Monday, September 30, 2013

As worthless as that lemon-shaped rock

I was going to start this post out with something cutesy like "when life hands you a lemon, you make lemonade!"  But we all know I'm way too cynical for that sort of optimism, and that's on a good day.  This is obviously not a good day, or I wouldn't even be writing.  I've had a slew of good days, which is why I've gone over a month without writing.  This blog is my therapy and fortunately I haven't needed it lately.  That's all changed in the past week.  When we last left, Mannah and Mr J had just decided to start pursuing foster care options.  The fostering has been a depressing train wreck and I'll explain why.  I'll also say that this is going to be a very hard post for me to write because I'll have to admit certain things I'd rather not, but I've made peace with the past and if you choose to judge me for them, then that's your own problem.

So let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.  I was so excited to get started so I got my paperwork all in order very quickly, in fact the woman who did our house assessment even commented on how organized I was and how I made her job easier.  Yes, I am anal-retentive when it comes to paperwork, just ask anyone I work with.  We got off on a good start, the house assessment went well, but then they figured out we have rats (Who, by the way, are being adorable right now.  I bought them new treats last night and it is like the second coming of Christ for them.).  The case worker, for some reason, is not keen on us having rats and she was giving us ever excuse she could think of against the rats.  They could have rabies, or some other disease, they could bite children, the children could be allergic, just ridiculous stuff.  I think she honestly did not know the difference between wild and tame rats.  I was tempted to ask her if there is a difference between wolves and tame dogs because that's more or less the same comparison.  Anyway, I ended up getting an official letter from my veterinarian explaining that rats are safe and do not spread diseases to children and are, in fact, great pets to have around small children.  The problem is, I don't even know if she ever read this letter because the day after she received it, everything went to hell in a hand basket.

Last week, I called the case worker at 10am and left her a voice mail asking if she has received all my paperwork and if there was anything else I needed to mail in.  She didn't call me back until 4:30pm and left me a voice mail asking me to call her back before 5pm.  Nice, right?  Fortunately, I managed to get off work before 5 and called her back and she informed me that our application for foster care had been denied.  I was in complete shock and to be honest, for a split second I thought it was because of our rats.  She explained it was because of an old DHS investigation against me.  I don't want to explain too much of this, because it is confidential (and horrible) but yes, I was the subject of an investigation almost 3 years ago.  It was when I was working at a daycare and a parent thought she saw something that didn't happen so she called DHS and filled out a false report.  There was video surveillance in the classrooms at the time, which my director watched and determined I was not at fault so she didn't do anything.  But since there was a report filed, DHS was forced to come out and interview everyone.  I guess this parent was really pushy because DHS felt obligated to tell the daycare to fire me and they fined my director.  She started crying because she really didn't want to let me go, of course I was crying too because I was suddenly out of a job and I knew I hadn't done anything wrong!  The DHS worker never even bothered watching the tape, just took everyone's statements.

Anyway, what ended up happening is I was able to file a rebuttal, which I did, and then I never heard back from them.  This summer when I decided I wanted to work in daycare again, Mr J looked up the Joshua's List on the DHS website (which is basically the do-not-hire list and I would have been on it if the investigation had gone through) but I wasn't on it so I went ahead and applied and obviously got a job.  I told my director before getting hired about the investigation, just in case anything showed up in my background check, and because I believe in full disclosure.  I'm now wondering if that is the best policy.  So I told my director about not getting approved because all this crap is showing up again and she was livid.  She offered to call my case worker and explain that if the investigation was still open, she wouldn't have been allowed to hire me.  Which is exactly what I already told the case worker, but she didn't seem to understand that, but I suppose it would sound better coming from someone official like my boss.  So she called and left a voice mail on Thursday morning and of course has not gotten a reply yet.

I just don't even know what to do now, should I just pack it in?  Fortunately we haven't put any money into this endeavor, only man hours.  When we were getting so frustrated with the fertility treatments, it was because we had spent thousands of dollars.  I talked to my husband over the weekend and we decided maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to try again to get pregnant.  I'm beginning to think the tiny chance we have of getting pregnant is bigger than the miniscule chance we have of DHS changing their minds about us fostering.  The situation just sucks all around, and it is completely depressing.  Mr J commented last night about how well I'm handling all this and I told him I'm hanging on by a thread, one that could break at any given time.  It is true.  I'm having to compartmentalize my brain and only focus on one thing at a time, because if I start thinking about too many things, it might just explode and I'll lose it.

On another note, did anyone else watch the season premiere of The Simpsons last night?  It really pissed me off.  I love Homeland (which also wasn't that good last night), so I was interested to see their take on it.  But the characters were horribly written, as they have been for several years now.  The story was just stupid, again as it has been for awhile.  And the worst part was the stereotyping of race and mental illness.  It was like I was watching Family Guy or something.  I never thought I'd say this, but I think I'm about done with this show.  I'll just have to console myself with the old DVDs.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


My husband and I approach decision making and change very differently.  I make snap decisions and he likes to take his time with them.  Sometimes he can take weeks or even months to make a big decision, which drives me crazy!  I will yell at him, "Just make up your mind!"  I understand he is thinking it over logically, but in my mind, the solution should already be made.  Once we've arrived at a decision and we're making a big change, he goes with the flow and I push back.  This seems counter-intuitive.  Why do I make a snap decision to make a change but then get cold feet when it is time for the change to happen?  It might be the way my crazy mind works, it might be because I am just naturally resistant to change.  Who knows?  Fortunately, my husband knows I'm like this so when we're doing a big change, for example when we bought a house and moved across town last November, he built it up for a long time and prepared me for it.  We took it a little at a time and managed to keep our apartment for an extra week so we weren't all moved in at once.

Since this blog post is all about change, you've probably figured out I'm gearing up to tell you about a big change going on in my life right now.  We have decided to be foster parents, with the possibility of adopting later on.  I just spoke with our county DHS rep this morning and she is mailing me all our paperwork we need to get filled out and we need to go to the courthouse to be finger-printed so they can run a background check on us.  After all that is done, they will be doing a home check on us and an interview, to make sure we're not totally crazy and we actually have room for a kid or two.  Then after they approve us, and I'm just assuming they will, Mr J and I will have to take 27 hours of foster care training classes.  And I guess after that, we'll get a placement.  So hopefully we can get all this done by the end of the year and get a baby or child in January or so.

You might be wondering "What about all that fertility treatment you were doing?"  Well, we decided that stuff was way too expensive and invasive and it made me overly crazy anyway.  So we're not continuing with it.  Since we've been trying to get pregnant for well over a year, both with treatments and without, and nothing has happened, I'm going to just assumed it will not happen and move on.  Mr J and I have talked about this at great length and while we would love to have a biological child, it is not the end of the world if we can't.  It just makes so much more sense to put that money and energy toward helping a child who genuinely needs it rather than trying to get pregnant, especially when it wasn't even working.  And to prove to myself that I'm done with all this, I'm selling my infertility and pregnancy books today.  I posted them on craigslist on Monday and already have a buyer.  Hopefully they will work for her and I wish her the best.

I have grown a lot in the past year and a half.  I will be 31 next week.  I never in my life thought I would still be childless at 31, but here I am.  At least with fostering, I am guaranteed to get a child.  He or she won't look like me, but I've finally figured out that's really not that important.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Let's Get (Slow) Cooking

Disclaimer: I will be talking about specific brands and products in this blog post.  I did not seek permission from these companies to mention their brands, however all opinions are my own.  The pictures were simply taken from a google images search and the images belong to the company represented, not to me.

Let me start out by saying I adore my slow cooker.  I use it at least once a week, often more than that.  I would say the major reason why I love it so much is because I'm lazy.  I love being able to throw a few ingredients together before work and have a meal ready to eat when I come home in the evening.  Now I don't claim to be a great cook, in fact I know I'm just slightly better than mediocre.  Fortunately my husband will eat just about anything and call it delicious.  So I open a couple of cans of this and that, throw in some spices and add some meat and tada! I've got myself a meal.

I've asked around a few of my friends and found that almost everyone has a slow cooker but the problem is they don't really know what to do with it.  So it sits in a cabinet, collecting dust, and my friends instead cook a full meal every night.  Come on!  Break that baby out, dust it off and start slow cooking!  (And if you are one of the few who doesn't have one, I just checked and they have a nice 6-quart one for only $30.  Trust me, it is well worth it.)  The next most important thing you can get is your Reynold's liners:
These things are amazing.  They never quite fit into my cooker properly, but I just fold the extra edges over and it works out fine.  But they really work most of the time.  Occasionally they will leak and I'll have to wash out my cooker but for the most part, they hold everything in and there's only a small amount of condensation inside the cooker that I just wipe away.

The greatest part about slow cooking is you can get really creative with recipes.  I like to look up regular baking recipes online or in cook books and then just put it in the slow cooker.  As far as my experience has gone, if it fits in the cooker and doesn't require too much liquid, it will cook up just fine.  Soups, of course, being the exception.  You don't want to add a lot of liquid to your recipes because slow cooking releases liquids from foods anyway.  Example: if I'm feeling really lazy but know that I want some spaghetti, I'll put the frozen ground beef (extra lean because you won't be able to strain the grease out) and a jar of pasta sauce in the cooker all day.  Then just boil up some noodles, toss it all together and serve.  The general cooking time for frozen meats is about 8-10 hours on low.  I don't advise cooking frozen meats on high because they don't turn out too well.  If your meat is defrosted, you can cook it 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.  Basically until it looks done.

I recently discovered some new slow cooker sauces from Campbell's:
That's the only flavor I've tried, the Hawaiian Luau, which I made yesterday.  I defrosted a 2.5 lb pork loin, put it in the slow cooker and poured the sauce pouch over it.  That's it!  It cooked about 7 hours.  I made some rice separately, shredded up the pork and served it over the rice.  It was quite good.  I thought it had just the right blend of sweet and savory spices, but my husband thought it could stand to be a little sweeter, so I might stir in some more pineapple chunks or serve it with a side of grilled pineapple next time.  There will definitely be a next time, and I'll likely have to try out some of the other flavors too.  Plus it made a lot of leftovers so we're having pork sandwiches tonight for dinner.

One thing I have not been successful with is baking desserts in the slow cooker.  I found a recipe for peanut butter brownies that sounded amazing.  Basically it involved a packet of peanut butter cookie mix and brownie mix and all the wet ingredients.  They just didn't blend properly I think.  I don't really know what the problem was but they turned into a gloppy mess.  Maybe too many wet ingredients?  Like I said, too much liquid in slow cooker recipes is a bad idea.  So if anyone's been successful with that, I'd love to hear their tips.  My next project I'm going to try is a flaky pastry with a Brie cheese wheel.  Somehow this is supposed to be good in the slow cooker, but I am uncertain.  We'll see how it turns out!  Except I don't have any occasion to make this for and I don't want to be eating an entire wheel of cheese by myself...though god knows I could probably do it!

So, am I making you hungry yet?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Adventures at Wal-Mart

Today I went grocery shopping.  Yes, at Wal-Mart.  I'm a bargain shopper and I'm also ghetto.  That is all beside the point.  The point of this post is etiquette and basic decency.

So there I was, trying to decide exactly which pork tenderloin looked like the one for me, while Mr J was staring off into space looking bored, when a woman approached me from behind and asked if she could give me a card.  I said "Sure," because usually I like helping people out with fundraising and whatnot.  Well, this was different.  She went on to say that this company helped her get off all her medications and lose 15 pounds in one month.  My husband and I both stared at her, completely flabbergasted.  I swear I almost asked her, "Do you go around grocery stores looking for fat chicks to hassle?"  Instead I gave her what I hope was my best bitch please! look, said "No thank you," and quickly turned back to the pork.

How can anyone think it is socially acceptable to approach a total stranger and more or less tell them they need to lose weight?  Granted, yes I do need to and am trying to lose weight, as documented here.  But it is still none of her damn business.  I was hopping mad (I still am!) at that woman.  I don't know how I managed to keep my big mouth shut and not just tell her off, or lecture her about etiquette.  So, instead, I'm going to make a list of dos and don'ts for you all:


  • Ever tell anyone who is not a family member or very close friend that they need to change their appearance.  And even then, tread lightly.  Phrase it out of concern for their health, not simply that you can't stand being seen in public with a fatty.
  •  Ask a woman if she is pregnant or when her due date is unless you are absolutely sure she is pregnant.  IE: she is showing you an ultrasound picture or is complaining about a foot in her ribcage.  I have recently made this mistake and have also had the question asked of me.  It sucks being on either end, trust me.
  • Stare at other people in the gym locker room.  Whether you're a fat-fatty or are totally ripped, we all feel weird changing in front of each other.  Keep your eyes to the ground.  OK, I'll admit it, I'm guilty of this one too.  What can I say?  I like to compare breast sizes.  But I'll try to stop.
  • Go to restaurants and leave a huge mess for the staff to deal with.  Or, conversely, let your offspring run around like maniacs.  It is not safe for them or anyone else.  Remember, public places are not your house so do not treat them as such.
  • Talk incessantly about your precious offspring in front of your infertile friends.  If they want to hear stories, they will ask.  Otherwise, it is just insensitive and, to be frank, cruel.


  • Compliment as many people as possible.  This is one I try to remember always.  At the grocery store, at work, at the gym, wherever I happen to be.  If I happen to see something I like, such as a cute hairstyle or a manicure, I will be sure to compliment the woman on it.  It is simple enough, makes you feel good and can possibly just make her day much better.  Everyone likes to be noticed.  (But not stared at!)
  • Tell your husband/significant other you love him every day.  It doesn't matter that he already knows, or that you've been together 40 years.  Everyone needs love and they need to hear the words.  Going along with that one, I kiss my husband every single morning before work and every night before bed.
  • Tip your waiter.  I cannot stress this one enough!  The minimum wage for wait staff is $2.13, so they literally make their living off their tips.  It used to be customary to leave 15% of the bill as a tip, but that is outdated.  20-25% is considered customary now, but I often leave 25-30%.  Sometimes, if the bill is low and the service is above and beyond, I will leave 50% or even more.  A good waiter is hard to come by these days so if you find one, reward him or her well.  (Side note to waiters: do your damn job to the best of your ability or quit.  There is no need to half-ass it anymore.)
  • Mind your Ps and Qs.  It is not so hard to say "please" and "thank you," whether you are just at home or out in public.  It will make you a more pleasant person, both in appearance and demeanor.  Also, start teaching your children their Ps and Qs from an early age, but do not criticize them for not saying them.  That will give these nice words a negative connotation.
I'm sure I could think of a million more, but these are my basic etiquette rules that I think everyone should live by.  If we did, I think society in general would be a much more pleasant place.  What rules do you have to add to the list?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Baby Mania!

This year should be known as The Year of Babies, because good grief, they are all around me.  I cannot get away from babies.  I feel like Ally McBeal, but thankfully I haven't experienced this:

Or should I say yet?  Who knows?  I might just go nutty enough to see dancing babies everywhere I go.

The year is just over halfway through and already four of my friends have given birth.  There are several others in the next few months too.  Whenever a lot of people get pregnant all at once, people tend to joke around and say "It must be in the water!"  Just a warning...never say something like that to an infertile, unless you want to (a) make her burst into tears or (b) hear the f-bomb explode in your face.

And, of course, there's the most famous baby of them all, the new Prince George.  By the way, I'm calling it now, George is going to be one of the fastest-rising names in popularity over the next year.  In a way, I feel terribly sorry for the duke and duchess.  They have every minute detail of their lives examined.  Catherine had to get all dolled up, fixed her hair and makeup the day after giving birth.  Now I've never pushed a baby out my vagina but I'm going to assume it is a tad bit uncomfortable and I doubt I would want to have my picture taken immediately afterward.  I'm just glad I can wallow in all my infertile misery all by myself.  I can choose to be alone in this, or to complain to whomever I want.  I don't have magazines all over the world documenting my uterus, and I never will.  In a game of "Who has it better?" I'm going to say that I win.  (You know, other than the millions of pounds the duchess has.)

When a woman reaches her late-20s and early-30s, her proverbial "biological clock" starts ticking.  Mine started soon after I was married at age 28, but my husband convinced me to wait at least a year.  He had the convoluted idea that as soon as we started trying to get pregnant, it would magically happen.  Now that I'm almost 31, time seems to be passing at a much faster rate.  Most of my friends have at least one child, and many are on their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th by now.  In my twisted little mind, it seems like a competition, one that Mr J and I are failing miserably at.

"31 isn't old!  You still have years of fertility ahead!"  Yes, I've heard that many times.  Is it true, who knows?  Most days I convince myself it is true and that, yes, I will conceive a child someday.  But on my more realistic...some would say pessimistic...days, I can admit to myself that I probably will never be a biological mother.  That's not to say I won't be one by other means.  I have always been a strong supporter of adoption, but the idea has been something I'd want to pursue later in life.  But it is looking more and more like adoption is the best path for us now, rather than later.  Our next step is to contact the local DHS and apply to be foster parents.  I look forward to taking you along with us on this next journey.  Be patient with me, as it is bound to be a strange ride with many ups and downs, but then, that's how everything in my life is.