Ghost Towns of Lyon County: Bushong

The Ghost towns of Lyon County are so much more fun to visit in the spring! It was a beautiful weekend so Sylas K and I went on an adventure to Bushong. I’ve previously visited Chicago Mound, Alda, Badger Creek and Lang. So far Bushong has been the best find of all.

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We pulled into Bushong, got out of the car and saw a person! Not only a person but a person we knew! Our family friend Christina and her family have a cute little house in Bushong. People actually still live there. Not many about 40 people.

Sylas checked out Christina’s yard and flowers and she told me about the Bushong Garage. The building has been maintained well, has original signage and even has the rings on the side of the building to hook up horses. Really cool!

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The old bank building is partially standing. The vault is still intact. There are also trees growing in the middle of building which Sylas thought was pretty impressive. Most of the buildings were built in the early 1900’s and I was impressed with the number still standing.

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The church is beautiful and in great condition. The school however is a crumbled mess. It is falling apart and lots of bricks. We walked inside a bit but I didn’t really feel good about having Sylas walk around inside too much. The structure didn’t seem very stable in some part.

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We saw lots of houses that are still occupied but also lots of structures that are in total disrepair. It was really sad to see because I think with just a little upkeep the town could be more.

When I was looking at the school it made me wonder how many more crumbling schools we will see in small towns. With education cuts there is no doubt that small town schools will close. And most of us know that when schools close in small towns the towns eventually disappear as well. Sad to think about.

Bushong was quite the adventure with Sylas K. We walked all over town and found “treasures” including 800 rocks that were hauled home in his pockets. Not many of the ghost towns have actual buildings or people so it was a treat. I’m not sure which one we will visit next but I’ll keep you posted.

You are not your mistakes

You are not perfect but you are NOT your mistakes!

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Recently, I had a bit of blow up on my Facebook page. I posted something that I thought was funny and some others didn’t see the humor the way I did. At the end of the comment war I had plenty to think about.

Something dawned on me as I read through the comments. Many people think they know me based on what I write on my blog and in my daily job. My blog does offer great insight into me as a person and as a parent. But it doesn’t tell the whole story of me. In fact, there are so many things that readers don’t know about me.

I think that the ideas people form of me solely based on what I write may be a bit unrealistic. The truth is, like all of you, I am human.

So in an effort share some of my humanness I thought I should share some things you may not know about me….

I’m have a ridiculously inappropriate sense of humor. At a past job I was actually banned from using the intercom system due to an unfortunate event in which I pretended to be my alter ego Sun Li on the phone with a coworker. While discussing inappropriate things in my foreign accent the entire conversation went live across the intercom system.Yikes!

I also have been known to give coworkers native american nicknames, pretended to be Jewish so I could get Hanukah gifts from interns and once wore a sticker on my boob during an interview with a political candidate. Yep, totally inappropriate but incredibly hilarious.

I’m not a good step parent.. at all! It’s not something I’m good at and not something I particularly want to do again unless the situation is entirely different. I’m probably an ass for saying it outloud but I claim it.

I smoke… cigarettes… not pot or meth or crack or ice but I smoke. Media tells me this makes me a bad mom and a bad person. My doctor says it isn’t healthy. But at the end of the day I just want my damn smokey treats.

I eat to much food, some fried, some dipped in chocolate and way to much of it that comes of out a box.

When I stand in line and wait at the grocery store I break all of the candy bars in the aisle. Yes it is childish but if I can’t have a yummy candy bar no one else in that aisle is getting an unbroken one. I started doing this as a kid and it has continued into adulthood. I have no desire to stop this behavior now.

When people park to close to my car in a parking lot I want to key them. It is an impulse that I struggle to control. The nicer the car that has saddled itself up on my drivers door the more I want to slide my key down that shiny paint job. I have never done it. But I promise you the day I’m diagnosed with a terminal disease I will key every car I want!

I cuss… Sometimes like a sailor… and sometimes in front of my kid…

When people fall down in front of me I laugh. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Can’t stop myself.

I’m an outgoing introvert. I hate leaving my house except for work. In fact, I get crazy anxious about it and will come up with every excuse to avoid social outings. Once I’m there I can be on, laughing, making jokes, entertaining. But I HATE leaving my house. Most of my friends come to me.

I fail at parenting every single day. I make mistakes, I screw up and then I thank GOD I get to try again tomorrow.

I’m not perfect but I am not my mistakes. The great news is that you aren’t perfect either and you also are NOT your mistakes. We each have the choice to try harder, try differently or just embrace some of our personal failings.

Happy Birthday Sylas

I can’t believe that my Sylas K is already seven! How in the world have seven years flown by so fast? It feels like I just brought him home from the hospital.

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Seven years ago, it was Good Friday. I was reeling from three failed adoptions, heart broken and depressed. I went to church that morning to take a 30 minute shift on the Good Friday prayer vigil. I remember praying and pleading with God to send me a baby.

Little did I know, at that time Sylas K was entering the world. It was Easter Sunday when I received the call that he was waiting for me. I’ll never forget the first time I held him. My heart and life have never been the same.

I think frequently about all he has been through in just seven years. Dealing with FASD, the house fire, gaining a dad and then going through the separation process. Not easy things to navigate for adults but especially difficult for a little guy. While other kids head to soccer practice or boy scouts Sylas K has spent his time heading to occupational therapy or another medication appointment.

What always stands out to me is through it all Sylas K continues to laugh and love. He always finds the best of every situation. No matter what comes at him he just enjoys life and his people. I hope he stays like that forever.

Every day is an amazing day as Sylas K’s mama. For seven years I’ve had the opportunity to be mama to the most amazing little guy I know. I hope that his birthday is just half as wonderful as he is.

 

Road trip lessons

Just a few road trip lessons that may be helpful for you to know in the future…

  1. Hermit crabs do not travel well!
  2. Hermit crabs can actually get motion sickness. This sickness can lead to them puking or pooping in their container. I’m not certain which it was but I can assure you that hermit crabs expel something disgusting when traveling.
  3. Motion sickness can then cause a hermit crab to develop what I call “Travel induced panic” which will ultimately lead to death.
  4. Hermit crabs dying in transit can cause your child to have a meltdown complete with sobbing and wailing while you try to handle bumper to bumper traffic through Ft. Worth during rush hour.
  5. Bribing your child with not one but two new hermit crabs from the pet store when you return home can make the meltdown stop.
  6. Roadside burials of dead hermit crabs can take awhile… They have to include not only a eulogy but also prayers and a special musical selection.
  7. It takes forever to drive from Texas to Kansas!
  8. GPS lies! It says it takes 12 hours. LIES! LIES! LIES!
  9. If your child has hotel phobias always get a room with an exterior entrance. For some reason this is magic.
  10. When GPS attempts to route you off the highway to save time during a traffic jam don’t listen to it. This is a guarantee you will be led into the ghetto.
  11. Explaining to your child why everyone in the “detour” area is pushing shopping carts or sleeping on the street can lead to some interesting conversations.
  12. Road trips get real when you have to tackle homelessness and hermit crab deaths in the same 100 mile stretch.
  13. If your child knows every single song on the radio change to a Spanish channel occasionally to give yourself a break.
  14. Explaining that the words are actually “Uptown funk you up” and not “Uptown fuck you up” gets old after the fifth time you have heard the song.
  15. Seriously, it takes forever to drive from Texas to Kansas. Buy plane tickets next time!

Time with Papa

Sylas K doesn’t usually get much time with my dad, his Papa. We live so far apart that visits are rare and usually rushed. The best part of this vacation has been watching them interact for this many days in a row. They are a pretty funny pair.

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Sylas: Papa lets all hold hands and walk into the water together.

Papa: This sounds like a suicide pact.

Sylas: What’s a suicide pact.

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After our trip to Chuck e cheese sylas made a declaration.

“Man that was fun. Papa sometimes you are pretty crabby but today you were really fun.”

Sylas somehow convinced dad to play the hamster wheel game! The things grandparents do for grandkids.

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When I laid down with Sylas tonight at bed time he seemed a bit upset.

Me: What’s wrong?

Sylas: I’m really worried about papa.

Me: Why is that?

Sylas: he is gonna miss me so much when we leave. Who is going to play with him at the beach and color with him every day?

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Vacation success

Sylas and I haven’t taken a vacation in what feels like forever. Our last attempt at vacationing ended with me puking in the car. But not this time!

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Vacation has so far been incredibly successful. We have spent time with my Dad and Cricket, rode the ferry, been to the beach multiple times, lost a tooth and found three star fish.

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We spent two, yes two, nights in a hotel and Sylas actually loved it. The key is that this hotel room with an exterior door, no hallways. Usually, he refuses hotels, “I don’t feel good about this mom.”

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But he survived the hotel experience amazingly well. The first morning when we woke up and he walked outside he said, “I could get used to this. Palm trees, birds, the beach and my granny and papa.”

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I could totally get used to this too!

Baby dinosaur

Most kids go through the imagination/pretend stage around 3 or 4 years old. With FASD there is a 2/3 rule. Basically kids with FASD develop or act about 2/3 their age. So lots of things that Sylas should have done around 3 or 4 he is just now doing. One of those things is playing pretend.

While I’m thrilled he hit a developmental milestone the pretend games wear me out. I’m not joking when I tell you that the first thing he asks me every morning is “Can we play babies? Pretend I’m a baby again.”

Every. Single. Morning.

Then he wants to play baby dinosaurs or baby bears. He is a baby T-Rex that was just born but his eyes won’t open like a baby kitten. So I have to guide him through the house. He pretends to be a baby bear and I take him to a pretend river and teach him how to catch pretend fish.

I was a pretend mama bear last weekend and I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled with the elaborate and very lifelike pretend birth I portrayed. The birth was complete with me shooting a stuffed teddy bear out from under my shirt across the room. Yes I have to be dramatic in my pretend play!

The pretend play has led to some real conversations like this one.

Sylas: Mama I don’t think all baby bears or babies come out of tummies.

Me: No they don’t. You didn’t come out of my tummy but you are still my baby.

Sylas: Yeah I know, I came out of a hospital and another mom.

Me: Yep.

Sylas: I don’t think that is how it always works. Where else do babies come out of?

Me: Where else do you think they could come out of?

Sylas: I’m pretty sure vaginas.

Me: You would be correct about that. If you knew that why did you ask?

Sylas: I just wanted to see if you would tell me. I think baby bears and vaginas are pretty funny.

Tonight he wanted to play baby dinosaurs. But there was a twist. The mama dinosaur was hiding and the baby dinosaur had to find her. So of course I did my best dinosaur routine and went into hiding in his bedroom closet.

It seems the baby dinosaur must have gotten sidetracked or just been incredibly inept at finding it’s mother because I fell asleep in the closet. For awhile… like an hour!

I woke up in a panic. Sylas unsupervised can spell disaster! But I found him sleeping soundly in the living room. When he woke up I asked him why he didn’t come find me. He said that he did but I was already asleep and he thought that meant that it was dinosaur nap time so he went and laid in his “cave”.

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Thank God the baby dinosaur believed in naps…

Conversations we shouldn't have to have

Awhile back I posted about about special needs parenting and the things we don’t say. A lot of special needs parents could relate to that post. So I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that quite a few of them will relate to this post as well.

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Here are just a few of the conversations I’ve had in the last several days that I shouldn’t have to have.

At the pharmacy

Me: I’m here to pick up Sylas’ prescriptions.

Pharmacy lady: We have one ready for $1,482.

Me: Uh he has insurance that should cover that.

Pharmacy lady: It says that the insurance is canceled. If we fill the other four prescriptions it will be $4822. I’m guessing you want to wait on that.

Me: Yeah good guess.

With the insurance company call 1

Me: I’m calling about my son’s insurance coverage. I’m told it is canceled.

Insurance lady: Yes it is. You make to much money.

Me: He has a disability and I don’t make too much money.

Insurance lady: Well the computer says he doesn’t have social security coverage anymore because you make too much money. You do make close to $6,000 a month so that is why.

Me: Ha! I don’t make anywhere close to $6,000 a month. Hell I don’t make $6,000 in two months. How do I fix what the computer shows?

Insurance lady: Well since you make too much money you would have to quit your job or take a pay decrease and then it would reinstate.

Me: So if I quit my job my child would have insurance?

Insurance lady: Yes.

Me: Okay then how would we pay for everything else. How would I have insurance?

Insurance lady: Well you would qualify for benefits as well.

Me: Wow, this sounds like systemized poverty to me. Do you think this is part of Gov. Brownback’s plan to have able-bodied Kansans work and support themselves?

Insurance lady: I can’t really speak to his plan but I know if you are unemployed he would qualify. It’s an option.

Conversation with social security

Keep in mind calling social security took 6 calls over 2 days to schedule call backs from them because the waiting line was so long. It also meant getting disconnected twice on call backs.

Me: I need to submit new information regarding my pay to make sure my sons insurance is reinstated.

Social Security person: You make too much money.

Me: I can assure you I don’t make too much money. Can you give me a fax number to send my pay check stubs too.

Social Security: Well you make way to much money.

Me: Listen I’m sitting here looking at my paycheck stubs and my overdrawn checking account. I DON’T MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY.

Social Security: Well you can go to your local office and turn them in there I suppose. But the computer shows you make too much money.

I then go to the local where I’m greeted by a security guard. I never understood why they had a security person until now. It’s so frazzled moms don’t lose their shit.

I take my number and get to the window. I explain the whole situation and had the lady my pay stubs. She begins to laugh and apologize.

Social security lady: Oh Jessie you don’t make too much money. We actually owe you some money. You should be getting a little bit for disability each month.

Me: I want to kiss you. You are seriously my hero. Can you please tell me his insurance will be back on. I have to get him meds.

Social security lady: Yes I’m filling this out now. When you leave here call DCF. They will get it set up.

I skipped to my car! Seriously skipped! Meds are back! We are on day four of no meds at this point.

It took leaving several messages at DCF and I finally got a call back.

DCF: So I have a message to call you. What are you calling about?

Me: I explain the whole situation.

DCF: Well he doesn’t have coverage yet because he doesn’t qualify for social security.

Me: Social security says he does qualify and I resubmitted my paystubs to both you and them. He qualifies financially as well.

DCF: Well I can’t do anything about that because it says he is supposed to be on a SED wavier and the mental health center didn’t do the paperwork.

ME: Well I don’t see why that matters if he qualifies two other ways that have been completed. I don’t care which way he qualifies I just know that my child does not have medications and he must have them.

DCF: The paperwork has been submitted but it will take four to six weeks.

Me: I’d like to request it be rushed due to medical urgency. I’ve heard that can be done.

DCF: It will take at least four weeks.

Me: So you are telling me that my child qualifies for the insurance for three reasons. 1. He has a disability. 2. He is severely emotionally disturbed. 3. We are considered low income. But even though he qualifies in those three ways he is going to go without medication for 4 weeks?

DCF: Yes it takes four to six weeks.

So now we wait… I can promise you it will not take four weeks. I will call every single day until it’s reinstated. I don’t quit. But I shouldn’t have too. Having a child with a disability is enough of a struggle. We shouldn’t have to fight for every single thing they need to meet their needs. It shouldn’t be this hard. But it is.

Top 10 reasons co-parenting sucks

Before I married someone with a herd of children I believed co-parenting was a great thing. I was foolish enough to believe that that it could be done fairly easily. Then I attempted to co-parent and realized it’s really freaking hard. And then my marriage went to shit and I have to co-parent even more and I realize that it’s more than really freaking hard. IT IS EXHAUSTING.

Top 10 reasons co-parenting sucks…

  1. You have to share everything with someone you don’t want to share anything with. You have to share your kid, holidays, social events and troubles.
  2. You have to be pleasant while sharing everything with someone you don’t want to share anything with. Annoyed they bought a new jeep, smile while you transfer the kid from one vehicle to another. Pissed that they have yet another new girl friend. Smile and try to keep from biting your tongue clean off while your kid talks about how great Daddy’s friend is.
  3. You get played like a fiddle by your kid. Seriously, they always have an out. Tell them it’s homework time and they hate you and want to go to the other house. Say no to chips and they want to move out forever.
  4. Everything is a comparison. At dad’s house I can do this. At mom’s house I can do that.
  5. You have to consider their feelings in your life decisions. Want to move to some far away land. Well no, you have to talk about that and discuss it and negotiate it. You can never really do what you want to do again.
  6. Have a schedule planned? Say goodbye to that! There is no real planning. You can count on that a little bit but when push comes to shove and plans get changed you have to go with the flow and suck it up. Bye bye future planning.
  7. You can’t just hate them. As much as you want to hate the other parents or as much as you just want to disengage you can’t. You have to stay attached enough that you can be positive and loving and supportive. You know it’s best for your kids but really detaching from them in every way would be so much easier for you!
  8. You still have to buy them shit! This drives me crazy. You still have to ensure that birthday gifts and mother’s and father’s day gifts are bought and wrapped and delivered with care.
  9. Sometimes you are even contacted as a character witness. You may get random messages from people wanting to know if your ex is a good person or if you would recommend them to date. Oh the places you could go with this one. But you have to put all your hilarious snarky bitch comments aside and be the bigger person.
  10. As much as it drives you crazy, makes you want to scream and pisses you off to no end you suck it up and do it because it is what is best for your kids. You shut up, smile and do what’s right. (And maybe poke the voodoo doll a couple extra times in the eyes after the kids go to sleep.)

The truth is co-parenting sucks and it is a hell of a lot of work. But is it worth it? Yes, of course it is. Kids need both parents, kids can never have too many people loving them so we suck it up and we do it. But I still say adopting as a single parent and never marrying would have been the best plan for me. Now I have to follow the plan that is best for the kid.

Sometimes the things that are the most beneficial are often the most difficult….

Digging out memories

It snowed here this weekend and I ventured outside to dig out my car. I ended up digging out some memories instead. As I brushed the snow off of my car my mind drifted back about nine years to my days working in child welfare.

Before I devoted my whole life to writing words I spent 14 years working in the child welfare field. I started out as a transportation aid while in my first year of college and worked my way up over the years to a supervisory position. I did about every front line job in the child welfare system you can have and for the most part I loved the work.

As I was pushing the snow off my car I thought back to a young man that was on my best friend Darby and I’s caseload years ago. He was about 14 and a handsome kid. He was a farm kid and worked harder than any 14 year old I’d ever met. He could barely sneak by in school but if you asked that kid how to fix a motor, run farm equipment or take care of livestock he would amaze you.

One day when he hanging out in our office it started to snow and it kept snowing. It probably dumped 3 inches on us in a matter of an hour or two. Our cars were totally covered. As it got close to the end of the day he started going around the office collecting all of our car keys. He started all of our cars and cleaned them all off. Totally against the rules, most people would think we were crazy for giving a kid our car keys, he could have run away. But we knew he wouldn’t. He was being a helper, doing what he did best. He was so proud of himself and we were thrilled with the help.

I wonder about him often, where is he now? Is he safe, happy, productive? I wonder about all of the kids we worked with. All of the kids that changed me, tugged at my heart, helped me become a better person and a better mother.

Some of them I’ve kept up, followed on Facebook and celebrated with as they have had their own children, earned college degrees and found employment. I cherish their successes because I know their struggles.

Others visit me in my dreams like the little baby we picked up at the hospital whose head was so flat from laying neglected in her crib. Did her head heal? Most importantly did her heart? Or the young brothers that we fought to keep out of their mom’s home with all we had. We knew the abuse they had suffered was unimaginable. I still dream about the day her lawyer “won” in court and he turned to us and said, “gals, ya win some you lose some.” I remember laying my head on the hard wooden bench in front of me and crying, trying to catch my breath before I had to tell these boys that trusted me that they were going home to a place that I knew wasn’t safe.

We hear frequently about the “failures” of child welfare. How the system is flawed. Folks it is flawed. If foster care was good for kids we would send them all there instead of summer camp. Foster care is not perfect but sometimes it is safer than home. It is a flawed system filled with educated, compassionate people trying to do the best they can to keep kids safe with less resources and more criticism every year.

In that flawed system a good deal of magic happens every day. Children are adopted and find forever families that will love and adore them. I remember every adoption I was ever associated with.

Children often go home, to safe homes, with their parents who have learned new skills and made great strides to get their kiddos back. I remember those days too. The excitement I would feel for those parents that had worked so hard and been open to change because they loved their kids so much.

Workers will band together to come up with creative ways to ensure that children have new shoes for dance class, graduation caps and gowns and resources for when they move out on their own. I swear social workers are the best magicians of all. They can turn .87 into $2 and throw together birthday parties in a matter of minutes. Yes children enter foster care on their birthdays and we have been known to have birthday parties in the middle of the night while waiting for placement.

Foster parents will open their hearts and homes to some of the most difficult kids in the world. They will awaken at odd hours of the night and prepare bedrooms and baths with smiles and hugs and genuine concern. They will love children like their own with no guarantee they will even see them again in the future.

Yes the system is flawed but that system is filled with people trying to do the best they can. The truth is that even when we move on we never really leave child welfare. It stays with us, marks us for eternity. Because when it snows I still think of him. And when I sleep I still think of them. We don’t leave the field because we quit caring. We usually leave because we care too much…