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Friday, April 25, 2014

My Dad and My Dad :)

I know that sometimes reading my blog it gets confusing when I say that my dad died by suicide when I was 18, and then in another post - I talk about how my dad lived with my husband and I.

I...had 2 dads.

Not in the modern way.  No disrespect.  I'm just saying that's not the family I had.  I had my dad, who was my dad and my step-dad.

Most of the close friends I have in my life I've almost always had.  There may be some "holes" in time, but we've always kept a connection.

Even to these friends, it's confusing.  Confusing because growing up, I would NEVER have referred to my step dad as my "dad".  He and I didn't get along swimmingly.  I resented him and hated the way he treated me and my brothers.  It was not a close father/daughter relationship.

By stating the following, I am in no way disrespecting my dad - because I loved him dearly.

My dad was an alcoholic.  Not only was he an alcoholic, he was a nasty drunk.  My step brother & sister never saw this part of him.  They lived in another house.  They got the good dad who loved and doted on them, on the weekends.  They got the nice guy.  Yes, fine he was actually THEIR father, but I lived in his home. We were often treated badly and had to figure our own ways around it.

The days always started out nicely.  On weekday mornings, I'd come down to the kitchen for my breakfast. He'd have already put my English muffin into the toaster for me.  I'd eat my breakfast as he read the paper and we'd chat about the day before,or what the day lay ahead for us. Morning was always nice.  I think it was because of the mornings that I was able to form a bond with my step dad, my dad, later in life.

After school, I'd come home and do my chores, my homework and take care of my brothers.  Sometimes I'd start dinner.  It was this time of the day that everything changed.  The scary time.  The time that our step dad would come home - drunk and angry.  We were always in trouble for something, or nothing.  Eventually, I knew enough to just be gone at that time of day.  I'd conveniently be at a friend's house or whatever. My little brother would hide in his room. It didn't really matter where we were, as long as we were out of the way. I'd come home when he was passed out asleep. It's what worked for me.

This is the dad that my friends remember.  The mean, nasty, drunk son of a bitch that used to physically and verbally abuse us.  They don't know the dad that I came to be close to.  The dad that looked after me and my son while I was going through a miserable divorce.  The dad that took care of me when I was a single mom and the dad that I took care of during his sickness.

You see, my dad did recover.  The last 10 years of his life, he was a recovering alcoholic.  He didn't go to AA, it wasn't his thing.  He got sick.  I know it's may be in poor taste to be thankful for a life threatening illness, but if he didn't get sick, he'd have drank until the day he died.  It was the diabetes that made him quit drinking.  The diabetes made him so sick he couldn't drink and when he didn't drink, I had back the dad that I had on weekday mornings that made my English muffin for me and sat to talk with me while reading his paper before the day began.  This is the dad I longed for.  Especially after my own dad died 9 years earlier.

It was his sickness that gave him sobriety.  It was his sobriety that formed the father / daughter relationship that I had with him.  The grandfather / grandson bond that he formed with my son and the father in law / son in law bond he formed with my husband and even with my ex-husband to some degree.

So yes, I had two dads whom I loved, that loved me.

I miss them both, my dad and my dad.
...And I am so grateful to have had each of them.

No matter how it all started out.

Thank  you for reading my blog!!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Any 80's Hair Metal Heads Remember Queensryche??? My confession to Geoff....

It's concert season - more specifically outdoor concert season. I am a huge lover of music. All music. OK, well - most music.

It's time. Time to scour the internet in search of whatever other tickets I can come across.

Now, I've got guilt.

While searching, there I saw it - QUEENSRYCHE!!  Not just Queensryche, but the billing was listed as "Queensryche: 25th Anniversary Operation Mindcrime"  I NEEDED to go!

As a rule, I'm a loyal human. If I love, I love forever. Unless, of course, I've been given a big reason not to love. I don't like change. I'm loyal to the original. When Van Halen went Van Hagar, I boycotted.  When Steve Perry was replace by whoever the new lead singer is of Journey, I boycotted. I had absolutely NO desire to see Queensryche sans Geoff Tate.

I'm so sorry, Geoff.  I don't know what happened.
And here it is...

Dear Geoff,
I'm terribly sorry. I've inadvertently cheated on you. I'm sad to say - I think I liked it.
Maybe not completely, because there will never be another YOU, but I enjoyed myself.
I'm so sorry.
Faithfully yours,
Resurrected 80's High Hair Metal Chick

Yes, it's like that.
While I was combing through I DID see Queensryche: 25th Anniversary Operation Mind Crime. If you're 80's and love that - How exciting is that??

One of the things I'm well aware of is the Queensryche split. There's Geoff, THE voice of Queensryche, who split from the band and has a new band. Then there's the band, with the founding member, Michael Wilton and new lead singer, Todd LaTorre. Both touring as Queensryche.
Confusing, right?

Before I purchased my tickets, I double, triple and quadruple checked. I wanted to be double damn sure I was buying GEOFF TATE Queensryche tickets. There was his face, plastered all over every website - promoting everywhere, once again "25th Anniversary Operation Mindcrime." I was confident I was making the right decision. There were also 2 dates available!! Once at Starland in March, which I couldn't make. Once in April at BergenPac, which I could make.
I excitedly bought my tickets.

Yes, it was a bit of a red flag that the shows were happening in the same state, but ya know - it IS concert season. I checked, double checked, triple checked and quadruple checked. I THOUGHT that I was confident that it was Geoff Tate Queensryche I was going to see.

As the date got closer, I noticed that my upcoming event - as listed on Facebook had changed. There was now a notation that "Ticketmaster has changed event name."  Ut oh...  Now instead of it saying:  Queensryche:  25th Anniversary Operation Mindcrime - it simply said, Queensryche.

I was duped!

I knew something was up, so I went to and checked the venues, the artists, the dates... there it was.  The change. The change that pissed me off on several levels, because I WANTED Geoff Tate.

The billing, I felt, was intentionally confused. Did I mention I was pissed?

The show I had been so looking forward to now became, meh - I like live shows anyway. I'll still have a good time. I'll just go anyway and suck it up like any other cover band. If I hate it, I'll leave.

I didn't leave.  I enjoyed it.

Was the concert anywhere NEAR the expected 25th Anniversary of Operation Mindcrime??  NO. They only played a few songs from that album. On that level I was a little disappointed, but Todd sounded great. He has great energy. He has a great voice. He is a great stage performer. He is very expressive and lives the music. I really liked that. No, he's not Geoff - but I liked it. I was entertained. I enjoyed the show. I really enjoyed the show. Yes, I was shocked too!

The warm up band was Gothic Knights. A band that hails from NYC and has been around since 1990. No, I never heard of them either. Here's why...  Although the lead singer has a great voice, he has absolutely no stage presence. There's no excitement. No real movement or feeling of connection with the band. Stiff.  I feel that I could close my eyes and enjoy the music, I just didn't need to watch because the watching part didn't entertain me. They are still very 80's feeling.

Admittedly, I went in with a bad attitude and disappointment at the way Live Nation handled things. I would NOT have purchased the tickets if I'd known it wan't Geoff Tate I was going to see, but I'm glad that I gave it all a chance.

I probably wouldn't go see Queensryche again, out of loyalty to Geoff, without Geoff - but I also wouldn't turn anyone away. It was a good show. I liked it and I think that anyone else who enjoys this type of music, who likes Queensryche and can be open minded (like I'm not) would enjoy the show.

So Geoff, I hope I'm forgiven. No one rocks it like you. You will be my first and only voice of Queensryche. This time, I just strayed - but I'm back. :)

Thank you all for reading my blog!!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

About Foster Parenting....

Re-post from June 2012.
After reading a post over at The Last Mom blog, I was inspired to dig up one of my old blog posts about our foster parenting experience.

I often mention that my husband and I are foster parents.  That said, I've been asked many questions...

It is my hope to give anyone interested as much of MY PERSPECTIVE as I can give you into the wonderful world of fostering.  So with this sentence comes my disclaimer - read it, know it love it:

**All opinions expressed in this blog are MY personal experiences and MY opinion.  Each person has their own experience and reason for pursuing foster parenting.  Rules differ from state to state.  Please consult your local child services for information in your state.  Please check the status of your own heart prior to pursuing this avenue.  It is NOT for everyone.  This is NOT a job to support a family.  It’s taking on another person’s child for the sole benefit of the CHILD. **

Off soap box & onto my blog.  Sit down - grab coffee, wine - whatever does ya.... It's a long one.

How did we get here?
I've mentioned often that my body let me down when I was actually trying to be pregnant.  Yes, I do have two of my very own biological children.  Ten years apart.  I wanted more kids, my husband wanted more kids and we both love kids.

We checked into international and national adoption.  If you've gone that route, you know there are many unscrupulous jerks in the "adoption business" or, more specifically, crooks preying on people who desperately want a child. As a point of reference, you could spend about the amount it would cost you to buy a new Cadillac Escalade, to adopt a child.  They run you through the ringer & then they can say NO. Truth!
Oh, and no refunds if it doesn't pan out.

This is not always the case - but something to be aware of.

My husband and I are both the "want to save the world" type.  I'm always up for a challenge.  I like to try to "fix" and help as much as I can and I truly want to make a difference.  If I can do that, I'm happy.  It doesn't always go that way.  We wanted to get involved in the system to help a child who's already here, who needs love.  These kids REALLY need love.

It's not always butterflies and flowers, but neither is parenting your own kid.  The difference is that some of these kids are hard, really hard.  Many of these kids have seen or had unspeakable things done to them.  Things you can't even conceive of.  You need to have a heart to love them through.  To teach them that what they've dealt with isn't how things should be.  To love them through it.

It's not always easy, but it is always worth it.

I will answer a couple of the questions I've received most often, in my very "Jenn" little way with a lot of my truth peppered with joy and heart ache.

How do you get involved?
It varies from state to state.  My best answer is to go to:
Read through the site & find the nearest Child Services office to your county.

What do I need to do?
It's a long process - which is a good thing!
-An intake worker will come to your home and speak to you and your family. They will look at your home to see how many children your home can accommodate, along with your family.
Yes, most of us are only looking for one child - but they will always consider you for sibling groups & you may change your mind.  We've had a few sibling groups come through.  Know your limit!
-They will fill out paperwork & ask you for references from friends / family members.
-They will do a background check.
-You will need to be fingerprinted and you will need to take classes.

These are all very good things - if half the parents on the planet had to go through all of this to get a child, there wouldn't be so many children in need!

The process will be a long, annoying pain in the arse!  Expect it.  You're dealing with the government.

You CAN be very specific about the type of child you are willing to take.  They will call you for any child they need to place but you CAN say no without it being held against you.  I know that sounds like a really mean thing to say, but there are certain issues a child may have that you may know you cannot deal with; sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, neglect, physical deformities, mental illness., etc.  Set a criteria that will work for you and your family in your home. These kids are already being removed from the only family they know.  If you can't deal with something it's best for the child concerned to know that in advance.  You don't want to have to have a child placed over and over again.

Consider the ages of your kids and bedrooms. Think carefully - do you want a newborn?  Really?  Many (not all) of the newborns are born drug addicted.  Drug addicted babies go through withdrawal and may cry for what seems like all the time. Be sure you can deal with that & be sure that you ask the question.

The "dumpster babies" and "Safe Haven Babies" don't seem to exist in the system.  If they do, I've never been offered one.

Talk to your family.
Sit down with every single person in your immediate household, and those close to you.  You'll need their support.  Find out what every single person thinks about the idea and what they think their role will be.  You all will need to work together, even your kids.  Trust me!

Our very first foster child had substantial mental health and emotional issues.  She was a self abuser at 1 1/2 years old.  She screamed and cried all the time.  She had two speeds, cute & psychotic.  You could see the switch flip.  I'm getting into this because my son couldn't handle it.  It was too much for him and he and decided to go stay with his father until we could get the child re-placed in a more suitable environment for her.  This situation was a total shock to our entire family.  The other thing we were not prepared for was how difficult it would be to let her go, because we did fall in love with this child.  We just knew we were not able to give her what she needed.  I cried for weeks.

Ask questions!

Ask many, many, many questions.  If you're not getting the answer you're looking for - ask someone else.  Keep asking until you are completely satisfied that you understand the answer you are receiving.  I do it all the time.  Yes, there's confidentiality - BUT if there is information you need to benefit the child, you are entitled to the answer.

You won't always know what questions to ask if you're new - they give you a list in training.  Use it!

As with everything else, with experience comes the knowledge of what questions to ask.

Your own children.
I can't stress this enough - make sure your children are on board.  They will ALWAYS need to come first and be your main priority.  Make sure they understand that it's more than a playmate in the home.  It can't be a selfish decision - what you want to do.  They really, really need to be a part of it.  I mentioned the incident with my son for a reason.  As wonderful as this is - it can really interrupt a family.

Our daughter is great with the kids that come through our home.  She is a born "little mommy."  She is always jumping in to help the kids & plays with them.  She's a great big sister.  That was one of the things I wanted for her & am thankful worked out so well BUT (yes, always a but) when the kids leave, she is DESTROYED!  This has become something I have had to work around.
One little girl we had was very difficult.  Our daughter could not wait until she left - but when she did, the second the little girl left our house, our daughter darted to her room in tears.  This was not what we wanted for her.  We talked to her about not taking in any more kids in the future & she was very clear to say that she wanted more kids, she just felt sad when they left.

We had to come up with a plan so our daughter wouldn't get hurt.  We talked about it and determined that as long as she doesn't see it, it doesn't happen.  So after that child - when we knew a child was leaving we'd pack them up together & when the child was actually leaving, our daughter would go for a play date.  She would say her good byes before & when she came home they were gone.  No problems.  This is what worked for us.

Find other Foster Parents to network with.
You don't need to be BFF's, but a network is wonderful.  There will be a time you may want to get away with just your biological family - it's better to KNOW the people your foster child is going into vacation placement with.  Otherwise they could end up anywhere.
The kids have already gone through so much, consistency is important for them.  Also, during the tough times - it's good to have someone to talk with that understands what you're dealing with.  Understands the system.

Stay informed & educated!
There are online classes & groups.  You are mandated to have a certain amount of instructional hours per year & per three year period for annual inspection.  These courses are brilliant.  I'm a mom - I've got 2 of my own & have had several come through.  I have learned so much more from these classes.  You'll be surprised at how much you didn't know!

Document the good stuff (and the bad).
Take notes, lots of them.  Be in touch with your case worker, take lots of pictures & have fun.  I try to keep a little diary of important things.  Since the invention of the digital camera & Snapfish - it's made it much easier to upload pix & put a little caption of what happened in this picture.  When a child leaves, they take it with them & have what may be the missing pieces to a part of their life they may need in the future.

It's not about you!
It's parenting.  You're #2 (take that anyway you want it.)
You ALWAYS need to remember - this will always be about the child.  It's not a pay check.  If you're relying on that money for a pay check - you shouldn't even be entering into this foray.
The stipend is less than the child support you'd receive from your significant other in a divorce/custody situation.
You WILL spend every single cent and then some on the child.  At least I do.

You WILL get your heart broken from time to time.
Part of taking in these children is loving and caring for them as if they were your own.  You form a bond.  Some of the children become adoptable.  You may or may not want to go that route.  Some of the kids go back.  Sometimes they go back to a good place, sometimes you don't know.  No matter what the situation - your heart will break a little each time.

If you're getting involved for the right reasons, you are giving this child a sense of self and family that they probably never had.  The most important things to give kids are roots & wings.
Think of the motto for the Peace Corp.  It's the toughest job you'll ever love.  It's difficult, it can be heat wrenching.  The children can be incredibly needy or angry or impaired.  You can and will fall deeply in love with this child, and they may leave.

Even a few months of love & positive example will make a lifetime of difference in a child's life.

I'm no saint.  I'm no angel.  My husband and I are truly lucky to have the opportunity to share in the lives of these kids.

The good, the bad & the ugly.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

Thank you for reading my blog!



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