Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I'm debating whether to come back to this blog, yet again. Partly because many things I would like to write about I fear I will disrupt confidentiality. So, I am going to attempt to restore some anonymity, and play around a bit with it while I decide.

Given yesterday was Thanksgiving, I thought I would work my way back in by giving thanks. I am, of course, thankful for my parents, brother and other family members and friends that have always been a constant in my life. But most of all these days I am thankful for my husband and the life and partnership we share together. I am thankful he loves me enough to put up with my quirks and let me know how much he loves and appreciates my strengths. I am thankful for the little family unit and happy life we have created with our dog and cat in our little humble home.

I am also very thankful for the path my career has led me on. I am so grateful that I have been able to make positive connections with clients and professionals so that I maintain respected among my peers and appreciated for the work I am capable of. I am so thankful that those professional relationships have led me to the new job I will be in full time come January. It's been a disappointing month to learn that the agency I work for will not sustain the school mental health program I have been a part of for three years. I hate that my kids at the school will possibly be losing that very necessary service in their community. But I am fortunate that I can move forward to help other families and hope to ensure I link all my current kids to appropriate services as I leave.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I've neglected to post anything for awhile because I have been very busy and very tired. School is done. My school is now closed permanently. There has been a lot of possible changes thrown around about where I will be in the fall. It's now come full circle that I will remain at the school I was intended to transition to. We've started camp, it's a nice change of pace but already exhausting. On top of the schools, I am now working every weekend at the Crisis Center I cover shifts at, at least until mid July. In addition to that, I have been offered the position at the treatment office I recently interviewed at. I will be providing treatment to kids and families who have experienced trauma, are involved with DCS or have special needs. I should be doing this only 10-15 hours a week, so hopefully I don't completely burn out doing all three of these jobs at once.

Needless to say, with all this working and wedding planning going on (we're coming into all the busy details now with less than three months to go), I've little time or drive to write on the blog. I'll probably get back into it soon. I often write things in my head, I just don't post them. I think some things lately are too close to breaking confidentiality or they are things I just don't wish to share. So, you may not see much on here for a bit, but I am sure it won't last long.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Talent Shows, my new side business

I think I mentioned before I had agreed per some of my clients' request to help coordinate a talent show for the entire school. As soon as I committed I began to wonder why. I had so many kids sign up, I had to hold auditions. I hated to pick and choose. Social worker me, I wanted to include everyone. But, I had a teacher and the music teacher help me pick out the participants. Once that was set, I then had kids walking into my room at various points of the day, every day, to talk about what they were doing, when they could practice, etc. I was happy to help them facilitate what they needed for the performance, but I had to get snippy when kids just started walking in my room. I already have that problem with teachers- walking in without knocking. Confidentiality is a paradigm not all teachers understand. . . .

But as we got down to the wire, I had three students (who are also three of my clients) hosting the show and they worked hard to help me organize and get things together. We had some amazing performances and some that seemed to go on forever, as happens with elementary school talent shows. I got lots of great feedback from the teachers and I think many of the students enjoyed. I think the participants particularly got a thrill from the excitement and applause. All in all, I would probably do it again. Now that I know how to organize it a little better and make sure I have plenty of allocated time for rehearsals.

The side story is in the midst of coordinating the script, who was performing when and such, was that the principal almost put an end to it when one of the students was found to have pictures of naked men on the camera she had brought in to take photos of the show. She wasn't aware they were on there, but they were there. . . scandalous and made the afternoon all the more crazy, on top of the usual afternoon blow ups.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Experiencing work related trauma

My friend and the school social worker noted in our staffing team meeting today that we have not perhaps spent enough time this year debriefing our traumas. Trauma seems like such a significant word with so much heaviness to it. Trauma is the word I attribute to the children who are severely abused in various ways, experience extreme violence, house fires and other major horrific events. But she is right, we as the professionals have repeatedly been subjected to trauma throughout this year.

In this year, I have been attacked physically more than I ever was working in residential. I've been verbally accosted by kids and parents. I have played a role in supporting initial disclosures and treatment of significant sexual and physical abuse and other trauma with many children on my case load this year. I know two families that have lost all their possessions to house fires. I know at least five (maybe more) families that have lost a close family member to gun violence in the past six months. I have been threatened by a colleague I should be collaborating with, who instead made me feel like she wanted me removed from my job. And as egotistical as it may sound, I did not in any way deserve to be removed or threatened in such a manner. I am good at what I do. You have to engage with this woman and see how she operates and communicates with others to understand the stress she caused for not only me, but many teachers and other staff.

The school has functioned this year in a constant state of crisis, only worsening as the year progresses towards the end. The cycle of each school year always makes things challenging in the late spring, last months of the semester. But with the closure of the school and lack of a cohesive team or school, it has been much worse this year. Going from one crisis to another, we have had no time to really debrief as one should when there has been a major trauma. The lack of a team as compared to what was in place at the school last year has left me often feeling very isolated, with only the support of the school social worker. I think if we didn't have at least some moments with each other to vent (they are hard to get sometimes because we are so busy), I would have had an even greater struggle. In addition to the increased professional isolation within the school, my position is one that I am left to be very autonomous. Although I like this in many ways, I do not have the supervision and clinical support that I have come to realize all social workers need, regardless of skill level.

The scariest part is I started to believe, this is just the path I have chosen. This is what I am supposed to be able to handle each day. If I can't handle all the abuse, maybe I'm not as good of a social worker as I thought I was.

I know these thoughts are incorrect. I know I deserve a reasonably healthy working environment, despite the high needs of a population I may work with. I know I deserve to work among a supportive and collaborative team. I've had it before, and I think we as individuals do our jobs better when there is collaboration and support from those around us. I just hope I can attain some sense of that next year . . .

Did I mention the nine days? Actually, it is eight with Memorial Day holiday. Sweet.

On a lighter note- a parent actually picked their child up on the family's horse today. This is an urban neighborhood, y'all. At least there are those moments to shake your head and laugh about.

I thought I left shoplifting in the past with other childhood risk taking.

I stopped by the drug store on my way to the second job tonight, mainly to pick up anti-itch cream for my third bout of poison ivy (so far this year). Our yard is plagued with all sorts of itch causing contaminants and random plants. We are working on eradicating them.

So, I get my anti-itch cream, decide to treat myself to a carbonated beverage, and walk right out the door. I realized as soon as I walked out that I had forgot to pay for my two items. I freaked out and walked back in, waiting for alarms to sound and someone to place me in handcuffs. In reality, I probably would have never gotten caught. The cashier was oblivious to most things around her. But, I managed to wait in line and add a pack of gum to my purchase.

Can we say exhaustion? Nine days of school left. . . .that is the current mantra, subtracting one each day.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Two weeks to go

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had much to say. Just busy, tired and extremely stressed. We've got two weeks left at the school. I've agreed to do a talent show, which has put me in an unusual position given my role at the school is somewhat of an outsider (working with an outside agency). I've got all these kids that are now seeking me out for support and guidance on their performance or whatever is on their minds. "Miss Lisa, Can you be my mentor, too?" They don't get it. On top of agreeing to do this to facilitate some closure for the kids, I am dealing with daily driving one of my kids to partial (intensive daily outpatient treatment) on top of everything else that goes along with the last two weeks of the school year. Teachers and staff, including myself, are wiped out and we are just trying to maintain as best we can to make it through the end.

I'm also working out the second job thing. I've been connected with a therapy position at another agency that I can do in the evenings part time, and I will be picking up shifts at the crisis center I worked at during grad school. We'll see how this goes. I need the extra money, but I am not sure what my threshold is for working with kids and families who have been abused or are at high risk in other ways. Can't hurt to try though right?

So far, I have managed the last couple weekends to really enjoy myself and get what I want out of them. I need the time in order to survive the upcoming week. We were going to take care of some wedding stuff today, but have decided instead to work around the house, work in the yard and engage in our hobbies (me on the pottery wheel and Luke with his playstation 3). The wedding stuff can wait. There's plenty of time and I just need to get through the next two weeks.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mother's Day Brainstorm

I am at my other school today, the one I am at only one day a week (but slated to be full time here next year). It's nice and quiet compared to my Monday-Thursday school. The therapist here yesterday does a weekly group. It appears that she probably had the boys in the group make Mother's Day cards. There's a lovely list of brainstormed ideas of what they could write. It made me smile, so I wanted to share:

You are:
a good cook
supercalafragalistic (this is how they spelled it on the board, I really have no clue how that should be spelled.)
a great mom
a wonderful mom
a special mom
an adorable mom

You take good care of me.
You listen to me.

The Facebook Dilemma

I have been thinking about rejoining Facebook. But, I continue to resist the urge to succumb to this form of communication. Once there was a time when email was considered impersonal. Now we stay in touch with each other by status updates? Part of my problem is I have a tendency to over personalize things. Missing out on certain information with friends or certain events, because I am not on Facebook. I tend to find it a little hurtful, although I know it is not personal. That is really the only reason I would rejoin- because I feel like I am missing out.

Also, part of my personal insecurities are simply the fact that my relationships have begun to change. With Luke, I have established a happy and more domestic life. We do not have money to go out very often, so we don't. I am not intentionally anti-social with others, although sometimes I fear my friends might think that I am. Paranoia. It's a sad thing.

So, due to these fears, I think maybe I should get back on Facebook. Maybe I just have to accept that this is the evolution of communication among loved ones. It's the fast track to feel connected to each other when we are far apart and/or too busy to actually call or email each other. But, I just don't want to accept that. I think if we want to sustain our relationships, we can and should make the time. I am speaking about myself here, too. I know I need to be better about communicating and keeping up with loved ones. But, I am thinking I would like to be better about writing letters and making phone calls, not letting everyone know on Facebook in a status statement that I am tired at work today, or plan to see Star Trek this weekend.

So, the internal debate continues. . .

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Let's Hear It for the East

I think I will encourage Luke to go to grad school on the east coast. They definitely seem to meet my liberal needs more than our current living environment. Let's hear it for civil rights being expanded to now the state of Maine.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My accomplishment of the day

After working at school all day and then working (albeit, it was pretty easy) at the crisis center all evening yesterday, I managed to get up this morning and do a full 25 minute run on my own. Granted, Luke had to poke me to get out of bed a little. And for those who have lived with me they know me and mornings don't always mix. But I ran it without him, without stopping. I'm pretty proud.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I need a dessert

I am always trying to improve my cooking now that I have someone to cook for on the regular, who can't seem much to cook for himself. I think he's just spoiled, although he did once put nutmeg on chicken as a primary (and I think the only) seasoning.

I'll soon be working a second job every weeknight in the evenings, so I am planning out our weekend meals to allow for left overs and plan to pre cook meals that can be heated throughout the week. I've planned our food for the next two weeks. Within that time, we will have our one year anniversary. We have agreed we are not making a huge deal of it or spending money, but I have a homemade gift or two in mind and want to make a nice dinner.

I also need a dessert. Desserts are requested almost nightly but rarely available unless I've picked up a pint of Ben and Jerry's or a bag of ginger snaps. I need desserts in general I am willing to make, and preferably won't defeat my fitness goals, but how easy is that? I subscribe to loads of food blogs, a few dessert specific, but can't find anything I feel like making. Any suggestions out there? I needs some tasty ideas that aren't too complex. I am all about spending time on an entree or any savory dish but I lose patience with desserts. Maybe if I had better baking gear . . .

Give me any suggestions, please.

18 Days

That is how long I have left at my current school (counting only school days) before it closes permanently. I am both relieved and frightened by that day count. (We've had one other school in the district close this week for the flu epidemic, and I've joked that I wish our school would so I would have even fewer days.) I picked up a handful of new kids on my case load toward the end of this school year. Most of them are kindergartners with very difficult behaviors. I am doing my best to support the children, hopefully teach them some skills and alleviate the stress of the teachers, but I don't feel like much can be accomplished in a month to two months. Plus, in the summer it is so hard to engage the families that I work with and maintain consistent treatment. It's maintenance- that feels like that is all I can do at this point for some of my families. For the ones who are engaged and really want my services, it is different, but that is a small percentage.

I was feeling edgy all day yesterday and I think my anxiety is increasing about all the factors that will come with the closure of this school that has been open for I believe 75-100 years. It is one of the last components holding together a community that is falling apart. Like many communities on the East side and other parts of Indianapolis that used to be considered thriving, the area surrounding my school is overloaded with gun and gang violence, drugs, and an ever increasing lack of respect for people and buildings surrounding the area. It seems at least weekly there is a gun fatality in the neighborhood over the past two months. Many of the kids I work with seem to always somehow be related to each person killed. (There's a lot of intermingling between couples, I do believe. Everyone is every one's cousin.)

Any important community components such as central shopping/grocery and the fire station have all been long shut down. Even the Village Pantry, the local convenient store mecca, was shut down last year. Hence the reason really for the school closing. As much as Dr. White, the school district's superintendent does things and makes decisions that I am not happy with, I understand the economics of the school closures. Eight schools last year and six this year, mostly due to lowering enrollments and budget restraints.

But there is such a personal side to this. 300 teachers, nine of them nominated for teacher of the year, are slated to be laid off. Many teachers that could are not retiring because of the losses in their retirement savings and changes in retirement packages offered by IPS. The teachers who have only worked one to three years are the teachers most at risk to lose their jobs. For the families that live in the community, some of them went to the school that their child now attends. While there seems an ambivalence in some neighborhoods, our closure meeting with the superintendent was one of the highest attended by families and one of the most heated. There are those who remain in this neighborhood because it is a part of who they are; they do have a sense of community. And now that is all being essentially lost with the closure of the school.

So, following that tangent, there in lies some of my anxiety. I am worried about this community in general. I worry that the kids I love have no real safe place to go for leisure and positive experiences. I worry that as the school exits, the community is essentially left with nothing to hold on to.

On a personal level and in working with the kids on my caseload, I worry about the kids I know I will have a hard time keeping up with in the summer and what they will be up to without positive support. I worry about the kids I have had in treatment for more than two years, but still need ongoing support (They will be transferred to new therapists at their new schools, but we social workers know how these disruptions can interrupt the treatment progress and consistency.) I worry about how this last month will be for me, for them, for the teachers as we all essentially say goodbye to each other.

On a selfish level, I am worried about the fact that the Case Manager on my team will move to a new part of our organization and I will be managing my entire caseload on my own this summer. I worry about the transition of transferring all my current clients to their new schools in the fall while at the same time picking up a full case load at a new school location. I worry about feeling like the new guy at the new school location and having to acclimate to a new principal, new teachers and how they operate. But, that also may be an advantage for me to start fresh in a few areas with the new school, especially now that I have improved my skills in the past year when it comes to dealing with difficult administrations.

And I have it easy, really. Many of the teachers at my school have been teaching in the same classroom for 20, 30 years or more. I can't imagine the roller coaster of emotions they have gone through as they pack up essentially their lives and move to new schools, which they had to reinterview for to keep their jobs. The closure for them will be leaps and bounds beyond what I am contemplating.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A wordle

This was an interesting Wordle pulled from my blog. I think I saw the word guilt at least twice. Funny.

  Wordle: Weddings v feminism  

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Be nice

The loveliness and simplicity of being nice.

Getting back to center

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves
of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is a
symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds,
the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring.
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of
nature–the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring
after the winter. The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural
world…are available to anyone who will place himself under the
influence of earth, sea and sky and their amazing life.
- Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

It has been a really tough week. In addition to the typical outbursts, suspensions, threats to kill, I had a significant hospitalization occur with one of my kids. I also was harboring guilt because the crisis point at which she was ID'd by police was when I went home sick. I'm not going to go into detail, but it was a bad situation and her life is going to continue to be challenging for quite some time. I'm only human, but damn it seems every time I take a sick day one of my kids falls apart. And feeling completely zapped of energy most of the week didn't help me much.

So, now, with the lovely quote above and my intentions for the weekend, I am trying to do my best to expunge the stresses of the week and rejuvenate. I had a relaxed and fun evening babysitting last night two of the brightest and most wonderfully raised children I know (I'm biased because she's a very close friend, but she's a damn fine mother) and watching Bolt with Luke at home. (So cute. I cried and contemplated adopting another dog. . . but no).

This morning I have gotten in my run and yoga, cleaned out the G-Reader, leaving the only most enjoyable guilty pleasures such as art, music, food and wedding blogs to peruse. I'm headed to the season opener of my neighborhood farmer's market with Nia to get a few veggies, drink more coffee, and visit a friend playing there today (who is also slated to play at our wedding). After that, the rest of the day is reserved for leisurely household chores and working on the pottery wheel. After my morning routine and CBS Sunday morning tomorrow, it will be more chores and more pottery wheel practice.

I am feeling better already.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A clarification

And maybe a little bit of an apology . . . I apologize for perhaps not being clear and seeming a little passive aggressive, reactionary and anti-feminist.

I am not anti-feminist. By all accounts I am feminist because I believe in the core values of feminism. I, of course, believe in advocating for equal opportunities for women, just as much as any other category of human beings. I would be a strange social worker to not. I was just trying to vent some of the pressures I feel. I hate to label it as guilt, but after a long discussion with my partner, that is what it appears to be (to others, per his perspective after reading my blog). I do not think I feel guilty, but I do get reactive at times about others who I think are trying to make me feel guilty for the personal choices I make. . . okay, so yes, I feel guilty. Perhaps my last entry was a passive aggressive response to that guilt.

Part of it, specifically when it comes to the question of a name change, is that I struggle myself with the decision. Yes, I know the idea of a woman changing her last name at marriage is ingrained historically in patriarchal views of ownership. The things I have read about the history of changing a woman's surname at marriage is actually quite disturbing- for "protection" of family and wealth and "acknowledgement of God's endorsement in the marriage." Yikes. We live in a fairly egalitarian, non religious household so those do not fit us at all.

For me though, the idea of possibly changing my name is not about the scary patriarchal ownership of a woman and her possessions and children. It clearly isn't about God. It's about joining in a partnership with the person I am going to spend the rest of my life with. I like the idea of sharing the same name as symbol of that partnership, not of ownership. Luke knows in a million years he could never "own" me. I think we need to remember that history is the past, things evolve. Traditions may remain throughout culture and time, but they change and evolve into new meanings. People as individuals attribute their own meanings to traditions, to make it of import to them.

So, I guess, without veering off on another passive aggressive train wreck, I just want to say that I support all feminists. I support all people that promote change and equality for any individual. You know that with my stance on gay marriage, my philosophies as a social worker, and other ways in which I try to live life as an advocate for women, as well as other genders, races, backgrounds. I wholeheartedly believe in the core values of these philosophies and will speak against any one that denies individual rights. I just don't want to be made to feel guilty because I may make a personal decision to do something that has patriarchal roots.

There it is again . . . guilt. Luke was right.

He says I should stop over thinking it. I should just flip a coin. I've got three more months to decide . . .

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reflections on the pressures of how to have a wedding

I am home sick today, so I am taking some of my down time to clean out my starred items in G-Reader. I subscribe to way too many blogs and at times I star things because I want to save them for later (like the beau coup recipes I have loaded on there), don't have time to read them but want to, or I want to reflect and comment on them. Many of these involve thoughts about weddings, the wedding industry, and feminism in regards to weddings/getting married.

I have never identified myself as a feminist, personally or to others. I believe in the essential principals of those who announce themselves as feminists believe, but I have always felt partly by societal views of feminism and partly by how far some women take it, it gets a little too extreme for my taste. I also often feel judged, by friends and strangers alike, because perhaps I am not feminist enough. Or, it is not okay that I am considering taking Luke's last name as my own when we get married. Or, that I am totally cool with our gendered roles in the household. Because, dude, Luke cannot cook.

I was pretty pleased with how I defined what feminism is to me at a recent ladies night one of my gal pals hosted. I said that it shouldn't be about asserting yourself to show you can fill a typical male role just as well as a man, but that you should be comfortable and confident to do what you want and be who you are, whatever that means to you. When feminism begins to make women feel bad because they like their engagement ring, they want to have the same name, and they wouldn't mind so much if it was financially feasible to stay at home and devote attention to the kids, that's when I get irritated and I think the purpose of feminism is defeated.

Aren't we just making life harder on each other by criticizing personal choices? I understand labeling the whole name change thing as patriarchal, but what's wrong with just liking the idea of having the same last name as my partner. Luke has left that decision totally up to me. I think he even would like me to keep my name, just because it's so damn cool, but I am undecided on that one. I actually wish he had an opinion, that might make it a little easier for me. I am trying to convince him we should both take my name- because it is so much cooler- but I think he's worried that would rock the paternal boat a little too much.

Then there is the dress issue. Apparently even a somewhat traditional dress is wrong even if its ivory, not white. I am stoked about my dress. It's not too puffy, it flatters my big ass and suits my quirky style of classic/offbeat/vintage. Plus I will have funky blue shoes if I can find some, does that count? And as for my engagement ring- when we first started talking engagement, I suggested a simple ring with a sapphire. Cheaper, blue (our favorite color) and his birthstone. But he went and surprised me with something a bit more sparkly. How could I refuse that?

I realize I am being a little melodramatic, but being a few months away from getting married and subscribing to perhaps too many blogs (wedding and non wedding related), I feel inundated by opinions that if you are not offbeat enough or non traditional enough, you are not okay. It's actually these feminist and non traditional folks at times that have made me feel more uncomfortable about our wedding decisions than the traditional wedding industry. Because, as Luke would say, "We do what we likes and we likes what we do." We won't include anything just because some one tells us we have to. That's why I have tried to consolidate the blog roll and keep it to writers I appreciate and respect, such as Sara at 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding, Meg at A Practical Wedding, and Ariel at Offbeat Bride, among a few others. That although some may feel things like favors are ridiculous, for others there is a practicality or special meaning and value behind them. As Meg says in this post, "If instead, we strive to create a wedding that reflects who we are and what we value, we will, without trying, create details that will form an indelible impression in our guests minds, details that will be a gift."

I really did not think I would ever meet someone I was compatible with enough to marry and think I could commit to spending the rest of my life with him. I found in Luke a partner who understands, appreciates and supports me better than anyone I have ever known. I am lucky to have the legal opportunity to bind our commitment in marriage. I know that my friends who are homosexual would not want me to abstain from celebrating that opportunity because they can't yet. I definitely have had some moments of getting caught up in the wedding industry. In fact, if I had it to do over again I may have tried to find us a simpler outdoor venue than the one we have. (It's hard being atheists and trying to find a place to have a whole wedding event outside, harder than one might think.)

But, in the end, we will have a wedding outside, we will hopefully have many people that love us there to celebrate with us, the details of our ceremony and reception will speak to who we are, we will have fans that some might consider favors (but, damn it, it will be hot out there!), and you know my side of the family. . . we value a kick ass party. So it should hopefully be a good time had by all.

I think what all pending brides, those who may judge us for being too traditional or not traditional enough need to keep in mind are these mantras:
(from 2000 Dollar Budget Bride)
  1. No matter what happens, we'll still be married in the end.
  2. Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter.
  3. A wedding is about community, connection, commitment, and fun--not ________ [insert any number of trivial and inconsequential items that the Wedding Industrial Complex claims are absolutely essential].
  4. Our relationship/marriage is more important than our wedding.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I am so exhausted. Just let me whine for a minute. . . I am not sure if it is allergies, a cold, the slight sunburn from my volunteering outside yesterday, work burn out, or if I am still recovering from the (too much) fun we had at the Stutz Gallery Open House Friday night, but I am exhausted.

I think I could go to bed right now.

Maybe it's the swine flu. Kidding.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I can empathise with the apathy surrounding a traditional bridal shower. Given we have no bridal party, we also have no expectations about showers, bachelor or bachelorette parties. I have had a few friends ask and I am not quite sure how to respond to any of them. I definitely don't want anything traditional in the way of girls sitting around while I open a bunch of gifts. Boring. I also don't want themed parties that involve home sales such as cooking gear, candles or tupperware. Annoying and boring. I wouldn't mind just having a party to celebrate, but isn't that what are reception will be? Just not sure we need to be in on the whole shower thing. Maybe I'll host a green bottle party this summer. . . I need green bottles for my recycled vase project.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Child actor safety and welfare

It looks like the makers of Slumdog Millonaire were a bit wiser and empathetic, or perhaps just learned from the mistakes of the Kite Runner makers.

Cute table numbers

We've debated about including Nia in the wedding. I think in the end it would be more of a hassle than it is worth. But, I am digging these table numbers. Maybe mix it up a little more, but what a cute way to include her and make some very visible and eclectic table signs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My social work life

I have had lots of moments in the past few weeks again where I am writing all sorts of commentary in my head about my work life- things I would like to post. Such as the fact that the Medicaid cuts are now affecting hospitalizations of kids seriously at risk and threatening to kill others, the fact that I had to watch a kid with RAD who was really just reacting to her triggers get arrested last week, or the fact that I am working with a mom who was doubling up on medication prescribed to her child (and I wonder if maybe taking some for herself). But I just can't write at length about any of these things. They are weighing me down enough. I am seriously getting burnt out at my lack of progress with so many kids and families.

But, today was different. Today was a day that I was reminded why I do what I do and that eventually, things can improve. That was essentially the same pep talk I got from an older, wiser, more experienced colleague a few weeks ago. A person I respect very much. I think she is aware I am feeling like I have hit a wall. My school is closing. I work with ten year olds being initiated into gangs. I have chronic families whose kids do not improve because their parents cannot make changes for themselves. I have school staff pointing fingers and wondering why my magic wand is not working.

But today I got a little of what my colleague was talking about in her pep talk. It may take time and you may feel like you are repeating yourself, but in time you see a positive change for these children. It can be any combination of things- the parents change how they manage the situation, a bad influence exits the stage, the medication prescribed seems to work in the way it supposed to to manage symptoms, what we say actually resonates with the child. . . that spark is created that motivates real change. The case manager I supervise has provided most of the interventions for a child we work with. I child I see so much intelligence and heart in, but a child who became increasingly frustrating because it felt like nothing reached him. In the past week, he has gotten positive notes at almost every end of the day from his teacher, he is coming to me to talk about concerns he has for his sister (also a client of mine) and her peer difficulties, he is open and seeks support and "breaks" when he feels his trap doors being opened. I am not sure what has sparked or changed. I am afraid to ask him for fear of jinxing it or something. This is the kid I thought was headed for the gang Murder Squad 13. But he is coming into his own as the insightful, thoughtful individual I have always known him to be but feared was slipping away. I like to think the work we have done has finally helped him get here. Mainly, the work my CM at the school has done with him. I hope it lasts.

Little birdies

I was pretty anti-cake topper. We've got a yummy lemon cake planned. And that's all that matters right, the taste. Well, maybe a little bit is presentation. I even labored over the strawberry lemon cake I made just for me and Luke the other day (it turned out lopsided, but I still made sure the strawberry slices looked pretty). I have always hated traditional cake toppers and the ones I had seen were silly cliches of the man and wife, wife dragging groom to be married, all ridiculous. But I thought these guys were pretty cute, so now we'll have a cake topper.

Now I am into the bird thing. Trying to keep it outdoorsy, natural, and DIY as much decor as I can, I am thinking about making birds with all my new clay tools. Maybe place card holders- ceramic birds. . . a 150 of them? That probably won't happen. But I might experiment a little with some simple forms like these:

Mmm, fresh rosemary

I've got a random chicken concoction baking in the oven right now with loads of fresh rosemary. I bought it at the grocery, but the gorgeous smell has me so tempted to get that garden started this weekend. I need to be growing my own fresh herbs and some of the veggies we use so often. They are too expensive in the stores and it would be so wonderful to say it came from our yard. I am thinking I may pick a few plants up at Locally Grown this weekend.

Em, you ready?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The cat

I mentioned the cat when we got her in February. After hiding out in her "sanctuary" for a couple weeks, she came out of seculsion, but only really to socialize with Nia. They are like two little love birds. Well, actually, I think Nermal loves Nia. Nia just puts up with it. Poor Nia. We have been using her to get the cat near us. If Nia is sitting with us, the cat will usually join. Nermal has gradually let us pet her more, but she still remains aloof. I've never had a cat that exerts such stereotypical independence. Nia is still the favored pet, even though she has recently again taken to chewing on unlawful items (such as raw steak and our Farkle game).

Nermal at about 9 weeks

Nia and Nermal recently, cuddling up together

Let the masterpieces be created . . .

My wheel and kiln arrived last night. I'm stoked, but I think Luke is already worried he wasted his money. It took some time to get it all set up and organized and then I attempted to throw for a while. I only have a small hunk of clay and after a few failed attempts it was too wet to do anything with.

It's harder than I remember. I hope to pick up some more clay and spend some time with it this weekend. We've already agreed by the time I successfully make and fire my first pot it has to go on display in the "china" cabinet.

My work area.  And no, the cooler is not filled with beer.  It's got clay in it.  Yay!

National Geographic Picture of the Day

I get the POD on my iGoogle. I love this photograph. So peaceful.

Working from home

I am working from home today to await the cable guy (we're adding another internet outlet so we can watch Hulu on our new TV. YAY!) and get some admin stuff done. Being in the school, people walk into my room without knocking, there is often a kid that needs support and redirection, and with all the interruptions I can rarely get required trainings and chart updates done. Fortunately I can log into our electronic records from home. After our morning run and making breakfast, I was able to immediately get started. I managed to get one training and one treatment plan done before I got distracted and started planning wedding music . . . time to get back on task.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Yes, there is not sufficient services, yet our Medicaid dollars keep getting cut. If the Feds have their way, I may be seeking a new job by summer 2010. One that doesn't involve extreme shifts to Targeted Case Management for individuals with mental illness and significantly limiting MRO.

By these changes, I mean some of the ones I am already seeing other Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) make in their ways of working. Many of the school providers are now implementing a TCM system in which one worker does all the assessment and linkage (to resources/services), one worker does the MRO interventions such as ADLs (activities of daily living), and a third worker does all the clinic (someone like me, who would only do individual, group and family therapy). This means there are three workers for one client. That sounds like a waste of money rather than being fiscally efficient, if you ask me.

On top of the monetary irregularities in this plan, it goes against social work philosophy. Many of the kids I work with are so transient, moving from home to home, they are lucky to stay with one clinician for the duration of treatment (which for me can mean years- these kids and families have chronic needs). Or, in the case of my current school, all my kids will lose me as their therapist after the summer because the school is closing. Now, with these proposed regulations (TCM expected to go in effect possibly after they move beyond the Moratorium and MRO changes that are slated for July 2010) kids will not only be subject to the constant changes in their day to day lives, but will have at least three workers serving their needs. Of course, I am speaking about my kids, in the communities I work in. For some populations and traditional outpatient offices this may work. But for me, this would mean I am not allowed to have a conversation with the teacher about how they are doing, assist them in the classroom or advocate for their needs at an IEP case conference- because I can't bill for it.

I can only take so much more of my job being all about billing. I know it keeps us going, but these are human lives we are talking about. It's about quality of care and appropriate therapeutic services to the individualized need.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter breakfast

Instead of the scones, I got all the ingredients to make this savory cheesecake in the morning. It looks tasty, I hope it turns out well. The MOD ended up spending the day with me running errands, so no easter basket surprises for him. But spending the day together was much better that easter candy and trinket gifts. Usually on Saturdays he is studying and I am cleaning or getting other obligations taken care of that I didn't get done in the week.

My new hobby

The MOD just ordered me this, along with a small kiln.

I think he is hoping I will get into the hobby I have always wanted to, and get off the computer and blog a bit more. He'll probably get his wish.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Breakfast goodies

I am considering making these scones for breakfast Sunday morning. I love 101 Cookbooks. There are lots of great recipes on there. I have a tendency to star anything on my G-Reader that I don't have time to read then and there or that I may want to use later. I think I have starred almost every recipe posted since I subscribed to the feed.

Our Sunday morning routine almost always involves watching CBS Sunday morning and drinking coffee before we get started with errands, chores and studying (for the MOD). Since it is Easter, I am thinking some special breakfast treats are in order as well. I think I made the MOD nervous when talking about what I wanted to do for Easter, but he was appeased when I explained, "If we have an excuse to eat candy and make special foods, why not use it."

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Yoga is supposed to be meditative and relaxing. If I tried to do this stuff with Nia, she'd just jump on me and lick my face.

Check the photo of the chihuahua on the woman's belly. I couldn't load it on here.

Crafts galore

True, but I still want the Encyclopedia of Crafts! Granted, I have yet to get all that crafty. But my DIY candle holders made out of wine bottles may be calling my name this weekend.

The Teen Veg Head

I found this amusing. My first round of vegetarianism started around 15/16 after reading Diet for a New America. I lost a lot of weight. Many were worried I had some sort of eating disorder. Truth is, I just didn't know how to be a good vegetarian. Being a good vegetarian takes work. I didn't have time for that while I was hanging out with my friends at the coffeehouse, drinking as much coffee as possible and trying to be deep.

I think what this research suggests is silly. Kids just need support and education if they want to be a vegetarian, so they do it in a healthy way. Not living on Denny's fries and lunch room bagels everyday.

What lies beneath

I consistently have to remind myself lately to keep an open mind and wait until I hear the full story. I have always believed that you have to hear someone's full story before you can know where they coming from. I don't think you ever "walk in someone's shoes." Each person's journey is individualized not just by what they experience, but how they perceive these experiences. You can do your best to understand and empathize, but never completely feel what that person is feeling or know exactly what they are thinking. But, I have had to remind myself of these beliefs a little more often in the past year because I have had some very difficult children and families come into my working life. Change is not easy in the community I work in, so I have to be careful as the change agent to not get too burnt out or jaded.

I was reminded and reflecting on these beliefs a lot this afternoon. I did an assessment on a new client. He is a kindergartner, cute as can be. I have interacted with him a little already because I already work with a few other kids in his class. One of my first interactions, I was helping the teacher manage him and the class while we had a speaker visiting the entire student body. His adorable big eyes immediately had me, but then I became quickly annoyed by the thumb sucking. I don't know why it bothers me so much, but I am determined to break that habit. If you are in school, you shouldn't be sucking your thumb. Of course, I also realized not knowing the child well this could be some regression for whatever may have occurred in his life. He was also very clingy to me at our first meeting, which was another big red flag for his needs.

This child is the same child I was concerned about in an earlier post relating to my frustrations with CPS. Before I met mom, I felt prepared to be a little more confrontational than usual, try to get the bottom of the child's injuries a few weeks ago. Then mom came in and started talking. She shared with me in detail some of her own history and emotional neglect as a child, due to her mother's alcoholism, her experiences with the child's father of domestic violence and the child's abuse by the father. She shared her goals and it was clear she was working hard, by going to school, working and raising her only child, to create a better life for her child. She seemed so open and honest, I didn't even go there with the questions about the injuries. At that point I think it would have come across as an attack and I could have lost the rapport I seemed to have quickly developed with her. I liked her. Maybe I had the wool pulled over my eyes, but I believe in my insight. I've always been good at reading people and have gotten better through the years as a social worker. I believe this woman does the best she can with the cards she's been dealt.

Here's hoping I am right.

I think I can, I think I can

I have been trying to become a runner for about 6-7 months now. At first, I was doing what I like to call wogging. I would take Nia (our dog) with me and would speed walk, with a bit of jogging thrown in. Once the MOD heard I was trying to jog, he joined me and has been trying to turn me into a runner ever since. In the bitter 27below winter period, we moved inside to the treadmills at the gym. I did well and was running half hour stints, approximately 3 miles.

Then we went back outside. I hit a wall. My legs killed and I could barely run ten minutes. I am hearing from my long time running fans that this can happen when you run on a treadmill for too long. Happy to have that consolation. But, I was worried I couldn't make it over the hump again. Then I found the Couch to 5K Plan. I giggle every time I say what it is called, probably out of slight insecurity and embarrassment. It's help me rebuild my base and I am feeling stronger than I have before. This week I ran 23minutes, 40 seconds Tuesday and 21minutes today. It's not 30, but it's a few more minutes than I was able to run last week and before that I was running in intervals with periods of walking.

I was a little wimpy today- I think the bug floating around the school among all my kiddos is trying to get me. But, I still did 21 minutes, that's better than none. I just have to get past these insecurities that continue to weigh me down and I'll be at my goal. The little ghosts of middle school past haunt me at times when I am trying to be athletic. Fortunately, the MOD is supportive and patient. Lately, when I try to "get in the zone" and basically shut out the discomfort, I've been trying to think on this classic image:
This is a pretty good image to keep in mind for most things in life, really.

For the love of tofu

So, it's ok to have vanity plates proclaiming your stand against abortion, but it is not okay to announce your love of tofu. Right, that makes sense.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

G-Reader and Benadryl don't mix

I didn't have any time for a GMail and G-Reader break today, so I came home to 455 things on my reader. Due to our ongoing poison ivy in this household, I have also taken three benadryl to help me sleep. On top of that the MOD is done studying and ready to hang out. Not a good mix. So much to read, so little time.

Crafty madness

I tried to do something "eastery" with the girls in my girls' group this week. The plan was to make easter baskets, but make them with yarn. We made a glue mixture that we soaked the yarn in and then wrapped around a balloon to form the basket. I figured it would be a good exercise in coping skills, but that in the end we would have awesome little baskets that I would fill with treats once they were dry. They were supposed to look like this:

They are still on their balloons and drying in my classroom at the moment, but I have a feeling they won't look quite that nice. I remembered doing this before and it seemed much easier. I have my arty girl who is very talented but by being so, made this task a little to complicated. She tried to braid the yarn first, and then wrap the braided yarn around the balloon. It didn't stick too well. My one lovely gal who came in after being sick the day before and all morning, gave up quickly. I let get away with it today, she was sick after all. I must have said, "Make sure you you wrap it around the bottom," and "Remember, this is supposed to be a basket, you need a bottom so I can put treats in it for you tomorrow," five or ten times. In fact, I even let them know at one point I had said that five or ten times. Active listening skills, girls, active listening.

We'll see how they turned out in the morning. I've acquired premade back-up easter baskets, just in case.

More venting on CPS

Since when did it become okay to go with what a suspicious parent says over a child's consistent explanations of incidence that put them at risk? I know some kids may say or do things that make their parents suspect, without realizing the repercussions. But, what if the child does know? What if the child tells me that he had access and took a gun from his home? What if three other children confirm seeing this gun and another parent confirms that their children were questioned about this gun? Do you think that would warrant further investigation by CPS?

You'd like to think so, but no.

National Organization for Marriage and other ridiculousness

These folks are truly sad.

I had to stop at the store on my way back to school today from a meeting. I needed yarn for my girls' group. I ended up sitting in the parking lot in front of the store for thirty minutes listening to Diane Rehm Show. The panelist discussion was on Iowa and Vermont's recent passing of human civil rights for all couples to marry. As usual, the intelligent people who were able to cite history and empirical research that supports all families, not just families fostered by heterosexual couples I was cheering along with, while the individual (it sounded like there was only one) who was against passing legislation that ensures these basic rights kept going on about the "debate" and "people think." Who are these people? That small group of evangelicals in that stupid commercial and scattered lightly about the country? These are the people who should make decisions about every one's civil rights?

Again, the discussion boiled down to semantics. One panelist noted that when people are polled about civil rights and civil unions, most of the population tends to support it. But, when you throw in the word marriage, people freak out. Get over yourselves. Beyond being your "sacrament," historically marriage has also been a secular event. It is not for Christians or other significant religions to say what marriage should be.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

YAY! Let's keep rolling 'em out

Here's to yet another state giving individuals their much owed civil rights!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Paternity and Maternity leave

Regardless of the gendered pitfalls, which are in process of improvement, I am still impressed with the leave time given to families for new children or other family needs. One of the many benefits I observed while living in the UK.

Simple but thoughtful

This bothers me a little that it comes from Tiffany& Co, because it means they are probably using to get someone to buy someone else some bling. But I love the sentiment, regardless. (Found among a blog search on All Stripes.)

We should understand this by now

Wow, drinking water could help maintain weight or reduce weight gain for youth? What a shocker! How long will it take for educational providers to understand what seems to me should be common sense? "Maybe if we get rid of the vending machines and encourage drinking water from (clean) water fountains, these kids will be healthier. . . "

Clean is the key. I fill my water bottle from the bathroom sinks at my school. I shudder to think about what's been put in or spit on to our water fountains.

I'm so tired of quantifying education

Good Luck. How about we start looking at fostering positive communities and healthy families that will encourage learning and the importance of education? How about Dr. White takes another look at the raises provided to general admin staff while closing six schools, consolidating classrooms to larger sizes and laying off young and energetic teachers? Just a few of many things that need to be resolved if you want your quantified statistics raised. Which doesn't really mean that these children are receiving a well rounded education that will foster future success, it just means that they've learned how to recite what is expected to be on the ISTEP.

Let's here it for Iowa!

At brunch this morning, we were all discussing if it would nice to move to Iowa, or just how transferable the marriages would be of those I love who are not allowed to marry in many other states. I don't think any of us are moving any time soon- it was just the fruity half priced champagne cocktails talking- but I am glad to see another step in the right direction within this country. Especially after the Prop 8 mess.

Home AND Community makeovers

Extreme Home Makeover came to our town this past week. They came very close to home. A family in the Martindale-Brightwood community on the near North East side. Not too far from the school I currently work at one day a week and plan to be at full time next year. I am so pleased because not only did they give the family a new house, but they also provided beautification to the neighborhood by paving alleys (believe me, they are bad) and planting trees, as well as providing wireless internet to many in the circumference area of the chosen family's home.

I also read that they are planning to use School 37's building, a school that has closed and a school that we used to provide services at, as a facility to develop a community center. This is my dream. Working in these neighborhoods, I see the history and can envision how these areas used to be thriving communities. But, over the years, the homes have become dilapidated, often abandoned, and there has been an increasing level of crime and violence among the streets and homes. Shops and services have begun to abandon these areas because there is a decreasing economic stability for most businesses. The kids in these neighborhoods need a safe place they can go to have fun and feel supported. The parents need services to assist them with basic needs, educational and job linkage. I hope that this community center comes through and provides these needs to families.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A hunt for Easter ideas

The MOD, Nia and Nermal (the pets) are all getting Easter baskets next Sunday. We may not believe in the christian beliefs that initiate a holiday such as Easter, but I definitely believe in painting eggs, eating chocolate and having a bit of a reason to make a big Sunday dinner. My family wasn't the church going kind. I didn't even know what easter was supposed to be about, I think until my teens. But, I always looked forward to the big dinners, hiding and hunting for eggs, and my mom's awesome easter baskets she made each year. I am so spoiled. I was still getting baskets in my early 20s.

The pets are easy. Treats, little toys, maybe a new scratch pad for Nermal. The MOD on the other hand was difficult at first to come up with some creative ideas. I did some google searching and this is the kind of crap I found:

Really, the extreme stereotyped and gendered gift ideas out there for men irritate me maybe even more than some of the women's. The MOD, albeit this is a biased account, is too dynamic for such generalized interest gifts and "manly" stuff. After spending too much time searching, I've managed to come up with some of my own ideas based on the facts that he is an academic, a thinker, a runner, a gamer, a lover of laughter, a man with a beard, and an aspiring landscaping and home improvement guru. I'm thinking he'll be pleased.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The MOD has a new game

Yes, he still only has a Nintendo 64. Yes, he is dying for a play station. I've even added it to our registry, but more so as a joke. We don't expect anyone to get it for us/him. I don't expect any gifts, really. Just a good time. . .

But anyways, he has a new Zelda game. Majora's mask, or something. I love it because it gives me time to catch up on my G-Reader. I am getting a little blog crazy. Not just wedding blogs, mind you, but an ever increasing number of news, opinion blogs, as well as lots of great blogs with crafty and great home and food ideas. I just wish I had the time to experiment more with all the creative ideas I am finding!

And this is wedding related, but I found a great program/CD idea from It's Heavenly via Elizabeth Anne Designs. I hate hearts used as decor, especially related to weddings (way to predictable, girly and cutesy for me). But otherwise I love the layout and the holder contraption for this. I think the MOD vetoed CDs (favors in general, really), but I may try to talk him into it.

First song

I like this tradition for weddings. It is one we are keeping (we are nixing many others). We had a song that I like to consider "our song" very early on. It was a bit of a pop song, but not well known at the time. Well, now, it is so well known it was nominated for a Grammy and we heard it used in a commercial a couple nights ago. The MOD put the final veto on it when we saw that commercial. But now, what is a good first song? I am working on a list for him to peruse and see what he likes. Our tastes do not always match when it comes to music.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fools

I'm no good at it. I tried to convince my mom we were canceling the wedding and tried to convince the MOD I am done with running. I think I scared the MOD for a split second, but neither of them fell for my stories. I am a terrible lier. I consider that a strength.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I showed some of these to my florist for our wedding:

This was the early vision:

That has now evolved to this:

And this was what he came up with on the proposal for my bouquet:

"Elegant hand tied bouquet of antique hydrangea, agapanthus bloom, green cymbidium orchid, Kermit mums embellished with grape vine wrapped stems."

Oooh, I'm more excited about flowers more than I thought I would be!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Masters Degrees. What are they good for?

I finished camp with the kiddos slightly earlier than planned today so had ample time to get out this afternoon and apply for some part time jobs. You would think a person with a masters degree, a clinical license and a stable job would not need a second job. But I am a social worker. And my mortgage went up about $300 a month, recently. And I am still paying off credit debt and loans from my schooling and England days. Definitely could use a second job.

I only made one personal, possibly viable connection with a restaurant manager. The rest seemed utterly pointless. I don't think I'm going to have much luck. My increasing apathy about it isn't helping. I didn't even get a call back at the doggie day care place. Masters Degree- maybe it's my downfall in the retail/restaurant/dog spa world. I am by no means tooting my horn or trying to be pretentious, but I am getting the "overqualified" vibe.

Maybe the MOD is right. Maybe I should apply to places and minimize the educational/professional background. Me and dishonesty just don't fit together, even if it's reasonably harmless and for the good of our household income.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Bliss

Now that my test taking days are over for some time, I love having Sundays back to do as I wish. Mainly: waking up leisurely at 8ish instead of 5 or 6; laying in bed drinking coffee and watching Sunday Morning with the MOD and the children, I mean, pets; going to yoga and stretching out my sore legs and back from the afternoon of Saturday gardening and Friday's most successful run yet; getting the house cleaned up and actually folding the laundry instead of leaving it in baskets; getting and feeling prepared for Spring Break camp with the kiddos this week; and fawning over our new plants, hoping the frost tonight does not kill them.

That's a good Sunday. Oh yeah, and I did my taxes. Just glad to get that over with (with the help of a secret smart friend).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wheat Grass

I believe both my mother and the MOD rolled their eyes when I suggested incorporating wheat grass into our wedding flair. I don't care what they think. There's a simple beauty to wheat grass. I might start growing some at home, I just need to keep it away from the cat. (photo via Cup and Table)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The notion of promoting peace

Let's hear it for social workers in Congress! If you support peaceful interventions and mediation to resolve conflict, be sure to let your congress representative know.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Child Protective Services?

I am reluctant to detail my frustration today for confidentiality purposes. But let me just ask, what happened to the incentive planning to have more DCS workers (Department of Children's Services, child protection workers) get their MSW? To at least have a Bachelors in social sciences perhaps. To actually care about the welfare of children and ensure that what is ethically sound and legally required is done to protect children at significant risk.

Just another day, another dollar? I don't think so. We may not be doctors holding beating hearts in our hands, but any of us that work in the social services realm have a duty to protect the people we serve and to assist and empower them to the best of our ability. That is why I need therapy myself (sort of) right now. Because I care. If you don't care and you don't need therapy to cope with the horrific things people go through, if you do not ensure their safety when they are at real risk of being dangerously injured or killed, LEAVE THE JOB.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This makes me miss my home across the pond

There's not so much of an excuse to buy a cute pair of Wellies here.

Why can't I be cool?

I have an unusual (or is it) fascination and enamored feeling for any beautiful girl with a sense of class but also a sense of individuality (often involving some sort of tattoo and/or piercings). What does that say about me? Maybe I am a little self conscious about being down to earth and "normal" or "average," despite how much I appreciate those qualities within myself.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Visiting relatives


Love it when they come to visit.

Love the fun while visiting.

Love when they leave.

Love our space. Love getting our bed back and getting off the air mattress on the floor.

Loan forgiveness? . . . Yeah, right

This stimulus package had me and the MOD so excited. Maybe there is some help for us? A veteran who still has to take out loans to pay school tuition, despite the GI bill and a social worker with a masters degree and a license looking for a second job to pay the mortgage. Of course there is help for us! Wait. . . no. While perusing the NASW website- thinking I actually need to become a member now that I am licensed- I found that there is loan forgiveness for social workers in linkage to the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007.

So, I call the number provided. The feds. The first man I spoke to was immediately rude (and I know how to kill them with kindness on the phone- I was raised by a telemarketer). He wouldn't assist me to at least point me in the right direction. He was not interested in any way to hear that the National Association of Social Workers gave me that number to make an inquiry. He actually hung up on me. I called back. I expressed my distaste for how I was treated; and my confusion. The second person (a female, but perhaps that wasn't the differing factor), was very helpful but ultimately pointed me toward my loan holder.

I contacted Sallie Mae and spoke to a lovely woman, but who was hard to understand. I believe she may have been somewhere distant due to the connection and time delay. Can you say outsourcing? Apparently, being a hard working, low paid social worker doesn't qualify me for any sort of loan forgiveness at this time. I either need to become a teacher and do that for five years or become severely disabled. I am not interested in either. NASW got my hopes up.

I also looked into home loan programs. I don't really qualify for that either and there are no interesting details to that story. I hate being the middle man. Middle class gets the shaft.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A few brief thoughts

I haven't posted much, but as per my usual have been "writing" in my head. Since passing my exam, I have been trying to get caught up with the other things that were neglected for the start of the year- the house upkeep and improvements, getting ready for both sets of parents and my grandmother arriving, trying to visit a few friends I missed while attempting to hide in my AATBS books. I am also looking at trying to acquire a part time job, but I am not too optimistic there will be many options.

I do intend to utilize and post on the blog again regularly, but just give me another week or so, k? I am a little overwhelmed by all my feeds in google reader, so many questionable and/or thought provoking things happening in politics and culture, I just don't even know where to begin at this point. I started "starring" things on my reader that I thought needed more attention or personal interest tid bits, but now that is even becoming overwhelming.

So for now, let me say. . . Congratulations to another lovely family this month bringing another lovely child in the world. This time one of my favorite people locally who is often thought of as the sister I never had (among my extended family as well). I can't wait to meet your fella!

Stay tuned for future thoughts on my confusions about feminism, anger about recent policies and politics, vents about my crazy job and wedding and relationship follies. . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Feeling a little unsure these days

I think my need for change so quickly is starting to come to a halt. I am starting to feel like it is all just happening to fast. We just started this relationship less than two months ago. I am talking about my relationship with our new president, of course.

I have been in reasonably strong support of a lot of the significant changes and proposals thus far, but I am not so sure how I feel about his proposals for educational change today. Increasing charter schools by reducing the limits on these school and their quantity? Paying teachers for their "excellence?" What about No Child Left Behind? When do we address the mess that has made of our educational system? And who decides a teacher's excellence? Irrational test scores? A biased principal?

I have not had time to do extensive research on where he is going with these things and why he thinks they are good ideas, I will do that after I eat a bunch of (hopefully) awesome food tonight. So, please, do comment on here to me about any aspect of history or facts to make these proposals okay. I am merely at this point sharing an opinion, an initial reaction, not stating fact.

I work in schools. Everyday. Right now I work in a school that is about to be closed because many kids have moved to the charter schools in the surrounding communities. This is not the only reason, and I am aware of that. In general, the community that I serve is changing. It has becoming increasingly poor, unsupported by external resources and violent. Families are also moving to townships and out of the "inner city" because the economic spread of the city is sprawling. But, my problem with charter schools is not that families are leaving for those schools, it is that from what I have learned and observed, if a child does one small thing wrong they are out. Without any real support or intervention. Some may want this for particular types of children and families, but as a social worker and as a human being who believes all children deserve education and whatever support they need to get it, I have a real problem with this. Aren't these kids being kicked out the kids that really need us?

I am however, obviously, in strong support of Obama's advocacy for early education programming. It is clear from research and from first hand experience that early intervention and prevention is key in most if not all aspects of life to reduce risks and increase success and resilience. This I can stand behind, but I am very concerned that the teachers and educational administrators who work with our children day in and day out are not being heard. I am very concerned that if we continue to focus on blaming educational systems completely and not also looking at and building better communities around these schools, we will continue to fail children regardless of how many charter schools you open.

No cooking for me tonight

We get to sample food tonight at our wedding venue to decide what we'd like to serve (and hopefully actually eat) at our wedding reception.  I don't really care too much what we serve- as longs as there is something for the veg heads and some other thing for the omnivores.  But, I plan to take full advantage of this free food opportunity this evening!

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I had a conversation with the MOD during our lunch celebration yesterday about religion, and how it is a societal control that is unlikely to change much or go away any time soon. I expressed my anger about the word marriage. He confirmed, being from a background that he is more knowledgeable on these topics, that marriage is considered a sacrament of the catholic church. He agreed with my point of questioning, if it is all about the semantics and the history behind that word, does that mean we can't get "married?"

So, I am thinking of proposing to my friend who is doing our wedding invitations that we change the wording to something like this:
The QOE's parents
Invite you to participate in the celebration
of the legal recognition of the commitment
between their daughter

Does this sound too dry and too much like a business merger? I want it to reflect the joy of the day, but if the word marriage keeps others from being legally united, I want no part of that word. Besides, we are already committed to each other- I've already got a ring on my finger and I'm getting a temporary one for the MOD today. This is just the celebration of that already standing commitment and making it legal so the MOD can get health benefits. Well, and other lovely reasons, too.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Now on to the next task(s)

I took my ASWB clinical licensure exam this morning. I passed. Whew (huge sigh of relief and big grin).

As soon as I saw the screen pop up- You Passed - and experienced my initial elation and sharing of the good news with the MOD, parents and my bro, it started to feel . . . I don't know. . . . surreal? Anticlimactic? None of these are the right words. I can't describe it. A loss? A grieving process at the now absence of anxiety and pressure to spend all my free time studying?

Don't get me wrong, I am stoked. I do have a list hanging up at my desk with all/some of the things I want to start doing once I had passed the exam (and I passed it on the first try, biznatches [sorry- had to be done]). First off, I am already signed up with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to help out with some planting of trees, community beautification and such and have a meeting with the group next week. I also have my eye on a second job at a doggie day care. Wouldn't that be a fun way to help save money for the wedding and pay off credit card bills?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Another bundle of joy enters the world

Just a little congratulations to my very dear friend who had her second child today. Her and her hubby now have the lovely balance of a little gal and new baby boy. She is one of the most lovely, fun people I know. A recent quote in one of our last phone conversations (to her daughter), "Hands are hugging, not for hitting." How can you not love a gal like that? Congrats to the whole family!

Now we'll definitely need a crafty/kid table at the wedding. We need some fun stuff for all these kiddos (and all the crafty adults).

Aw, I miss facebook and all it's useless antics

I need to use my coping skills and punch a pillow (like I would tell my kids to)

You are F***ing idiot, that's what you are. Sorry, I just can't believe people like this actually become social workers. They are speaking against our values, our Code of Ethics. The MOD is Atheist and I am pretty damn close. Does that mean we cannot marry because the "word" marriage is "originally defined in religious belief systems?" Is that even true? Grrrrr! You are a f***ing homophobe, bitch. Sorry. . . It just makes me so angry I want to scream. Do these idiots not see they are just as bad as those who protested racial civil rights mid twentieth century? And don't even get me started on the idiotic comparison to beastiality.

Taken from Help Starts Here Social Worker Blog:

"I’m a Christian, a Republican and a Social Worker. I also have a number of friends who happen to be in lesbian or gay relationships. I love them all. We’ve had discussions about same-sex marriage and the rights deserved by all people. If civil unions can lead to next-of-kin status for life partners–great! However, “marriage” is a term originally defined in religious belief systems and, while this language is included in modern day law, should not apply to any other than 1 man-1 woman relationships.

Additionally, changing the definition of “marriage” to go beyond 1 man-1 woman, will open doors to legalize polygamy and beastiality–both proven to emotionally, spiritually and sexually harm vulnerable persons (and animals).

In short, opposition to same-sex marriage does not make me a homophobe, but an advocate for a variety of lifestyles and vulnerable persons."

Before I hit the books

I had promised myself to avoid blog and other procrastinatory activities until after the test tomorrow, but I would just like to quickly make note and ask that we all remain aware today as the California Supreme Court hears arguments regarding Prop 8 .

I am not going to go into a huge diatribe. I just want to point out that marriage, civil unions, whatever you want to call them (it's all semantics), is about civil rights. Not privilege. This is not about any one's religion. This is about rights. This is about human beings being able to live their lives, loving each other happily and legally binding that love, as any human being has the right to do. See previous post on happiness.