the power company emergency line to ask what was up. They said they are repairing a water leak but we'll have water in the morning. Yay!

So, now that I know I'll have water in the morning, I'm a little less stressed. Of course, I've somehow got to get Elvis (and me) to sleep with the sounds of backhoes and what sounds like a jackhammer right outside our bedroom window. At least the flashing lights are pretty!

My curiosity got the best of me

Beth was out with SpiderPig last night when I blogged about the anniversary of her adoption. I decided to see just what she remembered. I texted her and asked if she remembered what she was doing two years ago that day. She replied (in less than a minute) "getting adopted." So, she did remember. I then asked her if she was glad she did and she replied, "Yes I am!" and quickly followed with an, "I love you!" Just thought I'd share that since I was so sure she'd forgotten. I guess she's not totally clueless. I love that girl!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Anniversary of the big day

Two years ago today the kids and I got up early and headed downtown. We were dressed in our "Sunday best" LOL. We got the to judge's office a little early but quickly noticed that my mom was already there waiting for us. We were soon joined by my lawyer and Beth's last DCS case worker. The judge had had a new grandson born the day before but she was just a few minutes late arriving. She was all smiles (and in possession of a few baby pictures to share) as she ushered us into her office.

And then, after exchanging a few pleasantries and oohing and ahhing over her pictures, we became a family. The judge thanked us for starting her day on such a good note as she said the rest of her day was to be spent in criminal court. The whole thing took less than 20 minutes, including waiting for copies of the adoption decree. Kind of anti-climactic after the years of fostering ups and downs, but it still felt felt right.

My mom left and went on with whatever she had planned for the day. The kids and I sat on a bench across the street from the courthouse and planned the rest of our day. (My lawyer had just called the afternoon before and asked if we were available to do the adoption in the morning. We had zero time to plan or include others.) One of Alli's friends called while we were talking and we convinced her to skip her college classes and join us. She was more than willing to do so. We went on to Elvis' regularly scheduled therapy appointments and then to the kids' photo studio in a local mall. We had pictures taken in all sorts of combinations and then went to a late lunch at our favorite Chinese buffet. After a quick return trip to the mall to pick up the pictures we ordered, we headed back to our hometown.

That evening we met friends and extended family (and anyone else we could dig up on such short notice) at the skating rink. We had cake and continued celebrating. It was a good day. It was a good time in our lives. Despite our differences and our struggles, I'm so glad we did it.

And, of course, this day means so much to me but neither girl seems to even remember the special date. Typical, I'd say.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Trauma at Cracker Barrel

Today was a good day. Alli and I (accompanied by Elvis, of course) went the craft fair at my school. We spent $2 total to get in and that was all we spent. I like to look but I don't need more crap in my house. It was good to see all the people and I enjoyed the time there. As we left, none of us wanted to go right back home so we decided to stop at Cracker Barrel for lunch.

At the time, I thought it a good decision. I love to eat there but we rarely do. It was just the 3 of us so it would be cheaper than eating out with everyone in tow. The girls' bio cousin works there and we hoped to be able to see her for a minute. And it did start out well. We got a good table that had room for Elvis' wheelchair. The assistant from his classroom was there with her husband and some friends. He loved seeing her and spent the rest of the meal staring at her. We were seated next to a family we know from church so there were some pleasantries exchanged. We got to see Cousin It. She didn't wait on us but had a couple of breaks to come chat with us and catch up. She's doing well.

And then it happened. My gaze drifted to the people who had just been seated in the next aisle and I realized I knew them. It was a long-ago foster parent "friend." I'd taught several of her foster kids in various special ed programs and I'd babysat her foster kids while they went out of town several times. Our friendship ended the day her 4 year old foster son came to school with some odd marks on his arm and hand. Just to make conversation, I asked him what happened. He looked me in the eye and said, "My mom hit me with the spoon she cooks with." He'd been with this foster mom since birth and she was his only mom. I didn't make the phone call but only because I knew an assistant in the classroom who also heard his statement was going to hotline it. Being mandated reporters, we had no choice. She made the call that afternoon and I was greeted first thing in the morning with a call from the investigator. By the time school had ended that day, they had closed that foster home and removed the 4 foster kids there at the time. It was ugly. Both the foster mom and her adult daughter had made some very explicit threats toward me. (They made the threats to the investigators.) They insisted I'd called the hotline with lies because I wanted their foster kids. (That was the reason I'd let the classroom assistant make the call. I wanted to be able to look them in the eyes and say I didn't do it. I did, of course, confirm for the investigator that they child had said that, but I didn't make THE call.) The idiot adult daughter called me several times immediately after the removal to cuss me out. I didn't respond. The investigators believed the threats to be credible enough to request the local police drive past my house a few times a night for a week or so. Oddly, I did end up getting one of the foster kids removed from that family. About 8:00 PM, the case worker had called and asked if I would take the 11 year old girl. They'd placed the little ones and the teen but not Anna. I took her because I knew her. Her bio brother was placed in a residential setting but had been coming to my house for weekends and holidays so it only made sense to take her, too.

My last contact with that family was almost 10 years ago. They lost their foster license and moved to a neighboring county. I never heard anything else from them or about them. And then today, there they were at Cracker Barrel. We didn't acknowledge each other. I sure recognized them and can only assume they recognized me. I just hated the way it made me feel. I'm not one to have physical reactions to emotions but I felt a little sick. I was nervous and jumpy. I had to resist the urge to just stand up and leave immediately after realizing who they were. I honestly don't know why I had those feelings. I certainly did nothing wrong to them. I'm not scared of them. If anything, I kind of pity them. However, I certainly don't want to see them again, especially not in a public setting. Good riddance to them. I hope I go another 10 years without seeing them again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Why no infant adoption?

I tried replying to a comment but it was getting way too long. Instead, I'm posting my reply as its own post. Please remember this is my opinion and is based on what I think is best for me. In no way am I saying this is what is best for others.

For some reason, I always knew I'd be a foster parent. I don't know how. I don't remember knowing any foster families growing up. I don't really remember even knowing that foster parents existed. I can't say for sure when I decided this but I knew, going into adulthood, that this was the path I'd take. [Sure, if money had been no object, I'd have headed to China for a toddler girl. However, I live in the real world. I don't have big bucks and I have to work hard for what I do have. I certainly couldn't justify spending a year's salary to get (buy?) a baby.]

Anyway, I grew up moved into an apartment, and looked into fostering. My apartment was not set up for fostering so the idea was pushed to the back burner while I continued living. I got a grant to get my Master's degree and the thought of fostering was totally pushed from my mind. I was working full-time and going to school at night. I barely had time to take care of me. I finished my degree and got my affairs in order to buy a house. After living in my house a few years and moving on to a better-paying job (and, truthfully, approaching the big 3-0) I decided the time was right. The final push came in the form of two little boys (brothers, ages 3 and 4) who were enrolled in the special ed preschool program where I worked. They lived in horrid circumstances and were finally removed from their bio parents. They bounced through a couple of foster homes together before being separated. That broke my heart. They'd lost all that was familiar in their lives and now they'd lost each other. I remember calling their DCS worker and asking why in the world they'd been separated. She told me there was not one single foster home in our region that would take both of these little guys. I remember telling her that I couldn't help them but to please transfer me to the person in charge of licensing foster parents right then because I was going to start the process to be able to help the next kids in that situation. And so my journey began.

I completed the required classes that fall and they came to do my last home visit the first week in February. At that visit, for some reason, I mentioned that I'd be willing to try a pregnant or parenting teen as a foster child. Exactly one week after that visit, I got my first kid - 15 and pregnant, coming from a wilderness boot camp program. Was that a learning experience for me!! She left right before her baby was born but called me when she delivered and I went to the hospital to see her. Other kids came and went. I learned a lot about them and about me as the years went by. One of the things I learned about me was that I get attached to the kids really easily. I knew from that fact that I would never take an infant unless the child's mother was also placed with me. It would have been too easy to forget that I wasn't that child's mom. By having the child's mom there, I couldn't forget. I turned down a couple of infant placements for that very reason. I had to do what I could to protect my heart. I had trouble giving up some of my unruly delinquent teens. Giving up an infant might have killed me. So, I stuck with my big, ugly teens and kept some pieces of my heart intact.

And, yes, I know there are other ways of "getting" a baby without the risk of having to return them to a bio parent. However, I felt in a perfect world that babies needed two parents. I'm not dissing single parents...I AM one. I (for me) felt it was best to leave the low number of available infants to be parented by the large number of couples wanting them. I never felt that urge that I had to raise a child from day one for him/her to be mine. All kids need a home. Many people aren't willing/able to take an older, likely troubled child into their home. For whatever reason, I felt I could successfully do that. (The text on our adoption announcements said, "All children come from God...for some the journey home just takes a little longer.")

Do I have regrets? I have to admit that on rare instances I feel a little screwed by the system. It was a long 10+ years of fostering. I've met some people I'd never have met. I have kids who I consider to be "mine." Not just Alli and Beth. There are a few other long-term kids who keep in touch. And, I do have legal children. I can honestly say I love them just like I would if I'd have given birth to them or gotten them as infants...I love them unconditionally. I can also say that they love me to the best of their ability. It's not the same as I love them but it's the best they can do with their chaotic childhood and the scars it gave them.

They seem to view family as temporary, at best. In their eyes, they move from family to family, hanging on to whoever/whatever meets their needs and desires at any given moment. Unconditional love seems a foreign concept to them. They see me at age 40 (almost 41 - YIKES!) and I still depend on love and support from my family. My mom, my brother, and I are all still very connected to each other. My kids don't understand that connection as all they know of family is that they are there at some point in time, and may or may not be a positive relationship. I see why they have formed that belief but feel powerless to convey that value to them. I've tried - both by my actions and my words but, in the end, have to say that they just don't get it.

So, yes, my feelings seem to get hurt a lot. I have to keep reminding myself that I chose this life. I didn't go into fostering expecting this to happen. However, this is my reality. I do know I don't deserve to be treated the way I am sometimes and I have to keep reminding myself of that fact, too. My self-esteem is not that great to start with and it has taken countless hits from my kids over the years. Many times I have sacrificed myself to help a kid. It's not perfect. And my sacrifices have rarely been acknowledged, much less appreciated. But, at the end of my days, I know I will honestly be able to say I have given them my best. I can't speak for the actions of others. I can't begin to understand their reactions to my best efforts. These are kids that no one else cared enough about to even give a decent effort at loving, protecting, and doing what was best for them. But I did. I took them in. I loved them. I cared for them. I showed them there were better things out there. I can only hope that somewhere, down deep inside them, they know I was there for them.

So, are you sorry you asked, Mongoose? I certainly didn't intend this to turn into a long, whiny post about the state of my life but I fear it has. Forgive me for that. I guess I needed to get some of this off my chest today, though. Thanks for getting me started. I guess I feel a little better.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My bubble=burst

Wow. I had a pleasant evening with Alli. She was out in my part of the house. She had Elvis but she was actually taking care of him. We chatted about our day and just life in general - absolutely nothing exciting but we haven't had a normal conversation in months. I was sitting here thinking, hey, my daughter actually wants to spend time with me and talk to me. WRONG! Boy Wonder was just napping in their room and she didn't want Elvis to disturb him. Burst my bubble, why don't ya? As soon as BW woke up (guess he needed a nap after a hard day of not doing one damn thing) she dumped Elvis and me, and took off back to their room. Elvis and I have decided we've had enough rejection for the day and are headed to bed early.

By the way, Happy Birthday, Elvis. The big 0-6! He had a big day at school. We took cupcakes and treat bags for the kids in his class. They also happened to have a visit from a local artist who makes clay projects with the kids. Elvis got to make a plate with his class and a turkey with my class. I think he had a great day! I can't believe he's six. Out of my 30-some-odd kids, he's the only one I brought home from the hospital.

Netflix let me down

They brag and brag that their rating system is perfect at finding movies that you will like. They have failed miserably with me the last couple of weeks. Other than Saving Sarah Cain which I LOVED, the other movies they suggested have, well, stunk - to put it nicely. The list of flops is long but includes the following: You Can Count on Me, Then She Found Me, Birds of America, and Sleepwalking.

Seriously, they actually depressed me. If Netflix suggests any of these, ignore that suggestion! However, the Saving Sarah Cain movie was really, really good!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The day after

Elvis woke up early this morning with a fever. I didn't check to see how hot. I just knew he was cooking. I gave him Tylenol and soothed him back to sleep. We next woke up about 9:15 and he was still warm. I checked and his temp was 99.6. Not scary but hotter than normal. He also kept whimpering, like something was hurting him. I told Alli he was going to have to see a doctor this morning.

We don't have a lot of options for pediatricians here. We have one office with about 10 peds who work there. It took several tries for Alli to get through to the office but when she did, they told her to come on in. They are only open half-days on Saturdays and they want to get you in and out ASAP. We both just put on the clothes we wore yesterday and I got Elvis dressed. When I went to put my contacts in, I realized that last night when I took them out, I managed to put both contacts in the left side of my case. Left with no other option, I just stuck one in my right eye and the other in my left. I've had a bit of a headache today so I plan to reverse them tomorrow and see if I do better.

We got to the office and only waited about 15 minutes before being called back. The doctor came in soon and discovered one ear was "full of thick, goopy fluid" and that was likely the cause of the fever and the apparent pain. (It's so hard to know what's hurting on a non-verbal child.) So we left relatively soon with a prescription for Omniceph. Elvis has been slightly grumpy all day. I'm alternating Tylenol and Motrin for the fever and pain. It's keep his fever lower but not making it go completely away. Other than 30 minutes of screaming tonight, he's had a decent day. However, during the half-hour of hysterics, he did manage to bite me several times, actually breaking the skin twice. It's a good thing I love him.

I had a visit from a long ago foster daughter and her family today. She and her husband have 3 little boys - ages 3, 2, and 6 months. They are doing well, within their abilities anyway. The oldest boy has some delays and the middle one has spina bifida so he's delayed, as well. They have their hands full, for sure.

I can't believe November starts today. This year has flown by. Elvis will be 6 on Monday. It's so hard to believe. He's having a skating party later in the week. Yes, a skating party may sound a little odd for a child who can't walk but he LOVES to skate. He's allowed on the floor in his wheelchair and the kids take turns pushing him - the faster the better. Bless his heart, he's a daredevil trapped in a body that won't cooperate.