Thursday, July 31, 2008

Karma blows

I don't know what the karmic retribution for blowing your nose in the shower so that when your wife steps into the tub she gets a foot full of gooey half-dried snot is but Jesse's got it coming to him big time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Anyone want to buy a house?

Don't worry. I'm not really going to take a couple of weeks off so that I can start canning. The truth is that I'm a little preoccupied with house buying/selling stuff right now and it's turned into a huge Internet time suck. In the past few days I've looked at about 8000 listings online, all of which are all wrong for some reason or another. And Jesse has put his foot down and said "No ABSOLUTELY NOT!" to the house on five acres of land with fruit trees, fruit trees just because it's in the middle of nowhere and needs extensive repairs. Party pooper.

The Story of Joseph has not been abandoned. Have the final chapter halfway done but I just haven't had the time and attention span necessary to give it the treatment it really deserves. Soon though. Soon.

In other news, Elle recently overheard someone use the expression "terrible twos" and thought "Terrible? I can be terrible? Why am I wasting my time being the world's sweetest, most agreeable toddler when I could be a holy terror?" Gone is my sweet, gentle baby and in her place is a sassy, bossy, stubborn, cranky monster.

So if anyone is looking for a house that's cute and well taken care of give me call because I've got one to sell. And I'll be happy to throw in a toddler who's also well taken care of but not quite as cute as she was a few months ago.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I dream of beet preserves

I don't know how much I'm going to be able to blog for the next few weeks or so. You see, I've taken up canning. That is to say that I bought a couple of books about canning and I'm going to spend the next few weeks reading them and wishing I had the time/equipment/talent needed to actually can something.

I don't know where this food preservation fetish came from all of the sudden but it's out of control. I think about it all day long. Once I get going I start going off into other tangents too. What about cheese making? Or honey harvesting? Or raising my own chickens and goats?

I daydream about moving to a hobby farm and living off of food we've grown and harvested ourselves. I know that it's pretty unlikely to ever come true since I can't even keep a houseplant alive for more than a week. If I moved my family to a farm we would all be dead of hunger and boredom within a month.

So I'll just imagine for now. I'll read my canning books and order cheese making kits shop at the farmer's market and I'll be happy. For now

Friday, July 25, 2008

Baby daddies

I got a letter today. Four months of medication, nine months of pregnancy, twelve hours of labor, twenty minutes of pushing, five months of legal wrangling and J&B and finally, officially, for real and forever little A's parents. His dads. A judge signed the order just a couple of days ago. It took a lot of money and a lot of time. Was it all worth it?

Oh yeah.

Just go ahead and cry already

I swore I wasn't going to cry when I watched this. I swore!

Yeah, that didn't last. Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hooray for abuse!

Yesterday left me very crabby.

A bunch of people in the jury selection pool seemed thrilled that they had a captive audience to spew their random stories to. Every time the attorneys would ask a question of the group several people would use that chance to tell long, rambling stories that had very little to do with the original question. One guy in particular was the worst. He just kept talking and talking and talking and when he told a story he would use long, drawn out pauses. Sometimes he would pause so long that I wondered if maybe he had passed out from the boredom of his own stories but then he would pick right up again. It took all my willpower not to turn around and shriek "GET A BLOG!" The selection could have taken 30 minutes but it went on for nearly 2 hours thanks to all the stories.

Several people ended up getting excused right away because they seemed unable to grasp simple concepts. The case being tried was a man charged with domestic assault. A bunch of people in the pool said right off they couldn't' be unbiased in the case because "hitting women is wrong". Well no shit hitting women is wrong. That's why it's a crime. But that's not really the point here is it? One woman (who looked like she was in her sixties and came to court wearing a t-shirt and cut off jean shorts) said "Oh, I read so much about abuse in the papers these days and I just really don't agree with it."

I wonder what she thought the rest of us in the jury pool who didn't speak up thought about abuse. "Hooray for abuse! I love it!"

After a bunch of people were excused because they weren't able to be unbiased (and because they were morons unable to grasp the whole point of what we were there for) there were only about 10 people left to select a jury of six from. Much to my surprise I was excused. I was a little confused as to why they let me go but kept the woman who was openly nasty to the defense attorney and the woman who's sister was killed by her husband. Maybe if I had told more stories about myself. I probably only said about a dozen words or so during the whole thing. It's probably for the best though. I said that I could be fair and unbiased but I don't know how true that is. See, I'm not exactly down with abuse either so if there had been even a tiny shred of evidence against the guy I would have had him hung. Or convicted. Or whatever.

Since I got out of jury duty early I was able to make it to Joseph's final soccer game of the season. Just my luck I ended up sitting next to Mrs Asshat who spent a good portion of the game telling the guy next to her that she thinks the reason so many kids are autistic these days is that their parents are too soft on them. I can't even go too far into that because it just makes me so angry. I will say though that against hitting women as I am the only thing that saved that woman from leaving the field with a fat lip was that Jesse was sitting next to me telling me to calm down. Although he almost earned himself a fat lip when he said "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion." True, but sometimes your opinion makes you an ignorant asshole and you need to have the stupid knocked out of you*.

When evening rolled around my parents picked the kids up to take them out for ice cream and to feed geese. I went out to dinner with a friend but first I made Jesse some soup. Because I'm a good wife like that. I took the time to make my husband some dinner even though I wasn't going to be home when he ate. And do you know what he said when I got home and asked him how the soup was? "Eh, it was pretty bland."

Is there a jury in the world that would have convicted me if I had just smacked him around a little bit?

*I would never hit someone. Not my kids, not my husband, not a stranger, not a complete asshat who totally had it coming. Never. If I ever did hit someone though it would be a person who thinks that autism is not real and/or caused by bad parenting.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tell me a story internets!

I hope you all have a great day. I will probably not. I will be spending my day doing my civic duty in the form of jury duty.*

Jury duty! Fuck, yeah!

So cheer me up. Tell me a funny/cute/silly/uplifting story that will make my day. Bonus points if it involves baby talk. Negative points if it involved adults doing baby talk. Super ultra bonus points if it involves Disney or puppies or chocolate.

Come on people, make my day!

*To be 100% honest I'll probably be spending my time on jury duty mentally composing hate mail to Michael Savage.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dancing boobs equals no blogging

For the past three days now I have had this muscle spasm on my chest. It's causing my right boob to jump around. I thought about calling the doctor but then what would I say? "Help me! My boob is jigging!"

My dancing boob is driving me to point of distraction so I'm unable to clean or blog or speak to my husband without snapping at him.

To make up for this lame post here is a picture that I took of a pretty flower.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The weekend

Had our open house, no news yet.

Looked at six houses, really liked one.

Went on a walk with the kids and watched them hold hands, heart grew three sizes that day.

Gave in to way too many junk food cravings, ass grew three sizes that day.

Worked on paperwork for next surrogacy, forgot what a pain this part is.

Stressed and worried about house stuff, got hardly any sleep.

Hope you all had a good weekend, I'm beat.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My very important BlogHer post

The blogging community is abuzz with posts about pre-BlogHer anxiety and excitement so I thought I should join in the fun. Here's mine:

I'm not going to BlogHer this year because I don't want everyone to know what a giant goober I am in real life.

The end.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Soccer boy

There are only a couple more hours for you to enter my latest giveaway. Don't miss out, click here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Story of Joseph - Loving Joseph

IF I had been caught off guard by Sherry's question then I imagine she was even more surprised by my answer. Even if I had not been so unprepared for the question I still think I would have said no. After all, we had a plan and adoption was not part of it.

When Jesse and I got in to foster care we told out placement worker that we never wanted to have a child who was going to need to be adopted placed with us. We said very emphatically that we were not getting into foster care with the intention of adopting. We wanted to do a couple of years of foster care, then take a year or two off and then have children of our own. That was the plan and we were sticking to it.

So when we were asked if we would adopt Joseph it never even entered my head to say yes or to even consider saying yes. "No" was the only answer that made any sense.

And it's not because I didn't love Joseph because I did. Of course I did. You don't care for a child as long as we cared for Joseph and not love them. I loved him and I cared about him and I worried about the kind of life that he would have. For my own sanity and well being though I had to hold a piece of myself back. From the time we first got Joseph we had been told "He's going back soon! Get ready to send him back! Any day now! Soon he'll being going home! Next week maybe!" I was prepared to see Joseph leave. I was not prepared to see him stay.

As soon as I got off the phone with a befuddled Sherry I called Jesse who had exactly the same reaction I did. "What?! No! Of course we won't adopt him!"

I called Sabrina and told her about the phone call and she was shocked. "What!? I can't believe they asked you that! I'm going to make some calls." She got off the phone with me so that she could call the group home.

Twenty minutes later Sabrina called me back with a little more of the story. Apparently after Jesse and I were late picking Joseph up from his weekend visit Julie told the group home supervisors that she didn't want any more visits with Joseph and that she wanted him to be adopted. They told her that if she surrendered her rights to Joseph then she would have to leave the group home. Julie said that was fine and that she was going to go and live with an aunt of hers in another state and that that's what she had been wanting to do for a long time anyway. Then she packed her stuff and left.

All of the sudden all the plans that the system had for Joseph were just blown away. It was set in stone that he was going to go live with Julie in two weeks. What would be done with him now? Sabrina told us that first they would see if Joey or Julie had any family members that would be a good placement for Joseph. If that failed to produce any results then we would have the "fist shot" at adopting him. "But I know you guys don't want to adopt him and that's ok!" Sabrina said. For some reason hearing her say that made my heart drop a little bit. The next step would be to find Joseph an adoptive family. Joseph could be with us for months and months while this all happened.

The timeline concerned Jesse and I. Our lease was ending soon on our apartment and we were leaning more and more towards moving. I wanted to be closer to my family we weren't crazy about our current neighborhood. The problem was that if we moved to where we wanted to then we would be out of our current county and we wouldn't be able to take Joseph with us. That meant that Joseph would have to go and live with another foster family before being put in yet another home as a pre-adoption placement. The situation was upsetting to both Jesse and myself but we didn't know what we could do about it.

Then one night, about a week or so after Sherry's phone call, Jesse and I were sitting on the couch talking about what might happen to Joseph. There had been this crazy little idea fluttering around my brain for a couple of days but I was afraid to bring it up knowing how Jesse felt about adopting Joseph. "What if......" I said timidly "What if .... we kept him?"

Jesse didn't say anything but when I looked over at him he had a huge smile on his face and tears in his eyes. And with that, everything changed.

I was expecting pictures of moms on roller coasters

I was browsing around on Flickr yesterday and I found a bunch of groups you can join where you post a picture you took and then people would critique it and give you advice on how to make it better. I wanted to join a couple of them but I was scared to. In all the groups the pictures were so good that I knew my pitiful little attempts at photography would just get ripped apart.

In a flash of brilliance I decided to search for amature photo groups to enter my pictures in.

You know what happens when you type "amature" into the group search box? A group called "Moms looking for fun" comes up.

And do you know what happens when you're really naive? You think "Moms looking for fun? I'm a mom that's looking for fun!" and then you click it and OH MY GOD it is not what you thought it was and then you weep because a little part of your innocence died at the tender age of 31.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Story of Joseph - The Big Question

For two months we had a regular routine down with Joseph's visits. On Friday afternoons Joseph would be picked up by this sweet elderly couple who did volunteer work for the group home. Julie never came with to pick Joseph up but for some reason a bunch of other mothers from the group home often would. They would all file in and then stand there checking the place out. This always got under my skin so I would have to try to wave everyone out as I called out directions like "Make sure she doesn't give him egg noodles this time!" and "I packed a plastic bag in case some of this clothes get wet. Make sure Julie puts his dirty clothes in the plastic bag so that his other clothes don't get dirty!"

I would always feel a little sick after they left. Although Joseph leaving meant that I would have the weekend "off" I never really felt like I could relax because would just worry so much. No matter how many notes I sent wrote or how many last minute instructions I sent along nothing much seemed to change.

Every Sunday when we would pick Joseph up the tv at the group home would be on some non-child-friendly show and it would be blaring loud. I don't know why this bugged me so much but it always did. If you have to use the tv as a babysitter then at least find a cartoon or something to put on. I complained about this once to someone at the group home and she told me the reason the tv was always on when I was there was because I always came during Family Movie Night. The movie that had been playing to the room full of infants, toddler and pre-schoolers? Die Hard.

But there were bigger problems than the movie selections. Almost without fail when we picked Joseph up from the visits he was wet, hungry and sick. Those two months were one long string of colds, ear infections and cases of pink eye. He was constantly sick. Sending medication along to the visits was pointless. The bottle would come back as full as was when we sent it.

Every single week I would make a list of all the problems that I would see. I would call Sabrina and complain. She would then call the group home and talk to them about everything I had brought up. I think we both knew it was pointless but I also think neither of us felt like we could just sit back and watch it all happen without saying anything. One time when Joseph came home with a rather large bruise on his head and the best the group home could offer for an explanation was "I dunno, maybe he fell over or something" Sabrina had me take a picture of it to keep in his file.

During all this time I had very little interaction with Julie. Most of the time she would hand Joseph to me and then walk away without saying a word. I don't blame her for that. By this point I wasn't really making an attempt to interact with her either. It's odd though, to think back and realize that she would just hand her child over to someone, time and time again and never say one word to them.

In spite of how badly the visits seemed to be going the plan was still for Joseph to live with Julie full time. We were given a schedule. One more weekend visit, the next week a four day visit, the next week a five day visit and then the next week he would move to the group home. Everyone involved with Joseph's case thought this was a bad idea but there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Often on Fridays after Joseph was picked up Jesse and I would head up to St Cloud to visit family and friends. It was nice to have a little break from our parenting responsibilities now and then. On the Sunday evening of Joseph's last regular weekend visit we were headed back home when we ran into a terrible rainstorm that forced us to stop driving. We called the group home to let them know that we would be late but that we would get there as soon as possible.

We got to the group home nearly two hours late. Julie met us at the door. She had Joseph in her arms and a worried look on her face. She nearly threw Joseph into Jesse's arms as a group home supervisor pulled me aside. Julie went back into the house and the supervisor whispered to me "She's been standing there waiting for you guys for two hours! She put his coat on him and just stood there and watched for you. She didn't know what else to do! She was just panicked. I don't know what she's going to do with him when she has hm full time."

It took everything I had in me not to say "Well duh! But this is what you guys have been pushing for so good luck with all that." Instead I murmured sympathetically and then got int he car and went home.

On Monday morning I sat down to make my usual phone call of complaints. Just as I was about to pick the phone up it rang.


"Jennifer, this is Sherry from the group home. How are you today?"

"Oh. Um, I'm ok. How are you?" I had never gotten along well with this particular worker so I was surprised to hear from her.

"I'm ok. Ummmm, I'm just calling ......." Long pause. "Julie is wondering if maybe you guys would be willing to adopt Joseph."

Adopt Joseph? Take this baby who had been my foster child for nearly a year and make him my actual child, forever? I was shocked by the question but I didn't even have to think for one second before I knew my answer.

"No." I replied. "We would not be willing to adopt him."

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Wild Asshat

It's 92 outside today with 100% humidity.* It was so hot that we almost didn't go to soccer practice. Something called me to that field though. Somehow I knew that if I went to soccer practice today I would be able to spot the rare Greater Asshat.

Perhaps I should explain. At every soccer practice I see the more common female Asshat (pictured below with the elusive Elder Asshat behind her) but I have never seen the male of the species.

For a few weeks now I have observed the female Asshat and her behavior confused me. She comes to each soccer practice and then ignores her kid while she reads a book or blabs to everyone within earshot of her how awesome her life is. Then she occasionally glances up at her son to yell at him for not playing well enough**. Naturally I was curious to see if the male Asshat would behave the same way. Today I got my chance to see. My report follows.

Instead of large plumage or bright colors the male Asshat appears to use penny loafers and mom jeans to attract the female of his species. He spent a good deal of time strutting around and yelling into his cell phone about how "his people" would get in touch with someone elses people. Once this was done he turned his attention to the soccer practice. It appears that the male Wile Asshat is an attentive father. He kept up a constant stream of calls to his young and it sounded something like this: "Come on Robby! Get in there Robby! Move Robby! Don't just stand there Robby! Move Robby! Steal the ball away from that kid! Quit slacking Robby! COME ON ROBBY! Don't just stand there! Don't tell me it's hot! It's not even hot out today Robby! Stop slacking Robby! Come on Robby! I've got a really small penis and how else can I feel like a man if my eight year old isn't good at soccer!?!?!"

All this yelling seemed to excite the female Asshat and she joined in with her own cries. "Come on Robby! What? Are you kidding me? You can do better than that and it is NOT HOT OUT TODAY!!"

Several times I caught myself staring at the wild Asshats in awe, my mouth hanging open with astonishment. At one point I seemed to irritate the herd. My own young managed to kick the ball*** and I called out "Good job babe! Way to get in there!" The elder Asshat cackled and said "Those moms who cheer no matter how bad their kids do always make me laugh!" The male Asshat responded with "Yeah, like that's gonna make them play any better."

I strongly considered whipping my water bottle in their direction but just in the nick of time I was able to remember that my parenting philosophy of "Kind and Gentle" does not include letting my young see me lay the smack down on wild animals. Even if they really, really deserve it.

When the game ended the young Asshat (who appears to not have developed into full Asshatery yet (this kid doesn't stand a chance) congratulated my young on a good game. The female Asshat tried to engage me in conversation but I ignored her. I had had enough of observing them for the day. As we walked away my young loudly announced to me "I'm glad you don't yell at me like Robby's parents do!"

Huh. Whatta ya know? Even the Splendid Aspie can spot a Wild Asshat from a mile away.

*How is that even possible? If there's 100% humidity shouldn't the air turn into water?

**One point in her favor is that she's never tried to shoot a booger at me.

***It's possible that he didn't actually kick the ball. It only moved about three inches so it might have just been the wind. He tries though and that's what I care about.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Story of Joseph - Julie's Side

I feel like I haven't been fair to Julie in my story of Joseph.

The fact is that I sometimes feel some bitterness towards Julie. I feel like she gave Joseph so little when he is deserving of so much. When I think about it harder though it occurs to me that it's probably not fair to direct those negative feelings towards Julie.

She was so young when she got pregnant. Not a lot of seventeen year olds are prepared to be good parents, especially not those who don't even know that they're pregnant until they're in labor. After Joseph was born Julie had no support from anyone in her life. Her own family never showed an interest in Joseph. I think Joey tried his best but in the end there really wasn't much he could do for Julie or for Joseph.

Once Julie got involved with social services she had plenty of people to support her ..... in being a parent. Her social worker, the people who taught the parenting classes, the supervisors at the group home, they were all there to support her in parenting Joseph. What Julie needed though was someone to support her to not be a parent. She needed someone to see that she didn't want to raise a child and she needed someone to say "That's ok. Now let's see what other plan we can come up with."

But no one did that. And in a lot of ways, Julie was as much a victim of a screwed up system as Joseph was. At least Joseph had us and Sabrina and his guardian ad litum. Julie didn't have any of that.

Sometimes I look at Joseph and I think "Why didn't she do better for him?" and I have to remind myself that in the end it doesn't really matter. What matters is that he got love and attention and affection. I can't be upset with Julie for not giving what she simply didn't have to give.

So did she love him? I think that she did. Julie's final act in this story is a loving one and I think it speaks much louder than many of her other actions (or inaction).

The winner of the Maternity Giftcard is....

To pick a winner for my Maternity Gift card giveaway I assigned each eligible entry a number and then plugged the numbers into The winner is ......

Sam who got the truly bizarre gift of hoop earrings made of mismatched wedding bands. I know Sam will be able to put this to good use too because she's pregnant. Maybe she can use the gift card to buy herself some underwear that does not cause her bodily harm. Sam, email me your mailing address (mickeyjjATcharterDOTnet) and I'll get that card in the mail to you right away!

For those of you who didn't win, don't be sad. I'm doing another giveaway RIGHT NOW. Take a second to think about how awesome I am and then click here to see what I'm giving away this time. And after that one ends I'll do another one because I just like you all that much.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Internet drama is like a lake or a rock or something

I compose all my best posts while I'm sitting in the shower. I know what you're thinking. "You actually compose this drivel? Like, actual thought goes into it?" You're also probably thinking "Wait a second, did you say you sit in the shower?"

Back off, all right? I've been doing it since I was a kid and I'm not about to stop for you.

But where was I? Oh yes, I compose my best posts while I'm sitting in the shower. Something about the hot water and the steam and the soap and the washing of my hair till it squeaks then pouring on a gallon of conditioner really gets the old creative juices flowing.

I also have a lot of great ideas for posts when I'm halfway asleep. For that reason I keep a notepad by my bed and I use it to jot quick ideas on as I'm drifting to sleep. Then I wake up in the morning and read my notepad and it always says something like "Shneedle doo snarf coorp? snack cake moodle bowl!" Then I throw that page away and hope for better luck next time.

The point of all this is to say that I came up with really great analogy for Internet drama the other day. You may want to sit down for this, it's pretty good. (I say that assuming that you're not in the shower where you would of course already be sitting down.)

Starting Internet drama is a lot like throwing a rock into a pond. What you did may have been very small but instantly ripples start to form. Those ripples grow and grow, getting bigger and bigger than you ever thought they would. You don't have to stay and watch those ripples grow. You can turn away and not watch them. You can refuse to add to them by throwing more rocks into the water. You can roll your eyes and declare that the ripples are boring and that you're so over them. What you can't do is stand on the shore and demand that the ripples stop. Even if it makes you angry or sad those ripples are going to keep growing. All you can do is wait for them to stop when they're good and ready to. Jumping into the water and trying to force the ripples to stop is only going to make things worse.

You know what? I'm going to be honest with you. This was not a shower composed post. This is something that came to me at two in the morning. That's why it's such a labored analogy. At one time I think there was also a part about pond scum and ducks but I decided to leave that our for the sake of clarity.

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a shower floor calling my name.

The Story of Joseph - Part of the Problem

After my last chapter in this story a couple of people asked how old Joseph was when he started going for his weekend long visits. My memory of the exact timeline is a little fuzzy but I think he was around eight months old.

I had thought dropping Joseph off at the group home was bad. Picking him up was even worse. When we got to the group home the tv was blasting loud again, this time with the news. Because there's nothing kids like more than their daily dose of information about rape and murders. The army of grubby kids was there in the same state of undress as they had been when we were there on Friday. When we got into the living room Big Mama was sitting on the loveseat again. She was wearing the same mumu she had been wearing on Friday.

This time Big Mama hardly even looked at us. She just called Julie in, told us everything had gone well and then waved us away. Julie handed Joseph to me, gave Jesse the diaper bag and then turned and walked away. She didn't kiss Joseph goodbye or kiss him or even look back at him.

As we walked out to the car I realized that Joseph's diaper was so wet that it was soaking through his clothes. I went to do a quick diaper change in the backseat before we drove off and when I took of the wet diaper I saw that Joseph had a terrible diaper rash. This was pretty unusual for Joseph, he wasn't really prone to diaper rash. When I opened up the diaper bag for a new diaper I was almost knocked out from the smell coming from the bag. Laying there on top of all the neatly packed clothes, toys and snacks were several outfits soaked through and stained with urine and poop. I was so upset. I turned to Jesse and said " I think she just let him get so wet that he would soak through onto his clothes and then she just threw them in here with all his other stuff!"

There were hardly any diapers missing from the ones we sent along. The clean ones that were left in the bag all reeked of urine after having the wet clothes on top of them. All of his toys were wet and smelly. The carefully packed bags of dry cereal and raisins had all been untouched but they would have to be thrown out because they too were covered in pee.

As I changed Joseph I noticed that he wasn't his usual cheerful self. I chalked this up to his diaper rash. We buckled him into his car seat and headed home. As we were pulling into our garage I smelled a familiar smell. "Great" I muttered "He's got diarrhea. She gave him something with eggs in it."

As soon as we got Joseph inside I gave him a bath and then fed him. He polished off an eight ounce bottle, two jars of baby food and some Cheerios. This was a child who was never a big eater so it was almost disturbing to watch him eat so much. I got angrier and angrier as I watched him eat. Hadn't anyone fed him? Did they just figure that as long as he wasn't crying in hunger then he was ok?

Once Joseph was done eating I passed him off to Jesse and made a very irate call to the shelter home. My call was answered by a woman who was actually very nice but who pretty much told me that there was nothing that could be done. According to her the staff at the group home couldn't intervene unless the situation was "drastic". I told her that a child who was hungry and allowed to sit in urine soaked clothes until he got a diaper rash was "drastic". I also let her know that I would be calling Joseph's social worker to fill her in on how the visit had gone. The group home worker agreed that was probably a good idea.

Bright and early on Monday morning a placed a call to Sabrina and I told her every detail of how the visit had gone and the condition that Joseph had come home in. Sabrina was aghast. She three wayed me in to a phone call with Joseph's guardian ad litum and we went over the whole thing again. The call ended with Sabrina promising to call the group home and making sure that this sort of thing did not happen again.

Later that afternoon I got a call from a person at the group home that I had never met before. She let me know in no uncertain terms that she did not appreciate me calling Sabrina. She told me that I was "undermining Julie by complaining about the way she cared for Joseph". She then told me that by bringing up the issue at all I was "part of the problem". I can still so clearly remember her words. "If you continue to point out to everyone where she fails then she's never going to be able to get him back." In other words, I should just look the other way when Joseph was neglected so that he could get back even sooner with his mother who had neither the ability nor the desire to care for him.

I let the worker know that I would continue to call every time there was an issue. I said I would call the group home, I would call Sabrina, I would call the guardian, I would call anyone else I could think of who needed to know who the visits were going.

I was not very surprised when it was arranged that a van would pick up Joseph and drop him off for all following visits. I pretty much refused to let that happen though. I called Sabrina and demanded that I be allowed to at least pick him up from his visits. I wanted to see how he actually was after visits, not how he was once a staff member had a chance to clean him up and feed him. And yes, I suspected that that is exactly what would happen. The goal of that group home was to get Joseph living with Julie. I don't think they cared how bad it really was for Joseph. It was agreed that I could pick Joseph up. I'd like to say I was happy about that but ..... "Yea! I get to see how badly this baby I love is being cared for!" Not so much.

In spite of how badly the visits seemed to be going the plan was still for Joseph to move to the group home in two months unless something drastic happened. Something drastic was about to happen but it was something that I don't think anyone expected.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Potty training is going to kill me

I don't know how much longer I can take this whole potty training business. Every time Elle has a wet diaper there is crying, whining, yelling and stomping around. And that's just from Joseph.

For some reason Joseph has become emotionally invested in Elle's potty training success. It's only 9:30 in the morning and he's already cried twice today about Elle having wet diapers. I'm trying to remind Elle to use the potty chair and gently pointing out that she's a big girl and big girls go potty on the potty chair and not in their diapers and the entire time Joseph is waling in the background. It's added an interesting dimension to the whole thing.

I've been thinking of just letting Elle run wild and free without a diaper for while but I'm not sure that's such a good idea what with our house going on the market tomorrow. It's hard enough for me to keep the house clean without having to worry about pee puddles all over the place.

The fact is that Elle seems pretty indifferent to the whole thing. She seems happy when she manages to pee on the potty but she also seems just as happy to go in her diaper. Even my repeated reminders that "Cinderella likes it when big girls go potty on the potty chair" don't really seem to be having an effect. Princess potty training is not turning out to be the raging success I thought it would be. Sigh.

Our realtor is coming over in a little bit to take pictures of the house for the online listing so I suppose I better go make the beds (something I NEVER do) and make sure the hand towel hanging up in the bathroom matches the decor. Because that's the thing that's going to sell this house. We may live across the street from drug dealers but at least our hand towels match the rest of our bathroom decor.

Self pimpage alert! Be sure to enter my Maternity gift card giveaway! Only a couple of days left to enter. And if you have a second check out Problem Girl Eats because I've posted some really great recipes lately and I would like to share them with you.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Story of Joseph - The Group Home

Once Joey was out of the picture the new and brilliant plan was for Joseph to start spending his weekends with Julie. The idea was that Joseph would have 4-6 weekend long visits and then move into the group home with Julie. Do I even need to say how apprehensive I was about this?

We were told to drop Joseph off at the group home at 3:00 on Friday afternoon and then pick him up at 5:00 on Sunday evening. I went a little overboard when I made preparations. I packed three times more clothes than Joseph would need just in case. I packed his favorite snacks and toys. I even wrote up a list of Joseph's schedule to make things easier for Julie. I mean, it was partly for Julie's benefit but it was mostly for Joseph. I knew this was going to be a huge change for him. Since he had been three weeks old we had taken care of his every want and need. Now people who didn't know him at all were going to have to try to take care of him without knowing anything about him.

I was sick to my stomach the day we had to drop Joseph off at his first weekend visit. The group home was in a nice neighborhood but something about the house just seemed "off". I realized that I was projecting my uncertainly about the plan onto the actual physical house itself and told myself to knock it off. I mean, how bad could it be? After all, this was a group home for mothers like Julie who needed extra help learning to care for their children. It was staffed by professionals. It had to be halfway decent.

We walked into the group home and were greeted by about a dozen grubby kids wearing pajamas and diapers. At three in the afternoon. A loud voice came boomed from the living room and commanded us to "bring the baby". We followed the voice and found it's owner to be a large (very large) woman wearing a mumu and sprawled out on a love seat. She introduced herself as "Big Mama"* and said she was in charge. Five teenage girls and a half dozen more children sat on the living room floor starting open mouthed at the tv blaring Sally Jesse Raphael.

I was determined to be positive about this so with a big smile I pulled out my list and started to show it to Big Mama. "Yeah yeah" she said as she waved her hand dismissively "We know how to take care of babies. Just leave it in the bag for Julie and she'll read it."

Now, several people involved with this case had already told me they didn't think Julie knew how to read so Big Mama's plan didn't seem all that wise to me. I tried to respond. "Um. Ok. Well, it's just that his feeding schedule is on here. It's pretty important that Julie stick to it because Joseph won't ever let you know he's hungry. You just have to..."

Big Mama laughed and cut me off. "Babies know how to tell you when they're hungry! Don't you worry about that!"

I could see this wasn't going anywhere but I tried again to make her understand. "Most babies yes, but not this baby. That's why I made up this....."

"Julie!" Big Mama yelled, cutting me off again. She fixed her eyes on me coldly and said "We know how to take care of babies."

Julie wandered into the room. Big Mama instructed her to take Joseph and his things downstairs and get him settled. I tried to quickly fill Julie in on Joseph's feeding schedule and how to not give him anything with egg in it because it would give him diarrhea. I don't think she could even hear me over the sounds of Sally Jesse yelling at troubled a teen and Big Mama telling us "We've got it under control! Thank you! Goodbye now!"

Jesse and I retreated back down the stairs and out the door, a small army of grubby, half dressed children following us all the way. Just as the door started to shut I glanced back and saw Julie standing at the top of the stairs. She was holding Joseph awkwardly and she looked miserable. Joseph was smiling at us.

Once we were in the car I didn't know what to do or say so I just kind of laughed. "Oh my god." I said. "Can you believe that woman?"

"Yeah" Jesse responded grimly. "Can you believe we have to leave Joseph there until Sunday night?"

I cried all the way home.

*She actualy called herself that. I'm not even kidding.

My baby is 8 today

Today is Joseph's eighth birthday. I almost can't believe it. He's getting so grown up. I had this sappy sweet post all planned but that all went out the window this morning when he woke me up by saying "Mommy! Last night instead of counting Shetland ponies to help me fall asleep I counted sexy girls. I went 'One Shetland sexy girl, two Shetland sexy girls, three Shetland sexy girls' and so on until I was asleep!"

There's really not much I can say after that. Happy birthday my beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, crazy boy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Motherhood Maternity Giftcard Giveaway

I'm in a contesty mood these days. What can I say? I love giveaways. You know what else I love? Babies. And pregnancy. And birth. I even love (gasp) baby showers! I don't know if it's the excitement or the desserts or the games or the desserts but I just love baby showers. I loved my own and I love other people's too. I'm a freak that way.

Have you ever been to a baby shower where the mother to be opened up a gift so hideous or weird or creepy or inappropriate that it made you marvel at how she could keep the smile plastered to her face as she ooohed and aaaahed over how cute it was? I was once at a baby shower where the mother to be opened a box and inside was a handmade clown that looked like it was crafted out of yarn and nightmares. I muffled my screams and tried to look away from the clowns gaping maw of rainbow colored death but the mother to be was a great sport. She smiled and thanked the maker over and over for her gift. She handled it perfectly. Although later, when the mother to be and I were in the room alone she gestured to the clown and said "I'm burning that thing as soon as I get home. I don't want it coming after me when I sleep."

I wonder what it is about me that let's people know that they can confess to me all their true feeling about the bad gifts they get? I don't exactly understand the magical powers I have but now I want to work those powers on you. It's your turn to tell me about a really bad gift you got at a baby shower. Or about a really bad gift you saw someone else get at a baby shower. Or about about a rotten birthday present you got. Heck, you can even tell me about a really terrible present you once gave someone. I don't want to be picky here, I just want to hear about a bad gift. I'll post some of my favorites in another post. (Because I love my readers and I want to share their wit with everyone!)

Out of everyone that comments (with a story about a bad gift!) I'll pick one entry at random to win a $25 Destination Maternity gift card. Win this card and you can pick out something cute and non-creepy to give as a gift the next time to you to a baby shower. Or win it and sell it on ebay. Whatever floats your boat. This contest will run through July 9th. You can earn yourself an extra entry by linking to this contest on your own blog. (Don't worry about letting me know if you've linked to me. I'll already know. I'm magic. And I use Technorati.)

I can't wait to hear your stories!

I'm not strong so I leak when I eat marinara sauce

If you want to see me reach Hulk-like levels of rage then force me to watch this commercial for Dixie paper plates.

Aurgh! JEN SMASH!!! Let's take it line by line shall we?

Nitwit #1 - *breathy laugh* "I will no longer be defined by the number of dishes I wash." *breathy laugh*
My response: Why were you defining yourself by that in the first place? Is there anyone, ever, in the entire history of the world who defined themselves by how many dishes they washed? No. Do you know why? Because it's stupid and no one actually thinks that that way. And as long as your kitchen isn't a total shithole (um) no one else cares how many dishes you wash either.

Nitwit #2 - "I'm trading in my apron for something a little more glamorous!" *ditzy giggle*
My response - Oh come on! Before you started using paper plates you didn't have five minutes to sit down and let your daughter paint your nails because you were just that busy wearing your apron and washing dishes? Yeah. I buy that. Because I have no brain and I'm just a stupid woman and all I know is that I like pretty things like nail polish.

Nitwit #3 - "I deserve a paper plate that's as strong as I am. It has to stand up to my grandmother's marinara without soaking through."
My response: I don't even get what you're trying to say here. Does the paper plate have to be as physically strong as you are? Because I don't think that's going to happen. There's a reason you don't see the paper plates carrying in the groceries. Or do you mean as emotionally strong as you are? And how strong does one have to be in order to stand up to marinara sauce? This is the worst part of the whole commercial because it makes no fricken sense! It would be better if she said "I deserve a paper plate that's as strong as I am. If I can handle my grandmother's marinara without leaking, my paper plate should too." It wouldn't make any sense but at least it would make me laugh.

Nitwit #4 - "My children come first, it's as simple as that."
My response: My children come first too. That's why I would like to leave them a planet not clogged up with crap that I used once and then threw away when I had a perfectly good and reusable alternative at my finger tips.

Nitwit #3 again: "And I'm proud to use Dixie Ultra paper plates if it means fewer dishes and spending time with my family."
My response: The whole commercial (and this part in particular) ignore one very important fact. Plates are about the easiest, quickest type of dish to wash. Cups, silver wear, pots and pans? All harder to wash than plates. If you're hand washing then plates usually don't need more than a swipe or two with a soapy dishrag. If you have a dishwasher plates can be tossed in any old way. There's nothing hard about plates. Therefor there is no reason to be "proud" for finding a replacement for them. There is no way, by any stretch of the imagination that using disposable plates make you a better mother. Period.

And do I even need to point out that there are only women in this commercial? Because only women do dishes I guess. Only women would be proud of finding a way to spend 8.6 seconds more with their family a day.

So. Yeah. I really, really hate that commercial. What commercials do you hate?