A Trip to the Store

Today we made a trip to that really big nationwide discount department store.  That normally would be no big deal and is something that houseparents all over the country do on a regular basis, however we decided to take all the children with us while we did our shopping.  The children in our cottage range in age from 4 to 11 so you can only imagine what it was like with their whole focus on trying to get us to buy stuff they wanted and visit the departments they find most enjoyable. 

Thinking back to my early days of houseparenting is wasn’t any more fun to do the trip with teenagers.  I remember walking into the store with our kids and the first words you hear over the PA system is something like, “All departments on zone defense” which meant, “Here come the group home kids, make sure they don’t shoplift.”  The easy thing to do would be to just leave the kids at home with your spouse and avoid all the hassles of taking them to a public place.  That is the choice we usually make, but I have to ask, “If you never take your kids out into public, how will they ever learn how to behave in public?”

Our kids weren’t perfect but they are one step closer to knowing that you can go to the store without getting everything you ask for, that you are expected to behave in public places, and that things don’t just come from the kitchen or supply room.  In a few weeks we will recover from this trip and do it again so that they can learn even more.

We should all remember that the easiest way of doing things isn’t always the best way, especially when it deprives the children in our care an opportunity to learn.

3 Pieces of Technology I Can’t Live Without

I was driving one of my children to a specialist in Tupelo, a city about an hour from our facility and also the birth place of Elvis, and I realized I had three things with me I wouldn’t want to do without.

1. My Cell Phone: I remember being a houseparent when not everyone had cell phones. When we started as a houseparent only our administrator had a phone and he carried it around in a bag about the size of my current notebook computer. It was so discouraging in the old days to get back to the facility and find out there was not enough milk for breakfast the next morning and you had to turn around and drive 20 miles back to town to get some. Or to find out the kid you were supposed to pick up in 4 hours was already done and finished 5 minutes before you left town.

Our jobs became so much easier after we got our first cell phone. Needless to say, I was one of the first houseparents in the facility to get one. 10 years ago it saved us probably 400 miles a month worth of driving and today it saves us at least that much. I honestly can’t imagine being a houseparent today without one, especially considering how inexpensive they are and all the features they have now. I also figure there aren’t too many houseparents left that don’t have one.

2. My GPS Navigator: The price of the technology has finally come down enough to afford it, and as usual I am one of the first ones on campus to have one. Last month I bought a “Magellan Maestro 3100” on sale for $199 and I have to tell you it is one of the best electronic investments I have made.

A couple of days after I bought it, we had to take a group of kids to camp in North Carolina from our facility in Columbus, Mississippi. It directed me right through Atlanta and right up to the front gate of the camp in Hendersonville, NC. Afterward it directed us to our motel in a part of Greenville, SC that we had never been to, and back home with no incident. Today it directed me to the front door of that specialist, again with no problems.

The only downside I have at all with it, is that is looses some accuracy when you are out in the country. It was off by almost a mile in directing me to our church and a quarter mile to our house. Both are out on long country roads. I have found the more populated the area, the more accurate the navigator.

I will definitely dread driving to new places a whole lot less now that I have traded in my wife for a navigator that is much more accurate and doesn’t yell at me. I’m sure it will also help our relationship when we travel together, because we won’t be arguing over being lost or where my next turn is.

3. My Satellite Radio: Again I was the first on campus to have one and I can tell you I will never not have one again. It has been such a blessing to me with all the time I spend driving in the van. I am able to listen to my favorite music (without listening to commercials), or my other favorite pastime NASCAR radio.

The other great thing is when you travel you never have to change Cd’s or look for radio stations. When we traveled to North Carolina, we never had to change the station except to switch back to the NASCAR channel. It costs about $14 a month to have, but I would have spent that much on Cd’s each month anyway.

There you have it, three things I will always have with me when I am on the road, which I am a lot.

I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Posted Since April!!

I can’t believe it was April the last time I posted.  I guess the end of school year stuff and the beginning of Summer stuff has kept me very, very busy.  With that has been the daily routine of caring for 9 children in the cottage.  We get up and eat breakfast.  Now that it is summer they play until lunch.  Then we eat lunch.  At 2:00 the pool opens and we swim until 4:00.  Then we shower and get cleaned up for supper.  We eat Supper at 6:00, clean up and watch some television.  It’s not real exciting writing and I am sure it is not very interesting reading.

 There are some things I am working on and will post them shortly.  Please be patient and I will try to provide some useful information.