Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wake Up!

Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid"Everyone, at some point in their lives, wakes up in the middle of the night with the feeling that they are all alone in the world, and that nobody loves them now and that nobody will ever love them, and that they will never have a decent night's sleep again and will spend their lives wandering blearily around a loveless landscape, hoping desperately that their circumstances will improve, but suspecting, in their heart of hearts, that they will remain unloved forever. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to wake somebody else up, so that they can feel this way, too."
Lemony Snicket (Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Financial Advice From a Two-year-old

My youngest CoCo (2 1/2) has some speech issues, apraxia, dispraxia, childhood aphasia, what ever, nobody seems to know exactly what the problem is, they are just pretty sure that she has one.
Anyway she gets a hold of a word of phrase and uses it for everything (Echolalia).  For a while it was “No, poop-butt” 
CoCo, do you want some milk?”
“No, poop-butt” (as she is holding out her hand and shaking her head 'Yes!')
“I want juice, no poop-butt”
I assume it started because I would ask her if she “had a poopy butt?” she has moved on now she is saying “I hate____, no I love _____”
“I want, I hate grapes, no I love grapes”
“I hate Mommy, no, I love mommy”
“I hate dogs, no, I love dogs”
Yesterday she started answering every thing I asked her with “Rob a bank.”
“Are you hungry CoCo?”
“Rob a bank, Momma”
“Is that good Coco?”
“Rob a bank, Momma”
Either, at two years old she has a far better understanding of the recession and our resulting financial situation then I could ever imagine and she is giving me her best advice… “Rob a bank, Momma”.  Or she is saying something else completely and I just don’t get it.  I guess we will be using the ATM until I figure it out.

"No Pig For You Mom"

Roses - Dozen Assorted Rose Flowers + 6 FREE with VaseMy husband is home for the weekend. Yeah!
He took the girls out early to buy me some cozy PJs and some roses (that was all Amélie) to surprise me for my birthday.  
When they came in the door CoCo was saying “Pig a-jammas Momma. Surprise, Pig a-jammers Momma!” 
Alfani Ocean Blue Fleece Pajama Set SI was so excited thinking “Oh, goodie the found some Pig pajamas big enough for me.  I hope they are the kind with feet.”
But alas, it was not to be.  "No pig for you Mom!"  I got a pair of adult blue fleece pajamas a supplicated white flower pattern and a peter pan collar.  CoCo on the other hand was clutching size 3T multi color polka-a-dot footie pajamas with a huge pig appliqué on the belly, that she apparently refused to let go of, lucky girl.

Seriously, I love my new PJs, my hubby and sweet girls.  
I am blessed and lucky. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Foster Care Youth/Alumni:

"We are each/all guilty of one thing: being born into families that were troubled. Amidst that indictment, we have found the strength within ourselves/one another to survive that sentence and fight for better supports to strengthen our younger brothers and sisters. Let's continue to Press on." ~ Lisa Dickson
Lisa posted that as her status tonight and I was so moved I just had to share it.  

We were not born in to the same family.  Our  parents, natural families, judges, lawyers, attorneys and social workers  threw us together.  

In the houses of strangers, and the halls of intuitions we became family, together we can make a difference for those too young to stand up for themselves.
The shame of inadequacy does not fall on us.

 Lets stand together and be proud.  

Let us not be survivors of the system.

 Lets us be Victorious.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Am Not a Sucker

I tell my two little girls they have to go get in the car; I have to drive through the bank real quick.
Amélie (still 4 for a few more days) says “will they give us suckers?”
They certainly will!
As I get in I see they are both in the 3rd row seat, not in their car seats.
I say “you guys have to buckle up in your car seats if you want to go get suckers…”
Amélie says, “That’s O.K. Mom; we’d rather ride back here than get suckers.”
What are we going to do with her?  It wasn’t a choice!

Begrudgingly Counting My Blessings

The recession has taught me that I could manage as a single working mother, it has also taught me to be grateful that I only have to do it for short stretches.  Everyone misses Daddy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Extending Support for Foster Youth Beyond 18

Update October 1, 2010 PASSED! 

I love this bill let's hope Governor Schwarzenegger signs it in to Law...
This act of legislation has already prompted the introduction of similar laws in 9 other states.  What are we weighting for here in Michigan? Our Foster Kids deserve a fighting chance for success!

AB 12 was passed in the California State Legislature on August 31, 2010. It now goes to Governor Schwarzenegger, who has until the end of September to sign or veto the bill. Please urge Governor Schwarzenegger to sign AB 12”

“I write to ask that you join me in supporting California Assembly Bill 12, a major child-welfare reform bill currently under consideration in the California State Assembly. Among its many provisions, AB 12 will better support youth in their transition from foster care by allowing them to access services until age 21. It will also save the state of California millions of dollars by opting the state into a federal program to offer the same support to relative caregivers given to non-relatives when they become the legal guardians of youth in foster care.
Both of these major reforms will ensure that we do all we can to support foster youth as they develop into independent, healthy adults. Learn more about the legislation, and about what you can do to help, at”

"As of April 1, nine states have introduced legislation taking advantage of the options created by HR 6893. The American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Bar Youth Empowerment Project created has summarized the key features of the legislation in each of the nine states.
Prepared by Kate Egbert under the supervision of Professor Miriam Aroni Krinsky"


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Long Gone, Almost Forgotten Religious Upbringing

Sunday Koffron (baby J),
Amy Koffron (Mary)
Stranger things can happen and frequently do to me.  

….I ran a crossed this article 'The effects of divorce on children' by Barbara Meng, this essay outlines and supports many of my concerns and ideas about divorce and how it affects children.  She even touches on my biggest pet-peeve myth phrase “children are resilient”... I don’t think that it would be strange that research supports my views, Duh.  What was strange to me is that I found it at What? 

My grandpa, (Died June 7th, 2001, god knows I miss him) was born and raised catholic as were all of his kin before him and after him, I assume; he even went to catholic schools back in Iowa, before his mom brought him to Detroit.  My father was also born, baptized and raised catholic, and attended a catholic college at the University of Detroit back when they had a football team.  At my dad’s insistence my older sister Amy went to catechism and had her first communion.  I was baptized Catholic and remember my dad taking us to mass and teaching us to make the sign of the cross after our dinner prayer.  

All of that was before the divorce, before the lawyers, attorneys, judges, social workers, before my dad got remarried and converted to Judaism, my mom converted to Alcoholics Anonymous and became celibate (well, that was MUCH later), before I was a ward of the state and went to foster care.  

I occasionally tell people “I spent half my childhood being raised by lesbian grad students from U of M.”, and I am only half joking.  Many of my care takers fit that description and I still rarely shave my legs, I say in solidarity if asked, laziness in truth. I have always thought of myself as a hard core humanist liberal (although, I have a healthy respect for the healing powers of personal responsibility).  I am one of those spiritual but, not religious people.   Conservative? No, not me, never!   

So how do I explain this? It would be unwise to throw away the truth just because it is coming form an unexpected source.   And…Maybe, just possibly, it is just another case of the chickens coming home to roost.  

Not just as Christians as People, Humans and Parents
"With all of these negatives for children of divorce, parents should think twice before they give up on their marriage. If they only knew from the start the disaster their divorce would inflict on themselves, their children and their grandchildren, perhaps they would willing to go the extra mile and try with every ounce of their strength, and much prayer, to work things out. As Christians, we have the obligation to gently warn them of the terrible effects of divorce on children, and do all in our power to be "marriage savers.""
~ Barbara Meng

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Children Are Not Resilient

Kids are not resilient. They have short attention spans. That is why they can get bad news and then walk away and continue playing with their friends, that and the fact that their experience doesn’t allow them to fully appreciate the ramifications of life changes. They are easily distracted and inexperienced, not resilient.

When you hear the term “children are resilient”, you can bet either somebody is dead, which can’t be helped, or some adult is about to heap a load of crap on them and expect them to deal with it. Adults will do this pretty much guilt free, after all kids are so resilient.

Divorce sucks for kids, that is all there is to it. Divorce is the other event that prompts adults to sit around, shake there heads and say thoughtfully “but kids are so resilient.” No really, they are not. Attorneys and lawyers represent adults in a divorce, the job of each attorney/lawyer is to serve and protect the interest of their client (adults) respectively.  Thier job is to leave the other party (parent) with as little as possible. What effect does this have on the kids? Who cares....they are resilient.

Sometimes divorce is inevitable, necessary for the protection of children, like in the case of physical abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction  or maybe criminal conduct. What about when a spouse cheats you may ask, “what about that?” Is sore pride and a bruised ego are worth laying ruin to the lives of your children? Oh, yeah, they are resilient, right? Sometimes adults feel unappreciated, unfulfilled, like they deserve more, something is just not fair, well…grow up, and be more resilient.

Kids Don’t “Bounce Back”  @

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mary Karr's Lit: A Memoir (P.S.), Softening My View (just a little)

I just finished *reading* (Audio Book) Lit: A Memoir (P.S.), which I appreciated as much for it’s poetic prose as for it’s honesty, humor and the occasional use of the phrase “and I shit you not…”
Lit: A Memoir (P.S.) 
Her eventual coming to terms with her narcissistic all be it sober, still flakey mother I found hopeful.

One thing that sticks with me is her detailed description of her “sobriety support group” (AA) and it’s kooky characters, the likes of which I spent much of my childhood with, was heartwarming. Many an AA meeting I spent sitting in a bathroom, a kitchen, along a back wall or a parking lot of some church, while my mother ruled the tables. There is a tenet in the program that the newly sober do “90 meetings in the first 90 days” and I shit you not... she has gone to at least 90 (more like 120) meetings in 90 days every 90 days for the past 33 years. I have always had a certain amount of resentment about that organization, and about her lack of judgment in, say, inviting an entire men’s halfway house, home for weekends with a 10, 11 and 15 year-old in the house. But alas, May Karr does remind me that they were for the most part a loveable rag tag group that has enriched my life in some way by there mere presence. (Not a tradition I plan on carrying on with my kids, however.)

Most people get sober so they can get their kids back, not throw them away to foster care so they can have more time for their support group. Nothing is ever easy with the Koffrons.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Can’t Do Everything, Just Ask Amélie

I was supposed to have a minor surgery today, unfortunately it did not go according to plan, and all I have to show for it is a prescription for antibiotics, pain pills, and an appointment to talk about plan B.

Amélie has decided it is her job to take care of Mommy today. She has gotten me water, snacks, covered me with blankets (all with out me asking for or wanting any of it) and been my cuddle buddy. Jim who has been doing all of CoCo's diaper changing asked me to open the new bag of wipes for him (he had his hands full).

"She CAN'T do EVERYthing -DAD!" Amélie snapped

That's my girl!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Homeschooling For Kindergarten

Public school in Michigan starts tomorrow.

Photo credit Amy KoffronOur entire district has been restructured- the elementary schools will be K4, upper elementary will be 5th and 6th grade, middle school will be 7th and 8th grade then high school will be 9th -12th. Madeline will be starting 8th grade at a new school a few miles away instead of the one she had been attending that backs up to our house. Our neighborhood elementary that would be in walking distance is one of the several closed. All of which I am taking with a grain of salt. Things are tough for everyone these days, and we will all just have to get though this together. Budgets are tight and even the schools are having to tighten up as well.
Along with those changes the school board has also decided, being that they only had 16 pupils interested in half-day kindergarten, they will not be offering a half-day option at all. Kindergarten here will be all day or nothing. Well for Amélie it will be nothing this year. OK maybe not nothing, but Amélie will be staying home this year.
I realize that not everyone will understand or agree with my decision to keep her home this year. It is not a choice I made lightly. Kindergarten is not required in our state and she is under the age of compulsory attendance. All said it is my choice to make (as well as my husband’s).
The one reaction to the news that Amélie isn’t going to school this year that really burns my butt cheeks is “but don’t you want a break?” That is inevitably the first thing those vehemently opposed to my decision, like my step mom say. What? Tell me all about how she will be behind the other kids next year. Tell me it is fun. What ever you have to say, don’t tell me that you think I am just keeping my four-year-old home to take care of my 2-year-old, because that is just insanity and sounds more like something she might have been inclined to do. And never and I mean never suggest that I do something that I feel is not in the best interest of any of my three kids so I can use the bathroom in peace.
Maybe because I had my kids after 30, I got a lot of “me time” in before I had them. Maybe it was all those years I spent as a ward of the state (in foster care) while my parents were going on their merry way with an abundance of if not “me time” certainly not “Sunday time”. Whatever the case may be 12 years ago, the first time I held my slimy, wet, warm little still slightly blue Maddie I realized that I would not be getting much “me time” for a very long time and that I was no longer the most important person in my life.  The last thing in the world my kids are to me is a burden that I would need to escape.
Amélie will be a homeschooled fairy princess this year. She will learn to read, write and do math dressed as an Indian, in her PJs, standing on her head, in first position or what ever strikes her fancy. She will do her best speech therapist impersonation and MAKE CoCo talk. She will laugh and smile and say things that will make me laugh until the tears roll. She will learn. She will inevitably start arguments with her sister while I am in the shower and have to ask me really important (to her) questions while I’m on the toilet, but I think one more year to just be a kid is well worth giving up a little “me time”.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle: A Memoir
I just finished reading The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, a very good read. I am still digesting some of the similar parenting philosophies her mother and mine shared…humm…Having “but you are a survivor” (of my parenting) as a parental point of pride I have always found confounding. I guess we all have to hang our hats on something….

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