Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mom-Daughter Date

Well, the dance didn't happen for Jasmine!! We talked on the way there about how we are having so many lasts now--last middle school dance, last time we do such and such--and we were ready for some fun. Probably the last time she'd really want me with her.

Got there and there was a group of sobbing girls at the door. They were measuring dresses to make sure they were knee length. Several girls were turned away. (They were given the chance to go home and get another dress, but the mood was ruined.) I guess that is in the handbook and at every other dance Jasmine's dress has been. But the last couple of dances I've seen really short dresses so assumed the code was no more than 5" above the knee same as the school dress code.

Jasmine took her dress to be approved earlier that day, but the teacher just looked at it and asked Jasmine if it was long enough. It's new dress, and Jasmine probably wouldn't have known how long it was. (And she actually likes this dress which is very unusual. She does NOT like dresses and only wears them to the dances). So she told the teacher she thought so. Why not just have her try it on?

So we are at the door, and she gets turned away. We had brought dance pants to go under it in case she wanted them. She went to the car to put them on, but they said that didn't count. That's the part I think is ridiculous.

I asked why an e-mail hadn't been sent out, why the teacher hadn't told her that her dress was too short in that morning etc. They got the administrator who escorted me from the gym.

He said, "These kids are 13 and they were told the dress code." I got in his face and told him that he knew she was a drug baby and sometimes didn't always get it. They sent out an e-mail saying it was a black & white dance, how hard would it have been to put right on that e-mail that the dresses had to touch the knee.

Jasmine had been crying this whole time and turned back to tell her friends goodbye, and he told her to stop crying and leave the area. That irritated me. I said, "Don't you tell my daughter not to cry. This is the last dance of middle school for most of these kids and she's been looking forward to it all week. This is not the kind of memories you want to leave these 8th graders with."

He told me, "You need to leave the property NOW." I did. And I didn't say anything rude. They even gave me my money back which is against policy but they just wanted to get rid of me.

If my kids are breaking rules and misbehaving, I will be all over them. No doubt. But I also have their backs.

So I took my heartbroken child to the mall to see the new "Annie" movie. (One girl from the school was there trying to find a new dress that was long enough and had sleeves so she could go back to the dance. For us, the mood was already ruined). The movie was really good. The girls in this version were foster kids and there was junk going on with them, but Jasmine was placed with us at about three weeks old. I took her home from the hospital, so she doesn't have any of those kind of memories. So the movie didn't trigger any negative reactions in her.

Jasmine still wants to go to the high school associated with that school, but I pulled Kaleb's name from the lottery for next year. And Kayla will go next year, but I will probably pull her out after that. Our local  middle school is really bad. I talked to someone who has a friend teaching there and she said it's hard to teach because of the discipline problems, and that it's the parents more than the kids. Those  kids (and parents) all filter into the high school we'd go to also. So we are going to try for a different middle school and high school for the twins through school choice.

Some of you have been following my blog and remember when I posted Jasmine's science project on facebook just so people could see it, and she got in trouble at school and was told she had to do a new project even though she didn't know I'd posted her abstract. And she did NOT do a new project. I sent some e-mails at that time saying if they couldn't be glad for her that she'd finished it then they were definitely not on her team, and we needed to look for a school that could support her and rejoice in her progress! So that blew over. But that was maybe the start of me wondering about this school. 

But they are the best school easily, also the safest. But the "high expectations, high achievement" comes down to requiring way more homework and projects than other schools which equals, high expectations, high stress for kids who struggle.

I guess we'll make the decisions one year at a time. For next year, Jasmine will go to their high school. It has a chance for the kids to "major" in marine science, engineering, medical science or criminal justice. They have amazing field trips for marine science--watch the whales migrate and such, but it's a lot of extra work and I doubt Jasmine can keep up with it.

 Kayla will stay there for 5th grade, although she is currently failing 4th grade, and Kaleb will stay at the public school he's at. It's the best of the public schools. Too bad that's not true for our assigned middle and high schools.

The thing is, the school prides itself on being the best and we are constantly told we are the best etc. It feels very elite and that's not me. I am just down to earth and struggle with enough issues of my own to be unable to act elite. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

She's 14--and enrolled for high school!

Last Saturday was the lottery for all 9th graders wanting to go to the charter high school. Preference was given to those in 8th grade at either branch of the middle school. I'm not sure how many slots there are for 9th grade, but Jasmine was #103 to get in. She was near the end. On Monday I went and accepted her position and filled out enrollment papers. For high school. For my baby girl.

Does this look like someone who should be going into high school already? I guess it does feel like a lot of years  have passed since this was taken.

She'll always be my angel baby
These pictures are from two years ago when she turned 12. Our Sears no longer has a portrait studio. Neither does Penneys or Walmart! 

Jasmine turned 14 on Wednesday. That's her hip hop day. She wanted Little Caesar's Pretzel Crust pizza, so we stopped and got it on the way home.

 Travis giving his mommy a birthday kiss.

 Pretzel pizza
 Jessica joined us
 The movie she wanted isn't out yet, so she has an IOU from my mom for it.
 And a check from her grandparents
 A case from Aunt Lou for her (generic) tablet she got for Christmas.
She got a game and CD from Uncle Ken
 Adam and Deja joined us too. Adam gave her $$ for her band trip to Universal and our summer trip. Details still being worked out for summer. We had TWO "perfect" plans, both of which turned out to be flawed by things not our fault.
 We got her a DS game.
 And Air Jordan shoes (which we only paid half price for!) We also got her some clothes and a set of books you can see in the last picture that were a last minute idea and showed up the day after her birthday. I'd forgotten about them.

 She ended up with two cakes.
Jessica got her the dress she's wearing in this picture. She doesn't like dresses, but there's a black & white dance at school tonight. That's clothing colors, not a racial thing! She looks so grown up in the dress! And she actually likes it!!!!

Happy birthday boo bear/baby girl! You are my joy and song. Parenting you is the adventure of my life.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


We didn't really do anything special for Valentine's day unfortunately. Two of the children decided they were not going to cooperate at all today, so we stayed home. They were given second and third chances to do what they needed to for lesser privileges and decided not to. So although Penguins, Night at the Museum 3 and Big Hero 6 are all at the inexpensive theater, we didn't go. Kayla did not go to her basketball game either.
We had pancakes made with fresh blueberries, blueberry pie filling or syrup on top and whipped cream for those who wanted it. Which was everyone but me! (Because I had syrup, not pie filling on mine)

Hunter and Adam were both at work, and Jessica had to work at 10:30 but came for breakfast. I took some pancakes, bacon and sausage to Adam at work. They are kind of used to me occasionally running in with food for Adam (even though he's in his own apartment).

Everyone got a tube of candy, ear buds and a Christian music CD or DVD. Jasmine got Mandisa.

Yeah, Kayla has something weird going on with the back of her hair. She won't leave braids in, and instead of scrunching it pretty she pulls it straight out. Guess she's trying for a unique look. As of me writing this, she has all the braid out and it's just every which way.

Kaleb had some issues with the ready whip.

It's Jessica's  half birthday today as well as Valentine's Day. Hunter is on break every day from 9-9:15 so she was texting him.

They did the lottery drawing for the charter high school today. Very thankfully, Jasmine made it in. Happy Valentine's Day to her! There is a very long waiting list. She has a sibling advantage. If  you have a sibling already in the system, either branch of the school, you have priority. So she counted for Kayla when Kayla was trying to get in, and now Kayla counted for her for the high school. That seems kinds funny that the younger child can count toward the older, but it does. This charter school prides itself on expecting more from its students and that drives me crazy! No late assignments. Yet my college students constantly turn in late homework and even take the online quizzes late with no penalty! Still, it's the best place for Jasmine right now. The high school we are zoned for has a lot of issues. There is junk going on right at school. Junk she does not need to be exposed to!

Tyler just posted some rodeo pictures. A group of them got to go and are actually there as I'm writing this. Because he is rec director, he sometimes get priority on the outings. Rec director is a lot of work with no pay, so it's nice when he gets to go somewhere.

Hopefully he'll post more photos later.

So not the kind of day I was hoping for at all here, but my adult children all seemed to have a lot going on today.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mardi Gras parade adventures

Yesterday was the Mardi Gras children's and pet parade. We don't take part in any of the adult activities and have not actually done any of the parades since Jessica last marched with the flags with police explorers, but I decided to go this year.

And I got the bright idea to take the dogs! What I didn't realize is that when they said "pet parade" it meant you could pay money and march down the street with your dog as part of the parade. Our dogs were not at all excited to see other dogs walk by. In fact, there was quite a bit of barking, growling and doggy attitude from my three. It's also hard to grab beads while holding a dog.

But don't they look so sweet and innocent? Not sure what Sasha is doing with her head though.

I can understand my puppies acting like puppies. But what I don't understand is why some parents let their kids be rude and greedy. And why is it that I always get next to a kid who is determined to get every single thing thrown!!

In the children's parade they throw very little candy but do throw stuffed animals and beads. And the boy next to me was about five and felt he was entitled to all of it. My kids seemed to be invisible. I finally told them to stand out in the street and wave like crazy like the other kids were. Personally, if I were throwing stuff, I'd throw it to the kids who were just waiting quietly, but not so for the ones throwing in this parade. Mine waved a little but just aren't the kind to kill for beads.

Not so with the family next to me. First a little girl in the parade goes up and gives the boy a stuffed animal. He says, "I don't want this one." Hands it back to the girl and grabs the other one she was holding. She was about 6 and looked ready to cry when he did that. The boy's mom did nothing. Personally I would have made my child give it back.

Then some beads were headed toward both the boy and myself. I was holding Sasha so didn't put much effort into getting them, just put my hand out. They hit my hand, but he snatched them. When I turned to look at him, he says, "Ha. Ha. I got them" in a really mouthy tone. Seriously there were lots of things I could have said to him at that moment, but I just looked at him a few seconds then said, "I guess you're just more aggressive than me. It didn't matter that much to me." (or something like that) And I gave his mom a look. She wasn't even embarrassed.

But the thing that really got me was that his mom started darting in front of us to get beads. I'd reach down since they were at my feet but she snatch them before I'd get them. I wasn't in a hurry and I'm not about the sacrifice my dignity for beads. If it were money, maybe :)

 You see how many Kayla and Jasmine have in the picture? This boy had about three times what they have combined. I mean, what do you really do with them. The boy wanted blue beads. They are rare. So the mom started calling out to the people on the floats "Give us blue beads." Then two greens landed ON KAYLA'S SHOES and the mom darted around me and snatched them right off of Kayla's feet!!! I could not believe a grown woman did that!!!! I just looked at her and said, "Oh my." What else is there to say? If she can't tell that she is a totally aggressive greed monster and a horrible example to her greed monster son, nothing I say is going to matter. So I stuck with "Oh my" in a very quiet "I'm so disappointed" tone usually reserved for a child who has done something that is, well, disappointing.

After the parade, we walked around to see if there were any food booths with food we couldn't resist, but we didn't find any food booths at all. So we went to taco bell and went through the drive through. This was very interesting because, remember, we had all three dogs in the car with us. And two of them thought they needed to dive out the window and through the carry out window to help bag up our food. Nope. Didn't happen. But not because they didn't try!

We took the taco bell food home, including a soft beef taco we split three ways between the dogs, and watch A Christmas Carol (the Jim Carry one). 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Five Years Home

January 2010
Right after the earthquake, we were interviewed for a local TV station. At that time we thought the adoption would be delayed even more because our paperwork was buried in the court building.

At Sanford airport. We were so excited to see the kids arrive because we were silly enough to think that meant we'd be taking them home that day. Or even the next day.

Our paperwork had been in process 972 days by then!!
Watching the video of the kids deplaning and trying to pick out the children.
Kids had been at the airport a full day and we hadn't been allowed to see them yet. We all went to the doors to protest.
I'm smiling, but I'd led the group to the doors (where we weren't allowed) to demand to see the children, so I was determined to succeed. And really, we were all sooooo bored. This is a tiny airport with only one small terminal so there was nothing to do but sit and wait.
They let us in. I'd love to say the kids were glad to see us, but in reality they were tired and cranky and had spent all that time attaching to red cross and other workers in the holding area.

When we tried to interact with them, they screamed in our faces. This was Sunday night, and I'd last slept Thursday night. (couldn't sleep in the hotel room Friday night--the night before the kids arrived. I laid there for a long time, finally just drifted off to sleep and someone called, and I couldn't go back to sleep at all after that. So I guess I had about ten minutes sleep that night so don't really count it.)

So this was not a good time for any of us.

They were okay until we were told to pick them up and hold them, and then the screaming started.

And then one of our people started yelling at me because I couldn't calm them down and a person who'd been with them for two days came over and started talking to them.

Our worker yelled at me for allowing someone else to interact with them when I'd been ordered to hold them and bond. She was also yelling at me because I couldn't get them to stop screaming and most of the other kids were calm. Only one other screamer in the group and she'd calmed down. Most of the kids willingly went to their adoptive parents so I was feeling a bit jealous too.  Kayla always took a while to warm up on trips, and Kaleb would follow her lead.

 I asked our worker to remove the person who was trying to interact with the twins while I was holding them. I'd already requested that but naturally the other person wanted to take the twins from me and calm them down.

With no sleep in days, sitting in the airport for over 30 hours and the stress of the situation, it really took A LOT of control for me to not say a whole lot of ugly stuff to our person (who should have been supporting and helping me but wasn't. And yeah, she gotten sleep unlike the rest of us.)

So I walked away and locked myself in the one-person bathroom for a few minutes. By then everything was looking blurry and shades of purple, and I was ready to fall on my head. This was Sunday night. The third day since I'd slept (other than that ten minutes).

Sunday early all the kids going on to Colorado had been put on the plane and flown to CO. They were supposed to leave earlier but the pilot had to sleep. There was a whole large group going to the same community so they were processed there. The rest of us had to stay at Sanford and wait for immigrations. They worked through the night Saturday night processing the paperwork for the CO group.

A really nice lady started calling families one at a time Sunday morning, and it was moving right along for the rest of us. Each family went back for a quick interveiw and to sign paperwork and were sent home with their children. She left around noon and an evil man from you-know-where came. He stopped the whole process and said he needed to read every file to make sure we were suitable parents for these children. That was NOT his job. His only job was to check that the immigration papers were the right ones for each child and that the child was being given to the right parent. Paperwork stopped for about 9 hours.

It turned into a nightmare. He was verbally abusive. He threatened to send all of the children to a group home to be held while he decided if we'd get to take them home or not and so on. People were trying to call congressmen, senators, anyone who would help. There was one who did try to help and that is probably the only reason the kids weren't sent into foster care in FL.

I annoyed the homeland dude by telling him I needed to get home because one of my children (Jasmine) was going to have surgery the next day, and I wanted to see her before she left with Rick for the hospital. So I got to go either last or next to last. Don't remember now. But it was 1:20 a.m. Monday when we finally cleared. So I was up all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday with no sleep. We only drove a little ways (obviously) before getting a hotel. We went to bed at 3:05 a.m. Monday January 25th. 

Leaving the airport.

They woke up in the car, and it was very interesting to watch them. They were loaded on the airplane in Haiti and unloaded at Sanford near Orlando. So really they'd never seen anything but their orphanage and the hotels were  we'd stayed on our visits. Suddenly we Were driving through Orlando at night with all the bright lights on hotels, bars, restaurants etc. Their eyes were so wide trying to take it all in. I'm sure they were totally overwhelmed.
 When we got them to the hotel, we had to bathe them even though it was after 2 a.m. They were filthy, and their names and ours were written all over them in permanent marker. On their arms and back.
The next day.

We didn't wake up until 10:00 so missed the hotel breakfast.

We drove six hours more home with some stops to let them run and got home in the evening. The television reporter was waiting at the house. At least the twins had resigned themselves to being with us and weren't crying!! We carried them in, though, since we weren't sure how they'd react to being in our house with all the kids and the reporter. They interviewed Jessica and I. We were pretty hyper from only the one night of sleep.

One year home

Two years home

Three years home

Four years home

Five years home

I bought the chinese, and Adam bought the rice krispies cake.

You can read our original homecoming post HERE