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06/09/10 12:45 - 54ºF - ID#51835

Kids and plastic

When I read (e:Libertad)'s posts on plastic,

I meant to comment about my own frustrations in a similar area. With the kids came a whole lot of plastic and other cheap disposable items that just drive me nuts.

Any toy present from family/friends had a lot of plastic packaging and a lot of unnecessary packaging material period. We got a lovely firetruck set from my in-laws and I was astounded at the amount of plastic wrapping and cardboard packaging. When I first looked at the package, I thought it would be little more involved than opening a box and taking the truck out. But then I began to unwrap small parts covered in plastic, undo plastic ties, and pull apart cardboard packing. We also bought a few things for the kids when they first came and I was overwhelmed at the amount of packaging, plastic and otherwise, and I would have never guessed it was all in there from just looking at the box.

Foster son visits a fast food restaurant once a week as part of his special needs community based program (which is a WHOLE other issue) and gets a cheap plastic toy that he brings home and basically ignores.

Foster son and daughter both get cheap plastic things from their family during visits that are easily destroyed and some entirely ignored - leaving our house scattered with cheap plastic toys, that I can't just pitch because you need to be sensitive to the children in light of these gifts coming from their parents.

And apparently registering your child for PreK/K involves going from booth to booth and collecting paper coloring books and small plastic toys that, again, will be destroyed or ignored.

(e:drew) and I can make choices that eliminate bringing cheap plastic stuff into our house to an extent, but it's harder to control what happens outside of the house at school or with their family. And I do admit that I most definitely struggle with minimizing the "disposable" items and trying to reuse instead of buy new. With us both working and occupied with the kids when not working, trying to push forward with reuse, reduce, recycle gets difficult at time because it does take time and effort. But that leads into a whole other discussion down the road about lifestyle changes for (e:drew) and me.

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Permalink: Kids_and_plastic.html
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Location: Buffalo , NY

06/04/10 08:35 - 62ºF - ID#51796

Fear Mongerer

A woman stopped by our house a few nights ago. She was scoping out the neighborhood in advance offering to install alarm systems for free in exchange for posting a company sign in the yard. An alarm system company from Canada moving into the Buffalo area.

At this point, I was ready to tell her to go away, but she was a good saleswoman and knew how to keep the spiel going so we couldn't end the conversation without being really rude. And I have to admit, Ii was curious where she was going to go next....

And she thoroughly satisfied my curiousity as the friendly tone turned into fear mongering. She painted images for us of burglars coming in through our windows and moving all of our possessions back out of them all without a peep from our neighbors...or the fire that was certain to come in an old house like ours with an outdated electrical system... and have we ever seen Backdraft? Because that's the type of fire that is quietly smoldering away inside our house. And well, she has her own testimony. Heat sensors saved her children from exploding in a fire. Well, no, not really exploding, but nonetheless saved them from being burned to a crisp.

We said goodbye and walked away and I said loudly to Drew, She's a fear mongerer, I hope no one in the neighborhood takes her up on this offer ... hopefully loud enough for her to hear. I get tired of explaining to people (mostly co-workers) that living in Buffalo doesn't mean we're constant victims of crime. And I'd hate to see these signs in people's yards reinforcing this concept that Buffalo is a scary place requiring extreme levels of security to live safely in one's home.

So, who's going to help me take down security signs in the middle of the night when they go up in the neighborhood?

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe."
Proverbs 29:25

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Permalink: Fear_Mongerer.html
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Location: Buffalo , NY

05/28/10 09:52 - 68ºF - ID#51744

The good and bad of surprises

A bad surprise on this past Wednesday was when I was driving down Amherst. I looked to the left and then forward and then slammed into the truck in front of me.

The nice surprise was that the neighbors in the area were so friendly and trying so hard to help I practically had to beat them off with a stick. Actually, replace "beat them off with a stick" with "assure them repeatedly that we were going to be alright".

I gratefully accepted all the bottles of water, but declined car rides and invitations into their homes. I knew the husband was coming very shortly to pick up the kids and the tow truck was coming very shortly to tow the car and I wanted to be waiting outside and be ready for as soon as they came.

I think I'm going to take a few seconds to write thank you notes this weekend and drop them off in their mailboxes.
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Permalink: The_good_and_bad_of_surprises.html
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Location: Buffalo , NY

05/05/10 12:09 - 76ºF - ID#51508

Laugh of the Day

I thought this way funny, so I'm going to share this intro to an article on small child morality from the NY Times magazine

[box]Not long ago, a team of researchers watched a 1-year-old boy take justice into his own hands. The boy had just seen a puppet show in which one puppet played with a ball while interacting with two other puppets. The center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the right, who would pass it back. And the center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the left . . . who would run away with it. Then the two puppets on the ends were brought down from the stage and set before the toddler. Each was placed next to a pile of treats. At this point, the toddler was asked to take a treat away from one puppet. Like most children in this situation, the boy took it from the pile of the “naughty” one. But this punishment wasn’t enough ��" he then leaned over and smacked the puppet in the head. [/box]

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Permalink: Laugh_of_the_Day.html
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Location: Buffalo , NY

05/01/10 01:05 - 73ºF - ID#51486

School board update

Buffalo news gives their endorsements for the school board candidate (almost exactly who art voice advises against):

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Permalink: School_board_update.html
Words: 23
Location: Buffalo , NY

04/30/10 10:12 - 65ºF - ID#51476

School Board Elections

Get out and vote on May 4th in the School Board election. Even if you don't have children, the success of our schools will impact the success of our city.

This election you're voting for school board representatives of your district. See the map at the bottom of this site to figure out your district:

A Buffalo News Article gives a short summary of all the candidates in the different districts:

At the bottom of an Artvoice article on illegal campaign practices is a list of all the candidates by district.

Buffalo Rising has been covering the north district candidates which covers a lot of North Buffalo and a lot of the Elmwood Village area.

The above article links to each of the candidates websites.

Some information from the Candidates night on Tuesday:

Happy Reading!
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Permalink: School_Board_Elections.html
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Location: Buffalo , NY

04/23/10 09:18 - ID#51440

Five years down and 45 more to go

Seven and a half years ago, on a sunny August day, I cautiously met some guy from an online site on Temple's campus to grab a bite to eat.

Six years ago came a proposal on a beach in New Jersey while watching the sunrise.

Five years ago we said "I do" and made promises for forever followed by a fabulous and fun party.

Several adventures later, I wouldn't have done it any differently.

Happy Anniversary, Drew!
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Permalink: Five_years_down_and_45_more_to_go.html
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Location: Buffalo , NY

04/11/10 09:03 - 46ºF - ID#51369

First Vacation with the Kids

Highlights include:

Foster daughter at the zoo constantly asking where the animals were but never looking when we pointed them out.

Foster daughter always having to go poop when out in public and sharing that fact with a large audience of people.

Foster son puking on the steak dinner my father made after my father spent all night talking about how good the steaks were going to be and how expensive they were.

Foster son on the ride home pulling out his little friend and playing with it. I tried to explain that it was for private and not public, but I was laughing too hard and tears were rolling down my face. The husband had to turn around and handle that one.

Foster daughter kept calling the hand dryers in the bathroom hair dryers and kept asking to go outside "bear tracks" instead of bare foot.

Foster son sweetly pushing his sister on the swing. Then trying to push me. But miscalculated his distance from me and ended up being pushed over by me on my way back. He's a tough kid and he got off the ground with a smile. He definitely saw the humor.

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Location: Buffalo , NY

04/01/10 11:56 - 64ºF - ID#51307

It's more than everything changes

when you have foster children. It's all the normal "everything changes" of having children. New people enter your life, new schedules to rotate around, and new rules to follow. But it's a little bit more with foster care.

The new people aren't just school teachers and day care workers. There are the foster children's social workers (so far the number of social workers is at 4 and counting) who in some respects have greater say over the children's lives than we do. And the family members who are all watching us parent a child that biologically speaking is "theirs" and not "ours". All the while we're trying to be charitable with our time; hospitable with our home; and stay on the same page as a good team player.

The new schedule isn't just school and day care, it's regularly scheduled family visitations. So far enjoyable, because it's the only small break we have from the children since we don't have approved babysitters yet.

And it's submitting not to just the usual rules and societal norms of rearing one's children, but also it's submitting to the regulations of the county who ultimately is the temporary guardian of the children.

No complaints here. I'm just musing over the differences between caring for your own children and caring for foster children. If we ever have our own children, I think it will seem so different and less restricting! How will I raise my own children without 4 social workers and permission from the county to take them on vacation (Janelle says in good humor)?

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Permalink: It_s_more_than_everything_changes.html
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Location: Buffalo , NY

03/22/10 12:55 - 37ºF - ID#51247

Values in the workplace

I run a day program that teaches social skills and a work ethic. When my staff and I address social skills and work ethics, we occasionally bump heads. And the root cause is generally a difference in values that inform how we believe one should act. And I have to negotiate those differences, while thinking about how my values are informing my decision making process, and come up with a compromise or a decision that may be disliked by everyone involved. But that's the unfun part of being a supervisor, being the one to make decisions when others can't jointly come to a solution.

Otherwise, my values are something that I live out with out a lot of talk, unless staff/co-workers specifically ask me about it. And even then, I often answer cautiously and carefully. I know I live differently than other people in my work place and I don't mind explaining why. But when I give my answers I want to gently say what I think is right without trying to start any serious discussion, but I work with pretty opinionated people, so it can get pretty interesting pretty fast.

I get a lot of questions from people about foster care. Questions about kids and talking about kids seems to be a fairly popular topic and on the surface seemed harmless. I expected a lot of unsolicited advice, and I was prepared for biting my my tongue and moving on. I didn't expect simple statements to quickly become a source of judgment. And refuting those judgments could so easily become a fight over childraising values that I'm just not interested at having at work.

But so far I have been criticized for:
Not taking the kids to McDonalds or Chuck E Cheese
Fixing home cooked meals (sometimes vegetarian) instead of serving chicken nuggets and hot dogs
Putting a 3yo and 6yo to bed by 8pm
Allowing and encouraging foster son to play with a kitchen set Thinking it's great that the 3yo foster daughter loves to play in the back yard for long chunks of time - digging in the dirt, playing with a wheelbarrow, banging things around

Sometimes I battle over the topic, sometimes I let it go. But I couldn't let the comment about the kitchen set go. The kid loves food. The kid loves watching me make food. Seems pretty natural that he would also love playing with a kitchen set. And I wouldn't let the comment go about playing in the backyard. If she likes playing in the backyard, then she likes playing in the backyard. She also loves going for a walk and loves animals. I have a feeling she's going to be a nature lover when she grows up...not exactly something I'm planning on discouraging.

I guess I find it interesting, because if it was politics or religion, people would tread more carefully, but it seems like a free for all when it comes to children. Yet how you raise children, is a very deep reflection of your values in the same ways that politics and religion is.

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Location: Buffalo , NY



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