The Blanchard Bunch

The Blanchard Bunch

Saturday, January 14, 2012

See, what happened was...

December 16th we officially became a family of 9 again when Chelsea came to stay with us. I received a call around 12:15 am asking if we could take a “special case” teenager. Thankfully, her “special case” was just that she’s already 18, but is required to stay in foster care until she is 19. No biggie there for us.

Chelsea is from a different county and different DCS region than us, which is about an hour away from our house. We were told that the DCS worker on call in her home region would get her and meet us at the shopping center near our house. We gave them plenty of time to get everything together and get on the road to meet us around 1:30 am and then Sissy and I headed out to meet them. We decided to pick up the few things we had on our shopping list while we waited for them to arrive. Just as we got started, the DCS case worker called to tell me they hadn’t left yet and that because he was a guy (duh!) and the one on call, he would have to have someone else with him to transport Chelsea to us. That someone had to drive the hour from their house to where he was, they then had to go get Chelsea and then they could head our way. He figured it would be about 4:30 when they arrived. Needless to say, we were more than a little upset. If they had said this in the beginning, we would have just gone on to sleep and then woken up around 4. Sigh…welcome to working with certain DCS folks.

Anyway, I told him that they would just need to come on out to our house at that time. Knowing that the roads would be relatively clear of traffic, I got up a few minutes earlier than planned and it’s a good thing I did, because they showed up about a half an hour early. Once again, I was given charge of a child who had nothing with them but the clothes on their back. The guys didn’t even think to ask her if she had anything with her, or where her clothes were, before they left. The first time they thought about it was when I asked her if she brought anything with her. Thankfully, she was able to wear some of my pajamas, so she could at least had something clean and comfortable to sleep in.

We went shopping the next morning so she would have a few things to get her through the weekend. She was only supposed to be with us until that Monday, but having worked with DCS for almost 17 months now, I know that’s code for “we have absolutely no idea what to do with her and you’re going to have her for an indefinite period of time.” Obviously, she didn’t think that was true and fully expected to be back at her previous location on Monday.

After the ‘emergency placement meeting’ on Tuesday, it was decided she would stay with us until she turns 19 in June. Because she is 18, there really was no other option for her. Foster homes aren’t really approved for 18 year olds, as the kids generally age out of the system on their 18th birthday and almost no one will take a teenager anyway. There are only a couple of facilities that will take an 18 year old, and as she ran from one of them, she was pretty much out of options.

Thankfully, she’s a good kid and has fit in around here pretty well. She has her issues, as do we all, but it’s nothing we can’t handle. It killed her the first week or so that she didn’t have any chores to do; she really wanted to pitch in and do something to help out. That’s always a good sign, in my eyes! We did finally get some of her clothes later that first week, but the rest of her stuff was still in her old room. Her case manager went on vacation for two weeks, so she just now got the rest of it this week. Sadly, when they packed up her things, they broke several items that were of special sentimental value to her. I was able to fix a couple of them, but the most prized one was broken beyond repair. That realization hit her hard; so hard that she took to her bed for the rest of the day and night. I don’t understand how people who work with these kids can be so careless with their belongings. It baffles me.

Chelsea is not a hugger, but she has had to endure a few of them since she arrived. I’ve only seen her cry a couple of times and when I see people cry, my instinct is to hug them. I do try to give her fair warning that a hug is coming so she can brace herself, but I’ve also gotten in a few sneak-attack-hugs as well. She’ll live.

Chelsea loves to run. I have no idea why. I have never understood why anyone in their right mind would want to run, but she seems to enjoy it. Even though it was super cold here today, she went for a jog. She came back all happy and hyped up, so I guess it’s good for her.

She loves to read and is very smart. At one point, she was reading three books at once. She loves Stephen King (another point in her favor) and also loves the classics. She thoroughly enjoyed Wuthering Heights, the only novel by Emily Bronte, and one of the few classics I did not like. At all. Heathcliff irritates the daylights out of me. So, we’ll just have to agree to disagree about that one.

Chelsea is hoping to be able to get a job soon. We were hoping to get her enrolled in Pellissippi for the spring semester, but since her case manager was on vacation until after the enrollment deadline, that will have to wait until next semester. Once we get her ID, she will be able to actively hunt for a job. It will give her something to do during the day and will also help her to save some money for when she does age out of foster care and will be out on her own. She has an appointment next week with the Independent Living Counselor at DCS. Hopefully, she will come away from that meeting with a lot of good information and will be able to start thinking about what she will do come June.

Until then, she’s one of the Blanchard Bunch and we love her very much. 

You Are Here

Todd got the Netflix streamer up and running today. The hobbits started out watching the original Hello Kitty cartoon series from 1987 and then moved on to “The Princess and the Pony.” They are so excited that they can choose special programs just for them and watch them on the big TV with Daddy.

The big kids and adults will also have their choice of movies and TV shows to watch, but the little girls get to enjoy the luxury first. Very rarely do they get to do things first because they are so young, so this is a special treat for them. Once they’re in bed, I’m sure Bones, Law and Order, and horror movies galore will reign. For now, however, it’s all about princesses and ponies.

Sissy is doing much better. After 4 days in the hospital and an upper and lower GI scope, we finally got a diagnosis. She has a H. Pylori bacterial infection. It’s a nasty little bugger that causes all kinds of terrible problems. She’s been on antibiotics for about a week now, and while they come with their own set of issues, we’re confident they will work and she will soon be pain and bacteria free. Thankfully, she’s been able to eat a bit more lately. There’s still some nausea on occasion, but so far she’s been able to handle it. She’s dealing with this whole mess like a champ, and I’m very proud of her for that.

She and I came home from the hospital with a nasty cold. It was more of a flu-like virus that kicked our butts. She seemed to get over it a lot faster than I did and I’m grateful for that. I’ve still got a cough because of the congestion, but I’m feeling tons better. I’m pretty sure Derrick, Chris and Chelsea caught it from us, too. Chris bounced right back after a couple of days, but Chelsea and Derrick have been fighting it for over a week now.

Derrick is also dealing with a burn on his arm from where he tripped over clothes in the kitchen floor and spilled the boiling water for his soup all over. That was not a text I was expecting at 12:30 am while sitting in Sissy’s hospital room. I had him send me a picture and his arm was definitely red. Lots of cold water and a couple of hours later, most of it had faded away. There was one spot that blistered up, again not a text and picture I was expecting, but he did a great job of keeping it cool and covered and it’s healing up nicely.

Amanda also caught the virus from Sissy and me, but she decided to one-up us and has been running a fever with it almost the whole time. The highest was 102, but she averages about 101. She missed three days of school last week because of it and still feels like crud today. She wants to go clothes shopping tomorrow for the Military Ball on the 27th, but we’ll have to see how she’s feeling in the morning before we make that decision. I am not taking a contagious, grumpy child out into the world if I can help it! Especially since it’s a bit early for the shops to have formals on the racks and that’s what she needs for the Ball; we’ll have to traipse all over Knoxville to find one, I’m sure. Having both of us in top form would be a huge help! Yes, I will post pictures once we find “the one.”

Todd got most of the guttering up last weekend and was going to finish it today, but it was way too cold. He tried his best, but that icy wind was just too much. Not one to sit and do nothing, he got lots of things in place for our electronics and had a great day with the hobbits. He even found time to go work out. I’ve been watching One Tree Hill with Sissy most of the day and writing. Writing is such a great way for me to clean out the cobwebs in my mind and get a fresh perspective on life. I definitely need to write more often. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

What If?

Take a minute. Think about who and what in your life is causing you pain and grief. It can be anything: a relationship, a regret about something you did or didn't do, a dream you should have let go a long time ago, truly anything. What would you give up if you were strong enough to let it go?

Now, think about who and what are important enough, bring you the most joy and happiness, that you would keep them in you life forever. This list shouldn’t include anyone or anything that causes you pain or grief; no matter how much you want to hold on to them. If it’s hurtful to you, it shouldn’t be here. This list is for those things that add joy and meaning to your life; people and things that make your heart smile and those who would never think of hurting you or making you unhappy.

How long are each of those lists? How many people and things help make your life happy and complete? How many things are you holding on to that you should have let go a long time ago? How much of your life are you wasting on being unhappy because of them?

Now, ask yourself another question: Why? Why are you holding on to the things that hurt you? Why are you letting them take up valuable space in your life? Why are they so important to you that you are keeping them in your life and allowing yourself to be hurt instead of releasing yourself from their grip?

What are you waiting on? What has to happen before you finally realize that it’s time to let them go?

What if, just for today, you decide to concentrate on the positive things in your life? What if you only allow those people and things who bring you happiness and make your life better to be a part of your day? Try this: every time something negative tries to creep into your day, stop what you’re doing and push it away. Don’t take the call from the person who always upsets you, no matter who they are; that is what voice mail and answering machines are for. Banish those negative thoughts as soon as they pop into your head; force yourself to think about something positive instead. How much happier could you be by the end of the day?

Is it going to be easy? No, not at first; it’s going to be hard, really hard. But, it will get easier. Most of us are so enslaved to the negative people and things in our lives that we don’t even notice it. However, once you start consciously working on only letting the positives into your life you’ll see just how much the negatives affected you and how much energy you spent dealing with them instead of on being happy.

How long it takes to get to the point of waking up one day and realizing that you don’t have to tell yourself to concentrate on the positives and to avoid the negatives because it will be automatic will depend solely on you. The quicker you take away the power of the negative people and things in your life, the sooner you will find yourself happier, healthier, and more energized than ever. You won’t be wasting your time and energy combating negative people, things, emotions and feelings in your life; you’ll be celebrating your triumphs and happiness. You’ll wonder how in the world you used to let all those negative things take up so much of your life and rob you of so much happiness.

What if you decide to start today?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Relationship Abuse

This is a topic I've never really thought much about in the past beyond questioning why someone would let another person hurt or abuse them and not walk away immediately. My parents raised me to believe that allowing anyone to hurt me was completely and totally unacceptable and anyone who did so should immediately be thrown out of my life and never allowed back in. I've always lived by that rule and have never let anyone lay a finger on me and made sure Derrick understood the importance of this rule his whole life.

Lately, however, the pervasiveness of relationship abuse/domestic violence has come to my attention and it is something that bothers me greatly. Knowing that boys are just as likely to be victims of abuse as are girls and being a mother of currently seven children (two boys and five girls), it scares me to death to think what could happen to them if they don't have the self-esteem and self-worth to adhere to this basic rule.

Over the past sixteen months of being a foster parent, I have learned that so many of the children in foster care have been abused by the people in their lives who were supposed to be protecting them and by others who claimed to love them. I know this type of abuse is not limited to children in foster care, but is prevalent in all aspects of society and in all age brackets.

In my opinion, it takes a sick, twisted individual to make a person think that being abused and told told they are worthless is "love." After so many years of this type of abuse, the abused person starts to believe they don't deserve anything better and can't comprehend real love, the kind that doesn't come with emotional or physical pain. Their hearts and minds want more and want to believe there is more out there, something better, something that brings true happiness, but they honestly don't know how to go about finding it, much less accepting it. Never having experienced this type of abuse myself, it seems strange to think that someone's comfort zone, the place where they feel "safe" and "secure" is in a place where they are physically and/or mentally harmed by the person they love. It boggles my mind to know that it is easier for those that have been abused to allow it to continue, rather than walk away.

After hearing a few first-hand accounts of abuse and watching certain individuals struggling with how to get away from it, or making excuses as to why they should stay, including the most common, "I love him/her" I started searching the internet for information to help me understand this issue a little better. I will never be able to fully understand or accept why anyone would want to stay with their abuser, but I can at least understand the psychology behind it. One good thing I have found in all of my reading is that it is possible for those that have been abused to get away from their abuser(s) and, with the proper professional help and  support from those that really love them they can break the cycle. They can heal the emotional and physical wounds, gain self-confidence, self-esteem and move on to lead very happy lives and never allow anyone to abuse them again.

Here are some sites I have found particularly helpful or enlightening:

Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships:


Center For Relationship Abuse Awareness 

Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Prevention and Support at Stanford 


My hope is that if someone reading this blog is a victim of abuse, or knows of someone who is, these sites and the information they contain will help them to break the cycle and get the help they need. If you know of any other helpful sites or information, please feel free to post them in the comments section. 

Happy New Year (Maybe Not)

It's day 3 at Childrens' Hospital with Sissy. I suppose since we're in a waiting pattern, I figure now is a good time to update my blog. We're here now because she's been having stomach pain for over two months now and the doctors have ruled out everything they can without an upper and lower GI Scope. Over the past few months we've been to the doctor's office, specialist's office, and ER more times than I can count. She's had two CT Scans, at least two X-rays, multiple ultra sounds, and just about every lab test known to man. She was originally scheduled for the scopes this coming Thursday, but her symptoms got so much worse on Saturday that we had to bring her to the ER. After consulting with her GI specialist, they decided to admit her. I'm glad they did because she was so ill New Year's Eve, we definitely needed their help. We rang in the New Year with her her in pain and tears and me crying right beside her. Todd was here to hug us both, and I know that helped us both emotionally.

It was hard being away from the rest of our children at midnight. I definitely prefer being with my whole family for holidays and important events. The text messages we were able to exchange did let me tell them how much I missed and love them, but it wasn't the same as being able to hug each of them and say it to them face to face. Todd brought all the girls up to the hospital New Year's Day so they could see Sissy and me, which was very nice. Derrick didn't come because he was feeling rather sick and Chris was at his grandmother's. The little girls were fascinated with Sissy's IV and had a thousand questions about it. Once that curiosity was satisfied, they discovered the storage cabinets under the couch. They spent the next hour or so climbing in and out of them and deciding they want a set for their new room that they can sleep in. Not too sure about that one, but it's a thought. :-)

Saturday night, once she got to feeling a little bit better, Sissy and I were able to sleep in between visits from nurses and PCAs. Sunday night wasn't quite as restful. She had a hard time sleeping and was up until a bit after 2 am. I wasn't quite so lucky and couldn't fall asleep until near 5 am. Her doctor came in around 10 am and gave her the option to increase her diet and if she could tolerate it, go home this afternoon. Then, starting at 10 am tomorrow, she would have to start the clean out regimen and be back at the hospital  Thursday morning for her GI Series. OR, she could do the clean out regimen today and the series tomorrow and get it over with. Let's see...have her try to eat and hope it stays down, then put her through a rougher clean out procedure tomorrow or just go the easy way and do it today. Obviously, we chose to stay and get it over with on Tuesday. Our hope is that we will have a definitive answer as to what is causing her issues and be able to get it fixed as soon as possible.

I've been through this procedure twice already with Amanda and Derrick. It doesn't get any easier the third time around. It kills me to watch my kids suffer, even if I know it's only a temporary pain that will quickly lead to permanent relief. You would think that knowing what to expect would make it easier to deal with, but it doesn't. It still rips your heart out to watch them suffer and know you cannot take away their pain or make it any better. Right now, I've got Sissy at the hospital utterly miserable, Derrick and Amanda at home feeling sick, Chelsea dealing with sinus issues, and the hobbits recovering from a little cough from allergies or maybe a slight cold. I'm pretty sure this is not the way any of us wanted to start off 2012. Todd's running back and forth between home and hospital taking care of all of us, as only he can. Thank God I am married to such a wonderful husband and father!!!!