Monday, September 15, 2008

Um, that was interesting

The winds from Hurricane Ike affected us all the way up in Kentucky. On Sunday we had strong wind gusts for about 3 hours. They weren't THAT strong - I was still able to play frisbee with K-dog and take Hania outside in the wagon, but apparently strong enough to knock out power for over half of the state's population. Not even a drop of rain.

Our power was only off from 1pm Sunday to 7pm Monday, which isn't too bad considering that the official statement was that it would take "between 2 and 14 days" for full power to be restored in the metro area.

So the worst we fared was a little maneuvering with candles, and some lost dairy products. Not too bad considering what situations so many others are dealing with. It is interesting how quickly your thoughts turn to "emergency mode", when you think that you might not have power for two weeks. Thankfully we didn't have to put any of the plans to use. In case you are wondering, we took a family vote and we chose NOT to eat Keira. (:

This evening we had an impromptu neighborhood picnic after one of our dear neighbors (who is a chef at a large hotel) dropped by a ton of food to grill. It was a thoughtful little food drop, after only 24 hours without electricity! Everyone pitched in any food that was going to go bad overnight and we had a feast.

Tonight, I am thankful for good neighbors, a patient baby, prompt utility crews...and the impending use of my flat iron tomorrow morning. Amen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What's Cookin'?

I need structure. Would any of you have guessed that? I don't loooove structure, but it is truly necessary for me to function. I would prefer to fly by the seat of my pants more often, but the responsibilities that I currently juggle simply don't allow for it.

This need for structure also includes my blogging. Sure, there are some days that I just post pics of Hania, or talk about what we've been up to, and you can count on Freak Flag Fridays (which at one sick story per week, I can keep that segment up for at LEAST 3 years...), but generally I would like to count on a few set topics that might interest a number of the folks that visit.

So Sunday will officially be the day I post about the menu that I have planned for the week. I enjoy cooking, love trying new recipes, and try to balance healthy foods with a few splurges . Hopefully this may give someone another idea for dinner one night, with the added bonus of being able to answer my mother's eternal question that she always asked every day after school: "Who did you sit with? What did you eat? What did you learn?"

If the recipe is online I will link to it, or if it is particularly good I will write it out.
A little caveat: I try to make healthier choices when possible (light butter, low-fat cheese, low sodium versions of products, some organics, and attempt to use fewer processed foods).

What's Cookin' This Week?

Lemon, Rosemary, & Balsamic Grilled Chicken Thighs
Corn on the cob
Green salad

Chili-Roasted Cod
Carrot Coins with Maple-Balsamic Butter (go light on the butter)
Garlic cheese grits

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole
Green salad

Blackened Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo (yep, a splurge)
Oven roasted green beans w/ olive oil, salt & pepper

Grilled Tuna with Rain Forest Glaze
Sweet potato
Sugar snap peas

Friday, September 12, 2008

Freak Flag Friday - Mr. Naked Butt in Austin

First of all, I absolutely cannot believe it is Friday already.
T minus 6 days of work and counting. Reality is setting in, and I'm not sure how I will feel about it until I wake up Monday the 22nd and don't have to go in.

Who is flying the Freak Flag in this week's story?

Mr. Naked Butt in Austin

We have to go all the way back to 2001 for this scenario. Looking back at how wild my life was at that point, I'm not sure why this story would surprise me. I was doing a full-time unpaid internship for my masters program at a large Austin, TX hospital. The internship accounted for at least 35 hrs of my week. I was also working at the SAME hospital as the night/oncall social worker for the ER. Also, to make some extra money on the side, I did bedside registration in the ER. (totally not social work related, but good money nonetheless)
Needless to say, I was pretty tired ALL. THE. TIME. The internship hours basically ran straight into the registration job's evening hours, and I'm pretty sure at some point I was doing the ER oncall gig with a psychotic lady and went ahead and registered her just because I knew how. Helpful, aren't I? I think the staff at the hospital thought I was homeless, because they offered to let me keep some toiletries and a change of clothes there so I could use one of the physicians' sleep rooms, which came in handy.

Exactly how does this pertain to Mr. Naked Butt? I'm getting there...

Every day I saw about 10-15 ER patients that were there in the hopes of obtaining prescription drugs. Most of these folks were addicted, so you would try to encourage them to get into a voluntary treatment program, but most of the time they left when they figured out that our seasoned ER docs would not budge.

On this particular day I've been called down to the ER during my internship hours to help out with the large number of psych cases and/or drug seekers. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a man walking close to the med station. Very close. Wearing just a hospital gown. It is the same guy that I just arranged a slot at a methadone clinic for. He was a "regular" that came in weekly when his supply ran out, and consistently refused treatment, but this time he'd agreed to give it a try and I was pretty pleased with my little 22 year old self. And the last nurse just left out a bunch of vials and syringes in preparation for a patient. Ooh, this might not be good. I'm not a suspicious person, but something told me to keep an eye on this guy.

I turn my head for just a second and when I look back I'm greeted by his pink, scrawny butt. I do a double take (obviously!) and realize that upon closer inspection he has his hospital gown gathered up in the front in one hand. My mantra? "Please don't turn around, mister Naked Butt, please don't turn around!" It is all slow motion from this point on. He is raking large quantities of meds, vials, syringes off into his nightgown "basket" that he's made! And yes, he does turn around to look directly at me, with his little friend dangling in plain view. I'm desparately looking around for someone, oh, I dunno...someone OLDER, someone BIG, someone who is NOT an INTERN!

He realizes that I see him and takes off running toward the front door. So I do the only (non) logical thing that I can think of and take out running after him, hollering for someone to get security, someone has stolen some meds.
And you know what I was thinking? Not about the meds, nope, but that I had just spent the last 2 hrs trying to find him a spot at the clinic, begging and pleading with the clinic staff that "Yes, this time Mr. Naked Butt is really coming!", and I really don't want to see him again next week to repeat this scenario like Groundhog Day. Dammit, he's GOING to the clinic! The plan for what I'd do when I caught Mr. Naked Butt wasn't quite so clear.

He gave chase for about 4 blocks, and a security officer was hot on my heels. Mr. Naked Butt wasn't even looking back, still holding his makeshift basket of goodies while his...ahem...goodies were flapping in the wind.
Did I mention that that hospital is right on a major US highway that goes through Austin? I-35. He was running down the exit ramp and ONTO the highway. I'm worried because a) he has on no shoes, b) he is going to get hit in his frantic state, and c) I'm going to puke my guts out from sprinting and don't want to do it on the side of I-35 with cars whizzing past. I bet you're wondering what I'm hollering at him? "Stop dude, it's okay! It's all gonna be okaaaaaay!"
They didn't cover this chapter in my social work classes.

The security officer caught him safely (if tackling someone on the entry ramp to a major highway could be called safe) and he didn't return to the ER that day. Walking back into the ER was the worst Walk of Shame EVER. Lots of jokes about "did you really expect him to give you back the meds?", lots of jokes about how I could get a 4th job in the hospital if I had all that energy, lots of jokes about the look on my face when I saw his goodies. Ah, the experiences that made me the cynical, cold hard slap of reality that I am today! (cue Streisand's The Way We Were)

So here's to you, Mr. Naked Butt, for showing us the true meaning of persistence. And for having the balls to show up to the same ER and look me in the eye with a smile later that month, asking sweetly for a spot at the clinic.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Bernheim Forest with the Kelty

You know I couldn't post something without ANY words, right?
By the way, did you notice the blog touch up? Thanks to those fabulous Blogalicious girls, Staci & Stephanie, who offered to give me a little bloggy nip/tuck. Can't have the blog looking saggy, can we? If anyone is looking for a new blog design, these are your girls!

We went to Bernheim Forest again last weekend and tried out the Kelty kiddie backpack for the first time. It was INCREDIBLE! It felt like she might completely tip out of it while getting it on, but once you have the straps in place she was very secure.
Only one of these red heads is natural...
I know, don't be intimidated, I AM a fashion icon. If you'd like a closer look at any of these pictures, just click to enlarge. You know, if you want to see my "Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky" shirt. Tim Gunn would not be pleased.
Hania loved riding along, nibbling on organic graham crackers. Yes, I'm one of those dorky mamas that doesn't let the child have sugar until the 1st birthday. She's rollin' with her homies.
It was BugFest at Bernheim, so there were exhibits, craft tables, touch tables, etc for all of the older kids. Hania was more interested in the drummers. They were singing African songs and she really got into it, beating on the drums, attempting to climb on the huge xylophone.
This is her looking up when she heard that they incorporated her name into one of the songs. "Who? Me?"
That wasn't very "wordless", was it?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Freak Flag Friday - intro & the Womb-Smiter

I've been thinking about doing this series for a while now. Let me explain. I'm going to be leaving my social work job in exactly 15 days to be a stay-at-home-momma. This field of work has practically defined me for the better part of my adulthood. My social work positions over the past 9 years have provided me with stories galore. Stories you wouldn't believe. Stories you won't want to believe. Stories that I really don't want to forget. Oh, I assure you that there have been many touching and beautiful moments, but I'm only going to be writing about the over-the-top out-of-control (usually hilarious) moments each and every Friday. Every story has one common denominator: someone felt the need to fly their freak flag proudly!

I've already written about the burrito escapade, which you can read about here.

Who's flying the Freak Flag this week? The Womb-Smiter

While living in Atlanta I worked as a foster home recruiter and trainer for a therapeutic foster care agency. "Therapeutic" means that the children that we place in our foster homes were not your sweet little newborns. Typically they are older children who have experienced significant abuse and neglect, which means that they are likely to have learned negative behaviors as a means of survival. "Like back talking" you ask? Um, no. Like poo smearing. 24/7. Or inappropriately touching other children in the home, if ya' get my drift. Big stuff.

My job was to train the classes of prospective foster parents, and help them to decide if doing this type of foster care would be right for them. Obviously you want people who are mentally stable. Who know how to handle children. Who are patient and kind. Who at least have put their freak flag at half mast for the sake of appearances. The class is called a "mutual selection" process, meaning that they can select to leave at any time if they feel it isn't right for them, or I as the leader can select them to leave the class if I feel they are not appropriate candidates.

Enter Mrs. Peach (names changed to protect the freak-flag fliers). She seems like the perfectly groomed Southern grandmother in her late 50's, who wants to love a child out of their negative behaviors. Frosted pink lipstick - check. A different Vera Bradley bag to match each outfit - check. Big hair that I can't discern if it is a wig or real hair - check. Everything down to the comfortable chair is labeled as a blessing - check. She was adamant that she hoped to adopt and would settle for nothing less. There was always something about Mrs. Peach that made me slightly uncomfortable, as if she was always attempting to manipulate the flow of the class, or the way that she always waited until I was alone to talk with me as I cleaned up.

One afternoon she began talking about her grandchildren. Apparently they were in the foster care system and she was not allowed to get custody of them, so eventually they were adopted by an unrelated family. Strange. Then she disclosed that she wasn't allowed to see the children, but she had no idea why this was the case. Really? She also said that when she found children to adopt, she would force them to change their first names to the names of her grandchildren that she missed so much. Whoa! She wanted her foster children to be the same ages as her grandchildren and hopefully look similar. Creepy. This isn't Mickey D's lady, we don't pick them up at the 2nd window!

When she returned the next week I knew that we had some serious issues to discuss. I was leaning towards selecting her out due to her obviously unresolved issues about the grandchildren, but maybe a talk would help to clarify her situation? I waited until Mrs. Peach and I were the last ones in the building. I took the opportunity to discuss my concerns, starting out by saying that she obviously was still very hurt about the situation with the grandkids. SHE. WENT. BERSERK! Attention readers: The Freak Flag was officially flying high, no longer at half mast! She said that she always got what she wanted. Her case in point? The fact that she had stalked her grandchildren's' adoptive family, broke into their vacation home while they were staying there, and told the kids to start packing up they were going with grandma. She snuck out with the kids and faced abduction charges! Oh, and did I mention that she brought a gun to this abduction? Then she brought God into it. I was going to hell because He wanted her to "replace" her grandchildren and I was standing in the way of destiny. She was going to become a certified foster parent "no matter what it takes".

Now I've had many uncomfortable conversations in which I encouraged people to hold up on the classes. I've asked couples to continue working through their grief related to infertility before pursuing our difficult and emotionally draining level of foster care. I've had to tell people that their home is too dirty. I've even confronted a registered sex offender after I got his background check back. But nothing compared to this level of discomfort. I actually felt afraid and was mentally calculating if I could reach the exit if necessary, or use her big wig/hair against her as a weapon.

Finally I made a break for it, slid past her and started walking out the front door, hoping she would follow me on her rant. Worked like a charm. But not before she threw a few more insults at me. From the middle of the parking lot she yells at the top of her lungs: "I SMITE YOUR WOMB!" Wha? Huh? Whatever, just get the car and drive. Fast. Then on the way home I'm thinking about the "smiting". We Presby-Catholics just don't discuss the smiting all that often, really, so it is a new term to me. I was prepared for her to tell me I was a dumb b*@%# or something, but the smiting just clinched it for me that she was a certified lunatic.
We got a good laugh out of it at work and felt like we dodged a bullet. Can you imagine an already traumatized foster child living in that home?

Oh, don't think that I ever forgot about that comment. Every time I was ready to break out the good ol' First Response test little Miss Smitey Pants snuck back into my mind. But then I reassured myself that no, she didn't really have the power to do that. Three years later, little Hania was born. *Big sigh of relief*

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be social workers!


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