Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I rode a bicycle this morning for the first time in 20 years! And it really is just like riding a bicycle. I almost ran into a pedestrian (who looked pretty peeved even though I yelled "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" after him--he had no way of knowing that I'd been on the bicycle for one minute in the last 20 years and hadn't quite gotten my bearings yet, or that I was actually trying very hard NOT to hit him when I lost control of the bicycle) but other than that it wasn't too much of a disaster. I think that I might manage to ride a bike to work from now on; I hope that it will save a bit of time. I will add, however, that riding in the street in my Big City is Scary and so I need to figure out a good route. And if (when) I get a new job, I might not be able to ride a bike anymore. It depends on where it is located, as the bike is not my own but rather part of a zipcar-like bike sharing program. (Oh please oh please let there be more than one Big City with a bike sharing program!) So if there isn't a drop off location near the office, I'll have to figure something else out. But that's really jumping the gun.
The other thing I've done this week that I haven't done since middle school is to knit. Many thanks to the internet for simple instructions to cast on (a necessary step in knitting, which I had forgotten how to do--knitting is just like riding a bicycle, though casting on apparently isn't). I've begun a scarf with yarn that I've been schlepping around from home to home just to see if it sticks. If it does (and hopefully the yarn will last long enough for the scarf to be scarf-length), then I'll make the investment in correct size needles and yarn to make blankies for kiddos. If you have any fun and easy patterns, please send them my way!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
But while I relish the ability to interpret the fixed liturgy in ways that are meaningful to me, I sometimes feel the lack of a more free-form type of prayer.
My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, and since no one else in my family is observant, I have taken it upon myself to say kaddish. (I hope Grandpa wouldn't mind.) So I have been going to services in the morning and gotten back in the habit of davening (praying) at least one time a day, and I have begun using the time after I am done reciting my own Prayer to add personal hopes and wishes. The very first day I did this, I included a prayer for one of my friends who had been unemployed for nine months, and the next day she got a job offer! (Just a fantastic coincidence; that's not actually how I think G-d works.)
This week I began adding a request that G-d direct/enable/assist me to be in touch with my sister. There's no reason why we're not in touch more, just that neither one of us is terribly good at phone calls, and we didn't have a very good model of good familial relationships growing up. So, unlike the guy who prays to win the lottery but never buys a ticket, I called my sister today. I got to talk to my nephew (who is almost 6! where does the time go?) and then chatted with my sister about her state's teacher licensing exam that she has to take in a few weeks. (I guess there isn't reciprocity with the state where she used to live. I knew that her state doesn't like to admit lawyers to practice based on bar admission elsewhere, but teachers? Strange.) She has to study because what special ed teacher of 3-6 year olds knows about the causes of the drought in the Dakotas in the 1930s? (I think that's what the question was that she told me about. And no, she's not in either of the Dakotas.)
Anyway, I seem to be having pretty good luck with my prayers (still praying for Once Lost to find Clay) so if you have anything that you need...
Sunday, July 26, 2009
In fact, it has been a perfect example of natural consequences.
When one reads a year's worth of blog posts in six days, some themes come up again and again. One of those has been--to put it ineloquently but to include both positive and negative--responding to behavior. There are two sides to this: praise for positive behavior, and consequences for negative behavior. (Though, as I think about it, praise is just one type of consequence of positive behavior. So perhaps there is just one side, and that is consequences.)
At my old job, I rarely got any feedback on my performance, and when I did, it was negative. So when I started my current job and one of the first emails from my boss was positive feedback, I created a "props" folder in my email and started saving certain emails to it so that I could go back and re-read them if I was feeling particularly inept. (This did not help on the day that I remember being passively criticized for incorrect data entry--when all else fails, I know that I'm good at data entry--and spent much of the day bundling pens...because of course that was "all I was capable of doing." That was in my pre-Celexa days.)
I think that I respond well to positive feedback. But only when it comes from an outside source. I don't do well with patting myself on the back. And therefore, I end up experiencing natural consequences--perhaps a subconcious self-sabotage? I let job listings accumulate in my inbox without applying for them, so that the job that sounded perfect closed a week ago. I forget to pay my credit card bill on time despite being able to pay it off, so I have a late fee plus interest. I stay up too late reading blogs and then am tired all day the next day. I do all these irresponsible things and then think that there is no way I'm responsible enough to take care of a kid.
There is another job that closes on Wednesday, so I need to work on my cover letter. I am procrastinating on that by writing this post. But it needs to be hand-delivered (I had a nice snarky comment here but realized it might give away what Big City I live in) so I should get it done to allow for some flexibility in when I go to deliver it. It would be great if the natural consequence of applying is to actually get the job!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
[###] A foster home shall have and use protective devices on all
windows to prevent a child from falling out of the window.
[###] A foster home shall have and use safety locks on all windows and
doors on or above the second floor.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
But four hours of leave for a fifteen minute visit is just inappropriate. If I were paid by the hour, I would be pissed. And I don't use that type of language lightly. Plus, the more I have to take off before I'm licensed, the less time I'll have saved to take off when I really need to!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I don't cook as much, or as varied, as I should, because I'm lazy and hate washing dishes. (See: goals #3 and #4.) But last night I compromised and even though I made pasta for dinner, I tossed some brocolli into the sauce. (And then I set aside the second serving to bring for lunch today, instead of just eating it. If you ever were looking for an excuse to eat dessert first, that might be it.)
But my mom seems to think that I'm a brilliant cook and she even calls me for advice. She'll ask me for a recipe, I'll say "oh, a bit of this and a bit of that" and she'll say "but how much???" To which I always reply, "uh, mom? You're the one who taught me to cook. You should know that I don't cook with measuring cups."
I bake bread, I fry eggs, I poach fish, I'm attempting to infuse oil (we'll see how it goes), but there are a few things that I just am not capable of.
An aside to put this in context before I tell you what I absolutely cannot cook. I love Yondalla. And it occurred to me that I hadn't read her blog from the beginning. So I am doing so now. (Shh, don't tell the boss.) One of her house rules is that everyone has one night a week that they cook dinner. And one of her posts talks about her son making breakfast for dinner.
I am utterly incapable of making pancakes. (And omelets, and latkes.) What am I going to do if kiddo doesn't like french toast or waffles but insists that special breakfasts must include pancakes? Just another thing to add to my list of fears.*
*Please know that my list of fears includes many, many more serious things than my inability to make pancakes. I'm going into this with a whole boatload of naivete but am not completely unrealistic. I'll post more about my serious fears later.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Goal # so important it didn't get a number: getting licensed.
Progress: As I mentioned last night, my second licensing visit is on Wednesday afternoon. Are there more hoops to jump through after that? I hope not. But who knows...
Goal #1: find a new job.
Progress: nope. I've applied for a few jobs, but nothing has come of my applications yet.
Goal #2: reduce dependence on caffeine.
Progress: oops. If anything, I've increased my dependence on caffeine. It definitely doesn't help that I have a bottomless mug from a chain of bagel restaurants. I shelled out a bunch of bucks in October and can get free refills for the entire year. So every day on my way to work, I stop in and get a coke or a coffee. (And chat with Jeremy and Donnell, the cheerful-even-early-in-the-morning staff and manager.) If I were paying for each drink, I certainly wouldn't go every day. And I definitely wouldn't do what I did today... I ate a "savory" breakfast so wanted coke, but like having coffee at my desk. I had work with me, so I got a coke, sat down with it and read my work, and then got a coffee and went the rest of the way to work.
Related aside: There is a fast day coming up in a week (tisha b'av, for those who are keeping track). I know people who try to wean themselves of caffeine in preparation for fast days. But I don't understand this. Why suffer for a week when the fast day is only one day (and you are going to be miserable for that day anyway)?
Goal #3: wash dishes within a day of using them.
Progress: um... If you look in my sink right now, all of the dirty dishes are from yesterday. So I guess that counts. I've definitely been doing better. But I also still have the salad bowl from dinner last Shabbat (that is, the 10th) and a few other small things sitting on the counter.
Goal #4: eat more salad and less pasta.
Progress: oh dear. I discovered a new brand of vegetarian sausage last week and have been eating a lot of it. So I'm getting some nutrients beyond whatever nutritional value there is in pasta sauce. But protein is one thing and fruits and veg are another.
So there you have it--a report of my complete failure over the past month to make any progress with any of my goals. That gust of wind you just felt was my big sigh of disappointment.
*I am not sure if this is because I am too intelligent to follow the directions or because the directions were written that badly.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
First, a bit of background, that probably isn't at all relevant to the issue at hand, but I might as well share. When I finished law school and was deciding where to live, I chose Big City specifically because of My Minyan1. I had been involved in the leadership for years until I stepped down from my most recent position about a month and a half ago. About two years ago, My Minyan2 was formed by a few friends of mine. The distinctions between the two minyanim and My Shul are in the philosophies/worldviews that drive the practices of each with respect to women's participation. Even though my worldview is more in line with that of My Minyan1, I started to have other issues with the community and, with the existence of My Minyan2, don't "need" My Minyan1 so much anymore.
So, all that on the table: my friend asked me last night if I wanted to be on the leadership of My Minyan2. In context, his question didn't appear reasoned. "Leah [a pseudonym, of course] seems annoyed about something that happened after services. Were you there?" [Note that the friend I was talking to was visiting his family in another Big City, so hadn't been at services.] I explained that Leah was the only leadership person who was there to help clean up afterwards. My friend's response was basically "the other leadership is a waste; do you want to be on the leadership?" Well of course I didn't think he was serious, especially because at various transition points in the past he hasn't asked me and has even had conversations with me where it is clear that I didn't have the "qualifications" that they were looking for.
He followed up, however, saying that my name HAS come up in recent conversations about leadership, and that the question is serious. The question is, am I interested.
I have a number of reasons for saying "no." Setting aside the major issue for a moment, it sounds like there are some serious teamwork problems on the current leadership, and I don't know that I want to join that. Then there's the issue that I've been leadership-free for only a month and a half and I had reasons for stepping down from that position other than philosophical ones.
And there's the BIG one: I have no idea when, or if, or for how long, I will be responsible for a kiddo. And I don't know what that will do to my ability to do "business" things in the evening, or to make it to services on time or even regularly, or if I'll have the kiddo with me when I do go to services, so I feel it would be irresponsible of me to take on this responsibility.
But there are reasons to say "yes," as well, though I don't think they outweigh the reasons to say "no." And these reasons are 1. I don't want the community to implode due to problems with the current leadership, and 2. I really do feel committed to the community and want to do my part (and 3. I feel honored to be asked).
So there we are. I promised my friend an email so I might just copy this and send it to him. And like I said above, if you have any insight, feel free to share.
1. My Licensing Worker is coming on Wednesday afternoon for a second visit. I don't know if other jurisdictions require two visits or if it's an idiosyncrasy of mine, but I'm wondering what to expect. The first visit had the interview, measuring the space, checking to make sure that I don't have guns lying around... What do you think will happen this visit?
2. I know that I am going to have to keep good records once I have a kiddo in my home. I can be very organized when someone else gives me the system I need to follow. How do you organize your records? By this, I don't mean "I have a three-ring binder and keep documents in those plastic sleeves" or "I scan all of the documents and keep them on my computer." I mean something along the lines of "I have a binder for each kiddo, and each binder has the following sections: important dates, medical records, receipts, photos...."
Thanks in advance for your help!
Friday, July 17, 2009
[Disclaimer-type intro #2: I even started writing this in my head as I was walking home. It was brilliant and insightful. I can't promise that I will be able to replicate it, as I got distracted by cake and ice cream as soon as I got home.]
Frequently, especially in more Orthodox settings, the expression of one's Jewishness comes through actions--keeping kosher, going to synagogue, fasting on one of the many fast days, wearing a kippah--rather than through statements of faith. (Setting aside the ubiquitous-in-some-communities "how are you?" "thank G-d" greetings.) And I expect, though without re-reading my previous posts to see if this applies already, that this will come through in this blog. Why is it important to have a blog dedicated to "frum fostering"? Because of the practical, action-related issues. Can the kiddo/should the kiddo go to shul with you? What happens when the kiddo wants a cheeseburger? What do you do about Christmas? Less often is the question "my foster kiddo is out of control; I don't know what to do, and I'm questioning G-d." Or maybe I'm just making assumptions. Okay, I probably am just making assumptions.
But the point is that we generally don't get all sappy mushy when talking about G-d and faith.
So I hope that my portrayal of Judaism as all action (and by that, I mean action of the type suggested above, rather than Action to bring goodness/repair to the world) and no--or almost no--faith doesn't mislead you to think that I don't have a strong faith or that I am acting for show. It's just the way we talk.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
- June 1-5 (if I'm remembering correctly!)--landlord made repairs to my apartment
- June 24--landlord received report from contractor and forwarded it to me by email
- June 24--I forwarded contractor's report to Licensing Worker (is that what I've been calling her?)
- June 25--Licensing Worker reported forwarding report to Lead Person. LW expressed the possibility that Lead Person might need the original
- June 30--emailed another document to Licensing Worker and asked if she had heard from Lead Person regarding whether the lead report had been approved. Did not receive response.
- July 6--called Licensing Worker because email on June 30 had also proposed July 8 as a date for her second visit. (I had to be home all day for the phone company, and it made sense to me to minimize my time off from work. It's all about efficiency. However, LW had "an appointment" on the 8th so couldn't come then. Instead she is coming on July 22.) During our conversation, LW told me that she had not heard back yet from Lead Person. When I then asked if she thought that it might be effective if I contacted LP, LW basically said sure, then added "don't tell her that I told you to call her."
- July 6--emailed Lead Person:
I am eager to have my licensing complete; could you confirm
that you have received the lead report for my apartment ([address]), that the
report is sufficient as received, that my apartment is approved, and that this
has all been communicated to the licensing worker ([Licensing Worker])?
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
- July 10--called Lead Person and left a message, since I hadn't heard back from her.
- July 13, 12pm--called Lead Person. First she claimed not to know what I was talking about when I asked her about the report forwarded to her by Licensing Worker. She never acknowledged the email I sent last week. We had an interesting conversation that went something like this:
Me: Hi, [Lead Person]. This is [Foster Ima], calling about the report [Licensing Worker] forwarded to you about my apartment.
LP: I don't know what you're talking about. [Licensing Worker] didn't forward me any reports.
Me: Oh, well, [Licensing Worker] indicated that she had forwarded it to you and mentioned the possibility that the PDF might not be sufficient, and that you might need an original.
LP: [Snottily.] That isn't the process. The contractor who did the inspection needs to clear the property.
Me: What do I need to do to have that happen?
LP: You don't have to do anything. [Eye roll. Annoying foster parents.] The social worker has to fill out the paperwork and call me to send an inspector out. It is not the responsibility of the foster parent. I'll call [Licensing Worker] and have her call you back.
Me: Thank you.
I think that I might have also made some comment along the lines of "well, obviously I didn't know all of this, so was I supposed to just sit here and wait for nothing to happen?"
- July 13, 12:15pm--Lead Person called me back. This in itself was a miracle, but even more miraculously, she had found the report the Licensing Worker had forwarded to her. Licensing Worker is out of the office today, so Lead Person forwarded report to [Highly Paid With Taxpayer Dollars Inspector] and that he would call me to schedule a time to come out to my apartment. I clarified the next steps in the process with her: Inspector will send clearance report to Lead Person. Lead Person will provide clearance report to Licensing Worker. Licensing Worker can license property. I sigh, thank her, and silently hope that I can get Inspector to come at the same time as Licensing Worker (see above re: efficiency). I hang up and consider calling Inspector myself.
- July 13, 12:35pm--Lead Person again calls. Guess what? In a complete 180, they have decided that the report from my landlord's contractor is sufficient! Lead Person sent notification to Licensing Worker and all I need to do is call LW tomorrow to make sure she does what she needs to do. Is this possibly too good to be true?
Of course, this doesn't really address the problem that apparently my Licensing Worker doesn't know what the licensing process is, at least for properties that initially fail the lead inspection. (I live in a Big City. I imagine that most of our old homes fail initially.)
But I'm no longer ready to go complaining to the Agency director's chief of staff (I think that I get to skip a few levels since I occassionally still get phone calls for her on my work cell phone; she had the number before she transferred to the Agency), so that's a positive outcome. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be licensed before school starts. A year, that's totally reasonable, right?
Monday, July 6, 2009
So now I have another two weeks 'til the second half of my home study, and unknown steps after. And we'll see if Lead Person actually responds to my email.