Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Absence Was The Computer's Fault

I've really missed being able to post and comment lately.  My old computer completely bit the dust and although I had backed up and moved all of my files to an old laptop it was not a seamless transition.  So I have been struggling with this annoying laptop and have finally wrestled into somewhat of submission.  Hopefully I can now use my files and favorites and all that good stuff to keep up with everyone and even let you all know what is happening here.  

So belated Merry Christmas, hope everyone had some joy.

The big kids (written before Christmas but lost in broken computer land.)

The "big kids" as viewed from Dancing Baby Girl's perspective!  (see her head at the bottom of the picture.  They were all discussing putting the star on top of the tree the day we decorated.
Interactions between these two are not always the best but they are getting better.  They are the last two home and have been for a couple of years now so there has been jockeying for postion going on as well as just getting tired of each other.  But still I see enough expressions of caring and compassion to know that they do care for one another.

We have been lucky so far with both of these teens in that we have not had a lot of the typical teen defiance and bad choices from either of them.  Douglass' mental health issues can make him high maintenance and difficult to live with but so much of that is not choice of behaviors that we roll with it and go on.

I'd like to think that it is because of my wonderful parenting, and I do think there is a kernel of that, I have indeed learned something over the years, but I also think a lot of it has to do with the truly attached relationship we developed over the years of homeschooling.  The level of respect between the parents and children (teens) is very high and because of that respect we treat each other differently, we interact differently and life is better than was possible with any of my other kids.  In retrospect I really regret that I did not homeschool all of my kids through at least part of their school years.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What a Christmas Present!!!

I haven't posted much about our funding problems with Annie because it has just been too life sucking.  Suffice it to say that we have been doing the Medicaid denial of funds and subsequent appeal dance for the last few months.  We have called in favors from our network of social service folk, and we have talked with our State Senator and Representative (or at least their minions).  But we were really scared.  We cannot let Annie come back home because she is too dangerous to the other people in the home, particularly Kendra as she has intense jealousy towards her and has physically attacked her many times in the past.  But there didn't seem to be anywhere for her to go, I am not sure even homeless shelters would take her.

Well today the official sounding knock came at the front door and I was required to sign a certified letter for Annie.  We opened it and to our surprise discovered that Annie has qualified for the Acquired Brain Injury Waiver.  This is a new funding program and there were only 50 spots funded for this year and Annie got one!!  Some one is looking out for her, her guardian angel pulled some major strings.

With this funding stream we can now seek a residential/group home style facility for her much closer to home and one that will meet her needs for brain injury rehabilitation.  This funding stream was created to fill the hole between children's services which end at 18 and adult services which don't start until 21.  It is totally amazing that Annie got funded.  I mean, I am not saying that she isn't in desperate need but so are so many others.

The weight that has been lifted from our shoulders is immense.  I feel like we can be happy at Christmas now.

There is still a lot to do, we have to find a case management agency and then start investigating programs.  There is one we have in mind but we don't know if they have an opening or if they would consider Annie given her issues.  But it so much more hopeful to know that now we can start looking for a home for Annie rather than worrying about her being homeless.

Our prayers have been answered and now there are just the ton of details to deal with, but I am not  complaining.

The pictures won't work

I wanted to post the pics of the other children (?), young adults helping to decorate the tree as they were having a great time also.  It is rare for Kendra and Douglass to horse around together, so it was fun to see.  But the pictures won't work for some reason.  This new computer thing has me frazzled.  I have been assured by my resident computer geek, aka DH, that all my files have been transferred, etc, but I can't access some of them because I am not the administrator.  See it is a laptop borrowed  from the business so it is frustrating to wdeal with right now.  And I don't want to seem too grouchy about it all as DH took several hours to get me set up with this machine and he saved all my important files from the other machine.  Still the pictures won't work as I can't connected to the network, argghhh!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Missing Letter

My PC dies.  An unhappy demise.  I am using Kendra's lapPC which isn't letting me use the letter that resides between N and P in the alphabet.  I will write using all letters except that 1.  It may be a little stilted and very unusual.  I am sure it will be a challenge but certainly an achievable thing.  Glad I'm keeping this relatively unlengthy as I might wander in a state resembling despair!
Will I be writing again in the near future?  Perhaps, but maybe using my PC at my engagement that pays.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bad News, Prayers Needed

Lani told me when I took DBG back that her, Lani's father had been taken to the emergency room again with heart issues, apparently an aneurysm. So prayers for DBG's PaPaw. He is the glue right now holding things together. If he cannot support the family financially I don't know what will happen. Lani is of course panicked, but luckily her big sister flew in to help out so the burden is not entirely on her shoulders.

Computer Problems and an Action Packed Weekend

What could possibly be grander than seeing the big guy in red and getting to dance on the big stage? Dancing Baby Girl had quite a blast at the Christmas dance recital.
Then it was on to tree decorating. First DBG had to supervise the placing of the lights. Luckily my DH has the patience of a saint.
Then it was time to decorate. Boy did DBG have a blast. She looked at each ornament, wanted to hear the story that went with it and took real care in hanging them. She is wearing her Christmas dress here as we had a Christmas program at church. you may not be able to see, but the dress sparkles, her tights sparkled and she had on glittery shoes. She was in seventh heaven and the envy of the Sunday School classroom. Hey, what are quality hand-me-downs for?
After all that she changed so that we could make cookies for Santa Claus. I am not sure she really understands that Christmas is still a few days off. But we put milk and cookies under the tree anyway. Who can deny the hope of a 4 year old? (She kept looking up the chimney to see if he was coming down :-))

After all that she took her reindeer for a ride and had a wonderful imaginative playtime with the reindeer and the snowman, constructing an elaborate story. She was being such a delightful goober that we did a whole series of funny pictures with the reindeer.
On another note, my computer is very ill. I backed it all up to the server and it is limping along but I do not know for how long. So if you don't hear from me for a bit it is just computer issues.





Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Favorite 15 Year Old







I love this girl. One minute gawky, fun loving kid, the next introspective, mature adult. This is by far the most pleasant of all my children to be around. (No offense all you other moody folk!) She has her things she needs to work on, like helping with chores and keeping any sense of organization of her own stuff, but aside from those things all is well in the 'ville. I think she has benefited from the luck of her birth order. I know if I still had a passel around the house, that the resistance to chores and the detritus of her life strewn about the house would really have worn on me. Now when she is often the only one about I have a higher tolerance for the mess. I still don't clean it up or take responsibility for knowing where anything is, but I have more time and less stress to let her cope with the consequences of being messy and disorganized.
She has been the recipient of the best of my parenting. All the skills I have learned, the books I have read, the techniques I have practiced were experiments on the other kids. By the time we got around to this darling I pretty much had a handle on how to do this parent thing in the least destructive manner to both the child and myself. It helps so much also that she has an easygoing and happy personality.
I truly miss the time we spent together homeschooling, although I love to see her flourish and grow at the Youth Performing Arts High School. I do not have the same sense of worry and impending doom that I had about a number of my other teens who when faced with the difficult choices of the high school years seemed to always choose the drama filled, negative consequence generating, sometimes life threatening path. This one has a good head on her shoulders and a sense of who she is and who she wants to be.
I don't think I am deluding myself, she will inevitably take some wrong turns. But she will take responsibility for her choices and be able to see appropriate ways out of her predicament.
It is refreshing after having been worn down by years of parenting difficult, sometimes violent, sometimes law breaking, sometimes suicidal, teens to not be under that kind of stress and still be parenting a teen. Almost, let me stress almost, makes me sorry she is the last of our long line of teens (she is 9 of 9).



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Hike pics




As is our tradition on Thanksgiving we got the pies baked and the turkey in the oven and then we all went for a hike. usually we go a little further afield and find some actual forest/wooded park land for our hike, but this year we had a lot of rain and the trails were very mucky so we took advantage of the walk beside the river. From these photos it is hard to tell that we are right downtown. Even that little bit of nature was incredibly uplifting.


I was unexpectedly blessed...

Sometimes blessings in life come in the most unexpected packages, from people and situations that we would least expect to see the hand of God at work in the world. I am no stranger to the incredible generosity of many, many good folk in the work area of my life. Working in the Public Relations/Recruitment/Development area for the children's home I am often amazed at the way people will reach into their pockets to help abused and neglected kids.

That being said, I was still unprepared for an experience that I had TWICE last Thursday. We were downtown at the central eating/shopping area during the lunch hour handing out fliers to the corporate lunch crowd about the Santa Sleepwear Drive that the local business association was sponsoring. It was hovering at 32* and we handed out over 400 fliers in a 3 hour period. The initial response was tremendous and hopefully we will see the fruits of our labors at the collection times that are upcoming.

Any time you hang out downtown you have a chance to interact with the homeless and the mentally ill. Thursday was no exception. We had the corporate executives in their business suits and cashmere overcoats as well as grimy, smelly, unkempt folk shivering in their meager clothing. As we were a diversion from the usual we drew any number of homeless who stopped by to chat and ask questions about our display. Most of them were interested in our giveaways, the ink pens, the post-it-note pads, the magnets, etc. And it was fine, that was what they were there for.

It was amazing how much compassion these folks expressed, any number of them revealed that they had grown up in foster care, and hoped that the children we served would have a nice Christmas. We were not specifically collecting money although we had our donation box out as we do whenever we have a display.

It brought tears to my eyes when two different homeless women, women with nothing to their name, women who were living on the streets, gave us a donation from their meager resources. The percentage amount that they gave to help another was incredible. I was reminded of the Widow's Mite, etc. But to see it in action, to see people who have nothing give to others that they perceive as being more needy than themselves, and to give with no thought of reward or recognition or compensations. It humbled me in a profound way. And it blessed me as well. To see the good of God in unexpected places is so the message of Christmas and to be able to be present before God's work was ... I am wordless.

Thanks be to God and may God hold the homeless in warm hands in the coming days.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Pie Day


Happy Thanksgiving!

At our house we celebrate pie day, every one has their own pie. We share but there is always at least one pie per person. The turkey and dressings are all extras as far as the limelight at our house. The spotlight is on the pumpkin, apple, pecan, mince and berry pies.

We have just finished the first round of pies. I expect to see them out again a little later. Then we all have pie for breakfast, a true tradition for our family.

Hope your days were as successful as ours. We had a mellow, calm, enjoyable time. It helped that we did not have two of the most volatile at home. While I missed all 3 of my missing kids it was so much more pleasant without 2 of them.

A countdown of the missing: James, 22 is in his senior year at college in California, so he went to a friend's parents' house to avoid the travel and airport madness.

Annie, 19 is in a Brain injury rehab center about 5 and a half hours away and not doing well so not invited home.

Douglass, 18 went to Texas to visit with his girlfriend and he won't be back for two weeks a nice little respite for all of us at home.

Well, now the clean up begins.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

4th birthday reprise

Just got back from the birthday party that Lani threw for Dancing Baby Girl. She did it up right and was so proud of herself. DBG was so thrilled, she kept saying this is my party? this for me? She handled the excitement well, only was mean once and that was to her Mom. i got to meet some of Lani's other family members and they all handled my presence very well. I think that is because Lani is so comfortable with our relationship.

I am proud of Lani, this was a huge step for her, the first birthday party she has thrown and it may have been the first one she has gone to like this. I get the feeling she didn't have a lot of the experiences that one would hope for for a child, like a recognition of your special day, etc.

Anyway, I am tired after a long and pretty emotional weekend for DBG. So I need to get some sleep, work again tomorrow whether I am ready or not.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

4th Birthday


(This was last year! when we weren't broke.)

Today is Dancing Baby Girl's 4th Birthday. But I do not know why it had to start before 6 AM. She keeps asking when her birthday is going to start. I think she is going to be a little disappointed as her party is not until tomorrow and is being organized by her Mom, Lani. In order to not overshadow that effort we are just doing a little family thing here with cake and presents.




Last year we had a bit of an extravaganza as it was both her birthday party and her good bye party with all her day care and other friends. So she may have unrealistic expectations.
We are baking her cake together and I think she will enjoy that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

For Your Viewing Pleasure




Lani said she didn't mind if Imiki's face was visible and he has never been a foster kid so I am breaking no laws. So here it is The First Haircut!!!

Isn't he adorable!!

We got the haircuts last weekend so that they could go with Spidey and get a sibling picture made. Spidey's foster mom and I are giving that to Lani for Christmas. I have a lot of cute pics of DBG getting her haircut too, but all of them show her face. I also have some adorable shots of the 3 of them waiting to get their pics taken in their matching red and green Christmas pjs. But I can't post any of those, sorry, you will just have to use your imagination.

All 3 kids look remarkably alike, Imiki looks a lot like Spidey did when he was younger, except Spidey was always much skinnier. And DBG looks a lot like both her brothers but with feminine features. They are the most adorable kids around.

Specialists, specialists, specialists

Well, we keep trying to figure out Kendra's health woes. She has fainted at school several times now on top of everything else. We went to the rhuematologist yesterday and it looks like they are going to diagnose her with POTS postural orthostatic tykardia syndrome. Don't know if I got the spellings anywhere right. What that means is that her autonomic nervous system is not functioning well and is not sending the right messages to her body. Her circulatory system is thus dysregulated. They have tied in alot of her symptoms to this including her stomach pain which has otherwise been elusive to diagnosis.

There are a few more tests they want to run, pulmonary functioning, EKG, lab work, stress tests and probably some more that they will dream up. We see the cardiologist next week. From what I can discern if she does have POTS there is a good chance that she can rehab from it and learn to live with the disease. It is a better diagnosis than some of the scary ones they were tossing around like Lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

We still have the neurologist and endocrinologist to see later. In the midst of this my insurance decides to be a pain. Even though I have been on the plan since the end of July and we transferred from another plan, they are now trying to pull the pre-existing condition crap. I hate dealing with insurance messes.

The one bright piece of news is that Kendra will finally get her braces off after almost 2 years. She can't wait.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rain, rain go away




It is a rainy Saturday with an energetic almost 4 year old driving me crazy. I love having Dancing Baby Girl around but I think we have set unrealistic expectations for entertainment. Usually when she is with me it is go, go, go, to the zoo, the playground, walking and biking, hiking and exploring. But between the rain and my bronchitis it is not a good go, go, go weekend. So DBG is restless and being overly active inside.

We did go grocery shopping. Then we "napped", (Yeah right, screamed and fussed for 45 minutes is more like it) and then we played dress up, cooked cookies, cut with scissors and now we are painting. And it is only 3:30! Not sure what we are going to do for the next five hours. If it weren't hovering just above freezing we would go for a walk in the rain any way, but I don't need pneumonia on top of my bronchitis.

Life has a way of being real just when a little fantasy would be nice.

Last night I had the joy of attending the adoption party of my last foster child. (pictured above) I only had her for a long weekend before she transitioned to her foster to adopt home but I have remained the mentor for her parents even after I closed my home. It was a joyous celebration and a good time was had by all. Hers was one of several adoptions that our agency had yesterday on National Adoption Day.

She was a fun placement even though she came to me in the midst of her own inner turmoil from a disrupted pre adoptive placement that included abuse and severe neglect. I saw something in her that really drew me in and if she hadn't had a placement all ready I would have wanted to hang on to her. As I told her parents "She's a keeper." and it has turned out well, not without quite a bit of adjustment on both hers and the parents parts and none of us are naive enough to think that it will all be easy sailing from now on. But it was great to see her, so relaxed, so well looking (compared to the malnourished, anxious child she was) and so secure.

So I had a brief respite from 4 year old demands but now that the paint water has spilled on the floor and I have discovered that she has painted a few things besides her paper, I guess I had better go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Its bronchitis, again and DBG news

Well, I have been struggling with a bout of bronchitis, seem to get this every Fall and early Winter. I am bummed, had great hopes that with the weight loss and the exercise regimen that I might be able to get through the season without the bronchitis. It is so exhausting to cough constantly. And I hate my inhalers. Whine, whine...I know.

Other than that let's see what has been happening.

Halloween pics will arrive soon, as Torina says, promptly next Spring:-) Had Lani and Imiki and Dancing Baby Girl come down for Halloween and Lani and Imiki also stayed over (DBG always stays over every other weekend). It was fun to see how excited Lani was to do Halloween with her kids, I think she is getting some experiences that she never had as a child. Lani's sister lives here in the city not too far from me so we met up with her and DBG's little cousin Kiera. Then later that evening after the kids were asleep Lani asked me if it was okay to leave the kids with me and go out dancing with her sister.

It didn't take me a minute to say yes. Lani has had to be all to the kids for a long time without much support. For her birthday recently all the recognition that she got was that DBG sang Happy birthday to her and Imiki clapped. (this brought tears to her eyes, and she said it was the best present she had had in awhile) But she is still a young adult and her responsibilities sit heavily on her young shoulders. I told her to go, have fun, rest assured the kids were safe for the moment and meet her own needs for fun for an evening. She and her sister had a great time and Lani was so thankful to us for not being judgemental, etc. Heck why should I be judgemental, I was just jealous :-) I haven't been dancing in ages.

The next day we got haircuts for both kids, Imiki's first one! and then we met Spidey and his foster mom and did sibling portraits in Christmas pajamas. Lani hadn't seen Spidey in about a year and even though she didn't interact with him, and we hope he didn't see her, she was able to sneak a peek. She has really come to good place with her decision to TPR on him, she knows that she would not have been able to meet his needs and if she had tried she would have lost all three kids.

Then Lani and Imiki went on home and DBG and I finished our weekend together by going to the zoo on Sunday.

On Monday Lain and Imiki came back into town and I went with her for Imiki's heart surgeon appointment. Poor little guy is going to have to have heart surgery and Lani really wanted someone there for support and as an extra set of ears. Came to find out that he has three things wrong with his heart and they are only going to be able to fix one with the catheterizing. They will watch the other two valve issues and we will all pray that he doesn't have to have open heart surgery. Lani was really shocked by the news that things were worse than they thought and she had quite a breakdown on the way back to my house. That's a whole lot to deal with as a very young single parent who is barely holding her family together on the income from a McDonald's job. DBG was not happy about going back with Lani and pitched one of her fits, yealling at the "Judge" who says she has to only visit our house etc. Lani absorbed DBG's anger pretty well and we talked about how DBG was out of her routine and napless. When Lani called that evening she said things were fine from the point of leaving my house, so I was glad she didn't have to put up with DBG in a foul mood on top of the bad news she was still processing about Imiki.

So that is my catch up post.

I was thrilled about the election results and then by Thursday I started with the bronchitis.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pride Filled Me


Went to vote this AM, got up early to avoid the lines, (wasn't successful, isn't that totally the best problem to have in a democracy) and I got to introduce my 18 yo to voting. It made me so proud to see him step up and do his civic duty. I don't care who he votes for, so long as he votes. My other sons first voted at college and so I didn't get to witness them. My older girls have challenges so don't vote. So it was pretty neat to have him by my side in line and this year get to step up and have his voice heard. (I always take my kids to vote with me even before they can do it themselves).

Then walking back from the polling place he was telling me about his new job. His boss likes him so much already that he has increased his hours this first week! Douglass told me his boss likes his work because he is "precise and methodical", those were the exact quoted words. This from one of my children who has struggled mightily with impulse control his whole life. I just swelled with pride to hear that. The years of redirection, therapy, homeschooling, supportive church family partners and life teaching seem to be paying off! 4-6 years ago this was one I was afraid was not going to make it in the adult world outside of a very structured environment. 3 years ago I thought that environment was going to be jail because of his explosive temper and violent ways of expressing himself. 1 year ago I had despaired of him ever having ambition, goals and a desire for a better life. Today he is a fine young man, caring and empathetic, able to problem solve before exploding, and with definite dreams about his future. He is maturing well. Thank you God.

Will catch up Later, Just VOTE!!!

VOTE, please, everyone vote so that your voice can be heard.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Imagine my surprise

Well!!! imagine my surprise when the guy I have been having unpleasant and unproductive phone calls and e-mails with turns out to be a really good guy in person. Not only had he read my son's file he complimented me on hanging in there with my kids. He had a plan of action to address the subsidy issue, he escorted me from the 8th floor to the 2nd floor to talk with the people who actually handle the billing, etc. He reassured me that Douglass was still eligible and we reinstated his medicaid this morning.

When I got back to work he had forwarded me an email that he sent over his supervisor's and her supervisor's signatures that okayed the billing people to cut me a check for the back amount and we should get it as early as next Friday. And he is following up down the paper trail to assure that everything is in order so that the checks come monthly like they are supposed to.

As well he gave me the name and number of a direct contact at SSI so that I might be able to get some traction on that fiasco.

All in all a productive morning and here I was all worried and having anxiety flashes.

It is so nice to actually have a real person to deal with and one who obviously knows his job. Why I wasn't getting anywhere on the phone or over e-mail I don't know, but perhaps he did not believe me about the home school and only when he saw my son's file did he get the message. Why he didn't look at the file earlier I don't know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fighting with the adoption subsidy worker

This is the tree upon which I am banging my head bloody, at least metaphorically. My adopted kids had an adoption subsidy, a nice amount of money which paid for some good camps in the summer and tutoring and stuff like that. More importantly the subsidy insured that they were covered by Medicaid. There were a number of years in there when we not have needed the subsidy, it was nice, it gave us flexibility to meet some of their unique needs and wants, but it wasn't the food on the table.

Well, now it is the food on the table for my son, ever since my husband's business tanked along with the economy, we have been scraping by. So now, for the last two months they haven't sent us the subsidy check and my son is no longer on medicaid. The medicine costs alone for his seizure meds are close to $600.00 a month and add in his mood stabilizer and his ADHD meds and we are not able to afford this.

So I have been fighting with the subsidy folks. He is supposed to receive the subsidy until his 19th birthday or his high school graduation whichever comes first. His 19th birthday is not until late next Spring (2009) and he isn't scheduled to graduate until then either. The problem, I am homeschooling him so they don't consider him still in school. Now I have home schooled him since 4th grade and the public school system had no problem recognizing us as a legitimate home school. So I am not sure why the subsidy folks are having so much trouble with this concept.

Tomorrow I get to go have a face to face meeting with our subsidy worker, fun, fun. I will have to go into the big city and sit around in the waiting room with other interesting clients of the social services system until I get called to his domain and we can hash this out. I am not terribly optimistic but i have to fight for his rights. We cannot discontinue the seizure meds because then he will have a seizure and those hospital bills would not be covered, Yikes! not to mention the damage to him that the seizures cause.

I am not a terribly confrontational person and in situations like this I always assume that the problem must be the result of some mistake I have made. This does not make for a good bargaining position. So I am going to try to buck up and be strong. We need the medical card, we need the money.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Catching Up



Of course our pumpkins would be ballet dancers!
Lots of catching up, it has been busy, busy!
First the good stuff, we had a Dancing Baby Girl Weekend and had a good mellow time of it. hoped to meet up with Spidey but he had a strep throat. Couldn't have done the full sibling picture we wanted to anyway as Imiki was home with bacterial pneumonia. Lani can't wait for his heart surgery as she hopes his overall health will improve.
My banner got finished, or at least finished enough to hang in the sanctuary for the baptism on Sunday. I will get a picture of it up here soon. So that is a load of responsibility off my shoulders.
Now for the stressful stuff.
Kendra: She has been feeling very exhausted, looking very pale and complaining of dizziness, so I took her to the peds on Friday and we wound up with an emergency cardiology consult. She is experiencing vasoconstriction to a severe enough degree that they were concerned about seizures!! Anyway they sent her home to bed and started her on some meds to alleviate the vein constriction and collapse. She couldn't dance in her school Dance program's semester dance on Friday night (don't know how she is going to get a grade now) and she couldn't go to the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night.
She spent most of the weekend asleep or lying on the couch but pushed herself to study for a big AP test today and insisted on going to school to take it. The meds do seem to be helping, she no longer looks like a Cullen (vampire for you non-Twilight fans). And she made it through the school day. So I am hopeful. We still have a gazillion specialist appointments to go to. I am glad it wasn't an emergency or anything as the earliest possible appointments with the neurologist and endocrinologist are not until January.
Kendra's biggest fear is that the doctors are going to tell her she can't dance any more. That would be a hard, hard test for her as dancing is her life right now.
Annie: Well the saga continues. the reconsideration letter has been sent to the Medicaid people, a long term waiver has been sought and we are still in limbo. Then tonight Annie calls and she has spoken with her case manager and she is going to go live with this guy that she has talked to a lot on the phone, see he is a really good friend of hers (they have never met face to face), because she has to leave the rehab program because of no funding. Anyway we were pissed that the case manager talked with her about all that and dismayed with the end result that Annie has cooked up. She really didn't follow most of what the case manager was telling her, all she heard is that she has to leave and so she is going to go live with this guy. I swear she is packing her bags as we speak, I know how Annie's mind works.
I am praying that she does not go all impulsive on us and sign herself out of the program. If she can just wait a little bit we think it will all get straightened out and she will be able to move to a post-acute facility here in our city. But Annie is not one for waiting once she has gotten a bee in her bonnet.
DH's work: or lack thereof. The prospects remain dim, he is actively searching for a job, has sent in his resume, etc. but the word is that folks aren't hiring even for previously posted jobs. I saw that happen at my job, one day there were four job postings on the board, the next day they were all gone and an announcement of a hiring freeze was made. It is a scary time. All I want to do is to be able to pay for the house and buy some food. Survival mode is grim but it may not be enough. I try to avoid thinking of the what ifs.
Anyway DH is going out to California this next week and he will have two "interviews" which are not really interviews but at least discussions with those people who might possibly hire him if they are hiring anybody. He has gone back to school and gotten himself certified in two other systems so that he can solicit work on those computer platforms as well. He is trying hard, the economy is just not cooperating.
So now you are caught up. I have to go pick Kendra up from her teaching, ballet of course, I hope she has enough energy left to do her homework or she will get even further behind. On that happy note....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No real changes

Nothing much has changed in our situation. We are working with the state level politicos to try to get some traction on the Medicaid people. But mostly today has been spent with no news, no call backs, no progress.

I am feeling a little better, I made it through work today, got some chores done and even had enough energy to make scalloped potatoes for dinner. So hopefully tonight will be better. I am actually afraid of the 3 AM wake up (involuntary but habitual) but I am hoping I can tamp the anxiety down enough to make it through.

I still feel like we are running around in the maze with no exit and no cheese reward either! But the shock has worn off enough that I am not quaking.

Thank you everyone for your wonderful and sincere responses. One of the only thing that helps is knowing that there are people out there who understand and who are not judging me or my parenting. Thanks for the support, I am sure not getting any from the real live helping professions people who are all about making her mental illness my fault. Even though she came to my home at 19 months, she was already a victim of Shaken Baby (thus the Acquired Brain Injury), a victim of maternal alcohol and drug abuse while in utero, a genetic carrier of bi-polar, ADD and schizophrenia, and one of the most severely abused children the state had seen in a long time. We tried hard, but that damage can not be loved away no matter how hard we tried. And yet my parenting is the only cause of her issues as far as the SWs, psychiatrists, therapists, crisis interventionists, and residential treatment center staff are concerned. They only reinforce Annie's view that none of this is her responsibility and justify her extreme targeted anger at me.

Trapped in Post Traumatic Stress Hell

The very thought of having Annie come home, even for a short time, has triggered all sorts of post traumatic stress issues for me. I spent last night in hell, reliving the last few years that she was in the home, beating myself up for "allowing" all the things to happen that did, second guessing myself, playing the evil "what if" game.

I am exhausted, I have a migraine and I am scared as hell.

There are no services out there for her. Can we really turn our backs and make a homeless shelter her only option? The program she is now in has announced that since Medicaid stopped paying for her on the 8th of October that we are now responsible for the thousands of dollars of her care. Of course the fact that they didn't tell us until the 20th that there was any kind of problem is irrelevant.

My stress levels are through the roof. They have been extremely high before this because the financial bottom dropped out of our lives when the contracts my husband's business was planning on all dried up in the space of a week 2 weeks ago.

All the memories keep haunting me, the fact that the younger children were hurt by her in so many ways and I didn't, couldn't stop it. The number of times we were really convinced that she had turned a corner only to be completely blindsided by another out break of completely harmful and inappropriate behaviors. I cannot go back to that crazy making environment. It has been almost two years and I am only now starting to trust my own judgement and experiences again.

Depression has zoomed back to overwhelm me. All I want to do is curl up and cry. I don't even have the energy to rant and rave about the unfairness of the world.

Monday, October 20, 2008

For Linda B.



So here it is, easy and fun. The girl in pink is her friend who was a rock star, I think. The thing was, i was so busy helping everyone else get ready that Kendra thought up this costume and constructed it without any input from parental units and we were so pleasantly surprised at her creativity.

one of the calls we have been dreading

Well, today is the day, Annie's funding for her placement in the brain injury rehabilitation program has been denied and she needs to go somewhere else. Her case manager helpfully suggested our house. That is not an option at all, those bridges were burned long ago. Now if her behavior had in any way changed while she was in rehab, maybe we might consider it, but she is still doing all the things that we cannot tolerate in our home. The main one being verbally and physically aggressive to peers and staff. We will not put the younger kids at risk again, been there done that, not going there again.

I know some of my readers might not be able to relate to that harsh a stance, but I also know that there are a number of adoptive parents with mentally ill young adults who completely understand the bind we are being put in. Everyone would just like to assume that of course she could come live at home again, but she is 19, she knows she is an adult and in her clouded thinking she knows that she does not have to follow any rules or be responsible or respectful to anyone at all. Some of our young adults have moved home for awhile or stayed a little longer after high school, but always with the agreement that they would follow house rules and we did not have to worry about #1, #2 or #5 being a physical danger to anyone in the house.

So what options are there besides a homeless shelter? I don't know if she would consider Job Corps or even if they would consider her. I don't know of a lower level of care that would also include residential treatment. Basically Medicaid is saying she is capable of living on her own, but she has no job, no skills to find one, no way to manage her money, no sense of how normal people live (by normal I mean the act of paying bills on time, not buying what you can't afford, not trashing the apartment or house you are living in, not letting others come to live with you who are not on the lease, not having continual wild parties to which the police are called, etc, not having days' long highs so that you don't remember to go to work or anything else, not physically assaulting people that you think have dissed you, not verbally threatening anyone who tries to redirect or help you including police officers)

I love my daughter, I especially love my memories of my daughter when she was younger, I worry about her, I try to smooth her path when I am able by researching services, helping her apply for SSI, etc. But right now I really can't stand to be around her because she is either druggged up or boozed out, sober but manipulative as hell, or angrily blaming me for her life to the point of physically assaulting me.

We haven't given up hope, there is a Brain Injury program in our city that might take her. It would mean she was a lot closer to us (not good from the safety side, but good from the point of view of trying to develop some sort of adult relationship with her) but also a lot closer to the places she used to run away to where she knows how to get the drugs and alcohol. Would she stay in the ABI program since it is not a locked facility? your guess is as good as mine. We could try. We just keep on trying, hoping that maybe something or someone will reach Annie and help her find a balance where she can live without endangering herself and others.

Boy has this ratcheted up the all ready tense level of stress in our home.

Church Retreat

A Beautiful Fall weekend for our church retreat. A nip in the air, the leaves turning and falling, lost of frisbee, time at the campfire and general spiritually uplifting activities. This was our meeting room and here the teenage girls were involved in some sort of craft activity.

It was a great weekend, just not long enough. Going "away" to a place separate from your normal routine really helps. We had plenty of time to chat with one another, play board games and outside games, meet in small groups and discuss mission, and hang around the campfire long after the s'mores were history.
I brought a banner activity. I had been stalled out in getting the banner for the new children's wing finished, so I brought it and invited everyone to help make flowers and leaves for the tree. It is splendid, its is fantastical, and it is done. Hooray, we will dedicate it this Sunday. (one more obligation done that was weighing me down)
probably the most enjoyable time was just spent hanging out and chatting. We are very multi generational in our church, the youth and children are comfortable with the adults and vice versa. At meals only the youngest of children are sitting with their parents, all others have found a seat with other adults and youth and are busy chatting away. For some of our newer members they can't get over this aspect of our church. Often newcomers have a hard time figuring out which child goes with which parent as the kids and youth sit with various adults in worship and hang out with many other different folk throughout the church events.
DH and I realized this weekend that we are now"old", we were some of the folks who were the repository of church history and told the tales about the folks who have gone on ahead. It is a weird feeling. I often don't feel my age, and then something will come along to remind me just how many years I have actually traveled on this earth.
So now we are home, I have wash and errands to do that didn't get done over the weekend. And I am still saucing the tomatoes. I have just a few more to harvest, waiting till the last possible minute, but that minute is coming soon, it was only 38* this morning.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Saucy

I am saucing and pureeing, straining, canning and some freezing. Hurry, hurry, hurry, the hard freeze is coming, they tell us the first one may be Thursday of next week.

Wish I had a whole weekend to put up the produce, but it is church retreat weekend and we are spending our time with our wonderful church friends out at a gorgeous retreat center. Best of all ... I do not have to cook anything all weekend. How I love NMK (not my kitchen) food, actually the part I love is the not cleaning up.

So I have tomatoes, and tomatoes, and then some more tomatoes to cook up. I am cutting up and blanching the pumpkin and the butternut squash. I need to dry some herbs, we have a wild riot of mint, thyme, rosemary and sage, and maybe something else. I am sad to report that the onions did not do what they were supposed to, that is grow. I am confused about how to grow onions I think. My daughter Kendra is very sad as I had specifically planted those onions for her.

I am actually looking forward to putting the garden to bed, digging in some compost that has been fermenting all summer and covering the lot with wood chips, just waiting again for Spring. I have great hopes of basically doubling my garden and being able to plant some potatoes, strawberries, and beans.

Time to get ready forth great retreat. Hope to return on Sunday refreshed, recharged and re-created.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

28 years

This is my friend Diane and one of her grandchildren and one of her foster children. Diane is one of those amazing people who are the backbone of the foster care system. She has been fostering for 28 years. She specializes in medically fragile children but will also take large siblings groups when she has room. She is also the go to person when emergency respite is needed.

The range of behaviors she has dealt with, the children she has touched and helped heal, none of those statistics can adequately describe the incredible person that she is. She has adopted also over the years, and now is grandmother to two fine grandchildren and another on the way.
She is just one of these wonderful people who care so deeply about the welfare of children.
One of her concerns was that when children come into care they often do not have the basics in clothing, toys, school supplies, etc. So she and 2 other foster parents go together and started a foster parent resource room which is stocked with donated supplies to help a child from age infancy to 18.
A tireless worker, one who will always try to say yes to the children's needs, a wonderful foster parent and a great friend. Wish we had more foster parents just like her.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Outreach and connecting

This is one of the members of the second cast "Disco of the Dead", dancing with one of the spectators who is autistic and mentally retarded, but who is the sweetest, gentlest person you ever met. She absolutely loved being asked to come up and dance with the group.
Here Kendra is helping another young spectator make a "potion". They invite some of the small children up at various points in their show to help with things like this.
One of the great things about these performances is that the girls get to do a lot of outreach. They were performing at the local children's shelter house and were a delight interacting with the kids. They also sometimes dance at senior centers (more around the Christmas holidays) and spend time after the show talking with the seniors. I love the outreach part of this performance group. Most of the time they are performing for free at these functions. A wonderful service to the community.
This particular evening was also a chance to connect. We saw several of the families we know who are involved in foster care and spent time with them and the kids. At one point I don't know how it happened but I became responsible for the two hyperactive 6 year old boys of the group and they were literally pulling me in different directions. We finally settled on playing at the bubble truck. Then we had to race over to the inflatables, then race here, then there. In 5 minutes I was a wreck :-)
We got to see Spidey as he was there with his foster family. Can't show you the cute pic I got of Kendra and Spidey though, sorry. First thing Spidey asked me was where was Dancing Baby Girl, he really misses her and the social worker won't let them visit. (DBG was with her mother this past weekend as I had a festival obligation all day Saturday)
Anyway a pleasant evening of connections.

Witchy women?


This is one of the things I spend my life doing, carting Kendra around to her shows and her rehearsals and her lessons and her teaching. Here she is with some of her cast mates right before their Witchcraft show, Kendra is the witch in purple. They do a wonderful song and dance routine that is thoroughly family friendly and very fun.
But they do this routine all over the city during the month of October. Here they were performing at the local children's shelter as part of a larger Halloween extravaganza. They also perform every weekend at the Six Flags amusement park here in town and do miscellaneous festivals and shows. They just got asked this year to perform at the hot night spot downtown, but during the day at the family festival.
Anyway sometimes it just feels like all I do is run her around to things, but for these performances I really don't mind. It is a joy to watch these girls perform, they enjoy their work so much.
I love that Kendra has an incredible confidence, can get up on stage and sing and dance (even in heels!!), and just a wonderful comfort with her body. It is nice to feel like you might have done something right as a parent.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Survival

I haven't posted much about our financial problems, there is too much of that depressing news in the papers and on the telly. But we are in big financial doodoo.

I know a lot of people are also here. For us it was not extravagant spending, we don't have fancy cars or expensive nick-knacks, but a series of job losses over a number of years that depleted all our reserves. So now that my DH is facing further job erosion we have nothing left to fall back on.

Survival mode is in full swing, but I am scared it will not be enough. The whole world economy is scary. Just in time for Halloween, only I am afraid it will not go away come Nov. 1!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Funky Day

This is a picture of DBG and her pinata, and me of course. DBG got it into her head to make a pinata after seeing it on a video (Preschool Power). So we did and she did a marvelous job of stepping through all the tasks and staying focused. She even waited for it to get dry before she decorated it.

This picture has nothing to do with this post.

I have had a difficult day, not a bad one and so many others have been far worse, but I am in a grumbling complaining mood so I'll tell you all.

It was all about work. Today is the only day this week that I get to spend at my desk because I only work 25 hours a week. The rest of my time, this week, is filled by 4 hours of training foster/adoptive parents, 4 hours of supervising a volunteer work crew that is helping to set up the new room for our Foster Parent Resource Room, and 11 hours out at a community festival promoting our program through an information booth. I like the diversity of my job and I am not one to enjoy sitting endlessly at my desk. BUT... I cannot do my job and meet performance expectations if I only have 6 hours at my desk and half of that is taken up by staff meetings and supervision.

See I am whiny today. I just feel overwhelmed and like I am falling behind and I hate to play catch up, it really stresses me out. I feel unprepared for training, I haven't gotten back to about 7 information requests and did not have time to follow up with a foster mom who was requesting school uniforms for her new kiddo.

Hopefully next week will be less chaotic and I can get back on top of things again.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Some pics of our DBG and Imiki weekend

This was DBG as Snow White at the Halloween Party at the zoo, Imiki by this time had taken off his costume and his shoes but he still wanted to dance.



Can you guess where we went? Yup the pumpkin farm. Imiki had to try to pick up every pumpkin he saw and DBG could not decide at all which one she wanted, so had to try out about 27.



Dancing Baby Girl and her little brother Imiki came to stay for the weekend while their mother, Lani moved out of her place and back home with her father. Papaw has a four bedroom trailer so they will be able to squeeze in but it is a real hurtful pride thing for Lani to have to move home to her old room that she grew up in. She had to sell and give away some of her hard earned possessions because there would be nowhere to store the couch, the coffee table, the big chair, etc.

Meanwhile back at our house we were having a blast. Friday evening, right after dinner we went for a walk and stopped at our favorites neighbor's house because they have a swing set. They invited us to stay for their son's 4 year old birthday celebration. So we spent all evening with them and had cake and ice cream to boot.


On Saturday I planned with my good friend Diane that we would go to the pumpkin farm. She has a placement of three foster brothers, 9 months, 2 years and 6 years, then also had a 10 year old in respite and her severely MR 20 year old daughter. Thank goodness my son Douglas agreed to come along and help us herd the crowd. It was a delightful day, sunny but not too hot. We did the petting zoo and the barnyard fun things, then we went out to the pumpkin patch on the hay trailer. After that we had ice cream and came home. My two were zonked and had an early bed.


After church on Sunday we had a quick nap then went off to the zoo where they have a Halloween Party for kids 11 and under every weekend evening. The kids had a ball. I wish I could show you the pic of DBG all dressed up in her Snow White costume standing next to the "real" Snow White. DBG was so happy to be Snow White and just thrilled that there were several other Snow whites too. We walked around, went through the pumpkin maze, rode the train and the carousel and then came home.


After dinner we had to take the kids back and so we met Lani half way and she showed us the way to Papaw's house and the new daycare. DBG was somewhat reassured to know that we knew where she was now living and going to school but the move has still upset her quite a bit. She was clingy and whiny during the weekend, playing her little power and control games that we hadn't seen in awhile. She had a meltdown when it was time to go and was screaming that she just wanted to come live with us again, but by the time we met Lani she was all excited to see her and gave her a big hug and was happy again.


There are lots of issues, I just hope Lani can keep it together. She seems to be doing all the right things and trying her best. I am supporting her as much as I can by phone since we live two hours away. (Yeah that makes a lot of driving in a weekend) Lani is so scared that CPS will take her kids again. I am hoping that she can calm down a little and really make this new arrangement work. In the meantime there are lots of issues with getting Dad out of the picture at least until he is clean and sober. She needs to have safeguards in place to keep him away from the kids as he gets aggressive and violent while on drugs. She is also starting a new job at McDonalds in hopes of being able to save some money to get back out on her own sometime in the future.


We had a great weekend with the kids, Lani had a productive weekend moving. And now we will see what comes next.




Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lots of change for Dancing Baby Girl

I have been on the phone almost daily and nightly with DBG's Mom as she goes through quite a trial. I don't know how much I have posted about their situation, but she was a very young mother with no family support who got involved in drugs and had her oldest two children taken into care. We had Spidey and Dancing Baby Girl for awhile, then Spidey had to move because he was such a violent danger to DBG, and we kept DBG for almost 3 years before she was reunited.

To her credit DBG's Mom has been sober ever since they took her kids with a stable job and stable housing. The same could not be said for DBG's Dad, he continued to be in and out of jail on drugs charges, domestic violence and general threatening and aggression. He wound up going straight for about 6 months and the family was together, DBG, her baby brother who I will name Imiki (which is actually his Hawaiian name but not what he goes by), and Mom and Dad (they lost rights to Spidey along the way.

Things seemed to be going well for awhile and with two incomes their little household was making some progress. Unfortunately Dad fell off the straight and narrow and life exploded for Mom and the kids.

Mom is terrified that CPS will take the kids again (their still being an open protection case on DBG) and she is having to face the fact that Dad was actually lying to her and not paying bills, etc. So she is in financial doo doo, is having to leave her home and move back in with DBG's grandpa, Papaw. DBG will have to change daycares and Mom is in danger of losing her job as she has missed so much work and is basically an emotional basket case and not worth much when she does make it to work.

So I have been trying to lead her through the maze of getting more help and the legal issues of protecting the kids from the dad who gets abusive when he is drunk or high. It has not been a good time.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Balloon Weekend

I have had the pleasure of spending the entire weekend out at our local small plane airfield doing a recruitment booth at the Balloon Festival. My recruitment booth is to interest folks in becoming foster or adoptive parents.

The Balloon Festival has been awesome, over 100 balloons participating in races, take-offs and arrivals and evening glows. I will try to get some pictures up but I don't know why my picture stuff on my computer is not working right now.

I do these festivals (not all balloon, mostly community) from Spring through Fall to get information out in the community about the desperate need for families for children. This one has been particularly pleasant as the weather has been delightful, not hot, not cold, no rain.

I always enjoy getting to know my exhibiting neighbors, it is such a diverse group of folks that are vendors at these festivals. This weekend one of my neighbors is a great family that does of all things temporary airbrush tattoos. Not my thing, but the kids/teens all love it.

Last night at the festival a group of kids who reside at our children's home came to the festival and they were so excited to see my booth representing their home. several of them commented on the pictures I have displayed of successful adoptions and mentioned that soon I would have their picture there, that about broke my heart since I know that most of these kids are the very hardest of the hard to place in families. But we do keep trying.

So I had been talking with my tattoo neighbors all weekend about what I do and they had been very interested. When the kids all came by they offered to do tattoos for all of them for a very reduced price and I just covered it as most of the kids had no money. You should have seen the joy on the kids faces as they got to have whatever temporary tattoo they wanted. Some of them had a hard time picking out just one, but all of them were thankful to the tattoo artists and just having a grand time. One of the boys is an elective mute but talks a lot with his eyes and he even let the tattoo guy touch his skin, which is highly unusual. Then after he got the tattoo he would catch your eye and point to his tattoo and smile with his eyes in such a wonderful way. I was a great thing to be able to help happen for the kids.

So one more little part of the festival this afternoon, then I can break things down and come on home and be exhausted. Of course all my weekend stuff hasn't gotten done, the food shopping, the wash, talking to my husband, the bill paying, you know the usual. I don't even have Monday off, but I am taking a bit of time in the middle of the week. Busy, busy time of year.

P.S. I need to write a very serious note about DBG and her family situation but I need more info before I proceed. Just please pray for DBG and her parents, especially her Dad. Things are going downhill fast and I don't know where the bottom of the slide is.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A New Diagnosis

Finally we are making some progress on Kendra's diagnosis for her abdominal issues. Thanks to our wonderful pediatrician who listens and really problem solves. Although we may still have to go to some new specialists, our pediatrician has been really proactive in her own detective work and has discovered some of the factors in Kendra's continuing ill health.

We now know she has a low thyroid, this was detected by the Dr. insisting that the insurance company pay for the more in depth thyroid blood work, the most common thyroid check had come back normal. So she is on thyroid meds. We have known forever that Kendra is mildly anemic but now the DR. wants to aggressively treat it, thinking that her fatigue, etc may be linked to the anemia that many of the specialist have just blown off because it wasn't super serious. Our Dr. commented that all the base lines are just averages and what looks just a little low to the base line, may for that one person be more serious.

Most importantly of all, the Dr. has diagnosed her stomach pain and we are really thinking this is the right one this time. Anyone ever heard of abdominal migraines? Well that is possibly what Kendra is having. It all fits, we have a strong maternal link to migraines all through the women in my family (myself, included) and the type of pain and the associated symptoms all fit. So hopefully we will try out some migraine meds and see if we can't get a handle on this.

It would be such a relief for all of us to get a diagnosis and a treatment plan so she can get back to living a more typical teen life. After all of the specialists have been pooh poohing her abdominal pain Kendra has started to think that there is something wrong with her brain as in she must be making it up or something. I hated to see her second guessing herself. And we were beginning to see a lot of depression as her life has gotten more and more constrained and many folks (teachers, etc.) were saying that she was faking it.

So I really hope this is the right diagnosis and that we can get a treatment plan in place and working. to have this burden lifted would be great.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It just keeps getting better

It was my birthday on Sunday, one shy of the big 5 0. Sunday wasn't so hot, not much in the way of birthday excitement from the kids or hubby. Pretty much as anticipated. I have learned not to expect too much. (a lot of you can relate I know from reading your posts about your birthdays)

We went out for an extremely pleasant family dinner, the best in forever, everyone was on their game and we had a delightful round of conversations and witty rejoinders without anyone getting an attitude or offended. From that point on my birthday just kept getting better.

With a lot of coaching my DH was able to get me a present that I really wanted (instead of the generator he thought I needed, no really, one year he got me an electric chainsaw, luckily it was disassembled in the box or he just might have been disassembled himself!!) Of course, he procrastinated about the purchase so it didn't come until Monday but it came.

He got me a Wii Fit and I am in heaven. We have all really enjoyed it but me most of all, which is how it should be don't you think? I now have an exercise something I can do in the early AM as I am rousting the kids and yet still be near if I am needed. I am so happy that he got what I WANTED and not what he thought I needed.

So that came on Monday and on Monday I actually got a birthday card in the mail. Can you believe it my very own birthday card, it came as a form card from my state representative, but hey I am not picky, I proudly displayed my card for all to see and talked about the joy I experienced in opening it as the supper table so everyone could share in that joy.

Then on Tuesday my mother called to wish me Happy Birthday! Yup on Tuesday. But I had so many endorphins from my glorious exercising on my Wii Fit that I had a great conversation with her all the same.

Then today I actually had a luncheon thrown for me at work, complete with cards, some nice gifts and a cookie cake. I am now really enjoying this birthday thing. I am wondering what will happen tomorrow. Can it get any better than this? I hope not or I will have way too many expectations for next year :-)

So sarcasm aside it really has been a good birthday or birthweek or something. Far more than usual and with none of the typical acting out that usually happens with the kids if I want a little me time or recognition. Maybe we are all growing up, who knows! I really, really liked having a birthday lunch at work. For me, one of the absolute best perks at work is co-workers, I really enjoy having other adults to interact with.

So I hope any one else can have a birthday like mine, free of annoying outbursts and full of some much needed affirmation (even if the only card you get is from your state representative!)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's been a long week

Well the insurance adjuster is here, one week after the big wind storm. The electric company has been able to restore power to all but about 90,000 homes. At the height of the outage it was over 350,000 homes and businesses. We never lost power, we had some big surges that fried some of the emergency back up power supplies that we have our electronics plugged into and the TV fried (sort of). Our overhead garage door on our detached garage blew in, it was hit by some flying debris and so our garage has been open to the world.

But we have been incredibly lucky. The weather has held except for one brief flurry of rain, so our missing shingles were not a huge problem and the garage was covered in a tarp but was certainly not burglar proof, but no one touched anything. All in all we got off Scot free. We were especially blessed to have power as mu husband runs his business from a home office and all of his work is done on computers and servers sited right here. If we were one of the 90,000, things would not be looking very good from a financial perspective.

Right now the adjuster and my husband are walking all over the roof above my head, trying to get access to the upper roof. Of course, the shingles could not have blown off the easily accessible roof!! No, they blew off the roof that is 3 stories off the ground and steeply pitched.

I have spent the week helping folks with refrigerator clean out and accessing resources to replace food. We have also been pitching in as a neighborhood to help each homeowner clear their yard of debris. The city finally came and took the two huge trees out of the street, but the lower half of the block still does not have power.

My laundry machines have been running non-stop helping others keep ahead of their wash. And we have had several multi family dinners trying to use up food before it spoiled or just to feed those who lost all of their food.

Its been a tough week, but one full of grace and the spirit of togetherness. I just hope things get back to normal soon. They are threatening to open all the schools tomorrow which is not the best news for the kiddos, but my high schooler is ready to go back. I have been back at work since Tuesday so that part is not a big deal.

My tomatoes have enjoyed this long dry warm spell and have just been producing like crazy. I give them away and give them away, I make sauce and can them and they still keep coming. I think I wont plant as many actual plants next year, although I only planted 6. The pumpkins are orange and the stems are drying. Soon it will be time to put in the bulbs for the Spring in the front garden and put my vegetable garden to rest.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A few loose shingles later!

Well at least we didn't have a tree down on our roof or our car or our yard. We are not one of the more than quarter of a million people still without power in our region. We survived the incredible wind storm unscathed. We had hurricane force winds (80-84 mph) for about 6 hours on Sunday afternoon, only we live about 14 hours by car from the nearest coast. Not quite sure what that was all about. All I have to say is thank you to God that we didn't have hurricane force rain or we would be just a little soggy in our shingle less home!

It was pretty tremendous to experience the wind storm. It began in earnest as we left church, but no one really understood how bad it would get. Even the hyperventilating weather folk on TV did not call this one. At home I quickly realized that I should secure my backyard as my picnic table umbrella was attempting to impale itself in the neighbors deck. As I was gathering chairs and small plastic detritus (sand box toys, balls, dolls, etc) DBG insisted that she needed to come out to help me. The noise of the wind in the trees scared her a little but she ran around screaming as the wind blew the leaves and dirt into our eyes. After a minute I realized that the tenor of her screaming had changed and I looked over to find her pushed against the picket fence by the wind, unable to break free. Her little 39 pound body could not withstand the force of the wind, so for the next few minutes she clung to my back like a little monkey as I tried to finish securing things. Just as I thought I was done the wind picked up one end of the rubber mats that we have under the climbing structure and began blowing them around the yard. There were 36 of those buggers, but I was only able to find and put away 33. 3 of them have sailed into oblivion because I scoured the neighborhood later and there was no sign of them. We made it inside and then there was a tremendous crash and the lights flickered. Two large trees had fallen across the road further down from us.

I couldn't take DBG home on Sunday as there was a state of emergency declared and all non-essential vehicles were prohibited from the roadways. Not sure we would have made it the 1.5 hours down to her house anyway as the major expressways were closed or reduced to one lane and many, many roads were obstructed. Her folks were okay, shaken a bit in their trailer on the hill, but thankfully the wind was not as fierce for them and the trailer didn't blow away.

So we spent the latter part of the afternoon helping our neighbors clean up and get supplies. In this tornado prone part of the country it is amazing to me how few folks had the basic necessities, like flashlights, hand cranked radios, batteries, coolers for ice, extra drinking water, etc. Since we were one of about 10 houses in our whole neighborhood who didn't lose power we invited quite a few folks over for a big dinner. My DH absolutely loves the challenge of cooking for a large group.

For the over 250,000 folks who still do not have power they are saying it will be 10-14 days until they do get the power up. We have power and gas (right now) but the groceries are closed or empty and many, many folks are not prepared to survive for that length of time. Luckily we have pantries stocked with canned goods as I have not yet learned to shop for the few we have left and have still been shopping for 8-10 folks. I think we will make it, but I don't know about milk. The bread we can make from scratch if it comes down to it.

We are supplying many of our neighbors with recharging facilities, we have a set up on our front porch with a surge protector strip so that folks can plug in their cell phones for recharging and not even have to bother us. I had to laugh yesterday afternoon. we had 2 cell phones, a lap top and PSP all plugged in. I wish we could help more with our neighbors. We are keeping an eye on our elderly neighbor just one house down, at least she also has power. Many of our friends have lost the entire contents of their refrigerators and freezers. We took what we could of my friends frozen "canning" efforts that she has been putting up all summer but they still lost some of their precious work.

There is no school for the foreseeable future as less than one quarter of the schools in the county system have power and/or are accessible. My job is shuttered and we are all conducting what we can from home as the Children's Home has no power. The residential children are riding it out right now, but may have to moved to another facility if they cannot reestablish power today. They have a small emergency generator and have been able to feed them, etc. but they have no lights, no entertainment, and it is fast becoming untenable. Most of the foster families have no power but are pretty self-sufficient types so have not called for help from the agency. I have offered my home for showers, TV respites, etc. but getting around is still so difficult even though some families may want to take me up on my offer they can't really get here.

The good side of all this, we haven't had rain so the damage to the homes is not as severe as might be, we won't have rain through the weekend so we might be able to get a tarp up on our roof (it is of course the roof line that is over 3 stories from the ground!!). And the weather is absolutely pleasant so those who don't have power are not suffering from the cold or the heat. As my 73 year old neighbor so succinctly said, "Thank the Lord. It could always be worse."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

back on track

What a beautiful morning! Cool, crisp, I can feel Autumn right around the corner. Walked to work today, something I was doing regularly in the early Summer, but by July had had to stop because of excessive heat, humidity and bad air. I am hoping to get my schedule set so that I can do this most days. The barrier, besides weather, is that I have to pick up my daughter at school and so I have to walk home to get the car and then get her, so it is 20 minutes walking home and then 20 minutes by car downtown to the school. So it is a scheduling balancing act.

My tomatoes are getting red again which is nice. And the pumpkins are orange and getting plump.

Things could be worse. But still I am battling tiredness and a little depression.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Not a DBG weekend

We are not going to have Dancing Baby Girl this weekend as previously planned and it is a good thing. I was talking with DBG's mom last night and i asked her if she wanted me to take her this weekend or next and she was very happy with next weekend. She said she felt like it hadn't been two weeks yet and that was the best news I have had in over a year. At the beginning of the summer mom was very much pushing for us to take DBG every weekend and was really expressing frustration and exhaustion in dealing with her.

The report about the luau they went to as an extended family last weekend was super positive. Mom reported that everyone was very impressed with DBG and I heard a lot of pride in mom's voice. They have been teaching her soccer and are looking for perhaps a soccer team for her, either this fall or in the spring. I am sooooo delighted to hear such good, positive stuff.

My weekend is shaping up to be pretty hectic and so I am relieved that I don't have DBG, she would not have gotten the attention that I like to give her and she wouldn't have been able to stay the whole weekend as I am teaching for work on Sunday.

So I am happy, a little wistful that maybe they all, DBG and mom and dad, are starting to out grow me. But it is a lot like letting a teen go into adulthood, a little wistfulness, a little fear, but lots of excitement and joy for the days ahead.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Adult Children

One of the more pleasant parts of parenting I am discovering is talking with my adult children about their lives. Rather than me needing to direct them, etc. they can now come to me with questions on a more reciprocal level.

Last night I had a most pleasant and wide ranging conversation with my oldest son Bart who is now 24. We discussed his options with getting out of an oppressive cell phone contract, his upcoming surgery for a sports injury and all the pros and cons of when to schedule that. Then we had a long discussion about his passion Ultimate Frisbee and how he might be able to turn his passion into a job coaching and teaching.

I showed him how to blog (amazing that I might be more technologically proficient in something than that generation) and he was extremely appreciative as he wants to start a blog about....., you guessed it Ultimate.

It was so nice to talk comfortably without either of us having an agenda. And I knew that I would not be held responsible for his decisions even if he asked me my opinion!

It was kind of tough negotiating this relationship through his late high school and early college years, but we hung in there with sweet results.