Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's my money and I'll yell if I want to

So I think I've mentioned that one of our guys got a job recently. He is a courtesy clerk at a local grocery store. (Essentially, he bags groceries and gets carts off the lot.) He was very excited to start earning a paycheck. And we were excited for him. He is getting out of the house, off the internet and XBOX.

However, in a recent meeting with one of the people in our finance office, I learned that he will only actually be receiving a very small portion of each check. Once SSI gets their cut and he pays back some of his debts for damages, etc., he only ends up with about $25 a week. After a couple of meetings about who was going to break this news to him, Lowell and I finally volunteered just to get it out in the open. Needless to say, he was not happy with the news and told us in no uncertain terms that he will NOT sign up for direct deposit and he will NOT turn his check over to anybody except the lady at the bank who will cash it for him. With this, we decided that if the finance people want to talk to him about it more, they can, but we are done.

However, he did receive a check in the mail for a training period where he was essentially "trying out" for the job and not getting paid. When finance got this check, they immediately deposited it into his bank account so that his bills can get paid. After he checked the mail for several days looking for the check, we finally told him that it was already in his account. Then we hunkered down and prepared for war. After several threats of things he was going to do, we got his dad on the phone so that he could try to reason with him.

After no fewer than three hours on the phone and yelling and cursing like you wouldn't believe, he finally calmed a little. During the three hour period, I took the liberty of jotting down some of the better quotes that were being yelled throughout the house.

"If I don't have the check in my hand in the next 48 hours, I am going to go down to City Hall, get a lawyer and sue this company until they are bankrupt."

"I'll just hack into the IRS' website and change my income so they won't know how much I am making and won't change my SSI. (Pause) I can too hack into it. I'll get on YouTube and learn how. You can learn how to do anything on YouTube."

"Don't they know it's a federal offense to take somebody else's paycheck?" (We can see he is not getting the fact that the money is in HIS account to pay HIS bills.)

"I was so mad today about all this that I couldn't even focus on bagging groceries."

"I will turn over every check I've gotten as soon as I get that big one back in my hands. Except for the fact that I've already cashed them and bought 3 games and 2 movies and don't have any of the money left."

And my personal favorite:

"Tomorrow I am calling the 800 number and taking this company on Judge Mathis. We'll see what he has to say about it!"

But the best quote just might have come from me. A few days earlier, I watched the movie "Gran Torino" with this particular client. I thought it had such a great story except for all of the extraneous language. It made me sad, because there was just no good reason for all of the language used throughout this movie. Joshua wants to see it, but Lowell and I were both adament after seeing it that he has no business seeing (or rather hearing) this movie. Yet, after three hours of this guy yelling and cursing throughout their side of the house while Joshua watched Monday Night Football and tried to turn up the volume when the language on the other side of the house was particularly offensive, I looked at Lowell and said, "Tell me again why we won't let Joshua see Gran Torino??" (Still not gonna let him see it, just gonna let him live it.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

There's a Dead Bird on the Porch

We recently traveled back home to Arkansas for a week to visit family and friends for the holidays. While there, Joshua had the opportunity to go duck hunting. He had never been and was oh, so excited. He (and of course, me, his alarm clock) got up at the ridiculous hour of 3 AM in order to be out there before the sun came up. Personally, I think it's crazy to do anything at all at 3 AM, but whatever. I was back in bed and asleep before they pulled out of the driveway.

My mom was planning on having a whole slew of family over to celebrate Christmas later that night so I was in the kitchen helping her get ready (or maybe I was just sitting there keeping her company while she was getting ready...). Joshua and Pop (mom's new husband) were due back soon and Lowell was enjoying being in a house with NFL Network.

As mom and I are chatting we hear this loud bang and are startled. I realized that a bird had flown into the window and fallen onto the deck. It was a very pretty bird and I was kind of panicking about the fact that there is a dead bird on the deck and there were about to be 20 people in the house for Christmas dinner and what on earth were we going to do about the dead bird?!?!?! As we are debating this, we noticed the dead bird seems to be breathing, so we cross our fingers and wait, and sure enough, the dead bird moved, and then finally flew away. As we are being thankful that there are no dead birds on the porch, Joshua and Pop came home. Joshua jumped out of the vehicle and this is what I saw:



Then, not only was my kid holding two dead ducks, there were about twelve just dumped in the yard:



And then they began to clean them:


And to think I was worried about one poor little dead bird on the porch and what the company would think!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Now that Christmas is over...

I may as well go ahead and say "Happy Thanksgiving!" I have been meaning to write a Thanksgiving blog for some time now, but just didn't have it in me. I know this may cause some kind of outrage but I am not a fan of the Thanksgiving holiday. Don't get me wrong - I am very blessed and VERY thankful for all of the blessings that God has poured out on me! However, I really dislike having a day when we are all expected to put on a big meal and get all the family together, just to eat and then clean it all up. Maybe it's a little bit of laziness on my part, but I just don't get the point.

Not to put all of the blame on my mother, BUT, growing up, I can remember going over to my grandmother's house every Thanksgiving. The food was amazing!! (I mean really, can ANYBODY make turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie like a grandma???) The company was fun, and I enjoyed it. Until it was over. 'Cause when it was over, everybody except for me and my cousin went to the den to watch football. And I'm sure I don't even have to say what fun was waiting for us... yep, ALL the dishes. And of course, just to pour salt in my wounds, grandma didn't have a dishwasher. (Well she did, but it didn't work, and "what is the need for fixin' it, when it's just as easy and faster to wash 'em by hand?") This probably sounds really spoiled and I think I'd whop Joshua a good one if he ever complained about a holiday because he had to do a little work at the end, BUT this is my memory.

So this year, I must say, I was most looking forward to Thanksgiving Day spent all alone. That's right, Joshua was in Arkansas and Lowell was leaving on Wednesday to go there himself. I was going to eat a peanut butter sandwich, kick back and watch some FaLaLaLa Lifetime. But you know what they say about the best laid plans.

A couple of days before my wonderfully planned out day of rest, we got a phone call from the parents of one of the guys who lives with us. The father was inviting us to to eat Thanksgiving Day brunch at a local hotel with his family. I've written many blog entries about their son and to say that the apple didn't fall far from the tree would be an understatement. This was most definitely not the way I wanted to spend my day or the people I wanted to share it with. However, since a large part of our job is built upon the relationships we have with the families of the men we serve, we decided to accept the invitation and make the best of it. And let me tell ya', it was not easy!

After several phone calls that morning where he expressed his dismay in the fact that one of the other gentlemen had not been picked up yet and this might cause us to be delayed and he reminded me that he was doing us the favor of taking us out so we wouldn't have to cook and he had made a reservation and all and it would be rude to be late (yes, he really said all that), we arrived at the hotel only to find that we were the first ones there. The family came in several minutes later. We were introduced to the sister whom we had never met, along with her "latest boyfriend" who apparently didn't have a name. We later found out they had been dating for a year and a half. You don't have to know these folks long to figure out why she might have had several previous boyfriends. "Latest" was a decent guy and hopefully he'll stay around and bring a little sanity to the family.

We dug right in to the buffet (with no prayer of Thanksgiving or even mention of things we might be thankful for). We got a lesson - that went on and on - on the proper angle to hold your dinner plate when walking from the buffet to the table to ensure that no food slips. And we heard all about them. Their son was virtually ignored until another family with a son who also had special needs came in. Then it was all about "Do you know him? Why don't you say 'hi'?" Really people?? Just because they have special needs doesn't mean they all know one another. Made me want to say, "Hey that man over there looks ignorant! Do you know him? Why don't you say 'hi?"

But by far, by far, the quote of the day came when he was speaking of his conservative beliefs and how much trouble is being caused for our country by people who don't believe quite the same as he does. He actually said, "Personally, I think we should do like Hitler, line up all the liberals, and euthanize them." I just about feel out of my chair. Really??? Really?? You really think that Hitler had something going on? Think he hit the nail on the head? If you don't like somebody, just kill 'em off??? I just wanted to say, "Trust me pal, you for one, need to be thankful that Hitler's method is not a commonly accepted practice."

I couldn't get home soon enough. As I sat in my chair, not having to do any dishes, or clean up anybody else's mess, I realized that God was teaching me a great lesson. Not just in restraint of my tongue or in patience of my heart, but in what I am truly thankful for. I am most grateful for a family that enjoys eating together, praying together, and sharing about that which we are thankful. I am so blessed to have people in my life who love me even when I only talk about myself, and when I say or do really stupid things. I am blessed to have been raised in a family that taught me that you don't kill people just because you don't like them. (Never really thought I would have a need to say that, but...) I am blessed to have a mother and father who taught me that washing the dishes after a meal is the very least I can do to say "thank you" to a grandmother who cooked all week to prepare the meal. And I am so blessed that God gave me a child to whom I can also teach these same lessons and a husband who will teach him with me. And knowing that I would give pretty much anything to have a Thanksgiving meal one more time with the only person I ever knew who was willing to work all week just to make the best cornbread dressing EVER, my grandma, I will make it a point to look forward to next November, when hopefully, I will be able to join with the people I love and celebrate all the blessings for which we are truly thankful!

But I'd really rather not have to do the dishes...

Monday, December 7, 2009

It Was Backwards Day!

Sorry for being so neglectful of the blog. It's MOST CERTAINLY not for lack of excitement around here, let me tell ya!

Anyway, we'll start off with Backwards Day. Remember as a small child when the answer was yes and you said no, or I wish it would rain, when you really wanted it to be sunny? When somebody questioned you, you laughed and responded, "It's Backwards Day!" Yes it was stupid, but I had a real life backwards day a couple of weeks ago.

Joshua is a HUGE Pittsburgh Steelers fan. His bathroom is completely Steelered out and he has about 1,000 (no exaggeration) Steelers football cards. When we decided to move, we got him excited about the move by telling him that it should be a year for the Steelers to play the Chiefs in Kansas City. And it was. On November 20, Pittsburgh came to town.

Some good friends of ours from Arkansas also came up for the weekend and we met up with them at Arrowhead Stadium for the big game. Now, for any non-football people that may be reading this, Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl last year. And Kansas City, well they did not. As a matter of fact, the Chiefs haven't won a Super Bowl since 1970! That's before I was born people! So needless to say, it was more than an expectation that the team from the Steel City would win this one without even trying. But did I mention that it was backwards day? And somewhere in that game, everything went wrong and we lost in overtime. (I say "we" like me and my family were on that field. Maybe we weren't but our hearts sure were.)

So we joined with our friends to eat dinner out. It's Saturday night in downtown Kansas City and we can't find a restaurant to save our lives. Seriously, every place we went closed "5 minutes ago." It started to get old. We ended up at Famous Daves. They were glad to have us, but they didn't have any food. Yes, once again - a restaurant with no food - how backward is that?? Okay, they had a little food, but the list of "what we are out of" seemed to go on and on.

And then things really got crazy. We went back with them to their hotel. This was not just any hole-in-the-wall place. It was the Westin Crown Center. And all we saw were bulldogs. Yep, bulldogs everywhere. It was a bulldog convention. Not even lying about that. There was a Saran Wrap type material all over the floors that was just weird. But one bulldog owner was quick to exclaim that we would understand the need for that if we "had ever seen a bulldog poop!" Yeah, okay. We just walked away from that one. Our friend did get christened with a bulldog "shake and slobber" as she was waiting to get on an elevator. Uh GROSS! Her husband was quick to point out the fact that you could have a Bulldog Owners Convention and it would still bring in the same amount of money and with no mess! He pointed out that the owners could even tell the dogs that they went to the convention and had a good time and they wouldn't know the difference. Why? Because they are DOGS for goodness sake. What happened to "no pets allowed?" I guess on Backwards Day, everything was just gone to the dogs...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

If you will allow me a moment

To get on a soapbox, I have some things I just have to say! I normally try to stick to things of my life and family on here, and I guess now that I think about it, this is indeed about my life and especially my family!

Sixty-six percent of my family (that's 2 out of the 3 of us) are HUGE sports fans. Especially around football season, but that's a whole other blog. Anyway, because of the love of sports we subscribe to ESPN magazine. It's the only one we get and it gets read cover to cover. Except for the recent "Body Issue" which we received last month.

Luckily, I checked the mail and was shocked by the cover (which led me to stray from my normal routine of handing the magazine over to Joshua as soon as I walked in the door.) I sat down at the table, thinking I could rip out the pages I felt inappropriate and then he could read the articles. I soon learned that this was an impossible task. Every other page had nude athletes on it. I quickly flipped through it, and trashed it. Lowell and I explained to Joshua why there would be no reading of the ESPN mag that day and he was totally disgusted and fine with it being in the trash. I was irritated, but honestly didn't think a whole lot about it until the next issue arrived.

It looked innocent enough and the guys weren't home so I sat down to flip through and see if there was anything interesting. And there it was, three pages in - the letters to the editor. There were about seven if I remember correctly and five of them were complaining about the pictures in the "Body Issue." From comments such as "I had to censor the magazine for my husband," to "we have small children in the house and this is not what I want to be laying around" to "the magazine is supposed to be about sports, not nude pictures." The responses from the editor went something like this: "The magazine is not intended for small children," "Censorship is a huge issue in the United States today," and "The body of the athlete is about sports." They followed up with a statement about the "art form" of the body and how the body of the athlete in particular is art in it's "purest form." Now, even though the majority of the people who wrote in were upset about the content of the issue, the whole sidebar was full of pictures from the last issue. (You know how they connect the letter to a picture so that the reader will remember what the letter is referring to? But I KNOW that none of these people wrote in to complain in the hopes that they would show the pictures AGAIN!)

I quickly ripped that page out and didn't see anything else inappropriate for the eyes in my home. But it just hasn't gone away. I am still mad about it.

I've been to museums all over the world and have seen lots of famous artwork. I've seen lots of nude artwork. And it's most cases, it's beautiful, though sometimes a tad odd. But I tell ya' what. I have NEVER been in a museum and seen a portrait of four nude female golfers stretched out on a golf cart. And there's a reason for that. It's NOT art, it IS pornography!

I am thankful that pornography has never been an issue in my home. But I have friends who understand all too well that it is an addiction that can absolutely destroy marriages and families. And I am so saddened that even in a time when we can put internet filters on our computers, and parental locks on our televisions, that we still can't safely open our mailboxes without worrying about what we are bringing into our homes.

Getting off the soapbox for now, but don't worry, I'm keeping it close in case I need to jump back up!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

When Death Came Knocking

Pretty sure I haven't mentioned this, but a couple of weeks ago, our upstairs neighbor got really upset with the weekend staff. We have a locked cover over our thermostat and he wanted the key to it(not because he wanted to change the temperature, but just because he had the "right to have the key") and staff wouldn't let him have it. So he gets really upset and we go over to try and calm him down, but since we are backing up our staff, he doesn't want us around. We come back to our side of the house and turn on our monitor so we can watch and make sure things don't get out of hand. We soon noticed that he has this huge stick (turns out to be a wooden closet rod) and is swinging it around. So, we head on back over. He hits the countertops several times and threatens to hit the weekend guy and to knock the cover off the thermostat. He doesn't (he waits until the next day when he is mad at us about something unrelated and knocked it off with his hand, but alas, that's another story).

Anyway, the next day we are trying to reason with him and he apologizes and we convince him to hand over the rod (since he clearly isn't using it to hang his clothes). He swears it is a part of his Halloween costume and doesn't want to give it up. After several questions about what kind of costume requires a closet rod, he makes up some story about dressing up as death and needing it. But he finally hands it over, with the stipulation that he gets it back Halloween night. We don't really agree to this, but he left thinking that was the deal.

So nothing is said any more about Halloween. He was gone all day to a local video game parlor (is it still called that?) and we don't think he will even be home. However, I stepped next door for a brief moment tonight and saw "death" standing there in his black hood and cape. I quickly exited back to my side. It wasn't too long before he began knocking. We knew he wanted the rod, so we decided that if we just pretended not to be home, he would get the clue and go away.

Boy were we ever wrong. He knocked, and knocked, and knocked. Then he walked around to our front door, and knocked and knocked, and rang the doorbell, and knocked some more. Lest you think I exaggerate, we began to time this. Around one hour later, the knocking stopped. I thought, "whew, he realized we are not here." Again I was wrong. He had borrowed another neighbor's phone to try to call us. When we didn't answer, the knocking began again. Then we hear him yelling, "Yoo hoo, yoo hoo, anyone home?" over and over again. This literally went on for an hour and a half. Crazy huh? But we just went on with our evening as usual.

Just a minute ago, I was checking my Facebook status updates and noticed a friend commenting that they hadn't had a single trick or treater tonight. I was telling Lowell that maybe trick or treating is dying down, because we hadn't had a single one either. And then the realization slapped us in the face, that maybe, just maybe, we didn't have any little ghosts or goblins because there was a six foot man dressed as death banging on our door and yelling "Yoo Hoo" at the top of his lungs.

Think THAT might deter a parent from letting their little ones come up our walk??? We have lots of candy if anybody needs some...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our Secret's Out

We were to have an inspection today, so we've spent the last couple of days cleaning house. As you may remember from previous posts, the gentleman who lives upstairs next door is not the cleanest, neatest person we've ever met. We usually just let him be since he has the upstairs to himself. Occasionally Lowell will go clean the hall area and bathroom, since technically, he isn't paying rent for those areas. We rarely, if ever, enter his room. Whatever you are imagining, I promise it's worse. It's truly that bad.

So on Tuesday of this week, we told him that he needed to get it semi-clean for the inspection. And by this we simply meant no dirty dishes and no trash in the room. We explained that if it wasn't clean by the time he went to work on Wednesday, that we would go in his room and take care of those two tasks.

After filling the dishwasher with dirty dishes (GROSS, huh?) and two bags of trash, we were done. When he came home, he noticed it had been cleaned but he thanked us and surprisingly didn't get upset that we had been in his room.

However, he comes downstairs tonight and claims some items are missing from his room. We asked what and he replies, "Some CDs and DVDs." He says he is certain that he had them last week and noticed tonight that they are gone. He states he is not blaming us, BUT, we were the last ones in his room. So we ask for specifics on what he thinks is missing. He says, "some personal DVDs" (I was scared to ask for more there) and "some of my Eminem CDs."

Oh yeah, of course, those. Guess we can't hide it any longer. Lowell and I are closet Eminem fans and now the secret is out.

One would think he'd have figured out that we really weren't the culprits when we initially misunderstood and thought he was accusing us of taking his M&Ms!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is just a Bunch of Bull

I grew up in Little Rock and never was a big animal aficionado. We had dogs, but that was all, and even then I never really liked them. I mean, they were okay, but they barked, and sometimes they bit! (Technically ours never bit me, but others did, so I've never really trusted any dog.)

Lowell is the same. Just not an animal person. Perfect right? But this is where God's sense of humor comes into play. Of course, Joshua LOVES, LOVES, LOVES animals. Always has. When he was a toddler, he would go right up to any animal and snuggle up. When the Little Rock Zoo opened the petting zoo (which I think has since closed), he was the first person in the gate. Very literally. We have a picture of him from a Little Rock newspaper being the first zoo patron in the petting zoo.

We tried to have a dog. It was not a success and even Joshua recognized that. So we're all good and animal free. And then we moved to Kansas.

Joshua has found a new love. We thought volunteer work would be good for him so once a week, he is going out to a farm and mucking stalls. He thinks it's as fun as Disney World. And he is good at it. I've watched him a couple of times and it kind of freaks me out, but he is just as calm and laid back as ever. Not that horses in general freak me out, but he is just hanging in the stall with them, changing out their water and cleaning and they are chewing on his hair - which does look a lot like hay, so it's no fault of their own that they make this mistake. But, yeah, chewing on his hair. And he is totally okay with a big 'ole horse biting his hair, and clothes too (we have a certain jacket that he has to wear now in order to be sure ALL of his clothes don't have horse bitten holes in them).

Last week, the lady who runs the farm said, "we need to get you up on a horse sometime soon." He was SOOO excited and planning when we could get out there for him to learn to ride. That was exactly one week ago. In one week, we've gone from so excited to learn how to ride a horse to wanting to be a bull rider. Yep, you read that ride. Riding BULLS. (I must interject here, mainly for his Mimi, that he has heard nothing but emphatic "NO"s on this one, so no need to worry just yet!) He has talked to the farm hand, who rides bulls, and he is learning all about how to hang on, how to maintain just the right posture, and how you should lean your body when the bull leans forward, "'cause if he turns just right, that horn'll get 'ya!" (And yes, as a mom, I do want to throw up when he says those things.)

So today when he was at the farm, the farm hand gave him tickets to the rodeo. He and Lowell spent all evening in Kansas City at said rodeo, watching horse riding and sheep riding (by little 4-year-olds)and of course, the big daddy of the rodeo, the bull riding. And he just walked in the door, more hyped up than ever about getting on a bull. "'Cause it's not just hanging on, you have to learn how to calm the bull too, so you can stay on longer." What a crazy oxymoron, "calm bull". I'm not falling for that, no way.

Definitely thinking we need to learn to ride a horse first. Or maybe even a sheep.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

This was Joshua this morning:And here he is this afternoon. Sorry for the poor picture quality, but can you tell what's missing?!?!?! We are SOOOO excited. He is eating a handful of caramels, taffy, and chewing gum as we speak. And the teeth are BEAUTIFUL!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Today was one heckofa day! We started out bright and early for a 7 AM swim-a-thon. This is where Joshua gets sponsors who will sponsor him so much per lap. And then he swims and collects the money for his swim team. Because our life is so insane and we can't seem to get things together, plus because we really don't know anybody around here to ask for money for fundraising, he went and swam with no pledges. That's right. None. So, yes, this is our shameless plea to the grandparents who I know are reading the blog. He swam 200 laps. Feel free to send a check made out to the Lawrence Aquahawks for whatever amount you feel is appropriate. (And really isn't this a more fair way to do it? Better than making you commit BEFORE he swims and you don't know what you are committing to right??)

As soon as we got home from that the phone was ringing. Joshua volunteers once a week out at a farm that our company started that provides horseback riding lessons to the people with disabilities. (They call it a farm, but it's this HUGE indoor arena, and it's really cool.) Joshua does a great job with the farm chores and loves the horses. They're really big and kind of freak me out, but he thinks it's great and the lady who runs the place loves the kid. So anyway, the lady is calling asking if Joshua will come be in the Maple Leaf Festival Parade, with the horses and the farm volunteers. She REALLY wants him to come, so he gets ready and he and Lowell head out to Baldwin City, home of about 3,000 people and the Maple Leaf Festival.

Lowell drops Joshua off at the parade gathering and goes to find a place to park. He calls me no fewer than five times telling me that there is no place in town to park and that at every parking lot he sees, people are charging $5 to park. Of course he only has $3 cash. Maybe he thought I could wire him the extra $2. I guess today is a huge economy booster for the residents of Baldwin City because of all the tourists coming to town for the big festival. (Note the sarcasm here.) He has to park about a mile out of town and then can't remember where the car is when it's all said and done. And of course, he calls me. Like I know where it is???

Anyway, immediately after that was over and the car was found, we had to go to a company picnic out at the farm. And this is a company picnic like no other. I mean, every office party has its share of diversity. But just imagine this: this picnic was for every employee, their families, and all of the persons served. So there was no shortage of head-banging, screaming, hand clapping, back patting, and jumping around like Tigger. And then there were also the people with disabilities. :) To say it was crazy might be putting it lightly.

Then we raced home to get Joshua a shower and get his bag packed for a sleepover. His friends were supposed to be picking him up at the same time we got home. And we were having one of those "front-porch days" at the house. You know the kind where someone knocks on the door and you meet them on the front porch rather than inviting them inside because you are afraid for someone to actually find out that you fold your laundry in the living room and don't put it up right away, etc. So that meant we were rushing full steam ahead to get it all done so Joshua could be waiting in the driveway when they got here. And he was.

So tonight it's relatively quiet in the house. I should have used this time to be productive and then get in bed at a reasonable time, but instead have enjoyed an evening of laziness. And it's been really nice!

For all my Reader Friends

I found a website the other day where you can become a Book Review Blogger for Thomas Nelson Publishers. (This is a Christian Publishing Company and they have tons of good books.) The way it works is like this: you sign up to be a book reviewer and choose your book. (There are usually about 10 different books from which to choose, of different genres. If you don't see something you like, wait a few days, it changes.) About 4-5 days later, you get the book in the mail. FREE!!! All you have to do is read it, write a 200 word or so review and publish your review on your blog and on a consumer website such as amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or christianbook.com. Once you publish your reviews, you get to choose a new book. FREE!!! So as not to clog up my family/group home blogs with book reviews, I started a new blog www.heathersbookreviews.blogspot.com to post my reviews. I've done two so far. It's legit and you get FREE books.

Now, that being said, I know that I have some friends out there who are thinking "Oh my goodness Heather, the LAST thing you need is more books!!!" But fear not, I took a couple boxes of books to Half-Price books last week and sold them. (I know I need to get rid of more, but Heidi, I just can't!! But we are TRYING, so give us a break, okay??)

Anyway, if anybody is interested, the website is http://brb.thomasnelson.com. Give it a shot.

Friday, October 16, 2009

They See us Rollin'

So today our day staff called in. (Her kids were out of school today and she didn't know it. She said she may need to get a school calendar. Ya' think??) Anyway, that meant Lowell and I had to juggle the day on our own. And normally Friday we are off early, so when 2:30 rolled around, I was done. Done. Done. But yet, I had to take our employed one to Dillons Grocery Store for his job.

Dillons is just a few miles away. You can get there very easily by going straight for a couple of miles and then turning left. That's it. But once again, he knows a "shortcut." (Reminds me of the shortcut he gave Lowell our first month here that got him pulled over for going the wrong way down a one-way.) I am tired and don't feel like arguing and we are early so I think, what the heck, let's do it your way.

Apparently he likes to ride through the KU campus. I think in hell someone may have the job of just driving around a college campus. There are people EVERYWHERE!!! People crossing the street, people riding bikes, people driving, people throwing frisbees, people waiting in front on Allen Fieldhouse for something (and I am nowhere near "with it" enough to have any idea what they are waiting for), and people of course just hanging with their backpacks slung over their shoulders. This is SO NOT A SHORTCUT!!

But he thinks it's cool. And apparently he thinks it makes him cool. And yes, we are driving through campus in a beat up 15-passenger van. He is wearing his Dillons apron and sporting the mohawk that he gave himself earlier in the week (a whole other story there!) and jamming to the radio. Quite frankly, I'm embarrassed, wishing I could just duck down. But you know, I was driving, so that's not really a viable option. God forbid we have an accident and actually have to pull that hoopty van over and get out (mohawks and all) and talk to somebody. So, eyes are on the road.

So that's the picture of what you might see from the outside. But it gets better if you are actually in the van with us. Because the conversation goes something like this:

Him: I really like to drive down this road because there are some huge houses on the hill here. Aren't they humongous? This is where all the rich people in town live.

Me: Yeah, maybe some rich people live there. But I think the Greek letters on the roofs kind of imply it just might be a fraternity house. Maybe??

Him: Uh huh, I knew that. I also like to look at the cars.

Me: (bitterly) And there is plenty of traffic around here for you to see.

Him: Say, did you know that there are a lot of people who get Subarus confused with Corvettes?

I guess at this point I was speechless. Really? Really??? Subarus and Corvettes??? Thank goodness we made it to our destination. Lesson learned. Next time he wants to cruise the KU campus in the van, he can do it with somebody else.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Catching up...

Yes, I realize it has been forever since I have blogged. I've thought about it a lot and then thought, "it's too hard to get caught up" and therefore procrastinated more digging the hole ever deeper for myself. So here's a quick recap of the last month or so:

Labor Day Family Camp at Ozark Conference Center - This is one of our favorite events of the year. We started going several years ago and we all immediately fell in love with the place and the people and the activities. Good family fun. (And we got through the whole weekend without Joshua breaking anything!) My mom came up for the afternoon on Saturday and brought us a whole trunk full of stuff we don't need, so we had to reconfigurate all of our packing to return home. But isn't that what moms are for? And I did so enjoy getting to see her. We got to see lots of friends from our church in Benton and as an added bonus for me this year, we shared a cabin with my college roommate, Lori and her family. What a blessing to be able to reconnect in person, not via Facebook or a blog. (Here is a link to her's by the way. You can go there and learn all about how to be one of those moms who can do everything (make curtains, use cloth diapers, make your own wipe solutions and laundry detergent, all while homeschooling and caring for the babies - yes she's that mom - and although I do enjoying poking fun at her expense on occasion, it's probably just to make me feel better because I am so not that mom.)

Anyway, all in all, Family Camp was once again a wonderful time to regroup as a family and refocus on what's really important.

The Kansas DMV - I have grown, in the last week, to hate the Department of Motor Vehicles in Kansas. While I recognize that my lack of organization has contributed to the problem, I am still highly irritated that I am driving around with expired tags and nobody here wants to help me. I am thankful I still have friends in Arkansas who work for the state who are assisting me with getting all my ducks in a row. Even still, it is not easy herding said ducks to the three (YES THREE) different offices I have to go to, take a number, wait an ungodly amount of time, write a check or pay cash (because they don't take debit or credit!) and then move along to the next office to do the same. Once this process is said and done, there may be a whole blog day devoted to this lunacy.

Girlfriends Weekend - Oh, how I look back on this weekend with fond memories and strong desire to do it again. Once a year, my two bestest friends and I schedule a weekend to meet and just hang out. It really doesn't matter where we are, because we don't do anything but eat and talk and sleep. We have done Memphis in the past, as one friend lives in Benton and the other in Nashville, but with me moving to Kansas, this was no longer a viable option, so St. Louis won out for the best halfway point. Plus there are a lot of tourist attractions there. Of course we didn't make it to any of them, but the idea was good. (We were able to see the Arch from the hotel window, so I think that counts as doing something touristy.) We did see the Sneak Peak of the movie "Whip It" and they liked it okay. Me, not so much, but whatever. We also shopped and ate cheesecake and laughed until we cried and talked and shared our hearts and our burdens and we left with our souls refreshed and renewed knowing we have friends who will be there for whatever life hands us and who will pray us through it.

As I was driving home, I could only praise God for blessing me with these girls who I will truly be friends with forever.

A big birthday - One of our guys had a birthday last week. He has talked about it for weeks (wanting a radio and a new watch and money). When you ask him when his birthday is, he responds "past" which I guess is a pretty good answer. I mean, there is only one day a year (the actual birthday) when "past" is incorrect. Ask him how old he is, or is going to be, and the answer is "seven." (He actually turned 49). We were trying to teach him 49, and he kept saying "seven" and then somebody pointed out that we all stop aging at some point (she claimed to be 29, some stop at 39, etc.) and said he just chose to stop aging a little younger than most of us do. So we decided to let him be seven. And the truth be told, if he acts his age, seven might even be stretching it a little.

He got a job - Our job hunter got a job a couple of weeks ago. It's really just a "try-out" per his employment specialist. He's working as a "courtesy clerk" at a local grocery store. It's really an interesting title since there isn't much "courteous" about him, but I think we've determined that what he is really doing is just bagging groceries. Hope he doesn't get fired soon but if he does I'm sure it will make for a good story.

My Favorite Quotes - "My mom used to have a BMW Buick so I know all about that kind of car."

"Yeah, I want to go fishing with you sometime. Except I don't like to be in a boat or close to the water, and I don't want to have to put bait on the hook or hold the pole. And I don't really like touching or smelling the fish that people have caught."

And my absolute favorite quote this month comes from Joshua. He and I went to eat at the Cheesecake Factory, because he had never been and he LOVES cheesecake. He had the Red Velvet one, which was huge and wonderful of course. I so enjoyed watching his facial expression as he savored every bite. But the quote came when the waitress came around and asked him if he enjoyed it. He looked up at her and said, "I feel like I have made a deal with the devil. Sometimes to get something good, you have to sacrifice. To eat this cheesecake, you have to be willing to feel like you are going to throw up when it's over and you have to be willing to never eat another Wal-Mart cheesecake again. If you are okay with those two things, then this is SOOO worth it." Oh how I love that kid!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Like a Good Neighbor...

When we moved recently, I realized I was packing a whole lot of things I no longer needed/wanted but didn't have time to pack them separately to take to Goodwill. So, as I was unpacking, I kept several boxes handy to load up with donations. A couple days after we moved, we got a little card in the mail saying that the local Veterans association would be in our neighborhood on September 1st to take donations and all we had to do was set our stuff by the curb, with the card attached and they would pick it up and leave a receipt for the tax deduction. Well, perfect, right?

So this morning, Lowell and I carry out several boxes and bags of stuff and sat it by the curb "no later than 8:30 am" with the card attached as instructed.

About 9:30, I looked out and noticed the stuff was gone. But there was no receipt. I thought that was kind of odd, but didn't concern myself with it..... UNTIL, I glanced out the window and noticed the neighbor wearing MY sweater. Yes that's right, MY sweater that was in one of the donation boxes. MY sweater, which I knew was clean, but did she know? Who would just take clothes out of a box on the curb and put them on?

Upon further observation, I saw my boxes in the back of her vehicle. She and the neighbor across the street were rummaging! I was flabbergasted (and I am pretty sure I have never written that word to describe my feelings!) Lowell and I watched them a bit, then I told our day staff. Well, she certainly isn't afraid of a little confrontation so she went out and explained that the stuff was for a donation and we would appreciate them putting it back. They acted a little embarrassed, apologized and said they would put it back. Then we watched them take it out of the vehicle and carry it into the garage and shut the garage door! I guess that if they need my junk badly enough to steal it, promise to bring it back, and then hide with it, then maybe they need it more than the veterans do.

When I was little, me, my mom, her best friend Juanice (I would change the name to protect the innocent but she was not innocent), and her daughter Amy, had been out shopping. On the way home, we were driving down the street and they saw some floor rugs out with somebody's trash. We stopped and they loaded up the car. My friend and I were mortified that our mothers would steal someone's trash. It has stayed with me forever!!!! But today, I realized that maybe it's not so bad to take someone's trash. They didn't see us, didn't ask for it back, weren't planning on getting any kind of tax deduction from throwing it away, etc, etc.

My mom and J took trash. They didn't steal from the veterans association. I guess my neighbors don't care. But if it were me, I would totally have to move. I would never be able to show my face around my neighbors again if I had done that. But they don't seem to care. Maybe they are just going to wear that warm sweater to cover their shame.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Do You Keep Your Fantasy Football Roster?

'Cause this is where we keep ours:


Not a great picture, but you may be able to tell that the rosters are hanging off the entertainment center above the television. Last night, the guys worked on the order for the draft (which is in the morning) and wanted to keep it front and center in case they change their minds. They rearranged my pictures and used them for paperweights. I guess it works for them, but frankly, I think I will be glad when this is all over!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

To Watch Or Not To Watch, And Does It Really Matter?

I think I have referred to our night monitoring system. Basically there are several cameras on the guys' side of the house. At night, there is a central location where all of the homes are monitored. We have gotten calls in the middle of the night for things like "so and so is making a big mess cooking in the kitchen" - (um yeah, please don't ever wake us up for that, we'll deal with it in the morning) as well as non-client related incidents such as "the front door just blew open." (This is Kansas and that DOES happen. Crazy!) Anyway, they also call in the mornings if they don't see us and we stand in front of the camera and wave to them, so they can go home.

Even though it is only monitored at night, we have a monitor on our side of the house which also displays what the cameras are seeing. (Nice if we hear noises and don't want to go over, we can turn on the side-by-side (the official name) and check out the goings-on.) The side-by-side flashes to each camera and stays in that room for about 2 seconds. The video is great and even when it's dark, you can still see everything. I'm way impressed with that (tells a little about how technologically ignorant I am.) The only thing we don't have is sound - probably good since it flashes from room to room.

All that was said to say this. Last night Ms. Night Monitor calls to tell me that the connection to our house was down and we might have to sleep with the connecting door open. She told me to check my side-by-side to see if it was working so we could tell if it was a camera problem or a connection problem. Ours was working. So she says, "Good deal, just keep your side-by-side on while you are sleeping so you'll know if something happens and we'll get somebody out there to work on that tomorrow." I was very confused but said okay and hung up. Lowell had the same reaction as I did and if I have done any kind of job describing this system, then you, dear reader will probably feel the same.

Somebody at the central night monitoring place is paid to stay up all night and watch the monitors while we sleep. So if that person can't watch, we can just turn ours on, go to sleep, and get the same results? I dare say not. But when I think about it, I have to wonder if the people who are actually supposed to be watching may just be sleeping too, and therefore don't see the problem with asking us to watch the monitor, with no sound, while we are asleep...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who Responds to Pop-Up Ads?

We do, we do!!!! Well, not really us, but one of the guys here. He recently got a computer and an internet connection. (Not our idea, but we really can't argue with what the guardians want and are willing to pay for.)

A month or so ago, the new computer guru comes downstairs with great news. "Guess what?" he says, "I am going to ITT Technical College!" Having MANY other things on my mind as we were in the midst of a move, hence no blogging for several weeks, I simply replied, "Well that's great. I am so happy for you." And I continued about my business. He didn't want to let it drop though. He very excitedly told me that he was on the internet and the "coolest thing happened." He was just sitting there and this little box popped up saying that he could go to ITT Tech and he could do it all online. He only had to fill out the form, enter his phone number and a representative would be in contact. Woo hoo, I couldn't wait for the phone to ring.

I didn't have to wait long at all. By the next day the phone was ringing like crazy. It wasn't just ITT Tech on the list, but apparently that little pop-up box goes to every single technical college in the country. (And I mean really, is this the best means to get a strong applicant pool? People who fill out the pop-up box MAY not be the BEST students around, but who am I to judge?) I tried telling the first few who called that this was a mistake and he was not interested in applying, but several called back. And because we reap what we sow, I put him on the phone. Probably needless to say, but after talking to several of the college representatives, he somehow got off of that list. Bye bye Technical Institute of Nebraska.

So I thought the lesson had been learned, but once again, I was wrong. The phone rang several times today. Everybody asked for "Mr. I haven't learned my lesson about filling in the pop-up boxes" so I gave him the phone. When he was out this evening, I answered the phone and asked to take a message. The guy on the other end explained that he was calling from Prepaid Legal Aid and had gotten the number from a "work from home" pop-up that had been filled out. I explained that this guy probably wouldn't be the most viable candidate for his job. He apologized and promised not to call back.

My favorite part of the day though had to be when he comes downstairs and explains that he has taken the phone off the hook because people just keep calling and he can't quite figure out why. We tried to explain that the phone off the hook really isn't fair to the other people in the house, but honestly it's been nice not to hear the incessant ring.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Would this constitute an "emergency"????

When Joshua went to swim camp in Austin, Texas a few weeks ago and called me in a panic due to having had around $50 stolen from him room. Since he was flying, I had sent him with extra "emergency" money for the flights. He had not had to use any of that, so I told him to go ahead and spend what he had during the week and that I would get some money to him for the last day and flight home.

I checked into overnighting some money, but it would have cost me around $30 to send $20 to him, so I wasn't really big on that option. I talked to some friends whose child was also at camp. They were driving to pick their daughter up and would arrive on Thursday night before camp concluded on Friday. I called my mom and had her take some cash over to them before they left and when they arrived they found Joshua and gave him the money before he left for the airport. I wasn't really worried about him needing a lot of money on his flight, but he did have a layover in Dallas and you just never know what might happen when traveling and I didn't want him left with no money and no options. So I felt better knowing that he wasn't traveling broke.

Having wiped that from my list of anxieties, I didn't even think to ask him about it when he got home. However, several days later, I asked if he spent the money in the airport or if he still had it. He responded that he had a couple of dollars left, but had an "emergency" in Dallas and had to make a purchase.

This is what he bought:



It kind of reminded me of my early college years, back before everybody had a cell phone and my mom bought me one for emergencies only. I know I used the phone quite a bit and I'm pretty sure there was never an actual emergency. But I guess when you are 13, the NFL Special Edition Fantasy Football magazine is pretty urgent!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Last Week's Quotes

From the guy with two kids - "My son is really good looking, and my daughter is, well, uh, you know, she's real smart."


Me: - "I'm sorry we can't go out, but we have to be quarantined due to Joshua having the swine flu."

One of the guys: "Ain't you guys ever heard of Halls or Vicks 44? Those'll take care of it."

The porn king: "Now see, I'm not one of those guys who looks at porn just for the fun of it. I have other reasons."
(like.... are you working with the FBI or something we don't know about??)

or how about this one: "Did you know if you shower a lot, your hair grows faster?"

And finally, after the house had been completely torn up, one of the guys pops up with, "I think he may need a few more pills." Uh, yeah, you think???

Monday, July 13, 2009

Have You Hugged Your Kid Today?

Because I guess we didn't have quite enough going on, you know, living in a group home and all, Joshua came home sick from swim camp. His plane arrived on Friday evening and he was really tired. I totally was expecting him to be tired though. He'd been away from home almost three weeks and swim camp is intensive. He also had a cough, which concerned me a bit, but I wasn't too worried.

However, on Sunday night when he said his head was banging and he was dizzy and thought he was going to pass out, I got a little worried. Lowell took him to see a doctor the next morning. Joshua called me from the doctor's office and said, "Mom they think I have swine flu." I immediately responded with, "Oh they do not! What are they really saying?" When Lowell got on the phone and confirmed that this was not some sick joke, I could hardly believe it. Really??? Swine flu?? Really??

When Joshua arrived home, he was feeling really silly wearing a mask, which he was told he had to wear if he went out in public. Needless to say, he chose to stay home rather than wear the mask out again. I do so wish I had gotten a picture when I had the chance.

So, doing what we felt was the right thing, we notified our supervisor and were quickly informed that the whole house was quarantined. This meant we couldn't go out at all, not to the grocery store, not to get the daily pop from the Quik Trip, not to go to the afternoon workshop that one of our guys lives for, etc. Not out at all. This also meant nobody came in. So we were on our own with no additional staff in a house infected with swine flu and with three guys who weren't sick and therefore did not understand why they were stuck at home. It only took about a day for us to second guess ourselves and wonder why we didn't just keep the news to ourselves and go on about business as usual. It was a rough week!!

But my favorite part of the week was when the lady from the Health Department called and asked about a zillion questions about where Joshua had been, what he had done, and then many more questions about our health and travels. I laughed out loud when I heard Lowell responding to the question of whether he has been around any animals. Lowell's response - He catches snakes a lot and apparently caught a bunch of crawdads in the creek in North Carolina.

But my favorite series of questions had to be: "Have you shared a meal at the same table as him?", "Have you had contact with his laundry?" and the best, "Have you hugged him?" I mean are there really people out there who say, "Well goodness no, he's got the swine flu, so we locked him in his room and are sliding food under the door! Haven't touched him or his laundry!"

Lowell answered "yes" to each of the crazy questions. He didn't mention that not only have we hugged Joshua, but that I've slept in the same room as him just to be sure he is breathing okay at night.

Joshua is feeling better and hopefully this week we will be able to get back to what we consider normal. But I know I will laugh any time I see one of those "Have you hugged your child today?" bumper stickers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

They Call It a Boxer's Fracture

But apparently you don't have to be boxing to get it. The frustrating thing about the outburst a couple of weeks ago is that he has really been doing sooo well. And we really aren't sure what happened. We do know he doesn't like change, and we do have a new roommate, two new weekend staff, we are getting a new house, his day staff at the workshop is leaving, our supervisor resigned, and Joshua was out of town for three weeks. I guess not being able to verbalize his anxiety over all this built up and he just let it out in the form of tearing up the house.

Everything was going along as usual, until he popped up out of his chair and tossed the television. (Never a good sign of things to come!) He was fighting all of us and completely unable to see reason. I'm sure there would have been some excellent video footage had someone had a camera, as Lowell, our day staff, and I circled the room trying to protect him and ourselves. At some point in all this he tried to kick me and I put up a hand to stop him. So technically maybe it was my fault. (I do have a certain family member - who is a little bit crazy - who used to accuse another family member of hitting her if he put up an arm to block her hits and she happened to get a bruise, but that's a whole other story.) Anyway, as I tried to block the kick, I heard my little pinky finger pop about four times. I also felt something odd happen.

After he settled down and our supervisor arrived, I made my way to Prompt Care, where I was told it looks like a Boxer's Fracture. All I could think was "could there be a more appropriate name for it, except maybe 'crazy guy came after you and kicked at you fracture'?"

When I got home with my fingers all taped together, he looked at me and said, "What happened to your finger lady?" I said, "Why don't you tell me?" To which he quickly responded, "Oh, yeah, you hit me." I had to turn and walk away.

Later, as our day staff was taking him out, I am told he was in the van blowing me kisses saying "Love you Header, miss you!" I can honestly say I wasn't really feeling the love, and didn't miss him too terribly much.

Anyway, now that explains why no blogs the last couple of weeks. Not easy to type when your fingers are all taped together. Finger is healing though so hopefully I can soon get all caught up on how things got crazier as the week went on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Fill in your name here" is a Superstar!

One of our guys really enjoys getting mail and it is a powerful motivator for him. Several months ago, one of the behavioral analysts made him a sign (we joke that it's a billboard as it is rather large), laminated it and put it on a lanyard for him and stuck it in his mailbox. He doesn't wear it every day, but we've noticed that when he does, he often draws attention - wearing a billboard will do that - but it is great attention. People will say, "I hear you are a superstar!" or "You must be a really special guy to get a sign like that!" or "I wish somebody thought I was a superstar!" or "Nobody has ever thought I was wonderful enough to make a sign like that for me." These conversations leave him elated and encouraged. So today he was wearing this particular "necklace" (as he likes to call it) and it made me realize that sometimes we all need to hear that we are superstars to somebody. So to all my friends reading this blog, fill in your name and know that I think you are a superstar! (And yes, he is wearing a Razorback shirt. We are gonna have a house full of hog fans yet!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Wouldn't Change a Thing!

Joshua left last Wednesday to go to North Carolina for a ten day vacation with his G-Dad. He will go from there to Austin, Texas for a week at swim camp before he returns home on July 3.

Solely due to Southwest Airlines' cheap flights, we decided to let him fly alone on these trips. I have to admit, I was a nervous wreck on Wednesday waiting for him to board his plan. Of course I acted like I wasn't nervous a bit, because I think Joshua was already anxious enough for the both of us.

He was so relieved, as was I, when the plane landed and he immediately saw his G-Dad. So relieved in fact, that he let his mind totally relax and forgot to get his luggage. Yep, not entirely sure how one forgets to go claim their baggage after exiting a plane, but he did. When he called me an hour later and was on the way back to the airport, he was really upset and feeling stupid. It was a little hard to contest that, but being his mom, I assured him that this is something that happens sometimes and he shouldn't worry about it. (I mean, I am sure that at some point in the history of flight, someone else has walked out of the airport sans luggage, right??? Maybe??)

Once they arrived in North Carolina, he forgot about the luggage incident and got excited about all of the things to do in Montreat. Eating ice cream at the Huckleberry, boulder bopping in the creek, and hanging out with cousins. However, the fun ended and the anxiety came back the next day as he jumped into the creek with his cell phone in his pocket. Goodbye phone. Normally I would count that as his loss, however, as he is traveling three more times on an airplane alone before I see him again, the phone is more important to me than just about anything else. I sent my phone in the mail to him the next day so that he can have it during travel.

Last night he called and asked if I packed his toothbrush. Now granted, that would have been an okay question, say maybe Thursday, Friday even. However he is on day five of his vacation and just now looking for his toothbrush. Ugh!! What do you do with that?

And then, just when I am feeling like this kid will never have any sense of order in his head, I get an email from one of Lowell's cousins detailing how great Joshua was this weekend with the kids. The cousin called him an angel and said, "if I could bottle his temperament and sell it, I would make millions. That kid's amazing and you should be so proud of him."

And then a lady at church tracked us down to tell us how much she appreciated Joshua's help at VBS. She said he always used good manners and was always willing to help her with whatever she needed, even though he wasn't assigned to her room. When the kids who were working with her were not helpful, she could find Joshua and know that he would smile, say "yes ma'am" and do whatever she asked of him.

And then I remember the little girl with Down Syndrome who Joshua completely fell in love with at VBS. We have worked with adults with disabilities his whole life and he has on many occasions expressed a fear that he will have a disabled child. He came to me with tears in his eyes after VBS and said that he knows that if God gives him a kid with a disability, it would bring joy to his life and that he is no longer scared of that.

And I know that this young man, with or without luggage, with a waterlogged cell phone, and with some nasty unbrushed teeth, is the best thing I've got going. And I know that he is absolutely remarkable just the way he is. And there is no way, even if I could, that I would ever change a thing!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Quote of the Day

Working and living here, we hear some crazy statements. I have begun to text Lowell and a few other people the quote of the day. It's always good for a laugh, so I thought I might include some here as well.

Q of the D from cardiologist (said very nonchalantly) - "What's the worst that could happen? Sudden death, that's it."

From the guys -

"I think that the 12 month subscription lasts around a year or so. Maybe a little less, maybe more, but pretty sure it's around one year."

"You don't actually have to have a clutch in the car to be able to pop the clutch. I can tell you how sometime."

"The place I was before, you know in the hospital, they fed me three meals a day. That was nice." (I guess when the short-term memory is failing, you don't remember us slaving away in the kitchen preparing your meals!!!)

The no-short-term memory guys also lacks a bit of a filter in the things he says, for instance, he has this conversation with staff recently:

Staff: "Do you have your seat belt on?"
Him: "Yes, do you?"
Her: "Yes, I have mine on, but thanks for asking, because sometimes I forget."
Him: "Oh, I didn't know they made them that big."
(What's funny here is that she really isn't severely overweight, but yep, he went there with her!)

And then today (when one of the guys was sick):

Staff to sick guy: "Something is not right about you."
Mr. NoShortTermMem: "And you just now figured that out?"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Phrase We Cannot Say

I've debated for several weeks now whether or not to write this post, or whether is crosses the line of too much information. But I've decided that if anybody reading this is really interested in my life, then this is what's really going on.

Things have been going relatively well at the house. The guy who does not do well with change has really done great considering we have a new weekend staff and a new roommate. However, when he is feeling any kind of anxiety, he is (rather than throwing things or pulling off the rearview mirror) expressing a desire to "pee in a cup."

A couple of weeks ago, the weekend staff knocked on the door and said that he was saying he needed to go to the bathroom but was insisting on having a cup. We replied that we only "pee in a cup" at the doctor's office. This seemed to be an okay response as nothing else was said.

Yet, in the last two weeks, this has been an almost constant request. It's odd, and it's even really funny, but it's also making me crazy. He hasn't had any other behaviors besides almost always asking to "pee in a cup." We have no idea where this came from!

We've tried not to make an issue out of this hoping it would go away, but last week we realized that it's not going away anytime soon. We went to the doctor, the cardiologist mind you, and he was really excited about going to the doctor because he would get to "pee in cup." We told him several times that this wasn't that kind of doctor and that he wouldn't need to do that because the doctor just wanted to listen to his heart. But he was bound and determined.

When we walked in the door, he immediately started asking about going to the bathroom. Staff took him and he wanted a cup. When he wasn't given one, he began threatening to pee on himself or on the floor. Even just writing that, I wonder how and why we do the job that we do. Crazy isn't it? Anyway, he was completely uncooperative with the doctor and his staff, but there was no way I was giving in because my thoughts are that if we feed into this even once, it's over!

He had a bad day all day. After we got his afternoon pop and came home for dinner, I thought he was settling down some. Lowell had grilled chicken, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob and made a salad for dinner. When we had the plates on the table, once again the request was made to "pee in a cup." The food flying began when he was told no.


There was baked potato and salad EVERYWHERE! And he just sat in his chair in the midst of the food, and watched "Little House on the Prairie" while I tried to point out that Laura Ingalls never threw her food.

The next day I met with two of the behavior analysts to try to figure out a plan to get this fascination to cease. We have decided to eliminate the phrase "pee in a cup" from our vocabulary and not to acknowledge him when he says it. I know it's not a phrase I use often (and maybe have never used outside of a physician's office), but I won't be saying it any more and we'll see how ignoring it goes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Theft by WHAT??

Crazy things happen here and I certainly get my fill of crazy quotes. But generally speaking, they are from the guys who live here. Today though, it came from our day staff, formally the cornstarch addict, who you will be glad to know has kicked the habit.

Anyway, she came in today telling me that she didn't sleep at all last night because her sister called and was frantic because the police were searching her house. She tells me that the police found a gun in her 16-year-old nephew's room between his mattress and box springs.

So the nephew was arrested (this wasn't his first run-in with the police, which may seem obvious since the police are searching her home in the middle of the night). So the nephew is going to jail and the sister is upset because she doesn't have anyway to get to the jail. Her boyfriend, who let the police in to search the house, took her car and was nowhere to be found. He wouldn't answer his phone and she was stuck at home and didn't know what to do. She finally got the boyfriend on the phone and he says something along the lines of: "I just had to get up out of there and lay low for a while cause the cops had guns in my face and I can't handle that."

So her sister understands, says "that's fine, lay low, but bring me back my car!" But the boyfriend doesn't.

So I'm listening to her finish up the story when she says, "I told her to call the police and report the car stolen, 'cause that is theft by conception. Girl it is theft by conception I tell ya!"

Yeah, ummm, thinking she is trying to say something along the lines of possession is 9/10 of the law but knowing that if I tried to speak I would laugh, and she is already upset about her nephew in jail and her sister's car being stolen. So I just nodded and politely left the room. I spent a good portion of the day pondering what "theft by conception" could potentially mean. But I won't go into details on that one.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!


I can hardly believe it, but it's true. Joshua is 13 today! Unlike most kids, he does not want to be a teenager. He's worried he is going to change all of a sudden and hate his parents. He is also worried about having one of those dumb looking pseudo-mustaches that some teenage boys think look cool. We have done our best to assure him that although those pesky hormones will kick in soon, it doesn't mean anything has to change. He will always always be my baby boy, no matter how old he is.

And although I will certainly miss some aspects of his younger years, there is absolutely no denying how much I truly enjoy watching him grow up. He is a most amazing young man. I know I am biased because I am his mom and all, but I have the great pleasure of often hearing how much others enjoy him too.

He makes me laugh. He soooo has my sense of humor. We just "get" each other. He loves others and loves them well. He is so exceptionally wonderful with the guys we live with. He is often better at teaching them than either Lowell or I are. He is respectful, kind, well-mannered and protective of those who need protecting. He understands when to stand up for injustice and he knows when to let unfairness pass.

Joshua handled our move better than either Lowell or I did. He's fun because he is, in so many ways, still just a little boy, but in so many others, he is wise beyond belief. On the days when we are most frustrated with the job or living in Kansas, he has provided us insight into some reasons things might be the way they are and he (generally) stays positive about it all. He is introducing us to our new community in wonderful ways. (How do people without kids ever meet anybody??)

I love doing school with him and watching him learn new things. (There are also many days when I think about driving him over and dropping him off at the closest public school I can find, because he is pushing all my buttons and making me crazy!)

And now he is thirteen years old. Wow! How time flies (whether you are having fun or not)!

I absolutely have no greater joy in this life than being his mom. But as he gets older, I am finding that being his friend is pretty amazing too!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What kind of sandwich?

Today was the day! We picked up 51st (what Lowell has named him from the movie "Fifty First Dates") this morning and all went well. He was happy to see us and seemed to remember who we were (if not our names) and what we were there for. He was very pleasant. Told us a few of the same stories we heard the other day, but other than that he was very much 'with us'.

On the way home, we tried the discussion about favorite foods again, but were no more successful than we were on Monday. In a later conversation we mentioned that we get tacos on Tuesday nights. He said he liked tacos and I asked if he preferred Taco Bell or Taco Johns. He responded that either is fine, but he really likes Subway. Which did seem kind of non-sequitur, but we were definitely expecting more conversation deficits than that, so you know, whatever, we like Subway too.

We got home and unpacked his things and were hanging out in the living room when I suggested running to Subway and getting some lunch for us. He seemed excited about this so I asked what kind of sandwich he wanted. Then the conversation went something like this:

51st: What kind of sandwiches does Subway have?
Me: Oh, you know, turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken, veggie. What kind do you like?
Him: What kind of sandwiches does Subway have?
Me: Yeah, well, they have turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken, veggie. What kind do you like?
Him: What kind of sandwiches does Subway have?
Me (trying not to be irritated or laugh): Uh, they have whatever kind of sandwich you could want: turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken, veggie. What kind do you like?
Him: What kind of sandwiches does Subway have?
Me (looking at Lowell to help me out, but he is too busy being entertained): Well just tell me what kind of sandwich you like.
Him (and I promise I am not making this up): What kind of sandwiches does Subway have?
Me: What about if we just go get a hamburger instead?
Him: What kind of hamburgers does Subway have?

That is pretty much the actual conversation. He ended up with roast beef. He seemed to like it. We had a great, lucid conversation all through lunch but I know those "Subway moments" will be a very real part of my life for the next few months. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well, I went to IHOP yesterday

Finally, we are getting our third person tomorrow. Paperwork is signed and in hand and discharge is planned so it really should happen. Earlier this week, Lowell and I went to the rehab facility to meet him and take him some pictures of us, the house and his two new roommates. We were both pleasantly surprised with his level of functioning, even though he definitely has several noticeable deficits. The majority of the time, even though he often had to search for his words, the conversation was fairly normal for people first meeting. But it had its moments. Excuse the dialog, but I think you best get the picture this way.

Us: Hey there, we wanted to come meet you and introduce ourselves to you. We are Lowell and Heather and we will be living with you when you move, hopefully later this week.
Him: Yeah, they told me I will be moving soon.
Us: Well, we brought you some pictures so you can get an idea of your new home.
Him: It looks like a nice place and you seem like nice people, know what I mean?
Us: Yes, we are (just kidding). Yeah, it's a nice home. We came by yesterday to see you, but you were out with your brother. Tell us a little about you.
Him: I went out with my brother yesterday. We went to IHOP. He has a good job and makes $18 an hour. I have two kids.
Us: Tell us about your kids. How old are they?
Him: I don't know how old they are, know what I mean? They are in school, except they are not in school now.
Us: Oh yeah, so they are school age, but out for the summer?
Him: My brother came to pick me up yesterday and we went to IHOP. He has a good job and makes $18 an hour.
Us: Oh, so you like IHOP? What's your favorite food?
Him: They make the food here and serve it to us, know what I mean?
Us: Yeah, here in the cafeteria. But if you get to choose, what is the thing you like most to eat?
Him: Well they just bring it to you and you eat whatever you get. I have three brothers. My brother John came yesterday. We went to IHOP.
Us: Yeah, okay. So tell us more about yourself.
Him: I was in the army for two years and attended college for two years. I speak Spanish and English. It's good to speak two languages because it can really help you get a better job.

At this point, we are going, "wow, really lucid moment!" And then, of course, he says: "I went to IHOP with my brother yesterday. He has a great job and makes about $18 an hour."

I won't bore with further details of the conversation. Just know we heard, "know what I mean" and "went to IHOP" a lot in that one hour. We go pick him up at 9 in the morning. There is an IHOP right around the corner from the house. But I'm thinking we shouldn't go there for breakfast or probably even drive by it any time in the near future.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Funniest Person I Know

I have to say that Joshua Terrell is probably the funniest person I know. It's a joy and an honor to be his mom, he's fun to be around and he really makes me laugh a lot.

He has such a knack for describing things in such a way that you know exactly what he is talking about. He was talking the other day about one of the guys next door and was telling me about how he walked around the gym watching the other basketball players "like a lion stalking his prey." I could totally see it, because that's exactly how this guy is.

The next day, he was talking about this really sweet little girl from Arkansas who he talks to regularly on the phone. He is NOT a phone person, but we encourage him to stay connected to this friend because we really like her (and he does to). It would be an understatement to say that she talks a lot. Hearing his side of the conversations, we usually just hear "uh huh", "oh wow", and then "oh hey I gotta go" (we are working on his skills at closing a conversation). Anyway he gets off of the phone and says, "You know how if you are reading a book and skip ahead a couple chapters and are totally lost in what's going on because you missed pertinent information? That's how it sometimes feels when I am on the phone with her. She tells stories about Mary and Anna and Claire and I feel like I skipped the chapters where they were introduced."

Today he came in after playing outside with some of the neighbor boys. He was very excited to have made new friends and was telling us about them over dinner. He said, "The only problem I see with them right now is that they are acoustic. Is that the word for not believing in God?" We informed him that we thought they probably said "agnostic" and were explaining what that is. As we were telling him that it is important to get to know people no matter what their religious beliefs may or may not be, he interjects with "Oh I'm not worried about what they believe. Give me until the end of the month with 'em and they'll love Jesus too!" See why I love that kid?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Because we are so refined

I received a picture via email just the other day of Joshua from last November. One of Lowell's cousins got married in Dallas (and since at the time we had nothing tying us down), we decided to go hang out with family for the weekend.

One night after the wedding, we all went out to eat at a local restaurant at the stockyards. Now Joshua is one of those people who will try ANYTHING! He looked over the menu and decided that he wanted to order some escargot for an appetizer. We decided that it was a special occasion and the rest of the family was egging us on to let him try them, so we agreed.

I wasn't at all worried about him doing anything embarrassing when he ate them. I knew that he would swallow them all down if for no other reason than to prove he could do it. He's just like that. However, nobody will ever let me forget that when the waitress came by to take our order, he looks at her and confidently says, "I'll have an order of snails." Yep, he asked for snails. Of course, we all know that's what it is, but do we have to proclaim our lack of refinement in front of people who will remember it forever? Guess so!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

If you need to stay awake

Well, 51st (as Lowell likes to call the new guy after the movie "Fifty First Dates") did not move in today as was expected. Some paperwork glitch and apparently he'll come tomorrow. I'm betting he wasn't too disappointed though. Chances are really good he didn't even remember that today was the big day.

So all going on today was the normal terrorizing that we get. Tonight, the chef came downstairs, went into the garage, grabbed a propane tank and demanded to go get it filled. Never quite knowing what is going on in his mind, Lowell responded with, "That's a great idea. We all love to grill out, but I will need to talk to my supervisor tomorrow to see what the protocol is for this." Clearly, this was not an acceptable answer. He wanted his propane and wanted it then. But serious questions in our minds gave us pause about whether or not this was okay. He claims to have had the grill for two years and never having any propane. (Thinking there has to be a reason for that.) And since it is his grill, shouldn't he have to pay for the propane?

Anyway, when presented with that, he grabs the propane tank, walks outside and sits down and kind of cradles the tank. I went outside to try to talk to him, but he refused to speak. So I came back inside and we just watched him hugging on the empty propane tank. He finally came back inside, slammed some doors, knocked some stuff around, and pulled the curtains off the wall. We just let him have his time.

Then he grabs the tank and goes back outside again. This time Lowell and I both went out to try to talk to him. He finally joined the discussion. He was very focused on the propane and couldn't see where we were going when we talked about respect and not being demanding. I mentioned that we are here to help him live successfully, but that we are not his personal taxi drivers, and he cannot just summon us to take him somewhere and pay for his purchases whenever the whim hits him. He explained that he only does this because he doesn't have a driver's license. (See where he is totally not getting it?)

So we go into several examples of how we should treat one another and be respectful. We are talking and he keeps interrupting about the propane, because we didn't understand, he wasn't being disrespectful, he just has wanted this propane for two years and nobody will get it for him and that makes him mad. Again we explained that even when we are mad, it's not good to yell at people, slam doors, hit walls, and pull the curtains down. "Oh the curtains?" he responds, "I pulled those down because I was tired and trying to stay awake, not because I was mad."

Well, I guess there is really no use arguing with that now is there? So much for caffeine, just pull the curtains down. Certain cure for sleepiness!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hello, my name is...

So tomorrow we are finally getting the third resident next door. When we moved in, there was a third person, but he was gone before we finished our training. Then the plan was to move a girl in who was known to "take people down" - as in to the ground, by grabbing their shirt collars and doing some move she apparently had perfected. I was so not looking forward to that. The next person on the list seemed okay, she didn't have a "take down" move that we knew of, but she did scream. A lot. Like any time she moved or looked at you. That really wasn't too cool either but I thought, "guess it could be worse". Until we asked about aggression with her and were told that there had only been one incident where she had been aggressive and she reportedly bit a guy's ear off. Yes, she pulled a Mike Tyson on him. Uhhm, yeah, throw bananas at me, rip off the rearview mirror, whatever, but see, I really like my ears. Both of them. Anyway, it was decided it was not in her best interest or ours for her to move in (breathe a sigh of relief here) and thus, we have had an empty room for the last five months. We've rather enjoyed only having two guys, as they have kept us plenty busy and overly active. However, we do feel like we are settled in and ready for the third person and he is coming tomorrow. Our world will never be the same.

We don't know a whole lot about him. We know his name, and that may be all even he knows. He was not born with a disability. He apparently had an infectious disease that has worked its way into his brain. He has two children and an ex-wife. Until November of last year he worked in a warehouse and had a home and a seemingly normal life. Then he got sick, but since he didn't have insurance, went and lived in his parents' basement for the next five months until he was too much for them to care for and they took him to the hospital.

He seems to have had an interesting life even before this. Somewhere in the paperwork, there is mention of being in the military but being discharged due to an injury when his "parachute failed to open." No kidding, it really says that. And yeah, I would guess that there would be injury if that was the case. I really hope to learn more about that sometime. But it probably won't happen.

Unlike our other two who have had developmental disabilities all of their lives, this guy has what amounts to a traumatic brain injury. But since he didn't hit his head and the "injury" spread internally, it has affected several parts of the brain. This manifests itself primarily in the form of no short-term memory. That's right. I am thinking our life will be a little like the movie "Fifty First Dates" with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. We will be able to prove the old adage wrong, as we really will get a second chance to make a first impression. And a third chance, and a fourth, and a....

The part of this that all my friends laugh about is that I am really excited about this one. It's different and it's intriguing. And it absolutely should bring about some good blog material. So, we'll see what happens!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

He's How Old?

While we were reviewing some of the testing for one of the guys whom we serve, we noticed that testing shows he is on the level of an average four-year-old. It's hard to look at a six-foot black man who jumps out of vans, throws bananas at you, chases you around the house with frozen logs of hamburger meat and regularly pulls rearview mirrors off the windshield as a sweet little innocent four-year-old.

However, we have seen in the past week or so that this is exactly the case. He is just trapped in a man's body.

When Joshua and I were preparing our trip to come to Arkansas, I decided that I needed to prep this guy that I wasn't going to be around for a few days. Well, he immediately shut down. He refused to talk to me and looked really sad. When I asked what was wrong, he broke down crying. And crying. And sobbing and crying. He wanted to go see Lowell, but when he did, he just cried to Lowell. I was flabbergasted and continued to ask what was wrong, when he responded, "I'm sorry, I'll be good, I'll be better, I promise, I'm sorry." It truly broke my heart. He thought I was leaving because he had been bad. (Totally not saying that thought didn't cross our minds the first few weeks here, but not now. He really is better.) His experience in life is that he has been "bad" and people he cares about have left him. Now, as bad I felt, it was still really funny. He was sobbing and flailing around and essentially throwing a tantrum about the fact that we were leaving. When he finally calmed down, he just wanted a hug. It was really sweet, but also reminded us of a child whose mother has just announced she is going away for the weekend.

Then, when we came home, he was very excited to see me, but the first thing he asked was, "Did you bring me a treat?" Remind anyone of those preschool days?

But today, the thing he did truly and completely convinced me that the tests got it pretty close. We were going to get him a haircut. He waited patiently in the waiting room until called. He sat in the barber chair and as the woman was about to put the drape over him, he says, "I need a go to the bathroom." Well as any good mother would, I told him he needed to hold it and could go as soon as the lady finished. He sat there for a minute and then yells out for everyone to hear, "I'm a pee myseeeelllllffff!" The lady looks at me, rips the drape off of him and says, "I'll just finish getting everything ready while he takes a break."

Okay, lesson learned. And for the record, let me say that four is one of my favorite ages. I think we'll stick around awhile. It's pretty fun.