Saturday, February 28, 2009

Calling all elementary school teachers!

I recently got a letter in the mail from school in Utah inviting my class to participate in the "Great Mail Race." Basically, you get your students to write 2-3 form letters inviting schools around the United States to fill out a survey and mail it back to you. The goal is to get surveys back from each of the 50 states. I think this is a great way to help my students (who live in a very rural area) learn more about the world around them. So...

If any of you out there are interested in helping our class complete the mail race, please leave a comment on my blog with your name, your school's name, and your school address. My 2nd graders appreciate your help! :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The poor treatment of foster kids in our economy (guest post)

A good online friend of mine recently adopted two girls through the foster care system. One would think that she would have been given as many advantages as possible to help get these girls out of "the system." NOPE! Instead, she has gotten the biggest run around between her state and the girls' state about who is going to cover their medical expenses. Here is her story....

(reprinted with permission to post)

Economic Solution for Foster Kids
By Ali Bond-Smith, 2/26/09

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my new foster daughters. I’d left my husband and three kids back in Oregon and flew all the way to Arizona while eight months pregnant to pick them up. There standing in the lobby was 5-yr-old Sadie with her dark brown features and 3-yr-old Jamey with her tempting squishy cheeks and missing tooth. Arizona DES hoped if they could get the judge or birthparents to terminate their parental rights we could adopt them. There young drug addicted birth mom was my second cousin making the girls second cousins twice removed and though it’s not an actual relative and we haven’t spoken since I was 11-yrs-old I thought she’d consider doing what was best for the young girl’s by getting them out of a distant foster home, knowing James and I have adopted before and are capable of loving them as our very own.

Their caseworker promised their medical records, foster care records, social security numbers, and birth certificates were all in the mail to me so I’d be able to enroll them in school, take them to the doctor, and get state insurance to cover the cost till we could adopt them, if we could adopt them. Seven months later we’re still unable to enroll Jamey in the special classes she needs for her emotional difficulties, Sadie is threatened by the school every trimester for not being able to provide proof of age or immunization despite an Oregon caseworkers letters, and our family of eight is still paying cash out of pocket unreimbursed for emergency doctor and dentist appointments despite the fact that our self employed business is directly tied to the failing real estate market. Sadly after using a 401k account we still can not afford the mental health services the girls require to deal with their mounting anxiety and attachment issues. Jamey’s breathing machine, prescriptions and treatments sit at the pharmacy waiting half a year later because the cost is too great for us combined with the emergency dental treatments they’ve required. Our health insurance company won’t accept responsibility for the girls because they are not our kids. Oregon Health Plan won’t place the girls on Medicaid because we don’t have the social security numbers, proof of naturalization, and as it turns out one of the girls has a different legal last name even their Oregon caseworker was unaware of. Finally Arizona ICPC office prompted a caseworker visit to our home yesterday to inform us the state is out of money due to the economy and our options as foster parents are to continue to pay out of pocket or send the girl’s back to Arizona.

The government seems to feel that in times of economic stress children can be thrown away, “sent back” or disposed of.

If you know of anyone who could help her with this situation, please leave a comment and I will pass the information along to her. It is a shame that a family has stepped forward to adopt these girls but are being denied the benefits they were promised. After talking with numerous caseworkers, they were given the option to send their girls "back" like they were a piece of furniture or item that could be returned. Things like this are what makes me thankful we are done with the DSS system for now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hopefully, the 3rd time's the charm...

Well, the mommy radar was alive and working well. V woke up this morning with a fever of 102.2. I was terrified that she had the flu or strep. She has already had 2 rounds of antibiotics since the end of January - when is this poor kid going to get well? After making an appointment and sitting in a full waiting room, we learn that V does not have strep and does not have the flu. The doctor thinks she has early bronchitis. LOVELY. We got ANOTHER round of antibiotic, ANOTHER kind of cough syrup, and hopefully a well V will be re-emerging at the our house soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Invasion of the body snatchers

Tonight something really creepy happened. I got home from my graduate class and was greeted by my girl running and screaming my name. What a way to come home! :) Anyway, I had picked up Chick-fil-a on the way home for dinner. Usually by the time I come home, Tim and V are both starving and V LOVES Chick-fil-a, so I figured she would eat quickly and we could have some time to read before bed. About 15 minutes BEFORE her bedtime, after playing around with her food and generally just being really silly, I told her she could finish her dinner or go to bed. Without an argument, she got up, hugged both of us, climbed into her bed, and closed her eyes. She told me she was really tired. I can't remember a time that my child has EVER uttered those words. Then she told me her head hurt and she was cold - despite wearing thermal pj's and a sweatshirt and our house temperature being set at 68 degrees. She also started coughing. One of two possible things has occurred at my house tonight.

Option 1- Body snatchers have come, stolen my child, and replaced her with this zombie creature. She sure is obedient but she lacks the spunk and personality that my V possesses.

Option 2 - Sickness is about to afflict this househould. Considering V told me that her teacher didn't take them out to recess because it was cold and her class is recovering from all their "diseases", this is definitely a plausible option.

Heaven help us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tag - you're it!

I hear those words during recess about a million times. I finally got tagged too!

Crys tagged me on her blog so I just HAVE to participate. I think the rules are that you go into your pictures and click the fourth folder. Then you click on the fourth picture and write about it. I don't have my pictures organized well - they are all in one hugemongous folder called "Personal Photos." LOL! I did click the fourth picture and it was a picture of a dog we had to find a new home for, and I thought that would be kind of depressing, so I clicked the fifth picture. It's our house!

This is actually a really old picture of our house. This is before we re-landscaped (ok, TIM re-landscaped) the front yard. Where that ugly potting soil is, we have marble rocks now. We have a bench and several pots with flowers in them in the marble rock. It is really pretty and very low maintenance....just my style. We just re-painted our door (I have to blog about was hilarious!) so it is more of a New England cottage blue now. You see our cars - my Civic and Tim's CRV. Both of those beautiful Hondas are no Civic was totaled by an old lady running a stop sign at the grocery store and the CRV got traded for my Pilot after it hit 180,000 miles. Now we have the Pilot (for me) and the Element (for Tim). We are still a 2 Honda family, so that's all that matters!

What makes me smile about this picture is I remember the reason I took it was for our homestudy so that we could adopt V. I remember walking around and snapping shots of our house from the front and the back and just being so excited about adopting our sweet girl. Now she has been here for over 2 years and I couldn't imagine life without her.

Crys, thanks for the tag! I am tagging Tim, Jerilyn, Melissa, and Crystal . Have fun!!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The changes of a week

One week ago...I was looking forward to going to the doctor to confirm what I was pretty positive of. Today I am grieving the loss of the addition to our family.

One week ago...I was thinking about names and color schemes and where we would put all V's toys when we converted the playroom into a baby's room. Today I just wish the playroom was clean.

One week ago...I got sick to my stomach at any given moment but didn't care because it would all be worth it. Today I ate whatever I felt like and wished I had that sickness again.

One week ago...I was trying to figure out how many sick days I had and if I would have to come back to school after leave before Christmas break. Today I just wished I didn't have a faculty meeting because I wanted to go home and sleep.

One week ago...I was full of excitement and hope and anticipation. Today I am just tired and moody.

I am slowly starting to feel more like myself. This weekend, I laughed a lot, cried a little, and enjoyed the company of my fantastic husband and sweet daughter. Family is very important - and I am so grateful and blessed for mine.

God, let me never take them for granted. Thank you for my blessings and help me to see that you have a plan, even in the hard times.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cryptic Valentine card

One of my sweet 2nd graders gave me this Valentine on Friday. It was a beautiful card, hand-made with felt and silk flowers and jewels. The kind of card that every elementary school teacher dreams of getting. The kind that you get warm fuzzies from because you know that child made (MADE) a card just for you. I just beamed over that card. In all my years of teaching, I have never had such a sweet, hand-made card. The outside said "Happy Valentine's Day" in purple marker. The inside read, "Roses are red, violets are blue, you're the greatest teacher I ever knew!" That card just made my day....until I got home and started talking to Tim about it. I raved about the card. I read it to him. He looked at me and said, "I'm going to miss you." I looked at him like he was crazy. He smiled and said, "She said you were the best teacher she ever knew. You must be going to die soon." I thought, "Huh???" He laughed and said, "She said you were the best teacher she ever in past tense."

Here's hoping her Valentine isn't an omen for the future. :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A long few weeks...

It has been a long and emotionally exhausting few weeks. I really don't want to say much other than we thought something was happening and were excited about a new possibility, and then realized that it was not to be. I know that God has a plan and I trust in that, but it is still hard to anticipate something and then have it disappear. Add hormones and emotions to the mix and I am a bit of a mess. Hang in here with me...I promise I will be back to normal soon. It's just been tough...and I sure hope it gets a little easier.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Back from an internet break

It has been so busy around here lately with work and school and V...I took a little break. I have also been so tired that I haven't been awake long enough to stay up and surf after I get my grading done. Haha! So...what has everyone been up to lately? Hope you had a great week and a restful weekend!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Parenting/teaching reminders from a little mouse

Today V and I went to see "The Tale of Despereaux." If you haven't seen it yet, you need to check it out when it comes out on DVD - we saw it at the cheap $1.50 theater, which usually means that it's not at the local theaters anymore. was a great movie about a little mouse who saves a princess that he loves from danger and a king who learns to forgive himself and love again. We have been listening to the book on CD in the car on the way to and from school, so V and I were pretty familiar with the story and enjoyed (for the most part) the way that Hollywood adapted it. Throughout the movie, I kept being reminded about important things I need to remember as a parent. I thought I would share my insights....all from a little mouse.

The main character, Despereaux is born very tiny with great big ears. Everyone made fun of him but he was super cute (V thought we needed a mouse now...that's not happening!) I used that moment to talk to V about small people doing big things - if you know V, she's one of the tiniest people I know. She barely hits 4 feet tall and just tipped the scales at 51 pounds, so she's a petite little girl at 8 years old. She loved seeing how such a little mouse could help so many different parts of the story!

The part that hit home the most with me as a parent and a teacher was the way you saw Despereaux's character develop. He was born with his eyes open, unafraid of anything in the mouse village. He wouldn't scurry, he wouldn't cower, and he (worst of all) didn't follow the mouse rules. In other words, he refused to conform. Later on, this served him well as he was the only one brave enough to rescue the princess from the rats. I started thinking about how I emphasize to V the importance of listening and always obeying. My personality is very different from hers - I am one of those people who doesn't really question things and if you tell me not to do it, I won't. That's just me. V on the other hand is a questioner - she wants to know why - she wants to see what happens if she does it. I get so frustrated with her sometimes and honestly wish at times that she would just obey without the constant questioning and testing. But then I started thinking about this little mouse. If he had done exactly what his parents said without being "Despereaux", the whole story would have fallen apart. I think so many times adults try to force kids into a mold without seeing their potential for greatness because of our desire to have them "obey" and "fit in." PLEASE don't get me wrong - I am NOT advocating for unruly children who don't obey any rules - that is the farthest thing from the truth. I do, however, want to be more conscious of kids' uniqueness - qualities that make them who they are. As a teacher, I see so many kids who are labeled "ADHD" or "Oppositional Defiant" because they don't blindly go along with what others tell them to do and don't fit the mold of the "traditional student." The movers and shakers in history all "bucked the system" - I need to be more aware and recognize those traits in both my own child and those that I teach and help mold them into the leadership qualities and positive personality traits that they can possess. Just wanted to share what a little mouse helped me realize today. :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009


So, who are you rooting for in the big game tonight? We don't usually cheer for NFL teams, college is much more Tim's style, but we LOVE Kurt Warner, so...


We are watching the game at home just the three of us. We are having hot dogs, chips and fruit with dessert waffles for dessert. Fun fun! :)