Saturday, December 01, 2007

The "inner circle" part two

find part one here.

In October of 2006 the group got together for a Halloween event at Red Hill , the home of Patrick Henry. They had fun stuff for the kids to do and treat bags at each station, not to mention a haunted hay ride. The whole gang came together from Stacy's* house as we had celebrated her oldest son's birthday party and followed one another to Red Hill to go as a group. We all stuck together and went from one activity to the next and finally went on the hay ride. After the hay ride we started making our way back to the parking lot. On the way back to our cars the group stopped near another stand and talked. Brandon wandered over to the stand and tried his hand at the fishing game. When he was done I turned to find the group had left. Brandon and I walked back to the car and found the rest of the group had left us. No goodbye, no nothing. I get to my car and find that somewhere out in the dark of Red Hill I'd lost my car keys. It was dark, people were leaving in droves and I was terrified Brandon and I would be left out there with no way to get home.

We ran to the office thankful to find some of the employees still there. I explained my predicament and asked if I could use the phone to call home. I wasn't looking forward to the phone call to Bob. It was late, I was more than an hour away from home and I knew he would already be in bed since he had to work the next day. Fortunately, he hadn't quite fallen asleep and thankfully, Linda, Nickie's nurse hadn't left yet for the night. He asked her to stay until he returned from picking me up. Linda really is a great nurse and agreed to stay. Bob and Jackie loaded up in the van to make the trek to get Brandon and I. The wonderful people at Red Hill waited in the office with us until they arrived over an hour later. Bob took my directions but in the dark got lost. Finally he found us and brought me his key to the car so I could drive it back home. It was well past midnight when we finally got home. Lets just say none of us were happy about it at all. Maybe its just me but whenever I've gone anywhere with a group I always like to know that all of the group left together. I feel responsible for them. Again I guess that is just me.

By now this group has lost most of its appeal but for Brandon's sake we attended group on occasion. Since we were still fairly new to this area and we didn't know any other children for him to play with, we continued. The only reason I did this next group event was again for Brandon. Before the Red Hill fiasco I had promised him that we would go Trick or Treating with the group. I had suggested to Brandon because of the Red Hill events that we not go trick or treating with them, but the look on his face told me we did have to at least do this one thing. I had asked the group in advance if this neighborhood that they were planning on trick or treating in had curb cut outs so that Nickie,who is in a wheelchair, could enjoy the nights events also. They assured me that it did and that they thought it was a great idea to take her too. We got there and I know you probably aren't surprised by this and in retrospect I wasn't either, they went on ahead of us. The only ones that hung back with us were Jean and her family, notice I didn't change her name in this account since I'd like her and her family to receive acknowledgment for their good deed and in later installments of this saga you will see exactly why they are integral to this story. If not for Jean and her family I'd have only bad memories of this night.

Some months later I hosted again. OK, call me stupid. At this point we have built our chicken coop and my young chickens that had just started to produce some eggs are out enjoying the longer days of spring. Everyone was admiring the coop ( the basic design of which I got from Nicole*) and the chickens. Again the moms came inside to converse, eat and drink coffee. I was pleased that a few more came this time than the last. It was just warm enough for the kids to play outside again and so they had the run of the out doors. I had no idea what a bad idea that had been.

After they left Bob and I go to lock up the chickens and in the dim light see that not all is well in the coop. Its much too dark to access the damage but I can see that eggs have been thrown about the coop and busted all over the inside walls and the fake ceramic eggs that I had just purchased to encourage my young chickens to lay eggs in the laying box and not out in the woods, had been broken as well. Let me explain that it takes a bit of force to break these eggs. They aren't as fragile as a real egg. I was heart broken. I didn't know if my chickens had been harassed in the process and you have to understand these chickens were my babies. I had raised them from day old chicks and I was concerned for their well being. I locked things up and had to wait till daylight to find out the full damage.

That night I had a restless night. I couldn't sleep thinking about how this great home school group that had such well behaved children could have caused so much damage, OK if you can't tell I'm being sarcastic. I ended up drafting an email that I had planned to send to the entire group about my disappointment when Bob came down asking me what I was up to. I explained that I was just furious and that I was emailing the group about it. He asked me to wait before I sent the email. I finished the email and left it as a draft in my account. I went up to bed and was finally able to sleep.

The next morning we went out to assess the damage. I was glad to find my chickens were no more the worse for wear and though it was a very disrespectful thing that had been done the damage wasn't as bad as I had feared. I cleaned the coop up vowed never to have the group at my house again. I never sent the drafted email just figured I'd not have much to do with the group. Later that same day I did receive a phone call from Stacy*. She told me her oldest son had confessed to her on the way home the day before and that she was punishing him by withholding allowance for a couple weeks and she promised to replace the broken eggs with eggs from her own hens. I assured her I didn't need the eggs. She put her son on the phone and had him apologize to me. This was a start though I do believe in person would have been the best option. I was very kind and told him all was fine that I commended him for confessing to his mother as I knew that was very difficult and that I'd like him to respect my property in the future. He agreed and the next time I saw him in person I again told him I was proud of him for coming forward. Stacy* then tells me that she is aware of the name of one other child involved in the destruction and that she would talk to that mother. I was very appreciative of her for this and she also assured me that if anything happened within the group not to hesitate to talk to her about it since she was the founder and she would deal with the issues. The other child it turned out was one of Nicoles* children. Yes, can you believe that? I never received even a phone call about the matter. Weeks passed before she had him say, " I'm sorry." Nothing more. What a great lesson he learned! I suppose being a lessor home school family we didn't deserve more? What the heck? Perhaps since we aren't a perfect Catholic family. We are Southern Baptists, by the way and proud of it!

By now I'm much less active in the group and only bring Brandon to play group maybe once a month. Jump ahead to fall. I receive an email from a good friend, Trish, we were part of a soldier support group some years ago and have managed to keep in touch even though both of us have left that organization. See the email below:

Subject: FW: Extreme Makeover Home Edition *** MOBCOM ALL ***
Extreme Makeover Home Edition is looking for an inspirational, heroic
that America can really root for in an upcoming episode. The show
a family with either the mother or father suffering from PTSD or TBI as
result of their service in Iraq or Afghanistan. This family has to live
Virginia, West Virginia or Delaware, must own a single family home that
visibly in need of improvement, and have children. They must be able to
producers how a makeover will make a huge difference in their lives.
will be screened by the show's producers before being picked. The show
like to identify candidates by early next week. If they are picked, the
will air early next year.

I don't know anyone that might fit the bill so I send this email to the group:

I don't know if any of you all would know of any military families that would benefit from this but if you do please forward this info. Would be great if someone, one of us knows could get the help. Lillie
Of course the email I received from Trish was attached.

Fast forward a few weeks and I attend the new co-op that the group has started and Stacy* thanks me for sending the link, and tells me that Jean had been nominated by one of the other group members. I was tickled pink! By this time Jean had already been contacted by EHM and they were in the midst of talks to interview her and her family.

When I got home I emailed Trish to let her know that someone in our group was going to be interviewed for EHM and that as soon as I knew more I'd let her know. She was so excited to know that the link was benefiting someone I knew.

The next email on the subject came from Jean:

THE TOTAL EXTREME MAKEOVER CASTING EXPERIENCE! Quintin Strack filmed from 2:30 to 9:30pm! For my community contribution (they ask for that) I said I wanted to help Joe's Occupational Therapist get the Autism therapy center that she is writing a grant for. So we were at the hospital for 2 hours filming OT Jason, OT Katie, the CEO, therapists I didn't even know, Joe having a pretend therapy session. Then we went to the land for 2 hours. Thank goodness Katie watched the boys for me at the land while he filmed me. Could not have done it without her. There he filmed me telling about our situation. I had not been out there at the land since Michael left because I knew it would be depressing. Well, it was. It looks awful. Now I know--that show is soooo staged! Everything they make you say is true, but between takes he is telling you exactly what to say and how to say it and exaggerating it greatly. And he keeps making you do retakes until you do it pathetically enough. I do not feel like I was good on camera. I feel like I rambled a lot but I guess that is what editing is for. He was so nice and enthusiastic and must be the most patient human on earth. They could not pay me enough to do that guy's job. I didn't see him eat or drink all day. I don't even know if he took a bathroom break. It was unreal. I've never seen anyone with that much energy. Not even my kids! Telling the world how pathetic we are and wallowing in self pity (which he makes you do) for 7 hours was tough. Just know if this ever airs, I'm not the big blubbering dope that it is going to look like I am. They really do push until they get you to that point. That is good television! He was here at the rental house for 2 1/2 hours. He told me he really wanted to see Michael's Civil War stuff. He said Michael should have a museum and I told him that Michael would love to. Then he told me to say this whole "build my husband a little museum on our land so we don't have to share our bedroom with his collection anymore . . ." thing. He told me to say it in a "cute" way. His idea, not mine. To me that was totally too much to ask! I was so dead tired at that point, and having worked with him all day, I knew that if I didn't say what he wanted, he would just keep doing takes until I did. If he had told me to climb out on the roof I probably would have if it would have meant no more takes. He knows what he needs on film and he pushes until he has it. I had to do my "plea" and the man went through at least 2 tapes of takes because he was not leaving until I cried for it. And for some reason I couldn't cry. I was just so tired that I was numb I think. Plus I still don't feel deserving enough at all. Anyway, finally he got me to cry like an idiot and he was happy and said that he had everything he needed. He didn't want food but I gave him a bottle of gatorade and he left for DC. We will see. At the house we had to do the shout-out thing--Hi abc we're the Lucas family . . . and Joe was not into it. When we got to the house, though, Quinton was getting some Joe footage and Joe looked right in the camera and said "Hi ABC". It was cute! Then he had him sit in the floor and show him all of his pirate toys. By the time we got here I was just saying whatever he told me. Who knows how it will be edited. I'm sure they will pick all of the parts I thought were stupid. Like when he saw some little prints I have in our living room of one of my ancestors and of a castle that belonged to another ancestor. I do some genealogy and he made me say "I'm a history buff too. . . " I felt like an idiot. Anyway, we got it all done. I'm just warning you guys that if we get chosen and it airs, it is extremely exaggerated (the truth, but just more pathetic)! It is like being in a soap opera. I totally have a different respect for actors now. We will see. I'll hear on Friday I think if we are top 5. If we don't get chosen, almost getting on Extreme Makeover is still a neat story to be able to tell people. I will let you know what happens. Thanks ladies. Thought I'd let you know we got through it. Jean
Now that is some exciting stuff! OK so now I'm thinking this is great! She's really in the running! I can't wait to hear more..... To be continued.

The "inner circle" - part one

I have bitten my tongue or slapped my hands to avoid posting anything about this subject in the past but I just can't keep quiet a moment longer. I had mentioned in the past about the home school group I was involved with and how much I appreciated them. I refrained from telling you about the horrors that I went through with the group, with the exception of a couple of the mom's, this group turned out to be a nightmare. I found the group through an online search for home school groups in my area. I found one local group that apparently didn't have much activity to the web page and the mother that started her own group sent me a message to tell me about her group. I looked it up and joined the yahoo group she had told me about.

When I first met them back in 3/06 they of course put on their best home school mom faces. They appeared genuinely interested in us when we came to the first play group and also seemed interested in Jean and her family who came for the first time on the same day. Both Jean and I have children with disabilities and they seemed interested in the challenges that those disabilities brought to our lives. Unlike most of the mom's in the group I had not been a home school mom from the start of my children's school years. Little did I know that this made me a lessor home school mom in their eyes. I know that my choosing to home school my son when I did was for reasons that I felt were best for him at the time. I'm not of the belief that home schooling is the best choice for all children, all families or that the choice to home school can't change over time. I don't feel home schooled children are better than any other children nor do I believe the opposite is true. I do believe that children that are either in public school, private school or home school still need the guidance of their parents. A public school education can be fantastic or it can be lacking but in either case with a parents involvement any deficits can be made up and for those lucky enough to have great teachers still need their parents support.

What I found almost immediately was that these mothers seemed to speak badly of parents/moms of public schooled children (PS). Heck they spoke badly of each other when ever they had the chance to do so. The sad truth is women are notorious for back stabbing. Let me assure you this isn't what I'm attempting to do here as you will see by the end of the coming posts that this is about telling the facts as I know them.

The "inner circle" is composed of 3 moms in particular. *I've changed their names to protect their identities. Nicole*, (Catholic home school mom of 6 children, yeah Catholic, but not the "perfect" Catholic that she seems to portray). I won't go into the specifics cause that would be airing dirty laundry. Stacy*, married (to a man that at least one of the mom's says is a hottie) home school mom of 2 young boys (Catholic wanna be from what I understand). Mandy*, wife and home school mom of 3 girls (not sure of her religious orientation or if she has any). I'm not giving the religious info for any reason other than giving some background of each. We are all sinners, we all fall very far from the example that was set for us by our creator and I know this includes me. This isn't a Sunday school lesson so I'll stop there. Just the facts, here. This "inner circle" keeps each other informed of the goings on of its other members. Speaking as if they are of higher power. Better than the rest if you will. The truth is they are no better than any other person in the group or on this earth. We are all equal. I learned fairly early on that I shouldn't talk about anything more than myself and my home school trials and tribulations. It wasn't long that I'd hear things that I had confided in one mom being repeated to me by another mom.

One afternoon I hosted the group at my home. The moms settled in the house for coffee, cake and other goodies set aside for all to enjoy as well as the usual conversation. Now mind you the group is pretty large and I have a modest home only about 1,800 square feet and the moms and children I numbered above were only a small part of the group. At one point Stacy* sees Bob, my husband, arrive home and he greets everyone and runs upstairs to get cleaned up. *Stacy remarks how cute he is. I thank her and tell her I thought so too. This get together went fairly uneventfully except for the mess left outside from the water balloons and plastic cups and such and the mess in Brandon's room.

A few play dates later and Stacy* mentions to me that she can't understand how I could stay married to Bob. Apparently she had a short conversation with him outside at the previous meeting at my house and he spoke to her about his wish to get out of his current profession. In that 5 minute conversation she had decided he was impossible to live with. Of course the fact that Bob isn't a drunk, abusive in anyway or the fact that he is a wonderful loving husband and father unlike her own comments about her husband made him impossible to live with. I suppose we have different ideas about what a good husband and father should be. I sat there in complete shock and though I should have said something like, "oh yeah a husband that drinks till he's drunk every night is the GOLD standard. I'm not sorry I didn't aim that high!" Instead I had no reply. Again I bit my tongue cause everything that came to mind was going to be hurtful. Believe it or not I do try not to be hurtful. Not to say that I haven't opened mouth and inserted foot on more than one occasion....
To be continued......