Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O Christmas Tree

This time of year makes me miss my daddy. I know a lot of people miss their parents around the holidays, but it's usually because they are deceased. Thankfully, mine's not. But this time of year makes me think of him and wish we lived closer.

Why? Partly because it's the Christmas holidays and being close to family is nice. But the main reason is because, without him, I'm on my own to get Christmas tree.

I have the best memories of being a little girl and going out to hunt for the perfect tree. It would be sacrilegious to have an artificial tree, as everybody knows. And we weren't ones to buy one from the Optimist Club in the Kroger parking lot. Heck, we didn't even go to a Christmas tree farm. We were the kind of family that did it right!

We got all bundled up nice and warm and loaded into my dad's pickup truck. We didn't really have a destination, just a purpose: find the perfect tree. We'd drive around and dad would slow down and look around, then drive on. Then he'd slow down and we'd hear him say, "hmmm" followed shortly after by, "I bet... hmm. Come on kids, let's see what we can find."

We'd then park on the side of the road, grab the saw and go searching for a tree. I learned all about barbed wire and how to judge if it's best to go over or under. We'd find a great tree, saw it down, throw it over the barbed wire, toss it in the truck and be on our merry way. What's funny about all this is that I had NO IDEA we were trespassing on somebody else's property and cutting down their trees. I just thought it was how everybody got a Christmas tree. But as an adult, and seeing how much trees are, I now know it was because we were POOR. (Isn't it funny though how as kids we don't realize the reasons behind the things our parents do?)

As I got older, we did begin to go to the Christmas tree farms and choose our trees legally. To this day, I don't know if that's because we had more financial stability or if my dad grew a conscience. Or maybe he was worried that now that we were older and not quite as little and cute, people would be less likely to be in the "Christmas Spirit" and let it go if we got caught.

One year my mom bought an artificial tree and quickly got the wrath of my brother and me. (And we were grown, not even living at home.) But now that I have to clean up after a real tree, I can certainly see the allure.

So I knew that I wanted my kids to have the real tree experience. I was excited the first year my dad came to pick up Joshua to take him to the Christmas tree farm down the road and let him pick out and saw down a tree. And it became a tradition. So much that last year, after we had moved 450 miles away, Joshua asked when Grandpa Phil was coming to take him to get a tree! (I was kind of wondering myself...)

Anyway, although I miss the tradition, and I miss my dad having a part in it, we have a tree. A real one. And the local Optimist Club members sitting in their trailer in the Kroger parking lot have way too much of my money.

The upside though, no clothes have to be replaced due to being caught and torn on the barbed wire.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full

In this house, there is no half-empty or half-full. It's just plain EMPTY. And we aren't just talking about one particular gentleman's outlook on life. We are talking about his VERY odd perception that when something only has a little left, it's gone.

To better explain, he came to me the other day and said, "We are out of laundry detergent." Well that's just plain laughable. We order our laundry detergent through the food bank and I am not even kidding when I say that we probably have close to thirty bottles of detergent in the house. But he was referring to the bottles on the shelf in the laundry area.

So you can see that there are at least six bottles of detergent on the shelf. And they may not all be full, but I can assure you none of them is empty.

And when he makes a bowl of cereal in the morning, he almost always says, "We're out of milk." And he doesn't mean, "we're almost out" because unless I catch him first, he will inevitably throw the jug of milk away.

But I really thought I might scream today when he came to me and said, "We are out of toilet paper. We only have one roll left." I went into his bathroom and this is what I saw.

Can you guess which "one" is the only one left? Of course, in his mind, the only roll we have is the one that hasn't been touched. However, I CANNOT for the life of me figure out why he truly CANNOT see that there are seventeen, count 'em, seventeen other rolls that still have a substantial amount of toilet paper on them. But he can't. He really can't. He is truly convinced that we are out of toilet paper. There is no arguing with him. And it makes me want to cry and yell. But I don't. I just walk away. And tell Lowell that one of the guys next door wants to talk to him.

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to Make a Donkey Mad

So for the last several weeks, we have been in deep discussions with one of our guys about getting a cat. We honestly think he wants the cat so that he will have a reason to buy pet insurance. (Logic is not one of his stronger attributes). Anyway, Lowell and I have been anti-cat, for various reasons. We aren't really cat people. This guy can't keep his room clean to save his life. And mainly, we are worried that we are going to have a dead cat on our hands in just a few short months.

However, there's a fine line between being against having a cat and letting him know we are against having a cat. We have been having to play both sides of the fence, dealing with him, his guardians, and the company we work for. It's not been easy.

So the other night, to stir up some fun, Lowell says something along the lines of, "Why a cat? Why not get a goat?" To which he seriously responds, "No, I don't have enough room for a goat." (This was also his response concerning smaller pets such as a hamster or turtle.) He wants a cat because he wants a pet that will be waiting for him when he gets home and will "snuggle up" with him at night. When we point out that cats aren't known too much for waiting at the door for their owners to get home so they can "snuggle," he says that he is planning on training his cat to do what he wants. After some time of forcing it to sleep with him, the cat will learn to snuggle and be happy to see him. Are ya' seeing where our concerns are coming in??

Anyway, after the goat comment he goes on to say if he had to get a pet such as a goat, he would get a donkey. He thinks it would be fun to have a donkey, mainly because their "real names" are jackass. He proceeds to tell us that "people don't call them jackasses though because it would look funny. Imagine hearing your neighbors outside calling their donkey in - 'here jackass, here jackass, come on jackass.' And not only that, imagine how mad and confused the donkeys would be hearing their owners call them jackasses. They would be upset knowing that they hadn't done anything wrong and would wonder why they were being called a jackass. It'd probably make them so mad that they would wait until their owners were standing behind them and then they'd buck up and kick them. Because, you know, donkeys don't know their real names are jackass."

And there really isn't even a response from Lowell or me. I mean, honestly, how does one respond to that conversation?

Anybody wanna join a pool on how long the cat survives???

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Penny for your Thoughts

One of our guys loves money. All money. Dollars, quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies. All money. When working with him, we have to be very aware of our surroundings, because he will literally walk in the middle of the road if he sees something resembling change. He doesn't have a good understanding of the values, but he does know that the silver ones are more valuable than the copper, but that's never kept him from jumping out of the van to get the copper.

We recently had to call our maintenance department because our garbage disposal wasn't working properly. The guy came to fix it and pulled this out of the disposal:

And it just blew our minds. We thought we had figured out who the culprit was though. Certainly not the money hungry one. Surely not the one who definitely knows better. It had to be the one who knew better but would think it was funny. So we talked to him and talked to him about how if it happened again, he would be responsible for the maintenance charges to get the garbage disposal fixed. And he swore over and over again that this was stupid and asked why on earth we would think he would do that.

Two days later, the garbage disposal is once again just barely humming. We reach in there ourselves this time, and again pull out a handful of pennies. This time, there were even more than the first time. And we notice that some of the pennies are more beaten-looking because they were the same pennies that were in there the first time that Mr. I Love Money swiped off the counter as soon as Maintenance put them there. He was the culprit!

So that's been our latest behavior issue. And although better than some of the other behaviors we've had to deal with, it still feels odd every time I say, "Now where do we put the pennies we don't want? Do we put them in the sink? Noooo. We put them in the jar right??" This has been mildly successful. And we have caught him recently just throwing them in the trash. And although I am not a fan of throwing any money away, at least we don't have to call maintenance!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How My Cup Runneth Over

I've never been big on Thanksgiving. Not so much the giving thanks part, but the getting together to give thanks part. It's never bothered me to have to work on Thanksgiving Day. Honestly, I usually enjoy it. In the line of work that we do, a big holiday normally means we have fewer people to work with. And that makes for a nice break.

But this year was different. My brother and sister-in-law and their kids are in Arkansas for the week. And I'm in Kansas. Joshua took on the duty of being our family representative so he is hanging with my people while I am here taking a psychotic guy to get an EKG, arguing the pros and cons of getting a cat with another, and listening over and over again to whatever happens to be the conversation of the day for our guy with no short-term memory. And so, while I am thankful I have a job, I've also thought a lot about the other things I am thankful for.

I am so thankful for my family (including the wonderful family I was fortunate to marry into). We certainly have had our share of dysfunction (no more or less probably than most families - we've had the divorces, the addictions, the remarriages, the griefs, the crazies, the relocations, the arguments, the FBI investigations - kidding, kind of - etc.) but we get through it. I know the saying about not being able to pick your family, but I'd choose these people over and over again if given the chance. All of them - even the really crazy one, because she's made us who we are. And I really like who we are.

I am so thankful for a husband who loves me no matter what stupid thing I say or do. He loves me when our house is a mess because I just don't feel like doing anything about it. He loves me when I get up in the morning, and even after being with me ALL DAY LONG, he still loves me when we go to bed at night. What more could a girl want?

I am thankful that I have the most amazing kid in the world. I'm not saying he doesn't drive me up the wall, because nobody does that any better. He makes me CRAZY. But he also makes me laugh like nobody else can make me laugh. He is truly so stinkin' funny! And besides having a great sense of humor, he is sensitive and compassionate and loves people well. He's gonna do great things one day. Mark my words on that one.

I am thankful that I have great friends. When we moved away from home (Arkansas) two years ago, I thought to myself, "I'll never have friends like I do now." And guess what? I was right. But what I didn't realize then was that I didn't need proximity friendships. I have friends that I know I will have FOREVER who live all over the country. And I know that if I even need those people in a way that requires their physical presence, they will drop whatever they are doing and be at more door. And I would do the same for them. How blessed I am!

I am thankful for my job. I have a job that allows me to stay home with my husband and son. I have the opportunity to make a difference every day in somebody's life. I may have to deal with crazy. A LOT of crazy. But honestly, we are pretty good at crazy. Why we had to be the people gifted at dealing with crazy, I don't know. I just know we are. So I will try to embrace that. But I will probably always wonder why us.

I am thankful for Jesus. He loves me more than I could ever deserve to be loved. The other day when I might have been yelling at Joshua when I was trying to teach him math, he looked up at me and calmly says, "Do you need some Jesus?" (Told ya' he's funny!) Lowell walked through and said, "No, she has Jesus, she's just hiding Him under a bushel!" I think I do that too much. I don't want to hide Him. Even with my wonderful family, friends, husband, child, and job, I have nothing without Jesus.

So those are the big things. I'm also thankful for LOTS of little things, many of them materialistic things, but hey, I'm being honest. I am thankful for my iphone, books, and almost all reality television. I am thankful for vacations, convenience stores,, and eBay. I am thankful to live in a country where I can choose where to live, where and how to worship, and where and how to educate my child. I am thankful that I have to miss Thanksgiving with the family I dined with last year, and I am thankful that I will be missed at the table in Arkansas.

I could go on, but I will stop, say "Happy Thanksgiving" and return to trying to get caught up on all the blogs about my life, in a group home.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Beware the Snarl

So, about a month ago, I said I was back from my summer blogging break and would get all caught up. And that was the last you've heard from me.

Life's been crazy. And the problem was not the guys, it was our staff. We try really hard to be good supervisors. And we understand that we all have families and lives outside of our jobs, so we've been understanding. We've never written her up for being tardy. We've never told her no when she's needed time off (even when she had ZERO vacation hours.) We've let her run home and check on her kids periodically throughout the day, etc. I think we've been more than fair.

Since the job isn't sitting behind a desk, she works for eight hours and doesn't get a lunch hour. Mind you, a good portion of the day, our guys are in their rooms or at work so she would watch Judge Mathis, or Law and Order, or one of those true crime stories. There wasn't a lot for her to do, so we never really called her out on any of these things.

But recently, she started taking advantage of the inches we were giving. And boy did she take miles. It started with a "I'm going to drive through somewhere to pick up lunch." (Which was fine.) But then it became a "I'm running home to grab a bite." (Which was also fine, until it was more than just a bite.) For instance, she would drop off one of the guys at work at noon. She'd show back up at the house around 1:45, take another to work at 2:30, and we wouldn't see her again until she picked the first guy up a little after 4:00. So we were calculating a good 2.5 to 3 hours of her eight hour workday that she was hanging out at home.

We tried subtlety several times. It didn't work. So we finally hit a breaking point, where I very nicely told her that she needed to come straight back and couldn't have the company van at her house at all. I think most reasonable people would think, "Well, I got away with that for a long time, too bad the good times are over." But if you read this post about the cornstarch addiction, "reasonable" might not be the first word to come to mind when you think of her.

And indeed, she did not have a reasonable response. She yelled and got mad and blamed us. She even complained to Human Resources, who quickly informed her that she ought not be advertising the fact that she'd been away from her job upwards of three hours a day.

Things were extremely uncomfortable for about a month, but slowly getting better. And then the administration changed her hours. Oh, she was certain it was our doing. She claimed we were "retaliating" against her for taking her lunch. HR reminded her that we would have no reason to retaliate as we didn't lose anything, but she didn't seem to get that.

She quit talking to us completely. To us. Certainly not about us. We heard from several of our neighbors that we were "sneaky" people and they'd been warned to stay away from us. Thankfully, they knew the source and didn't heed the warning.

But all that's just the background to the war that broke out in the house earlier this week. Since she wasn't talking to us, it really made it uncomfortable to be on the guys side of the house. If we can't be over there, we can't really do our job. So it hit a point that we had to discuss it all. And we all got mad. And we all yelled. But when it was all said and done I had to laugh. I mean, it's not funny when someone attacks your character (and boy did she!), but some of the things she said were just so ridiculous.

She said we were "dark-hearted people with a sneaky side" who "wore nice clothes on the outside but were wolves on the inside." (Pretty sure she was calling us wolves in sheep's clothing, not commenting on our brand-name Goodwill/TJMaxx wardrobes, but maybe.) She said we were viciously angry people and that the day I told her she no longer got a lunch hour, I was so angry at her that my lip snarled up. (I've never known myself to have a lip snarl, but I've been practicing all week!)

All these things were, of course, hard to hear. But you know the old sticks and stones adage, so we were just rolling along with the argument, uh, conversation. Until this happened: I mentioned the fact that she hasn't spoken to us at all and how awkward that is for us and must also be for her. She responded that she will do her job, but nowhere in her job description does it say she has to "make small talk or be polite to her supervisors" so she had no intention of doing so. Well knock me over with a feather. Doesn't she know that I'm from the South and have never ever ever ever ever ever heard of such craziness?? Doesn't she know that I was raised such that if the spawn of Satan shows up at my door, I'm gonna just invite him on in, offer him a glass of sweet tea and ask him how his momma and them's doing?? Doesn't she know?? Call me what you want. Say I have a dark heart and a lip snarl. But don't say you don't have to be polite or make small talk. Because that's just not true! Small talk and politeness make the world go 'round! At least in my corner of the world.

It's just too bad we can't all live in my little corner of the world.

(And just FYI, I no longer have to worry about the lack of politeness in my home, because she is no longer a part of it.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Love Language - Interrupted

I remember years ago reading Dr. Gary Chapman's book "5 Love Languages." Later published were many spin-offs of this book: Five Love Languages for Children; Five Love Languages for Teens; For Men; For Singles, etc, etc. The five languages that convey love are affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. And supposedly we all fall into one of these categories.

But I don't think mine is included. And this may sound completely off-the-wall, BUT, I feel really loved when a person I love watches a television show I love. Crazy right?? And you may say, "Oh that falls under quality time." But no, it doesn't. 'Cause see, they don't have to watch it with me. They just have to watch it. So we can talk about it later.

I hesitated to even write this, because even I think it sounds a tad, or a lot, ludicrous. I feel loved when someone I love watches a TV show I love. But there it is, in black and white, out there for the world to see.

Now, on to the story. There really aren't many shows I "love." I L.O.V.E.D the show LOST. But it's over. And I will watch pretty much any reality show out there. (As Joshua can attest. He watches Survivor, and Amazing Race, and Next Food Network Star with me because he also loves those shows. He watches Project Runway SOLELY because I love it, and he loves me!) But my most recent television obsession has been "Drop Dead Diva" on Lifetime. I won't even go into the premise because it's so dumb it's embarrassing. But my super sweet husband watches it with me. And lest anyone question his manhood over this, I don't think he enjoys it too much. He just likes how happy it makes me to be able to talk about the show with him.

So last night was the two-hour season finale. I watched it when it was on of course, but it so happened to be on at the same times as the Denver-Pittsburgh preseason game. And I would never be the kind of wife who pulled her husband away from an NFL game. Because after all, I was DVRing "Drop Dead Diva" and there was an encore presentation on Lifetime later in the evening.

So at ten, we put Joshua to bed and start watching. I have to leave at eleven to go "sleep" next door (yes, I agreed to do it again!) but I told Lowell to text or call me at midnight when the show was over so we could talk about the cliffhanger that happens in the last 2 minutes of the show.

So, imagine my shock and surprise when my phone rings at 11:55 (not 12, like it was supposed to.) My first thought was, "oh how sweet, he wants to be on the phone with me when the aforementioned cliffhanger happens." But as soon as I answered the phone, all I could hear on the other end was our house alarm. So I am yelling the code and how to turn it off to him. And then he hangs up because the alarm company is calling. And then we meet outside to see and hear the big hook and ladder fire truck making it's way down our street.

And of course there's no fire. Just our resident cook making some (smoked/smoky/burned)sausage. What's funny is that when Lowell heard the alarm and ran next door, the guy just looks up at him and says, "Can you turn that thing off?" and continues cooking. Like Lowell was the one who set it off! But after dealing with the firemen and restoring some semblance of order to the house, there was no chance to get back to seeing the shock of Grayson being hit by a car as he is chasing after Jane as she dramatically left the restaurant after learning that Grayson had asked Vanessa to marry him.

Lowell seemed pretty okay with missing this. I was sad for him to have missed it. But I filled him in. And we talked about it together. And I felt happy. And very very loved!

And I also know we have it on DVR in case he decides he needs to see it for himself.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Somebody's Watching You

When we moved into the group home in Arkansas, I would NEVER sleep in the common area of the house. I knew if I did, and I woke up and somebody was standing over me, it would totally freak me out to the point that I would never ever be able to get over it. I would awaken in a panic if I accidentally fell asleep on the couch in the living area, even if no clients were in the house at the time. I was just that adamant that nobody was going to be watching me sleep. I thought that was a characteristic about me that would never change.

I was wrong. I don't know what happened really. Maybe I realized that probably nothing is going to happen (after I get over the initial shock of course). Maybe I realized that these guys have to intention to hurt someone (except when the voices in their heads tell them to). Or maybe, and most likely, I'm just tired.

The company for whom we work has several homes like ours around town. This summer, there were several couples who left for other jobs, had babies, and/or took vacations. Due to lack of staff we were asked if we would be willing to do some overnights in the homes with no couples. This essentially meant going to the home and sleeping on the couch from 11 pm until 7 am when the day staff arrived. Our initial thought was something like, "Heck yeah, we can get paid to sleep?? Why say no?"

But you know how some things just aren't worth the money? Overnights just may be on that list.

In our house, people sleep. (Well, technically one stays up playing video games but he is in his room for the most part and doesn't come downstairs.) Apparently our house is the exception. The first night Lowell stayed at another house, he didn't sleep. One guy raced around the house all night. Literally ran around the house. Didn't need anything. Just wanted to speedwalk. Another got up before the sun came up, walked outside and urinated on the house next door. Apparently this is an attention-seeking behavior that he has tried before on new staff. It's a real shocker and definitely gets attention, but Lowell handled it like a champ and didn't make a big deal about it, so the guy walked back in and said, "not appropriate to pee outside." Yeah, like he was telling Lowell something he didn't already know.

The next house (yes, we agreed to do it again) was not much better. This one was supposed to be better because he wasn't going to have to stay on the side with the guys. He was told he could stay on the couple's side of the house and monitor the cameras to make sure everything was okay. What he wasn't told was that one guy walked outside every chance he got and an alarm on the couple's side of the house said, "FRONT DOOR" every time the door was opened, because of course the guy is not supposed to be outside alone at all hours of the night. When Lowell thought he was finally ready to settle in for the night, he looked at the monitor and watched this same guy eat a whole package of hot dog buns. When he started looking for more food, Lowell felt obliged to go back over and try once more to get the guy to go to sleep.

So this week, we were again asked if we could do the overnight shift at the house next door. We know these girls and we were under the impression that they all three sleep. And it's next door. However, one of the girls has a real fascination with men and for reasons left unsaid, we felt it was best for him not to be sleeping on their couch. So it fell to me. And since I am past my issues with people watching me sleep, I thought it would be cool.

The night kind of reminded me of a hospital stay. You know, where someone comes in every couple of hours to check on you. My first wake-up was actually another staff. She said she was just coming around to make sure I'd locked all the doors. Seriously?? Why wake someone up to see if the doors are locked?? My next wake-up was when one of the ladies was standing in the living room saying (in a very spooky voice), "Nicole, is that you? Is that you Nicole? I don't know who you are." Nicole is the day staff at that house and she and I look nothing alike, nor are we even the same race. And then every hour on the hour, there she was again. "Nicole, is that you? Is that you Nicole? I don't know who you are." I might have rather heard a loud alarm saying, "Front Door" than "Nicole, is that you? Is that you Nicole? I don't know who you are." In between the freaky stares and questions, she would go back to her room and listen to the radio. Except she would only listen to around 20 seconds of each song and then change the station. That is until the song, "Somebody's Watching You" (yes, the one from the 80s, or the Geico commercial depending on how old you are). This particular song, she listened to in its entirety. I'm not lying or even stretching the truth on this. Freaky doesn't begin to describe it.

Maybe my irrational fear of sleeping in someone else's living room and being stared at while I sleep was not so irrational after all.

A "Family" Conference

So I just noticed that it's been two months since I blogged. I guess maybe I took the summer off. I thought about blogging several times. It just didn't happen. Maybe I'll backtrack and catch up. Maybe I won't. I think that even though our life seems crazy to others; to us, it's just our life and sometimes just doesn't seem that interesting.

But the other night, we lost power. For hours. One would think that the guys would have just gone to bed being as it was dark anyway, and past at least two of their normal bedtimes. But no. We sat in the living room and held flashlights and looked at one another. I decide that it would be a good time to have a family meeting. (We are supposed to have these regularly, but since we cannot get the guys to sit down at the dinner table at the same time without major disruption, we don't have them nearly as often as we should.) But we were all in the dark together, so I suggest we have our family conference. One guy laughs, another just looks at me and the third says, very dryly, "The tv's broke. I guess we gotta talk to each other."

I start by asking if anybody has any problems or concerns they want to address. One guy is "just fine", another just looks at me and the third says, "Yes I do." He brought up the fact that he did not like for other people to use his bathroom. We explained that he rents his room and that just because the bathroom is upstairs, it is a part of the house just like the living room or kitchen and it is a common area that can be used. We also assured him that the only time anyone has ever used his bathroom was once months ago when the downstairs toilet was having issues. He was not satisfied with this response and threatened to sue if anyone went into "his" restroom. We said that we would be sure nobody ever entered his bathroom if he promised to quit going in the living room. He didn't like this suggestion so he went into the garage to "fix the electricity."

We hear him flipping every breaker switch out there while we moved on to activities we'd like to do next week. One guy says "whatever", another just looks at me. The guy in the garage is quiet and we wonder briefly if he's maybe electrocuted himself. But, alas, he came back in. He apparently heard the next topic because he suggested we all get a room at the Great Wolf Lodge for a fun activity. Seriously?? I can't even begin to go there in my mind. Can I imagine much worse than being in a hotel, in a waterpark, with these three, ALL TOGETHER??? Nope, I can't.

So I move on and ask if there are any special meals anyone wants next week. One guy says, "I'm happy with whatever you make," another just looks at me, and the electrician proceeds to give me a twenty-five item grocery list before flipping every light switch in the house to see if maybe that will get the electricity going.

It didn't work.

So - I kid you not - he goes outside in the pouring rain and starts banging on the side of the house. When we asked what he was doing, he responded that he thought if maybe he hit something hard enough it would jiggle the wires and reboot the power of the house.

And what we learned from his trial and error, is when the electricity is out, there is really nothing you can do but wait patiently for it to come back on. And have a family conference. Or not.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Eat More Chicken

The guys qualify to order food from a local food bank so we go about once a month and get groceries there. Last month, we saw "Buttery Garlic Whole Chicken" and thought, that sounds good and easy. We'll order that. Had we been paying attention to the extra detail out to the side we probably would have noticed that it said "42 pounds of chicken." When I opened the box, there were eight whole buttery garlic chickens completely frozen together. Knowing that once they defrosted, I would have to cook them all, I sincerely considered just throwing the box away. BUT that would be wasteful and we wouldn't want to be wasteful. We decided that it would be easier to just cook them all and then we could refreeze the meat for later use.

So Joshua and I took on the task of a chicken-cooking day. All was going well until he was called to go to a friend's house and boy did he ever jump on that offer. (Not that I blame him). We had chickens everywhere.

In the crockpot.

In the oven.

In the rotisserie.

And then there was this guy. I guess rigor mortis set in early for him. He was totally stuck this way, doing his high kick. He had to wait for the oven to free up because he wouldn't fit in the crockpot with his leg up and he wouldn't turn in the rotisserie. (Once cooked, his leg did lay nicely.)

We had Chicken Spaghetti, Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Fajitas, Chicken Quesadillas, and we still have four more chickens in the freezer. I'm thinking we'll pay closer attention to what we are ordering next time!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where'd You Guys Park?

Joshua is what many would call a "social butterfly." He doesn't meet a stranger and always makes a friend wherever he goes. Lowell and I aren't quite like that. So having lived here over a year now, this is essentially home to Joshua. Lowell and I still feel like we aren't quite sure where we belong, but Joshua is happy, so it's all cool.

Except for the thirty minute period after church when Joshua is busy socializing with his people while Lowell and I smile at some folks, shake the pastor's hand and are ready to leave. We either sit on the couch in the foyer looking awkward or we sit in the car while we wait for Joshua to finish and realize that we are waiting for him.

So a few weeks ago, after an exceptionally long period of waiting, we had a conversation about how we truly are glad he has lots of friends, but that it is really rude to just wander off and not tell us how long he will be gone or where he will be. He acknowledged this, and then the next week, the same thing happened. We again pointed out that not telling us where he is or how long he will be essentially puts him in charge of the family. We explained that we are fine with him talking to his friends but that he needs to discuss this with us first so that we are all on the same page and so that he can make sure he is not disturbing our plans. We are the parents, we are in charge. You expecting us to wait and us waiting puts you in charge. And that's just not okay. We explained that if it happened in the future, we were going to go on about our day and not take him into consideration just like he has done to us.

Well let me tell ya' what. Yesterday after church when Joshua bounced off to visit with his friends, Lowell and I shook the pastor's hand, got in the car and drove home. (Before you go calling DCFS, the kid is 14, we only live about 2 miles from the church, and he certainly knows enough people that he could bum a ride off of.) But I think it about shocked his shoes off thirty minutes later when he called and said, "Hey, where'd you guys park?" and he got the response "in the driveway."

The funny thing about him is that he wasn't mad at us. He indeed got a ride home from a friend of ours who thought it was the most hilarious thing. She said that Joshua kept saying, "they said they were gonna do that but I never really thought they would." He has assured us that next week, he'll be the first to the car. We told him that next time that happens, we aren't just coming home, we are going out to lunch too. For some reason, I think he believes us.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Water Water Everywhere

So things are rocking along as usual this morning, meaning one guy is sleeping, one is in his room watching tv and the other is persistently asking if it's time to go to work yet (he goes at noon). Our day staff arrived and was helping him pick out clothes for the day when she realized that he had no clean jeans. She opened the washing machine and noticed that it was full of clothes. They belonged to the guy who was upstairs sleeping who hadn't finished his laundry last night. So instead of waking him up, she took his clothes out of the washing machine and set them on the dryer so that she could wash the other guy's clothes. She planned to put the first load back in the washer when she was done and figured he would never know the difference. (And even if he DID notice, would it really even matter??)

And apparently, yes, it did matter. The next thing I know is that Mr. Upstairs woke up, heard the washing machine running and rushed down to see what was going on. He flings open the lid (of the running machine) and starts pulling all of the wet clothing out and throwing it on the floor. Once he empties the machine, of both the clothing and the water, he just stands there in about an inch of water in front of the machine. And he just stands there. And stands there.

I was hopping mad, but stepped out for a minute to calm down so I wouldn't yell and lose my job. I calmed enough to know that this would be funny later and thought to take a picture.

I tried to gather up the clothing but got a very threatening look and he slammed the top of the washing machine closed and held it closed, like "if I can't use it, nobody's gonna use it." So he won't move and we can't even begin to clean up the mess (that he made and technically should be cleaning up himself). Water is on the ground and is on the move. We watch it flow under the bathroom door and then on into both downstairs bedrooms. And he still doesn't move or say a word.

Our staff threatened that if he kept that up, she was going to call the police. (Can you just imagine that call? "He threw the clothes and water out of the machine and now he's just standing in the water not letting us clean it up.") We decided against that but I did call his father. He talked to him for a bit and tried to reason with him but that's when the shouting and cursing began. So his dad got on the phone with me and wanted to discuss the "root of the problem" being that the dryer is too slow and it takes too long to do laundry on the whole. I gently, or not so gently maybe, reminded him that the "root of the problem" has absolutely nothing to do with the appliances.

We eventually got everything cleaned up and everybody now has clean clothes. A couple of hours later, the guy did knock on my door and said, "Uh, yeah, I'm sorry about earlier. I probably could have handled that a different way."

Oh really? Ya' think????

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's What's For Dinner

So this was our dinner last night. If you can't tell from the picture, it's chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and alphabet-shaped tator tots. (And yes, I know it's not the healthiest dinner, but don't judge, we all have those "easy" dinner nights). Anyway, after the guys finished eating, I asked if they'd had enough and one says, "I'd like more." And I say, "Do you want more of everything?" And he replies, "Yeah, well, everything except corn. I don't really want more of that."

Hmmm. Still have no idea what he was talking about.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Project Seven Days

So, I read several blogs where the authors take a photo every day and then at the end of the week, recap the week using the photos - with explanation of course. The idea is that you are taking pictures and documenting your daily life. They call this Project 365. I think it's a terrific idea, but just felt like the task was too ginormous for me to even attempt. However, I was visiting with my friend Lori, who I must say does an AMAZING job of keeping up with her blog even though she has four little ones at home, and she convinced me to give it a try for just a week and see what happens. Keep in mind this might be a lengthy blog because I have so much explaining to do. So here it is.


One of our guys hasn't spoken to or seen his sister in over four years. We've tried to locate her, but to no avail. But out of nowhere she calls last week and wants to see him. She says she's so relieved to have found her "lost" brother. (Keep in mind that he has lived in the same town, being cared for by the same agency, and having the same phone number for 20 years. But he was the "lost" one.) Anyway, she asked for our staff to bring him to see her sometime over the weekend. We try and try to call to arrange a day/time but she doesn't respond. So on Sunday afternoon, our staff drives him to the address where she is staying. He calls one more time and she answers. When he tells her they are there she responds with, "not cool man, not &*^%#@* cool. But whatever, come on up."

So he's feeling real welcome about that time. But he goes in the apartment with the guy and sits on the couch. He then gets grilled about where we've had her brother and why hasn't she been able to find him. When he points out that she is the one who moved away, she drops that subject. Then she asks if she is the guardian. He said (being just weekend staff) that he wasn't sure who the guardian was. She jumped on him about why he didn't know. And he pointed out that it was her brother they were talking about and she didn't know either. He also told her that she would probably know if she were guardian as she would have had to sign papers and all.

Thinking it can't really get more uncomfortable, our staff was shocked when, as they were all sitting in the living room, the sister falls asleep on the couch. And then our guy falls asleep in his chair. So our staff is just sitting there in a stranger's apartment (a hostile stranger at that) and is the only one awake. He debates whether or not he should leave a note with his phone number on it and just slip out, but then decides that it probably wouldn't be leaving his client in the best hands. As soon as our guy woke up, he said he was ready to go home. To say our staff was relieved would be an understatement.

But before they left, she gave her brother a nice necklace.

Because it just isn't a family visit until somebody leaves with some Last Supper bling bling.


This is what time my alarm clock went off this morning. Joshua has swim team practice at 5:15 am. I don't really think I need to add more to that.


An appointment for a dental cleaning sounds like such a simple thing. I mean, I know there aren't many people who enjoy going to the dentist, but on the flip side, I don't know that there are many who require a couple Valium just to keep from beating the dentist up. I do happen to know one person who does though and I had the distinct pleasure of going with him today.

He goes to a pediatric dentist and unfortunately, the waiting room was full. I say unfortunately because I am betting the dentist lost a lot of business today. For almost an hour, there was a grown man (who was a tad loopy) showing everybody in the room his teeth and telling them that he was getting them cleaned. (Imagine a hippo yawning in your face and you'll have a good mental picture.) And then he was called back - I'm pretty sure we didn't have to wait as long as everybody else.

He sat in his chair and they leaned him back and the kicking and screaming started. We got it settled down pretty quickly. Not quickly enough for the three youngsters who looked completely horrified. I am thinking that when they planned for the big "all the children will get their teeth cleaned together" room, they weren't imagining this particular scenario. For certain today, they wished they had a separate, soundproof room. Especially when he yelled his infamous, "Need a bafroom. Ima pee myself!" (At least he didn't ask for a bucket...) I assured the hygienist that this was just a stall tactic and that she should continue on. She was nervous but took my word.

When she finally finished the cleaning, we waited for what seemed an eternity for the dentist to do his check. He asked me if were brushing his teeth for him at least once a day. Seriously?? I tried to explain that he isn't really down with that. He says, "He seems to be okay now with us doing it." And I explain that it's not him who is okay, it's the Valium talking. And he says, "Then just do it when he's asleep. You don't need toothpaste or water, just get a dry brush and brush them really good."

I just nodded and said we'd try that. But really???? Who isn't gonna wake up when somebody sticks a toothbrush in their mouth? And this isn't just anybody we are talking about. We are discussing doing this to someone who we already KNOW to be psychotic. But then again this is the dentist who has been known to share his ludicrous ideas with us in the past.


This is a picture of a pretty much everyday occurrence around here. You walk over to the guys' side of the house, look on top of the refrigerator and this is what you see:

Bowls. And they have food in them. Gross, right? One of the guys will finish eating but thinks he may want to come back for it later and sets his bowl on top of the fridge. And it's especially difficult for me because, as those of y'all who know me personally know, I'm not quite tall enough to pull things down off the top of the fridge without the threat of spilling it on my head. And A LOT of the time, the contents of said bowls are cereal and MILK, which is a whole other story because this particular guy doesn't think he has enough milk until the bowl is full to the very brim. (And it's just bowls, never plates. Odd huh?)

So I try and try to have conversations a
bout not putting our bowls on top of the "icebox" and it makes me laugh every time I say, "When we are done with our food, we put bowls in the sink and not the icebox" because the only other people I've ever known to say "icebox" were my grandparents. And this guy isn't nearly as old as they are/were.


So I walk out to go get into the van to pick up one of our guys and this awaits me. I stop for a minute and just watch before I realize I need both Lowell and a camera. I need Lowell to help resolve the situation and the camera to document what was going on.

These seats are HEAVY. And I mean heav
y. Lowell and I have attempted to take them out of the van once before when we needed to make more room to transport something. And the two of us together failed miserably. But not this guy. And he didn't even have a valid reason for removing the seats. He said that one of them was broken and he didn't like to sit in it. (We've never noticed the brokenness, but hey, whatever.) So he had to take all three seats out to rearrange them. I had to leave before he could get seat 3 back in. Once he was done, he was done. He's not really willing to put seat 3 in now. Says it's too much work. So seat 3 is in the garage and this is what the van looks like now. And, yeah, it's a little awkward to ride in the back and have that much room between you and the driver. But you know, it's not a battle worth fighting.


Joshua got an iTouch. He loves it and so do I. I have been coveting an iphone for some time. This is working to appease that desire for now. Since he bought it with his own money, I usually have to wait for him to go to bed to use it, but that's okay. It was free for me, I don't mind the wait. Lowell doesn't get the appeal. He doesn't understand why I get so worked up playing Angry Birds or Dogs Playing Poker. He thinks I should try to do something to relax before bed. He refuses to play, so he will never understand. (And I certainly don't push it on him. If he got addicted too, I might never get my hands on it!)


I spent all day on Saturday here.

I forgot my camera so copied this picture off the internet. I have to say that it is appropriate that the picture was taken in the dark however. We arrived at this swim meet when the sun was coming up and we left when it was going down. Need I say it was a loooooonnnnnggggg day for me? It was ridiculous really. I gained a whole new respect for coaches who have to stay at the meet all day, but then again, they are watching lots of swimmers. I was watching ONE. He was in the water a grand total of 13 minutes 47 seconds. I was sitting by the pool (on hard bleachers) for 10 hours. Actually we did leave for 20 minutes to grab lunch and I sat in the car for about 45 minutes. So maybe it was only 9 hours on the bleachers, but you get the drift. Not a fun day for this mother.

So there ya' go. My week in a nutshell. It was kind of fun finding things about each day to photograph. Not that I'll be doing that regularly, but maybe every now and then we can get a week in pictures.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And now you know the rest of the story...

On the days when grocery bagger works, Lowell picks him up from work and then gets Joshua from swim team. The conversation that goes on in the van between the three of them is always interesting and even Joshua has learned that it's best just to nod and say, "hmm, is that right?" even when he KNOWS good and well that whatever is being said is absolutely ludicrous.

But he comes home tonight and says, "It was quiet in the car so I thought I would talk about video games, so I asked [resident video game player] what do you think about the game Mortal Combat? I have several friends who really like it."

And the response went a little something like this: "Oh I don't like Mortal Combat. It's not very realistic. I like the Area 51 type games, you know where there are aliens and space creatures coming down to attack you and you have to fight them off. They have the best graphics and are much more realistic than the war-type games. Because you know our government has hidden the fact that there are aliens out there and we have to be prepared to fight them off. War games just aren't something we will ever have to be able to do. The only reason there was ever any war is because Hitler was kidnapped by that guy with the crazy hair, yeah Einstein, that's it and Einstein brainwashed Hitler to do all the things that he did. If he hadn't done that we'd never have war. But aliens, that's a whole other story."

And Joshua immediately regretted having brought it up. He just nodded, said, "oh, is that right?" and kept his mouth shut on the rest of the trip home.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Draft in the Air

NFL Draft Weekend is a big deal in my house. Even back when Lowell and I were dating, I can remember that on draft weekend, I needed to have other plans. Or else I was sitting in front of the television for three days watching a bunch of college football players put on the designated baseball cap of their new team.

Over the years, I've come to a somewhat better understanding of what it's all about, even though I really think one could just read the picks in the paper the next day in about 15 minutes and not have wasted 6 hours the night before watching it live. But then again, I am certain I have spent time watching television programming that my husband wouldn't understand. So we just agree that Draft Weekend is a REALLY big deal and all the televisions in the house are his for three days.

I should have known the time was coming. Joshua was somewhat interested in the draft last year. This year the two of them are counting down the days, researching draft picks online, watching ESPN non-stop and centering a large majority of their conversations around who they think is going where. It's been some great father-son bonding time.

Thursday, April 22 at 6:30 pm is when it would all begin. And guess when the swim team awards banquet was scheduled. I don't even have to say do I? So for about three days, the big drama in the house was banquet or draft? Should we watch the draft live or DVR it with the great fear that some father at the banquet would be checking on his phone and spoil it all? Joshua's vote was draft hands-down. Lowell and I wobbled back and forth between, we really don't want to do to the banquet either, and he did make a commitment to the team and banquets are team functions, blah blah blah. I even posted a Facebook poll to get other opinions. (Most who voted, voted for the draft by the way). One person suggested asking him what he would be more likely to remember in a year, banquet or draft. He laughed and said, "Uh, draft!!!"

We had some staffing issues come up, and we were certain there would be no award for him, so we had a very happy little boy with his spread of notebook paper, snacks, and remote control in the living room. (And Lowell was glad to be watching the draft too, and I was glad not to be dressed up at a banquet, so all was well in our little world.)

Oh, but Friday rolled around and Joshua went to morning practice. He got in the car and handed me this:

Oh. Dear. He did NOT just win the Outstanding Swimmer of the Year Award. And he was watching the draft. And they called his name for his award. And he was watching the draft.

And I am thinking, well in one year he may remember the draft, and I will be remembering us NOT being at the banquet. And next year, I don' t care if they host the draft in our backyard, we WILL be at the banquet. (I mean, unless there is something on tv that I want to watch!)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

He Wears a Size 36

One of our guys is a little short on clothing. He only has a few pairs of jeans and they each fall off of him, even when he wears a belt. We aren't sure if maybe he doesn't get the concept of the belt's purpose or what, but we are often reminding him to tighten up the belt and pull up the pants. At least once a day, we can expect to get an unintentional "full moon" from him.

So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take him shopping for new jeans. Not being real sure how he would feel about trying things on or how cooperative he would be, I decided to take him to the local Goodwill store (we have a really good one) so that he could pick out some things and not spend a lot of money in case he decided never to wear them.

When we arrived in the "men's department" he said, "I need a size 36 because that's what these are, so that's what size I wear." I talked to him about the fact that his size 36 jeans fall down a lot and he may want to consider a 34. He just looked at me and said, "But I don't wear a 34, these are a 36. I guess that means I wear a 36." So I handed him a few pairs of jeans that were 36s and slid a 34 in and told him to go try them on.

Standing outside the dressing room, I hear him talking to himself about the fact that he wears a size 36 and not a 34 and he sees that one of the pair of jeans says 34 on it and he isn't going to try that on because he doesn't wear a 34. (I see a few people snickering about his soliloquy but I am not embarrassed at all because I am just thankful that he isn't yelling about needing a bucket to pee in - different guy by the way.)

Anyway, I let him go ahead and buy three pairs of jeans and five more shirts. He mentions on the way home that he'll need to add a laundry day to his schedule now that he has more clothes. I try my best to explain that just because he has more laundry doesn't mean he'll need to do laundry more often because he'll still be wearing the same amount of clothes that he is now, but that completely fell on deaf ears and now he just does laundry an extra day even though I'm not sure what he's washing because he certainly isn't changing clothes more often, but anyway.

So this was a couple weeks ago, and I mentioned this week that I haven't seen him wearing two of the new shirts he bought. He explained that he needed to go shopping for two more pairs of jeans before he could wear the shirts, because we didn't get a matching number of shirts and pants the last time we went and he can't wear the new shirts until he had jeans for them to "go with." I, again, tried to explain that he could mix and match and didn't need to have the exact number of jeans as shirts, and again, that fell on deaf ears.

So I guess we'll go shopping for two more pairs of jeans. And even though the 34 fits, the 36 is what he wears. I would be tempted to buy him a new belt too, but I worry we would need to have one for every day of the week.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sod vs. Seed

So on the way home the other day with one of the guys, he says, "I sure wish we had a pool in the backyard." And then he proceeded to tell me how if he had a shovel and concrete and something to cut all the underground pipes, he could dig us a pool. (He goes into much detail here, that I will spare you from reading, but believe me, it was much detail.) When he finishes his monologue of how the pool will be built (complete with slide connecting to his bedroom window) he tells me that he even knows how to clean a pool. He figured out a way several years ago where you don't even need those silly expensive chemicals that they try to sell you at pool stores. All you need is some Tide detergent. The kind with the little blue crystals works best. It doesn't make your eyes burn. The pool will be clear down to the bottom, and you can even breathe in the water and it doesn't hurt your nose or lungs. Who knew?!?!? (And even as I write this, I wonder how I could just keep driving and nodding with the occasional "hmmm" without asking him if he'd been smoking crack.)

Anyway, the conversation went on along and somehow transferred over to how the digging of the pool would help out garden snakes and earthworms. (And no, I have NO idea where the segue was here). But he informed me that we have done the earthworms in our yard a big disservice by getting our yard sodded instead of seeded. You see, with grass seed, the earthworms can eat the "root of the soil" then they excrete it and create fertilizer. Well, when the landscaping people came and put down sod, we "essentially took away the earthworms' jobs". That's why they all came up to the surface of the yard and allowed themselves to be fried on the concrete. Because apparently if earthworms don't have enough to do to keep themselves busy, they just participate in a mass suicide.

So there ya' go. Now you, dear reader, have learned something new today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Excuse the Delay

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I have posted, but things just really haven't been feeling all that funny lately and that leaves me uninspired. We deal with a lot around here, what with both the behaviors and the disabilities. And I think for the most part, we handle those things well. We know what we are getting into and we can generally see the humor in it; if not at the time, then almost always shortly thereafter.

But the things going on lately could not be categorized as disability or behavior. The only appropriate word to use is PSYCHOSIS. And it's really hard to laugh at psychosis. Certainly not at the time, sometimes the humor comes much after the fact, and sometimes not at all. So our last couple of weeks have been filled to the brim with the six-foot psychotic man.

So while not comical on the whole, there of course, is funny mixed in because of the dynamics of the home. And now that things are better (thank God for anti-psychotic medication), we are beginning to reprocess and find some of the funny. And since it's not easy, we are glad we wrote down some of the fun quotes that have been said in the house recently.

We have had a nasty cold make its way through the house and it has hit each of the guys. One of them continued to have a bit of a runny nose for several days. As we are sitting at the table, Psycho tells him to wipe his nose. He replies with, "I don't let people who punch me tell me when to clean my nose." I thought that was pretty well said, and it did make me smile. Although it didn't make me laugh out loud like I did the next time he was asked to wipe his nose and he replied with, "Okay, I will get a tissue now, but if you try to hit me again or complain one more time about my nose, I will have you charged with a hate crime against Mexicans!" Now how's that for a comeback if someone tells you that you need a tissue??

On another day, the cook in the house was making one of his always-nasty concoctions and says to me, "Did you know that if you add enough garlic to your food, it takes all of the calories out?" You can't argue, or even say what you're thinking - "I wish that were true", you just have to smile, nod and say, "Is that right? Hmmm." He said that line shortly after he said, "I've been thinking about going on the show, 'The Biggest Loser' because I tried it once and it didn't taste too bad."

Earlier in the week we had asked that same guy if he would mind taking a shower as we were noticing it had been a while since he had last taken one. He replied that he "would love to, but has no clean clothes to put on." I guess he was waiting on the laundry fairy to come to do his laundry. And personally, I was just too done with everything else from the week to even argue with that logic.

I think we are back to normal. Or at least to what we consider normal.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grammar Made Easy

With a little help from the guys next door, I was able to give some great grammar examples to Joshua today.

One of the next doors woke up in a grumpy mood. We'll just call him "Bob" today. When "Joe" came out of his room for breakfast, Bob starts saying, "I hate Joe, gonna beat him up." We got Bob in another room and he seemed to calm some. But it wasn't long before Joe got up to get more cereal and Bob ran in the room and pushed him. He was quickly restrained from his physical aggression but continued to yell, curse, and threaten. We got him back into his room and gave him a little something to calm him down while Joe finished eating his Fruit Loops in as much peace as possible given the situation.

Once that Haldol kicked in and everything was okay, I came back over to our side to work on some school with Joshua. I could hear both Lowell and our day staff laughing as I was using examples such as, "If I say, 'Bob hit Joe' then Joe is the direct object. Hit who or what? Joe. So Joe received the action of the verb. If I say, 'Bob is crazy' then crazy is the predicate adjective because it describes Bob. If I say, 'Bob is a bully', then bully is a predicate nominative because it renames Bob."

I also used sentences such as, "The laundry room door is broken. It was pulled off its hinges."

It was good to use sentences that really apply to our everyday life. And guess what? Joshua understood perfectly. So sometimes living with a little crazy pays off!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Day in the Life, Part Three - Seriously?

So, it's been a crazy day and I am so excited to go out on a date with my husband. We decided we were going to go out to eat and then to a parenting conference at church. Our weekend guy was supposed to be there by 5 pm.

Around 4:30, the grocery sacker/quacker/barker (yes, he started barking too) asked if he could go pick up his paycheck and then go to an electronics store to purchase a new video game. I told him that when the weekend staff came, he could go, as we would have time for them to do that and we could stay home with the other two. Historically, things don't go so well when they are all in the van together.

At 6:15, Lowell called our weekend guy to see what the deal was and when he was coming in. His response was something along the lines of "oh gosh, I completely forgot. All day long I've had this feeling that I was supposed to do something but couldn't remember what it was." REALLY??? You forgot to come to work??? How does one forget to come to work??? He said he could be here in a couple of hours. We told him not to worry about coming in, since our evening was already ruined. I'd stay home and Lowell would go to the conference.

I popped a frozen pizza in the oven and changed into some "just staying home" clothes. It wasn't long before I was trying to explain to Mr. I want my Paycheck and I want it now why we could not go get it tonight. Since our staff didn't show up and Lowell was leaving, I couldn't take him, but we had two staff coming in tomorrow who would be more than happy. Well, this was not acceptable as he had other plans already for tomorrow and he was "tired of this *&%$" and he headed out the door.

Poor Lowell. He headed out after him, walking down the street. Lowell passed a jogger who said that he had seen him. Yes, the 25 year old wearing a tank top and shorts (in the 30 degree weather) and a huge bluetooth type thing in his ear. So Lowell continues in that general direction. Several minutes later, when he hasn't been spotted again, we called in the troops - his dad, our supervisors and the local police. (I have the number for police dispatch in the address book of my cell phone. Scary huh?)

About 30 minutes later, I got a call from Lowell. He says, "so the jogger noticed the shorts, tank top and bluetooth. Don't know why he neglected to mention the bicycle." Heck, no wonder we couldn't find him. Well I immediately feel better that he's been found. I don't know why I thought that finding him had solved the problem.

The police knocked on our door a few minutes later. I told him that we had found the eloper and all was well, but then I had the forethought to ask if he would mind staying until they arrived home just to make sure everything was okay. While the officer was taking his report, our shopper from the morning was most excited to show off his new jeans, and his room, and his new hat, and it just brought back all the fun memories from the morning to me; and the poor police officer just didn't even know what to do/think.

When Lowell wasn't home within a few minutes, I sent the police out looking for him. He'd been kidnapped! Or Adultnapped, or whatever you want to call it. Our guy got in the van with him and told him where he had to drive, or else. The or else involved him: jumping out of the van, destroying the house, tearing up the van so that nobody else could use it (i.e. cutting the battery out). So, Lowell just sat there in the driver's seat - not coming home, but also not following the kidnapper's demands.

The police weren't just a whole lot of help. They were nice and all, but said that really no laws had been broken (yet) and as long as he didn't hurt anybody or damage the house when he got home they didn't see any reason that he couldn't go get his check and video game. (Thanks local police for your help in our positive behavior reinforcement - or not!) So just to get him home safely, Lowell went ahead and took him to the store and got him home.

Once home, the fun continued. He called his dad and screamed at him for a bit. He made a few more demands, going so far as to put a timeline on it - "if I don't have the money in my hand by 9:30 in the morning, I'll blow this house up, then they'll know not to screw with me!" Uh, yeah, okay. So we knew that things may not be any better the next day, but we were so totally done with the day, we just went to bed, hoping that Jesus would come back before we had to face the problem the next day.

With no such luck, the kidnapper's dad came and gave in to his terroristic demands and gave him what he wanted. So he's learned that all you have to do is make threats to tear things up or hurt people and you get what you want. He never learned that you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.

We got an email later from his father. He explained that the threat to damage the car was all talk because his son told him that he didn’t know how to do that and was worried about battery acid and getting shocked if he tried that. Yeah, no kidding. He says this all amounted to his son just having a bad day and we all have those. And of course on our bad days, the police get involved and we come really close to having property damage and terroristic threatening charges, right?

I later had a long conversation with my supervisor who had just gotten done with a long conversation with his dad. She said he suggested that we just let him destroy property, call the police, have him arrested and thrown in jail. "A weekend in jail might just be the best thing for him," he says. We got really excited at this thought because we've thought from day one that would be the best teaching experience he could have. But then his dad says, "he wouldn't have charges against him though would he?" When it was affirmed that you really can't spend a weekend in jail without charges, he quickly changed his mind, as he wouldn't want his kid having "legal consequences".

So we are now thinking, "Wait a minute. Just a second ago you thought a weekend in jail would be good for him. But now you don't want legal consequences? Oh, you mean you want him to go to Pretend Jail? Yeah, well too bad there's no such thing as PRETEND JAIL!!!"

The funny thing is when I was relaying all this to our weekend guy (the good one) he pops out with, "Why would it matter if he has a record? Is he planning on a Senate run any time soon?"

And there you have it. That was our day. We didn't make it to the conference, but we certainly learned a lot about parenting - especially what not to do. And although this was not necessarily a typical day for us, it certainly wasn't way outside the realm of what we call normal around here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Day in the Life, Part Two - Spanish Lessons

One of our guys speaks fluent Spanish. He was born in Texas, but the rest of his family came to the United States from Mexico and they speak little English. We have a new weekend staff person who is a Spanish teacher at a local school, so the two of them have hit it off beautifully. However, now he wants to speak Spanish all the time and teach it to us.

This would be fine of course, if he didn't have a traumatic brain injury which puts some hindrances on the lessons.

The afternoon went a little something like this. We had a party to attend and were going to drop off Mr. I Have a New Hat and You Better Not Touch It at his workshop and then head to the party from there. The ten-minute trip from our house to the workshop was filled with conversation. Simultaneous conversation. New hat was asking to take me to dinner and asking for my phone number. He would then say "227" (he had to have had a 227 number at some point in his life because every phone number starts with 227 for him) "00444444499995. Got a pencil? Write this down, 227227227444444000, write it down, 227444002227227, write it down and call me, 227....." While this is going on, Mr. Bilingual is in the backseat saying, "I can count in Spanish, see, uno, dos, tres...." I am not lying or exaggerating to say that this went on the whole trip. I wanted to scream, "I don't need your phone number and you don't need mine. I live with you and therefore won't be calling. Plus you don't know how to use a phone." And then to turn around and say, "Yes, I know you know how to count in Spanish - it's your FIRST language." It's like me being proud that I can count in English, for pete's sake. But of course, I didn't. We just dropped "227" off at work and continued on to the party.

The whole way to the party (30 minutes), the Spanish continued. I was amazed at how much I remembered once he started talking. However, instead of just speaking back to me when I said something in Spanish, he would say, "That means blah blah blah in English." Like I didn't know what it meant and was just saying random words in Spanish and they just happened to make a sentence? Anyway, as we were driving I asked how to say "snow" in Spanish and he replied, "lluvia." Thinking that meant rain, I asked, well then what's the word for rain, and he relied, "lluvia." So I say, "well what's the difference between snow and rain?" And of course he responds with, "well rain is water that comes from the sky and snow is white and more frozen." And yes, I know I set myself up for that!

The party was a beach-themed party. Somebody asked how to say "beach" and he said "agua." I said, "isn't it playa?" And he says, "yeah, but there is a lot of agua at la playa." So thus far in my Spanish lesson I have learned the difference between rain and snow and that there is a lot of water at the beach. Woo hoo - goes to prove the old adage that we learn something new every day right?

This has nothing to do with the Spanish lesson, but just to give an idea of the other stuff going on. On the way to the party, we saw another van stopped in front of us and the driver was out looking around the road. I wondered aloud what he was doing and our client says, "He's probably looking for his contacts." Yep, that's it. I know my contacts fly out of my eyes and into the road ALL the time when I am driving.

Senor Spanish met a pretty lady at the party. He really can have a semi-intelligent conversation, but he gets flustered by pretty women. He introduced himself, says, "I do my laundry on Tuesday and Thursday. I take five showers a week. I go home to Kansas City with my brother on Sundays. I have two kids; they are 14 and 12." She was a little taken aback by the kids part. I just nodded and we walked on.

I got asked to be a judge for the hula contest at the beach party. Several of the clients we serve were excited to be in the contest. Imagine it now if you will. It was a group of women (and one man) in grass skirts doing the hula. It wasn't hard to judge. We just waited until there was only one left. Everybody else got distracted and wandered away. She was the hula winner, and didn't care at all that she kind of won by default.

I was so tired by the time we got home and looking forward to an evening off. Our weekend staff was coming early and I was going on a date with my husband. But that's another blog for another day. Check back tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Day in the Life, Part One - The Shopping Trip

Friday was busy. And as the day went on, I several times wished I had some type of recording device that would allow me to capture aspects of the day in order to visually, or at least auditorily, be able to share what a day in our lives really looks/sounds like. But as that is not possible, I decided to try to blog about our day. It will have to be at least a three-part blog, so bear with me.

The Shopping Trip

Our guy with the recent medication change has been doing better enough lately, that I (mistakenly) thought we could take him out shopping for some new clothes. So we (him, our daystaff and I) headed off to the local department store. All went well - for a few minutes. He tried on a couple of jackets and picked out a few pairs of jeans. And then he needed to go to the bathroom. Which of course was in the far opposite corner. Just the walk over there and back added a good thirty minutes to our little shopping excursion.

Once we got back to the men's section, he was "tired, stomach hurt and about to throw doooowwwnnn." (And yes, most people would say "throw up" but as you know, we aren't most people around here!) So here we are, ready to go back to the van, but still needing to try on the jeans before we purchase them. With a little bribing, we convince him that if he tries on the jeans, he can pick out a new hat. This got him to the dressing room, where once again, he was too tired, so he just sat down on the little corner of a seat in the fitting room. And just as promptly as he sat, he fell off, onto the floor, hitting his head and crying. Oh joy.

He cried until we reminded him about the hat. Then he took one shoe off. I stepped out to see if I could find more clothes I thought he would like. I heard him groaning several times, but just tried to ignore it and pretend I wasn't with him. And it worked fairly well until I heard him yell, very loudly, "I'm a pee myself! Get me a bucket!" This line got a reaction from pretty much everybody shopping anywhere around the men's area. If he were three, people might excuse this as kind of cute. But he isn't. He's 49. And he apparently wants to pee in a bucket. Not so cute.

I headed back in there to see that he had the new jeans almost on. And then he yelled out again, "ooooooowwwwwwwwwww, broke my leg!" I was done. There was so much groaning and moaning coming out of him, he's yelling about peeing in a bucket and having a broken leg. I knew it wouldn't be too long before somebody called a local abuse hotline on us and it was probably best we head on out of there.

Oh, but first a hat. Nobody was leaving the store until there was a hat on his head. He did okay while we were checking out, until it came time to scan the hat. We'll just say he wasn't happy about having to take it off. He got it back really quickly.

As we were finally leaving the store and I was walking behind him, I laughed to myself at the Minnie Pearl get-up he was sporting. A big ol' tag was hanging off the back of his hat. But I didn't worry about it. I knew that nobody within a 200 yard area of this store would DARE touch his *#$^@% hat!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Old MacGroceryStore Had a Farm

Today our supervisor stopped by the grocery store where our guy works. She checked in with him and with human resources and his supervisor just to make sure everything was going okay. She called me later to report.

This is what she said, "They all said he is doing a fine job. He is nice to the customers and does a great job sacking and bringing in the carts. There is only one problem and I'd appreciate if you could talk to him about this. Apparently, he won't stop quacking."

"Quacking?" I respond, "as in, like a duck?"

I wish I could say this surprised me, but after living with him for over a year, it really didn't. We've all heard it. And honestly, of all the noises he makes, this might just be the most appropriate one to use in the grocery store. (And I do recognize that there really isn't an "appropriate" noise to make at people when you are bagging their groceries.) Apparently it's his way to make the little kids smile. It's not really working. And all of the other employees are getting really irritated that he quacks every single time they walk by.

Honestly, we are a little afraid to have a "no quacking" talk with him. He might just start barking.

Another Crazy Thing We Do

The guy who works at the skills workshop gets a paycheck once a month. The check is deposited directly into his bank account and he gets the stub. You can probably guess that he does not understand that this is not an actual check. However, he gets an allowance of $2 a day (one dollar after he takes his meds, another after he showers.) And he gets a whopping $5 on Friday. So although he wanted to go to the bank to cash his check, he could usually be redirected about it until he forgot.

And I should have just left well enough alone. But no. I had to go make a teaching opportunity out of this. So I decided that he should continue to get his daily allowances, but that once a month, when he got his paycheck, he could actually go to the bank and cash a check for an additional five dollars. I was thinking that doing this would help him to correlate working with earning money.

I was wrong. All this did was give him something else to bug us about. And not just when he has a paycheck in his hand. It's anytime we drive by a bank. "Go cash my chessh," he says. "Sorry you don't have a check," we reply. Then he gets upset and slaps his leg and closes his eyes like he's thinking about things he could do to get his way. So now, we not only can't drive by Sonics or McDonalds, we also have to do our best to avoid any banks. Not an easy task people.

So all this to say that when we tried to do a switcheroo at the bank and let him give his direct deposit slip to the bank tellers while I slid them an actual check from his account, I lost a lot of confidence in the brain capacity of the tellers. They totally did NOT understand that they were simply to throw away the paper he had given them and cash the check. Even he was catching on that something was going on. So we had to come up with a plan B. This is where crazy comes in.

So now what we do is this. I go cash a five dollar check when he is not with me. Then when he is, we drive up to the ATM (the nice thing about this is that we can use any bank, not just one he has an account with). We stop in front of the machine and I say, to nobody of course - it's a machine - "Good afternoon, we'd like to cash this check." Then he hands me his paystub, I drop it in the side pocket of the door and we wait. A couple minutes later, I reach out to the machine, say, "Thank you. You have a good afternoon too," hand him five dollars and we drive away.

I know there is a camera built into those things and I really hope they don't have someone who watches them randomly. But if they do, it may just be the highlight of their day when they see us coming.