Sunday, October 19, 2008

You Break It, You... apologize and hope for the best?

Over Labor Day weekend, we love to go to Family Camp at Ozark Conference Center in Solgohachia, Arkansas. Last year at camp, Joshua was playing outside and threw a football, which hit and shattered a window. And it was not just any window. It was a double-paned, 8 foot by 4 foot BIG window. Joshua owned up to doing it and was planning on paying for the replacement, but the staff there was wonderful and we were able to take care of it through insurance. It's still kind of a joke whenever they see Joshua coming though.

So Saturday night, Joshua had cotillion. The children had to dress up as an "advertisement" or character from a commercial. Joshua went as the Burger King King. After cotillion, the kids and parents all went to the home of another family for dinner and swimming. Immediately upon arrival, Joshua (Burger King man) walks right into the storm door. It was funny at first, until we noticed metal parts beginning to fall and the glass shifting in a very alarming way. Luckily, the glass didn't break and nobody was injured, but the glass did completely fall out of the door. (Never have I seen anything like it.) He was absolutely mortified. I was very proud that he went to find the homeowners and apologized and said he would do whatever it took to fix the door. They were very gracious and told him not to worry about it.

He felt better but was embarrassed and wanted to go home immediately. I told him that he needed to face it and that I knew he would have fun if he just stayed and got through the initial jabs from his friends. Although he was very upset, his wit and charm came through as he said that the door was so clean and clear, he just didn't see it. Then he added, maybe next year, I'll go to cotillion as a bottle of Windex. He makes me laugh.

We also laughed later as we were saying bedtime prayers and Lowell prayed that God would protect Joshua around large pieces of glass. Hopefully, this will be the last glass incident for the poor child.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Brochure by any other Name

Our residents went to the Arkansas State Fair today. They had a great time and each brought home several freebies from the booths. Just a minute ago, as I was sitting in the office working, one of the residents came in and was very excited. He said he had been trying to wait until Lowell was here too so that he could give a present to both of us, but he just couldn't wait any longer. He proceeded to hand me a bag of "gifts" he got for me and Lowell today at the fair. I thanked him and set the bag on the desk and continued to work. He stood there and waited and I realized that he wanted me to open it now. So I did.

He gave me a play-by-play and description of each as I removed items from the bag:

1) "a pretty picture book" (actually an Arkansas River Valley Tri-Peaks Region brochure)
2) "a poster book" (actually 2 identical Arkansas South Visitor's Guides)
3) "a road map" (this is actually what it was)
4) "a church book" (this was a small Gideon New Testament - but wait, it comes with Psalms and Proverbs!)
and saving the best for last:
5) "a book for your trips" (this was the 9 Myths about Safety Belts for Truck Drivers - it even comes with a "Safety Belt Pledge" on the back for truck drivers to sign. If anyone wants to know what the 9 myths are, I can go into more detail if necessary.)

One of the other residents came in shortly afterward and "read" to me from the "church book" - she "read from John Lucas 3:17" and talked about the reasons it's okay to die - the main one being that when everyone is dead, there will be nobody left to cook for you.

There's no need to wonder why we have a hard time getting things done around here, what with all the gift opening and philosophical chatter. But then I realize that if the residents are wanting to bring us gifts and discuss eternity with us, then we are building relationships. And that just may be the best gift of all.

No Dirty Laundry Here!

So the blog is titled “Life in a Group Home,” but I’ve yet to write about living in a group home. We live in a home with 12 developmentally disabled adults and let me say, it’s never boring. There are many interesting things about the people we live with, but I think we are most intrigued, and sometimes most put out by, their fascination with laundry.

When we first moved in, we all noticed that every morning, the dialogue would center on whose laundry day it was. And I don’t just mean, “it’s so and so’s laundry day.” I mean this conversation could go on for 30 minutes to an hour. Then as soon as they were off the bus in the afternoon, there was a mad dash for the laundry room. I’ve never known anyone so eager to do laundry. However, we soon noticed that they are just as eager for the laundry to be done. This means that they would stand in the laundry room leaning over the washing machines waiting for the cycle to finish. But wait is a relative term; because you know when the lid to the washing machine is lifted the machine stops. And around here, that means it’s done. Time to put them in the dryer, even if that means having to fish for them in a pool of soapy water. The same is true with the dryer. It doesn’t matter if the buzzer has gone off, or if the clothes are still dripping wet. If the door is opened and the dryer stops, then that means it’s done. Almost always, it only took about 15-20 minutes before they were opening lids and doors and pulling laundry out. We were constantly monitoring the laundry situation.

Then about a year ago, we needed a new washing machine. (They tend to go out quickly here from all the starting and stopping.) The salesman suggested a new model, where all you have to do is push the power button. We thought this would be the solution to all of our problems. No more washing two loads worth on the low water level; no more worrying about the water temperature, etc. And the best part – it also had a locking lid, so no more opening the washing machine until it was completely done. Or so we thought.

At first there was much frustration at not being able to open the lid. We tried to explain that it would unlock when it was finished, but this was really not acceptable. So we resorted to diversion techniques. This worked until a new client moved in who would have nothing to do with the locking lid. He quickly figured out that if you just pull on it with everything you have, the locking mechanism breaks and the lid pops right open. And so much for the cool touchpad too. They don’t work very well when they are banged on and multiple buttons pushed at once.

After three new lids and two new touchpads, we thought we got smart and decided to put some childproof locks on the doors. But to no avail – anyone with small children will know that these don’t work. As a matter of fact, one of them actually made it easier to open the door for several of the residents. Right now, the door is latched shut with a bungee cord. Seems to be working for now, but we are always open to better ideas…

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What do you give a gorilla for his birthday?

On Saturday, we had the privilege of keeping a friend’s children for the day. They are 3 and 5 and quickly reminded us how much work preschoolers are, but they also brought a lot of joy to our day. We decided that it was a beautiful day for the zoo and none of the children disagreed. When we arrived at the zoo, we were told it was Mosi’s (the baby gorilla) second birthday and that the party would start soon. After a carousel ride and a quick check on the chimpanzees, we were off to the party.

There were presents and streamers and a gorgeous cake. If you’ve never seen a gorilla opening presents, it is quite a sight. Calli, the five-year-old, kept asking, “which present did we bring?” Afterward, we had cupcakes and drinks while the gorillas played with the new gifts. I think that a gorilla birthday is probably one of those once in a lifetime events, but I’m glad to say I was there.

After the big shindig, we were off to see if there was a camelope (per Kyndal – the three-year-old) to ride. And indeed there was. Joshua, Calli, and Kyndal loaded up on top of Emily the camel, for a stroll around the yard. Kyndal said it was the funnest thing ever, except that the camelope sure did “stank.”

After a trip to Sonic and the park for a picnic, it was naptime. And we all did nap. Afterward, we painted pumpkins. Calli was very meticulous and painted dots and stripes on hers. Kyndal just enjoyed the paint. I honestly don’t think the many layers of paint on that pumpkin will ever dry. But she sure had fun.

All in all, we had a great day. And we also learned, just in case we ever get invited to a gorilla party again, they like tennis balls and rag dolls, but not quite as much as they like the treats that lead them to the presents.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Simeon was a what????

So today we were doing our daily Bible study with Joshua. We are learning the names of God and what they mean. We've been talking about Jehovah-shammah, which means "The Lord is there." We discussed God leaving Jerusalem, but giving the people encouragement by telling them that the name of the city will be Jehovah-shammah. Even though He is leaving the city, He will come back at the end of their captivity. So today we talked about the return of God to the temple, in the form of the infant Jesus. We read Luke 2:27-32, and discussed Simeon holding the child and declaring that his "eyes had seen Your salvation." I was commenting on how wonderful it was that Simeon was able to recognize the holiness of this baby, when Joshua pops out with, "so the priest was really a baby whisperer, huh?" Though I tried not to laugh, Lowell could not seem to help himself. Let's just say it wasn't easy to get back on the track of the miraculous when all we could picture is a Cesar Millan-type priest interpreting the whimpers of baby Jesus. Oh well, at least we've tried...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

And to think it was about education

So Joshua goes to Homeschool Academy on Thursdays. It's a day off for me and I've always thought of it as a chance for him to sit through some classes, go to lunch and recess, make some new friends, and learn about some various subjects. Turns out it's really all about the football cards. When I picked him up today and asked how his day went, he responded that it wasn't that great. Why? Apparently, somehow he forgot to take the most important school supply - his tradable football cards. He has well over 3,000 cards, but always seems to come home from Academy with more. But not today. Today he was just bored. I could probably buy a whole lot of football cards with what I pay in tuition, but even though it's apparently not about the academics for him, it is still a day off for me. And in all honesty, that's probably the real reason he goes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If everybody else jumped off a bridge...

So blogging is a totally new thing for me, but I figure, everybody else is doing it, so why not jump on the bandwagon too? I enjoy reading my friends' blogs - well sometimes I do, when they aren't boring - so I'll try to only write when I have something to say. That said, I'm not sure why I am writing today. Oh well, gotta start somewhere.