Archive for the 'Work' Category

Was That It?

Like the three that came before, we didn’t plan these children.  And, like the others, we wanted them very much once we found out they would become part of our family.  The waiting was a little longer this time though; I could have had three more babies from the time our girls first came to live with us until the day their adoption became final.

While I gained the inevitable weight that comes with pregnancy, the journey this time through the famously flawed foster care system helped me to lose weight.  Of course I’m older now than I was when my boys were little, but I’ve learned that most kids in “the system” require a little more effort than the ones the stork brings.  You may have to “undo” some bad habits, teach things they should have learned long before, reassure them and comfort them above and beyond what your own newborn ever required.  In addition, you have many different appointments and visitations to cram into your schedule.  Neglected teeth may require extensive dental work; poor nutrition or general lack of health care may have you spending hours in doctors’ waiting rooms.  And unless they’re placed while very young, they almost always are referred for counseling.  These poor babies don’t understand why they’re separated from their families (even dysfunctional families are sorely missed by their children) and often they are moved several times from stranger to stranger, requiring them to adapt to new schools and different family rules.  Is it any wonder they act out in frustration and anger?  The kids can keep you jumping!  But they are the easy part in the equation.

Don’t consider fostering if you relish your privacy.  Just to be considered, every facet of your life will be pried into and investigated.  You will be asked where you resided and with whom you lived with for the past 30 years.  They will do a background check and fingerprint every person living in your home.  Each year they want copies of your pay stubs, W-2’s, car registrations, and home and auto insurance policies.  It’s amazing that an inappropriate foster parent slips through these rigorous background checks!

Once a child is placed, you can expect weekly home visits and phone calls from at least one caseworker.  We didn’t work directly with the county so we had our agency caseworker and a county caseworker.  They are supposed to be there not only to ensure the safety of the child, but to guide and help the foster parents.  Sadly, this is just a dream.  In our experience, most of the caseworkers knew less than we did.  At least we knew how to raise kids!  They often couldn’t even help us with the things we needed to know about the foster care rules–which was supposed to be their area of expertise.  Even the few who actually cared often gave us wrong information or didn’t know enough to guide us to resources that I somehow managed to find on my own through dumb luck or sheer desperation!  Yet we were expected to complete all of our paperwork and monthly trainings on time–while taking good care of our kids, getting them to bi-weekly family visitations an hour away, and breaking in brand-spanking new caseworkers every few months.

The adoption process was even more intense.  Even though our kids had lived with us pretty much for the past two-and-a-half years and we were currently approved foster parents, we had to get more references, more background checks and fingerprinted again.  We had home inspections requiring the craziest things (like all meds–even refrigerated Amoxicillin that the kids may be taking–had to be in a separate LOCKED container) and weekly visits with an adoption caseworker (thank goodness my agency found this wonderful knowledgeable woman they hired as an independent contractor who led us through this whole process because our agency didn’t know squat and we never saw or heard from our county worker). We waited…and waited…to get our adoption date after completing all the requirements.  We signed the papers at the attorneys office.  We waited some more–pretty much giving up on the hope that it would take place before the end of the year has it had been semi-promised.

We finally got the call in mid-December.  One week before Christmas (and five days after hubby’s knee replacement surgery) we took the hour drive with a borrowed Handicapped placard so I could park across the street from the courthouse and help Big Daddy hobble to the door with our girls in their pretty dresses and tights.  We signed some papers.  We each sat at the witness stand and answered some questions.  Bonus Child hugged and clung to me while we sat and listened to Big Daddy answer his questions.  A caseworker led Bonus Baby to a back room to color when she got too antsy to sit still.  We got some pictures with the judge.  And it was over.  Months of prep.  A half-hour in court.  The girls are legally ours!

Bonus Baby flashed the biggest smile when I told her she’d never have to see another caseworker.  And last week, when I called her my little friend, she looked at me like I was nuts and said, “I’m not your friend, I’m your daugh-ter”, dragging out the last word slowly and deliberately just in case her poor mommy was too dumb to understand.

I Survived Another Tax Season!

It’s a good thing people like their Easter eggs hard-boiled or my blog would be a lonely unvisited little rest stop on the information superhighway but once again, this post reels them in 😀  Lord knows I haven’t had the time to write anything new in a while to generate any traffic.

This tax season was both one of the easiest and at the same time one of the most hectic I’ve had, all at the same time.  I knew it would be a challenge with little ones in the house again and school closings and daycare issues thrown into the mix, but this part was considerably easier than I thought it would be this time around.  Unlike when my own kids were young, I had the convenience of an emergency sitter at home (Middle Son J was gracious enough to watch the kids when he didn’t have class) during those pesky two-hour snow delays and cancellations.  My boss realized I’d need some time off here and there to tend to the kids many appointments and took the pressure off by assuring me that things would be okay and in fact, office hours were now only 9 to 5 (except of course for him–when he was usually there before 7 towards the end and even showed up at 4:30 am one day!!).  Of course, I came in early and stayed late whenever I could, but it was nice to know it was not totally expected!

Having Easter fall after tax season is a nice bonus.  Big Daddy made the observation today that this will be the first time I’ll be home with him on Good Friday.  I will actually have time to shop for the kids’ Easter goodies myself and this past Saturday, I was able to take the kids to an Easter egg hunt.

Even though I started back to work this year later than usual (Feb. 28th versus the usual Feb. 15th or so),  I just barely got my own tax return done before the deadline.  Normally I have my own and all the kids’ (and their significant others) returns done before I even go back to work.  With homework and bath times, my evenings disappeared just as fast as the 10 pounds I’d lost reappeared on my gut and ass from stopping for fast food breakfasts every morning on my way to work : (

Bonus Baby adjusted great to the extra few hours at preschool/daycare while I worked.  She was always happy to see me when I came to pick her up, but never in a huge hurry to get out of there as we always had to stop by the infant room and see the babies before she would leave.  Her teachers got to  know her a little better and appreciate her funny and huge personality as much as we do.  We were informed that even though she’s the smallest one in her class, all the other kids pretty much follow along with whatever she wants.  She’s a little charmer, that one.

Bonus Child seemed to have a little rougher time.  She only had to stay an extra hour or so at the school for their after-school care twice a week but she claimed she hated it!  She missed having me around all the time and couldn’t wait for me to quit working.  I actually didn’t spend a whole lot less time with her except for the Saturday mornings when I worked, but she must have sensed how rushed I was and in fact, I didn’t push her as hard to study her spelling words when she balked and her grades suffered a bit.  I’m still amazed and in awe of full-time two-income families (or single working parents) with young children.  There are some successful ones, and I have no idea how they do it.  Thank God I have 10 months to recuperate!!

Spring Has Sprung…Almost

I have funny stories.  I have stress-coping strategies.  In two days I’ll have time to share them.  Even better, I’ll be able to catch up with everyone.  I’ll lose the bags under my eyes.  I’ll open windows and fumigate my much-neglected house (even though hubby did a great job keeping things manageable!).  This is what life is starting to look like…on April 14th…to a weary tax accountant.

Remember this:  Just keep plodding on.  Where there’s life, there’s hope.  And on Friday, a warm bed that I won’t have to climb out of until I’m good and ready!!!


I’ve chosen to not turn my computer on until very late in the day this week.  I have dust bunnies to sweep up and walls to scrub, and it’s too easy to get ensnared for too long in the interwebs.  I may have tricked convinced my kids into thinking they rarely missed school because a little dust built up their immune systems, but the guy from the foster parent agency may not see things that way.  The house is looking clean and shiny!  This is a welcome change.

I became aware of a not so lovely change today, however, when I popped into the office for a visit on my way to Wal-Mart.  For the second time since we’ve moved into this building, our lovely office space is being downsized again!  Last time I got a bigger office, with even more window space.  This new configuration is giving me an interior area, with no windows, no doors, and not much privacy.  Like the rest of the world in this downsized economy, I am feeling the results of the havoc wreaked by greedy CEOs and inept politicians.  Lucky for me, though, I will still be working at a job I enjoy with people that I like.  And it’s only two months a year.  I was a tad spoiled.

I would feel a lot better about the whole thing, however, if we could force the jerks on Capitol Hill to give up their plush offices and fancy cars paid for by us, the poor downsized taxpayers.  It only seems fair!

I Like To Work At Nothing All Day

It’s the perfect storm. It’s been rainy and unseasonably cold for weeks. Youngest Son has hardly had time to text me, let alone come home for a visit. He’s the strong-minded son that can often motivate me to get off my lazy butt and sprint up hills with him or make me lift weights. As I noted a few posts ago, I was having trouble finding motivation to write. Looking at the whole picture, I’m having trouble doing much of anything. I’m not depressed or anything–nothing more serious than the seasonal blues I get from lack of warmth and sunshine. And, after talking with Youngest Son, who finally managed to come home this weekend only because his school has a 4-day fall break, I may just need to add some self-imposed torture structure to my life.  Just a little.  Just temporary. I may need to get myself a temporary job.

It’s funny he mentioned this.  I love my life.  I love my work schedule.  Due to our extreme awesomeness and efficiency at work, my 12-month part-time job became a 2-month seasonal full-time with overtime job over the years.  This schedule suits all of us.  They only need to pay me when they really need me. I recuperate, enjoy my summer, get projects done, get lazy, and then repeat the cycle.  The laziness has settled in with a vengeance this month.  I DID bake cookies last week, which shocked the hell out of Oldest Son, but that was only because Big Daddy’s been craving baked goods and I couldn’t find anything cheaper than $3.99/dozen in the bakery.  I’m cheaper than I am lazy.  But as much as I love the freedom of structuring my own days, the thought has recently crossed my mind to maybe find a temp job until the end of the year.

Like Youngest Son said, you get more done when you have to do it.  I do manage to get the essentials done, whether I’m working or not.  But somehow, making yourself have to get up early and forcing upon yourself that sense of urgency that comes from having limited free time helps push you to do more.  And not feel so much like a lazy slug.  And God knows September always drains the family finances.  Two college tuition bills, school supplies, the BIG real estate tax payment, and the quarterly car insurance payment make September quite the bleak month.  And the damn van still hasn’t sold!  It’s not like I couldn’t use the extra cash.

But I’ll have to think this through a little more.  Later today Youngest Son and I are planning to hit the track.  I won’t have so much time to do this if I’m working.  And the morning’s supposed to be extra chilly, which means I’ll feel so cozy with the covers pulled up over my head.  It’s 2:00am right now and I don’t need to be in bed. I’ve always been a night person.  Early morning makes me gag.  What’s a lazy mama to do?  Stay tuned while I try to figure out the answer.

My Weird and Awesome Family

The weather’s been great, the scale has been kind to me lately, and my garden has produced some awesome lettuce for salads, tons of green beans which I’ve been roasting rather than boiling (much tastier), and zucchini, which thankfully, the kids have learned to enjoy.  Other family news:

Big Daddy is on vacation from work next week.  He planned it specifically so that he would be off for the “most interesting” week of the Tour de France.  He’s been filling up the DVR with three hours of Tour de France every day all month!  Even sports nut, Youngest Son, has to agree with me that three hours of watching a bunch of skinny guys riding bikes over mountains every day is a bit much.  The scenery is beautiful, the athleticism is impressive, but after about 10 minutes, I’m done.  Big Daddy is mesmerized for the entire three hours.  Perhaps he envisions himself pedaling over the Pyrenees instead of maneuvering over the hills of Western Pa., running into chasing Rottweilers that get in his way.

Oldest Son got his new computer yesterday.  This is a double yay!  Not only won’t I have to listen to him bitching about the lag in his gaming, but he’s going to take apart the computer he was using and use the parts to speed up my computer, which is an antique in the computer world.  I knew there was an upside to raising a quirky genius.

Youngest Son, poor kid, just wants to relax.  He works so hard during the school year.  He worked three jobs last summer.  This year, he decided to take a break and not apply to work Steelers training camp.  He had fun doing it last year, but it’s a seven day work week while they’re there.  He already works four days a week in the biology lab.  He’s also been busy tutoring my nephew in math and doing yard work for someone on his day off.  And he still finds time to run, bike, and work out in the gym after work!   He makes me tired.

Middle Son J is scheduled to come home from Germany in a couple weeks!  We can’t wait!  However,  instead of spending his time and money on going to school this semester, he wants to buy a new used truck, a dirt bike, and a jet ski!  We don’t even live near a freaking lake!  He’s been away from Mama too long.  It’s affecting his mind.

Love ya, fam! ❤

It’s Probably Not Better Over There

I was a little taken aback reading a post by a mom blogger last week.  Her life seems busy and full, and she writes about her kids with such love and joy…well, and sometimes frustration.  But she must have been having a rough day.  She had seen someone she went to college with hit the big time, and then started thinking about how “successful” so many of her peers were.  She seemed to completely forget about all her own accomplishments and successes.

I think when we compare our life to someone else’s, we are doomed to be unhappy.  Because our life can never measure up to their life–just for that reason.  It is their life.  They have their own reasons for the choices they made–and you have your reasons for the path your life has taken.

About 15 years ago, I was kind of stung by a comment from someone I know and actually like.  I’d been happily living my life, working part-time, raising my three boys and volunteering in my community.  And out of the blue she asked me if I felt bad about wasting my college education.  WTF?

Umm, I didn’t really think that I was wasting my education.  My part-time job was even in my major!  I was really caught off guard, because I was happy and I used parts of my education every day, in my life and in my job.   I’m pretty sure her measure of success involved earning a six-figure income, which of course was out of my grasp working a part-time job that gave me the flexibility to be the mom I wanted to be.

Some people seem to have it all.  They successfully juggle full-time careers and parenting.  I’m happy for them.  I can honestly say that I don’t envy anyone for their success, and that’s because I’m truly happy with the life I’ve chosen.  I don’t have the energy or the personality to be a superwoman.  I’d be a stressed-out old hag right now if I’d spent the past 20 years worrying about what to do with sick kids while I worked, arranging people to pick up my kids after school, and all the other hectic running around that many other people seem to handle so well.  I’m just not wired like that.  And I have no regrets.

With the exception of the few people that really can do it all (and don’t just put on a good show), everyone has to give up something to get to where they’re at.  Hopefully they’ve made the choices that are best for them.  It’s possible some neighbor in their sticky hot work clothes gives me the evil eye when I’m lounging by my pool in the summer.  But they just might be bored to death living my life every day.  I also may salivate at the dream kitchen someone else has when my Tupperware tumbles out of the cabinet in my country-blue-and-white kitchen from hell.  But I would have been miserable with the demands of a full-time career, especially when the kids were little.

If you think you need to make a change in your life, then do it.  But don’t try to live someone else’s version of life.  They might just be wishing they’d made the very same choices that you are regretting.

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